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* * Barrels out of Bond * * 1: Prisoners


Sep 5 2012, 2:14pm

Views: 472
* * Barrels out of Bond * * 1: Prisoners Can't Post

(With apologies for the late start, and for overlapping NEB's chapter. Feel free to ignore this until his is complete (or for ever, if you like!) Just thought I ought to make a move...)

Reading from the beginning to 'it was Bilbo who found that out':

Left behind in Mirkwood, hungry and exhausted after their fight with the spiders and in fear for Thorin, Bilbo and and dwarves must now make a move. In trying to find their way back to the path they are confronted by armed Wood elves who take them prisoner - all except Bilbo, who slips on the ring and follows unseen at a safe distance. Blindfold, the dwarves are led at speed through the wood to the forest river, over the bridge and into the elves' underground home. The magic doors close behind them.
The prisoners are led into the King's hall where he orders them to be unbound and questions them, to no avail. Finding them as unwilling as Thorin to speak about their intentions, the King orders them to be locked up separately, fed and taken care of, but kept confined until they feel like talking. He does not let them know that Thorin is also a prisoner - but he in turn does not know that Bilbo is also in his halls.

1. Without ever describing it, Tolkien gives us a picture of what happened when the dwarves and Bilbo awoke and the things that were uppermost in their minds. Just for fun, who do you think the 'eight out of the thirteen' might have been? Do you think Bilbo was one of them? Would it have taken long for them to reach even this much of a concencus, and do you think the other five went along willingly?

2. 'like hundreds of red stars'. In all the years I've known the book I've never noticed this consciously before. Do you think there's any significance to the red torchlight, mentioned here and again further on? I've always thought of elven lights as white, and that's how they're usually portrayed.

3. Capture comes as a relief to the exhausted dwarves and they submit willingly. Why don't they say anything? Would it have made a difference if they had appealed to the elves for help? Were the dwarves aware that Bilbo was not taken prisoner?

4. 'He did not at all like the look of the cavern-mouth...' Why would someone who lives 'in a hole in the ground' not like the look of a cave? What do you think it was about the Elvenking's entrance that Bilbo found off-putting? The Hobbit is full of underground homes - Bag End, goblin cities, the Elvenking's halls, the dwarf halls in the Mountain - what's distinctive about this one, and what, if anything, makes it elvish? And the Elvenking, with his autumnal crown and oaken staff - any feelings about him? Are he and his people different from Elrond and the Rivendell elves?

5. The dwarves refuse to answer questions, just as Thorin did. Is this a strategy agreed between them in advance in case of capture? Or just a feature of dwarvish character?

6. Who was right? Sometimes in discussions on the boards here I've seen posters who view the Elvenking a negative character (here and in the rest of the story). Isn't he in the wrong to imprison the dwarves as he does? It always makes me smile because on first reading the book, aged about 8, I thought the Elvenking was wonderful - and his elves - and the dwarves were rude and grouchy and it was their own fault they were locked up. I was quite convinced that if they had only told the King about the trouble they were in he would have helped them, and I was sure that at some point - until it didn't happen - Bilbo would take of his ring and gain the King's support. In fact, if I'd been Bilbo I would have abandoned the dwarves and joined the elves. Well, I'm not 8 any more, very far from it, and I wonder now, whose side are we supposed to be on in this clash of cultures? Were the dwarves in the wrong? The elves? Or was everybody right from their own standpoint? How does this imprisonment differ - if it does - from the earlier imprisonment at the hands of the goblins? Is the reader meant to feel differently about it?

Subject User Time
* * Barrels out of Bond * * 1: Prisoners dormouse Send a private message to dormouse Sep 5 2012, 2:14pm
    No apologies needed! N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Sep 5 2012, 2:40pm
    perhaps I'm still 8... telain Send a private message to telain Sep 6 2012, 3:13pm
        Oh, me too.... dormouse Send a private message to dormouse Sep 6 2012, 6:37pm
            hopefully it will spark discussion! telain Send a private message to telain Sep 6 2012, 8:17pm
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Sep 9 2012, 12:51pm
    Into the halls of the Mountain - er, Elvenking dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Sep 10 2012, 1:08am


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