Richard Armitage as Thorin  smiling at his Lego alter ego

The hammering press campaign of these days, the several premieres all over the world, the many interviews and the huge amount of new pictures must have involved fans in an incredible  whirlpool of frenzy,  leading to the long-waited-for moment: the release of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey,  film I in the new trilogy by Peter Jackson. It's time to close the book and get ready to watch the adaptation, the result of  almost two years  of detailed, talented, thoughtful,  creative work.
My reading of the book in search for Thorin must be completed, then,  in a couple of days, I too will see the film. 
I want to be clear again with any Tolkien fan  who might find themselves to drop by and read this: I undertook this journey through the book as a complete Tolkien newbie and only in order to follow the career of my favourite actor, Richard Armitage,  who is now  for many Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit, but will always remain Mr Thornton for me. 
This is my final post about the book, written leafing through chapters XI - XIX in  search for Thorin Oakenshield.  My previous posts are HERE, HERE and HERE
Time to get ready to compare the book with the movie. It's just a matter of hours for the majority of us now. 
For Thorin and his warrior dwarves it is instead time to meet the terrifying dragon Smaug. Is Bilbo ready to face him and steal the treasure Thorin claims back?

Warning!!! Huge spoilers ahead

Bilbo, Thorin and the other dwarves are On the Doorstep of Smaug's cave under the Mountain. It's time for Thorin to use his precious key, the key that went with the map. 

"Thorin stepped up and drew the key on its chain from round his neck. He put it to the hole. It fitted and it turned! Snap! ...A door five feet high and three broad was outlined, and slowly without a sound swung inwards. It seemed as if darkness flowed out like vapour from the hole in the mountain - side, and deep darkness in which nothing could be seen lay before their eyes, a yawning mouth leading in and down".
Thorin's speech before the door goes on a good deal longer, says  the narrator ironically , giving us just a sample of it:

"Now is the time for our esteemed Mr Baggins, who has proved himself a good companion on our long road, and a hobbit full of courage and resource far exceeding his size, and if I may say so possessed of good luck far exceeding the usual allowance - now is the time for him to perform the service for which he was included in our Company; now is the time for him to earn his Reward".
What 's the aim of the narrator's comment here?
"There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money, some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and company, if you don't expect too much"
Does he want to anticipate Thorin's stubborn refusal to share the gold once they get hold of it?

But let's slow down. And follow the events as they come. Thorin shows himself as the only leader (since Gandalf letf them)  and guides the company of  dwarves through the tunnels under the Montain: aware of the deadly dangers they face in their fatal quest down to the dragon's cave,  he has to count  on Bilbo now and spurs him to action: "What do you propose we should do, Mr Baggins?"  Bilbo makes his offer: he will use his magic ring, enter the cave and face Smaug. In chapter XII, Inside Information, Bilbo actually reaches the treasure hall and sees the terrible, horrifying dragon sleeping,  but  he flees and Smaug doesn't wake up. Before his quick flight, Bilbo has stolen a precious cup and when the dragon realizes it has been robbed, its rage turns immediately into an unrestrained lust for vengeance. Leaving the place, Smaug destroys the magic door and flies off  to Lake Town.

Trapped in the dark tunnel Bilbo and the dwarves have a great deal of  time to think but little space for action. They realize they didn't think about what would happen after the treasure had been won. So it is now time to make things clear so Thorin says:
"We knew it would be a desperate venture and we know that still; and I still think that when we have won it will be time enough to think what to do about it. As for 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."  (p. 215)
Then, feeling danger is approaching , 
"Slowly Thorin shook off his dreams and getting up he kicked away the stone that wedged the door. Then they thrust upon it, and it closed with a snap and a clang. No trace of a keyhole was there left on the inside. They were shut in the Mountain!" (p 216)
Imprisoned for what seems too long time,  Thorin Oakenshield starts losing  his nerve - well, not that he has never been a sample of patience: he prefers to face the dragon that moment rather than dying suffocated in there. He needs air, he must find the door. Bilbo suggests he goes down alone again.  The others follow him at a distance but once he shouts "Light!" , Thorin stops the dwarves from following him:"Mr Baggins was still officially their  expert burglar and investigator. If he liked to risk a light that was his affair. They would wait in the tunnel for his report. So they sat near the door and watched" (p. 219)

We know that Bilbo is incredibly lucky, don't we? Fact is, he manages once again  to get to the hall where Smaug keeps the treasure stolen from the dwarves and  this time the dragon  is not even there.  Thorin and his mates can join him,  check the place and stare at all the precious gold and jewels. They forget  fear and even caution, the narrator tells us.

Thorin is suddenly becomes pensive and  sad, touching memories come to his mind and pierce his soul. He really forgets his previous prudence. He is the dispossessed prince back home and,  though the place is ruined and spoilt and tarnished by the coming and going of the dragon, he recognises every passage and every turn:

"This is the great chamber of Thror, the hall of feasting and of council. Not far off now there's the Front Gate" (p. 223)

Once out of the tunnel through the Front Gate, there is a fast change of mood in Thorin, "his spirits had begun to rise again, and he rattled the precious stones in his pockets". He is hopeful and positive, he even starts planning and dreaming of his future as a restored king there: "Don't call my palace a nasty hole! You wait till it has been cleaned and redecorated!"  (p. 225)

Do you mind if I fly over some I-know-they-are-key-moments-but-who-cares events? I apologize but I'm on my quest for Thorin, do you remember? Well, he is not in chapter XIV, Fire and Water, where the narrator suspends telling the story of Bilbo and the dwarves at the mountain and focuses on Smaug as the dragon flies toward Lake Town to wreak vengeance. And hear, hear: Bard succeeds in killing the ferocious dragon. Elves and  men from Lake Town march toward the Lonely Mountain. Most of them expect to find a massive treasure left unattended. They are like a Gathering of Clouds shadowing on Thorin's newly born hope and on  the whole company's rejoicing. 

Thorin regards the treasure as his inheritance and doesn't want to share it with anybody, he is ready  to fight for it  regardless of what the people of Lake Town have suffered. His people too suffered from the same devastating  attack long before and that is HIS treasure.
Under Thorin’s orders, the company retreats to the mountain and fortifies it by building a formidable wall at the main gate. From there, they watch as Bard and representatives of the elves approach. Bard informs them that he killed Smaug and that Lake Town has been destroyed. He asks that the dwarves be generous in sharing the wealth of the mountain, since they have benefited so much at the expense of the humans. Thorin obstinately refuses. He feels that he owes the humans nothing since the gold belonged to his people originally. Bard gives Thorin some time to reconsider, but angry Thorin will not change his position. The mountain is declared besieged.
This is a definitely crucial moment to understand Thorin's complex personality but you must admit it is a radical and very sudden change! Can I say I'm rather disappointed by Thorin's decisions here? Maybe the sight of all that gold blinds hum: his revenge fever and his being again in his lost kingdom have on him the same effect the witches' prophecy had on Macbeth.  
I can understand why and guess what for, anyway,  I really find that  this moment of stubborness spoils what Thorin has been so far. 
Not the model hero, mind you. He has already been depicted as an imperfect leader: a bit grumpy and moody, with a strong sense of self-importance,  but occasionally noble and brave, an authoritative figure. Now his obstinacy and his greed make his portrait even uglier.   
I wonder, do we have to accept him as he is in the book or can we hope to see something different in the movies?  I'm really curious to discover that but we will have to wait two years more, when the third movie comes out in December 2014. 
Dwarves are notoriously selfish and greedy and Thorin is their  King, could Tolkien write him differently?  I think he couldn't. 
Richard Armitage said in one of his latest interviews that he worked on Shakespeare's Richard III and Macbeth (as well as Henry V) creating a background and a voice for Thorin. Who could be greedier and at the same time more intriguing  than those two tragic heroes?  This means we will have to expect his Thorin to be very greedy but heroic at the same time. 

Negative as it is , Tolkien’s depiction of Thorin’s  insensitivity in chapter XV may serve  as a warning against the destructive power of greed, which has turned those who were once friends—the dwarves under the mountain and the men of Dale—into enemies. Humans, dwarves, and elves who are all “Good People” ought to be on the same side in Middle-Earth, and their common enemy ought to be evil creatures, such as the goblins. Such was the case while the dragon was alive, but now that Smaug is no more, lust for gold blurs the proper lines between good and evil.

As you can see, I'm really interested in this aspect of Thorin's journey in The Hobbit, though  I may probably be also trying to delay the tragic, sad epilogue of his story, which fortunately include also his redemption .

In chapter XVI , A Thief in the Night,   Thorin continues his search for the Arkenstone and as the rest of the dwarves worry about the armies camped on their doorstep, Bilbo decides that he must take matters into his hands. With the help of his magic ring, he sneaks away at night and gets to the camp of the lake men and the wood elves. There, he reveals himself and,  once he is brought before Bard and the Elvenking,  he reveals his secret weapon: the Arkenstone. He gives it freely to Bard to be used as a bargaining chip against Thorin. 

Gandalf has been away for great part of the adventure and he does his return now, in chapter XVII, The Clouds Burst,  just when Thorin's rage is going to crush  Bilbo,  who has just confessed he has given Bard the Arkestone.  
The wizard commands Thorin to let Bilbo speak. The hobbit claims that, in taking the Arkenstone, he only took his fair share of the treasure, as his contract as burglar  had specified. Thorin has no choice but to agree, and he angrily offers to pay a fourteenth part of the treasure to regain the stone. The men and elves are satisfied with this. Thorin, however, secretly hopes that before they make the exchange, his relatives, who are marching toward the battlefield with an army under the leadership of Dain, will be able to capture the stone by force.
The new dwarf army threatens the elves and men, and they are about to engage in battle when darkness takes over the sky from the west. Gandalf tells them that a new danger has come: an army of goblins and Wargs who intend to take the treasure for themselves. The dwarves, elves, and humans are thus united against the goblins and Wargs in what is called the Battle of the Five Armies.

The forces of good fight fiercely, but the goblins and Wargs are just as fierce. How could Thorin redeem himself before the end if not dying heroically in the battlefield? 
Yes, friends, we must prepare ourselves to the most tragic but solemn epilogue and even to a very moving final speech in chapter XVIII, The Return Journey. 
Thorin has asked to talk with Bilbo before dying and Gandalf sees to it. When the hobbit arrives, he hails Thorin as King under the Montain  and states his own being undeserving of the honour given to him.  Thorin answers solemnly and gravely:
"No, there is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell."
That's it. This is the end of the adventure for the leader of the dwarves. And this is Thorin Oakenshield in Tolkien's The Hobbit or There and Back Again. 
Going to the cinema, we'd better bear in mind what we have been told on several occasions, that is,  the cast and the director of The Hobbit movie trilogy,  have based their  work also on Tolkien's Durin's Folk in Appendix A of Return of the King, and  on one version of the "Quest of Erebor", which Tolkien wrote much later and contains more of Thorin's doubts about hiring Bilbo. 
Richad Armitage quoting Peter Jackson in one of his latest interviews for the promotion of The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, said:  "Bilbo is absolutely the heart of the story. He’s the beating heart of the story that you want to protect and you want to make sure survives. Thorin is the soul, reallyHe’s the experience, he’s the spirit of the dwarves and their kingdom and this whole bowl that holds the heart in their hands. And that’s how I see it. And they sit in harmony with each other, I think, and are changed by each other."
Here in Italy the first movie is released today, 13 December 2012. In other countries they will have to wait till tomorrow. As for me, I'm counting down till Saturday night to join in this adventure. 

And when I come back, I will not be the same? Stay tuned, I'll let you know ;-) 


Vava, A country dreaming mum said...

I have just read the introdction and not the whole post as I have not read the book and I do not want to read any spoiler. So, the long waited for day has arrived and ... and I hurt my knee and I cannot walk!!! If I'm lucky I will go on saturday but that's not sure yet, as I need somebody to drive me to the cinema and accompany me to my place, otherwise I'll have to wait and hope to feel better nex week. Lucky girl, aint'I?? Anyway, enjoy your show, can't wait to read your opinion of it!

Maria Grazia said...

Dear Silvana,
You've been quite unlucky! Don't give in, though. Find someone who can drive you to the cinema.
I'll see it on Saturday in Rome with dear friends you know. I can't imagine what my reaction will be like since it is definitely NOT my thing. I guess I might like one of the dwarves very much :-)
Take care

Anonymous said...

Hey Vava, could you please stop swapping lipsticks with MG! I'm quite jealous, d'ya know? :-P

Hopefully you'll hear about our Middle Earth Experience asap: we'll try to go and see it tomorrow, FX!

So far, I've resisted the urge to get a Little Thorin, mostly because he doesn't look like RA AT ALL, and also because LG would be quite vexed ;-)

Maria Grazia said...

Jealous K/V? Of Vava and ...me? Not of RA and all his old and new fans?
LT and LG would be a tough couple of blokes. I'd stay away from both. Not to be trusted. Anyway... Not interested in action figures. I'll leave them all to you, all of them. Happy?
See you soon in Middle Earth!