Treasure

In the Dragon’s Lair

Although Bilbo entered the dragon’s lair as politely as could possibly be, took measures to be stealthy and quiet in his search of the Arkenstone, still the dragon awoke. The enormity of Smaug has caught poor Bilbo by surprise, leaving him in fear and under the protection of the Ring. 

…far more precioussssss

Smaug: “Well, thief. I smell you. I hear your breath. I feel your air. Where are you? Where are you? Come, now. Don’t be shy. Step into the light. Hmm. There is something about you. Something you carry. Something made of gold but far more precious.” 

Voice of the Ring: “Precious! Precious!” 

If it were for Bilbo he would have never taken the Ring off had it not been for the emanating voice that forced him to take it off so as not to hear its voice persistently. It is here clearly evident that the Ring and the dragon have a common tongue, common malice that flows from both voices. The dragon’s voice emanates the same power as the Ring does, and since the dragon is said to be in league with its maker, it is highly possible they both draw strength from the same evil with which the Ring was forged. 

Smaug appeals to Bilbo’s honesty in presenting himself before him rather than hiding from him. It is the torturous sound of the Ring’s voice that finally brings Bilbo to light. 

Flattery

Smaug: “There you are, thief in the shadows.” 

Bilbo: “I did not come to steal from you, O Smaug the Unnecessibly Wealthy. I merely wanted to gaze upon your magnificence to see if you really were as great as the old tales say. I did not believe them.”

Smaug: “And do you now?!”

Bilbo: “Truly the tales and songs fall utterly short of your enormity O Smaug the Stupendous.” 

Smaug: “Do you think flattery will keep you alive?”

Bilbo: “No, no.” 

Smaug: “No, indeed.” 

Having lived in a sheltered community of the Shire, it is interesting to note that Bilbo does know how to communicate with dragons effectively. He knows that to appeal to their vanity and appearance will not get him killed in the first instant and then maybe he could have the chance of escaping with his life. To his disappointment, Smaug knows exactly what Bilbo is trying to do and brings the truth into light immediately.

There is no chance of sliding compliments unnoticed by Smaug. He is too cunning and intelligent to think it flattering and ultimately life-saving. However, Bilbo is the only other living creature he has seen in so many years and he wants to extend his company for as long as it entertains him. 

The flattery does appeal to Smaug, for all his cunning and intelligence he is a very vain personality, enjoying Bilbo’s description of his greatness. 

Riddle-maker

Smaug: “You seem familiar with my name but I don’t remember smelling your kind before. Who are you, and where do you come from may I ask?”

Bilbo: “I come from under the hill.” 

Smaug: “Underhill?”

Bilbo: “And under hills and over hills my path has led. And, and through the air I am he who walks unseen.” 

Smaug: “Impressive. What else do you claim to be?”

It is a very dangerous thing to converse with a dragon simply because in its conniving nature he will use every information to his advantage. This seems to be known to Bilbo as well, for he does not give away his name. If a name should be expressed to a dragon, that would be the same as providing him with the utmost secret he holds. Giving up his name would be relinquishing power, and with it Smaug could do whatever he wanted. 

Bilbo, for his own good, tries to converse with the dragon by appealing to his intelligence. Riddles provide him with the means to do just that, describing himself but not revealing his name. As this form of conversation had once worked on a similarly sinister and dangerous creature in the first film, there is no reason why Bilbo would not think that it could work the second time as well. 

Barrel-rider

Bilbo: “I am luck-wearer. Riddle-maker.”

Smaug: “Lovely titles. Go on.”

Bilbo: “Barrel-rider.” 

Smaug: “Barrels? Now that is interesting.” 

The first time he engaged Gollum’s playful Sméagol side to grant himself passage through the caves and remain alive. This time he uses it to hide his true identity. However, with Smaug, there is no room for playfulness. He is a much more terrifying opponent than Gollum was, and as such he can claim him on the spot without being given any answers. It is just the matter of his own self-interest that he has kept him alive this long. 

Bilbo slips up naming himself barrel-rider. This is of particular interest to Smaug seeing as he is very well-informed on the subject. 

I find it very funny when Bilbo weaves his hand in front of his nose so as to disparage the smell of Smaug’s breath before him. One can only imagine how foul that breath must smell like. 

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Dwarf friends

Smaug: “And what about your little Dwarf friends? Where are they hiding?”

Bilbo: “Dwarves? No. No, no. No Dwarves here. You’ve got that all wrong.” 

Smaug: “Oh, I don’t think so, Barrel-rider! They sent you in here to do their dirty work while they skulk about outside.” 

As well as Bilbo pretends to hide the fact that the Dwarves weren’t part of his company, Smaug knows better, for he had expected them to come and try to claim the mountain for themselves. It appears he is also aware that the Dwarves are using Bilbo as a means to an end. Smaug is aware they have to recover the Arkenstone if they are to assemble the seven armies of Dwarves and preside over the throne of Erebor with some relevance. 

Thieves and liers

Bilbo: “Truly, you are mistaken O Smaug Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities.” 

Smaug: “You have nice manners for a thief and a liar! I know the smell and taste of Dwarf. No one better! It is the gold! They are drawn to treasure like flies to dead flesh. Did you think I did not know this day would come? That a pack of canting Dwarves would come crawling back to the mountain?!”

Although Bilbo recants Smaug’s observations, it is only too obvious that in this instance he is a thief and a liar. There is no way around that denomination. However, for someone who has come to rob the dragon, he does present with very nice manners. Bilbo could never be categorized as a thief and a liar based on solely his manners.

Thieves and liars are normally much more cunning and duplicate to be any kind of decent people. It is then perfectly clear that Bilbo is a very decent person sent on an errand from someone else. If it were up to him, on his own accord in the Shire, he would never think of lying or stealing from anyone. He is much too good a person to ever consider such a transgression.

Earthquake?

Dori: “Was that an earthquake?”

Balin: “That, my lad, was a dragon.” 

As a pillar falls onto the floor as Smaug claws upon it, it makes a sound that is heard all the way to Lake-town. The ground shakes under the Dwarves’ feet as they wait outside the door. It feels like an earthquake but the reason behind the thud is much more ominous.

What they have feared would come to pass, had. Bilbo has awakened the dragon. The little hope they might have had for the dragon to have left or died has now vanished. They now know the member of their company is in danger.

In plain sight

Sigrid: “Da?”

Bain: “It’s coming from the mountain?”

Fili: “You should leave us. Take your children. Get out of here.” 

Bard: “And go where? There is nowhere to go.” 

Tilda: “Are we going to die, Da?”

Bard: “No, darling.”

Tilda: “The dragon. It’s going to kill us.” 

Bard: “Not if I kill it first.”

The thud of the pillar is heard in Lake-town. The roof of Bard’s house is impacted by it so it produces a small amount of dust that falls to the floor between the children and their father. Though Fili wants them to save themselves and leave Lake-town, there is nowhere for them to hide from the dragon if he takes flight. The children fear for their lives as fear emanates from their father’s eyes. However, a ray of hope shines upon them as Bard produces the Black Arrow from out of nothing.

It had been hidden in plain sight from his family this whole time. None of them knew their father had been given it from his own father, passing from generation to generation. Now that it is in his hands, there is a slight chance of victory against an attack, one that relies on the archery skills of Bard and his own courage in facing the dragon. 

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Featured image by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

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