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Was Thrandil an antihero?

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The Elven King of Mirkwood, in both the book and the movie, seems to cause more problems than he solves. If he hadn't kidnapped the dwarves and locked them up, Thorin probably wouldn't have reacted so harshly to him (of course, that likely would have meant Dain wouldn't have come and the goblins would have won the Battle of Five Armies).

I mean, none of the dwarves told why they were truly going, so clearly they suspected that the Elven king would demand a share (it wasn't like they kept the mission totally secret,for they DID tell Elrond and later did tell the people of Lake Town (though maybe they did so out of compulsion, as they wanted to make sure that the Master of the Laketown wouldn't send them back to the Elven King, so they tried to say that they would restore all and get rid of Smaug.) I think Thrandil would have demanded some of the treasure had they actually told him. Indeed, upon finding out about their escape, the elven king actually thinks "Well, they won't be able to bring the treasure back across Mirkwood without my having a say in it."


I think that if he'd actually helped the dwarves and Bilbo when they came asking for help, Thorin probably would have been more disposed to help both him and Bard when they came asking for some of the treasure.

Even as an old man, Gloin bears ill-will toward the Elven King for his imprisonment over 60 years earlier, as is shown in the chapter "The Council of Elrond".


I actually am pretty angry that Gandalf, if he was there, didn't tell Thrandil to go back off and let Bard come alone asking for payment for slaying the dragon, etc. It would have cooled Thorin down. It seems that Gandalf favors elves over dwarves. (Racist!)
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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Thranduil was a Sindar Elf from Beleriand, and bad blood had existed between Elf and Dwarf there since the war over the Nauglamir. OTOH, after becoming king of the Silvan Elves in Mirkwood, he apparently had trading relations with the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, until the coming of Smaug.

He could have been suspicious of Thorin &Co. out of a fear they might rouse Smaug, but it's likely he would suspect any unknown party entering his domain without permission. Beorn did warn them not to leave the path!

As for the Dwarves, their stubbornness and secretiveness is legendary, as is their feeling that everyone is out to rob them. I doubt they would be disposed either to talk, or share the wealth Even Smaug was aware of their nature; he used the knowledge to arouse doubts in Bilbo, remember.
 

Elaini

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Because Thraduil is a Sinda of Doriath just like Celeborn (who shows no fondness for Dwarves either), you can sort of forgive their prejudice at least. If you had a king thinking about your best, would you forget that he was killed over greed?

The real problem is them stamping an entire race over a few bad apples. Galadriel knew better.
 

Olorgando

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Book and movie are quite separate issues. In movies, LoTR came first, and PJ had to (here sensibly) take that children’s book source up to about the level of LoTR.

As for the book, it also had several years’ worth of “germination”, starting roughly around 1930 (even JRRT’s children had conflicting memories about in which house on Northmoor the bedtime-story first got started – the family moving from no. 22 to a larger house no. 20 in 1930). So that’s about 7 years until publication. And at a time just after (?) publication, he began to radically revise his views on fairy-stories (most visibly by writing the word Faërie in his 1939 Andrew Lang lecture given at the University of St. Andrews). So, the earlier parts (and as with LoTR, there had also been a stop in the progress of the story) are still very much in what I like to call the “Tinkerbelle” mode. But even that mode had in the background a general consensus that fairies (like the Irish Sidhe and others) were perilous for mortals to deal with.

As has been pointed out (Tom Shippey is my usual suspect here), the tone of the later part of TH was darker as was the case with LoTR – everything of course on a much smaller scale. And that JRRT had included in TH some aspects that “professional” writers of children’s stories (or their publishers – so once again kudos to Stanley Unwin!) might have shied away from.

But when it comes down to it, Elven King of Mirkwood (only later to identified as Thranduil, and Legolas’s father) and his Elves come off much better than the extremely silly Elves of Elrond’s in Rivendell. Now those inane ditties that they sing when the company reaches Rivendell make me cringe to this day!
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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Me too -- though a friend set O! What are you doing? to a simple tune that we used to sing on long walks in the mountains of our vanished youth -- along with Roads go ever ever on and others, of course.
 

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