Why does Smaug prefer "maidens"?

Discussion in '"The Hobbit"' started by Rivendell_librarian, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    I've just started re-reading The Hobbit, and I noticed this in a section describing dragons:

    After that there were no dwarves left alive inside, and he took all their wealth for himself. Probably, for that is the dragons' way, he has piled it all up in a great heap far inside, and sleeps on it for a bed. Later he used to crawl out of the great gate and come by night to Dale, and carry away people, especially maidens, to eat, until Dale was ruined, and all the people dead or gone.

    Is this misogyny from Tolkien and/or Smaug or a reference to the myth of St. George. Googling I found two interesting views on this:

    1.
    Ancient Symbology in Fantasy Literature: A Psychological Study
    By William Indick

    According to Indick, dragons represent rapacious greed. Dragons steal and horde gold and maidens even though they have no practical use for them. In fact elsewhere in chapter 1, we are told Smaug did not appreciate the value of his treasure: "they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value". Wilde's "price of everything and value of nothing" is suggested. Rather Smaug covets these things simply because men (and dwarves?) crave them?

    2.
    Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of the Hobbit
    By Joseph Pearce

    Pearce says Smaug is not just hungry but wicked. They defile the undefiled. The struggle against the dragon is not just a struggle against a physical monster, but wickedness itself: something we can encounter in our daily lives. Bilbo chooses to engage in this conflict rather than hide away in his comfortable hobbit hole.
     
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  2. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I wouldn't accuse the man of misogyny, rather he was using an old dragon trope, or I'd say euphemism for deflowering maidens, in a way that would suit a Dragon, such as Smaug, therefore, Smaug devoured them.


    CL
     
  3. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    My impression is that the two views quoted by Rivendell_librarian and the one of CirdanLinweilin are probably all three complimentary and in harmony. I think that the mentioning of "maidens" somewhat enforces the notion of something defenseless and pure that is being plundered and destroyed by Smaug's evil.

    Maybe we should not seek a deep truth behind every word that JRRT wrote, though. I had noticed that word "maidens" as well but had never given it much thought before.
     
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  4. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Well-Known Member

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    ...and not only dragons prefer maidens... sorry just couldn't resist :p
     
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  5. Miguel

    Miguel Well-Known Member

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    Vermithrax prefers virgins. This is a she-dragon btw.

     
  6. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    I wasn't thinking "deep truth". Rather I was wondering if it was just about smaug's stomach then wouldn't he prefer to eat men since men, on average, are heavier than women.
     
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  7. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Euh... that's a different fire than the one from a dragon you're confusing with, Ithilethiel! :rolleyes:

    Good point Rivendell_librarian.
    On the lighter side, who'd say "no" to a juicy, freshly hunted maiden, served on a plate of dwarven gold? Ask Smaug! ;):p
     
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