Dís

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Character
Name: Dis
Occupation: princess
Title/Rank: Princess-in-exile of Erebor
Location: Erebor, Ered Luin, various wilds of Middle Earth
Status: alive
Relationships: granddaughter of Thror, daughter of Thrain, younger sister of Thorin Oakenshield and Frerin, mother of Fíli and Kíli
Fandom: The Hobbit
Other: named only
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Dís is the only female dwarf mentioned by name in the writings of Tolkien. She is a relative of characters who appear in The Hobbit: sister to Thorin Oakenshield and mother to Fíli and Kíli. Her personality, relationships, position, and husband are all completely invented by fandom; in the books, she is nothing more than a name and date in a family tree. In the Hobbit movie, Dís is not mentioned by name, but Kíli says his mother gave him the runestone he keeps as reminder of his promise to return to her because she thinks he's reckless.

In a Lord of the Rings appendix, Gimli mentions how much like male dwarves the female dwarves are, even if they are rarer. Fandom has taken this as a cue to make dwarven women very similar to dwarven men, often without the kind of gender divide in work and society that the other races have. As a result, Dís usually has a beard, takes a major position of leadership within the refugees of Erebor, and works at a craft. Original female dwarf characters often do the same.

Fannish Adoption and Character Development

Like most Hobbit characters, Dís had relatively few works before the Jackson movies were created.[1] After An Unexpected Journey was released, fandom decided very quickly and with a great deal of uniformity that Dís was smart, strong, stubborn, and took absolutely no nonsense from her male relatives, ruling the Durin clan with a loving but iron fist.

Early Characterization

Early characterizations of Dís primarily drew from her relationships with her family and posited reactions to book canon events from a mother or sister's point of view. Early prompts involving Dís on Hobbit_kink included scenarios like:

[...] I would pretty much like it form the point of view of Dis, who just arrived to Erebor to take care of her boys (brother included) and sees that strange situation where no one talks and everyone just stare hopefully thinking that the matter will magically resolve itself.

And she starts to wonder how in heavens those clueless fourteen have ever managed to get that far.[2]

[...] Dis arrives in Erebor and meets Bilbo and notices his "condition" (whether she keeps it a secret and yells at Thorin for being irresponsible or blurs it out in front of everyone is up to the writer).

Dis spends the next months of Bilbo's pregnancy helping him out.[3]

I want an AU fic where Dis only agrees to send Fili and Kili along with Thorin’s adventure if she is to also come. She’ll not be left behind, waiting.

Thorin does not try to dissuade her. She may not be a tried and tested warrior, but she is an excellent hunter, has gotten in and out of brawls her entire life, in a manner becoming to a princess of dwarves; which is to say, headbutting and breaking noses.

She would not sit idly by and have her kinsmen provide for her in their nomadic life, she’s worked as hard as anyone.

So they venture off, and Fili and Kili aren’t expecting it at all. Bilbo’s door opens and there looms the majestic Thorin Oakenshield…who steps aside to allow his sister, his magnificent sister, their mother, to enter. They are very quiet after this.

And then they turn back to themselves because they aren’t capable of worrying.

And the adventure goes on as planned, except that Dis turns out to be more then capable of taking a life as a warrior if needed.

Also she spits in Thranduil’s face when he is rude about her sons.[4]

[...]Dis comes to Erebor. Emotional Durin family reunion please, with Dis aware of how close she came to losing all of them, but with any tears on the boys' part, not hers. And in my headcanon, Fili and Kili call her Mama.[5]
[...]So, their tight bond began when Kili had just been born, and itsy bitsy Fili says to Dis that he's going to protect ickle Kili no matter what.[6]
Thorin/Bilbo - Meet the family

I'd like to see both sides of this, if possible. Bilbo being terrorised by Thorin's sister Dis, and Thorin having Bilbo's many relatives try their hand at terrorising him.[7]

Similar discussions and ideas about Dís were being raised on other sites as well, some influenced by the hobbit_kink prompts (many AO3 posts fall into this category), some influencing the prompts to be posted in the first place. At this early stage, Dís provided a canon-sanctioned female and dwarven point of view on "The Hot Dwarves" (Thorin, Fíli, and Kíli) who, along with Bilbo, were the most popular characters in the fandom in the weeks after the release of the first movie.

Stabilization of Fanon Characterization

These loosely connected concepts eventually coalesced into a solid and relatively consistent characterization, at least as consistent as any of the characters who actually appear in canon. magicalmanhattanproject said, "i’m kinda in love with how the tolkien fandom took dis’s characterization from ‘she exists’ to ‘she is the hbic bow down before her’"[8]. Or as fae-of-the-rose put it, "The best part about the Hobbit fandom is that we as a group have decided that you do not fuck with Dís."[9]

After over 2 years of fanworks, Dís has become largely (though not exclusively) associated with Fix-Its of various sorts, including No Smaug AUs, Everybody Lives AUs, and a few AUs where she becomes queen[10]. She often expedites the fix-its herself, or resolves more minor problems. She is generally characterized as a BAMF and someone who is ignored only at one's peril. This has become such a staple that some works lampshade it by saying Thorin's Company should have brought Dís on the quest to avert disaster:

Why the fuck didn't they bring Lady Dis?

No, seriously. Why did they not bring the axe-wielding, fear-and-awe-inspiring, not-directionally-challenged Durin? Why did they not bring the – according to the entire Company, even Thorin, although most reluctantly – scary dwarf warrior lady? Who, according to her sons (who are probably exaggerating, but still), is mighty enough to break tree trunks in half with one hand and dislodge mountains with a kick of iron boots.[11]

In a few AUs, Dís does come with the company for precisely this reason.

Fannish Tropes

  • Mama Bear - Dís is typically ready to run roughshod over anyone who threatens her family... including her family. Thorin is the most likely recipient of her wrath, but her sons frequently are also targets. However, she doesn't usually target their significant others after they prove themselves to be devoted (sometimes after a quick shovel talk to scare them into submission).
  • Matchmaker - Dís often plays the role of terrifyingly competent matchmaker for her hapless and/or stubborn male relatives.
  • Genre Savvy - Dís often acts as a deus ex machina in stories, cutting through whatever issues the people around her have developed that keep them from having a happy ending. She frequently refers to others, especially her relatives, as having no common sense. For this reason, she often doesn't appear in longer romcoms until the middle or nearly the end of the work, which is usually explained by her being still on her way from Ered Luin, or away from the action for another reason. When she does appear, she often delivers a nearly authorial lecture - sometimes more than once.
  • Waiting - Some works depict Dís waiting for news of the quest - good or bad - and what she does with herself while she waits.
  • The Mourning After - Especially in earlier works, Dís was sometimes the survivor, the last member of her family left alive after the quest. In these cases, she might become Queen (instead of Dain becoming king), or she might simply be left to grieve. In a few cases, she meets other mourners, like Bilbo or Tauriel.
  • Pre-Quest for Erebor - Dís is a frequent character in pre-Hobbit works about the dwarves, especially those set in Ered Luin or in Erebor before the fall (where she is usually a child or very young woman).
  • Post-Quest for Erebor - The majority of works set in Erebor after the battle either include Dís in person or the promise of Dís coming in a caravan from Ered Luin. In many works that ship Thorin, Fíli, or Kíli with someone, Dís's arrival occurs partway through the work and either brings some of the issues in the relationship to a head or resolves them (often both). However, in some works Dís simply sits back and amuses herself at her male relatives' expenses, letting them sort out their romantic troubles themselves.
  • Tragic Backstory - Dís shares the same backstory as Thorin, but with the added dimension that she usually has lost her husband. Unlike Thorin (who tends to brood), this typically makes her more fiercely determined not to lose anyone else.

Relationships

Family

In fanworks, Dís tends to have a close relationship with Thorin[12], Frerin[13], and her two sons[14].

Dís is generally described as a widow, with an unnamed (in canon) husband taking various names in fanworks; one of the most common is Víli, to rhyme with his sons. Her widowhood is likely assumed from the fact that her husband doesn't come along on the quest with his sons and is not named in the genealogy. Her largest romantic or sexual ship is with her canonical husband, even though he's essentially an original character in each work.[15] In a few works, Dís had a wife, not a husband.

Friends

Though Dís's presence in fanworks usually centers on her family, she also tends to make connections with Dwalin, Bilbo Baggins, and Tauriel (usually on behalf of Kíli). She sometimes (though rarely) also brings along original female characters as friends, or meets other female characters from canon, such as Belladonna Took, Arwen, or Galadriel.

Shipping

Dís/Her Husband is the largest romantic/sexual ship for Dís.[15] Other ships involving her include:

Fanworks

Archives

Example Fanart

Example Fancomics

Example Fanmix

Example Fanvid

Example Fanfiction

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Example Cosplay

  • Dis by anouckvos

References

  1. The Dís tag on AO3 shows 1 work posted on September 12, 2012, and the next one not posted until December 17, 2012. By December 15, 2013, she had about 900 works at the site. By December 15, 2014, she had about 1820 works there.
  2. Make Him Stay, posted January 13, 2013.
  3. Thorin/Bilbo. Dis gets involved., posted January 1, 2013.
  4. Dis joins the Company, posted December 29, 2012.
  5. Happy Ending, Durin Family, posted December 27, 2012.
  6. Fili and Kili - Baby brothers, posted December 17, 2012. This is the first prompt on the meme to mention Dís.
  7. Thorin/Bilbo - Meet the family, posted December 24, 2012.
  8. MagicalManhattanProject. Accessed February 25, 2015. Posted about 4 months before that. (Date approximate because Tumblr)
  9. fae-of-the-rose, posted August 14, 2014.
  10. Foundation of Sorrow, Kingdom of Ash by rata_toskr is an early example Dís taking the throne. It was posted January 10, 2013, to hobbit_kink.
  11. A Way Things Should Be by LullabyKnell, chapter posted February 18, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.
  12. 69 Dís & Thorin works on AO3 by February 25, 2015.
  13. 25 Dís & Frerin & Thorin works on AO3 by February 25, 2015.
  14. Of 2155 works tagged with Dís on AO3 by February 25, 2015, 1851 are tagged with Thorin, 1685 Kíli, 1683 Fíli, 1048 Dwalin, 998 Bilbo, 730 Balin, 601 Ori, 597 Bofur, and 441 Dori. 377 of her works were also tagged with "Family" (or a subtag of it).
  15. 15.0 15.1 Dís/Canonical Husband tag on Ao3 has 167 uses as of February 25, 2015, nearly twice as many as the next-most-popular Dís ship, Dís/Dwalin.