Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Scheduled discussion chapter one part three

Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Jul 15 2012, 11:16pm

Post #1 of 14 (724 views)
Shortcut
Scheduled discussion chapter one part three Can't Post

Part Three

Well we now read of a song summing up what has happened in Dale and the quest. Thorin and the Dwarves seem to think it is perfectly clear but Bilbo still wants the terms spelled out to him. Can't say I blame him especially taking into account that Dwarves can't always be totally trusted to keep to their side of the bargain. But the song stirs up something Tookish meaning brave in Hobbit terms inside this doesn't last long and at the first mention of danger faints in fright. I think by now we must be getting the idea that Mr. Bilbo Baggins is not your traditional type of hero!

Once he is taken to his bed for a lie down Gandalf assures the Dwarves that Bilbo is as fierce as a Dragon in a pinch. Which the narrator also assures us is quite fierce to those that have seen one. Can't say I have. Has anyone? I was once barked at by a large dog whilst out walking, does that count? Also we hear that one of Bilbos ancestors did have a famous battle against Goblins and won and invented the game of Golf at the same time. Oh, we'll cant have everything I suppose. Only joking Golf fans. Also are the Dwares convinced by this? Those of them that know anything about Hobbits must realise that this is a bit of an exaggeration.

Gloin certainly isn't convinced. It is only when Gandalf gets annoyed that Gloin is convinced. Though in Unfinished tales we discover that Gloin is only expressing what the other Dwarves think. Now why was Gandalf convinced against all reason that a little Hobbit, Bilbo would be the turning point for events in the wild? Was it only when he was talking to Bilbo? Was it really just a feeling he had or was it more sheer desperation at the state of the wild.

Another thing we find out is why Bilbo decided eventually to go on this journey and why his Took side triumphed over his Baggins one. The Dwarves almost goaded him into doing it. Gandalf has a key. Thorin is a bit suspicious about how the Wizard got hold of it, but accepts Gandalf's explanation. Not understanding matters completely by the Dwarves song, Bilbo wants a plain explanation of what the quest is about.

A plain explanation is probably not the best thing to ask of Thorin. He is one Dwarf that likes to speak. As we are about to find out. Now you can read the text about Smaugs attack on Erebor as good as I so I will just make a few points here. Firstly with a little read- through I do like the general description of Smaugs attack upon Erebor. Stirring stuff. And quite a nice explanation. Still concerning Smaug. Now Smaugs might be a powerful Dragon but he is only one creature. Could he really by himself cause the amount of devastation as described? Destroy two whole civilisations? He might be a bad guy but he's a powerful one. Often in these tales we do hear of the good guys slaying large numbers of Goblins for example. But this is the one really hard enemy. Legolas can kill forty- one Orcs in battle but can he take on Smaug? I have doubts.

And about Dragons. In parts of the Hobbit we do often hear of many Dragons of the north affecting Dwarves and Men. But officially only two of the. Third age are ever mentioned. I can't help but wonder of how many more tales of Dragons there might have been. A slight aside I have vague memories even before reading the Hobbit reading of tales of Dragons and the contract tjat the dragon-slayer had. Have he kingdom and the Kings daughter in marriage. Tolkien has obviously not decided to include that here.

It is also hear that we read about the Necromancer for the first time. There is actually quite a lot of ground cover in one chapter. But I'm not going to go through all of it. Don't want me to do all your work for you do you? I have also spotted a little bit of nasty stuff. That's if a creature from hell eating whole civilisations isn't nasty enough, actually. When describing Smaugs habits Thorin says that the Dragon liked to take people especially maidens to eat. A little bit of extreme horror or even violent porn in the Hobbit I wonder if Peter Jackson has spotted this.

One more comment I would like to make. This chapter as have said does start of nice and quiet. Almost boring in fact. No dramatic start to get peoples attention here. In fact any new reader might put the book down in the middle of the good morning discussion. But how realistic is this? Would a species of people really have no knowledge of what happens beyond their small countries borders? An then one of them turns out to be the saviour of civilizied peoples. This is not just suspending disbelief, this is chucking it out with the bathwater. Some might argue.

Anyway thank you for your comments this week, as always feel free to post her anything which I might have omitted. This the final post of this weeks discussion, thank you.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 1:31am

Post #2 of 14 (422 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

No I have not seen a dragon in a pinch. I think it is quite funny that the narrator speaks as if we could find someone who has, or trust their stories. It reminds me of the story of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien arguing vehemently in a pub, and someone asked what they were arguing about, and they both answered "Dragons!" Tolkien treats dragons as real, just absent from the immediate neighborhood, much as they were absent from the Shire.

No, being barked at by a large dog does not count. Maybe fighting a raging forest fire would come close, or an erupting volcano, an earthquake, or a tsunami. A dragon seems more like a destructive force of nature than any animal that exists. The dwarves compare his arrival to a hurricane.

The dwarves are most certainly not convinced by any stories about Bilbo's ancestor. They have grave doubts. But if they had any sense, they wouldn't be going on this adventure anyway. So they take Bilbo mainly to make the party 14 in number and because Gandalf insists.

Why was Gandalf convinced? That's a harder question. Obviously not based on hard data or deduction. It was more of a hunch or intuitive leap. Or maybe it was just a practical joke -- after all, in this book Gandalf is a Trickster. Saddle the dwarves with Bilbo and Bilbo with the dwarves, stand back and watch the fun, maybe rescuing them just in time, maybe not. After all, initially Gandalf says he is sending Bilbo on this adventure for Gandalf's own amusement. Or was it grasping at straws? At this point in The Hobbit, the first time around, we don't know what to believe. Gandalf certainly doesn't act like an angelic messenger.

Could Smaug cause the devastation described? I don't see why not, absent a lucky arrow. And it is because of that instant devastation that Smaug reminds me of a force of nature. Legolas might have been able to hit the hole in Smaug's armor if he was in the right place at the right time with the right information -- although it seems more fitting that the heir of Dale would do the deed.

It seems to me that there are more dragons and wizards in The Hobbit than in LotR. Of course, LotR has flying Nazgul, a Balrog, Shelob, and Sauron himself, all of which are at least as dangerous to the hobbits.

Is it realistic that the hobbits would have no knowledge of the outside world? I think it is easier to imagine this in Tolkien's England, especially during his childhood, minus the internet, TV, movies, radio, and many other means of mass communication. Also, in The Hobbit it's not clear that the Shire is as isolated as in LotR. Bilbo travels for many days before they sleep in the open, and the trolls are out of their element, interlopers in the world of sheepherders. Not until Bilbo leaves Rivendell does he enter the true Wild. So it's a long way to the outside world. We do not yet know that the Shire is a small oasis in a Wild west of the mountains, nor do we yet know that one of the hobbits will save the free peoples. That comes later, in LotR.

A few random thoughts. What do the dwarves do with all their musical instruments? This seems like part of the silly tone of the beginning of the tale, and the instruments are apparently put into storage.

Nonetheless, the music does its work on Bilbo. It awakes his Took side, which eventually leads him to accept the adventure. His Baggins side is still very much around, but with the two sides fighting Gandalf finds it easy to steer him towards adventure.

Note Gandalf's comments about trying to find a Hero or a Warrior, who aren't available in Bilbo's neighborhood. Do you suppose it entered Gandalf's mind to look for such persons along the way? In particular, he already knew about Beorn. Why wouldn't he plan to entice him into supporting their cause? Is it possible that he knew about Bard, the heir of Dale?

Why didn't anyone mention Thorin's relatives in the Iron Hills? Perhaps because Tolkien did not invent them until later. At any rate, it would have been helpful if Thorin had already developed a cover story regarding a trip to the Iron Hills before he was captured by the Elvenking and questioned about his purpose. He also could have tried the story with the Goblin King, although it probably would not have worked. Surely some cover story would be in order -- but we get nothing.

Where would dragons develop an idea of current market value? This seems like more silliness.

Some of this chapter was revised after the publication of LotR to make it more consistent. I don't have the Annotated Hobbit handy, so I will leave it vague for now.

Thank you for leading the discussion this week!


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 16 2012, 1:33am)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 2:59am

Post #3 of 14 (410 views)
Shortcut
Not sure silliness captures it... [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien seems to be playful but not silly. He spends some effort (without saying so outright) contrasting notions of strength, heroism, ferociousness and so on between our world and Bilbo's but also between the past and the present, both his and Bilbo's.

Admittedly I'm only presenting the germ of an idea here -- I'm distracted by the next chapter as we speak -- so it may not be as clear as I would like it to be. Still, consider the following if you will:

Bilbo first uses manners to try to deflect Gandalf's advance; later he objects to the dwarfs' criticism by insisting they have the wrong fellow; and finally he stands up for himself by appealing to the legal aspect of what they were proposing (as it applied to him) as a solicitor, accountant or bureaucrat might.

There is some commentary about heroes of old, and the scarcity/availability of heroes in the present age.

Gandalf says Bilbo is as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.

Dragons are said to know the current market value of things but cannot make anything for themselves; generally they take other's wealth and are quite destructive. (Sounds like a capitalist/banker, no? Tolkien was writing during the "Great Depression" after all.)

Tolkien seems to be saying that Bilbo and dragons, like bankers, are all equally ferocious. He might also be lamenting the power shift (fully complete by his day) from warriors/heroes to bureaucrats -- a thread he picks up later when we meet Bard and The Master of Laketown.

Which reminds me, I never noticed this bit of information about dragons before: "[dragons cannot] even mend a little loose scale of their armour."

ps thanks for getting things started Hamfast!


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jul 16 2012, 3:03am)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 3:08am

Post #4 of 14 (406 views)
Shortcut
Good catch about the dragon armor. [In reply to] Can't Post

Foreshadowing, yes?

I'm not sure how you distinguish playful and silly.

I'm not buying the connection between Bilbo and dragons as bankers.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 4:25am

Post #5 of 14 (408 views)
Shortcut
Iunno, playful seems [In reply to] Can't Post

a comment about presentation. Silly seems a judgement of the quality of the ideas, not just the manner in which they are presented. Though whimsical in their presentation, I think Tolkien's ideas were quite serious.

Though I wouldn't insist it is a subtext (here and elsewhere in The Hobbit), the comparison of dragons to bankers is an allusion that can be lifted from the text. I guess we're tipping back towards trying to guess what his intentions might have been... I believe it is not insignificant that greed and bureaucracy appear in a faerie story written in 1930s.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jul 16 2012, 4:26am)


sador
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 1:23pm

Post #6 of 14 (403 views)
Shortcut
Answers [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Can't say I blame him especially taking into account that Dwarves can't always be totally trusted to keep to their side of the bargain.


Huh? It was Bilbo who broke the contract first.


Quote
But the song stirs up something Tookish meaning brave in Hobbit terms inside this doesn't last long and at the first mention of danger faints in fright. I think by now we must be getting the idea that Mr. Bilbo Baggins is not your traditional type of hero!


Well, at least he won't take Gloin's insult lying down.


Quote
Once he is taken to his bed for a lie down Gandalf assures the Dwarves that Bilbo is as fierce as a Dragon in a pinch. Which the narrator also assures us is quite fierce to those that have seen one. Can't say I have. Has anyone?


I never drank enough for that...


Quote

I was once barked at by a large dog whilst out walking, does that count?

I'd take it with a pinch of salt.


Quote
Also we hear that one of Bilbos ancestors did have a famous battle against Goblins and won and invented the game of Golf at the same time.


You surely wouldn't expect a hobbit to invent anything as violent as rugby, as exciting as football or as complicated as cricket, would you?


Quote
Also are the Dwares convinced by this? Those of them that know anything about Hobbits must realise that this is a bit of an exaggeration.


Well, Gandalf didn't call him a Pinch_hitter!


Quote
Gloin certainly isn't convinced. It is only when Gandalf gets annoyed that Gloin is convinced.


Not convinced, cowed.


Quote
Though in Unfinished tales we discover that Gloin is only expressing what the other Dwarves think.


In Unfinished Tales we discover only what Tolkien thought the Dwarves thought twenty years later.


Quote
Now why was Gandalf convinced against all reason that a little Hobbit, Bilbo would be the turning point for events in the wild?


Well, if you trust The Quest of Erebor, Bilbo did know when the Elves' New Year was.


Quote
Was it only when he was talking to Bilbo?


If anything, that would persuade him against it.


Quote
Was it really just a feeling he had or was it more sheer desperation at the state of the wild.


As Curious wrote, he was just having a bit of fun.


Quote
The Dwarves almost goaded him into doing it.


It is surprising that he falls for this kind of "I dare you" trick, isn't it?


Quote
Thorin is a bit suspicious about how the Wizard got hold of it, but accepts Gandalf's explanation.


Rather, he knows better than to press the matter with him.


Quote
Not understanding matters completely by the Dwarves song, Bilbo wants a plain explanation of what the quest is about.


Well, the Dwarves probably have no idea that he is so green.


Quote
A plain explanation is probably not the best thing to ask of Thorin.


He did give the guards at Lake-town one. He just had no idea a plain explanation was really needed.
He was also green in a way. Fancy trusting wizards!


Quote
He is one Dwarf that likes to speak.


Old politicians who finally come into their own tend to do that (silly, wasn't it? Even if this article claims the popular belief that this speech caused his pneumonia is wrong).


Quote
Now you can read the text about Smaugs attack on Erebor as good as I


As opposed to which part? Wink


Quote
Now Smaugs might be a powerful Dragon but he is only one creature. Could he really by himself cause the amount of devastation as described? Destroy two whole civilisations?


A few hundred Dwarves and some Mannish merchants. Meh.


Quote
Legolas can kill forty- one Orcs in battle but can he take on Smaug? I have doubts.

Under very extraordinary circumstances, with the dragon looking elsewhere and turning to him the exposed part of his belly - he would have a shot. Only one.

However, movie-Legolas, the Chuck Norris who surfs upon shields and waltzes atop mumakil... nah, not even him.



Quote
But officially only two of the Third age are ever mentioned.


That's more than fauns - who were apparantly banished to Narnia!


Quote

I can't help but wonder of how many more tales of Dragons there might have been.

Farmer Giles of Ham!


Quote
A slight aside I have vague memories even before reading the Hobbit reading of tales of Dragons and the contract tjat the dragon-slayer had. Have he kingdom and the Kings daughter in marriage. Tolkien has obviously not decided to include that here.


Bard just didn't want her. As movie-Aragorn says: "It's the beard".


Quote
It is also hear that we read about the Necromancer for the first time.

We learn that he's big and bad. Okay.


Quote

Don't want me to do all your work for you do you?

Actually...


Quote
When describing Smaugs habits Thorin says that the Dragon liked to take people especially maidens to eat.


Yum yum. With unicorns or without?


Quote
A little bit of extreme horror or even violent porn in the Hobbit I wonder if Peter Jackson has spotted this.


Can't wait for the X-rated director's cut, can you?


Quote
In fact any new reader might put the book down in the middle of the good morning discussion.


Wait just one more page - and you'll get to a glorious description of food. Who can resist this?


Quote
Would a species of people really have no knowledge of what happens beyond their small countries borders?


What's surprising about that?


Quote
An then one of them turns out to be the saviour of civilizied peoples. This is not just suspending disbelief, this is chucking it out with the bathwater. Some might argue.


That's luck for you.


Quote
This the final post of this weeks discussion, thank you.


Thank you, Hamfast, from starting us on our merry way!


"I personally still think of The Hobbit as a brilliant story aimed specifically at older children, with its own theme about growing up, that has little to do with the epic of the Ring that followed it."
- squire.



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for An Unexpected Party!


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 4:33pm

Post #7 of 14 (380 views)
Shortcut
The Dwarves of the Iron Hills [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Note Gandalf's comments about trying to find a Hero or a Warrior, who aren't available in Bilbo's neighborhood. Do you suppose it entered Gandalf's mind to look for such persons along the way? In particular, he already knew about Beorn. Why wouldn't he plan to entice him into supporting their cause? Is it possible that he knew about Bard, the heir of Dale?

I'm not sure that a Hero or Warrior would have served Gandalf's purposes. Yes, he knew of Beorn, but he also knew that Beorn was a loner. He would have been aware (and even acquainted with) such Elf-heroes as Glorfindel and the sons of Elrond (although realistically, Tolkien had probably not conceived yet of Ellandar and Elrohir), but they would have had little motive to travel east of the Misty Mountains to help dwarves.

Quote
Why didn't anyone mention Thorin's relatives in the Iron Hills? Perhaps because Tolkien did not invent them until later. At any rate, it would have been helpful if Thorin had already developed a cover story regarding a trip to the Iron Hills before he was captured by the Elvenking and questioned about his purpose. He also could have tried the story with the Goblin King, although it probably would not have worked. Surely some cover story would be in order -- but we get nothing.

Thorin did use this cover story on the goblins, but apparently sheer stubbornness kept his mouth shut when he was interrogated by the Elf-king. From The Hobbit, Chapter IV - Over Hill and Under Hill:

Quote
"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.

Thorin doesn't seem to have put a lot of thought into his story, but it seems plausible enough. And the goblins would surely have some knowledge of the existance of the Iron Mountain dwarves.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 5:06pm

Post #8 of 14 (376 views)
Shortcut
But Beorn and Bard did serve Gandalf's purposes. [In reply to] Can't Post

Whether Gandalf had that in mind from the start is another matter, but without both the Hero (Beorn) and the Warrior (Bard), the quest would have ended in disaster.

Thorin certainly could have put more thought into that cover story. Of course, with the goblins, it wouldn't have mattered. But with the elves it would have mattered a great deal.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 5:45pm

Post #9 of 14 (367 views)
Shortcut
Actually, I doubt that Gandalf knew anything of Bard in advance... [In reply to] Can't Post

As knowledgable as he is, Gandalf doesn't know everything about everyone. It just seems like he does. Note that the Wizard does not actively recruit Beorn, although he certainly catches his interest and convinces the skin-changer to at least aid the company. If he had not taken an interest in Thorin and his group then Beorn would probably not have appeared at the Battle of the Five Armies at all.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 6:10pm

Post #10 of 14 (367 views)
Shortcut
That's possible. [In reply to] Can't Post

Although it always strikes me as convenient that both a Warrior and a Hero did end up playing vital roles. But Gandalf relies on luck every bit as much as Bilbo, or more so (because he is older and wiser), so he probably didn't have it all planned out.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 6:32pm

Post #11 of 14 (363 views)
Shortcut
Gandalf could have probably provided the Company with more information... [In reply to] Can't Post

Both Beorn and Gandalf warn Bilbo and the dwarves to 'stay on the path' after they enter Mirkwood. Ganalf does advise the company not to try to circle around the forest due to the orcs and goblins in the North and the Necromancer to the South. Neither one warns the party that they will be passing very near the Wood-elves, much less entering their lands. And Gandalf makes no mention at all of Esgaroth, either to warn the company against trusting the current Master of Lake-town or advising them to seek out an archer named Bard.

"Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." - Aragorn


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 6:39pm

Post #12 of 14 (354 views)
Shortcut
Yes, Gandalf withholds so much information [In reply to] Can't Post

that it is hard to tell what he knew or didn't know.


titanium_hobbit
Rohan


Jul 18 2012, 2:42pm

Post #13 of 14 (351 views)
Shortcut
The path [In reply to] Can't Post

we have to remember that there was no postal system, much less no telephones or email, and so Gandalf and Beorn didn't know that the path was a dead end. (Palantiri excluded, but Tolkien might not have invented them yet.)

Stay on the path is good advice, though, knowing Mirkwood. It's a bit of serendipity that they manage to take the only good road out.


Hobbit firster, Book firster.


Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 19 2012, 2:45am

Post #14 of 14 (452 views)
Shortcut
I'm sure Gandalf didn't purposely mislead them. [In reply to] Can't Post

Although until the end of The Hobbit, we cannot be sure whether to trust Gandalf.

There's a great deal of serendipity in The Hobbit.

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.