Thorin Oakenshield is the leader of the dwarves who are seen journeying to the Lonely Mountain in “The Hobbit”. He is the descendant of King Under the Mountain; the king had lost his throne when he was attacked by Smaug and ousted the dwarves from their own home. Thorin is a dwarf with great integrity, bravery but a drawback in his characteristic is that he has an intense love for treasure and behaves stubbornly around it.
Thorin is someone who takes himself very seriously and is very conscious about his status as the son of Thrain and also as the grandson of Thror, who is the King Under the Mountain. Thorin has a handful of some treasure that he has inherited and that treasure is guarded by Smaug. He becomes obsessive to get what is his birth right and becomes stubborn. The journey of Thorin in the “The Hobbit” shows the retainment of his self through the series of incidents that happens with and around him.
The physical appearance of Thorin is mainly described by the long beard that he has and the distinct sky-blue hood that we wear. Although throughout the journey that Thorin and his group of dwarves have with Bilbo and the witch named Gandalf, he is thoughtful of his inheritance and bloodline that makes him proud and arrogant; however, he does his best to appear like a wise, professional and prudent character as recommended by Gandalf.
As the story develops, it unfolds more about Thorin and his development as a character, most importantly it unfolds the true colours of the dwarf. Evidently, at a certain point of time, when Thorin was kidnapped and Gandalf was seen to have left the group, it became clear that Thorin was not a true leader; he lacks the necessary leadership persona that makes one a true leader.
At a certain point of time, Thorin is kidnapped and captured by the elves and he is kept as a prisoner in a palace known as the Elvenking. This is when the group of dwarves needed a leade4r desperately and Bilbo is the one who stepped up for the role and assumes the place of the leader of the group. Bilbo is also the one who frees Thorin and also the other dwarves when they are captured and fail to do anything that might lead to their escape.
When all the thirteen dwarves were taken captive and Bilbo assumed the role of the leader, the readers became clearer about the fact that the kind of a leadership position that Bilbo attained when given opportunity, it is something that Thorin could never have achieved due to his proud and arrogant behaviour. Even Thorin accepted the role Bilbo as his leader without showing any kind of resentment or refusal towards him.
Treasure is in the heart of Thorin; even when he was in a cell in Elvenking, all he could talk about was the treasure that he desired so much and the quest. Even when he was low spirited locked in the cell, the thoughts of treasure and possession did not leave him. After being saved by Bilbo, the whole group seemed to have completely relied on Bilbo instead of Thorin for solving all kinds of dilemmas that they faced during the rest of their journey.
The leadership that Thorin has imposed on the dwarves is unchallenged since it cannot be denied that he is indeed brave as well as intelligent. There are two dwarves in the group who are especially loyal to Thorin; they are Kili and Fili. Such is their loyalty that both of them die at the battlefield with Thorin in the Battle of Five Armies. Thorin is intelligent but he makes a mistake when he denies to confab with Bard on the eve before the battle.
His dwarf nature can be easily visible trough his love for the treasure since a typical dwarf has an intense and immense love for beautiful materialistic things. When Thorin refused to reconcile with the elves, it contributed to one of the many factors that led to such a huge war. After he dies battling in the Battle of the Five Armies, he is buried in a place known as the Arkenstone; burying him there is a gesture of love but it is also a symbol that shows the futility of having battles and fighting over properties.
Once Thorin gets the treasure in his grasp, he becomes worse than he was before; the golds and jewels, and especially the Arkenstone started manifesting within him an overpowering sense of greed that led to Thorin’s heartless and autocratic behaviour. When Thorin allowed the greed for the treasure and the wealth define him and change him, it turned the whole personality of Thorin upside down; Thorin completely changed from being a protagonist to being an antagonist.
The bravery of Thorin can be easily seen when he is unhesitant whilst being attacked by trolls and the goblins in the early time of their journey. His fight in the Battle of the Five Armies is also a prove of his bravery. Thorin is also continuously proud of the birth right that he beholds; he is proud and pompous because of the inheritance to the treasure and his blood line. The immense love for wealth and the intense desire to acquire the treasure eventually clouded the basic values and ethics of Thorin. The good nature of the Dwarf got lost and he refused to reconcile.
Such is the greed of the dwarf that he refused to give the people of the Lake town or even Bard their share of the treasure. However, this greed of Thorin led to the Battle and eventually brought his own death in the battlefield itself. Dwarves have the nature that makes them long for wealth; it is something they are helpless about; but Thorin’s desire for the treasure was such that it was more intense obsession even for a normal dwarf. This desire changed Thorin as a person, especially the Arkenstone.
It was Thorin himself who allowed his longing for treasure and wealth change him as well as define him. He thought that waging a warm would be more appropriate than sharing the abundant treasure with the people of Lake Town who were in need. It is only towards the end that Thorin tries to partially redeem himself and after being wounded, he apologizes to Bilbo, finally his mistakes; although he dies but he is not redeemed fully.
There is a scene when Thorin looks at himself in the mirror and asks whether he is good or bad. This scene is highly metaphorical since the way his image was reflecting in the mirror showed one half of his face shaded and the other half in the light. It was as if the mirror was showing a visual representation of the characteristic of Thorin who was protagonist at the early stage but then due to his own character flaws, he turned into an antagonist only to realize the mistakes at the final stage of his life.
In the initial stage of the story, Thorin because of his bloodline and ancestry and the right to the treasure that was guarded by Smaug, his position made him a heroic protagonist. But as the story developed, it became evident that it not in the capability of Thorin to be a leader. He failed to live up to the recommendations of Gandalf; this resulted in his own demise and provided an opportunity for Bilbo to show his best attributes and rise as a character. As Bilbo rose through his characteristics, Thorin eventually declined.