But Tolkien seems to employ the imagery to an even greater level. His dragon imagery embodies the action of self-reflection that emerges in serious intellectual inquiry. The essential questions of "Who am I?" "What am I about?" "What am I capable of?" lie at the heart of the spiritual quest to know ourselves. Consequently, the pattern of the Hobbit, which is itself a spiritual journey of self-discovery, displays this mirror doubling in its imagery.
Similarly, the multitudinous spiders are divine, otherworldly creatures of nightmare and darkness. They attack the dwarves and the hobbit in the darkness of Mirkwood when the company tries to seek help from the elusive wood elves and wrap them in the eternal shroud of webbing to be "consumed" later. But Bilbo's encounter with the Trolls has prepared him for this meeting and he saves the dwarves with the help of Sting. The spiders ask "what is it?" in reference to Sting. Here Bilbo is not defined by who he is but what he does. As such he helps the dwarves escape after a great battle with the spiders.
The visiting of the beneficent high elves in Rivendell in which Thorin and company are the voluntary guests of Elrond is mirrored by the "visiting" of the hostile wood elves in Mirkwood in which the company are involuntary guests of Thranduil. Rivendell is a place of joy and light, rest after their encounter with the trolls. The wood elves are a place of darkness and treacherously alluring bounty which imprisons the company. Both are representative of the capacity for creative thought; the first in its benevolent form of comedy, the second in its malevolent form of tragedy. Bilbo leaves from the first riding on ponies and escapes from the second riding on barrels; a fact that later will confuse Smaug and help to save Bilbo.
This sort of pathos is just what Bilbo must feel, confront, and leave behind. It poses an obstacle to his escape from the nightmarish womb of primordial existence in which Gollum dwells. No great leap for a man but a great leap for a hobbit. Nor is the escape without consequence as Bilbo hears behind him "Thief! Thief! Baggins! We hates it. Hates it forever!" Ever after the curse of becoming the manikin/doppleganger will dog Bilbo's domestic bliss (his Baggins side) pursuing him throughout Middle Earth, trying to join again the two halves that share the ring.