What is the significance of the Arkenstone in “The Hobbit”?

Can someone explain the importance of the Arkenstone? Why is it so valuable and what role does it play in the story?

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The Arkenstone, described in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," holds significant importance both as a symbol and as an object that drives the plot of the narrative. Here's why the Arkenstone is so valued and the role it plays in the story: **Symbol of Kingship and Legitimacy**: The Arkenstone is seen as a symbol of the right to rule. It is highly valued by the Dwarves of Erebor because it represents the legitimacy and authority of their king. The return of the Arkenstone signifies the reinstatement of Thorin Oakenshield's lineage to the throne of the Dwarf kingdom under the Mountain. **Object of Beauty and Worth**: The Arkenstone is described as an incredibly beautiful gem, captivating any who lay eyes upon it. Its worth is beyond measure, not just in monetary terms but also in its beauty and craftsmanship. **Centrality to the Plot**: The search for the Arkenstone is one of the central quests of the characters in "The Hobbit." Its recovery is a critical goal for Thorin, who sees it as a definitive reclaiming of his heritage and a symbol of the restored glory of Erebor. **A Catalyst for Conflict**: The Arkenstone becomes a point of contention among various factions. Thorin's desire to possess the stone leads to some of his more questionable decisions and acts as a catalyst for conflict, both interpersonal and between the various races—Dwarves, Elves, and Men—that lay claim to the wealth of Erebor. **A Pebble that Starts an Avalanche**: While small in size, the Arkenstone's influence is monumental. It indirectly instigates the Battle of the Five Armies by fueling Thorin's greed and paranoia, leading to an armed standoff over the treasure. **A Test of Character**: The stone also serves as a test of character for Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of "The Hobbit." His decision to give the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elves in order to negotiate peace showcases his growing maturity and understanding of the broader implications of wealth and power. **Metaphor**: The Arkenstone can also be seen as a metaphor for the danger of greed and the corrupting power of wealth. Thorin's obsession with the Arkenstone and the treasure of Erebor demonstrates how greed can tarnish even the most noble of hearts. In summary, the significance of the Arkenstone lies in its symbolization of power and legitimacy, its inherent beauty and value, and its role as both a driver of the plot and a device for character development. It is integral to understanding the motivations of the key characters, particularly Thorin, and it serves as a lens through which the themes of greed, conflict, and reconciliation are explored in "The Hobbit."
Answered on June 25, 2024.
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