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**Hobbit Discussion – Inside Information** Part 1 – Bilbo earns his reward
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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 8 2009, 1:59pm

Post #1 of 96 (582 views)
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**Hobbit Discussion – Inside Information** Part 1 – Bilbo earns his reward Can't Post

Whoa... I haven't done one of these in Quite a While! This is one of my favourite chapters of The Hobbit, so I'm geeked and intimidated all at the same time... but here goes :)

Each day this week, I'll be following the chapter as written, slightly diverting at times to look at thematic situations. I have included some of the text I'll be discussing for reference purposes.

Mr. Baggins shows amazing courage as he gathers "Inside Information" of what the Company's facing behind the hidden door when he enters the captured realm of Erebor and knowingly goes into the dragon's den alone.

But let's start at the beginning. We find Bilbo enduring Thorin as he pontificates and flexes his oratory muscles... again. Bilbo knows by now that Thorin is leading up to something. In this case, announcing that Bilbo should earn his pay:

... ""Now is the time for our esteemed Mr. Baggins, who has proved himself a good companion on our long road, and a hobbit full of courage and resource far exceeding his size, and if I may say so possessed of good luck [luck is mentioned 12 times in this chapter!] far exceeding the usual allowance—now is the time for him to perform the service for which he was included in our Company; now is the time for him to earn his Reward.""

Now is the time, needless to say, that I'm sure Bilbo has his own thoughts about expectations and achievements. Once again, he brings Thorin up short and gets to the point... including coming as close as ever to a hobbity insult.

... ""If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passage first, O Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer," he said crossly, "say so at once and have done! I might refuse. I have got you out of two messes already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. But 'third time pays for all' as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse. Perhaps I have begun to trust my luck more that I used to in the old days"--he meant last spring before he left his own house, but it seemed centuries ago--"but anyway I think I will go and have a peep at once and get it over. Now who is coming with me?"
... He did not expect a chorus of volunteers, so he was not disappointed."

Bilbo? Disappointed? Vexed? By now, he not only has Thorin's number, but the others as well.

Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep? Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them? Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?

Why do you think Fili and Kili were the only ones pointed out to seem chagrinned? Balin exceeded the other dwarves in showing his quality as the only one to volunteer to attend Bilbo...but only to a point.

Bilbo could hear the dwarves back at the tunnel entrance. What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering? Do you think Bilbo could make out what they were saying? Or if Balin could... and would it affect how he felt about Bilbo and/or his comrades?


And so it begins. Bilbo screws himself up to pass through the door and down into the dark.

... "He was altogether alone. Soon he thought it was beginning to feel warm. "Is that a kind of a glow I seem to see coming right ahead down there?" he thought.
... It was. As he went forward it grew and grew, till there was no doubt about it. It was a red light steadily getting redder and redder. Also it was now undoubtedly hot in the tunnel. Wisps of vapour floated up and past him and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to be the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him.
... It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait. At any rate after a short halt go on he did; and you can picture him coming to the end of the tunnel, an opening of much the same size and shape as the door above. Through it peeps the hobbit's little head."

Looks like he did have a peep afterall!! Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience? Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?

WANTED: Sharing of any thoughts or comments.

***Tomorrow... Bilbo plays the hobbit game, "cup"

[text taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: Inside Information, 1965 Ballantine edition, pgs 203-222]


sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



TORn's Observations Lists


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2009, 2:57pm

Post #2 of 96 (210 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?

Bilbo dreaded this moment, but I think the manner in which the door was opened, as if by divine intervention, gave him courage. If he had been forced to go through the front door as proposed the day before, he might not have been able to do it.

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep?

He's cross, as the narrator tells us. He's angry with the dwarves in general, and Thorin in particular, for implying that Bilbo hasn't earned his reward yet, and that he is obligated to go confront the dragon and, well, do what exactly? The dwarves have never made that clear. Figure something out, I suppose. It isn't so much that Bilbo minds doing it; he minds Thorin's patronizing tone and his implication that Bilbo is obligated to do it.

Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them?

Neither, I judge. I don't think his tone is lighthearted at all, and his teasing request for companions is almost malicious, as he exposes their fear.

Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?

I don't think he is quite as confident as Gandalf, but he is getting there. Perhaps if Bilbo were more confident and less afraid himself, he wouldn't be quite so cross with Thorin and mean to the dwarves. Note, also, that Bilbo isn't completely fair -- after all, he has a ring of invisibility, and the dwarves do not.

Why do you think Fili and Kili were the only ones pointed out to seem chagrinned?

Because they are the usual scouts.

What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering?

"Do you hear anything?"

"How can I hear anything with you whispering in my ear. Now move back and be quiet."

"Is that Balin?"

"I said be quiet."

"Well, I'm going to wait outside."

"You do that."

"What is that thrush doing here?"

"We're doomed."

"I'm hungry."

Etc.

Do you think Bilbo could make out what they were saying?

Probably not. Maybe a word or two.

Or if Balin could... and would it affect how he felt about Bilbo and/or his comrades?

No.

Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience?

Yes.

Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?

No.

WANTED: Sharing of any thoughts or comments.

Tolkien often makes the point that it takes more courage to walk towards a fight than to fight. On the other hand, sometimes he downplays the importance of skill in a fight, as if all it takes is courage, luck, and a good weapon. It's the citizen soldier myth. In the Primary World, professional soldiers tend to prevail.


Quote
He had not had a pocket-handkershief for ages.



Do you suppose he had learned to close one nostril and blow? Did he do that at the banquets in Lake-town, where he had a stuffy nose?




Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 8 2009, 4:16pm

Post #3 of 96 (194 views)
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Peep! [In reply to] Can't Post

I loved your peep illustration! And you caught me by surprise--I thought the picture would have had something to do with a marshmallow chick.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 8 2009, 6:53pm

Post #4 of 96 (177 views)
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*snigger* Did you see the 2nd one? ;) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



TORn's Observations Lists


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 8 2009, 7:00pm

Post #5 of 96 (197 views)
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*nods and chuckles intermittently* [In reply to] Can't Post

I think he's fed-up with the dwarves, too. I can see him simply frothing with frustration.

*massive chuckle* "I'm hungry"

Good points on the courage vs skill. His everyman characters do tend to walk headlong into impossible situations.


Quote
Do you suppose he had learned to close one nostril and blow? Did he do that at the banquets in Lake-town, where he had a stuffy nose?

nahhh.... that's what sleeves are for ;) And cloaks, and the shirt tail of anyone walking in front of you.

Thanks Curious :)


sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



TORn's Observations Lists


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2009, 7:28pm

Post #6 of 96 (221 views)
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Tolkien's characterization of dwarves makes me uncomfortable. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


This broad generalization made me uncomfortable after I ran across this quote from Tolkien's last interview:


Quote

The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic.


Maybe Tolkien didn't mean that Jews were calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; maybe he just meant that they had other things in common with the dwarves. But for a long time I took Tolkien's racial generalizations for granted. Now they make me uncomfortable, especially since individual characters in Tolkien's stories often defy those same characterizations, as Gimli does in LotR. There's really no need for Tolkien to paint all dwarves with the same broad brush -- or all Fallohides, Harfoots, Stoors, Numenoreans, Rohirrim, Breelanders, Dunlendings, Woses, Easterlings, Haradrim, etc. Or, for that matter, all Noldor, Sindar, or Silvan Elves. Yet he has a tendency to do so, repeatedly.



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 8 2009, 8:01pm

Post #7 of 96 (197 views)
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That 1965 interview [In reply to] Can't Post

...was the subject of some debate here last December. By the way, the transcript to which you link may be in error: not only is the interviewer's name misspelled, but John Rateliff in The History of The Hobbit quotes Tolkien as referring in this interview to "the immense warlike passion of the Jews", which is missing from this transcript.

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

Join us June 8-14 for "Inside Information".
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 8 2009, 8:51pm

Post #8 of 96 (187 views)
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Does Rateliffe mention 1965? [In reply to] Can't Post

Because the interview Curious links to is dated 1971. And it turns out that there's a link to a YouTube audio version of it on this very site! I just listened as far as the bit about the Dwarves, and the transcript is correct. There's no mention of any "warlike passion" here. I can only assume that Tolkien is repeating just a small part of something he had said earlier at greater length.

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



FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 8 2009, 9:38pm

Post #9 of 96 (191 views)
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So you weren't uncomfortable [In reply to] Can't Post

when it was just about the Dwarves?


In Reply To

Quote
There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


This broad generalization made me uncomfortable after I ran across this quote...



Is it just the comparison to the real world that bothers you? If so, I'd say just ignore Tolkien's personal musings about the real-world peoples that inspired his own peoples, since they are not part of the fantasy world of the stories at all. Not that I think Tolkien meant to compare the Dwarves to the Jews on all points - he said himself, elsewhere, which things he felt they had in common. I don't think it's fair to take every semi-humorous, deprecating remark that he makes within the story about his fantasy race, and hold it against him in the real world.

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



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 8 2009, 10:09pm

Post #10 of 96 (179 views)
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Recorded in 1965, broadcast in 1971 (see Scull/Hammond). // [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 8-14 for "Inside Information".
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 8 2009, 11:12pm

Post #11 of 96 (164 views)
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Whups! [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought they'd be the same--I should know better when dealing with someone creative like you!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2009, 11:12pm

Post #12 of 96 (172 views)
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No, now that Tolkien made the real-world comparison, [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm uncomfortable regardless.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 8 2009, 11:17pm

Post #13 of 96 (183 views)
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Tolkien's personal arc [In reply to] Can't Post

See, this is where I point out that Tolkien's body of work, as a whole, shows an arc of character development. He wrote "The Hobbit" pre-WWII, and naively mimics the stereotypes of his day. Then he writes "The Lord of the Rings" during WWII, and now has come to see the horrible price of such stereotypes, so he brings in Gimli to refute them.

He was a living person who continued, throughout his life, to improve. Like all human beings he had prejudices, but he fought to overcome them. I think that I could safely conclude that, had his growth continued in a lifetime as long as Bilbo's, his work would eventually have risen completely above racism, classism, sexism, and every ism that ever snuck into his work in the first place--because his urge was always to learn better and to do better.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 9 2009, 2:18am

Post #14 of 96 (179 views)
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"flexes his oratory muscles"! [In reply to] Can't Post

Heh, that's the "Thorin workout"! Laugh

Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?
Those Dwarves were clueless from the very start! They never had any plan, other than: get there, somehow. And then what? Have a hired burglar steal the treasure, piece by piece, as Smaug snores peacefully?
Bilbo, however, never lost sight of the fact that, as "burglar", sooner or later, he'd have to get a lot closer than he ever desired to the Dragon, either in its lair or out of it - thus he was so miserable when leaving Lake-town.

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep? Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them? Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?
He's returning Thorin's pomposity with snarkiness! Oh, yes, he's messing with them. They haven't said a peep Wink to him about thanking him for helping avert a couple major disasters and get them this far! No, no, it's simply push the door open, gee aren't we clever, now Mr. Baggins can get his real work done. What ingrates - they deserve the lip Bilbo gave them, and more!

Why do you think Fili and Kili were the only ones pointed out to seem chagrinned?
Being the youngest, they're used to being ordered around...and they're afraid Thorin is going to order them to go with Bilbo.

What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering?
"Bets?"
"Ten to one he freezes up and comes back before reaching the cavern!"
"No, I think he'll make it, I'll put 5 to 1 on him going all the way to the treasure."
"And 2 to 1 that he returns with some of it."
"You're daft. 20 to 1 that he gets roasted."

Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience? Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?
That was so long ago...over 40 years...there are times I do wish I could remember more of my "first impressions"!
I love the description of the sound coming up to him: "a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep..." Galloping water! Purring! Snoring! Has a dragon ever before been ascribed these vivid characteristics! By the time Bilbo peers through the doorway, we know precisely what he is hearing!

WANTED: Sharing of any thoughts or comments.
I never noticed those two "peeps" before!

Hm...a thought about the Ring...he's wearing it, so would it be increasing his ability to hear, as it will later for Sam, so the Dragon-noise seems louder? More on the Ring and Dragon-speech later...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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 9 2009, 3:29am

Post #15 of 96 (151 views)
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Let's hope this wasn't the case:)... [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo could hear the dwarves back at the tunnel entrance. What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering?
Thorin: What is that?
Bombur: Wasn't me!
Dwalin (echoed by Ori, Nori, Oin, Bifur, and Bofur): Me neither!
Dori: Gloin!?!
Gloin: well...'scuse me!
Fili and Kili: (rolling on ground laughing)

Anyhoo--
Bilbo? Disappointed? Vexed? By now, he not only has Thorin's number, but the others as well.
No, not disappointed. As you suggest Bilbo has a big clue as to what his companions are about at this point so his expectations are probably quite a bit more realistic.


Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?
I don't think he had alot of time to anticipate this.

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep? Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them? Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?
If his tone seems light at all I would think that is more for himself--to keep cool. And he is messing with them--but not *just*...wish I could think of a great example for the *tone* I imagine Bilbo using here!

Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience? Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?
This is probably a great section of the story to read aloud! Not lengthy-- but with the right pauses and voice...it'd be great!
My first impression? No. But when I read through it the other night I took my time and was able to get *into* it.





Beren IV
Gondor


Jun 9 2009, 5:25am

Post #16 of 96 (145 views)
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Citizen soldier vs. hero [In reply to] Can't Post

I dispute Curious' description of Bilbo as a citizen soldier. He isn't - he is not a warrior, but a hero. He's had to fight once, but only once, and he knows full well that while he carries a sword, his sword isn't going to solve all of his problems.

This isn't a soldier.

The paleobotanist is back!


sador
Half-elven

Jun 9 2009, 6:06am

Post #17 of 96 (152 views)
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Thorin did, in 'A Warm Welcome' [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"Well! Here we are!" said Thorin. "And I suppose we ought to thank our stars and Mr. Baggins. I am sure he has the right to expect it, though I wish he could have arranged for a more comfortable jurney. Stll - all very much at your service once more, Mr. Baggins. No doubt we shall feel properly grateful, when we are fed and recoverd."


As did the other dawrves, after being saved from the spiders:

Quote
They knew only too well that they would soon all have been dead, if it had not been for the hobbit; and they thanked him many times. Some of them even got up and bowed right to the ground before him, though they fell over with the effort, and could not get on their legs again for some time.



I know - with it being my turn next week, I shouldn't have the time to answer. I don't. But I couldn't take this standing!


In Reply To
They haven't said a peep Wink to him about thanking him for helping avert a couple major disasters and get them this far!



Pirate

"In that case you may, perhaps, not altogether waste your time." - Smaug


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 9 2009, 6:32am

Post #18 of 96 (155 views)
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I'm fairly sure that the 1971 audio is an edited version of the 1965 interview [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Because the interview Curious links to is dated 1971. And it turns out that there's a link to a YouTube audio version of it on this very site! I just listened as far as the bit about the Dwarves, and the transcript is correct. There's no mention of any "warlike passion" here. I can only assume that Tolkien is repeating just a small part of something he had said earlier at greater length.



As N.E.B. stated the interview was recorded in 1965 but broadcast in 1971. I suspect, though I don't know for sure, that the broadcast is edited, with the "warlike passion" line removed (if true, it is an interesting piece of editing, isn't it?).

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 9 2009, 10:08am

Post #19 of 96 (165 views)
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What makes me uncomfortable... [In reply to] Can't Post

... is that no-one seems to mind when the Dwarves are made to seem less-than-perfect. It's only when Tolkien tells an interviewer that the Dwarves remind him of people in the real world that feathers are ruffled.

Within the stories, the Dwarves are just Dwarves. In The Hobbit, for storytelling reasons, they are cast as the bumbling chorus to the hero Bilbo's adventure. As you say, in LotR (which is much more complex in every way), a "special" Dwarf is depicted who rises above the general foibles of his fellows. We can say the same about the hobbits - the general run of them are as suspicious, xenophobic, narrow-minded and snobbish as the stereotypical Englishman/woman. And a few special individuals transcend the society they come from. Such stereotyping is just a storytelling device, mostly used for comic purposes. It's not meant as an insult to those who may be imagined to be the real-world equivalents of the fantasy races.

I can say categorically that I'm not insulted, as an Englishwoman, to be the butt of Tolkien's jokes about the foibles of the hobbits. And I'd like to think that Jewish readers are able to see the funny side of the Dwarves (assuming they even know about Tolkien's later comparison of the Dwarves to the Jews at all).

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



sador
Half-elven

Jun 9 2009, 10:16am

Post #20 of 96 (152 views)
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Some do, and some don't [In reply to] Can't Post

We had a long discussion about this, which nearly became heated! Shocked

"In that case you may, perhaps, not altogether waste your time." - Smaug


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 9 2009, 11:12am

Post #21 of 96 (138 views)
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The current situation [In reply to] Can't Post

No, no, I wasn't referring to their not thanking him anytime during the previous part of the journey! Apologies, I should have made that clearer: I was considering their time spent so far at the Lonely Mountain.

Bilbo was one of those who found the Door; it was he who had to put up with their grumbling about his inaction; who was paying enough attention to matters at hand to recognize the opportunity for the Door's opening at the right moment; who remembered the Key.

The Dwarves? They had gone back to grumbling, and forgetting to be thankful. None of them bothered to keep the words from the Map in mind; and when they were expectantly watching the sun sink, did Thorin keep the Key handy? No, if they had not had that Hobbit with them, they would still be wandering around the mountain - er, no, they would not even have gotten that far!

And once they do get the Door open, are there cheers and exclamations of "Most worthy Hobbit, without whom we would not be here now, how can we ever thank you for your patience and diligence?" Nope - just more hot air, and I don't mean the fumes coming up from below! Laugh


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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



Twit
Lorien

Jun 9 2009, 11:55am

Post #22 of 96 (136 views)
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here goes... [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo? Disappointed? Vexed? By now, he not only has Thorin's number, but the others as well.

Yes, he just seems resigned to what he needs to do, but is irritated that Thorin speaks to him in such a way, and that no-one will accompany him. Although I don't suppose he thought any one would go with him.


Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?

I think he has had it on his mind yes, he was employed to be the burgler any way. He might have pushed the thought of what he might have to do to the back of his mind though.

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep? Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them? Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?

I think he is just saying he won't go, giving himself the impression of a choice at least, and pointing out the fact that the others are not willing, or even able to follow him.


Why do you think Fili and Kili were the only ones pointed out to seem chagrinned? Balin exceeded the other dwarves in showing his quality as the only one to volunteer to attend Bilbo...but only to a point.

I think they feel a bit guilty about it, and possibly a bit envious

Bilbo could hear the dwarves back at the tunnel entrance. What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering? Do you think Bilbo could make out what they were saying? Or if Balin could... and would it affect how he felt about Bilbo and/or his comrades?

probably whether he'd make it out alive, whether he would double cross them. Balin might have felt it was unfair of them to say this. Of course it might have been more along the lines of "it's dark in there", "get off my foot" and "what is there to eat?"


And so it begins. Bilbo screws himself up to pass through the door and down into the dark.

Looks like he did have a peep afterall!! Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience? Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?

Yes, it sounds very claustrophobic, very uncomfortable. It's another unpleasant journey through a tunnel to certain danger.
It was very exciting though, and my son really liked this.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 9 2009, 1:24pm

Post #23 of 96 (146 views)
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But I do mind. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's remark simply highlighted the problem with the racial generalizations in his stories. I'm not at all sure that he considers Jews to be by nature avaricious, but the association of Dwarves with Jews made me conscious of all of Tolkien's racial generalizations. As I said in the original post, I am now disturbed when he makes generaliations about "Fallohides, Harfoots, Stoors, Numenoreans, Rohirrim, Breelanders, Dunlendings, Woses, Easterlings, Haradrim, etc. Or, for that matter, all Noldor, Sindar, or Silvan Elves."

And the irony is that his characters more often than not defy those very generalizations, acting as individuals, not stereotypes. Tolkien even notes the prejudices of various characters, such as the elves' and dwarves' prejudices against each other in The Hobbit, or the Gaffer's and Farmer Maggot's prejudices against each other in LotR, or the Rohirrim's and the Woses' prejudices against each other in LotR. But then, for some reason, from time to time he buys into those same prejudices! It's one thing for the Elvenking to think of dwarves as by nature avaricious (and ironic, since the Elvenking is also avaricious), and quite another for the narrator to imply that the Elvenking's prejudices are correct.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 9 2009, 1:55pm

Post #24 of 96 (129 views)
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"Say so at once, and have done!" [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo? Disappointed? Vexed?

Can't help thinking of Sam standing "legs well apart, bristling with wrath" in front of Faramir: "If you think my master murdered this Boromir and then ran away, you’ve got no sense; but say it, and have done!"

I don't know if Bilbo is "bristling" quite as much as Sam, but he's pretty darn annoyed!

Do you think Bilbo anticipated this moment, or were they all too distracted about just getting to the mountain and trying to find the door to consider what came next?

My guess is that Bilbo knows perfectly well what is coming next, and he doesn't like having it spelled out to him as if he's no more than a mere employee of the dwarves, as in "now is the time for him to perform the service for which he was included in our Company; now is the time for him to earn his Reward." Bilbo's not in it for the reward (he never was) - but he resents Thorin's implication that he hasn't done anything to earn a reward yet. I guess really, Bilbo is in it for the pride. The Dwarves have a way of insulting his pride, but it works - because out of wounded pride he always ends up taking up the next challenge!

What do you think of his tone as he teases that he may refuse to go, but then says he'll go to have a peep? Is he living up to the hobbity way of making light of dire situations, or is he just messing with them? Do you think Bilbo's sounding more like Gandalf as he relates to the dwarves?

He sounds a lot like Sam to me. Not only the "say it, and have done", but also the "peep" (Sam: "I'll have a peep, Lady, if you're willing.") And the "third time pays for all" (Sam, to Gollum: "Third time pays for all. I want some herbs."). Gandalf also uses this one, slightly adapted to his style (To Gwaihir: "Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing.") But I think Tolkien's statement that Sam is the successor to Bilbo is making sense here.

Why do you think Fili and Kili were the only ones pointed out to seem chagrinned? Balin exceeded the other dwarves in showing his quality as the only one to volunteer to attend Bilbo...but only to a point.

They are usually sent on missions, so I suppose they felt that if any dwarves were to go, it would be them. It seems Bilbo made a friend in Balin when he tricked him with the ring. I must say Balin took it in very good spirit at the time:

"...All except Balin. Long after the others had stopped talking and shut their eyes, he kept on muttering and chuckling to himself. "“Gollum! Well I’m blest! So that’s how he sneaked past me, is it? Now I know! Just crept quietly along did you, Mr. Baggins? Buttons all over the doorstep! Good old Bilbo—Bilbo—Bilbo—bo—bo—bo—” And then he fell asleep."

He showed his quality right there, you might say, and now he's showing it again.

Bilbo could hear the dwarves back at the tunnel entrance. What do you suppose the dwarves hovering around the door were whispering? Do you think Bilbo could make out what they were saying? Or if Balin could... and would it affect how he felt about Bilbo and/or his comrades?

Noises off. "Go in a bit further and see how they're doing." "No, you go." "Keep it down there, guys." "Stop pushing me." "What's happening down there?" "Shhh. Thorin's thinking." "Kili?" "What?" "I'm hungry."

Looks like he did have a peep afterall!! Do you think the anxiety of travelling the tunnel alone and getting gradual hints of what he was experiencing were effective at building tension for the reader/audience? Do you remember YOUR first impression as you travelled down with him?

This is so Tolkien. "Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone..." It's not the exciting things that really matter, it's having the courage to go on alone, when no-one can see you, and face up to an unknown danger. Frodo shows it first in the Barrow ("...you have some strength in you, my dear hobbit! As you showed in the Barrow. That was touch and go: perhaps the most dangerous moment of all.") That's what Tom Shippey, I think, calls "four o'clock in the morning courage" - the moral courage that is quite different from the flashier, obvious heroism of battle.

I don't remember my first impression, but reading this makes me think that GDT has a perfect opportunity to do just the same - Smaug will be all the more impressive if he doesn't show him to us right away. It's the suspense that builds the tension!

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 9 2009, 1:55pm

Post #25 of 96 (138 views)
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I give him both more and less credit than that. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Elvenking, for example, shows that dwarves are not the only avaricious characters in The Hobbit. Even Bilbo has an avaricious side. And if it were not for Thorin, I'm not sure all the dwarves would have been so stubborn. If we look at the individual characters in The Hobbit or LotR or The Silmarillion, Tolkien's own stereotypes do not hold true.

Yet he continues to base his fantasy on racial stereotypes throughout his life, even in the latest writings we find in HoME. His characters defy and question those stereotypes, but his grand scheme still incorporates them. That's the irony of it all -- it would be great if these stereotypes were simply attributed to the characters in the story, instead of being given validity by the narrator.

Of course, Darkstone might claim that Tolkien was satirizing racial stereotypes by creating a narrator who exhibited the same prejudices as the characters, but I don't see that. To me it seems as if Tolkien wants an orderly world in which races exhibit typical racial characteristics, but then when he writes a story set in that world he finds himself incapable of sticking to such stereotypes.

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