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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Revisiting the "strain of madness" in the line of Durin

Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


May 14 2017, 9:31pm

Post #1 of 12 (2730 views)
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Revisiting the "strain of madness" in the line of Durin Can't Post

Although this is somewhat related to a recent post, I thought I'd go over another issue in the film. In AUJ, Elrond reminds Gandalf that "a strain of madness runs deep in that family." He later says Thrain "succumbed to the same sickness," (or something like that), which is confusing if you believe the sickness is the addiction to gold. We've no reason to believe Thrain had the dragon sickness, since Balin says Thrain was "driven mad by grief." BUT, what if dragon sickness is NOT the "strain of madness?" What if instead the strain of madness is a tendancy to become obsessed with something to the point of madness? Some would call it Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, but I think this is closer to Stalker Syndrome - the need to have something (or someone), an inability to leave that object alone, need to control, etc. In this case, the object is not what triggers the obsessive behavior, but instead the focus of the behavior that was already there. For Thorin, the reclaiming of Erebor was such a strong need - in both book and film - he never married, he never forgot, he was never really able to move on. And so he went on an ill-conceived Quest with a rag-tag bunch of volunteers, which is kind of crazy.

Now, in the movie we're told that Thrain was driven mad by grief, so perhaps his obsession was with his father Thror. And without the object of his obsession he was totally lost. But in the book we're told that Thrain went on a similar Quest about 100 years before Thorin, and that's when he disappeared. So I think in either case you could argue that he became obsessed just like Thror, and just like Thorin.

And then there's Dis, who apparently did not suffer from the same obsession. She got married, presumably in Erid Luin, and had sons. One could infer that she did "move on," and settled down into the life of peace and prosperity described by Balin. As a result, Kili and Fili were also unaffected in both book and movie. But Thorin did have the Obsessive personality disorder, which made it so easy for the gold and the Arkenstone to become that Object of his desire. What does anyone else think of my theory?

I'd say I've entered my second childhood, but I never left the first!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 14 2017, 10:15pm

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The Ring of Durin's Folk [In reply to] Can't Post

We can make the argument that the source of the madness in the Line of Durin was the Ring of Power that was passed down from father to son until Sauron recovered it from Thrain II. That Thorin fell under the sway of dragon-sickness while never having possessed the Ring is just a tragic coincidence that reflects his obsession with recovering the Arkenstone.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 14 2017, 10:16pm)


Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


May 15 2017, 5:48pm

Post #3 of 12 (2649 views)
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re: the ring [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We can make the argument that the source of the madness in the Line of Durin was the Ring of Power that was passed down from father to son until Sauron recovered it from Thrain II. That Thorin fell under the sway of dragon-sickness while never having possessed the Ring is just a tragic coincidence that reflects his obsession with recovering the Arkenstone.


Yes, that is a possibility, and maybe fits the book better, since book Thorin was affected by the gold that a dragon had brooded over. But I think the obsessive trait fits the movie better, since IMO movie Thorin was showing some signs of obsession even before he saw the gold. I can't help but think his leaving Kili behind in Laketown was at least partially motivated by his obsession with reclaiming Erebor, and he threatened Bilbo almost immediately after seeing the gold. So I think in movie-verse the dragon sickness exacerbated an obsession that was already there.

I'd say I've entered my second childhood, but I never left the first!


Yngwulff
Gondor


May 17 2017, 3:23am

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Durin's Ring [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We can make the argument that the source of the madness in the Line of Durin was the Ring of Power that was passed down from father to son until Sauron recovered it from Thrain II. That Thorin fell under the sway of dragon-sickness while never having possessed the Ring is just a tragic coincidence that reflects his obsession with recovering the Arkenstone.

The Ring certainly affected Thorins ancestors. I think he was more concerned about restoring his kingdom and the Arkenstone itself may have had it's own magical influence

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 17 2017, 6:58am

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The Ring certainly affected Thorins ancestors. I think he was more concerned about restoring his kingdom and the Arkenstone itself may have had it's own magical influence


There's no strong evidence that the Arkenstone carried a curse of its own, distinct from the curse of Smaug's influence. The Arkenstone can be dated, in Tolkien's legendarium, back to the time of the first Thrain, and could possibly be considered as the source of the Line's madness; however, it was in the possession of Bilbo, not Thorin, and it seems to be the Dwarf-lord's desire for it rather than the gem itself that fueled his obsession.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 17 2017, 6:58am

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Thorin's Obsession [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The Ring certainly affected Thorins ancestors. I think he was more concerned about restoring his kingdom and the Arkenstone itself may have had it's own magical influence


There's no strong evidence that the Arkenstone carried a curse of its own, distinct from the curse of Smaug's influence. The Arkenstone can be dated, in Tolkien's legendarium, back to the time of the first Thrain, and could possibly be considered as the source of the Line's madness; however, it was in the possession of Bilbo, not Thorin, and it seems to be the Dwarf-lord's desire for it rather than the gem itself that fueled his obsession.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


Yngwulff
Gondor


May 17 2017, 9:59pm

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Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

What you say is true, but Bilbo and Hobbits in general were more resistant to corruption than most.

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.



moreorless
Gondor

May 26 2017, 7:22am

Post #8 of 12 (2340 views)
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I think its a mistake to look at things too dryly... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
The Ring certainly affected Thorins ancestors. I think he was more concerned about restoring his kingdom and the Arkenstone itself may have had it's own magical influence


There's no strong evidence that the Arkenstone carried a curse of its own, distinct from the curse of Smaug's influence. The Arkenstone can be dated, in Tolkien's legendarium, back to the time of the first Thrain, and could possibly be considered as the source of the Line's madness; however, it was in the possession of Bilbo, not Thorin, and it seems to be the Dwarf-lord's desire for it rather than the gem itself that fueled his obsession.


Personally I think its a mistake to look at these issues and expect very dry exact answers. Granted Tolkien created a highly detailed world and Jackson followed but I think there was always the intension that magic and character motivation would overlap.

Just as say Boromir falling to the ring in LOTR is intended to be both a failure of character and some influence on him so I think the same is intended with Thorin. His actions aren't purely driven by magic/curses but rather reflections of character faults that he and his ancestors shared. That need not be purely genetic either but perhaps more a reflection of their position and the kind of personality faults that it cultivated.


(This post was edited by moreorless on May 26 2017, 7:23am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 26 2017, 2:05pm

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In Reply To
Personally I think its a mistake to look at these issues and expect very dry exact answers. Granted Tolkien created a highly detailed world and Jackson followed but I think there was always the intension that magic and character motivation would overlap.


We can read it either way, especially in the case of Thror, of whom we learn relatively little. His madness could have been wholly his own or it could have been magically influenced. If the latter then Jackson certainly sets up the Arkenstone as a suspect for such influence, yet Gandalf (only in the extended edition?) does bring up the subject of Thror's Ring which is, frankly, a better contender to one familiar with Tolkien's legendarium.


In Reply To
Just as say Boromir falling to the ring in LOTR is intended to be both a failure of character and some influence on him so I think the same is intended with Thorin. His actions aren't purely driven by magic/curses but rather reflections of character faults that he and his ancestors shared. That need not be purely genetic either but perhaps more a reflection of their position and the kind of personality faults that it cultivated.


This is a complicated matter. The irony is that Thorin is fully aware of his grandfather's madness and falls to the dragon-sickness regardless of that knowledge. Yes, he has been driven by the goal of recovering the Arkenstone and using it to unite the Dwarves in order to reclaim Erebor; however, Thorin's observation of Thror's descent into obsessive insanity and the reminders he gets of it throughout the films suggest that the curse of dragon hoard had a significant part to play as well, with his desire for the gem providing a key.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 26 2017, 2:08pm)


OrophersChild
Registered User

Jun 28 2017, 4:23pm

Post #10 of 12 (1876 views)
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Dragon Sickness [In reply to] Can't Post

I do not know if Thorin suffered from an deep OCD-type disorder, or if it was a sickness which he had some control over.

He was extremely bitter over the loss of Erebor and maybe this was his main driving force until the time he actually reached Erebor and the search for the Arkenstone began. He was able to return to himself when he and the company were in danger and was able to put thoughts of the Arkenstone on the back-burner. At the end of his life he was himself again and had the clarity of mind to name Dain as his heir and to talk to Bilbo about the regrets he had over the way he had treated Bilbo. He showed intelligence, love and regret.

Maybe it was a back-and-forth kind of thing.


Laineth
Lorien

Aug 13 2017, 5:53am

Post #11 of 12 (1349 views)
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Dragon sickness [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say those two actions were because Thorin was already falling to dragon sickness - remember that Gandalf had to convince Thorin to go, Thorin didn't come up with the idea of taking back Erebor.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Elrond wasn't at the battle of Azanulbizar, he would have only heard the rumor that Thrain was "driven mad by grief". So he's filling in the missing puzzle pieces with what he knows. Gandalf tells the White Council: "Does it not worry you that the last of the Dwarf-rings should simply vanish along with its bearer?" and "the fate of the last Dwarf-ring remains unknown, the ring that was borne by Thrain."

This is not new news to Elrond, and he knows how Sauron's rings work. Therefore, from his point of view, the logical and obvious answer is that the ring drove Thrain mad.

What Tolkien said about the dwarf rings:


Quote
None the less it may well be, as the Dwarves now believe, that Sauron by his arts had discovered who had this Ring, the last to remain free, and that the singular misfortunes of the heirs of Durin were largely due to his malice. For the Dwarves had proved untameable by this means. The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all who deprived them. But they were made from their beginning of a kind to resist most steadfastly any domination. Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows enslaved to another will; and for the same reason their lives were not affected by any Ring, to live either longer or shorter because of it. All the more did Sauron hate the possessors and desire to dispossess them. - LotR App A

and:

The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows. They used their rings only for the getting of wealth; but wrath and an over-mastering greed of gold were kindled in their hearts, of which evil enough after came to the profit of Sauron. It is said that the foundation of each of the Seven Hoards of the Dwarf-kings of old was a golden ring; but all those hoards long ago were plundered and the Dragons devoured them, and of the Seven Rings some were consumed in fire and some Sauron recovered. - The Silm


This explains Thror's actions perfectly, and it explains Elrond's (wrong) reasoning.

In Thorin's case, I agree the dragon sickness was only able to take hold because of Thorin's underlying personality. I don't think it's OCD or Stalker Syndrome, though. I do not naturally have a good understanding of Thorin, but I have read a lot of meta, and I made a masterpost of it:

http://theseassong.blogspot.com/...meta-masterpost.html

Even if you don't ship Bagginshield (like the meta authors do), I highly recommend reading all of them because they really delve deep into the films and Thorin's psyche.


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Nov 1 2017, 2:38am

Post #12 of 12 (850 views)
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I agree and more insight [In reply to] Can't Post

The problem was the ring. Thorin may have never WORN it, but he was AROUND it for many years before Erebor was taken (more years in the film than the books, but he had been exposed to it).

Somehow I don't think that the ring would have solely affected the bearer and no one else. Look at the One- it affected everyone around it, not just the bearer. Who is to say that the dwarf rings didn't also affect others?

Thorin was close to his grandfather. He probably spent more time around his grandfather when he was wearing the ring than most, considering the familial connection.

The line of Durin may not have been solely susceptible to the dragon sickness (all of the dwarves were at least briefly affected, except Fili and Kili). It would certainly appear that way to an outsider like Elrond (if one could call him an outsider).

But think about this- everyone in the line except Thorin, Fili and Kili wore that ring. Thorin was around it in his childhood until his grandfather passed. Fili and Kili were NOT around it at all, as the ring was lost before they were born- and they were NOT affected whatsoever by the treasure horde. Yet, they're in the line of Durin.

So it's clearly not genetic- else F and K would have been affected too. Thorin refused to give up any treasure, and the Arkenstone was the pinnacle of that horde. It wasn't just gold he refused to give up- it was ALL of the treasure.

I would be 99.99% positive the dragon sickness (maybe not at first Hobbit publication but certainly after LOTR was written) originated from the dwarf ring that was passed down in the line to Thrain II, and which Thorin was exposed to before it was lost.

We know dwarves can be stingy and greedy and love gold. But there's loving gold, and the sheer madness the line of Durin experienced. We have no mention of any other dwarves going mad like that- and the ONLY ones who did go mad WORE OR WERE EXPOSED TO THAT RING. The ones in the line who were NOT EXPOSED were FINE.

Think of it this way (from a crude perspective)- dwarves would be naturally prone to cigarette or pot addiction- but only those exposed to the ring had a heroin addiction. (Hubby is in mental health and it was the only analogy I could think of).

My first novel, Amazing Grace, is available through Amazon.com and my Createspace estore :)

https://www.createspace.com/7505902

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=amazing+grace+amanda


 
 

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