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Old 11-02-2012, 03:22 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,532
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril Hobbit2 - Chapter 16 - A Thief in the Night

The title of this very short chapter sounds misleading - we would normally consider a thief in the night to be an evil person. However, it is our hero who has already stolen and who now uses his spoils for a good purpose. Does the end justify the means in this case?

Thorin speaks a curse at the beginning of the chapter:
That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it.
Interestingly, this curse does not come to pass. Does Thorin's greed negate it, or does Bilbo's peaceful motivation do so?

The raven again speaks against Thorin's plans, and those words are indeed prophetic:
The treasure is likely to be your death, though the dragon is no more!
My favourite part of this chapter is Bilbo's "speech" to the Elvenking and Bard. There is so much practical common sense to it! As Thorin himself says later,
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
Thief, spy, servant - for an upper class Hobbit, Bilbo does have to put up with some negative opinions from others! I suppose it's natural that they should suspect him of betraying his Dwarven friends, but his actions at the end of the episode show his good intentions. The Elvenking realizes his worth and praises him for it. What would have changed if the Hobbit had accepted his offer and stayed there?

Bilbo has grown - he takes responsibility for his actions and is willing to face Thorin's wrath and to save Bombur from the negative consequences of his lapse. Gandalf shows up after his lengthy absence and also praises him, and his conscience is obviously clear enough to allow for a good night's sleep and a Hobbit's favourite kind of dream...

In my opinion, this chapter gives us the pinnacle of Bilbo's personal development - he is able to let go of a highly desirable treasure for the greater good. In contrast, Thorin has become a less noble person because of greed. How does this compare to other personalities of Middle-earth? Do you see Tolkien expounding upon a theme here?
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:09 PM   #