The Hobbit – Chapter 6: “Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire”

Bilbo has escaped Gollum’s lair and the goblin caves.  He’s lost quite a few items, but he emerges with his pride and his morality intact.  He also emerges with his reputation kicked up a few notches as he surprises the entire company with his reappearance.

And yet… he lies to the company and conceals the Ring.  It’s important to note as a reminder that when The Hobbit was written, the Ring was just an “ordinary” magic ring of invisibility.  But in some clever ret-conning in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf will make a fuss over this very moment, letting us know that the Ring has already got its hooks into our hobbity hero.

In retrospect, you could say the Ring was already doing its work at trying to be found by the bad guys, for the group is surrounded in short order.  Goblins behind!  Wolves ahead!  Exciting, isn’t it?  While the group shimmies up the trees, the goblins give us more songs, and they reveal just how depraved they can be.

When the eagles come into play, we learn that (contrary to what movie-viewers believe) they are not anyone’s taxi service, nor are they on anyone’s side.  They are on the side of good, but their task is not the eradication of evil.  They are wild, and they acknowledge the humans who would shoot at them if they got too close to the towns.  They are representative of the wild lands they’re in.  Like the wargs, they are savage.  The wargs are less evil than the goblins due to their savagery, and the eagles are less good due for the same reason.  The wild is what gives Middle-Earth its depth and range, for it isn’t nearly as simple as many would assume.  It’s far more complex than people give it credit for being.

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