A Defense of Thorin's Claim on the Treasure of Erebor

Nasrin

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May 30, 2011
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A Defense of Thorin's Claim on the Treasure of Erebor

By the end of The Hobbit trilogy, few will defend Thorin's seeming greed... but really he's just a stickler for a well-written contract.

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Super Cyborg

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One huge problem that seems to put a hole in your argument, and that's how Thorin, once he is out of his Greedy stage, basically says he was wrong. He apologizes to Bilbo for how he acted, and from what I recall, heavily implied that Bilbo did the right thing. True that it might be more how he acted, but I don't think he really believed what he had said previously. So by apologizing, he admits he had no right, and that he should've kept his word.

And even if we go with Bilbo's contract, Thorin was being greedy and could've made another offer if he really wanted to. He could give them the money needed to rebuild, and then have a contract for them to rebuild or offer as warriors since they weren't as numerous before.

As for the people not doing anything, it's quite hard to expand when the people in charge are corrupt, and making everyone else live in misery as they live in luxury.
 

Covarr

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May 29, 2009
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Important detail: a good deal of the wealth was added to the mountain's stores by Smaug himself during his rule. Thorin has no rightful claim to that portion.

P.S. Thanks
 

Diablo2000

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If I remember well from the books (I might not), Thorin said he would pay his due to the people, the problem was that they came armed demanding the money and he wouldn't give them any money in that case. In the movie they made him look him like a giant greedy asshole...
 

Mosstromo

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That was an awesome read. A good take on the subject, and pretty funny.
If only the 15th Dwarf would've been Nasrin Lawgiver the story might've ended differently. Sure, The Hobbit part 3 would have been a bit more boring, just like the Star Wars prequels and all their intergallactic economy-driven story, but it would've also been mercifully shorter.

Could counter-arguments be made by the prosecutor about the validity of the hole-in-the-wall negotiations because of the mental state of the defendant, one Thorin Oakenshield, during the proceedings? After all it was proven he had the Dragon Sickness and he was in no shape to dictate any terms.
 

Nasrin

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Mosstromo said:
Could counter-arguments be made by the prosecutor about the validity of the hole-in-the-wall negotiations because of the mental state of the defendant, one Thorin Oakenshield, during the proceedings? After all it was proven he had the Dragon Sickness and he was in no shape to dictate any terms.
Indeed, intoxication can undermine the mental capacity necessary to make a contractual agreement truly voluntary.
 

TravelerSF

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Didn't Smaug just chill inside the mountain for centuries, Scrooge McDucking in his gold, not really bothering anyone until Thorin's party showed up and pissed him off? I'd say that the fact that Laketown had managed to survive so long right next door a dragon's nest until Thorin appeared heavily indicates that it's destruction was indirectly caused by him.
 

immortalfrieza

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Also, when Laketown came asking for their portion promised, which as mentioned was void due to duress anyway, they decided to do it while having an entire elf army at their back, which is really really god awful diplomacy on Bard's part.

Also one thing the writer didn't mention is Laketown knew about the prophecy about the dragon destroying their town, so they allowed the dwarves to continue on their quest knowing full well the risks to themselves by doing so. In essence Laketown allowed their town to be destroyed.

Thorin may have been suffering from Dragon Sickness at the time, but he was quite right in that he didn't owe Laketown anything whatsoever. Thorin had no obligation to give anything of the treasure to anyone but his traveling companions most of which were now living in the mountain anyway, Dragon Sickness or not.
 

theNater

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Thorin was a prisoner of the Master of Laketown, and having committed no other substantive crime, was clearly held on condition of his assent to pay.
Weren't the dwarves arrested while stealing weapons from the town armory? How is that not a substantive crime?

There's also the fact that their entry into Laketown didn't go through the proper channels. I assumed that was a crime, what with the whole hiring of a smuggler to get them in. Was it not substantive?
 

Jordi

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Even if Thorin was legally right, that doesn't make him morally right, and I think that is what most people care about. Following the letter of the law while violating the spirit is generally frowned upon by people who aren't lawyers.

Even without considering his dubious verbal agreement, we might expect a decent person to help the humans. After all, they did help the dwarves (both in Laketown and by killing the dragon that the dwarves unleashed), they are largely good/innocent people who have lost everything and are in danger, and Thorin is now immensely wealthy. The requests of the humans and the elves (who were there to reclaim their own legal possessions IIRC) were pretty reasonable, and Thorin could have easily shown a little bit of charity, gratitude or even just diplomacy.
 

BrotherRool

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I didn't really find the joke that funny? Because the whole thing about that plotline is how you should value decency and honour above wealth and personal gain, so it's established that the gem is his and heck, the way people keep talking about contracts and 'rights' and '13th shares' is meant to sound ridiculous whilst other people are starving and fought off a dragon.

So it's kind of an odd joke. It's like writing a joke article on why Jake Gyllenhall's character was only behaving in a proper businessmen's manner whilst seeking to better tv-news in Nightcrawler? "It's funny because its true" doesn't actually work when they told you it was true first.
 

SNCommand

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Actually Smaug got ownership of Erebor and its gold through right of conquest, it was a principle which granted a conqueror any spoils in war if victorious, regularly used as justification for subjugation of weaker states as when the Ottoman Empire conquered the Balkans or when European empires grabbed as much land in Africa and the New World as possible, principle was if someone couldn't protect its territories and resources they weren't worthy of having them

After the second world war the principle was rejected in favor of making war of aggression an international crime, the Lord of the Rings universe though probably wouldn't have any concept of international laws vilifying conquest

As for Bilbo taking the Arkenstone as payment it seems highly fraudulent as its usually within the right of the employer to decide how to compensate their employees, you can't just grab any property as payment

Laketown meanwhile is most certainly owed restitution, not only for the actions of the dwarves directly causing the destruction of their city, but also because of the greed of the dwarves attracting Smaug which lead to the destruction of Dale, most likely no contractual obligation, but by most moral obligations the people of Laketown is owed gold to repair their city since the actions of dwarves led to their homes being burned by a dragon twice

Thranduil has no right to any of the treasure and is simply staking a claim on what he perceives as rightfully his
 

remnant_phoenix

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Jordi said:
Even if Thorin was legally right, that doesn't make him morally right, and I think that is what most people care about. Following the letter of the law while violating the spirit is generally frowned upon by people who aren't lawyers.

Even without considering his dubious verbal agreement, we might expect a decent person to help the humans. After all, they did help the dwarves (both in Laketown and by killing the dragon that the dwarves unleashed), they are largely good/innocent people who have lost everything and are in danger, and Thorin is now immensely wealthy. The requests of the humans and the elves (who were there to reclaim their own legal possessions IIRC) were pretty reasonable, and Thorin could have easily shown a little bit of charity, gratitude or even just diplomacy.
Funny story, when I finished reading The Hobbit for the first time, I broached the topic of the dispute at the mountain, I made this EXACT argument.

My wife, who had read the book years before, immediately jumped to Thorin's defense, saying that his ancestral claim should be respected first, that he should be left alone to secure the mountain, THEN go into more formal negotiations with the people of Laketown about helping them rebuild. She argued that rolling up immediately after the dwarves retake the mountain with the Elven-King and his army at their back, was just short of a bullying tactic.

I didn't realize that this basic disagreement was something that was a big point of contention/debate among fans of the story until now.
 

RJ Dalton

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Paulhorne Schillings said:
Still doesn't change the fact the movie sucks ass.
Seconded. God, I hate how bad this trilogy is. Too bloated, and it deviates from the source material in ways that either reduce the complexity of the original story or are just plain stupid.
For example, in the book, the dispute between the elves and the dwarves wasn't their not helping him against the dragon, but because Thraduil got greedy and refused to pay Thorin's grandfather a fair price for services his people rendered in building their fortress and many of the treasures of their great hall, leading to a war (because dwarves are damn serious about their treasure). The elves really did have no reason to stake a claim to what was in there and the way they changed it stripped Thorin of one of his most valid arguments for not speaking to the townsfolk.
And adding Azog to the story was a stupid change when his son, Bolg, would have served the same purpose equally well and not been as much of a change from the original (not to mention that the way they did the whole Azog thing in the movie was just kinda stupid by itself). And bringing back Legolas as more than just a cameo was blatant fan-service that added nothing to the movie.
And the stupid love-triangle! Answer to Tolkien's lack of women my ass! Jackson says, "The lack of female characters in Tolkien's work makes women seem unimportant." Great, so let's throw a girl in and put her in a love triangle, thus sending the message "Hey, girls, you only matter if two men are fighting over you!" Great job, Jackson!

This whole film series is just a mess. A well-acted mess, I'll grant you, but still a mess.
 

Seneschal

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Jun 27, 2009
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SNCommand said:
Thranduil has no right to any of the treasure and is simply staking a claim on what he perceives as rightfully his
I remember reading that "the jewels of Eryn Lasgalen" were a Peter Jackson invention. Supposedly, they were Thranduil's heirloom, given to the dwarves to be made into jewels for his wife, but Thror considered himself powerful enough (or maybe he was just going mad with greed) to keep them. He even flaunts his theft in front of Thranduil in a deleted scene in An Unexpected Journey.

Granted, this isn't canon, and is only ever hinted in the movie. It's just something that PJ added to justify the dwarf-elf enmity. I think he took the concept from the Silmarillion, in which, long before The Hobbit, Thingol gives his daughter's dowry, a Silmaril, to be made into a jewel by the dwarves. They get corrupted by it and refuse to return it, so that would be the original grievance between the two races.

I can't seem to find any sources for this, but I've read it in several places before. Maybe the BluRay extras clear things up.
 

VoidOfOne

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Thank you for the article. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Don't know how much it would hold in court, considering the statute of limitations that may apply to such laws (plus being a fictional account), but a very interesting take on the whole situation.

P.S. The movie was awesome.
 

DEAD34345

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Yeah, while watching the movie I was totally on board with Thorin at the point he told the Lake Town people and the elven army to piss off. The people of Lake Town weren't owed anything, and yes while it probably would have been nice and proper for Thorin to help them out considering the destruction of their town, you don't obtain charity by showing up with an army and threatening to take things by force. If I were Thorin I might have tried to be a little more diplomatic, but I can hardly blame him for being pissed off when the moment he retakes his ancestral kingdom 2 separate armies arrive to bully him out of it.

I would have quite liked an ending where the Dwarven army just drove off the vultures, and took back their home. That wouldn't have been very Tolkein-ish though, admittedly.
 

DRTJR

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The only legal ground that Bard has to stand on is the destruction of lake town, and even then it's incredibly shaky ground. If a hunter forces a bear out of its cave then that bear mauls some hiker, the mauling would entirely be the bears fault. The hunter has no legal responsibility (if the bear is in season) towards the hiker's death. And if Smaug were unintelligent that would pretty much be a one to one comparison, but Smaug is an intelligent creature able of sentient thought so the destruction of lake town is 100% Smaug's fault.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Nasrin is back! :D

Although I can see why, on racial grounds, Thorin would absolutely refuse to give the Elves what they want; it wouldn't have cost him very much of his treasure to at least provide the Laketown residents the funding needed to found a new town. They undoubtedly did him a massive favor by killing the dragon, something he couldn't do himself.

Still, no official contract had been laid down...



That's how I characterize his dealings during the hole in the wall negotiation.