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***The hobbit-read-through: ch. 16 – A Thief in the Night
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sador
Half-elven


Sep 2 2018, 7:48am

Post #1 of 41 (4804 views)
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***The hobbit-read-through: ch. 16 – A Thief in the Night Can't Post

The days pass slowly and wearily. In the meantime, the dwarves set to ordering the treasure, and finally Thorin bids them to look for the Arkenstone:

Quote

"For the Arkenstone of my father," he said, "is worth more than a river of gold in itself, and to me it is beyond price. That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it."




In the History of the Hobbit page 664, note 1, John Rateliff writes:

Quote

…shows that Thorin is slipping into madness and can no longer be trusted. That he would threaten capital punishment over a piece of treasure to one of the loyal companions he has led for a year and more is completely out of character…


Really?
For one thing, the Arkenstone will be called by Bilbo "the heart of Thorin"; and in the next chapter, when the Elvenking thinks he can prevent actual warfare by occupying a position of strength, the narrator comments:

Quote

But he reckoned without the dwarves. The knowledge that the Arkenstone was in the hands of the besiegers burned in their thoughts…


So is the Arkenstone just “a piece of treasure”? Or if not, what is it?
This seems to be not just a Thorin-problem.


But even considering Thorin, Bilbo seems to think this is quite consistent with his personality, saying that Thorin would rather starve than be what he considers robbed – with no mention of a great change in him. Also, consider the following description, for appendix A III of LotR, Durin's Folk.

Quote

The years lengthened. The embers in the heart of Thorin grew hot again, as he brooded on the wrongs of his house and the vengeance upon the Dragon that he inherited… and a great anger without hope burned him as he smote the red iron on the anvil.


And his 'absurd'; words in the first chapter:

Quote

"We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria," said Thorin; "we must give a thought to the Necromancer".


So considering what we know of Thorin - is his statement regarding the Arkenstone so out of character?


And is this even so bad? Let’s compare to how another pretender to a throne threatens people against touching his heirloom:

Quote

Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it… Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'


Do you sense in that scene any condemnation of Aragorn’s words? Or is Andúril really so much more precious than the Arkenstone? What is the difference?
If anything, I would consider Aragorn’s threat less justified – he has absolutely no claim on Háma’s loyalty, and not even any enforcing power. Is this a mere curse?


In short – it appears to me that the main difference is that in The Hobbit, we are supposed to take Bilbo’s side. But does this justify portraying Thorin as descending into madness?
Does Rateliff actually have a point? Or is this just a case of judging Thorin according to modern sensibilities, or even internal “partisanship”?





Welcome to this week’s discussion of A Thief in the Night! And a hearty thank-you to nowizardme for organising this discussion, and for his discussion of the previous chapter (which I still hope to get around to responding to).
I have less time this week than I hoped to, so I might not reply to your posts as I would like to; I offer in advance my apologies for that. But I will read all of them.
I will try to prepare four more posts, as replies to this first one – hopefully, I will be able to post them once a day. The first one will focus on the name, and will be somewhat Bible-orientated – it will come with a trigger warning for religious content. The other three will track the story told in this chapter. I hope we will enjoy this together!


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2018, 9:12am

Post #2 of 41 (4700 views)
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Happiness is a Warm Arkenstone [In reply to] Can't Post

So is the Arkenstone just “a piece of treasure”?

No moreso than, say, the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.


Or if not, what is it?

A cultural heirloom such as the Irish Book of Kells, the American Charters of Freedom, or the mead-bench of the Anglo-Saxons.


This seems to be not just a Thorin-problem.

But even considering Thorin, Bilbo seems to think this is quite consistent with his personality, saying that Thorin would rather starve than be what he considers robbed – with no mention of a great change in him. Also, consider the following description, for appendix A III of LotR, Durin's Folk.
________________________________________ Quote ________________________________________

The years lengthened. The embers in the heart of Thorin grew hot again, as he brooded on the wrongs of his house and the vengeance upon the Dragon that he inherited… and a great anger without hope burned him as he smote the red iron on the anvil.
________________________________________

And his 'absurd'; words in the first chapter:

________________________________________ Quote ________________________________________

"We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria," said Thorin; "we must give a thought to the Necromancer".
________________________________________

So considering what we know of Thorin - is his statement regarding the Arkenstone so out of character?


Not really. From "An Unexpected Party":

”Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!”


At least under Gaelic tradition, harps and harpers of the king and clan are extremely important cultural symbols and their loss would be as politically devastating as that of the Arkenstone.

For another example see "Beowulf" lines 1-6:

So. The Spear-Danes in days done by
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those prince’s heroic campaigns.
There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
A wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.


The recovery of mead-benches and harps are vital to the restoration of the legitimacy of rule by a conquered people. As is the Arkenstone.


And is this even so bad? Let’s compare to how another pretender to a throne threatens people against touching his heirloom:

________________________________________ Quote ________________________________________

Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it… Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'
________________________________________

Do you sense in that scene any condemnation of Aragorn’s words?


Not really.


Or is Andْril really so much more precious than the Arkenstone?

Well, they are both precious as cultural and political symbols.


What is the difference?

Anduril is newly made whereas the Arkenstone has more history. thus one could argue that the latter has greater legitimacy.


If anything, I would consider Aragorn’s threat less justified – he has absolutely no claim on Hلma’s loyalty, and not even any enforcing power. Is this a mere curse?

Anduril is being voluntarily handed over to Hama’s custody for safekeeping thus Hama is honor bound by certain obligations and responsibilities. Violating one's honor is deadly in Middle-earth.
Remember what happened to Boromir, the Men of the Mountains, and Prince Baldor. (Though after he made his rash oath the latter was doomed either way.)


In short – it appears to me that the main difference is that in The Hobbit, we are supposed to take Bilbo’s side. But does this justify portraying Thorin as descending into madness?
Does Rateliff actually have a point? Or is this just a case of judging Thorin according to modern sensibilities, or even internal “partisanship”?


Just because someone is unhealthily attached to a possession doesn’t justify someone else stealing it. I mean, I always thought Lucy was a jerk whenever she took Linus’ blanket.

******************************************
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!"
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2018, 12:16pm

Post #3 of 41 (4681 views)
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I don't think that word means what you think it means. [In reply to] Can't Post

Neither Thorin nor Aragorn are pretenders to their respective thrones. Both are the legitimate heirs.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


sador
Half-elven


Sep 2 2018, 12:25pm

Post #4 of 41 (4680 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

This does fit the original definition, which is even used in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretender; however, I've checked a couple of dictionaries. and some indeed consider the term to be prejorative.
But originally, "pretender" did not mean "impostor" but "claimant", which is what I've meant.
Thank you!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2018, 12:49pm

Post #5 of 41 (4672 views)
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My apologies. [In reply to] Can't Post

I did not realize that 'pretender' could be used in that manner. It sounds 'off' to my modern ear where I indeed interpret it as pejorative, but I accept the explanation.

So; the Arkenstone. It is a powerful symbol to the Dwarves of Erebor; there is a reason it is called the Heart of the Mountain. I agree that Thorin's obsession with the gem should not be solely accounted for by 'dragon-sickness'. The Arkenstone is an heirloom of his House; just as important to the Dwarf-lord as Andúril or the Ring of Barahir would be to Aragorn. That is not to say that the rest of the hoard hasn't had an unhealthy effect on Thorin and the others.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Roverandom
The Shire


Sep 2 2018, 1:36pm

Post #6 of 41 (4668 views)
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With Regards to the Arkenstone and Anduril [In reply to] Can't Post

I would actually say that Anduril, as it is a reconstruction of Narsil, has the greater history. The Arkenstone is, as first mentioned in Inside Information, The Arkenstone of Thrain (my italics). Thorin also calls it "the Arkenstone of my father", both of which imply that it was discovered relatively recently in the grand scheme of things. Others marvel at its magnificence, perhaps even covet it, but it is Thorin who hunts actively for the jewel and directs the others to do the same. I would suggest that it is more of a family heirloom than a dwarven one. Given that interpretation, I don't think that it's out of character at all for Thorin to vow vengeance on anyone who keeps it from him. I agree, however, that the episode shows a subtle change. Whereas up to their arrival at the Lonely Mountain Thorin was aristocratic and demanding of loyalty, now he seems more obsessed. The former are often viewed as positive attributes in a leader. As for the latter... Ahab, meet Moby! As such, I see this statement of his as very much a threat, one that Thorin will personally fulfill. Aragorn's words ring more like prophesy. Intent plays a part, too. If (perhaps in Aragorn's defense or for the greater good) Eomer were to draw Anduril, would Aragorn object? Certainly not, but the stipulations enforced upon the sword by the statement might do for him anyway.

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2018, 1:53pm

Post #7 of 41 (4661 views)
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Thrain? Which Thrain? [In reply to] Can't Post

According to Tolkien in LotR Appendix A.III. (Durin's Folk), the Arkenstone was discovered during the reign of Thrain I (T.A. 1981-2190), more than seven hundred fifty years before the Quest of Erebor. So, not nearly as long as the history of Narsil, but for a respectable length of time nonetheless.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Roverandom
The Shire


Sep 2 2018, 2:40pm

Post #8 of 41 (4657 views)
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Too Many Thrains [In reply to] Can't Post

That's a good point. I'm wondering, though, if that note in the Appendix isn't another retrofit on the part of the author. The quote in The Hobbit by Thorin refers to the jewel as "the Arkenstone of my father". Not "fathers", as in something passed down through history, but "father", as in "Dad". If my dad had given me his pocket-watch as an heirloom, I'd refer to it as the watch of my father. If it was a family thing, dating back many generations, then I'd make it "fathers".

Also, if we're to take The Hobbit as a stand-alone story, don't we have to wonder about the note in the Appendix of the subsequent work? I'm not much of a Tolkien historian and have never read any of the previous versions of The Hobbit. Does anyone know the particulars of the timeline, as far as when the Appendix and The Hobbit were written?

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


sador
Half-elven


Sep 2 2018, 3:31pm

Post #9 of 41 (4659 views)
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16-0, “What’s in a name?” (with a trigger warning) [In reply to] Can't Post

The trigger is for religious content in the second part of the post; it will be clearly separated from the first, which is quite safe.

This chapter is called "A Thief in the Night". The night reference is obvious: most of the action takes place in the early hours of one night – and is over and done with by midnight.
The thief is apparently Bilbo. Or is it?

Quote

'I only wished to claim the treasure as my very own in those days, and to be rid of the name of thief that was put on me'.


  • The Council of Elrond

But did this name indeed stick to him? Gollum did indeed call him that, in his desperate shriek as Bilbo jumped over him, in what might have been the inspiration of Donkey Kong.
In The Hobbit, however, this is just one case among several, beginning with his trying to pick William the troll's pocket, and (perhaps this also counts) succeeding to get hold of his key; in Barrels Out of Bond he takes to thieving by necessity – although he seems to consider this professional work.

Quote

He was hungry too outside, for he was no hunter; but inside the caves he could pick up a living of some sort by stealing food from store or table when no one was at hand.
"I am like a burglar that can't get away, but must go on miserably burgling the same house day after day," he thought.


Arguably, this was necessary, as well as his later stealing from the huts of the raft-elves (see nowizardme's questions about this); but later, Bilbo feels the need to apologise to the Elvenking for it, and pay him:

Quote
"… some little return should be made for your, er, hospitality. I mean even a burglar has his feelings. I have drunk much of your wine and eaten much of your bread."


He also takes the keys from the chief of guards, although he is never called out for doing so. Again, this is perfectly justifiable in the circumstances.


Bilbo was actually called “Thief” a second time by Smaug:

Quote

"Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!... You have nice manners for a thief and a liar, …You seem familiar with my name, but I don't seem to remember smelling you before. Who are you and where do you come from, may I ask?"


And of course, Bilbo’s taking of the Arkenstone, which is a major factor in the final third of the book. And the name is finally given to him in Thorin’s final words to him:

Quote

"Farewell, good thief…"


[Aside: Is this another Biblical reference?]
So, what does the name "thief" Bilbo was trying to get rid of, refer to – the ring, or the Arkenstone?


In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo clearly has the Ring in mind:

Quote

'It is mine isn’t it? I found it, and Gollum would have killed me, if I hadn't kept it. I'm not a thief, whatever he said.'
'I have never called you one,' Gandalf answered. 'And I am not one either…'


Gollum's call, however, is the climax of Of the Finding of the Ring in the prologue to LotR:

Quote

…pursued by his enemy's cries of hate and despair: Thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it for ever!


Does this reflect Tolkien’s new ideas as to the importance of the ring as the Ring? Or did he mix the story up a bit? Or is this simply that as the years went by, Bilbo felt the Arkenstone episode was behind him, but was tormented by the Ring?
A final mention of this title is related by Glóin in the Council of Elrond:

Quote

"As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this," he said: "That you should find this thief," such was his word, "and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that he once stole… Find only news of the thief…"


Is this a mere, eerie coincidence? Was the Fell Messenger simply repeating Gollum’s words? Or did he have intelligence about Bilbo’s early adventures, and thought he was still known as "the thief" on the Mountain?

* * *


The chapter’s title, “A Thief in the Night” has a Biblical ring to it. For years, I have read it as a reference to Obadjah 1:5-7 (using the Englsih Standard Version of the translation):

Quote

If thieves came to you, if plunderers came by night — how you have been destroyed! — would they not steal only enough for themselves? [I prefer translating this as: “how did you expect they steal only enough…”] If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings? How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out! All your allies have driven you to your border; those at peace with you have deceived you; they have prevailed against you; those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you — you have no understanding [meaning: without your ever fathoming].


These verses seem to capture Thorin’s predicament, and betrayal pretty well, do they not?
I realise that Tolkien is clearly on the side of Bilbo, in the story, i.e. the thief rather than Esau – but so is the prophet. The fact that one’s downfall is described in tragic terms does not mean that it was not well-deserved.

However, not being a Christian myself, it took me time to realise that Tolkien was probably not alluding to Obadjah, but rather to the New Testament. And the prophet’s words are echoed in Matthew 24:43:
But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
Can this reference indicate a criticism of Thorin for not setting a better guard? Or on the easily-duped Bombur?

I think these quotes capture rather well the idea of the chapter. However, its actual name is a direct quote from I Thessalonians 5:2:

Quote
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.


Whatever you may compare to Bilbo, he clearly is not a day!
But a similar idea is expressed in a more direct way in Revelation 16:15 – but there it is the saviour himself who is compared to the thief, rather than the day of his coming:

Quote
Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!


This is foreshadowed by/based upon (let’s not get into this debate, please!) Malachi 3:1 – however, that prophet does not use the thief parable, only describing the suddenness of the joyous event which will occur:

Quote
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming.


What does the comparison to a thief add?
Returning to the book – is this an actual comparison, or just a fanciful turn of phrase? If the title means something – does this actually elevate Bilbo too high? Who are those waiting for him? Could the “thief” actually refer to something, or somebody else?
These verses seem to express, and actually be the source, for the term “eucatastrophe”, which Tolkien introduced in his 1947 essay On Fairy Stories.
Is this chapter eucatastrophic in any sense? Is there any eucatastrophe in The Hobbit? Tolkien did already use this concept in his Silmarillion tales.


The next thread will return to the actual events described in the chapter.


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2018, 5:40pm

Post #10 of 41 (4652 views)
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I agree with Darkenstone; and, Schrödinger's silmaril [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks sador for taking up the baton!

Whatever it is, the Arkenstone is a highly important cultural artefact. Darkstone's comment about the British Crown jewels reminded me that they include the Koh-i-noor, a large cut diamond originally from the Indian subcontinent, not only dies it have a curse associated with it, but there have been disputes over whether it was a gift to Britain, or was stolen, and if it should be returned to someone it has been variously claimed by India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...or#Ownership_dispute ). The rights and wrongs of all this are not in the scope of this board of course - but it's perhaps a good example of the passions, politics and confusions that can arise over such significant objects.

Another parallel is the Stone of Scone (aka Stone of Destiny), the stone on which kings of Scotland were traditionally crowned https://www.historic-uk.com/...he-Stone-of-Destiny/. This stone was taken to England by King Edward I (of England) in 1296 as a deliberate part of his claim to be King Of Scotland as well as England, and after that all kings and queens of England (and later Great Britain) have been crowned upon it. Here's an article from 1996 about the return of the stone to Scotland - it shows how the whole story still roused considerable emotion (and probably rouses today when politics seem much more partisan and febrile than I remember them being in 1996). https://www.theguardian.com/...nd-independence-1996

In the end, such things are important because a culture says they are, and then the assertion becomes for all intents and purposes a fact, and it is irrelevant whether other cultures understand. Worse still, I expect, if another culture understands that this object is important, and takes it from you for their own purposes.

I don't think we know anything about dwarfish religion, but for all we know the Arkenstone is a major religious object, as well as something of cultural significance. .

Lastly, from Tolkien's point of view rather than Thorin's, I think the Arkenstone is Schrödinger's silmaril - of course it's not a silmaril (certainly it can't be and be consistent with the rest of Tolkien's legendarium as finally published). But I think that simultaneously it kinda is a silamril. More specifically, I think Tolkien made what I've seen called 'a one-way borrowing'. I think this means that the silmarils he was writing about elsewhere were much in his mind (quite appropriate really) and influenced the writing of how the Arkenstone looks and how Thorin behaves about it. And yet (I think) maybe this idea of it being a silmaril doesn't quite 'break the surface', such that Tolkien doesn't deploy it in all its consequences. It is and it isn't a silmaril - until you make up your own mind. But personally, I think I'll keep that box shut and leave it both a silmaril and not.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2018, 6:05pm

Post #11 of 41 (4638 views)
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'I'm going off the rails on a Crazy Thrain...' [In reply to] Can't Post

The Hobbit was published in 1937
Return Of The King was published 1955, though the text had been written before FOTR published in 1953 (it was all ready, but Unwins broke the story into 3 instalments to reduce the very considerable commercial risk of publishing something so original). The Appendices were written in a hurry (but not necessarily badly) when it was clear that LOTR was a success, so were written somewhere between 1953-55 (though of course drawing upon earlier material).

So, as throughout The Hobbit, I think it's difficult to tell whether LOTR and its Appendices are valid as explanation of The Hobbit under all circumstances, or only if you want to think of Middle-earth with Tolkien's 1950s mind, not his 1930s mind.

Similarly I sometimes wonder whether Ozzy Osbourne's 'Crazy Train' song should be considered the original, when he's clearly covering a Mowtown number (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdeNXCFeRtw ) Wink

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


squire
Half-elven


Sep 2 2018, 6:27pm

Post #12 of 41 (4637 views)
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Here a Thrain, there a Thrain [In reply to] Can't Post

Famously, Tolkien 'updated' parts of The Hobbit in the famous postwar re-issue that changed the Riddle Game to be consistent with The Lord of the Rings.

I have a copy of TH from 1963 with an explanatory text for the reader placed just before Chapter I. Since my copy is the "Fourteenth Impression", I have always believed that this author's note dates back to the late 40s - that is, to that time when The Lord of the Rings had been written but was far from being published.

After explaining the Riddle Game change and promising a future publication of "the Red Book of Westmarch" to those who want to know more, there is a second paragraph from Tolkien:

"A final note may be added, on a point raised by several students of the lore of the period. On Thror's Map is written Here of old was Thrain King under the Mountains; yet Thrain was the son of Thror, the last King under the Mountain before the coming of the dragon. The Map, however, is not in error. Names are often repeated in dynasties, and the genealogies show that a distant ancestor of Thror was referred to, Thrain I, a fugitive from Moria, who first discovered the Lonely Mountain, Erebor, and ruled there for a while, before his people moved on to the remoter mountains of the North."
This seems to be the original idea that drove the notes in the Appendices of LotR that explain the wanderings of Thorin's ancestors.

What's open, I guess, is whether Tolkien felt that the change of Thrains covered not just the inexact phrasing of the Map, but also Thorin's various claims that the Arkenstone both came to him from Thrain his father and yet was the 'heirloom of his people', likely first found when old Thrain I discovered and mined the heart of the mountain many centuries earlier.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 3 2018, 1:42pm

Post #13 of 41 (4536 views)
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'change Thrains at Erebor for the remoter Mountains...' // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 3 2018, 3:14pm

Post #14 of 41 (4503 views)
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splendid scriptural sleuthing! [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien does seem to like his chapter titles to be punning, or to have multiple meanings ('Barrels out of Bond' or 'A Knife in the Dark' are examples).

What I'm going to take from this is a possible biblical reference that reminds a knowledgeable reader that a solution to a problem might be found unexpectedly. It's not to my taste, personally, to make Bilbo a sort of allegorical Jesus bringing light (the Arkenstone) to someone.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


sador
Half-elven


Sep 3 2018, 3:43pm

Post #15 of 41 (4508 views)
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16-1, The thief [In reply to] Can't Post

Despite the provocative question I threw out at the end of the previous post, I will go on with the obvious identification of Bilbo as the thief described in the chapter’s title.


We have left Bilbo hearing Thorin’s threat towards whoever withholds the Arkenstone. Naturally, he gets very frightened. And things get even scarier for him when he hears the news about Dáin’s approaching:

Quote

...the ravens brought news that Dain and more than five hundred dwarves, hurrying from the Iron Hills, were now within about two days' march of Dale....
"But they cannot reach the Mountain unmarked," said Roäc, "and I fear lest there be battle in the valley. I do not call this counsel good. Though they are a grim folk, they are not likely to overcome the host that besets you; and even if they did so, what will you gain? Winter and snow is hastening behind them. How shall you be fed without the friendship and goodwill of the lands about you? The treasure is likely to be your death, though the dragon is no more!"
But Thorin was not moved. "Winter and snow will bite both men and elves... ...and they may find their dwelling in the waste grievous to bear. With my friends behind them and winter upon them, they will perhaps be in softer mood to parley with."


Is Roäc’s advice being solicited, or is he being presumptuous? Is he pursuing his own agenda, or is he the spokesman for the author?
Thorin certainly has a point – especially if Dáin manages to take the besiegers by surprise. What do you think would be the outcome in such a scenario?



So Bilbo makes up his mind – and that night he goes up to, err, the watchtower. As luck, chance or providence has it, the dwarf whose turn it is to keep watch is the sympathetic but gullible Bombur.

Quote
No reason to get excited
The thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke


Bilbo begins with the surest way to make friends – by commiserating:

Quote
"Not as stiff as my legs," said Bilbo. "I am tired of stairs and stone passages. I would give a good deal for the feel of grass at my toes."
"I would give a good deal for the feel of a strong drink in my throat, and for a soft bed after a good supper!"
"I can't give you those, while the siege is going on…"


This appears to be an answer to the question Hamfast Gamgee raised – apparently, no fully mature wine is to be had! Unless, of course, Bombur was pining for something stronger!
But I find Bilbo’s wish for grass to be a bit puzzling.
After all, the Mountain is the source of a river! Surely there must be some grass, even behind the wall!
Also, considering Bilbo’s many dreams and wishes for some homely food, and the previous chapter ending with “and cram is beginning simply to stick in my throat” – isn’t this wish for grass somewhat out of character? Or do you have any out-of-the-box explanation for it?

Bilbo offers Bombur to take his turn, which the dwarf gratefully accepts:

Quote
"You are a good fellow, Mr. Baggins, and I will take your offer kindly".


What does the termgood fellow convey? Is there a hint of patronizing in it? In the previous chapter, Tolkien called him old fat Bombur – which description is more apt, or more fair?
Would Bilbo have tried to pull the same trick on a different watch? Would he have succeeded?

Tolkien’s original account, published in The History of the Hobbit, p. 660, was somewhat different:

Quote
Bombur gave a shiver and a sneeze. 'Stay here a moment' he begged. 'I will fetch another cloak and some wraps, against the Eastwind. There is no need to freeze at one's post.'
No sooner had B. gone than Bilbo slipped on his ring secured his rope slipped over the wall and was gone.
'Confound that hobbit!' said Bombur when he returned. 'What Thorin would say if he knew the watch was broken I don't know.' But in the dark he did not see the rope…


Which version do you prefer? What do you think induced Tolkien to make the change?

Bilbo gets down the Mountain, and finds his way to the enemy camp, where some elves are standing guard.

Quote
"That was no fish!... There is a spy about. Hide your lights! They will help him more than us, if it is that queer little creature that is said to be their servant."
"Servant, indeed!" snorted Bilbo; and in the middle of his snort he sneezed loudly, and the elves immediately gathered towards the sound.


These sentries seem to be rather more effective than the one Thorin posted! Why such a difference?
Why would the elves cover their lights? Do they have any reason to suspect Bilbo was somehow invisible?
Do you appreciate the comic touch of Bilbo sneezing in the middle of snorting? What do you make of it?
Next time we will continue with Bilbo’s negotiating with the Elvenking and Bard.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 3 2018, 7:11pm

Post #16 of 41 (4453 views)
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"Hide your lights!" [In reply to] Can't Post

The explanation for the above line is very simple: A light in the dark when possible enemies are about makes one an easy target. Tolkien as a veteran of the trenches of the Great War would be well aware of that.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 3 2018, 7:14pm)


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Sep 3 2018, 7:39pm

Post #17 of 41 (4442 views)
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semi-silmaril [In reply to] Can't Post

Well put! I agree that it's as close to a silmaril as we will get in this era of the world.

Where's Frodo?


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 4 2018, 7:36am

Post #18 of 41 (4382 views)
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If it looks like a silmaril, scintillates like a silmaril, and engenders possessive lust like a silmaril.... [In reply to] Can't Post

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands.
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency




In Reply To
Well put! I agree that it's as close to a silmaril as we will get in this era of the world.


Silmaril:

Therefore even in the darkness of the deepest treasury the Silmarils of their own radiance shone like the stars of Varda; and yet, as were they indeed living things, they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvellous than before.
-Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor


Arkenstone:

It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain. So Bilbo guessed from Thorin’s description; but indeed there could be no two such gems, even in so marvellous a hoard, even in all the world. Even as he climbed, the same white gleam had shone before him and drawn his feet towards it. Slowly it grew to a little globe of pallid light. Now, as he came near, it was tinged with a flickering sparkle of many colours at the surface, reflected and splintered from the wavering light of his torch. At last he looked down upon it, and he caught his breath. The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it up from the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and changed it into ten thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow.
-Not At Home


But which silmaril was it?

But the jewel burned the hand of Maedhros in pain unbearable; and he perceived that it was as Eönwë had said, and that his right thereto had become void, and that the oath was vain. And being in anguish and despair he cast himself into a gaping chasm filled with fire, and so ended; and the Silmaril that he bore was taken into the bosom of the Earth.
-Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath


But how did that silmaril end up geologically deposited under Erebor?

Then Manwë upon the Mountain called upon Ilúvatar, and for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda. But Ilúvatar showed forth his power, and he changed the fashion of the world; and a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands, and the waters flowed down into it, and the noise and smoke of the cataracts went up to heaven, and the world was shaken.
-The Downfall of Númenor

Yep. That'd do it.


In any case, we will get another silmaril (hopefully) in the next era of the world.

The original concept of a simaril:

Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the star-like silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses. Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight. He begged three times for a tress, but Galadriel would not give him even one hair.
-HoME XII, Morgoth's Ring, The Shibboleth of Fëanor


The silmaril as it was originally meant to be:

'But tell me, what would you do with such a gift? '
`Treasure it, Lady,' he answered, `in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if ever I return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.'
Then the Lady unbraided one of her long tresses, and cut off three golden hairs, and laid them in Gimli's hand.

-Farewell to Lorien

******************************************
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!"
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Sep 4 2018, 7:40am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 4 2018, 12:02pm

Post #19 of 41 (4337 views)
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Arkenstone vs. Silmarilli [In reply to] Can't Post

While I do not believe that Tolkien intended that the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, I am certain that he was at least inspired in it's creation by the Jewels of Fëanor. There are too many similarities for it to be completely coincidental.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


sador
Half-elven


Sep 4 2018, 3:55pm

Post #20 of 41 (4308 views)
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16-2, The businessman [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo is heard by the elf-sentries. He takes off the ring, and calls for a light. The elves barrage him with questions, calling him “the dwarves’ hobbit”. To which Bilbo replies in a rather patronizing way:

Quote

"I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins... companion of Thorin, if you want to know. I know your king well by sight, though perhaps he doesn't know me to look at. But Bard will remember me, and it is Bard I particularly want to see."
"Indeed!... and what may be your business?"
"Whatever it is, it's my own, my good elves. But if you wish ever to get back to your own woods from this cold cheerless place," he answered shivering, "you will take me along quick to a fire, where I can dry..."


Did you notice Bilbo’s resentment at being called “a servant”? Is the latter term the elves use significantly different?
Does Bilbo’s reply stem from resentment at the way they addressed him? Or is this a sign of his growing stature (compare to how he has addressed Thorin in the previous chapters)? Or is this a practiced swagger, calculated to impressing the Elkvenking and Bard?

Eventually Bilbo finds himself wrapped in an old blanket in front of a fire, with both the Elvenking and Bard.

Quote

"Really you know," Bilbo was saying in his best business manner, "things are impossible. Personally I am tired of the whole affair. I wish I was back in the West in my own home, where folk are more reasonable..."


Is this manner effective with his audience? After all, they live in the East!

I am not sure Bilbo’s negotiation tactics are as effective as he would like them to be. Anyway, he continues, in the same style of conversation:

Quote

"I have an interest in this matter – one fourteenth share, to be precise, according to a letter, which fortunately I believe I have kept."


Before proceeding - I want to repeat a question raised by the late weaver:
How did the note survive all of Bilbo’s adventures – including a river journey atop a barrel?
Some had suggested the note was written on parchment; but this seems to contradict the story told in Roast Mutton:

Quote

"If you had dusted the mantelpiece, you would have found this just under the clock," said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note (written, of course, on his own note-paper).



Bilbo points out that for his own part, he is willing to deduct whatever the besiegers are paid, before receiving his part of the profits. However, this magnanimity fails to impress his interlocutors; so to impress them further, he warns them about the approach of Dain and his army. But this also seems to fall flat:

Quote

"Why do you tell us this? Are you betraying your friends, or are you threatening us?" asked Bard grimly. "My dear Bard!" squeaked Bilbo. "Don't be so hasty! I never met such suspicious folk! I am merely trying to avoid trouble for all concerned."


So Bilbo is no longer called the dwarves’ servant, but his credibility as a fair-minded businessman has not yet been established. Bard views him in only two possible lights: as an emissary, sent to threaten them; or as a traitor.
But, in Bard’s mind - why would Thorin send such an emissary? Is it because he believes Bilbo to be more tactful and persuasive than any of the dwarves? The least antagonistic towards the Elvenking minion he has? Or is he simply the only dispensable of the company? If the last possibility is correct – is this even more offensive than the insinuation that Bilbo is a traitor?
It seems as if Bilbo panics.
Had he not panicked – how would the negotiation continue?


Quote

'One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.'


  • Aragorn, Flotsam and Jestam.

Finally, Bilbo makes them an offer:

Quote

The Elvenking himself, whose eyes were used to things of wonder and beauty, stood up in amazement. Even Bard gazed marveling at it in silence. It was as if a globe had been filled with moonlight and hung before them in a net woven of the glint of frosty stars.
"This is the Arkenstone of Thráin... the Heart of the Mountain; and it is also the heart of Thorin. He values it above a river of gold. I give it to you. It will aid you in your bargaining." Then Bilbo, not without a shudder, not without a glance of longing, handed the marvellous stone to Bard.


Any comments on the description? Did Jackson’s films do it justice? Or do you have other images which you think better?
Why does Bilbo give the Arkenstone to Bard, and not the Elvenking?
What do you think of Bilbo’s shudder? Is this regret for relenquishing the Arkenstone, realization that he has finally committed himself, or some sense of betraying his friends?
I think Bilbo’s knowledge of how dear the Arkenstone is to Thorin, repeating his own words in the beginning of the chapter, makes the betrayal more poignant. However, reading the very last page of the book –

Quote

“the rivers flow with gold”


Is this a veiled criticism of Thorin’s obduracy, for sticking to the literal meaning of the prophecies?

With the Arkenstone safely in his hand, Bard finally asks a material question:

Quote

"But how is it yours to give?" he asked at last with an effort.
"O well!" said the hobbit uncomfortably. "It isn't exactly; but, well, I am willing to let it stand against all my claim... I may be a burglar – or so they say: personally I never really felt like one – but I am an honest one"


(I would ask about Dostoevsky's An Honest Thief, but I won't)

What to make of Bilbo’s explanation? Is he really honest, or is he under the influence of Smaug’s words:

Quote

"I don't know if it has occurred to you that, even if you could steal the gold bit by bit – a matter of a hundred years or so – you could not get it very far? Not much use of the mountain-side? Not much use in the forest? Bless me! Had you never thought of the catch? A fourteenth share, I suppose or something like it, those were the terms, eh? But what about delivery? What about cartage? What about armed guards and tolls?"…
You will hardly believe it, but poor Bilbo was really very taken aback. So far all his thoughts and energies had been concentrated on getting to the Mountain and finding the entrance. He had never bothered to wonder how the treasure was to be removed, certainly never how any part of it that might fall to his share was to be brought back all the way to Bag-End Under-Hill.
Now a nasty suspicion began to grow in his mind – had the dwarves forgotten this important point too, or were they laughing in their sleeves at him all the time?


Is Bilbo simply trying to find a way to capitalize on his earnings? Or is he entirely under the dragon-spell, and intends to get even with Thorin in some way? Could this have been the real reason he has taken the Arkenstone, and kept it for so long? After all, it could hardly fall under the terms: “Cash on delivery”!

And last question for now – a riddle. Who else in The Hobbit uses the phrase: “Bless me!”?


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 4 2018, 4:11pm

Post #21 of 41 (4314 views)
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The other thief? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Despite the provocative question I threw out at the end of the previous post, I will go on with the obvious identification of Bilbo as the thief described in the chapter’s title


Interesting - it sounds as if you have an alternative interpretation in mind. If so, please do say what it is at the end of the week, if the discussion does not cover it!

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 4 2018, 4:45pm

Post #22 of 41 (4309 views)
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Some thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Really, Bilbo does make a mess of things. He reminds me of a inexperienced British colonial official portrayed in a comedy - he looks down on the 'natives' and their centuries of complex grievance, and assumes that everything can quickly be sorted out if only everybody would behave as if they had gone to Eton.

I suppose that it is really only when Bilbo pulls out the Arkenstone that things get real - his one-fourteenth share of the treasure is only theoretical while it is inside Erebor with Thorin, but the Arkenstone is a real bargaining chip - both against Thorin and to show that Bilbo is in earnest, not some devious trick of Thorin's

I wonder whether Bilbo shudders because he doesn't want to give the Arkenstone away; or because he realises that he doesn't want to give the Arkenstone away and has some kind of foreboding about what the pull it has upon him, and where that could go. He must also, as you say be reflecting upon his betrayal of Thorin.

The Arkenstone has an interesting history of evolving in Tolkien's drafts (I have been reading in Rateliff's 'A Brief History Of The Hobbit'). It started out as the 'gem of Girion' and I wonder whether some echo of that is what causes Bilbo to give it to Bard? Bard is in any case the one he feels he knows best, and has been his main interrogator. The Arkenstone was, Rateliff says, originally invented to be the fourteenth share of the treasure that would be portable enough for Bilbo to take home (pace Smaug's suggestion that the dwarves have tricked him). Only later did it morph into the thing that nobody by Thorin may have.

I have often wondered how much Tolkien means by having Bilbo claim he is an honest burglar.

I also wonder how Bilbo comes to have a concealed gemstone about his person - didn't the elves search him before taking him to an audience with their king?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 5 2018, 12:21pm

Post #23 of 41 (4176 views)
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The non-Art of the Deal [In reply to] Can't Post

Between Wiz’s and your posts, it seems clear that no one in this book is particularly good at negotiating, or at least not at following the rule books. And the rules aren’t *that* hard, particularly the one about not insulting the other side.

I think Tolkien enjoys showing how rough these things can go, even with a polished aristocrat like Bilbo, who at the beginning of the book was so reliably respectable you didn’t need to talk to him, because you simply knew he would say what was right and proper.

More specifically, the slights continue to build up on all sides, but that tension builds up skillfully to Bilbo’s deployment of the Arkenstone, which is one of my favorite parts of the book because it’s such a surprise. He gives it without making a single demand, such as “You can have this if you leave us in peace” or “You can have this if you promise not to kill any dwarves”, etc. He could have made lots of demands or attempted various bargains, but instead the kindly soul within him is trusting to the kindly souls in the others to just do the right thing.

So it doesn’t work as planned. I still admire his intent and non-greed whenever everyone else is being greedy.


sador
Half-elven


Sep 5 2018, 1:51pm

Post #24 of 41 (4172 views)
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16-3, His Finest Moment [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not quite sure how much more time I will have in the coming days, so I will post this final installment now.


After telling the Elvenking and Bard he is a honest burglar, Bilbo drops another bombshell:

Quote
"...Anyway I am going back now, and the dwarves can do what they like to me. I hope you will find it useful."


If you remember your first reading of the book – did you see this coming?


In The History of The Hobbit, page 660, John Rateliff says that the first drafts of the chapter indicate that at first Tolkien thought that Bilbo will indeed decamp – in fact, he suggests that this was his plan from the beginning!
What do you think of this idea? Is it more realistic, or rational? How would the story have continued? Would you have the same opinion of Bilbo had this happened?

I can state my own opinion: to begin with, while in early storylines Tolkien jotted, he did try to work out such an idea, I am not quite sure he kept it after writing The Gathering of the Clouds; at least, I hope he had realized earlier that it was no good (in my judgment, the evidence Rateliff presents is certainly suggestive but not conclusive).
But if indeed Tolkien had followed the idea Bilbo would desert his comrades, the story would be completely ruined. No matter what followed, Tolkien would not be able to salvage his hero's character. Taking the Arkenstone might somehow be justified (we had a fine old argument about it here) – but this would be simply trading stolen property in exchange for food and safety. One might argue that he was just trying to save his friends, but I would not buy it; especially once their best chance is having Dain come by surprise, which Bilbo has just betrayed. The best that could be said was that this culminating act of thievery somehow had helped in achieving good results; however, the same could be said of Boromir's attack on Frodo. One could sympathise with Boromir up to this point (and I do) – but after he tries to sieze the Ring by force, the only possible redemption is by his death. And Boromir had the lure of the Ring as an excuse.
Fortunately, Tolkien did not follow this path – he had Bilbo make the very difficult, but truly moral choice, of returning to the Mountain and facing the consequences of his action. I can only wish that I would make a similar choice in similar circumstances, but I doubt that I would be able to. Despite my condemnation of the alternative possible storyline, I admit it is the most similar to what I would do – but I would be more likely to give Thorin the Arkenstone, probably with some show of finding it by accident.
What would you do? Do you even agree with my assessment?

In the long run, Bilbo is rewarded; if Gandalf says to Frodo later:

Quote

'And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so.'


I am sure that giving Bard the Arkenstone, but not for his own gain or benefit, is what enabled him six decades later to surrender the Ring and pass it to Frodo.
As I have once suggested, I consider this decision, to return to the Mountain, Bilbo's finest moment. And it is foreshadowed by his (inconsequential, but still important) decision in Out of the Frying-pan Into the Fire (which I've discussed here):

Quote

"He still wandered on… but all the while a very uncomfortable thought was growing inside him. He wondered whether he ought not, now he had the magic ring, to go back into the horrible, horrible, tunnels and look for his friends. He had just made up his mind that it was his duty, that he must turn back-and very miserable he felt about it – "


Comments? Feel free to disagree!

But there is a further temptation to withstand first:

Quote

The Elvenking looked at Bilbo with a new wonder. "Bilbo Baggins... ...You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it. But I wonder if Thorin Oakenshield will see it so. I have more knowledge of dwarves in general than you have perhaps. I advise you to remain with us, and here you shall be honoured and thrice welcome."
"Thank you very much I am sure... ...But I don't think I ought to leave my friends like this, after all we have gone through together. And I promised to wake old Bombur at midnight, too! Really I must be going, and quickly."


What induced this "new wonder"? Is the Elvenking trying to dissuade Bilbo from a foolhardy purpose, or is he tempting him? How does this compare to The Mirror of Galadriel?
I note the Elvenking does not dispute Bilbo's more intimate knowledge of Thorin, but argues he has "knowledge of dwarves in general". Is this comment racist? Is it justified?
As a matter of fact, Bilbo himself acknowledged the risk he was taking by going back, as he said earlier: "the dwarves can do what they like to me". but nevertheless, he takes it knowingly.
Is this self-sacrifice? Does this seem a saintlike action? To return to post 16-0, is Bilbo "Like a Thief in the Night"?

In fact, Bilbo is rewarded almost instantly – as he passed through the camp, he meet up with Gandalf!

Quote

"For the first time for many a day Bilbo was really delighted."


Gandalf, however, is as opaque as always:

Quote

"All in good time!" said Gandalf. "Things are drawing towards the end now, unless I am mistaken… there is news brewing that even the ravens have not heard. Good night!"


I understand why Gandalf is cryptic with Bilbo – but why doesn't he tell Bard and the Elvenking what news are brewing? Is he planning to spring some deus ex machina upon them? How would that work, and why is it necessary?
Is Gandalf "Like a Thief in the Night"?




Quote

At midnight he woke up Bombur; and then in turn rolled himself up in his corner, without listening to the old dwarf's thanks (which he felt he had hardly earned).


Why is Bilbo so squeamish? Doesn't he believe that he had acted in everybody's best interests – including Bombur's?
Before the end – what do you make of Bombur in this chapter? Or more important, in the next one: do you think he realized how he was used by Bilbo? Did he feel Thorin had it coming?


The last question seems odd – but after all, Bombur was resentful ever since the crossing of the Enchanted River in Mirkwood, and was likely resentful towards his words: "Don't go grumbling against orders, or something bad will happen to you".
I have an UUT, that Bombur did realise how he had been tricked, and that he was responsible for the loss of the Arkenstone and all that followed. It is true that ever since Mirkwood he has been a mostly lethargic and comic figure, but the exaggerated description in Many Meetings is really too much:
Bombur was now so fat that he could not move himself from his couch to his chair at the table, and it took six young dwarves to lift him.
So I wonder whether the anxiety, followed by long years of remorse, caused him to fall into further depression, with food his only comfort – to end up in the truly pathetic figure he cuts.
What do you think? Is this reasonable, or am I truly off the rocker? Does such amateurish psychoanalysis even fit in Tolkien's world?

While waiting for midnight, Bilbo "wondered anxiously what would happen next". But as soon as it passes –

Quote

He was soon fast asleep forgetting all his worriers till the morning. As a matter of fact he was dreaming of eggs and bacon.


Any comments about Bilbo's dream? How does it compare to his other dreams in the book?
Is there any special significance to the hour – that before midnight he is anxious, but after it, however the worries are still there, he is comforted and is able to sleep soundly?
Any other important points about this chapter which I have forgotten, neglected or deliberately omitted, but you want to raise?
That's all I have to say for this time. Thank you to all who had participated, lurked, or merely stared and gaped in disbelief!


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 5 2018, 2:06pm

Post #25 of 41 (4164 views)
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From burglar to bungler [In reply to] Can't Post

The 'Baggins' side of Bilbo seems to have come out strongly again - I wonder what that means.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

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