The Hobbit

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Thorin Oakenshield Character Analysis

The leader of the thirteen dwarves journeying to the Lonely Mountain. Thorin is the descendant of the King Under the Mountain who lost his throne when Smaug came and ousted the dwarves from their home. He has great bravery and integrity, but his love for the treasure that was stolen from him and his people leads him behave stubbornly and selfishly even after he has won it back.

Thorin Oakenshield Quotes in The Hobbit

The The Hobbit quotes below are all either spoken by Thorin Oakenshield or refer to Thorin Oakenshield. 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 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.

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Chapter 12 Quotes

"If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passage first, O Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer," he said crossly, "say so at once and have done! I might refuse. I have got you out of two messes already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. But 'third time pays for all' as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse. Perhaps I have begun to trust my luck more than I used to in the old days" - he meant last spring before he left his own house, but it seemed centuries ago -"but anyway I think I will go and have a peep at once and get it over. Now who is coming with me?" He did not expect a chorus of volunteers, so he was not disappointed.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Thorin Oakenshield
Page Number: 212-213
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Bilbo Baggins is surprised to learn that Thorin and the other dwarves intend for him to sneak into Smaug's cave alone, in order to explore the area. Bilbo knows full-well that this is a dangerous mission, suggesting that the dwarves aren't as brave as they presented themselves to be. In spite of his annoyance, Bilbo decides to explore the cave, anyway.

Bilbo's behavior in this scene reminds readers how much he's changed in only a few months; the mention of the "old days" illustrates that Bilbo thinks of his old life in the hobbit-hole as a distant memory. Moreover, the passage shows readers that Bilbo both is and isn't the hero of the novel. On one hand, Bilbo has become exceptionally brave in a short period of time: he's learned how to fight and talk his way out of almost any situation. (Although he's reluctant to enter the cave by himself, it's not because he's particularly frightened.) And yet Bilbo also isn't a typical hero at all: he can be sarcastic and irritable, reminding the dwarves of their cowardice in a rather petty way, and much of his "bravery" stems from the fact that he secretly possesses a magic ring of invisibility. Perhaps the passage is meant to suggest that the people whom one thinks of as traditionally heroic—like Thorin Oakenshield, with his gravitas and ancestral ties to the land—are rarely as brave as they seem, while those who don't appear particularly heroic, such as Bilbo, are often stronger and braver than they appear.

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.

Related Characters: Thorin Oakenshield
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tolkien as narrator establishes some important information about dwarves: they're greedy and not particularly heroic. In other words, they're overly focused on their material possessions (their gold, treasure, etc.), to the point where they don't necessarily do the right thing. In the coming chapters, Tolkien will provide ample evidence of the fact that dwarves are too greedy: he'll show how Thorin and his followers nearly start a war because they refuse to share their gold with others. The interesting thing about this quotation is that it arrives so late in the novel. By this point, we've known Thorin and his followers for many pages, and yet it's only now that we're seeing their true colors (or at least their true colors as the narrator portrays them). As Bilbo becomes more heroic and self-reliant, he has an easier time seeing through Thorin's bluster; i.e., seeing him for the person he truly is. By the same token, Tolkien begins to portray Thorin as increasingly un-heroic in certain regards, contrasting Bilbo's bravery and complex view of morality with Thorin's childish greed.

Chapter 13 Quotes

"Now I am a burglar indeed!" thought he. "But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it sometime. They did say I could pick and choose my own share; and I think I would choose this, if they took all the rest!" All the same he had an uncomfortable feeling that the picking and choosing had not really been meant to include this marvelous gem, and that trouble would yet come of it.

Related Characters: Thorin Oakenshield
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Bilbo finds the Arkenstone—the most beautiful, valuable part of the dwarves' treasure—and makes the difficult decision to keep it for himself, without telling the dwarves about it. Bilbo knows that the dwarves have promised him a fair share of the treasure, which he's free to choose as he sees fit. Nevertheless, he knows that he's not really supposed to choose the Arkenstone—it's crucial to Thorin's idea of his "birthright," for one—so Bilbo instinctively feels guilty and keeps his action a secret.

Bilbo's decision in this passage represents one of the first times in the novel when he truly violates an agreement with his allies, the dwarves. In the past, Bilbo has toyed with the dwarves out of exasperation or frustration, but it's not until this moment that he goes behind their backs altogether. Bilbo has finally been seduced by the spectacle of wealth (he's like Gollum, jealously obsessed with the ring). In other words, Bilbo is falling into the same trap as the dwarves themselves—valuing objects more highly than his relationships with his friends.

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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Thorin Oakenshield Character Timeline in The Hobbit

The timeline below shows where the character Thorin Oakenshield appears in The Hobbit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: An Unexpected Journey
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, who’s very fat, and Thorin Oakenshield, who is haughty. Gandalf arrives along with the last four dwarves. All thirteen dwarves,... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Thorin rises from his seat and praises Bilbo, who he calls the dwarves’ co-conspirator, for his... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Gandalf produces a map, which he tells Thorin belonged to Thror, Thorin’s grandfather. The map shows a hall beneath a mountain, marked with... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Bilbo, who loves maps, asks for an explanation of the dwarves’ quest. Thorin explains that the fourteen dwarves in Bilbo’s house were the dwarves in their song. His... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...and try to reclaim their treasure, and offers to fix them breakfast before they leave. Thorin implies that Bilbo will be going with them, and, without waiting for an answer, asks... (full context)
Chapter 2: Roast Mutton
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...he was hiding. Gandalf uses the key to open the treasure room, where Gandalf and Thorin find two excellent swords, and Bilbo finds a knife that, while small for a troll,... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Thorin asks Gandalf how he became separated from the rest of the group. Gandalf says that... (full context)
Chapter 3: A Short Rest
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...would have stayed much longer. Elrond, the elf-lord, examines the map that Gandalf gave to Thorin, and on it finds moon letters, which can only be read by the light of... (full context)
Chapter 4: Over Hill and Under Hill
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...take everyone but Gandalf prisoner. Goblins, the narrator notes, are clever, evil creatures who bear Thorin’s people a special grudge because of the wars they’ve fought with each other. (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...lead Bilbo and the dwarves to their leader, the Great Goblin. The Great Goblin asks Thorin to identify himself and explain why he’s here; Thorin identifies himself, but lies and says... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The dwarves run, but the goblins are faster, and Gandalf tells Thorin to turn and fight. Using Glamdring and Orcrist, Gandalf and Thorin kill many goblins, then... (full context)
Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...a friend or two; Beorn asks where the other friend is, and Gandalf calls for Thorin and Dori. Beorn says that he doesn’t like dwarves much, but since these dwarves have... (full context)
Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders
Heroism Theme Icon
...As they cross the river, they see an enchanted deer jump over the river. Though Thorin tells them to hold their fire, the dwarves waste all of their arrows trying to... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bombur wakes up, saying that he’s been having lovely dreams of feasts and food. Thorin is irritated with this news, since the group’s supplies have almost ran out. Bilbo and... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...to take Bilbo more seriously, as Gandalf hinted would happen. Suddenly, the dwarves notice that Thorin is missing. (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
The narrator reveals what happened to Thorin: when the dwarves wandered off the path to find food, the wood-elves find and capture... (full context)
Chapter 9: Barrels Out of Bond
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...The dwarves are angry with the Elvenking, and they’re imprisoned in separate cells, unaware that Thorin is there as well. (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
After a week or two of searching, Bilbo finds Thorin in a special prison cell; Thorin has been so miserable that he was considering telling... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...he is so wet and exhausted, the narrator notes, it would be some time before Thorin was polite to Bilbo again; nevertheless, he thanks Bilbo for saving them from the elves.... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...Mountain has returned, and though there is an elf at the feast who says that Thorin and his comrades are escaped prisoners, the general excitement over Thorin’s return is so great... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...Bilbo and the dwarves enjoy the town’s hospitality, and regain their strength. After this time, Thorin announces to the Master that he is ready to go to the Mountain. The Master... (full context)
Chapter 11: On the Doorstep
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
The group reaches the remains of Dale, which is in ruins. Thorin and Balin note sadly that the Dale was green and beautiful before Smaug destroyed it.... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...side of the mountain; a rock falls, illuminating a keyhole, just as Elrond predicted. Quickly, Thorin produces his key, turns it in the keyhole, and opens a door into the side... (full context)
Chapter 12: Inside Information
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Thorin announces that it is time for Bilbo to earn his pay by investigating the interior... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...and Bombur, who are stationed lower down on the mountain, in a more vulnerable position. Thorin insists that they rescue them by pulling them up with rope. Bilbo and the dwarves... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
...conversation with Smaug. Bilbo, irritated with his wounds, throws a rock at a thrush, but Thorin tells him to stop, since thrushes are noble, talking birds who the dwarves have long... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...The group then hears a roar in the middle of the night, and Bilbo urges Thorin to shut the door in the side of the mountain. Just as Thorin shuts the... (full context)
Chapter 13: Not At Home
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...and Gloin to make fire; while they do so, he finds the Arkenstone, the gem Thorin had previously mentioned. Bilbo keeps the stone for himself, reasoning that Thorin told him he... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...are glad to see their treasure, and fill their pockets with whatever they can carry. Thorin wears regal armor and gives Bilbo a mail coat, which he accepts despite thinking that... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Thorin guides Bilbo and the dwarves along the Running River, which leads from the inside of... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Gathering Storm
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...the lake, along with the wood-elves, are marching to the Lonely Mountain seeking some of Thorin’s treasure, and that Thorin should trust Bard, not the Master. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Thorin is furious to learn that others will try to take part of his treasure, and... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Thief in the Night
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Now under siege from the men and elves, Thorin orders the dwarves to search for the Arkenstone, the most beautiful of the dwarves’ jewels.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
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...to see Bard. The elves take him to Bard’s tent, where he tells Bard that Thorin will gladly starve to death before he gives up his treasure, and that Dain is... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Clouds Burst
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...and an old, cloaked man march to the Gate of the Lonely Mountain to greet Thorin. They ask him if he will bargain with them for some of the treasure. When... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Bilbo tries to justify himself to Thorin. He explains that Thorin told him he could choose any part of the treasure for... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Shortly after Thorin agrees to surrender some of his treasure, Dain arrives, leading an army of strong, tough... (full context)
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...the mountain. But just as they begin to climb the walls of the Main Gate, Thorin and the other twelve dwarves burst out and bravely fight back. Many die throughout the... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Return Journey
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...takes him to the Dale, where Gandalf, his arm in a sling, is standing beside Thorin, who has been fatally wounded. (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
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On his deathbed, Thorin tells Bilbo that he regrets calling him a traitor and expelling him. He promises Bilbo... (full context)
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...Beorn, taking the shape of a giant bear, were the goblins defeated. Upon seeing that Thorin was wounded, Beorn became so angry that he destroyed a huge chunk of the goblin... (full context)
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
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The Eagles depart after intervening in battle, and Dain replaces Thorin as King Under the Mountain. All of Thorin’s original dwarves except for Fili and Kili... (full context)