The Hobbit

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A dragon who heard of the treasure amassed by the dwarves of The Kingdom Under the Mountain and then proceeded to attack and expel the dwarves from their former home, desolating the nearby city of men, Dale, in the process. Smaug is clever and exceedingly greedy. Like all the other greedy characters in the novel, Smaug is also solitary, and spends much of his time sleeping on his treasure. The loss of even a single item of treasure sends him into a rage. He is adept at spreading distrust among others, and his sly words do cause Bilbo to lose some trust in Thorin and the dwarves promises. Smaug is also vain, and it is his vanity that allows Bilbo to discover his weak point.

Smaug Quotes in The Hobbit

The The Hobbit quotes below are all either spoken by Smaug or refer to Smaug. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of The Hobbit published in 2012.
Chapter 1 Quotes

As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walkingstick.

He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns.

Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up – probably somebody lighting a wood-fire-and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Smaug
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

In this early scene, Bilbo invites a group of dwarves, led by the wizard Gandalf, into his home. The dwarves begin dancing and singing about their ancestral treasures—beautiful objects made from gold and jewels. As Bilbo listens to the songs, he feels a deep stirring of desire to go out into the world and explore the unknown. But suddenly, Bilbo feels a flash of fear, and abruptly stops fantasizing about adventure.

The quotation is important because it establishes that Bilbo has the potential to be a great adventurer, even if he's untrained. As Tolkien puts it, Bilbo has a trace of the "Tooks"—his wilder, more adventurous ancestors—in him. More generally though, he discovers here that he does have a secret desire to go off on adventures, a desire that few in his peaceful, complacent community would support. The passage also suggests how fear and routine act as barriers to happiness and curiosity. Bilbo might desire to explore the world, but right now he's too afraid of danger to translate his desire into reality.

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Chapter 10 Quotes

He had never thought that the dwarves would actually dare to approach Smaug, but believed they were frauds who would sooner or later be discovered and be turned out.

He was wrong. Thorin, of course, was really the grandson of the King under the Mountain, and there is no knowing what a dwarf will not dare and do for revenge or the recovery of his own. But the Master was not sorry at all to let them go. They were expensive to keep, and their arrival had turned things into a long holiday in which business was at a standstill.

"Let them go and bother Smaug, and see how he welcomes them!" he thought.

"Certainly, O Thorin Thrain's son Thror's son!" was what he said. "You must claim your own. The hour is at hand, spoken of old. What help we can offer shall be yours, and we trust to your gratitude when your kingdom is regained."

Related Characters: The Master (speaker), Thorin Oakenshield, Smaug
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, the Master—the temporary leader of the men of Lake-town (the area near Smaug's lair)—deals with Thorin and the other dwarves. The dwarves have come to the Master's territory to ask for supplies with which to scale the mountain and defeat Smaug. The Master is amazed that the dwarves are actually going to attempt to kill Smaug, and because the Master himself is a rather cowardly liar, he naturally assumes that Thorin and his followers are liars, too, and that they're just in town for the free food and lodgings the townspeople have offered them.

The passage is amusing because of the way it juxtaposes the Master's thoughts—crass, petty, and greedy—and his words, which are grandiose and comically eloquent. Like many of the villains in the novel, the Master maintains his power by manipulating language, using speeches to convince the townspeople that he is their proper leader, and saying certain things even when he secretly believes the exact opposite. In general, the passage establishes a contrast between Thorin's noble dedication to his quest and the Master's opportunism. Tolkien reminds us who the real heroes of his story are, just before they go off to fight Smaug.

Chapter 12 Quotes

"I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I as chosen for the lucky number."
"Lovely titles!" sneered the dragon. "But lucky numbers don't always come off."
"I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me."

"These don't sound so creditable," scoffed Smaug.
"I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider," went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Smaug
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Bilbo has snuck into the dragon Smaug's lair. There, he toys with Smaug, identifying himself with a series of clever nicknames that allude to his impressive exploits across Middle Earth. Bilbo's behavior in this passage suggests a number of things about his progress as a hero and an adventurer. By this point in the novel, Bilbo has had some significant experiences as an adventurer--and he knows it. Impressed with his own bravery and resourcefulness, Bilbo sings his own praises, giving himself epithets like those in Classical poems like Homer's Odyssey.

At the same time, Smaug's reaction makes us wonder if Bilbo's self-satisfaction has any point, or if Bilbo is in fact becoming overly confident and arrogant. Unlike Bilbo's clever wordplay with the spiders or with Gollum, his speech in this scene doesn't help him in any discernible way: it doesn't confuse or frighten Smaug, and his phrase "Barrel-rider" even inspires Smaug to attack Lake-town. So although Bilbo's behavior here proves how far he's come in the novel, Tolkien is also setting Bilbo up for a defeat connected to his own hubris (pride as a fatal flaw). Indeed, in the final few chapters of the novel, Bilbo's actions will prove largely futile, and he'll be reminded of his own smallness and weakness.

Chapter 14 Quotes

As you see, the Master had not got his position for nothing. The result of his words was that for the moment the people quite forgot their idea of a new king, and turned their angry thoughts towards Thorin and his company. Wild and bitter words were shouted from many sides; and some of those who had before sung the old songs loudest, were now heard as loudly crying that the dwarves had stirred the dragon up against them deliberately!

Related Characters: The Master, Smaug
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Tolkien describes how the Master of Lake-town manipulates his followers. The Master knows that if the dwarves can defeat Smaug and reclaim their rule of his mountain, the Master's own position as a leader will be in danger. In order to maintain the current order, then, the Master riles up his people, convincing them that they should be fighting against Thorin and his dwarves instead of welcoming them as returning rulers (as many had earlier). This shows how fickle a crowd can be in its sense of loyalty, as many of those men who had praised Thorin as king now consider him an enemy. But it also is another example of the power of language in the novel; more than almost any other character, the Master excels at using language and speech to control others and get what he wants. The difference between the Master and the other characters who excel at language (like Bilbo or Gandalf) is that the Master uses his gifts to support his own selfish needs, while the other characters often use it to help their friends or simply to escape danger.

In general, the passage is also a good piece of evidence for what Tolkien does—and doesn't—consider heroic. While there are many characters in the novel who excel at fighting or language, only a handful excel at both, and even fewer use these skills for unselfish reasons. Gandalf and Bilbo, and few others, exemplify this particular kind of heroism, while characters like Thorin are in murkier territory, and the Master is an example of someone who uses his skills only to help himself.

Chapter 15 Quotes

Bilbo thought that Thorin would at once admit what justice was in them. He did not, of course, expect that any one would remember that it was he who discovered all by himself the dragon's weak spot; and that was just as well, for no one ever did. But also he did not reckon with the power that gold has upon which a dragon has long brooded, nor with dwarvish hearts. Long hours in the past days Thorin had spent in the treasury, and the lust of it was heavy on him. Though he had hunted chiefly for the Arkenstone, yet he had an eye for many another wonderful thing that was lying there, about which were wound old memories of the labors and the sorrows of his race.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, Smaug
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Thorin shows his true colors, and muddies Tolkien's definition of what a true hero is. Although Bilbo has helped the dwarves reclaim their treasure in dozens of different ways (saving their lives; finding out how to defeat Smaug; sneaking into Smaug's lair), Thorin is remarkably ungrateful for Bilbo's contributions. As Tolkien explains it, Thorin is too greedy for his treasure to listen to reason: he's too obsessed with possessions to hand any of them over to Bilbo. Thorin's behavior here reminds us of how one's connection to a home or other particular place can be a barrier to heroism and virtue. Thorin feels a deep, ancestral tie to his treasure—it's partly because of this ancestral bond (and righteous sense of victimhood, as this home and birthright was stolen from him) that he feels perfectly justified in treating Bilbo badly. Although Bilbo seems to feel an equally profound connection to his hobbit-hole, he doesn't let this connection interfere with his heroism. But Thorin is also dealing with forces and a history Bilbo doesn't have to face, and Tolkien further draws an implicit comparison between Thorin's lust and possessiveness regarding his ancestral treasure, and Bilbo's regarding his Ring.

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Smaug Character Timeline in The Hobbit

The timeline below shows where the character Smaug appears in The Hobbit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: An Unexpected Journey
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...large town for men, the Dale, which served as a hub of trade. A dragon, Smaug, heard about the dwarves’ wealth, and drove them from their home, keeping the treasure for... (full context)
Chapter 3: A Short Rest
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...light of the setting sun will shine upon the keyhole to the secret passageway to Smaug’s lair. Elrond also reads the runes on the two swords Gandalf and Thorin found in... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
...of the area surrounding the Lonely Mountain, has fallen into disrepair following the arrival of Smaug. Though men in Lake-town are relatively far away from Smaug, and survive by trading with... (full context)
Chapter 11: On the Doorstep
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...ponies the men of the town give them, and take two days to ride to Smaug’s Desolation, the area around the Mountain that Smaug has claimed for himself. They are not... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...in ruins. Thorin and Balin note sadly that the Dale was green and beautiful before Smaug destroyed it. Bilbo sees smoke rising from the Mountain, and assumes that Smaug must still... (full context)
Chapter 12: Inside Information
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...gets closer to the source of the light, he realizes that he is looking at Smaug the dragon, lying on his treasure, asleep. The sight takes Bilbo’s breath away—he has no... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
The dwarves are terrified to see Smaug emerge from the mountain, roaring with rage. The dwarves try to find shelter from Smaug;... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Smaug, eager to show off his impregnability, rolls onto his side so that Bilbo can see... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
The dwarves turn to talking about the treasures they will own once Smaug is defeated. The most important treasure that the dwarves mention is the Arkenstone, an incredibly... (full context)
Chapter 13: Not At Home
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...feels more hopeful than he had before—he urges the dwarves to follow him down the Smaug’s lair. The group travels down through the mountain, cautious even though they think Smaug is... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Bilbo explores Smaug’s pile of treasure, and urges Oin and Gloin to make fire; while they do so,... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...ruined town of Dale. Bilbo suggests that they move far away from the Gate, since Smaug will pass through it when he returns, and the dwarves move toward a look-out post... (full context)
Chapter 14: Fire and Water
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
The dwarves are unaware, the narrator says, what happened to Smaug after he flew away from the mountain. The men in Esgaroth (i.e. Lake-town) see a... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...He is a descendant of Girion, who long ago was the Lord of Dale, before Smaug destroyed it. Bard commands a group of archers to shoot at Smaug. In the middle... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...work, he cleverly encourages the people to demand reparations from the dwarves for the damage Smaug has done to their home. This suggestion distracts the people from their proposal that Bard... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...marches them toward the Lonely Mountain, Beorn, the goblins, and the wood-elves also learn that Smaug has died. The Elvenking of Mirkwood marches to Esgaroth, where he offers aid to the... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Gathering Storm
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Back on the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves are trying to determine where Smaug is. They notice the thrush that told Bard about Smaug’s weak point. The dwarves complain... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Last Stage
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
On May 1st, Bilbo and Gandalf pass through Rivendell, where the elves sing songs of Smaug’s defeat and the dwarves’ victory. Gandalf tells Elrond of the group’s adventures – Bilbo is... (full context)