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***The Hobbit Read-through: Chapter 18 - :"The Return Journey" (Part 2 of 3)

Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 18, 4:32am

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***The Hobbit Read-through: Chapter 18 - :"The Return Journey" (Part 2 of 3) Can't Post

Funerals and Farewells



Over the next few days Thorin is laid to rest beneath the Mountain and preparations are made for the Elves, Beorn, Gandalf and Bilbo to depart. Bard returns the Arkenstone to Thorin to be buried with him while the Elvenking lays the sword Orcrist on Thorin’s tomb where it is said that it would glow and warn Durin’s Folk at the approach of enemies. Dain becomes King under the Mountain. It is only now that we learn of the fate of Fili and Kili who died defending their uncle. The other companions of Thorin Oakenshield all survived the battle.

Kingship of the Longbeards was normally passed down from father to son, but we know little about further complications. Can we say for certain that Thorin’s sister-sons were his rightful heirs? What if the title of King under the Mountain had passed to Thorin’s cousin Dain even if his nephews had both had lived? If either Fili or Kili had survived, might that have sparked a civil war among Durin’s Folk?

King Dain presumably allowed many of his folk from the Iron Hills to emigrate to Erebor. When the Longbeards in the Blue Mountains returned to the Mountain (probably not before the following year), what disputes do you see arising between the two factions?

The treasure could not be divided between the companions of Thorin as originally planned, though a full fourteenth share was given over to Bard to honor Thorin’s agreement with the bowman. “From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and he rewarded his followers and friends freely. To the Elvenking he gave the emeralds of Girion, such jewels as he most loved, which Dain had restored to him.”

So, if I am reading this right, the Master uses much of the the treasure given over to him to gain political favor among his supporters, while Bard cements an alliance with the Elves of Mirkwood. Am I interpreting this passage correctly?

Dain tells Bilbo that he would want to reward the hobbit “most richly of all.” Bilbo thanks him but only accepts two small chests, one filled with silver and one with gold, not wanting the complications or headaches of trying to transport a large amount of wealth through Wilderland, across the Misty Mountains and back to Bag End. When the time to depart finally arrives, the remaining dwarves of Thorin’s company are nearly rendered speechless; when Balin finally finds words, they are almost formal: “‘Good-bye and good luck, wherever you fare!’ said Balin at last. ‘If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast will indeed be splendid!’” Bilbo’s own farewell is much more plain, if just as heartfelt: “‘If ever you are passing my way,’ said Bilbo, ‘don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!’” What do you make of the contrast between these two speakers?

Gandalf joins Bilbo for the return journey to Hobbiton. Together with Beorn, they start out from Lonely Mountain in the company of the elf-host. Beorn proves to be a boisterous companion, “...he laughed and sang in a loud voice upon the road.” Does this seem like typical behaviour for the skin-changer, or do you think something has changed with him? How do you account for a change? Is Beorn (perhaps in a very literal sense) a new man?

At the borders of Mirkwood the three companions turn away from the elves, intending to pass along the edge the forest to the north, between the eaves and the Grey Mountains. Bilbo feels no desire to set foot in those woods again despite the Elvenking’s invitation to visit his halls, and Gandalf seems completely sympathetic. Beorn simply seems to prefer the more northern route. Thranduil (still unnamed by Tolkien) expresses hope that Gandalf will be a frequent visitor to his halls--quite a contrast to the Elvenking of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies! Before they part, Bilbo presents the Elf-king with a gift, “a necklace of silver and pearls that Dain had given him at their parting.” The hobbit explains that the necklace is a thank-you for the unknowing hospitality of the Wood-elves during Bilbo’s rather forced stay among them.

The Elvenking names Bilbo “elf-friend and blessed.” Does this carry the same connotation as Frodo being given a similar title by Gildor Inglorion decades later in the Shire? What is different about the two instances and any other similar ones?

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


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18, 2:20pm

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Bilbo's farewell [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think I can improve upon Prof Tom Shippey's observation:


Quote
"What chapter 16* and the scenes around it do most powerfully, perhaps, is to enforce a plea for tolerance across an enormous gap of times and attitudes and ethical styles. On the one hand there is Bilbo Baggins, with his virtue of ‘moral courage’ or readiness ‘to encounter odium, disapproval, or contempt rather than depart from what he deems the right course’ (first recorded 1822); his corresponding vice is ‘self-distrust’ (1789). On the other we have Beorn, Thorin, Dain, whose virtue can only be described by such a non-English noun as the Old Norse drengskapr –magnanimity, the awareness of being a warrior and so on one’s dignity, the quality Dain shows in ratifying Thorin’s agreement even though Thorin is dead –and whose vice is a kind of selfish materialism. Neither side is better than the other, or has any right to criticise. The contrast is one of styles, not of good and bad....

...by the end even the two linguistic styles have become invulnerable to each other’s ironies:
‘Good-bye and good luck, wherever you fare!’ said Balin at last. ‘If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid!’
‘If ever you are passing my way,’ said Bilbo, ‘don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!’ (p. 269) There is not much in common between the language of these two speakers; nevertheless it is perfectly clear that they are saying the same thing. Going on from his beliefs in ‘the reality of language’ and ‘the reality of history’, Tolkien was perhaps beginning to arrive at a third: ‘the reality of human nature’

The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien created a new mythology (How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology)" by Tom Shippey
--

*Chapter 16 is 'A Thief In The Night'


I'm not sure about 'invulnerable to each other’s ironies', but I do see that it's a satisfactory ending with the two worlds having understood each other. Whether Bilbo is any longer comprehensible to the folks back 'my way' we will shortly see, I suppose...

~~~~~~
Now you dwarves must be careful with that machine with a rotating cutting tip or reciprocating hammer or chisel, used for making holes - it's not a drill, y'know!"


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Sep 18, 2:20pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18, 2:30pm

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Uses of treasure [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The treasure could not be divided between the companions of Thorin as originally planned, though a full fourteenth share was given over to Bard to honor Thorin’s agreement with the bowman. “From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and he rewarded his followers and friends freely. To the Elvenking he gave the emeralds of Girion, such jewels as he most loved, which Dain had restored to him.”

So, if I am reading this right, the Master uses much of the the treasure given over to him to gain political favor among his supporters, while Bard cements an alliance with the Elves of Mirkwood. Am I interpreting this passage correctly?


I'm not sure - I think it depends upon who is meant by 'he':

From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and the Master rewarded his followers and friends freely....

or;

From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and Bard also rewarded his followers and friends freely....


I'm not sure that a moral contrast is intended if 'he' means the Master. I think that in the ancient or medieval worldview, a king or warlord would most certainly reward their followers and friends freely, and that would be as it should be. I think that the idea of serving your country or some other idea and then retiring to your modest home without having made much personal profit is a concept of honour that came later. I think it's one of those modern versus ancient worldview clashes that have Bilbo (and later the LOTR hobbits) refuse much monetary reward, almost to the point of risking insulting their hosts.

I think later we find that the Master doesn't share his loot in turn, and comes to a bad end...

~~~~~~
Now you dwarves must be careful with that machine with a rotating cutting tip or reciprocating hammer or chisel, used for making holes - it's not a drill, y'know!"


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 18, 2:48pm

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The Master's generosity (or lack thereof). [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think later we find that the Master doesn't share his loot in turn, and comes to a bad end...


Ultimately, yes, once the dragon-sickness ceases hold of him. But at this point, arguably, the Master is still the consummate politician seeking to bolster his position. Still, the passage can be read either way. I agree that it does not have to be read as a contrast in morality.

"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 18, 2:49pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 20, 1:14pm

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Cease the ceacing! [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, typo. That first sentence should have read: "Ultimately, yes, once the dragon-sickness seizes hold of him."

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


Roverandom
The Shire


Sep 20, 2:30pm

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Bard or the Master? [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe the implication of the statement is that Bard rewarded his followers and friends freely. I'm not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination, merely a lowly English-major of by-gone day, but pretty certain that there's something rule-like in that semi-colon that makes what comes after refer to the subject of the sentence which goes before. If anyone knows for sure, I'd like confirmation.

Knowing what we do about the characters of both men, I'm more willing to picture Bard acting in a generous manner than the Master, quite apart from the recorded fate of the latter.

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 20, 3:22pm

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You might be correct. [In reply to] Can't Post

That was not my first interpretation, but I am certainly capable of reading the passage that way. Bard might well be acting generously as well as building a base of followers that he will soon need. It is a perfectly reasonable reading.

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


sador
Half-elven


Sep 21, 4:04am

Post #8 of 12 (1515 views)
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Popping on for a short question: [In reply to] Can't Post

The emeralds of Girion - are thess the same as the famous necklace?
They were not mentioned in the original agreement - does this mean that as opposed to cash, Bard gets any identifiable heirloom?
Would Thorin do the same? Any reason to think he wouldn't?
Does this paint Bilbo's use of the Arkenstone in a different light?
What does it say of Bard - that he demands his part in the treasure as the heir of Girion, and immediately gives the Elvenking the only (or one of the two) clear heirlooms mentioned in the book?
And how did Girion come by such emeralds? Aren't they more likely to be mined, rather than found in river-beds?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 21, 2:18pm

Post #9 of 12 (1480 views)
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The Emeralds of Girion [In reply to] Can't Post

More like eight questions; but let's proceed!

The emeralds of Girion - are thess the same as the famous necklace?
Where are the emeralds of Girion ever referred to as a necklace? I cannot seem to find any such mention. They might well have been fashioned into such a piece of jewelry, but I find no confirmation of that.

They were not mentioned in the original agreement - does this mean that as opposed to cash, Bard gets any identifiable heirloom?
I imagine that King Dáin was being generous, though this does harken back to Bard's original words to Thorin: "I am by right and descent the heir of Girion of Dale, and in your hoard is mingled much of the wealth of his halls and towns, which old Smaug stole. Is not that a matter of which we may speak?" The actual agreement was for "one fourteenth share of the hoard in silver and gold, setting aside the gems".

Would Thorin do the same? Any reason to think he wouldn't?
There is plenty of reason, I think, that Thorin would have honored no more than the precise terms of the agreement--and was looking for excuses to go back on it entirely if he were able.

Does this paint Bilbo's use of the Arkenstone in a different light?
Perhaps, though not from Bilbo's perspective I think. We'll see what others have to say on this.

What does it say of Bard - that he demands his part in the treasure as the heir of Girion, and immediately gives the Elvenking the only (or one of the two) clear heirlooms mentioned in the book?
Ultimately, that was not one of Bard's demands. You point out yourself that this was not part of the final agreement, nor was the issue brought up again before the Mountain was besieged. The gift does indicate the high esteem that Bard has for hid friend the Elvenking.

And how did Girion come by such emeralds? Aren't they more likely to be mined, rather than found in river-beds?
Men have mined since ancient times; just because there are Dwarves in Middle-earth doesn't preclude Men from mining for themselves. The emeralds might have come from Lonely Mountain, but they might have been mined in the Iron Hills, the Grey Mountains or some other location instead. They might have been obtained through trade with the Dwarves, with the folk of Dorwinion, or others. Tolkien never said.

What I find interesting in the films is how Jackson takes the emeralds of Girion and the necklace of white gems that Bilbo presents to the Elvenking and combines them into the White Gems (Necklace) of Lasgalen as a motive for Thranduil's involvement in the whole affair.

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


sador
Half-elven


Sep 21, 2:53pm

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The necklace of Girion [In reply to] Can't Post

is mentioned in Inside Information as one of the most famous objects in the hoard - between the grwat cup of Thror and the Arkenstone.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 21, 8:03pm

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Ah! Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Indeed it is named in that chapter:

Quote
...[The] necklace of Girion, Lord of Dale, made of five hundred emeralds green as grass, which he gave for the arming of his eldest son in a coat of dwarf-linked rings the like of which had never been made before, for it was wrought of pure silver to the power and strength of triple steel.


I wonder if this passage might have originally been intended to explain the origin of Bilbo's mithril coat? Perhaps Tolkien had second thoughts or just plain forgot about the reference. In any case, I am prepared to accept that the emeralds of Girion and the necklace of Girion describe the same object.

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


Morthoron
Gondor


Sep 22, 7:37pm

Post #12 of 12 (1426 views)
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I believe Roverandom is correct... [In reply to] Can't Post

As another English Major of yore, I seem to recall the rule that a pronoun following a semi-colon indicates a continuance of action by the subject of the previous clause.

In any case, this argument is bolstered by the idea that Bard, being an Anglo-Saxonish sort of chieftain, must be a ring-giver to his followers. If I may paraphrase one of my professors, the late Tom Garbáty (a renowned medievalist and Chaucer expert): "the [Anglo-Saxon] lord must be a generous 'ring-giver' too....he must dish out the spoils of war to his thanes rather than hoard the treasures won in tribal warfare."

Second, given the Master of Laketown's covetousness (and eventual thieving demise), it seems highly unlikely he would give any treasure to anyone. The dead give-away in the sentence is that treasure was handed out to "friends". Can you picture the Master having any friends? Co-conspirators, henchmen, cronies, business associates, certainly -- but friends, certainly not.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on Sep 22, 7:43pm)

 
 

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