The Symbolism of The Hobbit

the hobbit bilbo

J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write his books as allegories but his faith influenced the tales, and is blatant on screen. While The Hobbit doesn’t have the blatant symbolism of The Lord of the Rings, there are some wonderful references to Tolkien’s beliefs. Here are some things to discuss with your children after seeing the film:

A Challenge to Change: like many characters in the Bible, Bilbo is content in his quiet life until Gandalf (one of Middle-earth’s Christ figures) interrupts it with a chance for adventure. Bilbo is resistant at first but takes a life-altering journey. This parallels a believer’s walk of faith, beginning with a “yes” to God and ending in a transformed life.

Thorin’s Dwarves: the dwarf-leader values his companions not for their abilities but their willingness to serve. Likewise, none of Jesus’ disciples were remarkable, but He used them because they answered when He called to them. Our abilities need not be remarkable to be of service to God; we need only a willing heart.

Last Minute Miracles: Twice, Gandalf saves them from death at the last possible second. Yet, still he comes… even when all hope seems lost. Nor will God forsake His children. He does not promise the adventure won’t have its perils, but He does promise to be with us.

A “Letter Opener” Sword: the sword given to Bilbo by Gandalf seems a small thing and unimportant, but it is exactly what he needs. Though our gifts may seem “little” in comparison to others, God gave them to us for a reason.

The Goblin King: Though he is enormous, the Goblin King is no match for Gandalf, who takes him out easily. What seems a monumental task in our life does not intimidate, slow down, or impede God from His task.

“Meant” to Have the Ring: it is no accident that Bilbo found the Ring in Gollum’s cave. As Gandalf says in The Lord of the Rings, he was “meant to have it,” so Frodo could destroy it. This reminds us that all things work for good, in accordance with God’s purpose.

The Fate of Gollum: Bilbo’s mercy toward Gollum leads to the freeing of Middle-earth from evil. Compassion stays his hand, so the Creator can use Gollum to fulfill a far greater purpose than anyone suspects.

You can choose to see The Hobbit as pure entertainment, or you can look beneath the surface to see spiritual truths. There are many more hidden in the story, for you to discover.

If you would like to read further on the symbolism and deeper meaning in Tolkien’s works, please log on and read the current issue of Femnista, at

2 thoughts on “The Symbolism of The Hobbit

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  1. Every time I think of the symbolism in Tolkien’s work, I just want to break down and weep. And as A INTJ it’s hard to make me desire too do so. Alas seeing Gollum’s struggles and despair always get’s me. Because, I very well know it could be me… Just not that old thank GOD. He angers, creeps me out, and thrills me to no end. Then the loyalty, faith, despair, courage, all in the feelz. Anyways, what I mean to say is that I agree with you and your article.

    1. Me too. It’s the same with The Chronicles of Narnia. Sometimes, I can’t even really TALK about these stories without tearing up — and that’s… awkward. =)

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