The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
plot hole?

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 3:41pm

Views: 3972
plot hole?

Sorry if this has been discussed before, i dont remember right now if in the book there is a clear explanation, but, why Thorin, if he wants to recover the treasure from Smaug dont call for starters Dain and the dwarves of the iron hills to fight the dragon?

just a question


Jan 21 2012, 3:46pm

Views: 2416
My guess is because it's a suicide mission...

The other dwarves know that it's useless and only the nutty ones with nothing to loose or the ones driven by revenge are willing to go.

Also, maybe it's similar to the Fellowship. The less people they have going the easier they'll pass through unnoticed?

"...For if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomed at the foundations of the Earth"

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 3:50pm

Views: 2322
good one on the first

the second one i feel its different, unless they want only to recover the arkenstone, if they want the wole treasure they have to remove the dragon, so unless they know about his weak point, it would have more sense to gather a dwarf army, i dont know, what do you feel this will be worked on movies?


Jan 21 2012, 3:53pm

Views: 2295
It might have been the folly of greed

-- and therefore not a plot hole --

By greed's way of thinking: the more people involved in securing the treasure (and real estate!) the more shares would have to be paid out.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 3:57pm

Views: 2223
good one too

that´s what i neededTongue


Jan 21 2012, 3:57pm

Views: 2212
That was my thought

Instead of a 14th share of the gold, it would have to be split with over 500.


Jan 21 2012, 6:55pm

Views: 2211
Makes no sense.

Even with Dain's army, they couldn't defeat the dragon in battle. This is definitely a mission where stealth and deviousness is called for.

Besides, as others have noted, in the (very unlikely) event that they won, the treasure would have to be split over many dwarves, and the acquisition of the Arkenstone would have been problematic.

Stay tuned for a Reading Room discussion of Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon by Brian Rosebury, starting January 23!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Jan 21 2012, 7:14pm

Views: 2151

Doesn't it say in the book somewhere that they wanted a small band so they wouldn't have to divide the treasure beyond a handful of people? I seem to recall it being in there, I'll have to check...


Jan 21 2012, 7:25pm

Views: 2112
One does not simply walk into Erebor


"Sure, it's not really The Lord of the Rings, but it could still be a pretty damn cool movie." - PJ


Jan 21 2012, 8:51pm

Views: 2168
I thought it was made clear

in discussions between Thorin, Gandalf and Bilbo that brute force had no hope against such a powerful dragon and that's why they were going to hire a burglar. BTW, I don't like this emphasis on the word "greed" every time we discuss the dwarves - they have a lust for beautiful things which is something entirely different. However, I would like you to quote anything that implies they were unwilling to share with Dain & Co - nothing come to my mind at the moment.

I will go along with the thought that Tolkien's story does seem to be lacking in a well thought out story line because, although a back door approach might be a sensible one, what did they expect to do once they got there? How did they expect to make off with all that gold? The dwarves seem to be making it up a bit as they go along.

Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 9:32pm

Views: 2138
Well Elizabeth, historically and traditionally, Dwarves had fought well against Dragons in battle.

Just think of Dagor Bragolach and the maiming of Glaurung by the dwarves, the only ones who could withstand his heat. and in later First Age Battles too.
The dwarves arguably would have fought the dragons of the north as well, in the Grey Mountains, though they may have just fled from them.

Of course for Third Age dwarves those herioc Dragonslaying days were just a distant semi-legendary memory. But personally, I think Dwarves were well suited for combat with Dragons.

In this specific case however, yeah I would have agree that with a small army such as Dain's such a feat would be nigh impossible. Plus I agree that they wouldnt want to split the loot to hundreds, if not thousands of Dwarves Wink

I think also that Thorin & Co. had not really at all thought it through how to reclaim the lost treasure and somehow rid themsleves of Smaug. In truth, their company was IMO just a rag-bag group of optimistic Dwarves on a mission with crazily high odds.


"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama"


Let us then continue Tolkien's Legendarium!

(This post was edited by Xanaseb on Jan 21 2012, 9:33pm)

Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 9:37pm

Views: 2052
Precisely. yeah, I agree completely with you there.

They were driven by the hope of success, and the hope of what good fortunes would come to them, and all the dwarven people if they were to succeed.
Very heroic, deep and noble motives IMO, not just simply money, wealth and greed. But also glory, vengeance and a greater good for all the Dwarvish peoples and possibly their old friends: the descendants of the kingdom of Dale. (I doubt it much that they also had in mind the rest of middle-earth, but maybe they did!)

"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama"


Let us then continue Tolkien's Legendarium!

(This post was edited by Xanaseb on Jan 21 2012, 9:38pm)

Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 9:42pm

Views: 2022
I believe

Tolkien said he wanted them to use Stealth instead of brute force thats why they went with a burglar instead of a warrior. So a small band of dwarfs would be better than a big army of them. surely the dragon would see a large force coming and obliterate them before they even got close where as a small group was able to get into Erobor. Granted had they not got into Erobor and ticked off Smaug he wouldn't have flown out and got himself killed by Bard. it all worked out for the best as it was written Wink


Jan 21 2012, 10:04pm

Views: 2061
Re lust or greed

*** Major Spoiler Alert ***

I'm not sure when lust lost the uglier aspect of its meaning. Yet I note that in popular usage its sting is lessened of late. To me, as lust is an urge seeking self gratification without concern for the needs of others (and/or sometimes oneself) it is similar enough to greed to be characterized as such (perhaps more in Tolkien's day than it is now).

Regardless, greed might not have been what motivated them to take as few people as possible, but I don't think it can be ruled-out as a part of it. I concur with anyone who has pointed out that the mission was conceived of as one requiring stealth and therefore smaller numbers.

However the folly of greed is what killed Thorin, and is a major theme of the book. Otherwise what folly does Thorin repent of to Bilbo at the end? That he was lusty enough to believe he could hold Erebor against her enemies with only a handful of aged Dwarfs and one Hobbit?

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 21 2012, 10:06pm)


Jan 21 2012, 10:10pm

Views: 2020
Agreed 100%

"Greed" is not only an unfortunate simplification, it is a misinterpretation.

The dwarves were "proud" and "vengeful," not "greedy."

They had a pride in their ancestry, and the work of their hands which were sitting under this dragon. They also felt a desire, which is born of pride as well, to seek vengeance.

And if any of them wanted to be fabulously wealthy, it is likely that they wanted this to enhance their reputation among dwarven-kind (and relative to their ancestors) not so they could buy a bunch of houses in the Hamptons.

I hope the word "greed" is kept to a minimum in the films. They dwarves weren't gold gluttons, they were overproud vengeance and reputation-seekers. Well, at least Thorin and a few of the others.

Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 10:32pm

Views: 1988
as much as people

don't want the term "greed" thrown around the fact does remain that Thorin did get greedy in his stand on sharing the treasure with the men of Dale and the elves before the BO5A. Some of that vast treasure surely belonged to the people of Dale whose town Smaug destroyed 170 years previous. So I truly think the word greed needs to be placed somewhere in the films but not until the second film near the BO5A at least. It wasn't pride or vengeance for the dwarfs to try and deny Bard and the descendants of Dale what was rightfully theirs, even if the treasure was solely the property of the dwarfs of Erorbor, which I'm sure it wasn't, they at least owed Bard and the men of Dale for killing Smaug. It was greed... But it was Thorin's arrogance that complicated matters with Thranduil, since he probably would have been treated better , not that he was treated badly by the elves only imprisoned, if he had told Thranduil the truth to begin with. But his arrogance and greed for lack of a better word since he did not want to share the treasure with anyone. This was the start of the turmoil between the suspicions elves (rightfully so since the necromancer was on their doorstep in Mirkwood so to speak) and the dwarfs of Erobor.


Jan 21 2012, 10:51pm

Views: 1976
It may just be semantics

But I did not see that as "greed" but as pride, and standing rigidly on a point of principle. For Thorin, NOT sharing the treasure was a matter of principle and pride. It was HIS because Smaug stole it from his fathers, and HE reclaimed it. I do not believe he was primarily motivated by the desire to have "more money" which is what I believe greed is.

I think PJ and company should plumb the depths of pride (or "over-pride"), and its implications, in the films. That will make for a much more interesting film than one that explores the rather uni-dimensional phenomenon of "greed."


Jan 21 2012, 11:00pm

Views: 1983
I think that Thorin

is often misunderstood and blamed unfairly for all sorts of things and I believe that PJ will put things right.

First, he does not refuse to compensate the men of Lake Town; he just says that he won't discuss things until Thranduil's army has backed off. Who are the most stubborn? The dwarves and Thorin or Thranduil and Bard? I think it's a tie. And who is more greedy? Thorin for refusing to discuss the matter under certain circumstances or Thranduil for coming with an army when he has no right to the treasure at all and the Lake Town men, who may deserve a cut but who have also come with a pretty threatening army to stake their claim? There are only 13 dwarves. Who's the bully? And who got the dragon all fired up so that he attacked the town? Was it Thorin for coming back to the mountain in the first place? Or was it the Men who encouraged them to go on their quest and even invested in it because rivers of gold danced before their eyes? Or was it ultimately Bilbo who mishandled his conversation with Smaug so arrogantly that he made the dragon lose his temper?

And was it Thorin's arrogance and pride and greed that resulted in his own death and that of Fili and Kili? No! The final battle was nothing to do with what had gone before but resulted from an unexpected attack by an army of goblins and wargs. Thorin and his nephews died because they decided to join the men and elves in a heroic sally that was likely to result in the deaths of many of them rather than stay comparatively safe behind their walls.

And what does Thorin apologise for on his deathbed? Not for his arrogance or greed or pride but for the awful things he said to Bilbo when he found out about the Arkenstone. I'm afraid, if I had been in Thorin's shoes, I might have said something similar to Bilbo too, LOL!

These last chapters are just SO complex. I really hope that PJ doesn't go down the simplistic route of: well, this all happened because of Thorin's pride and greed.


Jan 21 2012, 11:12pm

Views: 1980
That's another excellent point

And the reason Thorin refuses to share the wealth while under threat by the men and elves, is because of his strong principles and pride. He will not, as the rightful King of the Mountain, be robbed. Where he goes wrong is in letting his pride run away with him to the point that he refuses to even speak to the two parties, or acknowledge their role in killing Smaug and making the treasure available. The actions of Bard and Laketown pushes his pride over the edge.

This episode has nothing to do with the bland concept of "greed."

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Jan 21 2012, 11:21pm)


Jan 21 2012, 11:20pm

Views: 1975
I think you're right...

Whether we call it greed, lust, acquisitiveness or what you will, the desire to possess and hold on to treasure and the damage that possessiveness can do is a theme of The Hobbit. I don't see any getting away from it. Thorin would have killed anyone, even another dwarf, for the Arkenstone. The battle is fought in the first instance over the possession of treasure, and Bilbo stands out from the others because he gives freely. It's true that pride, arrogance and the desire for revenge are characteristic of Thorin too, but surely his words at the end are proof of the part that greed plays in the story:
'Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth. . .' and 'If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.' If that isn't repentence for greed, by whatever name, then I don't know what it is.


Jan 21 2012, 11:25pm

Views: 1995
Pride, greed, and for that matter lust

only seem simplistic because we (for the most part) have lost the sense that we should shrink in horror from such things. I submit that such themes were anything but simplistic (lacking depth or meaning) to Tolkien.

Furthermore, may I only say this once in the Reading Room (mainly because it seems irrelevant here): I hope that casting heartthrob Armitage will not lead many to see Thorin as one of the good guys, especially against how Tolkien presented him. Realizing his folly on his deathbed is laudable, but it doesn't change the fact that he was a persnickety, greedy, self-centred and prideful codger bent on revenge and satisfying his own vanity for most of the tale. Add prepared to sacrifice others for his own selfish ends and we have quite an admirable character there.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 21 2012, 11:31pm)


Jan 21 2012, 11:32pm

Views: 1992
But the important part of that line

Is not "gold" but "hoarded." Having, and wanting, gold is okay. But hoarding it speaks to a larger problem of pride. The key questions is: why do people hoard gold? There are many reasons. Because they like shiny things, because they are cautious and want a cash reserve, because they listen to Glenn Beck. But Thorin's reason for wanting to hoard the gold is "pride" and that is the more important characteristic - the "source" of his apparent greed.

If PJ and company don't look at the source of his greed, which is being over-proud, than they are missing the much richer theme of the Hobbit. The richer theme is a Feanorian lesson. Do not love that which you have created "overmuch" for it can lead to destruction. Pride gone wild is Thorin's problem, not simply "greed."

IMO, the overriding theme of the Hobbit is that a mix of Thorin's and Bilbo's characteristics is optimal in life. That is, be merciful and pragmatic (Baggins Bilbo) rather than full of vengeance and prideful folly (Thorin). But while you should be merciful and pragmatic, you should also not lose sight of nature and faery (Took Bilbo). In short, mix grace with nature.

This is also the fundamental difference between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Lewis rejected faery and nature outright, as being at odds with Christianity and therefore repugnant. Tolkien, though a strong Catholic, felt it was important not to lose sight of the wisdom and poeticism of our pre-Christian ancestors. That's why he gave us a wonderful world of pre-Christian heroes who act like Christians. He found value in both eras.

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Jan 21 2012, 11:33pm)

Tol Eressea

Jan 21 2012, 11:51pm

Views: 1963
A-greed Agreed, get it?? LOL

its a matter of a greed, agreed?


"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama"


Let us then continue Tolkien's Legendarium!


Jan 22 2012, 1:56am

Views: 1965
not sure I agree with you about Lewis

I get that this is a Tolkien board, but I'm not a fan of the Narnia bashing- not saying that you were bashing, but it's a symptom of a wider feeling. Lewis had tree spirits and the sighs of a land trapped in winter.

I like both. I know they are different, but they were good friends, CS Lewis and Tolkien, and I don't think there is any need to slag either body of work.

Hobbit firster, Book firster.

Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


Jan 22 2012, 2:13am

Views: 1966

You are making a pretty strong case that as a theme, greed is more complex than one might think. I do not see pride as a source of greed, but a possible symptom of greed.

Loving something overmuch is intemperance, more akin to greed (and idolatry) than pride. In the example you provide, loving something you created can be called pride -- as in "look what I did!" -- but loving it overmuch takes it into the realm of greed. A greedy love , a jealous love, a destructive sense of ownership or entitlement. Pride may be an outward manifestation of these things but it is a mere wart on the ugliness of greed.

I'll grant you, Thorin's pride may have had something to do with wanting to regain his throne and former glory but to what end? To satisfy his greed...

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 4:33am

Views: 1058
as a king

could Thorin attitude be opossed to Aragorn´s at least in the films?

yes he wants to come back

maybe the aprty is of that number because of the suicidal(after all Dain comes to Thorin´s aid once the dragon is dead) If it is for his stubbornness, who of you have never tried something looking for the aid of people and nobody understood you? you are riding a dead horse they said

the treasure is great enough not to share it part by part, but actually the dwarves stay on Erebor at the end of the quest, is not a mission to loot the mountain and evryone do with the treasure what they want, except Bilbo, that is a shire folk and is not expected to stay to live on Erebor

Lets talk of the right meaning of Proud here, the dwarves want to recover Erebor,as is honour and tradition are bad wounded by Smaug

And yes SPOILER HERE lets talk of the bad meaning of lust, Thorin at the end repents as Sir Dennis said, what to repent for if lust is portraied as a good thing?

It reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, excess of lust for honour can cost many lives, or somethingTongue


Jan 22 2012, 7:53am

Views: 1053
I'm not so sure

There are proud people who will forego all possibilities of wealth and bounty for the sake of principle. Pride does not, IMO, result from "greed." Think about it. Why are people greedy? Because they want expensive stuff, they want to be comfortable, and they want to outdo their neighbors. Only the last rationale is associated with "pride" and in this case, pride comes first, and greed follows.

Thorin is proud of being a dwarf Lord from Erebor. He is proud of his fathers, and the great works they created under the Mountain. He is proud of the company's success and reaquisition of his fathers' treasure. He is proud of reclaiming the title of King Under the Mountain. So proud is he, that when the men who aided the dwarves arrive to ask for their share of the treasure, he refuses. Is it because he wants expensive stuff, wants to be comfortable, or outdo his neighbors? No. It is because he loves the work of his people overmuch, and will not suffer it to be handled by upstarts and their armies.

That is pride. Greed results from that attitude, not vice versa. So proud, he becomes, that he finally claims all the gold for himself. In this sense, greed is only one sympton of being over-proud. Just as it was for Feanor.


Jan 22 2012, 8:00am

Views: 1072
I'm not bashing

Simply clearly stating the far more explicit pagan nature worship vs. Christian theme of Narnia. Yes, Lewis shows an appreciation for nature (and writes about it rather beautifully) but Lewis makes little attempt to show much sympathy for the "old ways." The Christian symbolism is very stark, as is the depiction of the "non-believers."

And Lewis would not have necessarily objected to this characterization. Though he and Tolkien were friends, they had some very sharp disagreements, and Tolkien found Lewis' Narnia world to be far too ham-handed. I suspect Tolkien didn't take to its rather preachy tone, preferring, as he often said, at least the appearance of "history" and applicability to the purposed domination of the author.


Jan 22 2012, 8:53am

Views: 1089
No, I don't think so...

... 'hoarding' speaks to a larger problem of greed, not pride (though I agree that Thorin is proud and pride is part of his downfall). OED definition of greed 'Intense or inordinate longing, esp. for wealth or food: avarice, covetous desire.' Traditionally this is part of the magic of the dragon's hoard - it fills the onlooker with a desire to possess it (as you brought in the subject of Lewis, think of Eustace and the dragon's hoard). Thorin's possessiveness - his greed - is such that he would rather fight a battle than share, even with the people who helped him when he had nothing. And against that Tolkien sets the Elven King - 'Long will I tarry ere I begin this war for gold' - and Bilbo, who is generous and shares what he has.

I don't think Thorin relates directly to Feanor because Thorin isn't a creator. Feanor delights in the work of his own hands and he knows he'll never repeat it. He's an artist and the Silmarils are his children - his creation. Thorin didn't make the Arkenstone or anything else in the hoard that we know of. He isn't an artist and doesn't have that same personal investment in the treasure; it's pride with him, as you say, and a fierce sense of who he is and what is due to him. The treasure belonged to his ancestors and he wants it back.

Greed may be a more simple theme but I think it does run through Tolkien's work, and not The Hobbit only - after all, wasn't Thingol's kingdom destroyed in a dispute over possession of a necklace? If you can delight in the beauty of your treasure and yet give it away you'll be OK - if you want only to possess your treasure, and hang on to it at all costs, you'll come to grief.

Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 11:15am

Views: 1129
Dragon-sickness and the bewilderment of gold.

Tolkien wrote a poem called 'The Hoard', which is to be found in 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', 'The Tolkien reader' etc. In this poem a dwarf takes possession of a hoard of elven gold. He grows old, guarding it while not doing anything useful with it, till he is killed by a young dragon 'His bones were ashes in the hot mire'. The dragon in turn ages on his hoard, in fear of thieves. He is ended by a young warrior, who becomes a great king, whose rule becomes unjust as he ages along with the hoard. His enemies kill him and destroy his kingdom; the hoard is lost. It's still there, 'In an old rock, behind doors that none can unlock'.

This poem was preceded by an earlier version published in the 30s, which was itself preceded by quite a different poem published in the 20s, called. 'Iuomonna Golde Galdre Bewunden', which can be found in Douglas Anderson's 'The Annotated Hobbit', pp.335-337. Shippey wrote an extremely illuminating paper on these versions of 'The Hoard', published in his anthology 'Roots and Branches - Selected papers on Tolkien'.

Shippey talks of Thorin's falling under what Tolkien calls 'the dragon sickness' - that is, the same desire for gold that afflicted Smaug, and also the Master of Lake-town. He also says 'Thorin also comes under the 'bewilderment' of the hoard, which betrays him into injustice and almost into treachery...'

(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 22 2012, 11:18am)


Jan 22 2012, 2:19pm

Views: 1035
Actually, I do think of Thorin

as a "maker" and as a creator. After the Battle of Azanulbizar, his father asks him what he wants to do next and he says he will make his way in the world by going back to being a smith. My image of Thorin as a creator of beautiful things also rests on Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold where he sings with such intensity and admiration for the beautiful things the dwarves are famous for making. Here speaks one who is a "maker" himself. For a few moments, he even manages to get Bilbo going: "the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves." The word "jealous" may be mentioned, but Tolkien also repeats the word "love". Greed doesn't come into it. I think this is one of the best-written passages in the book and definitely the best song. Tolkien seems to be trying hard to explain the deep passion of the creator for beautiful things - and it really gets to Bilbo - and to me, come to that, LOL!

Now, Sir Dennis, was that a dig at me on page one of this thread? Yes, hands up, I am an Armitage fan - and a PJ fan and a Tolkien fan (whom I have loved passionately for 45 years, long before I came across Armitage). No, I don't want him to be made into a "good" person as Thorin; I want him to be complex and I don't want an unfair bias against him that will create a simple scenario that diminishes both Thorin and Tolkien's writing. Armitage is a character actor in a leading man's body, someone who has waited for years for an "elephant man" role where his acting could take priority over his looks. Some of his best roles so far have been of rather unpleasant people - paedophile, drug-dealer, murderer. He must really sigh when he sees yet another newspaper article referring to him as a "hunk" when they mention his part as Thorin. Observers on set have called his acting "multi-layered" so I'm living in hopes of a complex Thorin that will satisfy everyone, including his detractors.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 3:12pm

Views: 1030



Jan 22 2012, 3:53pm

Views: 1014
Well, yes, it's a good point...

....the dwarves are certainly makers and artists, but Thorin particularly? I don't know. It isn't Thorin particularly who sings 'Far over the misty mountains' - in fact, we're not told specifically that Thorin is singing at all, though I daresay he is. But all Tolkien says is 'first one dwarf and then another' began to sing, so the 'fierce and jealous love' which Bilbo senses in the song is a dwarvish characteristic, I'd say, not something personal to Thorin - though I agree with you completely that that's a magical piece of writing and it gets to me too.


Jan 22 2012, 5:20pm

Views: 1026
Thorin did.

At the end of the chapter, we are told Bilbo heard him singing this just before he fell asleep.


Jan 22 2012, 5:33pm

Views: 1069

Thorin is about to reclaim his kingdom, not steal a bit of treasure and head West. And what good of a kingdom would it be with twelve followers? Also, please notice that the first thing he did once Smaug was dead was to send to all dwarves around to come and join him (and as is clear in the impromptu song made by the Dwarves then, this was clearly his intention).

Also, both appendix A to The Lord of the Rings and (more forcefully) The Quest of Erebor say that Thorin did at first plan a militray campaign with a vast alliance involved, but was talked out of it by Gandalf (this is also implied in An Unexpected Party, when Gandalf speaks of himself as coming up with the idea of stealth).

Thorin is only said to be under the bewilderment of treasure after being for some time under siege, long after Bilbo himself falls to it. And he acts no more greedy than Bard or the Elvenking; after all, he defends his own rather than trying to rob others (note how deftly Bard avoids Thorin's question regarding his heirs, had Thorin been found dead).

I agree that in several places it appears that the expedition was a joint venture, with all the Dwarves sharing alike; but this really makes no sense - did any of the thorteen really believe that Thorin would only take the Arkenstone and a bit extra, leaving all the hoard to them?

Thorin's mode of thought is that of a king; and as such, the more followers he has the better. No king would think for a moment like you imply - even a truly greedy one.


Jan 22 2012, 5:35pm

Views: 1015

The most that is said is that the dwarves felt that if the Elvenking demands a large portion of it, their own will suffer.


Jan 22 2012, 5:51pm

Views: 1035
While your analysis is right

Tolkien himself, in The Quest of Erebor, says that "pride and greed" got the better of Thorin in the end. We might interpret this as a retrospective oversimplification by Gandalf, I find it hard to think that he does not state the professor's own judgment.

It often happens, in works of art, that a character is written too well for the intentions of the author. I think that if we read the book without the presumption that Bilbo must always have been in the right, or if we bother to try and sympathise with Thorin, we can get to your way of reading; but Tolkien didn't.

Actually, as an excersize - try reading The Fellowship of the Ring without religiously beleiving that whatever Gandalf says is right, and you'll be surprised how much Boromir's character will be improved - how his objections to both Moria and Lorien are fully justified, and that his last going over the edge was a case of despair.
But the fact still remains, that like Boromir, most of Thorin's actions are interpreted in an unfavourable light; and they were seen so by the professor himself. Perhaps apart of their deaths - and while I am not a great fan of deathbed redemptions, there is much to compare the two; and in an odd way, I could somehow say that their deaths saved their people. But that is a matter for a different discussion.


Jan 22 2012, 5:55pm

Views: 1043
I strongly disagree

In Reply To
I hope that casting heartthrob Armitage will not lead many to see Thorin as one of the good guys, especially against how Tolkien presented him. Realizing his folly on his deathbed is laudable, but it doesn't change the fact that he was a persnickety, greedy, self-centred and prideful codger bent on revenge and satisfying his own vanity for most of the tale. Add prepared to sacrifice others for his own selfish ends and we have quite an admirable character there.

But who knows, perhaps I am a latent Armitage fan, who was biased already three years ago, when we discussed The Hobbit the previous time...


Jan 22 2012, 6:00pm

Views: 1019
But the question is:

What characteristics lead to this greedy desire to hoard the gold? I would say, unequivocally, pride. Thorin is proud of having undertaken a perilous journey across Middle Earth to reclaim his birthright, he is proud of his new self-appointed title as King Under the Mountain, he is proud of having aquired the treasure of his fathers, and he is not about to give any of it up under threat by an army of upstart Lakemen and a gaggle of elves led by the man who sent him and his companions into solitary confinement! To do so – to share his birthright at the point of a sword, would be the ultimate in cowardice and shame, according to Thorin. He feels his very dignity is at stake, and the treasure, in this case, must be protected in order to protect his honor. This is partly why he accuses Bilbo of not understaning “honor.”
Yes, Thorin (and all dwarves) have a love for the work of their hands that often gets out of hand and into the territory of “greed.” But even then, that greed is born of being over-proud of either the crafting, or acquisition, of that treasure.
Greed is a symptom of pride. People want “stuff” because that stuff enhances their reputation among their peers. It enhances their pride, and decreases their shame. And if someone threatens to take it from them by force, their honor is tested. If they flee or give up, they are cowards. If they stand their ground and fight, they are heroes, and their glory will live on in Valhalla (or in this case, wherever it is that Aule stashes them).

Bilbo’s Baggins side represents an alternative to this tragic value system.


Jan 22 2012, 6:03pm

Views: 1074
If you call this a plothole

What do you think of the fearful War of Dwarves and Goblins, to which the Dwarves of the Iron Hills came last, nine years after Thror Nain's uncle was killed and six years into the war?
Now that's what I call a plothole.

As I've written in my reply to SirDennis, Thorin did plan a massive alliance, and was talked out of it by Gandalf. Who knows, perhaps the wizard wanted an expedition just large enough to distract Smaug while not raising the Necromancer's alert? After all, that was not the only operation in the East of Wilderland theatre...

And if nothing else, just think of the logistics. A messenger to the Iron Hills would have to pass through the Grey Mountains, or Dol Guldur, of next to Smaug - not a very easy task to accomplish. And how and where would they plan their rendezvous?

Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 8:51pm

Views: 1010
The Hobbit is the ultimate heist movie.


Middle Earth is New Zealand!

"Question everything, embrace the bad, and hold on to the good."


Jan 22 2012, 9:17pm

Views: 991
It is rather

Ocean's Fifteen, isn't it?

Honestly, though, PJ wouldn't be amiss if he looked to Steven Soderbergh for lessons on how to handle an ensemble on a mission. Highly differentiated characters helps keep it interesting, for sure, and it seems as if we will certainly get that!

Let's just hope Smaug's lair isn't protected by a web of lasers.

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Jan 22 2012, 9:18pm)


Jan 22 2012, 9:50pm

Views: 1000
Disagree with which part?

(In reply to Shirehorse as well.)

That I think the choice of Armitage for Thorin is "inspired" is a matter of record (here, repeated here). Therefore we can dispense with any notion that my comment was meant to disparage anyone, least of all him.

Now, if you strongly disagree with my description of Thorin, I shall have to defer to you and re-read The Hobbit: I must have missed or misread something the first few times through. In light of revelations shared in this thread -- about Thorin's pride and the simplicity of greed (as theme or motivation) -- I was planning to anyway.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 10:03pm

Views: 987
Thorin and his greed for me-SPOILERS-


Perhaps we should hold on the hobbit as a child´s book, if you read it for the first time, you are able to catch the tone, and the final message, that i feel that is very clear in Thorin´s last lines in the book, simple as that(well not so simple)but that´s it, for me at least, that doesnt give me a bad feeling about Thorin, not at all, his fate and how he finally face it make him such remarkable,his repentance, maybe is more important to give Bilbo´s behaviour trough the adventure more value


Jan 22 2012, 10:09pm

Views: 1012
Fair enough

Though I did temper my original quick response (back when this thread was still on The Hobbit board) by agreeing the numbers weren't strictly a function of greed, further down the thread. Besides, I was simply responding to the idea that taking so few numbers was a "plot hole."

Thank you for bringing in additional referrences. I doubt Tolkien was concerned about comparative levels of greediness among the principle characters (though readers might be!) Of course this is an UUT beyond knowing he was Roman Catholic. I suspect that to him greed was greed and all majors were covered under Thorin's statement (provided by dormouse): 'If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.'

I like the idea that Thorin is a reflection of the other king that returns in Tolkien's other work.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 10:18pm

Views: 959
i didn´t know Thorin did

That makes more sense to me, if i put myself into Thorin´s shoes, i would search for all dwarf around to help me, but offering the possibility that if we win the treasure, all dwarves that help me on the mission would be able to live in my regained kingdom, I´m not going to share the gold, for the gold has been gained not only with my own hand but with the works of generations of dwarves, BUT yes, i will be KING under the mountain, and i am the rightfull heir of the arkenstone, i feel that there is not discussion of that if you are a dwarf

i dont see dwarfs being so selfish among their own people

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 10:22pm

Views: 965
mission "impossible"


Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 10:23pm

Views: 963
Haha! Nice!//


Middle Earth is New Zealand!

"Question everything, embrace the bad, and hold on to the good."


Jan 22 2012, 10:27pm

Views: 980

reducing "dragon sickness" to greed is over simplifying the matter after all?

Thank you for sharing your references geordie.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 22 2012, 10:40pm

Views: 978
the problem of choose

I have the feeling lately that in life we are not able to choose so often as we imagine

i think of Thorin being a wandering dwarf losing most of his folk, having contemplated the glory days he was meant to live as a king, losing it all, even his father,
well that´s a hard time

Then what could you do? sometimes circumstances are stronger than us, and that´s our fate (remember Aragorn?), i´m not saying that you can´t fight for leaving your past behind and all that, but once you had fought maybe there is a limit and thats the moment when you become what you meant to be

Thorin could have forgotten Erebor, but then his father dissapears, all his folk is spread around the world, and HE HAS the chance as the rightfull heir to recover it all

Well that reminds me Boromir, so i can read The Hobbit and understand what Tolkien tried to explain, but perhaps even for Tolkien, and behind the main theme of the book,Thorin is still being a good guy capeable of repentance and understanding about what would be better,

So i feel that Thorin like much of us didn´t have many options, perhaps w was meant to go to Erebor, and after all his greed turned out to good, it was the motor, the piece that has to be moved on the set to provoque Smaug´s downfall

But in the book i have no doubt greed is greed for good or bad, and greed, is bad, as i see it

wow pretty deep question

(This post was edited by isaac on Jan 22 2012, 10:46pm)


Jan 23 2012, 3:45am

Views: 1081
* (argh, what is it with chrome and linkies anyway?)

Re: My liking Armitage as Thorin cred:

See here: Stott and Armitage

Repeated here: I love the choice of Armitage as Thorin

and for good measure also see this post: Prosthetics may not play


Jan 23 2012, 8:15am

Views: 1130
Three relevant quotes:

From Inside Information - Bilbo sees the hoard for the first time:

To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all. There are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful. Bilbo had heard tell and sing of dragon-hoards before, but the splendour, the lust, the glory of such treasure had never yet come home to him. His heart was filled and pierced with enchantment and with the desire of dwarves; and he gazed motionless, almost forgetting the frightful guardian, at the gold beyond price and count.

From Not At Home - the Arkenstone:

...At last he looked down upon it and he caught his breath. The great jewel shone before he feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and-changes it into ten thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow.
Suddenly Bilbo's arm went towards it drawn by it 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.
"Now I am a burglar indeed!" thought he. "But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it-some time. The 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 marvellous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.

Of course he did not tell them anything.

From The Gathering of the Clouds - Thorin the Greedy:

...But also he did not reckon with the power that gold has upon which a dragon has long brooded, nor with dwarvish hearts. Long hours in the past days Thorin had spent in the treasury, and the lust of it was heavy on him. Though he had hunted chiefly for the Arkenstone, yet he had an eye for many another wonderful thing that was lying there, about which were wound old memories of the labours and the sorrows of his race.

As I mentioned in my response to ShireHorse, it is clear from several references that Tolkien did intend Thorin to become (at this point - and not before!) fallen because of his pride and his greed. But this is not quite what he had written - this happens after sevral days and not immediately; and is qualified by the curse of gold on which a dragon has brooded (Shippey discusses this theme as well); and by the memories of the labours and sorrows of his race.
And even so, Thorin's actions are still fair and measured. The only time Tolkien says that his judgment was actually clouded because of the 'bewilderment of treasure' is when after being betrayed and blackmailed into declaring he will ransome the Arkenstone for Bilbo's share, he still considers whether together with Dain's army he could recapture it without bargaining for it.

As a last thing, regarding The Hoard - as geordie noted, this poem originated in the 20s, at the time when the Dwarves were viewed by Tolkien as prounncedly evil (if politically often neutral). Even after The Hobbit was published, Tolkien's view of them was softened, but still quite ambivalent, as I've discussed here (questions 8-13, and 16-17).
The heroics of Azaghâl were inspired by Thorin, and not the other way round, if you understand what I mean.


Jan 23 2012, 11:30am

Views: 1073
Thank you, Sir Dennis,

for pointing out your opinions on those old threads. I was being a bit touchy - but in a good-natured way, LOL! The discussion here about Thorin/pride/greed has been very interesting and everyone seems to have made a valid point even when they disagree with each other.

The first time I read the book, I was so focussed on Bilbo and so irritated and unappreciative of the way in which the story climaxed with Smaug's death - and then didn't finish - that I came away with the feeling that Thorin was greedy, prideful and a bit of a pain. Then I had to read it with a class of 40 eleven-year-old boys and they were very upset when Thorin died. Those weren't my ideas about a sympathetic and misunderstood Thorin versus the greed and recalcitrance of the others that I posted above, but theirs. It was this group of lads who made me read those last chapters again and see things differently and that's how I've seen Thorin now for a pretty long time. And that's why I thought that Armitage was a good choice. Like Sean Bean with his Boromir, which I always found a bit more sympathetic than in the book, I think he will have to walk a fine line: if we don't sympathise with him to a certain extent then we won't be upset when he dies. I'm really looking forward to Thorin's portrayal - it's obviously going to be the most contentious one - and I shall try hard not to get upset/annoyed/irritated when these boards argue like billy-o about it when we've seen it on the screen.


Jan 23 2012, 5:13pm

Views: 1054
Those are 3 important quotes, sador,

and ones I tend to home in on myself. I think they explain a lot about the situation. And thank you for your thoughtful comments on them. It sometimes seems to me that the Arkenstone is like an Ur-Ring. It has the power to create an obsession in those that gaze on it and it affects the way that people behave. Blbo is initially persuaded to steal it and then finally manages to break free from its power, giving it away to Bard and Thranduil in a situation that he feels might prove helpful.


Jan 23 2012, 6:43pm

Views: 1031
I do find it strange that we don't even hear about Dain

until the end of the book. He seems tacked on in order to give Thorin some reinforcements. I can accept the explanation that a frontal assault would stand little chance against Smaug, but why wouldn't someone at least mention the dwarves who live in the neighborhood? And why wouldn't there be any communication with such dwarves?


Jan 23 2012, 7:23pm

Views: 1072
Yes, I agree, though this line

"His heart was filled and pierced with enchantment and with the desire of dwarves" seems to indicate that two forces were at work:

The first I'll grant might be what is called "the dragon sickness." Something, some sort of spell, that can afflict anyone who gazes upon a dragon's hoard.

The second, "the desire of dwarves" seems to be a pre-existing trait belonging to dwarves; not necessarily dependant on the existence of a dragon hoard. Given what else we know from the tale, the condition is likely pride, lust (for gold, though one wonders given that dwarf women are bearded...), and greed rolled into one.

So it would be fair to say that even if it was not Thorin's prime motivation for reclaiming the treasure, as a pre-existing condition, that pride, lust and greed likely played a part. Even before observing the treasure.

However, from sador's observations as well (unless I missed the context) Thorin had already spent time with at least part of the treasure. So either it carried a curse of its own (pre-Smaug), or the desire for it at any cost was endemic to dwarves (ie as any hoard would be)... or both. The fact that it was hoarded before Smaug appeared -- though was added to from neighbouring sources as he did -- is an important point here.

The predisposition towards being greedy may indeed be, as sador also points out, a throw back to Tolkien's earlier (pre-Hobbit) ideas about dwarves, but that he ultimately intended to discard. (A notion I was only just made aware of here, thank you sador.)

Still, I am reminded of the point dormouse has been making about the key descriptor "hoarded." The word does not simply imply the act of amassing a great treasure, but also implies that it is not shared or otherwise used to anyone's (including the hoarder's) benefit. Therefore greed, more so than pride even, is what Thorin laments in his final moments.

Be that as it may, despite his many faults, ultimately I do not see Thorin as someone who is beyond redemption. Nor do I believe that he is much different (except in the details) from any other of Tolkien's complex characters, all who exhibit faults of their own. I guess the extent to which their flaws lead to their downfall (or not!) is something to be kept in mind while reading Tolkien.

And yes, to your other recent post, this has been a robust discussion! I'm quite enjoying it and learning a lot in the process... thank you to isaac and all who have participated.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 23 2012, 7:26pm)


Jan 23 2012, 7:50pm

Views: 1095
Anger against the Iron Hills colony?

In Reply To
until the end of the book. He seems tacked on in order to give Thorin some reinforcements. I can accept the explanation that a frontal assault would stand little chance against Smaug, but why wouldn't someone at least mention the dwarves who live in the neighborhood? And why wouldn't there be any communication with such dwarves?

I imagine that communications broke down between the Blue Mountain Dwarves and the Iron Hills colony following Smaug's occupation of Erebor. The two groups are too far apart to send messages by raven-gram and the closest thing to regular mail would probably be to send letters, packages and freight by trader caravan. I wonder if there were also anger issues involved. The Lonely Mountain refugees might have resented the fact that the Iron Mountain Dwarves had not rallied together to attempt to slay Smaug and restore Thror to the throne. Perhaps this answers the question of why many of Thorin's folk migrated to the much more distant Blue Mountains following the Dragon's attack, and not to the Iron Hills.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.


Jan 23 2012, 8:05pm

Views: 1017

One wonders if there were a bit of bad blood between brothers Thrór and Grór over the kingship. Much like I suspect with Dain and Balin, I think one might have come to the other's aid if asked, but the other was just too stiff-necked to ask.

"Oh, Gandalf, Gandalf, you fool! Can’t you see how I feel?"
"Yeah, I see. I see our troubles don’t amount to a hill of beans. You belong with Celeborn. And I need to go find the only one who can save us."

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 23 2012, 10:03pm

Views: 1017
thank you too Sir Dennis C and the rest

I was about to put some where some kind of congratulation to you all of how i enjoy joining a discussion and when a post gets crazy of a lot and unexpected civilized discussion, i thank you all the amount of english i´m leargning and the good moments i spend here

thanks folks!Smile


Jan 23 2012, 11:05pm

Views: 1020
Oh, it can be rationalized.

But it's interesting to me that the subject of Dain and his dwarves doesn't even arise during any of the planning at Bilbo's house, Rivendell, Beorn's house, or Laketown. It's as if they don't exist until Smaug is dead and the Lonely Mountain is under siege. Then, "Oh yeah, Dain!"


Jan 23 2012, 11:29pm

Views: 1023

so where does this idea that Gandalf talked Thorin out of taking larger numbers come from I wonder?

wait, I think someone covered that above...

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 23 2012, 11:33pm

Views: 989
i´m with you here

Sounds a little bit strange, but i am not saying that there isn´t a very good explanation


Jan 24 2012, 8:42am

Views: 1044
We do; but without a name, and it doesn't amount to much:

"We were on a journey to visit our relatives, our nephews and nieces, and first, second, and third cousins, and the other descendants of our grandfathers, who live on the East side of these truly hospitable mountains," said Thorin, not quite knowing what to say all at once in a moment, when obviously the exact truth would not do at all.

- Over Hill and Under Hill.

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 24 2012, 8:46am

Views: 997
I once made

A perfectly innocent suggestion that in the movie they could replace the Arkenstone with the Durin Ring and I was totally blown out of the water. I couldn't find a single person to agree with me! PirateSmile Still to be fair, it probably wasn't such a good idea!


Jan 24 2012, 8:51am

Views: 1005
Yes! But a bit is missing

In Reply To
Blbo is initially persuaded to steal it and then finally manages to break free from its power, giving it away to Bard and Thranduil in a situation that he feels might prove helpful.

Of course this is a tremendous moment, and one which makes him able to eventually renounce the Ring.
But in itself, it might be just a case of cold calculation - caught between two armies at war, far from home and help, with no idea how to return to either - it might be the logical thing for Bilbo to steal the Arkenstone, sneak out and use it to bargain with Bard.
Bilbo's finest moment, which reveals the true generous motive of his deed, is his returning back to the Mountain, out of a sense of responsibility and of loyalty to Bombur.


Jan 24 2012, 1:52pm

Views: 1014
That doesn't even sound like the truth.

The east side of the mountains sounds like the east side of the Misty Mountains, not a short march from the Lonely Mountain. And he is obviously lying about the hospitable mountains.


Jan 24 2012, 3:09pm

Views: 993

We can also assume than Dain was Thorin's next-of-kin, which means that any nephews or first cousins of his are fictitious.
I was just pointing out the one case in which his second cousin east of the Misty Mountains was mentioned. Smile

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Jan 24 2012, 4:18pm

Views: 1008
i feel that could replace the presence of TORN

Many people would be confused about if the arkenstone has a similar power like the one ring, a feel the BIG diferene here is that the problem in LOTR was the jewel itself, in the hobbit is not the jewell it´s greed

Its not necessary to be a ring of power instead of arkenstone, because if that would be the case if the arkenstone would be a silmaril i would understood more the elves being there to reclaim it

this is a very intrincate debate, i feel the ring is what awakes greedy and dark side on the characters, and the arkenstone is just a jewell, the feelings on Bilbo when he sees the treasure, for me, are just lust for shynny things, but hobbits have no lo ve for things that shine but fot things that grow, dwarves do


Jan 31 2012, 1:19pm

Views: 943
Objectives of the quest

In Reply To
But it's interesting to me that the subject of Dain and his dwarves doesn't even arise during any of the planning at Bilbo's house, Rivendell, Beorn's house, or Laketown. It's as if they don't exist until Smaug is dead and the Lonely Mountain is under siege. Then, "Oh yeah, Dain!"

Yeah, I mean it's a children's book, isn't it.

Nothing in the Hobbit is as implausible as the misty mountains goblins immediately recognising 'biter and beater' given how old [even if their full 6,000+ year age hadn't been fully plotted out at the time of writing] and largely unremarkable in appearance they are.

As a plot device, to tell you something about the history & characters of the dwarves, in a children's book, the dwarves' lack of concrete plan about what they'll do once they reach the mountain works very well. Whether it could be considered a 'plot hole' or not, well, it's a matter of opinion really.


Feb 2 2012, 12:45am

Views: 961
In re-reading Two Towers

I noticed that the Three Hunters come across a 'heavy iron-shod shoe broken on the stones' or some such quote... and cast away by the orcs on their way to Isengard. It bothered me for some bizarre reason.(don't ask) I now have this vision of some poor orc unable to keep up because he only had one shoe. Not exactly a plot hole, but 'shoeless joe orc' could be a legendary character!

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Feb 2 2012, 11:32am

Views: 1230
shoeless joe orc

super agree with youTongue