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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
*** Favorite Chapters - A Long-Expected Party (LOTR)
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Mar 14, 3:39pm

Post #26 of 29 (335 views)
I didn't get the feeling that Frodo's inheritance was any different from Bilbo's [In reply to] Can't Post

Doesn't Tolkien make it clear that Bilbo gave his ''troll-hoard" away, out of guilt that it was stolen? What Frodo inherited, the story says, is Bag-End and all its contents (and, by implication at least, all the rents attached to its estates). And that's what Bilbo inherited from his parents.

The mithril shirt is a good gag, but as the story makes clear, meaningless as an actual item of wealth. It can't be subdivided, so were the Bagginses to "purchase" everything in the Shire with it, how would the rest of the entire hobbit-population realize their new wealth (for eating, living, etc.) when it's in the form of a single mail-jacket?

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Mar 14, 8:00pm

Post #27 of 29 (319 views)
Good points [In reply to] Can't Post

but, one, Bilbo only gave away his troll loot, not his dragon loot, since the latter was contracted for and paid by the rightful owners, Thorin -> Dain; it didn't "come from thieves" like the troll-hoard (and even in that case he kept Sting apparently without any remorse).

Two, I imagine Gandalf envisioned that the mithril-shirt (also payment by Thorin per contract) would bring a sum of coin in some wealthy Harad market which in turn would easily match the assessed value of the Shire's realty and personally. When we say that e.g. a Van Gogh is "worth more than the GDP of a small nation;" that doesn't mean a straight swap (what the hell would Curacao do with a Van Gogh?), but a predicted (or recent) auction price in money.


Mar 16, 2:59pm

Post #28 of 29 (182 views)
Money, money, money [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what I thought too - 'the value of the Shire' (insofar as it means anything) is the notional value that the shirt could raise, c.f. the notional value The Shire could raise.

But would Bilbo ever sell it? It's one of the few things he takes to Rivendell with him. And that's not, I suspect, because he expects to find it useful, or sees it as portable wealth. Those, I think, are views of treasure that are too modern. My reading is that Bilbo has become cosmopolitan enough to see these things as the world outside The Shire does. Such gifts are for giving and receiving so as to establish bonds of honour between people. (I believe such gifts were called 'mathums', which Tolkien puts through some plausible linguistic aging to get 'mathoms'.) And also of course they're also for looting from defeated enemies! Selling such a thing would be a shocking idea, I suspect (but giving the mail shirt to your heir is of course right and proper). This is from the little I know about the traditions of Anglo-Saxon and related peoples - quite likely someone here knows a whole pile more and they're welcome to pitch in. I think this is another place where the hobbits' more modern sensibilities grind gears with the attitudes of the outside world of Middle-earth. If I recall this section of LOTR correctly, Gimili is instantly properly impressed with Thorin's spectacular gift to Bilbo, and sees it as being to the credit of them both (the gift-giver for and gift-receiver). The more modern-minded hobbits (and us readers) need to be given a sense of the item's value in dreary cash, which only works of you imagine for a moment that you might exchange it for something else.

(Merry's horn is a similar example - Eomer and Eowyn want to load Merry up with spectacular treasure: he deserves it according to their world-view, and I suppose they don't want anyone suggesting that those disgraceful cheapskate Rohirrim don't know how a proper Lord should behave. Merry doesn't want treasure - but a compromise is found in giving him the horn - something of spectacular uniqueness and kudos.)
I wondered whether squire was hinting at another historical change - if you gave many Middle-earth citizens gold or treasure, it would be of little use to them. A lot of the place seems to have a peasant economy. Outsiders laugh at the hobbits turning noble items to rustic use or just hanging them on the mantlepiece. In Scouring of the Shire, Lotho is raising cash on the produce of the country, and as we're seeing this week, it doesn't go well.

"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Mar 18, 4:58am

Post #29 of 29 (154 views)
Hobbits particularly Ring-resistant? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm a bit removed from things, but I believe it is mentioned during the trilogy that Hobbits are particularly resistant to the effects of the Ring. Does this chapter also serve in part to establish a basis for that future story development? While they may be fools-of-a-Took, they are for the most part not driven by greed, power, or lust.

At this point of the story it's easy to think poorly of Bilbo and how he reacts to the Ring. I mean, One Ring To Rule Them All is quite ominous and all-encompassing. Yet as we come to understand, Bilbo is actually truly heroic in how long he resisted the evil of the Ring, and how he was able to finally choose to let it go.

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