The Hobbit: A Dragon’s Curse
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” (P.1). This is how J.R.R. Tolkien starts his world renown book The Hobbit, published in 1966. This book is a tale of a small hobbit named Bilbo and his ever-memorable journey through the evil world during his time. Living in the Shire, as his homeland is called, it is very calm and pleasant for Bilbo, but once the outer limits of the land are reached Bilbo is in for a great surprise. Needing a burglar on his journey Gandalf the Grey, who is famous for his magic with fire and light, came to ask for Bilbo’s assistance. Gandalf was accompanied with thirteen dwarves who were after their long ago taken, but never forgotten treasure. The last evil dragon, Smaug, who overtook the dwarf kingdom of Lonely Mountain many years ago, took this desired treasure. Bilbo wanted not to go, but with his, along with all other hobbits, ability to escape quietly, quickly and easily in the woods and mountains, Bilbo was a perfect burglar for the journey. The adventurous group of now fifteen set off to find trolls, orcs, goblins, wargs (evil talking wolves), aggressive elves, giant spiders, dragons and numberless natural disasters including wind, snow, rain and scorching heat, None of these obstacles came to be the one most powerful and dangerous enemy to Bilbo and the others, though. This ever powerful enemy was the greed and lust for the horde of gold and silver and precious jewels that lured the dwarves to pursue it no matter what the cost.
Bilbo was a bit taken off guard and didn’t really understand his purpose on this adventure so he demanded some explanations. With the dwarves was Thorin son of Thrain King under the Mountain, as he was known. Thorin was now the rightful King and heir of the treasure of Lonely Mountain for he gave the explanations. Bilbo listened intently as the dwarves sang songs and told poems of their long ago taken land. Singing of “golden hoards” and “long-forgotten gold” Bilbo began to become very enthusiastic about the soon to come journey (P.22). As the dwarves went on, the hobbit felt that this journey would be good for him. He accepted the task, but not before the Dwarves, along with Gandalf, enchanted the young hobbit with the treasure to be found. Being fairly wealthy Bilbo had no need for this wealth, but before long the hobbit could feel ” the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, and a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves” (P.24).
So before Bilbo new what was happening and even before dawn the next morning the troop of fifteen set out. Through the Shire no adventure or trouble was found, but that soon changed. Within a few leagues of the Shire’s border young Bilbo encountered his first adventure. Walking slowly through the dark, Gandalf quickly stopped and hushed the others. Up above the road a small fire could be seen and cold, low voices could be heard singing of roasted mutton. Bilbo was sent to see what was up above since he could sneak almost silently. Much to his amazement he saw three very large Trolls all surrounding the fire and singing. His job was done but Bilbo was lured by the tales of Troll’s riches. He decided to go and try to steel some of the Trolls pocket jewels, but not to any success. Before long the Dwarves came to look for Bilbo due to his long absence and knowing he should have been back long ago. The Trolls captured all the company except for Gandalf, who very slyly kept the Trolls arguing amongst themselves until the sun came up. As soon as the rising sun caught glimpse of the Trolls they turned to solid stone and never menaced the world again.
Gandalf untied the others and they all thanked him graciously for several days, but before they left they decided to look in the Troll’s cave. Inside, they found several pots of gold, which they went and “buried very secretly not far from the track by the river, putting a great many spells over them, just in case they ever had the chance to come back” (P.53). Even though they were off to recapture more gold and treasure than any of them had ever set eyes upon they still wanted more. Knowing that if recaptured more wealth would be bestowed upon them than imaginable, but these adventurers were under the dragons spell (an old spell that makes people greedy no matter how much wealth they possessed) and cared little how much they would get as long as no one else got these stolen pots of gold.
The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf journeyed for many days and weeks upon which they had many encounters. Some were with the still wholesome people of the evil world like Elrond, who housed the crew many days and mended all their minor wounds. Other encounters were less joyous such as their encounter with the Goblins of the Misty Mountains. In this encounter Bilbo was separated from the rest and had to find his way out of the evil mountain alone. Being not only silent, but also smart, Bilbo soon found the others and they were all back on track. Before long they came to the forest of Mirkwood, which proved to be another worthy opponent.
In Mirkwood they encountered numberless protagonists but their own hunger drove them from the path. After loosing the path they were captured by Elves and kept prisoner. This King was not an evil kind but he distrusted the crew of now fourteen, for Gandalf had to leave and settle some further business. The king was powerful, but if he had a weakness “it was for treasure, especially for silver and white gems; and though his hoard was rich, he was ever eager for more” (P. 179). This proved to help Bilbo and his friends because they were able to bribe the king somewhat with the jewels and metals that they had not yet gained in return for their release.
Bilbo, Thorin, and the others did finally escape and even though the road became less terrible Smaug still lied ahead. They reached the village of the Lakemen who lived at the base of the Lonely Mountain. These people welcomed Thorin and his companions warmly due to Thorin’s position as King Under the Mountain. The Lakemen helped them greatly and supplied them with more food and new horses. In return Thorin promised the village one fourteenth of the treasure awaiting them up on the mountain. Heading out again they headed to the Dragon’s lair and prepared for a great battle.
The company reached a secret door that not even Smaug new of and that was to be their entrance. Sending Bilbo first to take a look the dwarves waited behind. Bilbo was terribly scared, “I have absolutely no use for this dragon-guarded treasure”, he mumbled lowly, yet he trekked on (P. 227). Some force pushed him forward until he was right at the feet of the dragon. Sleeping soundly Smaug didn’t notice Bilbo that night, but the morning’s wrath of Smaug was much to Bilbo’s surprise.
“Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce” and Bilbo made the deadly mistake of taking a golden drinking cup on his night’s visit to the dragons den (P.229). The dragon was furious and hunted the mountain and the lands surrounding but the hobbit hid his friends well in the secret passageway that they discovered. That night Bilbo was sent again and once again he was horrified, yet he marched on because of a force unseen and unheard.
This time the dragon was awaiting him and knew of Bilbo’s presence even though he had on a magic ring that made him invisible to sight. Not knowing the smell of a hobbit, though, Smaug boasted of his magnificence while trying to locate the small furry creature that he planned to eat for dinner. Bilbo said little and what he did say was too much for the dragon was extremely smart, yet Bilbo escaped once again unharmed and with some very important knowledge. Bilbo had discovered a small patch on the Dragon’s right breast that was not covered by his armored skin. He told his friends and then a thrush bird to go hastily and tell the Lakemen of his ever-important discovery.
Still not knowing where the hobbit came from Smaug sent off after the Lakemen, but they were waiting. Smaug took out most the village and killed a good portion of their inhabitants, but his rage got the best of him. On a final swoop Smaug dove down through the air and his unguarded left breast was pierced and he was no more. Bard was the name of the man who slayed the dragon and he soon became the king of the Lakemen. Bard spoke gloriously to his people, but “even as he was speaking, the thought came into his heart of the fabled treasure of the Mountain lying without guard or owner” (P. 264).
The treasure was now without the guard of the evil Smaug and all the land was buzzing with the news of the slain dragon. Thorin and his crew were now the rightful owners, yet Bard and many others thought much the opposite. Thorin heard word of the growing force from Roac son of Carc, who happened to be a raven. Roac told them that now “many are eager for a share of the spoil” and that the “Lakemen murmur that their sorrows are due to the dwarvesE and they too think of amends from your treasure” (P.270). ” So began a battle that none had expected; and it was called the battle of Five Armies, and it was very terrible” (P. 292).
Thorin sent for his cousin, Dain, who came in a hurry along with 5,000 soldiers. Opposed them were the Lakemen and the Elves from Mirkwood, who had received no payment for the Dwarves’ release. As Dain and his soldiers arrived they were greeted by Gandalf who had now returned. At the brink of war all stopped and gazed at the sky. The sky was filled with black vampire bats and all new what this meant. Now there were Men, Dwarves and Elves on one side and Goblins and Wargs charging on from the other side. The Goblins had heard of the great dragon’s death and came riding wild wolves called Wargs, who were lead by these pitch-black vampire bats. So the war began and the Lakemen, the Elves, and all under Thorin defended the mountain from the Goblins and Wargs. The battle lasted many moons, but with the help of the Eagle Lord and his followers the Goblins were defeated and the Wargs were slaughtered.
Thorin was killed in the battle and Dain became King Under the Mountain. To settle all feuds he gave one fourteenth of his horde to both the Elves and the Lakemen, for the Dragon’s curse on the horde had been broken. The Dwarves once again became free of heart and gave gifts of gold and jewels to all that helped. Bilbo was sent home with all the treasure he could handle and along with him came Gandalf. Bilbo finally arrived home and rested for many a long day.
Leaving his home Bilbo was a very timid and mild hobbit, but he grew as the adventures went on. Bilbo never wanted to go on the journey, but he was caught and lured in by the tales and legends of the Dragon’s gold. Fighting off many, many evil things Bilbo only escaped with life by a narrow margin many times. No obstacle was as heavy upon his heart and as hard to kill, though, as the lust and greed that he (along with the Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, and Wargs) had for the treasure that Smaug so greedily slept upon night after night without use.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996.
The Hobbit: A Dragon’s Curse