Thursday, January 27, 2011
One thing I have noticed is Bilbo's tendency to stumble upon things that aren't his and take them for himself. While lost in the goblin caves, he stumbles upon the Ring in the dark and puts it in his pocket "almost without thinking," (The Hobbit, Ch. V). It is almost impossible to see this as an accident, but rather as fate/destiny because the caves are miles long, pitch black, and The Ring is very small. Later, in the depths of the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo finds the Arkenstone. He takes this as well when his arm "went towards it drawn by its enchantment," (The Hobbit, Ch. XIII). Admittedly, being drawn towards and taking a bright gem that he knows rightfully belongs to someone else is rather different from picking up an insignificant trinket off the floor. However, both instances have much greater repercussions in the future. Bilbo also has a difficult time giving up both items. The Arkenstone he gives in an effort to stop a war; the Ring he gives up only at Gandalf's urging. I see Bilbo's encounter with the Arkenstone as a foil for the more important relationship he has with the Ring. I think Tolkien used both instances to emphasize the importance of fate (stumbling upon both items because Bilbo was meant to) and free choice (freely giving up both powerful objects for different reasons and to different ends).