|Riddles In The Dark|
Alan Lee's portrayal of the riddle game
|Title||Riddles In The Dark|
|Date||10—12 July T.A. 2941|
|Characters||Bilbo Baggins, Gollum|
|Previous||Over Hill And Under Hill|
|Next||Out Of The Frying-Pan Into The Fire|
Riddles in the Dark is the fifth chapter of J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit. This chapter of The Hobbit holds the most importance to The Lord of the Rings as it deals with Bilbo's finding of the One Ring. This chapter has been heavily edited by Tolkien to bring it closer in line with the plot of The Lord of the Rings.
Bilbo recovers from his fall and finds himself in a dark passage, finds a gold ring on the ground, and pockets it. Soon he comes across the creature Gollum.
Bilbo regains consciousness and, finding himself alone, tries to crawl through the tunnel. He finds a ring, which he absentmindedly pockets. He wishes he were back in his comfortable home, eating. As a hobbit, he can orient himself quite well underground, and he continues to descend the tunnel until he comes to a lake that he cannot cross, not knowing how to swim.
Bilbo is spotted by old Gollum, who lives alone on an island in the lake, which he navigates in a small boat. Gollum is a small, slimy, dark creature with pale eyes, named for the sound he makes as he swallows; he preys upon Goblins and fish. Because he lives alone, Gollum is in the habit of speaking to himself in a kind of hissing baby-talk, calling himself "my precious." Trying to assess Bilbo, he engages him in a game of riddles, at which Bilbo proves his equal.
Gollum decides to get the better of Bilbo by using his "birthday present", a ring. When he wears it, he is invisible and can more easily snag his prey. He goes to the hiding place where he keeps the ring, but it is gone. Gollum correctly surmises that Bilbo has it and confronts him, asking what is in his pocket. Bilbo, who does not understand the power of the ring, slips it on his finger as Gollum runs to attack him. Bilbo becomes invisible, and Gollum cannot find him to attack.
Gollum is afraid that without the invisibility of the ring, he will be captured by the Goblins. He panics and runs to escape the cave. Bilbo, who is still invisible, follows him, thereby discovering the way
out. Gollum, who can smell Bilbo, blocks his way. Bilbo thinks of killing Gollum, but decides it would not be fair, because Bilbo is invisible and Gollum is unarmed. Bilbo escapes by an extraordinary leap over Gollum's head and through the passageway, but he runs into the Goblins. As they rush at him, he slips the ring on, becoming invisible, and narrowly escapes to the outside where it is light and the Goblins cannot follow.
Changes from the first editionEdit
The Lord of the Rings brought about changes to the context of the original story, and led to substantial changes to the character of Gollum.
In the first edition of The Hobbit, Gollum bets his ring on the riddle game and if Bilbo wins, the ring will be presented as a present. After losing, Gollum seeks for the ring, but cannot find it. He begs for Bilbo's pardon and shows him the way out.
Tolkien made Gollum more aggressive in the second edition to reflect on the concept of the ring's corrupting abilities.
In The Lord of the Rings, the original version of the riddle game is explained as a "lie" made up by Bilbo under the harmful influence of the Ring, whereas the revised version contains the "true" account.
These are the riddles that are told by Bilbo and Gollum in this chapter:
What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees Up, up, up it goes,
And yet never grows?
Thirty white horses on a red hill,
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still.
Answer: Teeth on Chestnuts
Voiceless it cries,
An eye in a blue face
Saw an eye in a green face.
'That eye is like to this eye'
Said the first eye,
'But in low place
Not in high place.'
Answer: Sun shining on daisies
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
A box without hinges, key or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.
Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking
No-legs lay on one-leg, two legs sat near on three legs, four legs got some.
Answer: Fish on a little one-legged table, man at table sitting on a three-legged stool, the cat gets the bones
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
What do I have in my pocket?
Answer: The Ring
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