Little is known of Beorn’s origins. He once lived in the Misty Mountains near the Goblin’s cave, but at the time of The Hobbit he lived in the edge of the mountains near the Carrock. Beorn was a skin-changer and could transform himself into a great bear. On the first night the Party stayed in his house, he warned them not to stray outside ‘on their own peril.’ Later that night, Bilbo heard growling and scuffling outside and Gandalf later told the Company he witnesses ‘a regular bear’s meeting’ that night.
The enchantment associated with Beorn didn’t stop with his ability to turn into a bear. His servants were animals that could walk upright and talk. He aided the Company by providing them food, and the use of his ponies as far as the eaves of Mirkwood. Later, Beorn killed the goblin Bolg in the Battle of Five Armies. Beorn’s descendants were valiant men who aided Aragorn during his search for Gollum (Unfinished Tales – “The Hunt for the Ring”). At the Council of Elrond, Gimli credited the Beornings with keeping the High Pass through the Misty Mountains open for travel between Rivendell and Dale.
Analysis: In one of his letters, Tolkien mentions that, though Beorn is a skin-changer and no doubt a bit of a magician, he was a man.
In The Hobbit, Tolkien doesn’t go into any details about the circumstances of Beorn’s transformation into a bear. One of the highly anticipated parts of the movie is whether the film-makers will show this transformation.
- “Little bunny is getting nice and fat again on bread and honey”
- “I do not need your service, thank you, but I expect you need mine.” (to Thorin)
- “A very good tale! The best I have heard for a long while. If all beggars could tell such a good one, they might find me kinder.” (to Gandalf)
- “It was a good story, that of yours, but I like it still better now I am sure it is true.” (to Gandalf)