Leadership in “The Hobbit”

Thoughts on Tolkien’s leadership development in "The Hobbit."

This is the second article in a series of thoughts and musings over Tolkien’s works and other fantasy books. If you enjoy it, check out the others!

One thing I noticed while reading The Hobbit was the concept of leadership and its growth in characters. For instance, Bilbo does little to help the party in any respect at all until the departure of Gandalf. Up to that point, Bilbo is more of a burden than a member to the party. However, at Gandalf’s disappearance the leader of the group is stripped away, and only then can other leaders begin to grow. I do not know what Tolkien may have been trying to get across here, nor do I pretend to know, but it struck me that perhaps the loss of a leader is not always a bad thing. It can be a good thing in that it lets other characters reach their full potential, in this case, Bilbo. If Gandalf had stayed the entire story would Bilbo ever have come to be more to the party? Of course not! Gandalf would have gotten them out of almost every problem, and Bilbo would have been more than happy to let someone else handle what was thrown at them, leaving Bilbo as much the same character at the end as he was at the beginning of the story.

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