|Dead or Alive||Alive|
As a youth living in Buckland, Frodo Baggins often made trips to steal Bamfurlong mushrooms. On the last occasion Farmer Maggot caught Frodo, beat him, and then threatened to feed the young Hobbit to the dogs if he ever trespassed again. He then set the dogs on Frodo, which chased him all the way to the ferry. Although the dogs did him no harm, the incident so terrified Frodo that, even 30-some years later, he quivered at the thought of crossing the old farmer's land.
Nevertheless, necessity forced Frodo, Sam, and Pippin (who was on good terms with Maggot) to cross through his fields. Maggot and his dogs Fang, Grip and Wolf met up with the trio, but Maggot had long set aside any grudge against Frodo. He invited the company to supper and then took them via wagon ride to the ferry to meet Merry, and gave Frodo a parting gift of a whole basket full of mushrooms.
Maggot insisted on escorting Frodo because one of the Black Riders had appeared on his land offering gold for news of 'Baggins.' Maggot told him off and ordered him not to return. The Black Rider nearly ran Maggot down, and Maggot's dogs were no help — they were terrified of the Rider.
Maggot was said to have three daughters and at least three sons, in addition to his wife (who is only identified as Mrs. Maggot). Through some unknown means, Maggot was acquainted with Tom Bombadil and informed him that Frodo and friends might be coming towards Bombadil's house through the Old Forest. Bombadil himself described Maggot as very wise. Maggot also figures as a friend of Bombadil in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
Farmer Maggot and his farmstead have been interpreted as an example of Tolkien's vision of an idealised rural life. Although the Hobbit society regards the farming business higher than other peoples of Middle-earth do, even Frodo is not free of "class snobbishness" towards Maggot and in addition, both Frodo and Maggot recall a negative encounter from Frodo's youth. Maggot himself displays the "typical suspiciousness of the Shire" by denouncing the people of Hobbiton, Frodo's home town.
During their quest of the Ring, however, Maggot turns out to be protective and helpful, a turn that has been noted as evidence how Tolkien enjoyed reversing negative expections in his readership and his characters. Also the title "Farmer" is ultimately meant to be honorific and a scene where Frodo, Merry and Pippin are invited for supper at Maggot's house is another favorable portrayal of farm life. Maggot and another character, Farmer Cotton who in the end becomes Samwise's father in law, are two examples of a detailed description of steadfast Hobbit farmers. These two characters have been seen as "bookends" to The Lord of the Ring's plot with Maggot providing help to Frodo and his companions in the beginning and Cotton being a crucial figure in "The Scouring of the Shire", i.e. the liberation of the Shire from Saruman's occupation towards the end of the story.
In Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, the shortcut through Maggot's field is extremely condensed and altered. In the movie, Frodo and Sam set out from Bag End alone and run into Merry and Pippin stealing vegetables (not mushrooms) from Maggot's fields. According to Pippin, he and Merry had been stealing from Maggot for some time, though in the book the two are very good friends of Maggot. Maggot himself is not seen, though his scythe is visible over the edge of the fields and he is heard shouting at the young Hobbits. Maggot also appears earlier in the film, played by Cameron Rhodes. He tells the Black Rider, "There are no Bagginses round here. They are all up in Hobbiton, that way!"