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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
dragon sickness - can someone please explain?
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dik-dik
Lorien


Feb 28 2013, 12:21am

Post #1 of 28 (980 views)
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dragon sickness - can someone please explain? Can't Post

I've noticed people use this term a lot when referring to Thror and Thorin, and I'm not sure what precisely is meant by that. (I admit to not having watched most spoilers, interviews and vlogs, so no idea if it stems from there) It's not something I recognize from the books - as far as I recall, there was the greed / love / lust for gold and gems which was kind of natural to all dwarves, then the influence of the Ring of Power in Thror's case, and the influence of 'gold upon which a dragon has long brooded' later in Thorin's case - is by chance either of those identical with 'dragon sickness'? From the descriptions in the past threads, it sounds more like something akin to mental disease though, so I really have no clue. Explanation would be much appreciated. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


Brethil
Half-elven


Feb 28 2013, 12:39am

Post #2 of 28 (689 views)
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Dragon sickness (spoiler) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I've noticed people use this term a lot when referring to Thror and Thorin, and I'm not sure what precisely is meant by that. (I admit to not having watched most spoilers, interviews and vlogs, so no idea if it stems from there) It's not something I recognize from the books - as far as I recall, there was the greed / love / lust for gold and gems which was kind of natural to all dwarves, then the influence of the Ring of Power in Thror's case, and the influence of 'gold upon which a dragon has long brooded' later in Thorin's case - is by chance either of those identical with 'dragon sickness'? From the descriptions in the past threads, it sounds more like something akin to mental disease though, so I really have no clue. Explanation would be much appreciated. :)



It is the term used to describe the greed and desire for possession when faced with a massive amount of wealth. PJ has used it in the Erebor prologue as "a sickness of the mind" to set up the ideas for later use in Thorin's case. From the text one gets the feeling that Dwarves are prone to love gold more than others, and may be overtaken by it. Galadriel's blessing to Gimli in later days underscores this, when she tells him (paraphrasing) that gold will flow through his hands yet over him will have no dominion.
The actual statement is made about the Master of Laketown in "The Last Stage", where we see that.
"The old Master had come to a bad end. Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the Dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it...."
Even Bilbo is touched by it, as he first sees the hoard and almost forgets the peril, and as he pockets the Arkenstone. Bard's falling into silence as he contemplates the apparently abandoned dwarf treasure is another milder example.
It seems that it can be classed as a type of psychosis, in modern terms. So the mental illness angle might play out onscreen from what we have heard about RA's interpretation; whereas Frodo's issue with the Ring was perhaps more one of addiction.


(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 28 2013, 12:48am)


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 28 2013, 1:57am

Post #3 of 28 (557 views)
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In addition to what Brethil has said... [In reply to] Can't Post

Consider Thorin's description of the glory days of the King under the Mountain:

"Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days. So my grandfather's halls became full of armor and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toymarket of Dale was the wonder of the North."

And compare it to Thorin's description of a dragon's attitude to treasure from the book:

"Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value...."

And when Smaug misses a bit of treasure from his hoard:

"His rage passes description - the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted."

Perhaps, then, the best definition of dragon sickness is simply this: If the natural delight of the dwarves and proper use of wealth was to spend and to lend, make beautiful things, and have time to make marvellous and ingenious trifles for the fun of it...then the dragon sickness is to be overcome with greed and possessiveness and lose sight of beauty so that one hoards without appreciation, and considers only monetary value without taking any joy in the thing itself, and thereby to have without getting any good out of the having. This is borne out by the Master's fate - he took his share of the dragon treasure and fled with it and died of starvation in the Waste - where he could not possibly have spent it or gotten any use of it.

Silverlode






Roheryn
Grey Havens

Feb 28 2013, 2:07am

Post #4 of 28 (510 views)
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Welcome, dik-dik! [In reply to] Can't Post

Brethil and Silverlode have given nice thoughty answers, so I'll just poke my nose in to say howdy and welcome to TORn, since you slipped your first post in a few weeks ago without anyone noticing. Smile


Plurmo
Rohan

Feb 28 2013, 2:48am

Post #5 of 28 (521 views)
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In dwarves some of the first symptoms seems to be [In reply to] Can't Post

the pathological turning of any surrounding music into the Nazgul Theme and bouts of deeply incoherent logorrhea whenever the afflicted tries to apologize to a hobbit for whatever reason.Smile


Súlimë
Rivendell


Feb 28 2013, 3:56am

Post #6 of 28 (472 views)
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Wonderful post! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this! :)


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Feb 28 2013, 4:06am

Post #7 of 28 (481 views)
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Great post about this. [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, i think the DS was enhanced by the Ring that Thror and Thrain had as well. I have always felt that one of the reasons that Thorin was able to step back from the brink in the end was because he had not been so corrupted by the power of the ring of Thrain.


Old Toby
Gondor


Feb 28 2013, 5:16am

Post #8 of 28 (457 views)
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True true [In reply to] Can't Post

And it's interesting in the beginning of the film where we see Thorin regarding his grandfather in the midst of his gold hoard, and stepping back out of sight. So he knows what the DS did to Thror, and, according to RA, he is afraid of it happening to him. Of course in the end we will see how far it goes, but even if he succumbs to the 'illness', at a certain level he is at least aware of it. I think it will play out like an addict who is trying to recover from his addiction; sometimes successfully, sometimes failing. It'll be very interesting to see how the film depicts this, and even more fascinating how RA will show it to us. I'm sure we're in for quite a ride.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Feb 28 2013, 5:24am

Post #9 of 28 (454 views)
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I really like that scene [In reply to] Can't Post

Watching Thorin look at Thror and Thror is totally mad over the treasure and Thorin just slowly steps back. RA did a great job in that scene with the concerned look on his face. You can see the conflict there.

Yeah that's going to be great and a terrific ride.


stoutfiles
Rohan


Feb 28 2013, 1:12pm

Post #10 of 28 (372 views)
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Sure! [In reply to] Can't Post

dragon sickness - A silly way to excuse a character for being a jerk.

Thror and Thrain were driven by the Ring of Power. They actually had a real sickness, not a personality flaw. Thorin does not have the Ring, but has "the sickness" because he gets incredibly selfish once he lucks into reclaiming the mountain. It's not fair to compare him to his father and grandfather, who both were being pushed into greed by magic, not selfish desires alone.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 28 2013, 5:07pm

Post #11 of 28 (328 views)
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Dragon-sickness goes a bit beyond ordinary greed [In reply to] Can't Post

It is exactly what Tolkien described: The power to instill greed that a treasure-hoard gains when it has been long brooded-upon by a dragon. Dwarves are especially vulnerable to the dragon-sickness inspired by Smaug's treasure, which after all was mostly the treasure of their fathers and their fathers' fathers. A Dwarf-chieftain possessing one of the Seven Dwarven Rings would also be particularly vulnerable due to the Ring's influence. Thorin certainly fell under the dragon-sickness, however his desire for the Arkenstone should probably be considered to be a separate thing which had a deeper and more personal meaning for him. The greedy nature of the Master of Lake-town made him a natural victim of dragon-sickness. Bilbo felt the stirrings of dragon-sickness, but his humble and kind nature allowed him to overcome it in the end.

King Thranduil and Bard were only musing on Smaug's hoard from afar. The Elvenking had an innate desire for gold and gems, but he had it under control and had second thoughts when actually faced with risking his people in war for them. Bard was more interested in how the treasure could be used to rebuild Dale (granted, with himself as King) than in acquiring personal wealth.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


Feb 28 2013, 5:46pm

Post #12 of 28 (319 views)
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Also a note to remember [In reply to] Can't Post

that Galadriel gave Gimli the gift that gold would not have dominion over him. Paraphrasing.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Rostron2
Gondor


Feb 28 2013, 7:55pm

Post #13 of 28 (293 views)
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It commonly is caused by [In reply to] Can't Post

using Calvin Klein's perfume products, it's called Obsession.


Brethil
Half-elven


Feb 28 2013, 9:17pm

Post #14 of 28 (275 views)
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Your summation speaks of the very nature of Tolkien's concept of evil [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a great post Silverlode. Your summation brings up the unifying idea that through lack of daily pleasure and enjoyment of the things we have, and the greater desire to control more than we need, is an almost entropic path leading to a world too consolidated and unable to function. Ultimately the absorption of all resources by one or a few beings deprives the life of all the others. Completely the opposite of Tolkien's concepts of heroic individuality; like Samwise rejecting the visions of the Ring, preferring the work of his own small hands rather than the control of the work of many others (paraphrasing).

Some parallels of the Dragon sickness (and facets of Melkor's influence) being the insatiable hunger of Ungoliant, the lust of Melkor to possess and control all of Arda. An extreme case of black and white thinking. What I would define as psychotic hunger (defining here as loss of touch with reality: the perception that no matter what one has it is insufficient for need despite clear evidence to the contrary) to consume all available resources because what one has available will never be enough. And in the end, as you point out, no ability to enjoy any of it, as the sense of "having enough" will never be felt.

I agree, Otaku-sempai, that the Arkenstone issue for Thorin was a very personal and symbolic thing, seperate than other issues.

And where are my manners. Welcome DikDik!
(The Thorin sickness is a whole other matter, BTW)Smile


(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 28 2013, 9:25pm)


Old Toby
Gondor


Feb 28 2013, 10:43pm

Post #15 of 28 (243 views)
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LOL! [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, you can have an extra helping of dessert now! Cool

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)

(This post was edited by Old Toby on Feb 28 2013, 10:44pm)


Cirashala
Grey Havens

Mar 1 2013, 1:41am

Post #16 of 28 (217 views)
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the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember reading that the 7 rings that were gifted to the dwarf lords by Sauron didn't dominate them, as he had wanted, however they did create a huge lust for gold within them.

Perhaps it was the proximity of Thorin to Bilbo's ring that may have caused it?

We saw in FOTR that Boromir, despite never actually having TOUCHED the ring, though he did touch the chain it was on, still ended up falling under its influence, and you see Aragorn and Galadriel tempted as well despite not having touched it, and Gandalf didn't actually touch it either and was terrified of being tempted. If the One Ring can exert that much influence over those surrounding it, who KNOW of the danger, how much more can it affect dragon sickness aka gold lust when in proximity to a race that can already be prone to it and got it with lesser rings than the one ring?

My theory is that Thorin's dragon sickness has several roots-

1. He may or may not have touched Thror's ring when he was young and in Erebor

2. He is of Durin's line, and Durin III (I think) was the one that the ring was given to, so perhaps it may have cursed his line, but then again Fili and Kili don't come under its influence-however, they were born and raised in poverty and never knew wealth, so it could be construed to their naivety as to why they didn't succumb, whereas Thorin for sure remembered Erebor's splendor. Basically, Fili and Kili didn't get it because they didn't know what they were missing.

3. He was surrounded by the presence of the one ring since they reunited with Bilbo after the Goblintown fiasco. And not only did Bilbo USE it while in their presence (albeit secretly for a while) where it can be shown to be potent, but the ring was actively seeking its master, which is why it abandoned Gollum in the first place, so its power was awakened.

4. The arkenstone was perceived to be a divine sign of right to rule and Thorin may have felt that it must be found because for the first time since his younger days, he actually has a kingdom to rule after over a 100 years (book verse and movie verse contradict but I believe Smaug held Erebor for 171 years according to the book), and he may feel that he must have the arkenstone to establish that right, since he has only ever held his title of "King" in exile, and may fear or doubt his worthiness of the position to his people, and feels that he needs the arkenstone to justify his claim to the throne.

5. The dragon's magic may have lingered even after the dragon had been killed-a dragon's voice could work magic, so no doubt there was other ways that Smaug could have "enchanted" his treasure in a way-how else could a humongous dragon in a room literally having mountains of treasure keep track of one tiny cup?

6. It didn't help that the elves were never on his good side anyway, but I have no doubt after his treatment in the Elvenking's dungeons that the anger of that heightened his already succumbing brain when the elves showed up with Bard and no one would like to be cornered by an army.

7. Thorin no doubt had a long time to sit in his dark cell-if the elves prior to FOTR when they had imprisoned Gollum were worried about the darkness returning his old evil thoughts, then perhaps Thorin's time down there allowed the dragon sickness's effects to grow being so close to the home and treasure that was abandoned.


Not saying ANY of this (except maybe the ring exposure) justifies Thorin's madness or attempt to kill Bilbo, however, I can say that luck certainly wasn't with him when it came to avoiding this illness-I truly believe the only way for him to avoid the dragon sickness was to forgo the quest altogether and stay in Ered Luin- about as far away as he could get from Erebor. I think IMO that he had enough going against him that it was almost inevitable that he should succumb to the dragon sickness. And the fact that Erebor is closer to Dol Guldor aka Sauron the ring's master than before, it would stand to reason that the Ring would grow more powerful as it traveled through Mirkwood just like it did when Frodo got closer to Mordor.


Just my take on it anyway :)

Half Elven Daughter of Celethian of the Woodland Realm


swordwhale
Tol Eressea


Mar 1 2013, 5:12am

Post #17 of 28 (199 views)
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.... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
the pathological turning of any surrounding music into the Nazgul Theme and bouts of deeply incoherent logorrhea whenever the afflicted tries to apologize to a hobbit for whatever reason.Smile



ded of lol...

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

Go outside and play...


axecrazy
Rivendell


Mar 1 2013, 6:33am

Post #18 of 28 (199 views)
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Some very good posts here. [In reply to] Can't Post

Cleared up a lot of my own questions. Welcome, dik-dik!




There's no party like a Dwaven party. Believe it.


dik-dik
Lorien


Mar 1 2013, 1:42pm

Post #19 of 28 (199 views)
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Thank you for the welcomes and explanations, everyone... [In reply to] Can't Post

(I haven't yet figured out how to send a reply to a thread instead of to individual posts, so I'm answering below the first welcome post I came across :) )
I have a clearer idea of what is meant by it now.

I forgot about the Master of Lake-town quote in the book, so thanks for pointing it out, Brethil. It looks to me like both euphemism for greed and the dragon's residue power in this particular case. From the general impressions it looks like the dragon sickness is an extreme case of gold-lust and greed, enhanced by negative personality traits (and perhaps Middle-earthian race predispositions), Rings of Power and a dragon's presence, causing bouts of meanness and anger, and stubborn refusal to see reason. (Perhaps curable by a strong shock, *umm, spoiler?...* such as an enemy attack?)

That makes perfect sense to me. I was mostly concerned because of some rumour -or perhaps even actual spoilers, I don't know- I've heard made by a few other fans, saying that it's a real disease demonstrating itself not only through behaviour but also physically, through warts or something akin to that. From the reactions here, I'm glad to see this apparently isn't the case; that would indeed sound a bit too far-fetched to me.


Quote
The Thorin sickness is a whole other matter, BTW


Sorry, I'm not quite following right now, Brethil - do you mean there's something else beyond the dragon sickness?

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 1 2013, 3:28pm

Post #20 of 28 (165 views)
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Thanks for posting the question Dik-Dik! [In reply to] Can't Post

Glad you got so many informative answers. It was a very interesting topic to discuss.

I do believe that a large sympathetic "shock" (ie: impending doom, as youn say) might well be enough to snap a person out of a magical sort of psychosis state. Its a good template to use to see how Thorin behaves later on.

They'd better not do warts! That would be OPEN REBELLION!!!! if they mess up his face!

Haha, the Thorin sickness.....it's spreading. You will see it if you follow certain posters around (blushing to admit I am one, naming no other names, you will see for yourself....) !!!!
If you read the Plot Speculation for DOS thread you will see an example of how it causes us to misbehave on a regular basis. Smile


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Mar 1 2013, 5:29pm

Post #21 of 28 (163 views)
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Thorin [In reply to] Can't Post

Thorin Oakenshield and some of his followers do succumb to the dragon-sickness; however, his desire for the Arkenstone is a whole, separate thing. It is far more personal and rooted in his past and his ambitions.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Roheryn
Grey Havens

Mar 1 2013, 10:41pm

Post #22 of 28 (148 views)
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You mean you haven't [In reply to] Can't Post

succumbed to the Thorin sickness yourself? Aha, you're clearly male. Wink I think you'll see plenty of evidence of the Thorin sickness around here.

And for what it's worth, there isn't a way to reply to a whole thread (unless you just reply to the original post) -- you always have to reply to individual posts. Smile

I'm looking forward to seeing how much explanation we get in the movies for what causes dragon-sickness. Richard Armitage has suggested it's akin to an addiction, like something a drug addict would experience. I think he's going to give us a spectacular performance. Can't wait!


elaen32
Gondor

Mar 1 2013, 11:07pm

Post #23 of 28 (149 views)
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Hmmm.... I think I have a related condition to the Thorin Sickness [In reply to] Can't Post

- Thorin Deficiency Syndrome or TDS for short. Symptoms include excessive yearnings, palpitations, over-excitability when no Thorin visible but he is discussed. Treatment is with Thorin Exposure Therapy (TET) but in small doses at a time, otherwise you can make the symptoms worse! I think we should set up a TDS Support Group!

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


Roheryn
Grey Havens

Mar 2 2013, 2:55am

Post #24 of 28 (132 views)
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An alternate treatment would be [In reply to] Can't Post

to take two dwarves and call back in the morning. Angelic

A few more weeks and we'll all be able to engage in TET to our hearts' content. Question is whether this will alleviate or worsen the symptoms of TDS!


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 2 2013, 3:47am

Post #25 of 28 (123 views)
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Ro I like that prescription! [In reply to] Can't Post

   
As far as how MORE exposure will help our TDS....

why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on Evil



We're in deep friends!





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