Book, Fantasy

5 Simple Lessons Tolkien’s The Hobbit Taught Me About Life

#1 – Wealth isn’t something you can depend on to make all your problems go away

Thorin had a whole cavern of priceless treasure, and yet, in the end, it could not save him from the fate of every man and dwarf who had come before him and would come after him. The Bible tells us that the love of money (not the money itself, but the love of it) is the root of all kinds of evil. Greed made Thorin almost lose himself, alienate his allies, and cheat those who had suffered greatly at Smaug’s hands. Er, claws? Well, technically, fiery maw, but you get what I mean.

#2 – The simple things in life are often the most worth cherishing

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

I don’t believe Tolkien (or Thorin, for that matter) is suggesting that material things (even though they aren’t gold or monetary wealth) can take the place of what matters most. You might think that, like I mistakenly have in the past. But it simply is not the case. Food, song, and cheer conjure up homey images. Thoughts and feelings of love and belonging. Gold makes a cold master. Embracing the simple things in life and being grateful for them is truly a great ability.

#3 – Don’t underestimate someone because of their stature or status

 “Courage is found in unlikely places.”

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

At the beginning of the story, we see that Bilbo Baggins is content with his cushy lot in life. You wouldn’t take him for an adventurer. Nor would he say that of himself. Bilbo could have easily turned down the position of burglar for the company of dwarves. He seemed more like a liability than an asset. Used to a warm bed, six meals a day, he is certainly out of his comfort zone when he leaves the Shire and camps out under the stars and in caves and eats not as often or as well as he’s accustomed to. But he ends up saving the company’s necks several times and proves himself to be made of sterner stuff than he was first assessed.

#4 – Evil can be defeated

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

This one reminds me of another famous quote, this time from fantasy author Neil Gaiman:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

Spoiler alert (around eighty-six years too late): Smaug is defeated. He does a lot of damage first and is difficult to be brought down, but Bard manages it. Thorin’s greed is also defeated at the very end. And the orcs don’t succeed in battle. Good triumphing over evil is what I believe the ultimate destiny of this planet to be.

#5 – Home really is where your heart is

Cheesy? Maybe. But there’s a Bible verse that admonishes Christians to store up treasure in heaven (an eternal home), for where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. If you’re not a Christian, this still makes sense. Think about it. If you put all your love into your S/O or spouse, where that person is, that’s home. If it’s your job, the workplace is home. We should all mind who and what we love and make our “home.”

Bilbo’s heart was in the Shire, where he returns at the end. But I want to also argue that his heart was with his new friends as well, meaning he had a home at Bag End AND among the dwarves.


What are some things The Hobbit taught you about life? Or maybe you haven’t given it much thought. Or maybe—le gasp!—you haven’t read the book. That’s okay. If you can’t think of anything it taught you, tell me your favorite character in the comments. And if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to give it a go. You would be in for a real treat!

Keep your nose in a book,


Liked this post and want to see more like it? How about this post, the one where I dressed like a hobbit. Or how about when I tried to bake like a hobbit?

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