Greediness in Leadership: a Analysis of Thorin Oakenshield’s Downfall

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Updated: Aug 15, 2023
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Great leaders personify several different values that help define their leadership, while failed leaders share many common negative characteristics. Thorin Oakenshield plays a major role in The Hobbit. He fails as a leader, as his values show the exact opposite of those that would make a leader good. His haughtiness results in selfishness and greediness, and with such, there is no wonder that he fails miserably in his leadership role.


The Haughty Leader: A Barrier to Unity

First, Thorin, haughty, sees himself as above the others.

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His unwillingness to join in prevents him from participating in joining any group efforts and possibly enjoying himself. Many times, such as when all the dwarves, including Gandalf, meet in Bilbo’s home. Here he thinks too much of himself, insulting those around him. “Thorin indeed was very haughty and said nothing about service” (11). When Bilbo welcomes Thorin, he dismisses the fact that Bilbo graciously allows him to be there, nearly expecting that others should wait on him. He does not show appreciation or even say, “Thanks Bilbo”; rather, he ignores Bilbo altogether, going on with his personal business and seriousness.

Greediness and the Abandonment of Responsibility

Furthermore, Thorin takes no part in doing any type of work. “‘Now to clear up!’ said Thorin… Thereupon the twelve dwarves- not Thorin, as he is too important and remains to talk to Gandalf- jump to their feet… [Later], they return and find Thorin with his feet up on the fender, smoking!” (12- 13). Time and time again, Thorin shows that he thinks rather highly of himself and thus refuses to clean up. Doing such would be too low for someone of his stature, so he engages in conversation with Gandalf instead. Additionally, the fact that he puts his feet up shows the symbolism of vacation, relaxing instead of doing work. This flippant action shows a reflection of his mind and thoughts that while others must take care of him, he is forever on vacation.

Thorin’s greediness and selfishness show when he regularly brags about his family’s many riches. “They grew immensely rich and famous… I believe they found a good deal of gold and a great many jewels too. Anyways, they grew immensely rich and famous” (22). Thorin goes on and on non-stop about how many jewels he and his family had before the dragon stole them “My grandfather’s halls became full of armor and jewels and carvings and cups” (23). He tells the dwarves and Bilbo how his grandfather has had the most magnificent gadgets. He also speaks about how the mission they have all set out upon becomes the mission for him and him alone. Furthermore, Thorin “refuses to allow anyone else to claim even a small portion of his future pile of gold, silver, and gems” (Shmoop). “But, we have never forgotten our stolen treasures… we still mean to get it back” (24). He states that when they recover that which once were his riches, all the bounty will come back to him and him alone since he appears as the main receiver of the riches. He repeats what his family has had in the past before the dragons have come.


He explains how in the past, everyone has had money and has spent it however they want. No one has been poor, and they have used their money as they pleased. “Those were the good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it…the most marvelous and magical toys” (22-23). These quality traits all prevent Thorin from achieving the role of a great leader.


  1. “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek

  2. “Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t” by Jeffrey Pfeffer


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Greediness in Leadership: A Analysis of Thorin Oakenshield's Downfall. (2023, Aug 15). Retrieved from