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Not at Home, part V - "Now I am a burglar indeed!"
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sador
Half-elven

Jun 17 2009, 9:16am

Post #1 of 36 (802 views)
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Not at Home, part V - "Now I am a burglar indeed!" Can't Post

Suddenly Bilbo’s arm went towards it drawn by its enchantment. His small hand would not close about it, for it was a large and heavy gem; but he lifted it, shut his eyes, and put it in his deepest pocket.

1. Can Bilbo help himself? Would you be able to?
2. What does “his deepest pocket” mean? How many did he have? Was the Arkenstone kept somewhere deeper than the ring? Note than Bilbo picked the ring casually.

“Now I am a burglar indeed!” thought he. “But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it – some time. They did say I could pick and choose my own share; and I think I would choose this, if they took all the rest!” All the same he had an uncomfortable feeling that the picking and choosing had not really been meant to include this marvelous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.

A funny premonition, don’t you think?

3. Why does Bilbo intend to withold the report?
4. As far as I remember, Bilbo was hired for one fourteenth part of the profits in cash; and in the later bargaining with Bard, Thorin agreed to pay one fourteenth part in gold and silver, setting aside the gems. Actually, Dain paid Bard only gold and silver, wrought and unwrought. To quote the Gaffer: “I know nothing of jools”. Which interpretation of the contract is more correct – Thorin’s, or Bilbo’s?
5. Let’s say Bard and the Elvenking hadn’t come, and Thorin would be King under the Mountain with no special trouble. Would Bilbo have withheld the Arkenstone and demanded his share?

Yes, I am aware that the last question was provocative. But in the original version of ‘Riddles in the Dark’, Bilbo “had the wits” not to tell Gollum he found the ring, and did accept his apologies. “Finding’s keeping”, he said – and graciously agreed to let Gollum off the hook by showing him the way out.

Now Bilbo is a burglar indeed – which, as Dreamdeer pointed out, is quite a seedy profession, isn’t it?
Is this the time to consider Bilbo’s burglarly history? Let’s make a list: The silly attempt to pickpocket Bill the troll (with Tolkien’s delicious irony on how all the legends tell it is easy, omitting the important detail that “troll’s purses are the mischief”); taking and keeping silent about Gollum’s ring (with perfect justification in the present version, and a bit less in the original one); stealing food from the wood-elves and then the houses near the river (note that he did feel a pang of conscience about this, and paid the Elvenking), the cup from Smaug, the Arkenstone.
6. Could Bilbo’s moral character survive all these incidents?

Another side of burglary is the need for subterfuge; in effect, to hiding the truth. I’m not talking merely about not telling Gollum about the Ring – there are all the times Bilbo omits telling the truth – not telling the wizard and dwarf about the key to the trolls’ cave (merely a prank? anyway, this was the first object which somewhat inexplicably found its way into his hand); frightening the dwarves when coming down from the Mountains and not telling them about the ring; telling them a false story when he did tell them – although we do not know it until the Preface to LotR!
Actually, I wonder whether anyone noticed he took Sting; there is nothing in the book to suggest he took it secretly, but I guess he would like to keep this as another secret (like he asked Frodo to keep the mithril-shirt secret).

7. I contend that quite a few of these deceptions were unnecessary. Comments?
8. The worse case of all, in my opinion, is writing the false version in his book. As the only people who ever read the book (Gandalf and Frodo; Bilbo didn’t know Merry had a peep) knew the true story – what was the point in leaving the false one to posterity?

In the Council of Elrond, Bilbo apologised for not telling the true story before:

‘I will tell the true story, and if some here have heard me tell it otherwise’ – he looked side-long at Gloin – ‘I ask them to forget it and forgive me. I only wished to claim the treasure as my very own in those days, and to be rid of the name of thief that was put on me.’

Bilbo didn’t like the name ‘thief’, which is natural enough. As Gloin himself said, some burglars prefer to be called “expert treasure-hunters” – even though Bilbo is not that sensitive. But ‘thief’ is really too much.
Anyway, he seemingly can’t get rid of the name. First he is called ‘thief’ by the Great Goblin (as a part of the company); then by Gollum, by Smaug and by Thorin. Even on his deathbed, Thorin sticks to ‘honest thief’, and the Elvenking refers to his stealing in their farewell. One wonders – did the Fell Messenger sent to King Dain call Bilbo “a thief” because of Gollum, or because he studied a bit of the recent history of the northren peoples? Note that Gloin apologises for the mere use of this name – he probably realised how much Bilbo was sensitive!
And didn’t the S.-B.’s effectively call him thus after his return, when they refused to recognise him as genuine?

9. It is well known (although we do not know whether it is a favourite saying of Bungo's) that ‘there is no smoke without a fire’ – or is there? What of this case?
10. Did Bilbo eventually get rid of this name stuck to him?

And an important question, to me as a father who hasn’t got to this chapter yet:
11. How do you explain the taking of the Arkenstone to a child?



"When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up.
'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin.
'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam."

Ferny is a small fish; a delinquette, and part-time ruffian.
But this week in the Reading Room - a real dragon is NOT AT HOME.
Join us!

(This post was edited by sador on Jun 17 2009, 9:19am)


Compa_Mighty
Tol Eressea


Jun 17 2009, 1:44pm

Post #2 of 36 (600 views)
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1. Can Bilbo help himself? Would you be able to?

Well, you always can. But will you will? (That sounded weird) Then again, if Bilbo is a child figure, as it is often discussed, then curiosity might have been too much to withold himself.

2. What does “his deepest pocket” mean? How many did he have? Was the Arkenstone kept somewhere deeper than the ring? Note than Bilbo picked the ring casually.

Let us not forget the Ring wasn't in 1937 what it was in 1954. This is just another example of how Tolkien resuses de concept of objects possessing unusual attraction, and in turn, causing problems to those who possess them.

6. Could Bilbo’s moral character survive all these incidents?
Well, here I do believe the answer changes depending on the moral rigor level you choose. We could say any stealing is bad. We could say stealing is okay when in profound need, which would annul any moral guilt from most of Bilbo's actions in particular. Or we could take Robin Hood's example, in which stealing is not bad simply because he is stealing from those who are evil (the rich) to those who are good (the poor). That particular convention of rich versus poor and the rich not being very good irritates me a bit, but that's not our topic. I believe morals are bent for purposes of stories, and that perhaps we shouldn't question too much the details, but rather try to concentrate in the core of the moral behavior.

7. I contend that quite a few of these deceptions were unnecessary. Comments?
Perhaps unnecessary, but not uncommon, and perhaps sometimes justified. Have we thought of how Bilbo could have felt menaced by the dwarves. Does he fully trust them? I never had that idea. Returning to the child figure, there are several reasons why Bilbo lied: First, there's no trust. Second, he might think Thorin will take his Ring if he mentions it, he's just trying to safeguard his newfound possession. Third, he's seeking for approval, so he takes any opportunity to show off. Showing off involves bluffing, which is fundamentally lying. Let us not forget he is coming into a new world and situation, it would be perfectly normal for anyone to trigger every possible defense mechanism at their disposition.

8. The worse case of all, in my opinion, is writing the false version in his book. As the only people who ever read the book (Gandalf and Frodo; Bilbo didn’t know Merry had a peep) knew the true story – what was the point in leaving the false one to posterity?

Well, we would have to ask Julius Caesar if everything he wrote about Gaul was true. How about Cortés's letter to Emperor Charles during the conquest of the Aztecs. Marco Polo? Virgil?

People change in the face of posterity... perhaps we can bare being 100% while we are here and with people that know our shortcomings... but why leave shortcomings to posterity? Why leave personal crimes and demons to people who don't know them. Should we become immortal through paper and ink, let us remain better immortals than we were mortals. At least I believe that's the motivation.

11. How do you explain the taking of the Arkenstone to a child?
Perhaps I wouldn't explain it when he takes it. Let the story carry on, and once everything is restituted and solved you can go back and point out what was wrong and what was right. You allow yourself for contrast of opposite behaviors, and to explain how you can try to fix things once you did something wrong. To make it even better, Bilbo's repent doesn't fix things entirely, as Thorin dies, so it's one of those perfect events in which you did wrong, tried to make it up, but there were still bad consequences, so you really should have thought about it before you did it. Then again, that's just me.

NOTE: My post struck me as particularly morally ambiguous and relativist. I want to clarify this is not my take on life. However, I do try not to overanalyze morals in a fictional piece, and I do believe that having the conscience of what people might do in what situation, and trying to understand their motives brings us to a better social reality. No one is black or white. And while all this is a big cliché, I believe being at piece with everyone being grey is not what is important, but seeing the reasons why a person got to that particular shade of grey. Of course we can only guess, but the exercise is an important one: every once in a while we'll have managed to understand a reality different to ours.

Here's to Del Toro becoming the Irvin Kershner of Middle Earth!

Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 3:54pm

Post #3 of 36 (656 views)
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Suddenly Bilbo’s arm went towards it drawn by its enchantment. His small hand would not close about it, for it was a large and heavy gem; but he lifted it, shut his eyes, and put it in his deepest pocket.
1. Can Bilbo help himself?


Apparently not.

Would you be able to?

I don't know.

2. What does "his deepest pocket" mean?

Just what it says.

How many did he have?

More than one, apparently.

Was the Arkenstone kept somewhere deeper than the ring? Note than Bilbo picked the ring casually.

Could be. The ring was not yet the Ring.

"Now I am a burglar indeed!" thought he. "But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it – some time. They did say I could pick and choose my own share; and I think I would choose this, if they took all the rest!" All the same he had an uncomfortable feeling that the picking and choosing had not really been meant to include this marvelous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.
A funny premonition, don’t you think?

I don't think it's hard to predict.

3. Why does Bilbo intend to withold the report?

Good question! The answer is ambiguous. Perhaps Bilbo's theft is divinely inspired, in light of what he does with the Arkenstone later. But I prefer not to let him off that easily. I think he find himself as enchanted by the treasure as everyone else, and does something which he knows is wrong. He means to make up for it later, and eventually he does, although not in the manner he had anticipated. But right now he succumbs to temptation, pure and simple.

4. As far as I remember, Bilbo was hired for one fourteenth part of the profits in cash; and in the later bargaining with Bard, Thorin agreed to pay one fourteenth part in gold and silver, setting aside the gems. Actually, Dain paid Bard only gold and silver, wrought and unwrought. To quote the Gafer: "I know nothing of jools". Which interpretation of the contract is more correct – Thorin’s, or Bilbo’s?

Thorin's letter promised "cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any)." Thorin promised Bard "one fourteenth share of the hoard in silver and gold, setting aside the gems." Dain honored Thorin's promise to Bard.

As I understand it, setting aside the gems did not mean setting aside their value; instead it meant that the fourteenth share would be in silver and gold alone, and the gems would be kept by the dwarves. But it is important that Bilbo's original contract did not say anything about setting aside the gems, because Bilbo arguably did not breach that contract when he took the Arkenstone. On the other hand, Bilbo wasn't exactly honoring the spirit of that contract when he took the Arkenstone without telling the dwarves. He might be technically within his rights and still be on questionable moral ground.

5. Let’s say Bard and the Elvenking hadn’t come, and Thorin would be King under the Mountain with no special trouble. Would Bilbo have withheld the Arkenstone and demanded his share?

I don't think he would have withheld the Arkenstone and demanded his share. He seems to have justified taking the Arkenstone because he was entitled to a fourteenth share. To take the stone plus another fourteenth share would be clearly dishonest. But he might have withheld the Arkenstone until he got his share -- or even in lieu of his share, if he could have gotten away with it.

Yes, I am aware that the last question was provocative. But in the original version of ‘Riddles in the Dark’, Bilbo "had the wits" not to tell Gollum he found the ring, and did accept his apologies. "Finding’s keeping", he said – and graciously agreed to let Gollum off the hook by showing him the way out.

Yes, there's some moral ambiguity there, but the agreement with Gollum was made under duress, with Gollum threatening to eat Bilbo, so I think Bilbo was within his rights to hide the ring. Still, Bilbo is no angel or saint. Bilbo is an apprentice Trickster or Deceiver, in his finest moments he deceives his enemies (Gollum, Giant Spiders, hostile elves, Smaug, hostile dwarves); and in less fine moments he also deceives his friends (first regarding the ring, then regarding the Arkenstone).

Now Bilbo is a burglar indeed – which, as Dreamdeer pointed out, is quite a seedy profession, isn’t it?
Is this the time to consider Bilbo’s burglarly history?

Sure.

Let’s make a list: The silly attempt to pickpocket Bill the troll (with Tolkien’s delicious irony on how all the legends tell it is easy, omitting the important detail that "troll’s purses are the mischief"); taking and keeping silent about Gollum’s ring (with perfect justification in the present version, and a bit less in the original one); stealing food from the wood-elves and then the houses near the river (note that he did feel a pang of conscience about this, and paid the Elvenking), the cup from Smaug, the Arkenstone.
6. Could Bilbo’s moral character survive all these incidents?

The most questionable moments are his lies about the ring and his temporary theft of the Arkenstone, but no one seems to hold his lies about the ring against him in this book, and the way he makes use of the Arkenstone redeems the original theft. The running theme is that morality and law do not always align, and that Burglars can serve a Higher Purpose.

Another side of burglary is the need for subterfuge; in effect, to hiding the truth. I’m not talking merely about not telling Gollum about the Ring – there are all the times Bilbo omits telling the truth – not telling the wizard and dwarf about the key to the trolls’ cave (merely a prank? anyway, this was the first object which somewhat inexplicably found its way into his hand); frightening the dwarves when coming down from the Mountains and not telling them about the ring; telling them a false story when he did tell them – although we do not know it until the Preface to LotR!
Actually, I wonder whether anyone noticed he took Sting; there is nothing in the book to suggest he took it secretly, but I guess he would like to keep this as another secret (like he asked Frodo to keep the mithril-shirt secret).
7. I contend that quite a few of these deceptions were unnecessary. Comments?

Certainly he did not need to lie about the ring, although no one holds it against him in this book. I don't think Bilbo meant to deceive anyone about the trolls' key or Sting, at least initially (later he was careful to hide Sting about his person). It turns out to be a good thing that Bilbo doesn't say he has the Arkenstone, but I don't think he had a Higher Purpose in mind when he took it.

8. The worse case of all, in my opinion, is writing the false version in his book. As the only people who ever read the book (Gandalf and Frodo; Bilbo didn’t know Merry had a peep) knew the true story – what was the point in leaving the false one to posterity?
In the Council of Elrond, Bilbo apologised for not telling the true story before:
‘I will tell the true story, and if some here have heard me tell it otherwise’ – he looked side-long at Gloin – ‘I ask them to forget it and forgive me. I only wished to claim the treasure as my very own in those days, and to be rid of the name of thief that was put on me.’

Yes, but that tale does not come into The Hobbit. That deception is part of LotR alone, and attempts to explain the two different versions of The Hobbit. I'm not sure many readers understand what Bilbo means in LotR, since few of todays' readers know that the original version of The Hobbit was different, or are familiar with the differences.

Bilbo didn’t like the name ‘thief’, which is natural enough. As Gloin himself said, some burglars prefer to be called "expert treasure-hunters" – even though Bilbo is not that sensitive. But ‘thief’ is really too much.
Anyway, he seemingly can’t get rid of the name. First he is called ‘thief’ by the Great Goblin (as a part of the company); then by Gollum, by Smaug and by Thorin. Even on his deathbed, Thorin sticks to ‘honest thief’, and the Elvenking refers to his stealing in their farewell. One wonders – did the Fell Messenger sent to King Dain call Bilbo "a thief" because of Gollum, or because he studied a bit of the recent history of the northren peoples?

Neither. The Fell Messenger calls Bilbo a thief because Sauron claims ownership of the Ring. The Fell Messenger would probably call Isildur a thief too.

Note that Gloin apologises for the mere use of this name – he probably realised how much Bilbo was sensitive!
And didn’t the S.-B.’s effectively call him thus after his return, when they refused to recognise him as genuine?

The S.-B.s seem to think he was either an imposter or had lost all property rights by disappearing without notice for so long. I suppose you could say they consider him a thief. Certainly they seem to think they have a better right to Bag End than he does, which perhaps explains how they justify their own thievery of some of Bilbo's silver.

9. It is well known (although we do not know whether it is a favourite saying of Bungo's) that ‘there is no smoke without a fire’ – or is there? What of this case?


But don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't believe everything you hear. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I think Bilbo's okay, morally, and legally as well. He's an honest Burglar.

10. Did Bilbo eventually get rid of this name stuck to him?

I think he learned to be proud of it.

And an important question, to me as a father who hasn’t got to this chapter yet:
11. How do you explain the taking of the Arkenstone to a child?

I think it might be worth asking the child what he or she thinks of Bilbo's actions, both now and later, when he gives it to Bard.

I don't think there is an easy answer to the question of whether Bilbo did the right thing in this chapter when he first took it. On the one hand, he justified it to himself as his fourteenth share. On the other hand, he knew very well that Thorin did not contemplate giving up the Arkenstone. So it's a tricky question, with no easy answer.

But if Bilbo succumbs to temptation in this chapter, I think he redeems himself when he gives it to Bard, even though that still might technically violate the terms of the contract with Thorin. Certainly Gandalf thinks that Bilbo did the right thing. But it's still a tricky lesson.

Can there be such a thing as an honest Burglar, or thievery for a Higher Purpose? That's a complex lesson for young children to absorb. But it's also an important lesson. Sometimes it's okay to break the rules for a good reason. It's not that the ends justify the means, it's that following the rules is not always the same as doing the right thing.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 17 2009, 3:56pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 5:03pm

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Excuses, excuses [In reply to] Can't Post

Up until this point Bilbo could rationalize everything he did. Declaring to himself, "Now I am a thief indeed" was actually, in my opinion, a moral step in the right direction! Because he faced his capacity for thievery, he could find the remorse necessary to make reparations--by putting his thievery to a good use, better than his original naked greed. Thorin did well to call him an "honest thief".

In explaining this to a child, I would say that nobody is perfect, but the people who face up to their sins honestly, and resist rationalizing, stand a better chance of setting things right later, as we will see.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 5:09pm

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Robin Hood [In reply to] Can't Post

Robin Hood lived in a very unbalanced society, where the rich stayed that way by keeping the poor down. The rich, in his time and place, were essentially sanctioned robbers running a protection-racket. So what he really was doing was robbing robbers to give back to the victims.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 5:15pm

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Life-Lessons for Dwarves [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's quite telling that by the time Thorin gets to Bard, he words the contract more specifically to clarify that the 1/14th share must be in gold and silver only. I think he figured out Bilbo's rationale and learned his lesson!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 6:48pm

Post #7 of 36 (577 views)
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The Robin Hood myth has evolved over time. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes the myth is quite conservative, and Robin Hood actually stands for law and order, with King John the rebel and outlaw. Other times Robin Hood is portrayed as a peasant in revolt against an oppressive nobility. Originally he was more violent, and did not give money to the poor. In other words, Robin Hood is what you make of him.


terrymerry
Rivendell


Jun 17 2009, 7:07pm

Post #8 of 36 (573 views)
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A ...Thief [In reply to] Can't Post

You don`t write for the Daily Mail do you ! ...first it Beckham ...then it`s Hamilton ......and now it`s ..Bilbo!...Shocked ha


sador
Half-elven

Jun 18 2009, 7:46am

Post #9 of 36 (563 views)
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1937 to 1954 [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
That particular convention of rich versus poor and the rich not being very good irritates me a bit, but that's not our topic.

There is actually an opposite convention as well - the virtue is something only the rich can indulge in.
If you remember Gollum's internal debate in 'The Crossing of the Marshes', he seems to think that way as well - but of course there seems to be no reason to believe him.


In Reply To
I believe morals are bent for purposes of stories


Nice! Especially when seen in the context of the criticisms leveled against religious circles, that they bend stories for the puposes of moral agendas. Crazy


In Reply To

Third, he's seeking for approval, so he takes any opportunity to show off. Showing off involves bluffing, which is fundamentally lying.

I think that is the prime reason - at least when not telling the dwarves about the trolls' key, and then about the ring. But when he actually told them, he told a lie! Isn't that far worse?
Actually, in 1937 nobody realised the story Bilbo told the dwarves was also a lie - not even Tolkien himself! Wink
This actually adds another layer of complexity to the story. I feel that once Bilbo continues lying about the Ring, his surredering of the Arkenstone loses much of its redemption value (which Curious, at least, feels it has - but I'll argue that in three weeks' time - no need to steal weaver's thunder Angelic).


In Reply To
To make it even better, Bilbo's repent doesn't fix things entirely, as Thorin dies, so it's one of those perfect events in which you did wrong, tried to make it up, but there were still bad consequences, so you really should have thought about it before you did it.


Well, Bilbo's repenting actually makes things worse - someone who repents of theft would do better to give the stolen artifact back, than to give it to the robbed person's enemies for purposes of blackmail!


"When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up.
'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin.
'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam."

Ferny is a small fish; a delinquette, and part-time ruffian.
But this week in the Reading Room - a real dragon is NOT AT HOME.
Join us!


sador
Half-elven

Jun 18 2009, 8:15am

Post #10 of 36 (569 views)
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True, But does this exonerate the thief? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Perhaps Bilbo's theft is divinely inspired, in light of what he does with the Arkenstone later. But I prefer not to let him off that easily.


I don't mind at all saying that the theft was divinely inspired; but I do not think that puts Bilbo in the right, or lets him off easily.
Bilbo is not a prophet, and has no communication with Eru, not even through the medium of an established religion (at least not on this); so he is still bound by his ordinary moral code.
If the child born as a result of rape or incest turns out to be a great Man, can't we say the rape was a part of the Divine plan? But does this make the rapist less heinous?


In Reply To

Bilbo arguably did not breach that contract when he took the Arkenstone. On the other hand, Bilbo wasn't exactly honoring the spirit of that contract when he took the Arkenstone without telling the dwarves.

Well, the contract said:
"cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one forurteenth of total profits (if any)."

Is the Arkenstone to be considered "cash"? Has Bilbo "delivered" anything yet, apart of the cup? What of the "if any" clause? Later in this chapter, Bilbo will remind Thorin the treasure is not won yet!


In Reply To

That deception is part of LotR alone, and attempts to explain the two different versions of The Hobbit. I'm not sure many readers understand what Bilbo means in LotR, since few of todays' readers know that the original version of The Hobbit was different, or are familiar with the differences.

Yes, and as I mentioned in my response to Compa - it subtly changes the message of The Hobbit, as it means Bilbo has not yet become an "honest thief".
But readers are familiar with the different versions of the story - as it appears in the Preface to LotR, and is mentioned by Gandalf and Frodo in 'The Shadow of the Past'. I understood very well what Bilbo meant, and I'm pretty sure I did so as early as my first reading.
However, not until I read about the different versions of 'Riddles in the Dark', did I understand the unnecessary detail about having the wrong version in Bilbo's Book.


In Reply To
The Fell Messenger would probably call Isildur a thief too.


When offering peace to Gondor? Is Sauron that unsubtle?
I was thinking perhaps the Fell Messenger, knowing of the Arkenstone episode (and probably beliving Bilbo surrendered it to Bard out of fear for his own skin), was trying to invoke the old indignation against Bilbo in the dwarves' breasts.


In Reply To
I think he learned to be proud of it.


Not of "thief". And he called himself a burglar as early as the incident with the trolls.

Which actually leaves me wondering - when Gandalf introduced Bilbo to Beorn as "Mr. Baggins a hobbit of good family and unimpeacheable reputation", was he hurrying to answer before thae little fool would call himself "a Burglar"?

"When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up.
'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin.
'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam."

Ferny is a small fish; a delinquette, and part-time ruffian.
But this week in the Reading Room - a real dragon is NOT AT HOME.
Join us!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 18 2009, 3:46pm

Post #11 of 36 (557 views)
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Plan B [In reply to] Can't Post

I do not believe that any divine Plan A would include any wrongdoing whatsoever. Yet, in the context of a fallen world, wrongdoing will occur, so then a divine Plan B, C, D, etc. kick in. The rapist's child becomes a great person, the thieving hobbit presents the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip, etc. It is the difference between the original Great Music, and the final version which adapts Melkor's improv into the original structure.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2009, 6:34pm

Post #12 of 36 (552 views)
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Falling under the Stone's Enchantment [In reply to] Can't Post

Suddenly Bilbo’s arm went towards it drawn by its enchantment. His small hand would not close about it, for it was a large and heavy gem; but he lifted it, shut his eyes, and put it in his deepest pocket.

Can Bilbo help himself?


Evidently not.


Would you be able to?

I don’t know; however, I tell myself that if I were as independently wealthy as Bilbo seems to be I might be more able to resist.


2. What does “his deepest pocket” mean? How many did he have? Was the Arkenstone kept somewhere deeper than the ring? Note than Bilbo picked the ring casually.

I don’t make much of this.


All the same he had an uncomfortable feeling that the picking and choosing had not really been meant to include this marvelous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.

A funny premonition, don’t you think?


Not really a premonition, a sensible conclusion. Bilbo knows Thorin has desired this for most of his life. Trouble can only come of it.


3. Why does Bilbo intend to withold the report?

For the same reason a child with a bad report card would procrastinate letting his parents know about it, or for the same reason that motivates those people you hear about who keep the upcoming foreclosure of their house a secret from their spouse until they’re forced out. It's hard to face up to the consequences.


4.Which interpretation of the contract is more correct – Thorin’s, or Bilbo’s?

I don’t have the book with me to check on this, and I have never formed an opinion; however, I have to wonder what passes for “cash” in Middle-earth? Gold coins? If so who issues them and how does it circulate? Are there banks or dealers that Thorin could go to, to convert treasure to cash with which to pay Bilbo?


5. Let’s say Bard and the Elvenking hadn’t come, and Thorin would be King under the Mountain with no special trouble. Would Bilbo have withheld the Arkenstone and demanded his share?

It’s hard to say. Thorin seems not prone to bargaining where the Arkenstone is concerned. It wouldn’t be the safest thing to do. On the other hand, as Smaug says, how is Bilbo going to get that much treasure home? At least the Arkenstone is portable. If Bilbo is interested in getting paid it’s a dilemma.


Now Bilbo is a burglar indeed – which, as Dreamdeer pointed out, is quite a seedy profession, isn’t it?

Cary Grant was sooo glamorous as a cat burglar in To Catch a Thief! That’s Hollywood for you, though. The real thing isn't the same thing, I'm sure.


6. Could Bilbo’s moral character survive all these incidents?

Bilbo seems to be of the opinion that it’s okay to rob from someone if they’ve robbed (and killed) someone for it. So the troll incident and taking from Smaug is fine. As you’ve said, stealing food from the wood-elves and the houses bothers him, but he does pay restitution.


Another side of burglary is the need for subterfuge; in effect, to hiding the truth. I’m not talking merely about not telling Gollum about the Ring – there are all the times Bilbo omits telling the truth – not telling the wizard and dwarf about the key to the trolls’ cave (merely a prank? anyway, this was the first object which somewhat inexplicably found its way into his hand); frightening the dwarves when coming down from the Mountains and not telling them about the ring; telling them a false story when he did tell them – although we do not know it until the Preface to LotR!

People here have made much about the incident where he makes the Dwarves think he’s walked right into them without their noticing. I’ve always viewed it as mischievousness, though, his way of one-upping them.


One wonders – did the Fell Messenger sent to King Dain call Bilbo “a thief” because of Gollum, or because he studied a bit of the recent history of the northren peoples?

I think he just said it because Sauron claims the Ring is his (Sauron’s).


And an important question, to me as a father who hasn’t got to this chapter yet:

11. How do you explain the taking of the Arkenstone to a child?


No idea. I’m childless in part because I don’t want these responsibilities! Don't make me! ;o)

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 19 2009, 3:24am

Post #13 of 36 (550 views)
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Could I resist the Arkenstone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry I haven't been answering all or most of the questions. I've had distractions.

You ask if I could have resisted the Arkenstone. Honestly, knowing my voracious appetite for approval, I would probably have pocketed it precisely so as to hurry back and present it to Thorin: "Ta DA!" hoping that he would be so pleased with me!

Besides, what could you do with a stolen Arkenstone, really? You couldn't really wear it anywhere. Can you imagine how ostentatious that would look at the Hobbiton community singalong? You couldn't even safely pawn it--pawn shops don't want obviously unique gemstones of unexplained provenance attracting unnecessary attention of the worst sort. I suppose you could set it on display in your home, but then you'd have to dust all of those facets, and after awhile the neighbors would get bored with it--awe has a shelf-life worse than fish. In short, it's not nearly as practical as a mithril coat.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 19 2009, 5:06am

Post #14 of 36 (546 views)
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You could stare at it. [In reply to] Can't Post

Pretty colors!


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 19 2009, 9:11pm

Post #15 of 36 (598 views)
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***For Guys Only*** [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Can Bilbo help himself?

Probably not.


Would you be able to?

I would hope so. When I saw the crown jewels of England they were indeed quite hypnotic (especially with the display lighting), but I didn’t feel any impulse to bust the glass and stuff my pockets. (But then, there were all those beefeaters with M-16s standing around.)


2. What does “his deepest pocket” mean?

***The following is for guys only! Ladies, trust me, you *don't* want to know this!***



Often men's underpants are provided with a pocket for holding the scrotum. The pocket prevents the scrotum from direct contact with the flesh of the groin, to avoid discomfort, or problems caused by perspiration. I note that in Romancing the Stone (1984) that appears to be exactly where Jack Colton hid the fabulous emerald El Corazon. A bit in the film involves Jack receiving a rifle butt to the groin but it doesn’t faze him as that’s where he had hidden the jewel. (The blow does dislodge the stone though and it rolls down his leg.)


How many did he have?

His pants probably have a pocket on either side of the fly. His jacket would have two outside and one inside pocket. His vest would have one or two. That’s seven, max. Eight if you count the pocket for the scrotum.


Was the Arkenstone kept somewhere deeper than the ring?

Unless were going with the Jack Black theory.


Note than Bilbo picked the ring casually.

“Now I am a burglar indeed!” thought he. “But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it – some time. They did say I could pick and choose my own share; and I think I would choose this, if they took all the rest!” All the same he had an uncomfortable feeling that the picking and choosing had not really been meant to include this marvelous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.

A funny premonition, don’t you think?


It’s like the guilt in succumbing to any temptation. Like, say, staying out with the boys an extra hour, or having an extra piece of pie.


3. Why does Bilbo intend to withold the report?

That’s typical addict thinking. The intent is equivalent to the deed. An addict meant to stay sober, or get a job, or show up on time, or pay back the money they borrowed/stole. It’s not their fault “circumstances” worked against them. Their intentions were good and, according to their thought, that should be enough to excuse them.


4. As far as I remember, Bilbo was hired for one fourteenth part of the profits in cash; and in the later bargaining with Bard, Thorin agreed to pay one fourteenth part in gold and silver, setting aside the gems. Actually, Dain paid Bard only gold and silver, wrought and unwrought. To quote the Gaffer: “I know nothing of jools”. Which interpretation of the contract is more correct – Thorin’s, or Bilbo’s?

Jewels aren’t cash. Gold and silver are, assuming they’re in the form of some sort of specie.


5. Let’s say Bard and the Elvenking hadn’t come, and Thorin would be King under the Mountain with no special trouble. Would Bilbo have withheld the Arkenstone and demanded his share?

I think he’d have eventually either been found out, or else confessed.


Yes, I am aware that the last question was provocative. But in the original version of ‘Riddles in the Dark’, Bilbo “had the wits” not to tell Gollum he found the ring, and did accept his apologies. “Finding’s keeping”, he said – and graciously agreed to let Gollum off the hook by showing him the way out.

Now Bilbo is a burglar indeed – which, as Dreamdeer pointed out, is quite a seedy profession, isn’t it?


Tell that to Simon Templar. Not to mention Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.


Is this the time to consider Bilbo’s burglarly history? Let’s make a list: The silly attempt to pickpocket Bill the troll (with Tolkien’s delicious irony on how all the legends tell it is easy, omitting the important detail that “troll’s purses are the mischief”); taking and keeping silent about Gollum’s ring (with perfect justification in the present version, and a bit less in the original one); stealing food from the wood-elves and then the houses near the river (note that he did feel a pang of conscience about this, and paid the Elvenking), the cup from Smaug, the Arkenstone.
6. Could Bilbo’s moral character survive all these incidents?


He is presently outside society, like most heroes. A hero often has to commit acts that might be considered immoral in polite society to serve a higher morality. That’s why a hero has to ride off into the sunset. He's broken too many of society's laws. It's sort of like Beregond being exiled to Ithilien.


Another side of burglary is the need for subterfuge; in effect, to hiding the truth. I’m not talking merely about not telling Gollum about the Ring – there are all the times Bilbo omits telling the truth – not telling the wizard and dwarf about the key to the trolls’ cave (merely a prank? anyway, this was the first object which somewhat inexplicably found its way into his hand); frightening the dwarves when coming down from the Mountains and not telling them about the ring; telling them a false story when he did tell them – although we do not know it until the Preface to LotR!

Subterfuge is also needed in magic and wizardry.


Actually, I wonder whether anyone noticed he took Sting; there is nothing in the book to suggest he took it secretly, but I guess he would like to keep this as another secret (like he asked Frodo to keep the mithril-shirt secret).

7. I contend that quite a few of these deceptions were unnecessary. Comments?


I think we need to go back to Bilbo as a child. The only power a child has over adults is to withhold the truth by silence. (Usually children are really bad liars.) It’s like in Harry Potter or other such books where kids withhold secrets from the grownups.


8. The worse case of all, in my opinion, is writing the false version in his book. As the only people who ever read the book (Gandalf and Frodo; Bilbo didn’t know Merry had a peep) knew the true story – what was the point in leaving the false one to posterity?

What is the point of Gollum insisting that the ring was his birthday present? There’s no one living to contest his ownership. Except himself. So the answer would be the same for Bilbo. (Er, not for Bilbo to convince Gollum, but for Bilbo to convince himself.)


In the Council of Elrond, Bilbo apologised for not telling the true story before:

‘I will tell the true story, and if some here have heard me tell it otherwise’ – he looked side-long at Gloin – ‘I ask them to forget it and forgive me. I only wished to claim the treasure as my very own in those days, and to be rid of the name of thief that was put on me.’

Bilbo didn’t like the name ‘thief’, which is natural enough. As Gloin himself said, some burglars prefer to be called “expert treasure-hunters” – even though Bilbo is not that sensitive. But ‘thief’ is really too much.


Even today in various D&D type games “Thieves” are known by other names such as “Rogues”. A change from earlier D&D editions. I don’t see the reasoning myself.


Anyway, he seemingly can’t get rid of the name. First he is called ‘thief’ by the Great Goblin (as a part of the company); then by Gollum, by Smaug and by Thorin. Even on his deathbed, Thorin sticks to ‘honest thief’, and the Elvenking refers to his stealing in their farewell. One wonders – did the Fell Messenger sent to King Dain call Bilbo “a thief” because of Gollum, or because he studied a bit of the recent history of the northren peoples? Note that Gloin apologises for the mere use of this name – he probably realised how much Bilbo was sensitive!
And didn’t the S.-B.’s effectively call him thus after his return, when they refused to recognise him as genuine?


Often times it’s not the name itself that is offensive, but how other people use it.


9. It is well known (although we do not know whether it is a favourite saying of Bungo's) that ‘there is no smoke without a fire’ – or is there?

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.


What of this case?

I would think a real thief would look fairer and feel fouler.


10. Did Bilbo eventually get rid of this name stuck to him?

No, and as we will see from the gossip in The Green Dragon he got more bad names besides.


And an important question, to me as a father who hasn’t got to this chapter yet:
11. How do you explain the taking of the Arkenstone to a child?


Point out how Bilbo knew it was wrong from the start, and how he eventually had to fess up. And how, like most politicians never learn, it’s not the crime but the cover up that will get you in the most trouble.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 19 2009, 9:22pm

Post #16 of 36 (558 views)
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Why do I always have to look? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
***The following is for guys only! Ladies, trust me, you *don't* want to know this!***




Gives a whole new level of meaning to that old euphemism "family jewels"...

Tongue

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled, the sigh and murmur of the Sea
upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 19 2009, 9:45pm

Post #17 of 36 (576 views)
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There's another option. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
That’s why a hero has to ride off into the sunset. He's broken too many of society's laws.


Or he becomes the law, i.e., the king. But true heroes make bad second fiddles. Look at Lancelot and Arthur, for example. Or Hercules and Eurystheus. Or Achilles and Agamemnon. Or Aragorn (as Thorongil) and Denethor, for that matter (although Denethor was only the heir at the time). Sooner or later, the king is likely to get jealous of the hero, or the king's wife falls in love with the hero, or the hero doesn't want to obey the king, or the king won't listen to the hero, or maybe the heir to the throne gets jealous of the hero, or something of the sort. Roland and Charlemagne may be an exception, although Roland didn't exactly obey Charlemagne when he refused to call for help.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 19 2009, 9:47pm)


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 19 2009, 11:53pm

Post #18 of 36 (549 views)
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Yes, of course I looked. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, of course I wish I hadn’t.

Yes, I used to thoroughly enjoy Romancing the Stone. Will never be able to read the title again the same way.

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



squire
Half-elven


Jun 20 2009, 12:22am

Post #19 of 36 (527 views)
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Like Cleon II and Bel Riose, also. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 20 2009, 12:41am

Post #20 of 36 (530 views)
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"It was a judicial farce; but a necessary one, a predictable one, an inevitable one." // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Hobbit in the Reading Room, Mar. 23 - Aug. 9. Everyone is welcome!

Join us June 15-21 for "Not at Home".
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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 20 2009, 12:43am

Post #21 of 36 (526 views)
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A man must protect his arkenstones.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 20 2009, 1:18am

Post #22 of 36 (532 views)
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You mean Justinian and Belisarius? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I know who you mean. But they had real life counterparts.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 20 2009, 3:41am

Post #23 of 36 (531 views)
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Addict thinking [In reply to] Can't Post

*finishes folding laundry, including hubby's and son's underwear* What? There was supposed to be something embarrassing in your post?

Wink

Interesting comparison of Bilbo with an addict, as he finds himself so mesmerized by the Arkenstone that he picks it up and hides it away! Just like plucking a "forbidden fruit". So Bilbo had a momentary bout of highly addictive "jewel lust", as strong as the later "gold lust" of the Dwarves!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



batik
Tol Eressea


Jun 20 2009, 4:06am

Post #24 of 36 (534 views)
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well this is just about the... [In reply to] Can't Post


... funniest thing I've read all week.

Quote
Yes, I used to thoroughly enjoy Romancing the Stone. Will never be able to read the title again the same way.




Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 20 2009, 2:15pm

Post #25 of 36 (529 views)
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A bit large, don't you think? [In reply to] Can't Post

Considering the size of the Arkenstone, if that was Bilbo's deepest pocket, wouldn't it have been a bit large for hobbit proportions? Wouldn't the dwarves have wondered about Bilbo's apparent "Happy to see you" response? Or is that just normal for dwarves looking on great mounds of treasure, and they would think nothing of it?

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

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