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derrow

Mitchell Hruby

Mythology 4

Mrs. Derrow

20 May 2008

From the Shire to South America: A contrast between two great heroes

            For many centuries the debate has raged on over what exactly makes a hero. Some say a hero must be victorious on the battle field like the hero’s of old such as Sigurd the Volsung and King Arthur. Yet others argue it is the protection of the weak and defenseless. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is transformed into a hero as the story progresses. By contrasting Bilbo to the South American liberator Simon Bolivar the Hobbit’s heroism is put into perspective and it is obvious how big a hero Bilbo really is.

            One of the biggest differences between Bilbo Baggins and Simon Bolivar is the attitude they have towards their quests at the beginning of their adventures. In the beginning of The Hobbit Bilbo is a quiet Halfling whose only wish is to live his life without disturbances. In the first chapter Bilbo even tells Gandalf “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.” (Tolkien 6). Later, while the company is setting off on their adventure Bilbo even wished he was “‘at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing.’ It was not the last time he wished that!” (Tolkien 32). Unlike Bilbo, Simon Bolivar, even at a young age, had always shown courage and bravery towards on his quest to liberate South America. The Encyclopedia of World Biography states Bolivar “showed early traits of independence and strong will.”(375). As a young man Bolivar modeled even modeled his goals after Napoleon and even “dreamed a similar glory for himself.”(Encyclopedia of World Biography 375). It is clear that Bolivar and Bilbo could not be more different at the start of their adventures.

            The two great heroes not only differed in the beginning of their quest but the end as well. After Bilbo’s great adventure he is rewarded with his fair share of treasure. He returns to Bags-end and the shire to “remain very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.” (Tolkien 304). Yet unlike Bilbo, Bolivar’s ending was not as happy. Michael H. Hart writes Bolivar died in 1830, “he was discouraged, impoverished and exiled from his native Venezuela” (246). Although he worked his whole life towards the liberation of Venezuela as well as other Southern American countries Bolivar fell short of his goal while Bilbo triumphed in the end.

            Lastly, Bilbo and Bolivar also differ in the control of their quest. In The Hobbit Bilbo is dragged along on his adventure and has no control over the original planning. It is not his quest to begin with and he is just following Thorin and Gandalf’s orders. Bolivar, on the other hand, takes ultimate control over his expedition. In 1811 Bolivar became an officer in the revolutionary army and won many important battles with his tactics (Hart 245). Later in 1824 Bolivar and his armies liberated Peru and formed the republic of Greater Columbia and elected Bolivar as president (Hart 246).

            Overall, it is evident that although both will be remembered as great heroes, Bilbo Baggins and Simon Bolivar are very different. While both are courageous and brave they used different methods to accomplish their goals. By closely examining Bilbo and Bolivar we can tell that a hero can have a variety of traits, and that a hero is someone who fights for what they believe in and never gives up.

 

Works Cited

Hart, Michael H. The 100-a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.

            New York: Kesington, 1992. 244-247.

"Simon Bolivar." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. 1998.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. New York: Ballantine Books, 1982

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