In the Grimm fairytale "The Lady and The Lion," L. Frank Baum's fantasy work, The Wizard of Oz, and J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy work The Hobbit, the concept of a promise is a prominent and important theme in maintaining one's honour.

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It is traditionally believed that a person’s word represents a binding contract, with one’s honour at stake in the process. However, not always is this moral code of conduct followed, with possible repercussions to pay. In the Grimm fairytale “The Lady and The Lion,” L. Frank Baum’s fantasy work, The Wizard of Oz, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy work The Hobbit, the concept of a promise is a prominent and important theme in maintaining one’s honour. As The Hobbit’s Bilbo says, “A promise is a promise,” and it is through the comparison of both fairytales and fantasy works that the idea of the promise is one in which a person’s word is golden, or at least needs to be for an ultimate sense of goodness to ensue.

The character of Bilbo in The Hobbit, is a good example of one that embodies the idea of promise fulfillment. He is a simple fellow that dislikes excitement and adventure, however, he is still convinced by the wizard Gandalf and the party of dwarves to assist them on their journey to recover their lost gold. They require a crafty burglar, something that Bilbo knows nothing about, but still adheres to due to much convincing on the parts of the dwarves; he felt that he would agree to anything if it would lead this numerous dwarven guests out of his house. Yet, it is his hubris, his inner pride which compels him to actually commit to helping them, despite the dangers involved. As the dwarves had belittled him with remarks of mockery towards his very nature of small size and apparent weakness, Bilbo states,

Pardon me, if I have overheard words that you were saying. I don’t pretend to understand what you are talking about, or your reference to burglars, but think I am right in believing...that you think that I am no good. I will show you...Tell me what you want done and I will try it (Tolkien 32).

Even though the dwarves had left him the next morning and he could have abandoned their quest, it is his strong binding promise that urges him to continue. He believed that only bad things could ensue if he dishonoured himself and his companions by leaving them to complete their quest alone. Hence, the ultimate goodness of recovering the treasures for the dwarves is achieved directly in consequence of Bilbo’s accompaniment upon the journey, as he uses his stealth with the ring to save the day in many situations.  

Later on in the novel, Bilbo is faced with another promised situation where he encounters a shady character named Gollum. Gollum is a very dark, creepy, slimy creature that lives in a cave beneath the earth and runs rampant killing anybody he wants for food. It is he who possessed the magical ring of invisibility before Bilbo and it was in his cave that Bilbo found this ring that would change his future. Gollum had every right to be upset in losing the ring to Bilbo, however, he also had it in his head to kill Bilbo and eat him anyway, even though he had lost the riddle-game. Bilbo had sense enough not to trust Gollum as he reflects on the immorality of his character,

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He knew of course that the riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it. But he felt he could not trust this slimy thing to keep any promise at a pinch. Any excuse would do for him to slide out of it, (Tolkien 104).

Even though this match of wits was held as an important game and worshiped on a holy level, Gollum was still willing to cheat and to go back on his promise to Bilbo of showing him the exit. Apparently, even the nasty creatures ...

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