A lot of things happened by accident in life. For example, penicillin was discovered after Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally left a petri dish over night in his laboratory. That is just one example. So, if accidents tend to happen in real life, where we really cannot control the circumstances surrounding us, why wouldn’t they happen in fiction, where the author completely controls the lives of his characters? These accidents are fictional, but in the lives of the characters themselves, they are real as penicillin was real for Fleming. In this article, we’re going to talk about one of these accidents, the accident which lead to Bilbo Baggins acquiring the One Ring while losing his matches in the dark. Why was that good?
How did Bilbo end up without his matches?
When Thorin, Bilbo, Gandalf and the rest of the company leave Rivendell, they decided to cross the Misty Mountains. There, they witnessed the distant fight of giants before taking shelter in what seemed to be an ordinary cave. Yet, while in that cave, they were captured by the goblins; Dori, who was carrying Bilbo, was grabbed by a Goblin and in the ensuing struggle, Bilbo lost consciousness and was left in the darkness of the cave, abandoned by his companions.
Bilbo Baggins was not in a very pleasant situation. He was in the dark and his matches had disappeared. But, that turned out to be good for him. Why?
Why was it good that he had lost his matches?
So, why was it good that Bilbo Baggins lost his matches when he woke up in the darkness of the cave? First of all, it seems to have spared his life. He was in a dark place with a specific smell. The light of a match, along with the smell of tobacco and sulfur (as he had intended on lighting his pipe), would certainly have attracted something in that cave, probably the goblins that had already attacked them.
As Tolkien himself writes, who knows “what the striking of matches and the smell of tobacco would have brought on him out of dark holes in that horrible place”. Bilbo realized that soon enough, and he was, in a way, happy to have found himself match-less.
As for the other reason, it is depicted on the image – or, rather, screenshot – above, which shows Bilbo holding the One Ring in his hand. While crawling through the cave, Bilbo found the “turning point in his career, but he did not know it” at the time.
He found a small metallic sing, which he conveniently placed in his pocket. Bilbo had no idea he was carrying with him the One Ring, which would prove essential for the plot of The Lord of the Rings, so he kept on walking until he found Gollum, who had lost that same thing earlier. After a game of riddles, Bilbo eventually used the Ring to trick the Gollum into showing him the exit, eventually escaping with it.