When writing a fantasy novel, such as The Hobbit, by J. Tolkein, one of the main difficulties is making the story believable. By definition, a fantasy novel will incorporate many things that are completely unbelievable; Talking animals, mythical creatures, and the use of magic are the norm. Since these aspects are so obviously unbelievable, it is important to find some part that can be firmly anchored in reality. It is rare that a writer can forge this link between realty and imagination, but those who do create something wonderful, which captivates the minds and of readers for years to come. J.R.R. Tolkein is one such author, and his novel The Hobbit, is certainly one such work. Though he created a land of High Fantasy, Tolkein managed to preserve that all important link that makes it believable, and this link is in his characters. This is especially true of the main character, Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is so well characterized that by the end of the novel, the reader almost believe that this is not a work of fiction, but perhaps a biography. Tolkein's characterization of Bilbo can be classified into three methods: physical description, mental process, and actions. It is through these methods that Bilbo becomes less of a character and more of a real being, and it is through Bilbo that The Hobbit is less of a whimsical fairy tale, and more of a High Fantasy with the affinity of an Epic.
In a reader's mind the most necessary form a characterization is a physical description. This is especially true when reading The Hobbit, because Bilbo isn't even human. Tolkien, however, does not disappoint. Right from the beginning, it becomes clear that Bilbo is a Hobbit, a small, humanoid creature. Tolkein thoroughly describes Bilbo, from his size, to his clothes, to the hair on his feet. The reader learns of his customs, his ability to move quietly, and his slight pudgy-ness. An image begins to form, and then, the reader can picture Bilbo in his mind.