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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Bilbo makes them an offer they can't refuse

squire
Half-elven


Jul 11 2009, 5:24am


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Bilbo makes them an offer they can't refuse [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Let me get this straight -- Bilbo lost his pocket handkerchief, and his buttons, but somehow he kept Thorin's letter? Is it credible he'd still have it at this point? And why did Tolkien think he needed it here?
Yes, it’s easy to imagine the letter making it all this way, folded and kept in an inner pocket. As Dreamdeer points out, the paper would have been much more durable then than what we are used to. I have always read this scene with a vision of Bilbo occasionally – during the expedition’s rare moments of R&R - taking the letter out of his pocket and weighing its promises and conditions against his dreams of being safe back in Bag End.

He astutely admits that his deal involves profits, not gross – “below the line”, as it were. But although the letter definitely proves his bona fides, he doesn’t actually read it to his interviewers.

2. Just how much of a plan did Bilbo have about this encounter? How much did he have thought out ahead of time, and how much is figuring out on the spot?
3. To make his case, Bilbo produces a letter, supports the "claims" of Bard and the Elven King, provides information about Dain, and gives up the Arkenstone. What conclusions can you draw about the particular sequence of things Bilbo had to do in order to win the confidence of Bard and the Elven King?
Without tooting Bilbo’s horn too much, I think this is one of his supreme moments. He plays these guys like fishes. If he didn’t think through the entire exchange ahead of time, he at least knew exactly what he wanted, and what angle would hook Bard and the King. You can’t do better than that before you go into the meeting.

This is a much more important scene than the entire Battle of Five Armies. I shudder at all the emphasis that the BOFA gets in the various movie discussions I’ve witnessed. Yes, it could be a spectacular interval, but it really has little to do with the core story of “the Hobbit.” Whereas THIS scene is central to the Hobbit’s story.

4. Do you see any similarities between Bilbo's interrogation here and that of Frodo by Faramir in LotR?
As others have said, Bilbo is in charge here.

5. Which description of the Arkenstone do you prefer -- the shiny glittery imagery, or the reference to it being "Thorin's heart"?
It’s overblown melodrama to call it “Thorin’s heart”. I like the interpretation that its true role is as the “heart of the mountain”, and that its final placement on Thorin’s breast in his tomb is the whole point of the imagery.

The glittery imagery is very good here. Tolkien explores again one of his key images of the stars as elements of a net. Cf. in LotR: Arwen’s headdress. The stars in the Woody End. Etc.

6. Just how strongly was Bilbo tempted to keep the Arkenstone? If Bard had believed him without needing to reveal it, would he have kept it?
I think it just a touch of drama to include Bilbo in the forcefield of the Arkenstone, even as he resists it. Otherwise the scene might be too unbelievable.

Interesting idea that this presages Bilbo’s ability to give up the Ring in LotR. But the Arkenstone has not been built up to be an irresistible object like the Ring. Bilbo’s yielding of it seems almost painless.

Between the letter, and his feelings about the Stone, we see here a little greed in Bilbo. Yet as Curious says, he is already fabulously wealthy by the standards of his own people – later Tolkien will have him giving away all his “ill-gotten” Hobbit wealth without a second’s thought. I wonder how thoroughly thought through* is Bilbo’s motivation for this adventure in Tolkien’s mind. He kind of cheapens it here; then pulls back to the original romantically adventurous Bilbo of “Unexpected Party” later on.

*I’ve always wanted to write “thoroughly thought through”. It looks like a tongue twister - but it's not!




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

Subject User Time
A Thief in the Night -- Part 4 weaver Send a private message to weaver Jul 10 2009, 3:53am
    here goes Twit Send a private message to Twit Jul 10 2009, 10:10am
        Letter consistency Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 11 2009, 12:17am
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 10 2009, 2:19pm
    Letter Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 11 2009, 12:14am
    Bilbo makes them an offer they can't refuse squire Send a private message to squire Jul 11 2009, 5:24am
        Good for you to have done it! sador Send a private message to sador Jul 12 2009, 7:27am
            “Bilbo is not honest yet” - ?? squire Send a private message to squire Jul 12 2009, 2:28pm
                Quite so! N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jul 12 2009, 5:26pm
                Perhaps "find out" was too strong sador Send a private message to sador Jul 13 2009, 6:41am
                    The Mind as Iceberg Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 13 2009, 6:36pm
                        It may be in the author's mind, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 13 2009, 6:45pm
                    If Bilbo lied to his neighbors about his adventures, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 13 2009, 6:47pm
                        "His magic ring he kept a great secret..." N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jul 13 2009, 7:15pm
                            Oops! sador Send a private message to sador Jul 13 2009, 7:24pm
                        Not lied? sador Send a private message to sador Jul 13 2009, 7:22pm
                            As N.E.B. notes, there's no obligation to tell everything. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 13 2009, 8:32pm
                                Well, you know sador Send a private message to sador Jul 14 2009, 6:15am
                                    Bilbo told Frodo the whole story, but Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 14 2009, 8:55am
                                    The Quest for Power Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 14 2009, 6:56pm
                                        Tolkien wanted to put the genie back Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 14 2009, 7:46pm
                                        "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it" squire Send a private message to squire Jul 14 2009, 9:39pm
                                            Or Capitalist or Colonialist Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 14 2009, 10:39pm
                                                Consensus is a matter of opinion. Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 15 2009, 2:53am
                                            You got my point Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jul 15 2009, 2:42am
    A few answers sador Send a private message to sador Jul 12 2009, 7:52am
        Ah, the "note-paper"! squire Send a private message to squire Jul 12 2009, 2:47pm
            Water-resistant ink Kimi Send a private message to Kimi Jul 13 2009, 1:14am
                Excellent! squire Send a private message to squire Jul 13 2009, 1:38am
                Fascinating! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Jul 13 2009, 3:19am
    I like Bilbo's style of taking care of business so much more grammaboodawg Send a private message to grammaboodawg Jul 12 2009, 2:45pm

 
 
 

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