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Old 11-01-2015, 06:21 AM   #6
Faramir Jones
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Question Moral ambiguity already existed in 'The Hobbit'

Aaron and Kuruharan, I was interested in what you had to say about the possible attempt by Jackson to fit 'moral ambiguity' into The Hobbit. I had thought about that possibility myself, which angered me; because moral ambiguity already existed in the book. All Jackson, or anyone else, needed to have done was to have read it properly, and followed the instructions...

The moral ambiguity can be particularly seen in what happens after Smaug is killed by Bard, his death destroying Lake-town. In a more 'traditional' story, the death of a dragon would have been the end, everyone living happily ever after.

This does not happen in The Hobbit, something I noted with particular interest when I first read the book. The row then emerges with Bard legitimately claiming a share of the treasure, first as a reward for the killing of Smaug, second as heir of Girion; and the more controversial claim on behalf of the Lake-men for a share of the treasure due to the destruction of their town by Smaug, despite the fact that the treasure was not the dragon's.

Thorin refuses to consider any of the claim, due to having heard that some of the Lake-men blamed him and the dwarves for deliberately stirring up Smaug against them. Also, Bard came with an army to the borders of his kingdom, along with an army from the Elvenking, who had imprisoned Thorin and his people.

Bard, while dropping the claim on behalf of the Lake-people, claims a twelfth of the treasure, as slayer of Smaug and heir of Girion, threatening war. This happens because Thorin attacks Bard's messenger, something Tolkien obviously blames him for, but showing him to have been sorely provoked by the messenger referring to Thorin as 'calling himself' King under the Mountain, questioning the legitimacy of his title.

This indicates, in my opinion, that Bard and Thorin, while the legitimate heirs to monarchs, have due to circumstances received no training for and have no experience of ruling. The Elvenking, while obviously greedy for treasure, later tries to restrain matters, perhaps because he has had both training for and experience of ruling.

Bilbo tries to resolve things by giving Bard and the Elvenking the Arkenstone, to aid them in their bargaining for a share of the treasure. Bilbo has a right to the Arkenstone, it being the reward he was allowed to chose for his services under an agreed contract. But such is Thorin and other dwarves' anger at the stone being in the hands of others that an attack is planned on the Lake-men and elves, only stopped by the attack of goblins and wolves under Bolg. Despite dwarves, elves and men uniting to fight these invaders and winning, one of the casualties is Thorin, the book's most prominent character after Bilbo.

If all this isn't 'moral ambiguity' I don't know what is!

Last edited by Faramir Jones; 03-26-2016 at 11:35 AM.
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