That’s My Spot

As you may well know, the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit had a completely armored body except for one spot. Bilbo Baggins found out about this weak spot, and a thrush brought the news to a man named Bard, who killed the worm with a well-placed arrow. This idea of dragons having specific weak points was hardly original to J.R.R. Tolkien, and can apparently be traced to two main sources: the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf and the story of Sigurd/Siegfried, as related in the Icelandic Volsunga Saga.

Beowulf’s companion Wiglaf helps to kill a dragon by stabbing it in the underbelly, which also reduces its fiery breath. Beowulf deals the final blow to the creature, being fatally wounded himself in the process.

Siegfried fights the dragon Fafnir by digging a pit and stabbing upwards into the monster’s heart. Siegfried then bathed in Fafnir’s blood and made his own body invincible, except for a single spot. The most common weak spots for dragons are in the belly or on the throat, although the Watch in Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! seems to think shooting it in the genitals would work just as well. Sergeant Colon’s attack still fails, however, because while million-to-one chances work out nine times out of ten on the Discworld, the odds involved weren’t quite a million to one.

There are other variations on dragons’ weak spots as well, like how Ruth Plumly Thompson made them vulnerable to water. I’ll have more on that in a future post. For more information on the idea, here are some other possibilities from Yahoo Answers, and the TV Tropes page on weak points. Let’s also not forget that the Death Star in Star Wars appears to have been inspired by such classic dragon slayings, in that it’s also an agent of destruction that’s totally destroyed when someone shoots a weak spot.

This entry was posted in Authors, British, Discworld, J.R.R. Tolkien, Monsters, Mythology, Norse, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Terry Pratchett and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to That’s My Spot

  1. halinabq says:

    Of course dragons aren’t the only ones with Achilles’ heels. Besides Achilles himself, Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite, Green Lanterns powers don’t work on yellow objects, and on and on.

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