Bilbo Baggins (from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books) is one of the all-time classic "unlikely hero" characters. First of all, there's that silly, alliterative name — really, break it down and say it without attaching any context, it's ridiculous. And then there's his appearance and physique, which might generously be described as "roly-poly." Short, squat, big, hairy feet; definitely not your typical Orc-slayer.
Still, he's a legend for a reason. He's quick-witted (if the riddle showdown with Gollum is any indication), and he's brave enough to stand up to goblins, enormous spiders, and a dragon. Of course, the real reason he's important in J. R. R. Tolkien's mythology is that he finds the One Ring and brings it back to the land of the living, as it were. In doing so, he sets in motion the events that fill the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. He also begins a slow descent from a happy-go-lucky hobbit with nary a care in the world to someone who finds himself struggling with an addiction that he only partially conquers, which makes him a pretty tragic figure in the end.
Anyway, if I could sit down with Bilbo, here's what I'd ask him:
- Do you ever wish you hadn't found the ring — is the knowledge that Sauron is gone for good worth the pain that the ring caused you and a lot of people you love?
- How did you convince yourself to give Frodo the ring?
- Finally, a riddle: The man who invented it doesn't want it. The man who bought it doesn't need it. The man who needs it doesn't know it. What is it? (Splotters: 2,000,000 extra special bonus points if you can figure this out — but NO GOOGLING. I'll know.)
What's the answer to question #3? What are you hoping Bilbo could tell you? And what the heck is going on in that video? Holler at a scholar in the comments!
— Jack L, STACKS Staffer