The Woodland Realm. Not the fairy tale place of graceful Elves that one would have imagined it to be. Somehow the atmosphere is much more tense, much darker and devoid of any kind of magic. Bilbo is not in the light yet to give his opinion of the place, but I’m sure Thorin would have one to share with anyone who would listen. While all the members of the company are locked in their cells, Thorin stands alone before King Thranduil.
A way in
Thranduil: “Some may imagine that a noble quest is at hand. A quest to reclaim a homeland and slay a dragon. I myself suspect a more prosaic motiv. Attempted burglary or something of that ilk. You have found a way in. You seek that which would bestow upon you the right to rule. The King’s Jewel. The Arkenstone. It is precious to you beyond measure. I understand that. There are gems in the mountain that I too desire. White gems of pure starlight. I offer you my help.”
From the onset, King Thranduil does not suspect the Dwarves to be on their way to achieve a noble goal of slaying a dragon for the protection of the whole of Middle-Earth, or that they are simply homesick and wanting to reignite their sense of belonging. No. Thranduil believes they are only after the gold that the mountain hides within.
This is a direct view into his own beliefs and moral compass. It makes more sense to him to have them burglar the mountain than reclaim their homeland. We can then presume that King Thranduil is more oriented toward the riches and the material gains to be found in the mountain than any kind of emotional resolution. He cannot even suspect the Dwarves going in the mountain for anything else than the gold. A sad commentary on his own person.
As he nears Thorin and mentions another way into the mountain, Thorin’s expression changes into that of surprise at Thranduil’s good guess. It would seem that he has been figured out, stripped of any secret he could have been holding for himself. Thranduil comes right down to the point of Thorin’s quest, the importance of the Arkenstone.
Thranduil is looking to find common ground with Thorin by way of important jewels. If Thorin’s only goal is to secure the Arkenstone because of its significance, then he will certainly understand the same need Thranduil has about the White Gems that he was once promised. It would seem an easy arrangement if the two agreed on a way for both of them to benefit from a single venture. To that end, Thranduil offers his help.
Thorin: “I am listening.”
Thranduil: “I will let you go if you but return what is mine.”
Thorin: “A favor for a favor.”
Thranduil: “You have my word. One king to another.”
With a smug and sly smile Thorin waits to hear of Thranduil’s offer of help. It is just what he thought it would be, freedom for jewels. However, jail wasn’t something that had to be done. King Thranduil is only using incarceration to help coax Thorin into complacency. It is only logical for Thranduil to think so. No one in his right mind would want to stay incarcerated when there is an offer on the table that would release him of this fate.
Thorin might have considered this arrangement for a moment before Thranduil had given his word of promise. To support his argument in a more persuasive manner, Thranduil appeals to Thorin from the viewpoint of a king. He wants to transmit a message of equality to Thorin in which he would not feel like a prisoner but a king in his own right. A conniving thing to do, but Thorin is not so easily swayed and persuaded.
Thorin: “I would not trust Thranduil, the great king, to honor his word, should the end of all days be upon us! You who lack all honor! I have seen how you treat your friends. We came to you once, starving, homeless, seeking your help. But you turned your back! You turned away from the suffering of my people and the inferno that destroyed us. May you die in dragon fire!”
Thorin, fuelled by Thranduil’s words, takes the opportunity of the open space within his kingdom to utter his own opinion of the Elven king. He has the floor to himself, a podium from which Thranduil’s Elves can hear what this Dwarf King has to say about their beloved leader. It is something that Thranduil, of course, does not condone as such given the reputation he wants to uphold in his kingdom.
Thorin has finally come into his own where he can speak directly to the Elf that left him and his people stranded after Smaug tore their lives apart. He can now face him with all the anger and resentment that he has felt on the day of the dragon’s coming. The grudge against all Elvenkind is finally uttered and uttered to the Elf responsible for not providing aid. Finally, he can look Thranduil in the eye and say what he thinks of him and his actions toward his people.
Thranduil: “Do not talk to me about dragon fire. I know its wrath and ruin. I have faced the great serpents of the North. I warned your grandfather of what his greed would summon. But he would not listen. You are just like him. Stay here if you will and rot. A hundred years is a mere blink in the life of an Elf. I’m patient. I can wait.”
Thranduil retorts with his own heinous experience with fire breathing dragons, as proof a scar appears on the left side of his face. He does have a point in saying that Thorin and his grandfather are the same in their treatment of themselves and their kingdom’s. It was the greed of Thrór that influenced the fate of Erebor and Dale and their relationship.
Had it not been for Thrór’s possessive nature and false superiority to other kingdom’s, Elves and Dwarves would have had a much better relationship, and a better understanding of one another. Additionally, the markets of the town of Dale would have prospered on and its inhabitants would still be alive. There would have been no desolation of Smaug.
Thranduil takes Thorin’s offense as a clear and concise “no” to his deal offering. Therefore, there is nothing more to be done but to lock him up with the other Dwarves. Given his own stubbornness, Thranduil would have waited for another hundred years for Thorin to change his mind about the deal. The unbearable constraint of incarceration might have worked its will on Thorin and he might have changed his mind in the end. Or not.
Balin: “Did he offer you a deal?”
Thorin: “He did. I told him he could go ishkhaqwi ai durugnul! (I spit upon your grave!) Him and all his kin!”
Balin: “Well, that’s that, then. A deal was our only hope.”
Balin takes Thorin’s decline of Thranduil’s offer in stride, although his facial expression tells of an opinion of Thorin that he is hiding. It would not be appropriate to say that his leader, his future King, was a stubborn child who holds onto grudges to the detriment of his own people. Thorin does not work to serve his people the best way he could, not now anyway. He works to serve his own purposes, purposes that have nothing to do with the reality of the situation or objective reasoning.
Thorin is determined to live his life in hate and resentment of anyone who had ever wronged him. This way of life encompasses him into a maelstrom of hate and anger that shape his every thought process, sadly. The stubborn angry child within him still grieves over his father and grandfather has free reign, deciding the fate of not only him but his people as well.
(Not) Their only hope
Thorin: “Not our only hope.”
Thorin, however, has noticed the lack of a Hobbit, and as it was with the spiders in the forest, he is eager to see how the Hobbit will help them in this situation, how he can find a way to bust them out of jail. This means that there is no need for him to change his attitude while he has an invisible Hobbit that can help him in a tight spot. It is also selfish of him to leave the success of the quest up to a contracted Hobbit instead of taking care of his company himself.
Follow me to my next post.
Photo credit to “Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen” written by Daniel Falconer.