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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit?


Jul 24 2017, 7:30pm

Post #1 of 5 (3200 views)
For book and movie fans - the scent of a Hobbit? Can't Post

I don't know if this has ever been discussed before, but there's one thing in both the book and movie that puzzles me. Gandalf says that "the scent of a Hobbit is completely unknown to (Smaug), which gives us an advantage." How exactly is that an advantage? I would think an unfamiliar scent would actually make Bilbo easier to find, whereas Dwarves probably just smell like Dwarves, which Erebor is filled with. I don't know if this is a boo boo on Tolkien's part, or if there really is some logic at work here. What does anyone else think?

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Jul 24 2017, 7:43pm

Post #2 of 5 (3180 views)
Well... [In reply to] Can't Post

...the unfamiliar scent of the hobbit did arouse Smaug's curiosity; I guess that wasn't an entirely bad thing since the dragon actually wanted a look at Bilbo rather than simply trying to roast him immediately. I suppose it wasn't practical to attempt to mask Billbo's scent altogether.

"Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall. -- The Doctor

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Jul 24 2017, 8:55pm

Post #3 of 5 (3168 views)
In addition... [In reply to] Can't Post

It meant that Smaug didn't immediately know what he was dealing with. He had history with men and dwarves and would already be on his guard there. But an entirely new scent not only made him curious, it also likely made him more cautious and slower to react than otherwise. He took some time to investigate this new creature (and figure out who he was working with/for) before making up his mind how to deal with him.


Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.


Jul 31 2017, 8:03pm

Post #4 of 5 (2888 views)
Great question... [In reply to] Can't Post

...because it was Gandalf talking, I never thought to question it!

I think back to how the Eagles compared Bilbo to a rabbit. Perhaps Bilbo's scent just as insignificant, that Smaug wouldn't register it as a threat.

Of course, I would imagine that Bilbo would also carry the scent of dwarves, men, and elves based on both spending time with them and consuming their foods...in the movie he crawled up through Bard's toilet!

The cloak he wore was Balin's...but then again his clothes probably smelled like his pipe weed...and eggs and bacon.

So much to consider, here.

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Jul 31 2017, 11:58pm

Post #5 of 5 (2874 views)
Actually, the cloak was Dwalin's [In reply to] Can't Post

According to the book. But he didn't have it for too long: upon escaping from the Goblins, "He had lost hood, cloak, food, pony, his buttons and his friends."

Which confused me, when Tolkien had him pulling an "old cloak and hood" out of a drawer. The implication is that it's Dwalin's, but it had to be a different set, probably his own.

I do like the idea of Smaug trying to puzzle out the smell of pipe-weed. Smile


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


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