Thorin Oakenshield: Dragon Sickness


Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies starts off showing the Lake Town citizens running to get out of the city. As the dragon, Smaug, begins his attack, the screen time moves over to the dwarves and Bilbo at Erebor. As Bilbo looks over at Thorin, he sees something.

Thorin is staring toward Erebor, with a look of longing and wonder. When you look at Bilbo’s face, you can see his worry. What will become of Thorin now that he has gotten what he has searched for for so long? What purpose will he have now, now that his quest is over?

Many times throughout the movie, Thorin bears similarities to Smaug. At one point, Bilbo is sitting alone, while Thorin is standing in his treasure, when he thinks about something Smaug said. “I am almost tempted to let you take it, if only to see it corrupt his heart.” That very first look at Thorin told Bilbo that it almost undoubtedly would corrupt him. And now he has to struggle with the decision, whether to give the Arkenstone to him or not. He cares about Thorin and wants him to be happy, but he knows that the Arkenstone will not.

Taking a look at the Arkenstone, it is not quite like Bilbos ring. The Arkenstone could represent temporal happiness in a way. Thorin thinks that once he has the stone, it will bring him the only happiness he needs, when in reality, it won’t. Also, the Arkenstone, as Thorin says many times, is the king’s jewel, the birthright of his people. As we know from previous statements, even in the Lord of the Rings when speaking about Moria, when the dwarves dig too deep, they awaken something that becomes the embodiment of the greed. For Moria it was the Balrog, for Erebor, it was Smaug.

In a strange way, when the dwarves awaken a beast, it is almost a cure for them. Once Smaug got control of the mountain, if Thror hadn’t been killed that is, Thror might have been cured of his dragon sickness and all would have been well for him. He could have lived anywhere, it didn’t have to be Erebor. As long as he gets true happiness that isn’t ruled by greed.

The reason the Arkenstone bred so much greed in the hearts of the dwarves is because of what it meant to them. The king’s jewel. The birthright. The Arkenstone was seen as the object that shows who has the power. Whoever has the stone is worthy to rule. It symbolizes power, the right to rule. This is the reason Thorin became so angry to see it in the hands of another, and a man! He isn’t even a dwarf, he has no right. And to see it being used as leverage of an elf? That had to drive him crazy! How dare they hold in their hand the stone that symbolizes their people’s right to power?

Despite all that, of course, it didn’t give Thorin the right to act in this way. So how did he not notice his wrong actions? How could he think it okay to treat others the way he did? Well, he began thinking like a dragon. It came like a disease, which is why Balin called it Dragon Sickness. We know from the previous movies that Thorin is an honorable person. After being saved by Bilbo, despite the part where we think he is angry at Bilbo, he still hugs Bilbo, something no king would ever think to do to someone lesser then them. He showed gratitude to someone any selfish king would call a peasant, this shows that he would be a great and benevolent king.

Thorin, as we know, has a short beard. Which seems like it would matter, but it does. All the kings of Erebor had long beards, to show their kingship. Thorin is king, right? Why is his beard short? Well, Thorin doesn’t feel like a king, not yet. He feels he doesn’t deserve to be king until he has reclaimed the Lonely mountain. Therefore, he has chosen to keep his beard short until he is truly king under the mountain. He has no idea that when he gets there he will become greedy beyond belief.

When you look at Thorin’s story, we can see a lot of similarities and parallels to other characters throughout middle earth. One example is Boromir. Stated simply, Thorin is a good, honorable man fit to rule in benevolence. Once he is presented with an object of power, he corrupts. And just before the end, he realizes his mistake and does a final act of valor and courage to make up for what he had become. This can be stated in almost the exact same way for Boromir.

In the extended scene of the Lord of the Rings, you can see Boromir reclaiming Osgiliath in a flashback. He has lead a great victory and gives a great speech. You see his greatness and kingliness, (or stewardiness?) any city would be lucky to live under his rule. But when he sees the ring, he feels its power. He imagines what things he could do with such a power, what greatness he could be. How beloved he would be by all the lands. It corrupts him.

When Uruk-hai attack the fellowship in Amon Hen, Boromir realizes his mistakes. He chooses to protect Merry and Pippin, to save their lives, and he dies for it. He takes three arrows and still lives long enough to ask Aragorn his forgiveness, and to tell him he truly would have followed Aragorn as king.

So, why such similarities? Each of these middle earth movies represents something religious, according to Tolkien. I like to think it is symbolic of the journey through life. Boromir and Thoring represent the faults in humanity. We all at one point in our lives are driven by want. We want something, and we feel we deserve it, much like Thorin. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has faults. Most of all, everyone goes through temptation. Hopefully, before the end, we too can deny the temptations and do the right thing.


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