Despite the relative clarity with which Bilbo was conceptualized and written, Bilbo’s role within the Legendarium at large – and even his role within his own text, The Hobbit – has proved definitively lacking. With an entire novel devoted to Bilbo (he is The Hobbit, after all), and considering the extent to which he is centrally involved with the quest that progresses across The Lord of the Rings, the identification of Bilbo’s increasingly diminished role across the Legendarium comes not only as an unanticipated reality, but, for Bilbo Baggins fans especially, a distressing one. While he may be protagonist in name, even within his own book Bilbo is not given much action or agency in the conventional heroic sense. Indeed, in the gallant, daring, dragon-slaying sense of the fantasy-genre protagonist, Mr. Bilbo Baggins fails on nearly all accounts. What Tolkien instead provides is a hero of a different variety. The question, therefore, is whether The Hobbitultimately promotes Bilbo’s variety of heroism.
Stein, Katherine, "The Relegation of Bilbo: The Narrative Diminishment of Mr. Bilbo Baggins Across J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium" (2017). 4610 English: Individual Authors: J.R.R. Tolkien. 16.