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Old 12-30-2013, 01:19 PM   #1
Lalaith
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Bilbo´s treachery

Feeling the need to check the canon in the aftermath of the DoS nonsense, I have gone back to the Hobbit for the first time for, I have to admit, decades. Re-reading it reminded me of what has always troubled me, ever since I first read the book as a little girl.
Bilbo offering the Arkenstone to Bard and Thranduil was just plain wrong. Thorin´s rage always felt to me entirely justified. Bard had a very tenuous claim to some of the Erebor treasure. Thranduil, none whatsoever. It was nothing but scavenging. Quite why Bilbo felt the need to toad-eat the opposition and betray his brothers-in-arms I just don´t understand.
And not satisfied with selling his quest companions down the river, Bilbo, during the Battle of the Five Armies, "preferred on the whole to defend the Elven King". What exactly has Thranduil done to deserve this loyalty? And then Bilbo randomly gives Thranduil a necklace of silver and pearls given by Dain? This fawning over elves and ingratitude to dwarves puts Bilbo in a very poor light.
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:20 PM   #2
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On the face of it, I can see the source of your outrage. However, I disagree.

Bard's legal claim to a share of the treasure seems solid, as items from Dale were mixed in with Erebor's, the only question being the size of it. A moral share would also appear honest, as 1.The dwarves had awakened Smaug, who destroyed Lake-town; 2. Lake-town had befriended the dwarves and had given them food and other provisions, and 3. Bard was the descendant of Girion, the lord of Dale, and the slayer of Smaug.
No, Thranduil had no stake in the hoard, and it might have been better if the elven-host had stayed out of sight when Bard parleyed with Thorin, but Thranduil was there out of friendship with Esgaroth, and pity for them in their time of need.

Bilbo's dealing with the Arkenstone was borne from a hobbit-like wish to avoid conflict, especially one over gold. The rightness of at least Bilbo's intent in taking the Arkenstone and handing it to Bard would seem to be proven in Gandalf's reaction: "Well done! Mr. Baggins!"

Bilbo's stated preference to die defending Thranduil might stem from the mere "oddity" (as a hobbit) he displayed in his affinity for Elves in general.

As for Bilbo giving Thranduil the necklace, Bilbo himself said he did it to pay for the food he'd eaten in the elven-halls. He wasn't necessarily ungrateful. We don't see him giving away the mithril coat, after all.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:51 PM   #3
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It's also worth pointing out that even the hyperlegalistic Dwarves would have been forced to admit that Thorin's post-contractual (and post-possessory) parol claim to the Arkenstone could not be taken as a valid reformation of or amendment to the signed contract executed at Bag-End, under which Bilbo was entitled to 1/14 of the (net) whole without specificity, nor did the contract direct that Thorin or any other particular person had exclusive authority to allocate that share, nor preclude Bilbo making his own selection from the Hoard.

Besides, from the moment Bard showed up at the gate Thorin was behaving like an ***.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:58 PM   #4
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Someone has studied law.

The precise terms offered were "cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any)".

The modification of the contract, which as William comments" does not exclude the Arkenstone nor specifically include it, is found after Bilbo returns from his meeting with Smaug, and Thorin, who states "as to your share, Mr. Baggins, I assure you we are more than grateful and you shall choose your own fourteenth, as soon as we have anything to divide."

So if this modification was valid, Bilbo certainly had the right to select the Arkenstone as part of his share. From his perspective, he had not broken any covenant and had chosen some of his share. I am not troubled by this as any breach of faith.

Now let's play at law (cannot resist). One could question whether, at the time he took the stone, there was anything to divide yet, since Smaug's death was not known. One could also debate the enforceability of the modification which was not supported clearly by consideration (Bilbo had not done anything or agreed to do anything he had not already agreed to do, so Thorin did not receive anything in exchange for the promise). Peppercorns anyone?
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Old 01-01-2014, 08:03 PM   #5
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Sigh. Always the lawyers!

The legal-minded Bilbo, member of a race which required seven signatures in red ink of witnesses to a will, surely had not forgotten the terms of the contract, and was likely well aware of its lack of detail in some points. Good think the Dwarves didn't think to have Messrs Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes draw it up. Then again, maybe Gandalf planned it that way.

At any rate, my thought is the Judge, Gandalf, delivered his opinion of it, favorable to Mr. Baggins. Thorin may appeal to the 10th Appeals Court of Orthanc.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:44 AM   #6
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Another point that might come into confict is thry to define by what standard the 1/14th would be defined; by value, weight,volume etc. By volume or weight of course, Bilbo is perfectly fine. But if by value, which a lot of people would consider the "obvios" defintion especially given terms like "cash on demand"+-9 , then it is possible Thorin would possibly still be on decent legal ground (on the grounds that the Arkenstone was prized so greatly by the Dwarves that they would probably value it higher than the rest of the hoard put together).
Actually, the very terms of that contract sound a little sketchy anyway. You notice Thorin says from the beginning ("1/14 of the profits (if any) not "1/14 of the hoard". Nice an legal, but it actually does give Thorin a sneaky opening. In once sense it works to Bilbo's advantage, since it techically means he is entitled to 1/4 of the Troll hoard as well. But by defining it as "total profits" Thorin actually has ample opportunity, if he feels so inclined to cut Bilbo out entierly. He can claim that the hoard is communal property of the Dwaven kingdom of Erebor, and as such does not actually belong to any of the party personally, so no party profit actually ensued (i.e. bilbo is entiteld to 1/14 of nothing, and always was). Or he could deduct from the shares such expenses as accrued from the trip. For the dwarves these retroactive expenses are largely meaningless, as they are being paid from them to them (so it's really just being re-paid) but Bilbo, who is NOT a member of the Dwaven Kingdom, could easily find his 1/14 eaten up with "expenses". Or at best, Thorin could combine the two and say that the "profits" were the Troll hoard (since that actually WAS property claimed by the party), so Bilbo can have 1/14 of that, (actually since Thorin is probably planning to be busy setting up his kingdom for a while, he might have simply ceded ALL of the Troll hoard to Bilbo as his share (it can't be worth much compared to the whole of Erebor. Plus it is along Bilbo's way back home) and save himself having to send dwarves back to retrieve it.
Actually Thorin could actually claim Bard and Esgaroth owed THEM money, or that the debt was squared. Since Smaug's belly was largely plated with gold and gems from the hoard stuck to it, it could be argued that, when Smaug left the cave he took part of the Dwarves property with him, and that by deciding to shoot Smaug while he was over water (like Bard had a choice!) Bard deprived the Dwarves of a portion of thier property that might otherwise have been retrievalbe (If Smaug had died over land, presumably his body could have been dug up and the gems and gold retrieved) and that any question of remuniration could not be redressed until that portion was retrieved so the whole of the Hoard could be asseses (actually since at that point, Thorin did not know that Bilbo had the Arkenstone, it's a little odd he isn't brooding on that fact. Knowing that it should be there, and that he has not found it. the thought might enter into his mind that it was PART of the stuff stuck to Smaug's belly, and is now simply sitting at the bottom of Lake Esgaroth waiting to be retrieved. From that POV it's a wonder Thorin is calling in friends from the Iron hills with pumps to come and negotiating to drain the lake!
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Old 01-02-2014, 02:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Alfirin View Post
Actually, the very terms of that contract sound a little sketchy anyway. You notice Thorin says from the beginning ("1/14 of the profits (if any) not "1/14 of the hoard". Nice an legal, but it actually does give Thorin a sneaky opening. In once sense it works to Bilbo's advantage, since it techically means he is entitled to 1/4 of the Troll hoard as well. But by defining it as "total profits" Thorin actually has ample opportunity, if he feels so inclined to cut Bilbo out entierly. He can claim that the hoard is communal property of the Dwaven kingdom of Erebor, and as such does not actually belong to any of the party personally, so no party profit actually ensued (i.e. bilbo is entiteld to 1/14 of nothing, and always was). Or he could deduct from the shares such expenses as accrued from the trip. For the dwarves these retroactive expenses are largely meaningless, as they are being paid from them to them (so it's really just being re-paid) but Bilbo, who is NOT a member of the Dwaven Kingdom, could easily find his 1/14 eaten up with "expenses".
Well that is what "of profits" means.

We have to remember though, Bilbo took but two small chets which was actually a fraction of his total share. Meanin they probably went with "value" to measure the shares, would the arkenstone outweighed the entirety of the horde I doubt it. I always felt while probably worth a fortune it was probably more of a sentimental thing.

However, to the intial point I thought Bilbo took the arkenstone to make it a bargaining chip to avoid battle. It seems to me though it backfired just angering Thorin further.

What is probably the strangest part of The Hobbit is that in the end the goblins saved the day. Do we think Gandalf could have stopped The Elves, Dwarves, and Lakemen from tearing each other apart?
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:54 PM   #8
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Well that is what "of profits" means.
of course that's what "of profits means". The point I was trying to make was that, by some legal hairsplitting, Thorin could have interpreted the contract so that, regardless of the actual outcome of the quest, he did not have to, or plan to, give Bilbo one red farthing, that should his avarice get the better of him, he could simply send Bilbo away with empty pockets and not technically have reneged on the terms of the contract. Or in the second case it would translate out to "yes you did your job , but I am taking your whole share to pay me back for having to take you in the first place (sort of a variation of the "your uncle has died and left you a million dollars, however with the taxes and fees you now owe us five million."


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We have to remember though, Bilbo took but two small chets which was actually a fraction of his total share. Meanin they probably went with "value" to measure the shares, would the arkenstone outweighed the entirety of the horde I doubt it. I always felt while probably worth a fortune it was probably more of a sentimental thing.
Ah, but remember it would probably be the dwarves who would be the ones assesing the value of the treasure and the shares, so the arkenstone is "worth" whatever THEY say it is. It's a bit like trying to define the value of the crown jewels of England as based soley on their bullion content and per carat gem value. As for the two small chests, yes, it is far less than what Bilbo's share actually was as per contract, but the question is is it less, equal to or more than what Bilbo would have actually gotten had Thorin still been alive. Bilbo is riding away with those chests in a world where Dain is now King under the Mountain, who has gotten through a terrible battle, has nearly had his whole kingdom wiped out as soon as it was reclaimed and has just SEEN what the consequences of excessive greed ultimately got his cousin. Would Thorin have come to the same conclusion had he lived through the battle, or more to the point, had the battle not actually ocurred or been so devatstating to the Dwarves?
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:53 AM   #9
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Sting Why the two chests?

I have a theory that the two chests Bilbo took with him on his return journey from the Lonely Mountain are payment for two services rendered by him to the dwarves, not covered by the original contract: his rescuing them from the spiders; and secondly, his rescuing them from the Elvenking's cells.

I suggest this because, when the Mountain’s secret entrance was found, Thorin pointed out that now was Bilbo’s time ‘to perform the service for which he was included in our Company’, the time for him ‘to earn his Reward.’ Bilbo was a little indignant, because

I have got you out of two messes [the spiders and the Elvenking’s cells] already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. (My italics)

One could argue that Bilbo has already taken and disposed of his fourteenth share, in the shape of the Arkenstone; but that he still felt he was owed something for dealing with the 'two messes'.
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:29 PM   #10
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One could argue that Bilbo has already taken and disposed of his fourteenth share, in the shape of the Arkenstone; but that he still felt he was owed something for dealing with the 'two messes'.
The main issue with that interpretation is that Bilbo didn't want to take any of the treasure; he apparently just settled for the "two small chests, one filled with silver, and the other with gold" out of politeness to Dáin. I do wonder though if his failure to include any jewels there might not have been an after-affect of his dealings with the Arkenstone.
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:09 PM   #11
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Sting Bilbo doesn't need the treasure

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The main issue with that interpretation is that Bilbo didn't want to take any of the treasure; he apparently just settled for the "two small chests, one filled with silver, and the other with gold" out of politeness to Dáin. I do wonder though if his failure to include any jewels there might not have been an after-affect of his dealings with the Arkenstone.
I think all of us can agree that Bilbo doesn't need any of the treasure. His father was from a rich family, who married into a richer one, and who built Bag End with the money. Even taking into account that Bilbo is an only child, unmarried and childless, he still has enough money not to work and to still keep up Bag End.

The failure to include any jewels may be, as you suggest, a reference to Thorin originally agreeing that the Arkenstone would be exchanged for a fourteenth share of the treasure, but in silver and gold, setting aside the gems.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:04 PM   #12
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Bilbo's greatest moment

The only thing that matters to Bilbo is trying to find a way to prevent all-out war and he's willing to betray his friends and give up all hope of treasure if that means he can stop the killing. He's the greatest hero of them all, as he is the only one who thinks it better to give the treasure away and not fight instead of killing for gold.

And I would remind you that the last thing Thorin does before he dies is to beg Bilbo's forgiveness: if he no longer sees what Bilbo has done in a bad way, why on earth should anybody else?
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:50 PM   #13
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Personally, I think too much is made of the word "betray". Certainly "Thorin" felt his interests had been betrayed, but I think Bilbo was both motivated by and acting in favor of the "best" interests of both Thorin and his friends - whether they felt so at the time or not.

Firstly, the end result of Bilbo's plan was intended to be (and actually worked out to be) that Thorin would get the Arkenstone he craved. It was passed to Bard as a negotiating tool, not for Bard to keep for his own - and Bard obviously saw it that way as well.

Second, as Fordim points out, Bilbo believed it was in the interests of the Dwarves to be friends with their neighbors and that their (esp Thorin's) insistence on standing for ALL their RIGHTS regardless of the consequences was damaging to THEM in the long run (or, even, in the short run).
  • Think, for instance, of how Tolkien portrayed Feanor's (and his sons) "dwarvish" insistence that the Silmaril was "THEIRs" and theirs alone. They certainly had a legal case to stand on, but the "I want mine and will destroy myself to get it" attitude was portrayed as wrong and leading to destruction.
  • It goes with the belief (right, I think) that "Pride" is more damaging than "loss".
  • Reminds me of an old rhyme ---
    "Here lie the bones of Ezra McCray,
    who died defending his right-of-way.
    He was Right, dead Right, as he sped along,
    But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

Bilbo, while hired to do a job, was neither a subject of Thorin, nor his servant. Rather he was a friend who felt it was an act of friendship to save Thorin, even from himself. And even at the risk of being disowned or even killed.

As Gandalf put it "Well done!, Mr. Baggins!"
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:52 PM   #14
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Looking at the point of what Thranduil had done for Bilbo:

Specifically? Nothing was stated. However, Bilbo had had plenty of time to observe him while hiding in his home. He was there long enough to pick up Elvish. Therefore, perhaps he had seen Thranduil's gentler side, especially if he had seen him interacting with Legolas, and so felt guilty about sneaking around and stealing food. Also, it's hinted that he had always had a fastination for Elves. These could have prompted him to feel some compassion for Thranduil and so choose to defend him in the battle and give him the necklace to repay him for all the stolen food and wine.

I'm not going to get into the Arkenstone business because that seems to already have been well covered.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:16 AM   #15
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Sting An independent contractor

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Bilbo, while hired to do a job, was neither a subject of Thorin, nor his servant. Rather he was a friend who felt it was an act of friendship to save Thorin, even from himself. And even at the risk of being disowned or even killed.

As Gandalf put it "Well done!, Mr. Baggins!"
You're right when you say that Bilbo could not have 'betrayed' Thorin because he had never given allegiance to him, as the dwarves did, and as the Rangers did to Aragorn II. He was also not an employee, so did not have that obligation to Thorin.

From the contract itself, and the events described, Bilbo was an independent contractor, a self-employed person, hired by the dwarves to take back (not 'steal' as it was their own property) treasure. He was promised a fourteenth share of the profits, Thorin modifying this to say that Bilbo could pick his own fourteenth. This Bilbo did, in the shape of the Arkenstone. As it was his property, he was entitled to dispose of it as he saw fit, in this case giving it to Bard for negotiating purposes. All this was prefectly legal and above board, covered in the contract.

In terms of giving the necklace to Thranduil, Bilbo felt that he owed him some compensation for the food and wine he had taken. There are also, as MCRmyGirl4eva correctly states, hints that he 'always had a fascination for Elves'.

The big joke in the book, I think, is that while Bilbo is described as a burglar, he's actually quite a respectable fellow, as shown above. Even in the case of Gollum and the ring, Bilbo genuinely didn't know who its owner was when he found it; and when he suspected the truth, he was in no mood to return the ring to someone who wanted to kill and eat him... In the same way, when he tried to pick a troll's pocket, any sympathy the reader might have for the troll is negated when he and the other two decide to kill and eat Bilbo and the dwarves.

The only time in The Hobbit where we can say Bilbo was a real burglar was when, after escaping with the dwarves from the Elvenking's halls, he stole food and drink from a village by the Long lake. The book does not record if he ever paid compensation for that theft...

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Old 01-14-2014, 10:48 AM   #16
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The only time in The Hobbit where we can say Bilbo was a real burglar was when, after escaping with the dwarves from the Elvenking's halls, he stole food and drink from a village by the Long lake. The book does not record if he ever paid compensation for that theft...
I think you are referring to the cold, dripping night he spent when the barrels were collected and tied into a raft? Those were Elves of Thranduil working along the Forest River while still in the forest.
BTW, here is a link to a drawing Tolkien made titled Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelves
There are even a few references to these later in Laketown as when Thorin declares "I speak to the Master of the men of the lake, NOT to the raft elves of the king"

At any event, Bilbo likely lumped that theft in with all the others during his stay in Thranduil's halls. And, no doubt, even the "small" present he made to the king more than covered (monetarily) the food he ate.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:35 PM   #17
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I think you are referring to the cold, dripping night he spent when the barrels were collected and tied into a raft? Those were Elves of Thranduil working along the Forest River while still in the forest.
BTW, here is a link to a drawing Tolkien made titled Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelves
There are even a few references to these later in Laketown as when Thorin declares "I speak to the Master of the men of the lake, NOT to the raft elves of the king"

At any event, Bilbo likely lumped that theft in with all the others during his stay in Thranduil's halls. And, no doubt, even the "small" present he made to the king more than covered (monetarily) the food he ate.
You're right, Puddleglum! We'll spotted!
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Old 08-23-2015, 07:20 PM   #18
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You know what? I loved that scene. I read TH few days back and realized that scene in particular showed the real growth of Bilbo Baggins keeping his hobbit sense alive. Bilbo knew Thorin was wrong and in my opinion Thorin's attitude towards the treasure was not justified. Bilbo offering the Arkenstone to the Elf and Bard was more than understandable. He knew they were right (though I think Thranduil would be better off) and Thorin was taken over by greed. Him wanting to get away without letting anybody get hurt was noble, not treacherous.
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Old 08-27-2015, 08:04 PM   #19
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of course that's what "of profits means".... by some legal hairsplitting, Thorin could have interpreted the contract so that, regardless of the actual outcome of the quest, he did not have to, or plan to, give Bilbo one red farthing.
In other words, pretty much what New Line said to the Tolkien Estate. "Nope, no profits, just barely broke even at $3 billion."
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Old 08-30-2015, 05:56 AM   #20
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Question Bilbo Baggins, Esq. v Thorin Rex?

If there was real legal hairsplitting going on from Thorin, as in our universe, in terms of him trying to give Bilbo nothing, the matter might have ended up in litigation, with a case such as Bilbo Baggins, Esq. v Thorin Rex, where the hobbit sues the new King under the Mountain. I can imagine it being very difficult for Thorin to claim that the vast treasure of his grandfather just vanished. Also, what about Bilbo being properly paid for rescuing Thorin and his people from the spiders and the Elvenkings cells?

To be fair to Thorin, he had already given Bilbo the first part of his promised reward, the mithril coat, which we later read was more valuable than the whole Shire and everything in it.
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Old 08-31-2015, 06:09 PM   #21
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Bilbo would have a heck of a time finding a court of competent jurisdiction
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Old 09-03-2015, 01:27 AM   #22
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Boots The Shire or the KutM

The two jurisdictions that spring to mind are the Shire or the newly re-established Kingdom under the Mountain. The first, because the contract was made there; the second, because there could be an argument that the contract was governed by dwarf law.

There would also be the political background. Would anyone want to do business with a state whose ruler failed to keep his promise to properly reward the person who helped to restore it?
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:01 AM   #23
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A point about the legal discussion of the contract between Bilbo and Thorin: I think this contract is void (from the beginning) since there's no sovereign who could defend (and establish) the validity of the contract against both of the contracting parties. There's no legal instance which could force one (or both) of the parties to act according to the contractual clauses, or issue punishment otherwise.

Aside from the legal discussion, Bilbo's so called treachery is the thing I admire the most about his character in The Hobbit. In the end Bilbo doesn't follow a pack mentality, but does what he thinks is the right thing to do. To archive that he considered the means at hand.

I'd like to close my post with a quote that answers a similar accusation, but in a different context:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Silmarillion, Of the flight of the Noldor
But Olwë answered: 'We renounce no friendship. But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly.'
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Old 11-07-2015, 09:34 PM   #24
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On the face of it, I can see the source of your outrage. However, I disagree.

Bard's legal claim to a share of the treasure seems solid, as items from Dale were mixed in with Erebor's, the only question being the size of it. A moral share would also appear honest, as 1.The dwarves had awakened Smaug, who destroyed Lake-town; 2. Lake-town had befriended the dwarves and had given them food and other provisions, and 3. Bard was the descendant of Girion, the lord of Dale, and the slayer of Smaug.
No, Thranduil had no stake in the hoard, and it might have been better if the elven-host had stayed out of sight when Bard parleyed with Thorin, but Thranduil was there out of friendship with Esgaroth, and pity for them in their time of need.

Bilbo's dealing with the Arkenstone was borne from a hobbit-like wish to avoid conflict, especially one over gold. The rightness of at least Bilbo's intent in taking the Arkenstone and handing it to Bard would seem to be proven in Gandalf's reaction: "Well done! Mr. Baggins!"

Bilbo's stated preference to die defending Thranduil might stem from the mere "oddity" (as a hobbit) he displayed in his affinity for Elves in general.

As for Bilbo giving Thranduil the necklace, Bilbo himself said he did it to pay for the food he'd eaten in the elven-halls. He wasn't necessarily ungrateful. We don't see him giving away the mithril coat, after all.
I hear ya. I'm sooo with you about Bilbo. He was quite a little bit weird. The whole 'invisibility' thing I remember reading it, enthralled the first time I read it, in the Spring sunshine, of 1981, in the backyard of my home, transported so very far away from Earth into this wondrous land.

Even then though, I recall a sense of a haunt about Bilbo. The Ring was just wrong, but I never thought too much about it. And it was really very strange, wasn't it, to steal the Arkenstone.

I 'get' that it was an attempt to force the Dwarves into parlay, but really, the invading Yrch, and Warg did plenty and beyond to unify the whole idiotic xenophobic, greedy-otic lotta them!

Humans, Dwarves, Elves and Orcs! All Begone! Nuisances the lotta them
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:41 AM   #25
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Sting Bilbo didn't steal the Arkenstone

Ivriniel, Bilbo didn't steal the Arkenstone; it was part of the agreed fourteenth share of the profits he was promised in his contract with the dwarves. Thorin also changed the contract to say that he could pick and choose his own fourteenth share; so Bilbo was within his rights to take the Arkenstone; and as it was his personal property, he was entitled to give it away if he wanted.
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:04 PM   #26
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Ivriniel, Bilbo didn't steal the Arkenstone; it was part of the agreed fourteenth share of the profits he was promised in his contract with the dwarves. Thorin also changed the contract to say that he could pick and choose his own fourteenth share; so Bilbo was within his rights to take the Arkenstone; and as it was his personal property, he was entitled to give it away if he wanted.
I'd not interpreted it that way. But to ride with how you put it, it's still awkward at best, or impolite scheming in any case. A Hobbit, brought up in Hobbiton, with such refineries in Hobbiton on The Hill, in a wealthy Hobbit Hole, with Sackville Bagginses 'spoon stealing' , Bilbo would have been quite aware that he was transgressing. "You don't bite the hand that feeds you", or "leave the core Dwarvish relic to the Dwarves when choosing my wealth--don't be rude, Bilbo"

I remember thinking that Bilbo seemed to be minimising as a Hobbit with a guilty conscience. Rationalised what he knew was going to make enraged Dwarves.

I also wondered if Bilbo was quite a little bit 'over' the Dwarf-Elf antagonism, and more than just a little bit annoyed at the 13 of them, after months of being underdog, underling, subordinated, mistreated, and then winning the 14 of them. So over them all, that he 'Arkenstoned' himself to exile, a-purpose.

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Old 11-08-2015, 05:07 PM   #27
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Sting His contract had finished

You suggested, Ivriniel, that Bilbo ''Arkenstoned' himself to exile, a-purpose'. My view is that Bilbo, after handing over the Arkenstone, didn't have to go back to the dwarves. He had carried out the terms of his contract, including taking his reward; so he had no further legal obligations towards them and Thorin. However, he wanted to return to those he regarded as his friends.
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:43 PM   #28
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You suggested, Ivriniel, that Bilbo ''Arkenstoned' himself to exile, a-purpose'. My view is that Bilbo, after handing over the Arkenstone, didn't have to go back to the dwarves. He had carried out the terms of his contract, including taking his reward; so he had no further legal obligations towards them and Thorin. However, he wanted to return to those he regarded as his friends.
I suppose some legal-ese can be applied to the analysis, and that was somewhat of it in the book. I recall Tolkien was a little tongue in cheek about the contract. Bilbo signed something at the Unexpected Party.

I'm not sure the Arkenstone was "one fourteenth" of the treasure. How Dwarves reckon it and the cultural emphasis on valuation of the wealth would matter, I suspect.

I don't seem to remember Gandalf being overly upset about the 'theft' of the Stone, and so, Bilbo declaring the theft was somewhat washed clean of the grime of the manipulation.
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:23 PM   #29
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I don't seem to remember Gandalf being overly upset about the 'theft' of the Stone, and so, Bilbo declaring the theft was somewhat washed clean of the grime of the manipulation.
Gandalf's comment on the matter to Bilbo was "Well done!" If that wasn't an absolution for Bilbo, what else could one possibly ask for?
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Old 11-08-2015, 09:04 PM   #30
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I don't think that Bilbo's deed was honest, in respect to the Dwarves. He does not think so either. But he knew it was necessary, which is why he did it, and why Gandalf approved. Sometimes doing the ultimately right thing isn't necessarily doing what might be right in an isolated moment. In the modern times, if your friend, who lives by a lake, is on hallucinogens and decides that he can walk on water - lock him up in his room, and preferably restrain him from doing too much damage. You might be a jerk to your friend, in that moment, but you're doing the right thing. And if it's a good friend, they'll thank you after.


Debating whether or not Bilbo's act qualifies as stealing is, in my opinion, an unfruitful argument. It was dishonest. It was not nice. But it was the right thing to do, and the Dwarves, including Thorin, saw that in the end. The contract - it's technical rubbish. Bilbo and the Dwarves might use it to throw "technically" arguments at each other to justify their behaviour, especially in times when their behaviour is most questionable, but at the end of the day they believe in greater things than petty legal technicalities. Why would a well-bred hobbit do such a dishonest thing? Because this particular well-bred hobbit agreed to go god knows where in the company of thirteen unknown men who trashed his house. If Bilbo has enough Took in him to step over that line, he might be one of the few who have enough adventurousness to rise above other rules as well. Was it a good act? Yesno: depends how you argue. It was certainly not good in that it was dishonest, and Bilbo did betray Thorin&co's trust, but it was good in that it was ultimately the right thing to do.
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Old 11-08-2015, 09:13 PM   #31
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I don't think that Bilbo's deed was honest, in respect to the Dwarves. He does not think so either. But he knew it was necessary, which is why he did it, and why Gandalf approved. Sometimes doing the ultimately right thing isn't necessarily doing what might be right in an isolated moment. In the modern times, if your friend, who lives by a lake, is on hallucinogens and decides that he can walk on water - lock him up in his room, and preferably restrain him from doing too much damage. You might be a jerk to your friend, in that moment, but you're doing the right thing. And if it's a good friend, they'll thank you after.


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<--snip--The contract - it's technical rubbish.--snip-->
*chuckles* erm, I suppose that's prolly more to the point about it in Middle Earth-ian terms......
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Old 11-09-2015, 03:14 PM   #32
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I don't think that Bilbo's deed was honest, in respect to the Dwarves. He does not think so either. But he knew it was necessary, which is why he did it, and why Gandalf approved.
I think the taking of the Arkenstone was really a betrayal of Thorin as an individual rather than the whole company, as Bilbo would see it.

It was Thorin who had given the order to all the others that he alone had the rights to the jewel, and it seems it was mainly fear of Thorin's wrath that bothered Bilbo about keeping it secret.
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:30 PM   #33
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I think the taking of the Arkenstone was really a betrayal of Thorin as an individual rather than the whole company, as Bilbo would see it.

It was Thorin who had given the order to all the others that he alone had the rights to the jewel, and it seems it was mainly fear of Thorin's wrath that bothered Bilbo about keeping it secret.
Ye-es. I agree that it was mainly Thorin that was problematic, but at the same time you can't call Bilbo's deed completely honest in respect to the other Dwarves. It's true that the others wouldn't mind Bilbo taking the Arkenstone as much, and they wouldn't see his act as such a betrayal. But the nature of Bilbo's act groups the Dwarves into one group, like it or not. One rotten apple spoils the bunch?

So yes, I agree that he's mostly going behind Thorin's back, but he's acting behind all of the Dwarves' backs. He may not be as much of a jerk to the others, but it's still hardly honest.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:39 AM   #34
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But the nature of Bilbo's act groups the Dwarves into one group, like it or not. One rotten apple spoils the bunch?
Well, in this case, yes. This particular apple is the proclaimed and recognized leader of their company and the bunch doesn't do anything to stop him. I know that a few of them are disagreeing with Thorin, but they remain idle, while the rest of the bunch is supporting his course.

Thorin's course of action might easily lead to their death, either trough starvation and illness (due to the siege), or due to a battle, even though there isn't a real necessity or profit, at the time. Thorin and company are willingly gambling their own well-being for a surplus of a few percent. I think that justifies Bilbo (or any of the dwarves) to act against said course of action. Being 'dishonest' is a reasonable price to pay in this situation.

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Old 11-10-2015, 10:27 AM   #35
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I think the situation is a good example of how in The Hobbit Professor Tolkien juxtaposes the "modern" and "heroic" modes, with Bilbo being, or at least trying to present himself as, a businesslike character with an arguably "pragmatic" approach while the Dwarves exist in a heroic/romantic framework, caring about their treasure and driven by fairly unswerving loyalty to their king, even when his decisions seem irrational or potentially dishonorable.
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:19 PM   #36
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I think the situation is a good example of how in The Hobbit Professor Tolkien juxtaposes the "modern" and "heroic" modes, with Bilbo being, or at least trying to present himself as, a businesslike character with an arguably "pragmatic" approach while the Dwarves exist in a heroic/romantic framework, caring about their treasure and driven by fairly unswerving loyalty to their king, even when his decisions seem irrational or potentially dishonorable.
We never find out what measure of Bilbo's treachery was motivated by the then hold the ring exerted over Bilbo

We don't know whether or not he would have conceived the plot to place the dwarves on the back foot had there been no ring
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:58 PM   #37
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We never find out what measure of Bilbo's treachery was motivated by the then hold the ring exerted over Bilbo

We don't know whether or not he would have conceived the plot to place the dwarves on the back foot had there been no ring
I don't see how that changes the issue. The Ring certainly helped Bilbo execute his plot, and maybe he wouldn't have dared to do such a radical thing without invisibility, but the fact remains that he wasn't going to take Thorin's attitude lying down. As for the Ring's hold over Bilbo - what does that have to do with anything?
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:15 PM   #38
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I don't see how that changes the issue. The Ring certainly helped Bilbo execute his plot, and maybe he wouldn't have dared to do such a radical thing without invisibility, but the fact remains that he wasn't going to take Thorin's attitude lying down. As for the Ring's hold over Bilbo - what does that have to do with anything?
What does anything have to do with anything, really, except as a discussion point or random expression of curiosity.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:17 PM   #39
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Yes given that the Ring was not conceived of as an evil object at the time, and as I'm fairly sure Professor Tolkien did not revise those parts of the text after he did conceive of it that way, the role of the Ring does not seem especially relevant to me.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:24 PM   #40
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Yes given that the Ring was not conceived of as an evil object at the time, and as I'm fairly sure Professor Tolkien did not revise those parts of the text after he did conceive of it that way, the role of the Ring does not seem especially relevant to me.
Look. I recall seeing in the prose, Gandalf looking sideways at Bilbo about some of his behaviour. Do you recall that or not?
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