Guide to The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 of the Hobbit: An Unexpected Party



The narrator explains that Hobbits are small people, half the size of humans, who love comfort and security. Although they can live in houses and some do, they like to live in holes in the ground. They have good amenities similar to those above ground.

The main story centers on Bilbo Baggins in Bag's End.


In a hole there lived a hobbit. Hobbits, we learn, are small people with hair that grows on their feet. Hobbits enjoy frequent meals and comfort. Most hobbits live in holes in the ground. Not dirty holes, but ones with panelled walls, tiled floors and furniture. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of the story, lives in a hobbit-hole known as Bag End. Bilbo never leaves the safety of his village. His knowledge of the outside world is limited to maps and books.

The story begins with Bilbo smoking a pipe just outside of his home in Bag's End in The Shire. A wizard called Gandalf stops by and asks if Bilbo would be interested in an adventure. He tells him he doesn't want any adventures and invites him to tea the next day. When tomorrow arrives, Bilbo completely forgets that Gandalf was coming to tea. The doorbell rings and Bilbo assumes it's Gandalf. When he opens the door, a dwarf named Dwalin comes in and goes to eat. More and more dwarves showed up and Bilbo became more and more confused. Finally, Gandalf arrives with the leader of the dwarves, Thorin.

It turns out, the day before, Gandalf put a mark on Bilbo's door leading the dwarves there. Gandalf volunteers Bilbo to be a burglar. Both the dwarves and Bilbo disagree but Gandalf says there is more than meets the eye to this hobbit. Gandalf shows the others a map of a mountain, The Lonely Mountain. Bilbo wants to learn what this adventure is for plain and simple. Thorin explains that his grandfather named Thror found huge amounts of gold in the mountain and became king of that mountain. All the gold attracted a dragon, Smaug, to kill the people of his kingdom. The dragon is guarding the treasure and the goal of the dwarves is to reclaim all the stolen gold. The hobbit becomes strangely excited. After, Bilbo and the others go sleep.


J RR Tolkien presents a fantasy of his own. Tolkien was a language scholar, and he was partially motivated to write his stories by his desire to invent other languages.

The tone of the book is set in a warm, light, and humorous manner in contrast to other epic works such as Beowulf and The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The unlikely pairing of Bilbo with wizards, dwarves, and dragons establishes the contrast between the novel’s historically inspired, mythological subject matter and the lighthearted, modern tone.


  1. Who is Belladonna Took?
  2. What is a hobbit-hole like?
  3. What is the name of the city Thror ruled?
  4. What do hobbits look like?
  5. When Bilbo meets Gandalf outside at the beginning of the chapter, what are the four meanings of "good morning"?
  6. Why are they planning an adventure to the Lonely Mountain?
  7. Why did Gandalf insist that Bilbo would be useful on the adventure?
  8. How many dwarves arrived at Bilbo's house?
  9. How did the dwarves find Bilbo's house?


Main Characters[edit]

Other Characters[edit]

Mentioned Characters[edit]