Thorin Oakenshield

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Character
Name: Thorin Oakenshield
Occupation: king, blacksmith, adventurer
Title/Rank: King Under the Mountain
Location: Erebor, Ered Luin, the cities of men, the wilds of Middle Earth
Status: Deceased (Books), Alive (Movies)
Relationships: Uncle of Kili and Fili, brother of Dis, son of Thrain, grandson of Thror
Fandom: The Hobbit
Other:
Promotional image of Richard Armitage as Thorin in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
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Thorin Oakenshield is a main character in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. While Thorin plays an important role in the book, his character is greatly expanded upon within the Peter Jackson movies, where he's played by Richard Armitage. His full title is "Thorin II Oakenshield, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, King under the Mountain".

Canon

The heir to the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, Thorin is the leader of the company of dwarves who set out to reclaim The Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. At the opening of The Hobbit, Thorin has three remaining family members: his nephews Fili and Kili as well as his sister Dis. He is a gruff, proud character with a strongly antagonistic attitude towards elves. He also has a very fraught relationship with Bilbo Baggins, who he does not initially believe will prove a worthy burglar for the company. Despite this, Thorin's earnest devotion to his people and the sympathetic portrayal in the Peter Jackson movies makes him a very popular character in The Hobbit fandom.

Thorin eventually succumbs to gold sickness after the Company reclaims the Lonely Mountain and is killed in the Battle of the Five Armies.

Fandom

Though Thorin is a beloved character in the novel, his popularity in fanworks almost entirely dates from the publicity surrounding the first Jackson film. Prior to that, there was little Thorin-centric fanfiction and no explicit works. Some book fans disliked the changes to the character in the films, particularly making him significantly younger than in the book.

Popular Pairings

Thilbo Bagginshield:

By far the most popular pairing featuring Thorin Oakenshield is Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield. The pairing is referred to as both "Thilbo" and "Bagginshield", resulting in a certain amount of confusion when it comes to tagging posts on Tumblr. As of September 2014 the pairing has over 3,300 fics to its name on Archive of Our Own.[1]

Common tropes featured within the pairing include: courtship, 'Everyone Lives Happily Ever After in Erebor', size!kink, and misunderstandings!stories.

Dworin and Thorinduil:

The next most popular pairings featuring Thorin are Thorin Oakenshield/Dwalin and Thorin Oakenshield/Thranduil, both of which feature dramatically less fan attention. As of September 2014 both pairings have fewer than 300 fanfics apiece on Archive of Our Own.

The 'Majestic Thorin' Meme

Animated gif of Thorin from the films with the caption "So majestic". Via thorinissomajestic.

"Majestic Thorin" is a meme that began in December of 2012, the month the first Hobbit movie was released. The meme was initially started by Tumblr users mistlethalia and jackietastic, who saw "An Unexpected Journey" and began discussing how majestic Thorin seemed to be in relation to the other characters.[2] The Magnificent Home of Thorin the Majestic is a blog that was created to house the many gifs, jpgs, and humorous text posts that emerged as a result of the meme's popularity.

The Hobbit fandom's association of Thorin with all things majestic has also impacted the way that the character can be described in fanfiction. While 'majestic' may indeed be an accurate way to describe him, there is no way to use the word in serious fic without conjuring up all sorts of amusing connotations. In response to a "Tolkien Fandom Fanfic Writer Problems" post by Emiliana Darling, tumblr user insaneandobsessed phrased the issue thusly:

"The word ‘majestic’ is no longer one that can be taken even the smallest bit serious, because your readers will all start snickering and smirking over it. Just like you did trying to write it."[3]

Fan Meta

"And He Never Forgave, And He Never Forgot" by ohmaedhros

Thorin Oakenshield, as we all know, is a tragic, tragic character. [...] There is a legacy and a debt he feels he must pay back to his father and his grandfather and all who came before him: he lost the kingdom of Erebor, he watched most of his family die and now he has his chance to become a leader, a ruler and a king. The only thing that ties him to his past and to what he once was is a key and a map, and he cannot let go of either. [...] This need to redeem himself in his own eyes for his “failures” (most were things well beyond his control) is what pushes him to go on a quest that will eventually claim his life and that of his nephews (and may I add, only direct heirs).[4]

"In Defense of Thorin Oakenshield" by DarkJackal

While he is never entirely a villain, Thorin Oakenshield becomes temporarily cast as one due to circumstance. From the beginning, the character possesses a strong sense of self-importance, and a gruff impatience which is not entirely endearing. By the time the dragon has been destroyed, it is already clear he is an inconsistent hero, occasionally brave and heedless of danger, but just as often shirking the riskiest activities, and letting a small hobbit face them. [...] The same traits Thorin exhibited as a prisoner in the dungeons of the Elvenking, such as stubbornness and distrust, are now in conflict with the wishes of the chief protagonist, and he is no longer seen as the victim, but as a miser. In this way, he becomes the antagonist by opposing the goal of the hero, even though his own goals never change.[5]

"Thorin Oakenshield and the Big-Ass Diaspora Metaphor" by hobbitballerina

Thorin, to me, is really functioning as a metaphor for a Jewish prince, leading his people to reclaim a homeland that has been taken from them by fire and blood, that has been desecrated by the dragon and the deaths of so many Dwarves, and their right to have it is contested hotly throughout the films.[6]

"Top three challenges for filming The Hobbit" by Fictualities (on bookverse Thorin)

Thorin is a fascinating character, one who works, I think, as a dwarvish variation on Aragorn's plot arc in LotR. He's a true dwarvish hero who starts in poverty and aims to revive the fortunes of his people against overwhelming odds. He's interestingly flawed in particularly dwarvish ways: mistrustful of outsiders, a little too entranced by the works of dwarvish hands (for that's what treasure is in the dwarvish mind as opposed to Smaug's mind: a thing wrested from the earth and made beautiful).

The entire action of the narrative (as planned by Gandalf) challenges Thorin's preconceptions; he's forced to rely on an outsider, and to sacrifice the treasure that he'd always thought of as his heart's desire. As an adult reader I've thought the final scene between Bilbo and Thorin is one of the most touching things in all of Tolkien's work.[7]

Example Fanworks

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

External Links & Resources

References

  1. Archive of Our Own: Works featuring 'Thorin Oakenshield'
  2. Know Your Meme: Majestic Thorin
  3. insanity isn't always a bad thing: Tolkien Fandom Fanfic Writer Problems
  4. And He Never Forgave, And He Never Forgot: On Thorin Oakenshield, guilt, responsibility and PTSD
  5. In Defense of Thorin Oakenshield
  6. Thorin Oakenshield and the Big-Ass Diaspora Metaphor
  7. fictualities: Top three challenges for filming The Hobbit (accessed 26 September 2014)