Human Journey

‘Hobbit’ Cheat Sheet: A Field Guide to the People of Middle-Earth

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey takes place 60 years before the events in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy but returns to the same setting: Middle-earth. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, famously created a complex world for his novels, dreaming up languages and detailed histories for his characters.  Much of that complexity is brought into the movie, a tale about a simple hobbit who sets off on an epic journey.

Lord of the Rings veterans probably have their elves and orcs straight, but for the uninitiated, it is a confusing world. Use this guide to sort out the denizens of Middle-earth.

Katia Andreassi


Appearance: Short and a bit chubby. The men dress like English squires from the 1800s and they prefer to be barefoot.

Habitat: The Shire, a pastoral village of quaint and cozy hobbit holes.

Distinguishing trait: They don’t like adventures. Or do they?

Important Character: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is the hobbit of the movie title.

Should You Fear Them: All these cheerful folks want is peace, quiet, and a snack.



Appearance: Tall and ethereally beautiful. Long hair, flowing robes, elegant demeanor.

Habitat: Impossibly perfect settlements built around waterfalls.

Distinguishing trait: Is someone telepathically speaking to you in a voice tempered by the wisdom of the ages? You are talking to an elf.

Important character: Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) is a guardian of Middle Earth and Gandalf’s friend.

Should you fear them: These immortal creatures are skilled warriors but are slow to resort to violence.



Appearance: There are only five wizards in Middle-earth but their appearances vary. Saruman appears god-like and pristine in white robes, while Radagast has a bird’s nest on his head.

Habitat: Scattered throughout Middle Earth.

Distinguishing traits: Wizards carry a staff and wield magical powers.

Important character: Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) is your friendly neighborhood wizard. If you are planning a quest, you want him on your team.

Should you fear them: Don’t get on a wizard’s bad side.



Appearance: Short, stout, and strong.

Habitat: Mining kingdoms built deep inside mountains.

Distinguishing traits: Beards, axes, an affinity for precious metals and gems.

Important character: Thorin, son of Thrain (Richard Armitage). He’s out to reclaim his ancestral home.

Should you fear them: They are friendly guys but quick to start a fight.



Appearance: Irregularly shaped and often hairless. Let’s face it, they’re ugly.

Habitat: Ramshackle underground complexes.

Distinguishing traits: Do you have an Elvin sword? Is it glowing? Then there is an orc nearby. Proceed with caution.

Important character: Azog, the Pale Orc (Manu Bennett). This particularly evil orc killed Thorin’s father, and now he’s hunting Thorin.

Should you fear them: These are the bad guys of Middle Earth.Avoid at all costs.



Appearance: These massive and dirty creatures wear filthy loincloths.

Habitat: Holes in the ground. Do not confuse these with hobbit holes. There is nothing quaint or cozy about them.

Distinguishing trait: They turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

Should you fear them: They’ll eat you, no questions asked.



Appearance: A bit like an orc, but is there something almost hobbit-like in those eyes?

Habitat: Hidden on the outskirts of a goblin settlement.

Distinguishing traits: Even though there’s only one Gollum, he has a split personality … and an obsession with what he calls his “precious,” a powerful ring.

Should you fear him: Maybe. You might feel sorry for him, but he can’t be trusted.

  • Ima Ryma

    The Hobbits lived in Middle Earth,
    From J.R.R. Tolkien’s mind.
    A fiction that became real worth
    Among the modern humankind.
    With words, “In a hole in the ground…”
    Tolkien took the Hobbits to
    Fight the evils that do abound.
    But good can triumph if held true.
    We young (and old) of heart could go
    To escape from the today strife,
    With little friends against big foe,
    And be a part of Hobbit life.

    Wouldn’t it be a wondrous thing,
    Destroy evil – destroy a ring!

  • carlee slocum

    i am reading this book in third block class and to me it is interesting to read

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