Richard Cheng October 30, 20187280792ENG 2131 - Fantasy LiteratureThe Captivating Allure of Treasure in The HobbitIn The HobbitJ.R.R. Tolkien creates a cast of characters with varying views on an unholy amount of wealth, from an all-powerful being’s sole purpose in life in contrast to the exchanging of all the gold just to be home. Through the character’s eyes Tolkien captures the shadows that surround the hubris of greed, that in the end accent the purity of a fairy tale. This all-consuming fire of greed is fanned within the dwarves, humans, elves and a dragon alike, but quelled within a hobbit and the elemental Beorn, the more queer creatures of the narrative.The Hobbitbeing a story whose main motif is to recover lost treasure from a dragon has a classic story telling device at it’s center, but what J.R.R Tolkien achieves with the dwarve’s haunting desire for their stolen riches is something much more revealing into the hubris of greed. Thorin Oakenshield starts the venture with the promise of gold split 14 ways that is to reclaimed from a dragon; and after trekking through many harrowing hardships with his faithful band he arrives at the golden-mountain, but then greed struck. Thorin Oakenshield makes his claim for the Arkenstone of Thrain “ That stone I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it.”(Tolkien, 244). As a threat towards any strangers it is well founded, but towards his fellow dwarvesand hobbit, a dagger to a throat. Thus emboldening Thorin’s greed for what he believes ishis, and his mentality to do anything to get what he wants. This implicates Thorin’s 1
character for he is supposedly a king of the dwarves that would trade his fellow dwarves for the Arkenstone and perhaps, make a deal with a dragon. However Thorin’s level of depravity holds no candle towards Smaug the Magnificent’s, the dragon who guards the larder of wealth. Tolkien being a renowned writer must have been bereft of pleasure when writing such a simplistic evil presence. Yes, Smaug is all powerful and rich, but he symbolizes all that is evil, a villain too bland, yet perfectly embodying the fallacy of wealth. A “belly crusted with gems and fragments of gold from his long lying on his costly bed.(Tolkien, 198), and containing a rage that “ is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.” (Tolkien, 200) aptly describe Smaug. Smaug has no use for the untold riches, no real applications for it other than a bed, except perhaps for the pleasure he derives from the idea that no one else can have it.