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** Inside Information ** Part I – The Building of Bilbo

Morthoron
Gondor


Sep 24 2012, 11:16am

Post #1 of 6 (780 views)
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** Inside Information ** Part I – The Building of Bilbo Can't Post

When last we left Bilbo and the dwarves they were on the doorstep, staring down a yawning maw of vaporous darkness revealed when they finally managed to open the secret door. And as with all such auspicious moments in the story, this gave Thorin Oakenshield a chance to pontificate, this time on the duties and various addenda of one contracted burglar, that being Bilbo Baggins.

1. The omniscient narrator intervenes in Thorin’s lengthy speech, reminding us of the dwarf’s Ciceronian style. Do you find the familiarity and impositions of the narrator to be distracting, or does it add the charm of the story?

Yet Bilbo seems to be one changed hobbit, doesn’t he? He snaps at Thorin rather insolently, reminding the dwarves, “I have got you out of two messes already” (i.e., the spider attack and imprisonment by the elves), which were not in the burglar’s original terms of service.

But the group dynamic has changed along with Bilbo’s newfound pomposity. Whereas once the dwarves - and Thorin in particular - treated Bilbo with disdain and extra Bagginsish baggage on the trip, they now timidly acquiesce to his harsh tone. When Bilbo asks for volunteers to join him in the passage, the dwarves suddenly become cowards, with only Balin meekly agreeing to go part way.

Tolkien now describes the dwarves in a series of unflattering comments and backhanded compliments.

“The most that can be said for the dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor little fellow doing it if he would; but they would all have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it. . . . There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much.”

2. Does this description jibe with Tolkien’s later description of steadfast and brave Gimli in The Lord of the Rings? If it does not (and I would suggest it doesn’t), why are Gimli’s words and actions so different from his kin?

3. We are again reminded that some dwarves “are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots”, harkening back to the “wicked dwarves” Tolkien describes in Chapter IV, who made alliances with goblins (orcs). Are these references the genesis of the idea that some dwarves marched with Sauron’s forces in the War of the Last Alliance?

Tolkien again differentiates Dwarven architectural practices from the goblins and “rough wood-elves cave”, indicating the dwarves’ extraordinary building abilities and the smoothness of the passage, but then he also says that such abilities were completed at “height of their wealth and skill”, implying those skills have now been lost, a recurrent theme about the dwarves throughout the book.

But whereas the dwarves are suffering a notable decline in prestige, abilities and personal bravery, Bilbo is undergoing a renaissance. After a brief internal argument, the Tookish side of him overcame his sedentary and fearful Hobbitish nature and pushes on. Going onward from there as the narrator points out, “was the bravest thing he ever did”.

4. Although the One Ring (which Bilbo has slipped on his finger) does not necessarily have the same effects the Ring would later produce in Lord of the Rings, if we were to include the later canonical effects, does the Ring bolster Bilbo’s courage? Does it offer any special powers for Bilbo other than invisibility?

As Bilbo progresses a sound of “bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble of a gigantic tom-cat purring” throbs in Bilbo’s ears, growing to the “unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring”.

5. Do you gurgle when you snore? Is “gurgling” the right description of the noise of snoring? I don’t know why, but this description has always bothered me.

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



sador
Half-elven


Sep 24 2012, 12:47pm

Post #2 of 6 (350 views)
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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. The omniscient narrator intervenes in Thorin’s lengthy speech, reminding us of the dwarf’s Ciceronian style. Do you find the familiarity and impositions of the narrator to be distracting, or does it add the charm of the story?
It is a part of the story. I guess it must be a part of the charm.


2. Does this description jibe with Tolkien’s later description of steadfast and brave Gimli in The Lord of the Rings?
No! Gimli would never have paid Bilbo handsomely!

If it does not (and I would suggest it doesn’t), why are Gimli’s words and actions so different from his kin?
I'm not quite sure he is different. Thorin and his folks were veterans of the fearful wars with the goblins, and Gimli himself became unmanned before overwhelming adversaries - both the Balrog and the Paths of the Dead.

3. We are again reminded that some dwarves “are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots”, harkening back to the “wicked dwarves” Tolkien describes in Chapter IV, who made alliances with goblins (orcs). Are these references the genesis of the idea that some dwarves marched with Sauron’s forces in the War of the Last Alliance?
No, they are throwbacks to the dwarves of The Book of Lost Tales. Thorin was an exception by being decent.
Only later, Tolkien decided that the race which produced Thorin must have been a good one; and in later writings even wrote that Dwarves were the most resistant to the Evil inherent in the Rings of Power.

4. Although the One Ring (which Bilbo has slipped on his finger) does not necessarily have the same effects the Ring would later produce in Lord of the Rings, if we were to include the later canonical effects, does the Ring bolster Bilbo’s courage?
It didn't bolster Sam's, and not even Frodo's.
However, the mundane ring of invisibility Bilbo wears now does it, by the simple protection it offers him.

Does it offer any special powers for Bilbo other than invisibility?
Based on later knopledge, you might speculate that Bilbo both understood Smaug better, and was able to perceive the bare patch thanks to it. But only if you really want to.

5. Do you gurgle when you snore?
I hope not. Blush

Is “gurgling” the right description of the noise of snoring?
Fire and water.

I don’t know why, but this description has always bothered me.
Becuase the word is used for babies in cribs, or because of the river over stones?
If we see dragons as the personification of volcanoes, this might even be considered as the gugling of lava and molten rock.


"Okay. I'm going to post the entire debate between Bilbo and Smaug. I'm under the Tolkien-spell, so I can't help myself. But you don't have to read it if you don't want to... or need to... because you have it memorized... right?"
- grammaboodawg



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for Inside Information!


Solicitr
Lorien

Sep 24 2012, 4:49pm

Post #3 of 6 (354 views)
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History [In reply to] Can't Post

3. We are again reminded that some dwarves “are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots”, harkening back to the “wicked dwarves” Tolkien describes in Chapter IV, who made alliances with goblins (orcs). Are these references the genesis of the idea that some dwarves marched with Sauron’s forces in the War of the Last Alliance?

At the time JRRT wrote The Hobbit (1930-32, long before it found publication), he conceived of the Dwarves as evil creatures, in league with orcs and often servants of Melko, and guilty of the destruction of Aratanor/Doriath (in alliance with orcs and "gongs") as a natural outgrowth of their greed and wickedness.

The Hobbit was in fact the first step in T's rehabilitation of the Dwarves as a people, but still only to the "if you don't expect too much" level.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 27 2012, 2:53am

Post #4 of 6 (304 views)
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Sweet little kitty-purr [In reply to] Can't Post

...with a simmering cauldron of flames.

I love this description: "Also it was now undoubtedly hot in the tunnel. Wisps of vapour floated up and past him and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep..."

I can imagine Smaug with certain feline characteristics, such as long-term naps with an occasional stretching of the appendages, and rare moments of wakefulness during which he tracks and pounces on prey. I wonder if he grooms himself the way a cat would...?

That bubbling sound is his fire-producing mechanism at work, a constant simmering in his throat, and the exhaled moisture from his lungs, as it passes through that internal cauldron, becomes the heated vapour which greets Bilbo on his way down the passage.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






Morthoron
Gondor


Sep 27 2012, 4:13am

Post #5 of 6 (322 views)
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So Smaug, in essence, is a vast tea kettle.... [In reply to] Can't Post

There is his handle, there is his...snout?

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



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 27 2012, 4:08pm

Post #6 of 6 (775 views)
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He's a giant teapot [In reply to] Can't Post

Huge and stout
Tail for a "handle",
Fire from his snout.
When he gets all steamed up
He'll fly about
Eat some ponies and burn towns out.

Tongue


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"





 
 

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