In Chapter 15, Thorin and the dwarves must decide what to do with the treasure. Should they try to keep the treasure for themselves, or should they share it with the elves and the lake people who...
In Chapter 15, Thorin and the dwarves must decide what to do with the treasure. Should they try to keep the treasure for themselves, or should they share it with the elves and the lake people who for years suffered under the tyranny of Smaug? What would you do if you were Thorin, and why would you choose this course of action?
This is an interesting ethical dilemma in what has been, up until this point, basically a fairy tale. While Tolkien's The Hobbit is certainly more of a fairy tale for adults than for children, it still sustained a whimsical tone up until this point, the point at which the dwarves face ethical choices that threaten to embroil them in a bloody war. Thorin chooses to hoard his wealth rather than share it, but I would have chosen to share it if I was in his position, as Thorin and the dwarves owe a great deal to the people of the lake.
Consider, for instance, that Thorin and his dwarves would not be alive if it weren't for the people living in Long Lake. After all, they welcomed the dwarves into Lake Town, nursed them back to health after their harrowing journeys, and provided them with food and supplies to tackle the Lonely Mountain stage of their adventure. Not only that, but one of the lake people, Bard, killed Smaug, thus enabling the dwarves to obtain their treasure in the first place. Now, I'm not saying that Thorin should have given up all his wealth; it is, after all, rightfully his by birth. However, due to the fact that he would never have gotten to the treasure without the help of the lake people, it makes sense to share a portion of it with his allies.
The elves, however, are a different story. As you may recall, the elves of Mirkwood imprisoned the dwarves for a large chunk of the novel. As such, Thorin's reluctance to share his treasure with them is understandable, and I believe that I would choose the same course of action if I were in his position.