The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien is a tale of little people, for little people and by little people. Where being little need not necessarily refer to size or stature, although it is the main foundation for The Hobbit, but also includes any person who is made to feel little in life. In a refreshing twist of events, the little people in The Hobbit never have to look up to others, because others look up to them.
In this article, my “little people” refer to Hobbits, Dwarves & Men.
The Hobbit was BIG on Instinct
Usually between 3’ to 4’ tall (90-120 cm), hobbits are actually called the “Little People” in Tolkien terminology. Bilbo Baggins’s greatest asset was that he was BIG on instinct, which ultimately made him an exception to the hobbit modus operandi.
Going against his territorial nature, he journeyed on a quest with 13 dwarves and a wizard that took him far from his home in the Shire. Coming from a race that didn’t like adventures, Bilbo Baggins faced a dragon and lived to tell the tale. Unnaturally curious for a hobbit for news of the outside world, his destiny would take him from knowing about tales to being a part of a great tale. For a race that prized peace and avoided conflict, Bilbo Baggins proved that hobbits were not lacking in bravery, when the occasion called for it.
Bilbo’s instincts bordered on presence of mind, wit, flair for stealth and using his god given height to his advantage. His presence of mind was apparent when he devised the dwarves escape from the Wood Elves in barrels & when he recognised the Arkenstone being a worthy object of negotiation.
His quick wit was seen by way of the improvised insulting songs he sang to the arachnids, the riddle challenge he held with Gollum, solving the riddle of the back door of Erebor and his flattering conversation with Smaug.
Although stealth made him quick and soft on his feet, he heightened his stealth mode, on many occasions through the ring, mostly using it for undetected escaping or tracking. When push came to shove, he used the ring to mask his presence and get the job done, like escaping from Gollum, confronting Smaug, following the elves to the home of the Wood Elves etc.
Since his size allowed him to get into places other people couldn’t go or go unseen by the majority, this made him an ideal burglar. This is apparent when he saves the dwarves from the arachnids, rescues them from the Wood Elves and steals the Arkenstone from under Smaug’s nose.
Bilbo’s BIG on Instinct attitude raised the status of hobbits as a race that would make worthy allies should the need of the hour arise- that even one small person could make a big difference. Through his experience and newfound wisdom, he would encourage his nephew Frodo and his friends to imbibe the same spirit of adventure. Frodo, Sam, Pippin & Merry later on represent the hobbit community as members of the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Dwarf thought BIG
A proud race, the average height for dwarves is between 4’ and 5’ (122 and 152 cm). Thorin Oakenshield’s greatest asset was his mind. He thought big and always saw the bigger picture. His BIG thinking induced him to thwart the normal dwarven way of life. Where dwarves prized secrecy and kept to themselves, Thorin said goodbye to his secretive life as a dwarf and enlisted the help of Gandalf and Bilbo to launch a quest to defeat Smaug. Where dwarves avoided others by living underground, Thorin came out of hiding and much less than get over his loss, he sought a plan for redemption.
In the Quest of Erebor, Thorin is guided by familial ties. The entire quest of Erebor was him fighting for his family.
Fighting not just for his immediate family, but to bring glory to the entire dwarven race. Because what Smaug did to him reflected badly on all dwarves.
While most people regard Thorin as miserly when he refused the elves & men a share of Smaug’s treasure, consider this. First of all the treasure belonged to the dwarves. It was not like they were trying to steal someone else’s treasure. Thorin was the rightful King under the Mountain, who was robbed of everything. In his duty as a King, it is but natural that he would want to hang on to as much of the treasure as possible, not for himself as much as for the rest of his people. He hadn’t asked for the aid of the elves or men so it is but obvious that he felt they weren’t owed anything.
He certainly did not refuse the other dwarves and Bilbo their share of the treasure as agreed upon before the quest.
Thorin’s bigger picture included the unity of all the dwarven clans, which he would be able to achieve with the Arkenstone. It was more than a family heirloom; it stood for the unity of the 7 dwarven families.
Thorin’s BIG thinking changed the history of dwarves for the better, as well as the way they were viewed by the other races. Following the events from the Quest of Erebor, Thorin indirectly helped promote race allegiance. The dwarves looked more warmly towards hobbits & men, later on prompting Gimli to represent the dwarf community as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Bowman was BIG on heart
A few inches shorter than elves, men were around 6’ (183 cm), although the race of men came in varying heights. While men had no problem in the height department, they were considered “little” or weaker when compared to the other races. Bard the Bowman‘s greatest asset was him being BIG on heart (bravery).
Bard proved that you didn’t need to have the natural magical prowess and grace of elves, to have courage. Men may not be skilled in lore & crafts of dwarves or the battle skills of the elves, but it was the arrow of a man that silenced the dragon Smaug forever.
A man’s lifespan was indeed shorter than even a hobbit but what you did in that lifespan, however long or short was what mattered. By nature, even though men were the most susceptible to evil and considered the weakest link of the races, Bard proved that some men prized morality and fought for what was right, even if they stood alone.
As an ordinary man, Bard’s fate was sealed by timing, luck and skill.
But that’s not all there is to it. While every man is blessed with these 3 things in some degree, Bard kept himself open to the moment and reacted. That’s what influenced the situation. A lot of times, men fail to make an impact when they fail to react. The timing was right in the sense that Bard understood the thrush (thanks to his lineage) when it spoke about Smaug’s weak spot. He had the right skills needed to take down the dragon namely archery.
Luck favoured him when his Black Arrow hit its mark, killing Smaug. While Bard did consider his Black Arrow to be lucky, it was faith in himself and his skill that ultimately aided him in the death of the dragon. To make up for the destruction of the Lake Town, he went to Thorin demanding a share in the treasure, not for himself, but to rebuild the town. Being rejected the treasure’s share by Thorin did not stop Bard from joining forces with the dwarves in the Battle of the Five Armies.
Bard’s role in defeating Smaug and fighting in the Battle of the Five Armies elevated the way races viewed men (atleast a little) and proved that sometimes the right men were worth the shot! Following the events of the Quest of Erebor, Aragorn, son of Arathorn would be the 1st man to join the Fellowship of the Ring, representing the human race. Although from different generations and lines, by the character they possessed Bard and Aragorn proved that in the face of adversity some men got heart!
The Hobbit Height chart
Bilbo & Smaug
Bilbo and the Arkenstone
Bilbo and Gollum
Frodo, Sam, Pippin & Merry
Thorin, Bilbo and Gandalf (http://www.flicksandbits.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/the-hobbit-bilbo-baggins-thorin.jpg)
Thorin, Fili & Kili
Thorin & Company
Thorin, Bard & Thandruil (http://www.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/hobbit.jpg)
Thorin & Bilbo
Smaug & Bard
Bard & the dwarves
Bard’s black arrow
I dont know Bard
Bard in the Battle of the 5 armies