Notes on The Hobbit Themes

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The Hobbit Topic Tracking: Greed

Greed 1: Although the dwarves try to claim that their journey is to reclaim their heritage, their real motivation is greed. They have spent over a hundred years in the mines working, not trying to reclaim their heritage. They are not interested until a wizard confronts them with a map and a key. The journey is for gold and treasure. At first, Bilbo is not impressed by their greed, but the idea of treasure becomes attractive to him, and it is one of the major reasons for his significant change of heart.

Greed 2: Elrond knows that the dwarves are making the journey in search of gold and treasure. He frowns on this because he does not think that it is a noble pursuit. This is the first time in the novel that a character criticizes the dwarves' motivation for making such a long and dangerous journey.

Greed 3: Elves do not like dwarves because they think that dwarves once stole treasure from them. Thorin refuses to tell the elf king why they are traveling to Mirkwood for two reasons. One, he fears that the elves will stop them from going because they don't want them to have the treasure, and two, they will ask for some portion of the treasure. The elves don't believe their claim that they are going to visit relatives, because they know that dwarves are often only motivated by greed.

Greed 4: The Master of Esgaroth is sure that Thorin is not who he claims to be. He is just a fraud using his status as a dwarf to get the royal treatment from the people of the lake town. The people are ready to believe him because they associate dwarves with wealth and the gold days of the past.

Greed 5: The Dragon is the epitome of greed. It collects treasure. It kills for treasure and has no use for it except as a mound to lie upon. Smaug knows that dwarves are greedy and that the thief in his chamber is motivated by money. He tries to manipulate the Hobbit by creating worries about whether or not the dwarves are going to be able to carry enough treasure away to make the entire journey profitable. Bilbo starts doubting his friends, but not enough to betray or abandon them. He does, however, question them later.

Greed 6: Bilbo pockets the Arkenstone, a gem that Thorin values more than anything else. The dwarves stop worrying about the dragon once they get their hands on part of the treasure. Even tough they are running out of food, and Smaug could return at any moment, their worries seem to be blinded by the fact that they now have the treasure they traveled so many months to find.

Greed 7: When the dwarves hear that the men and elves are coming to the mountain, their first instinct is to find a way to protect the treasure. The raven advises them not to fortify against the armies, or to call Dain to bring a dwarf army, but they do it anyway. When the armies arrive, they refuse to negotiate with them and eventually refuse to talk to them at all.

Greed 8: Thorin continues to refuse to compromise with the elves and men. Bilbo knows that the Arkenstone is the only thing that Thorin can think about, so he gives it to Bard and the Elvenking to use to bargain with the dwarves. While Bilbo may have been greedy for a moment when he took the stone, he decides to use the stone, and Thorin's greed, to prevent a battle.

Greed 9: Gandalf criticizes Thorin for being so unabashedly selfish as a new king. Thorin is unwilling to make any sort of compromise and starts to choke Bilbo when he finds out that he took the Arkenstone. Thorin dies as a result of his greed and he knows this. He repents right before his death.

Greed 10: When Bilbo returns to his home, it is only with two small chests of gold and silver. Although he went on the journey with the promise of treasure, he spends most of it on relatives and others. It has no real meaning for him, and he does not miss it later in life.

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