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Tolkien's Middle-earth:

Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators

Unit Three: There and Back Again

Content Focus: The Hobbit, Chapters VIII – XIX
Thematic Focus: The Quest in Life and Literature


In Unit Three, the class uses The Hobbit as a springboard to a more general consideration of quest adventures, with a special emphasis on the heroic epic. Moving back and forth between Bilbo Baggins’s journey and their personal experiences, students consider three types of quest — the heroic, the interior, and the metaphorical — that recur in life and literature.

Learning Goals

By the end of Unit Three, the student should be able to:

• List W. H. Auden's six characteristics of a quest story.

• Say what is meant by a "metaphorical quest."

• Discuss some differences between symbolism and allegory.

• Indicate how Bilbo Baggins's adventures changed him for the better.

• Appreciate Gandalf's distinction between providence and "mere luck."

Unit Three Content

Comments for Teachers
Preliminary Quiz
Key Terms
Discussion Topics
Suggested Activities

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These lesson plans were written by James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow in consultation with Amy Allison, Gregory Miller, Sarah Rito, and Jason Zanitsch.

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