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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
No sympathy?


Oct 23 2012, 3:29pm

Views: 326
No sympathy? [In reply to] Can't Post

Doesn't even the sending back of the ponies help, rather than making jerky out of them?
It did convince Dreamdeer.

In Reply To

I see him as corrupt (though not beyond redemption) or too given to Dragon Sickness than my ideal King would be.

Well, dragon sickness is obvious - at least, that is what Tolkien himself mentions as the cause (or by another name, bewilderment of the treasure). And I am well aware that there is no "defense" of Thorin's actions without detaching yourself from the author's judgment.
But I have read quite a few history novels and studies, where this detachment is necessary; also I used to read a lot of Dickens when I was young, and Dickens is completely unfair to his own characters - so I claim the right to read Tolkien's books as if they are history, and draw my own conclusions. After all, didn't he write that he prefered history, whether true or feigned, to allegory?

In Reply To
I think Curious... captures my own thoughts nicely: "All the defenses of Thorin's actions sound to me like attacks on the Elvenking, and on Bard for allying himself with the Elvenking..."

I think that is highly unfair, and misrepresents my arguments.
As a matter of fact, last time I answered Curious himself on the previous chapter:

Is there any touch of moral ambiguity when Bard's thoughts turn to Smaug's treasure?
Well, when Thorin asked him would he have given a part of the treasure to Thorin's relatives, had the dwarves been dead - Bard deftly avoids answering the question.
I think he is as bad as any of the other characters - as any of us, to say the truth.
The only character who does not ruthlessly pursue his chance for treasure is the Elvenking.

And this claim is also unfair to the points made by Dreamdeer, GaladrielTX and squire in that discussion. I can't vouch for the 2004 discussion.

In Reply To

Thorin -- to me the one most in a position to act graciously in all of this...

Once we've confirmed that he is in no immediate mortal danger. Have we?

In Reply To

Then again as Curious suggests, it may be Tolkien's fault for the way he painted Thorin.

I wonder. Sometimes it looks as if Tolkien tried to hard.
Consider the episode with the herald, which for some reason Curious did not discuss.

It is clear that with "Thorin, who calls himself King under the Mountain", Tolkien wanted to drive home the point that neither wealth nor sitting upon an actual throne consists of true kingship; it is rather Bard who desrves that apellate, by virtue of his heroic achievement, popular acclaim, and supernatural (divine?) grace, as embodied by the thrush.
Also, that when Thorin shot at the herald - it is supposed to show him as crazed by the demands upon him, and the herald by not moving when the arrow hits the center of his shield shows a stoical fortitude.

However, in this very chapter, Bard named himself a servant of the Master, and then blithely waived all claims of the Lake-town; the herald comes armed, against all etiquette (otherwise he won't have a shield); later, when Bard and the Elvenking do have something to say, they disarm indeed; consequently, the herald's words sound like insolence second only to the Mouth of Sauron's; also, later it will appear that when Thorin calls for aid, all Bard's men desert there leader at rally to him - so much for kingship!; and Thorin is known to be an excellent archer (from the enchanted river episode), so it is unlikely he would hit the middle of the herald's shield in full light and close quarters out of ineptitude - which makes it look like a protest against this breach of the rules; and the herald remaining unpertrubed also becomes a show that he knows he isn't in any real danger.
I call that overreaching.

When we last discussed this, all of the said objections were pointed out, most of them not by me! However, it seems clear that most readers do feel about this episode the way Tolkien intended it to be, not as he ended up writing it.
I think this is a mark of his artistry, and really don't resent being manipulated. But I do try to shake it off.

"Heart of the mountain...heart of Thorin...and now, Gandalf says "keep your heart up" . Anyone care to comment on the repeated use of that image?"
- weaver

The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Thief in the Night!

Subject User Time
**The Gathering of the Clouds** III Curious Send a private message to Curious Oct 20 2012, 5:03am
    Responses Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Oct 21 2012, 1:44pm
    Answers sador Send a private message to sador Oct 21 2012, 1:48pm
        What's missing? SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 21 2012, 7:26pm
            But of course! sador Send a private message to sador Oct 22 2012, 9:53am
                Yes opening with a misquote is a weak gambit. SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 22 2012, 8:27pm
                    No sympathy? sador Send a private message to sador Oct 23 2012, 3:29pm
                        small quibble this morning Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Oct 23 2012, 3:45pm
                            But without people of Thorin's passion Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Oct 23 2012, 3:46pm
                        But surely Bard wasn't motivated by greed alone SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 23 2012, 4:16pm
                            I wonder how much of a difference it would have made Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Oct 23 2012, 7:20pm
                                Yes, true SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 23 2012, 9:19pm
                                    I've been wondering about Gandalf too FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Oct 24 2012, 9:48am
                            I expect so. sador Send a private message to sador Oct 24 2012, 10:21am
                                What is the balance? SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 24 2012, 1:38pm


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