Part III in the series Reading the Hobbit in search for Thorin” focuses on chapters VII - X (Click HERE  for Part I and HERE for Part II).  I’m posting this third part on a very special day (the second magnificent trailer of the first movie has just been released - you can watch it at the end of the post) in a very special week, dedicated by Tolkien’s fans to the celebration of the 55th anniversary of the book (21st September 1937) and to Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday (22nd September). Here we go, then! 

Thorin Oakenshield, the brave leader of the dwarves,  is much more under the spotlight in the adventures Tolkien narrates in these chapters, respect to the previous ones   in Part II.

In  Queer Lodgings (chapter VII), the thirteen dwarves accompanied by Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf meet Beorn, a man of immense size and strength  who can assume the appearance of a bear. From his own words,  we learn that though he can’t stand dwarves in general, he greatly respects Thorin and his predecessors, Thrain and Thror. This reinforce the impression the reader has previously had: Thorin must be a very special dwarf.

“I don’t need your service thank you”, said Beorn, “but I expert you need mine. I am not over fond of dwarves; but if  it is true you are Thorin (son of Thrain, son of Thror, I believe), and that your companion is respectable, and that you are enemies of goblins and are not up to any mischief in my lands – what are you up to, by the way?”

Out of curiosity:  Beorn never actually shape-shifts between man and bear-form during the narrative of The Hobbit book: he is encountered in both forms, but his actual transformation appears "off-screen", away from the point of view of the main characters. But I’ve read that Beorn's transformation from man to bear will be a major special effects sequence in Peter Jackson’s adaptation.

Let’s go back to our hero, though. Gandalf leaves them at the entrance of the dark and dreadful forest of Mirkwood, so Thorin Oakenshield is the only leader left to the company of dwarves at the beginning of chapter VIII, Flies and Spiders. He must be wise and careful, since he is responsible for all their lives but,  of course,  patience is not his best virtue: “Is there no end to this accursed forest”,  he says after long days on the dark path in the forest with no more food and no light at the horizon.
This journey through the dark forest doesn’t end well for our man, Thorin: he ends up prisoner of the  king of wood-elves, kept locked in the dungeons.

“Thorin had been caught much faster than they had. You remember Bilbo falling like a log into sleep, as he stepped into a circle of light? The next time it had been Thorin who stepped forward, and as the lights went out he fell like a stone enchanted. All the noise of the dwarves lost in the night, their cries as the spiders caught them and bound them, and all the sounds of the battle next day, had passed over him unheard. The Wood – elves had come to him, and bound him, and carried him away.” (p.156)

If The Hobbit is the story of a dispossessed King longing to get his lands back, as much as the story of the unexpected journey of a very "lucky" hobbit, in Barrels Out of Bond there is balance between the two protagonists, both  for their presence "on stage" and  for the amount of bravery shown. If Bilbo's bravery is almost unaware and rather casual in most cases, Thorin shows himself as the real chief he is and the king he longs to be, acting more and more crucially since Gandalf's departure. He sees this journey as his last chance to get his lost kingdom back and he behaves consequently: he's focused on his goal and must be brave. Especially when imprisoned by the woold-elves,  he appears strong and proud, not scared, though a bit depressed:

"Thorin was too wretched to be angry any longer at his misfortunes, and was even beginning to think of telling the king all about his treasure and his quest (which shows how low-spirited he had become), when he heard Bilbo's little voice at his keyhole. (...)
So it was that Bilbo was able to take secretely Thorin's message to each of the other imprisoned dwarves, telling them that Thorin their cheif was also in prison close at hand, and that no one was to reveal their errand to the king, not yet, not before Thorin  gave the word. For Thorin had taken heart again after hearing how the hobbit had rescued his companions from the spiders, and was determined once more not to ransom himself with promises to the king of a share in the treasure, until all hope of escaping in any other way had disappeared (...)" (pp. 163-164)

And to escape they will manage, in the famous anecdote of the barrels in the river in which Thorin doesn't look very regal: 
"Thorin had given a lot of trouble, and turned and twisted in his tub and grumbled like a large dog in a small kennel (...)" (p.169)

But he is soon reassessed in A Warm Welcome, once they get to the lands under the mountain and meet the Men of the Lake (chapter X):
"I am Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror King under the Mountain! I return!", cried Thorin in a loud voice from the door, before the captain could say anything. All leaped to their feet. The Master of the town sprang from his great chair." (...) p.183

"Soon afterwards the other dwarves were brought into the town amid scenes of astonishing enthusiasm. They were all doctored and fed and housed and pampered in the most delightful and satisfactory fashion. A large house was given up to Thorin and his company; boats and rowers were put at their service; and crowds sat outside and sang songs all day, or cheered if any dwarf showed so much of his nose. " p. 185

The time was now ripe to launch the attack to the terrible Smaug: 
"While the enthusiasm still lasted in the town was the time to get help. It would not do to let everything cool down with delay. So he (Thorin) spoke to the Master and his councillors and said that soon he and his company must go on towards the Mountain." p. 186

"The Master and his councillors bade them farewell from the great steps of the town-hall that went down the lake. People sang on the quays and out of windows. The white oars dipped and splashed, and off they went north up the lake on the last stage of their long journey".  p.187

Now it's time to watch or re-watch the new trailer ...

... and its alternate endings!

Part IV of my reading will be up on blog at the end of October. Till then, Happy Hobbit Week, everyone!  

1 comment:

Julienne said...

i love the new trailer!