Lord Dunsany's tale of "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" tells the story of Alderic, a young and proud knight bent on stealing the Gibbelins' jewels from their tower at the edge of the world. Determined not to fall prey to the Gibbelins, Alderic carefully plans his quest so as not to make the same mistakes committed by other unfortunate treasure-seekers. He takes great care in doing exactly the opposite of every man before him, convinced that his cunning will fool the Gibbelins for the first time. Instead of procuring a horse for his quest, Alderic tricks a dragon into being his stead. Yet in all of his careful planning, the young knight fails to notice that despite exterior changes, his adventure bears an uncanny similarity to those of his predecessors.
And on the day that I tell of he galloped away from his home scattering largesse of gold, as I have said, and passed through many kingdoms, the dragon snapping at maidens as he went, but being unable to eat them because of the bit in his mouth, and earning no gentler reward than a spurthrust where he was softest.
Try as he might Alderic cannot escape from the failures of the knights before him. For all of his careful preparations, he still ends up as the Gibbelins' next meal. None of Alderic's unique plans help him survive because by trying to outwit the Gibbelins, he manages to outwit only himself.
1. Why does Dunsany describe the dragon's method of traveling as "galloping" and by having a "bit in his mouth"? How does this affect the image that is projected?
2. Alderic attempts to burglar the Gibbelins stronghold in a different way than all of his successors. By turning his dragon into a horse, the animal commonly used to raid the Gibbelins, does Alderic foreshadow the outcome of his adventure?
3. What kind of setting do the words "kingdoms", "dragons", and "maidens" create? Why does Dunsany choose to set his story in such a place, and what effect does the setting have on the story?
4. The narrative pronoun "I" is present twice in this short passage. Why does Dunsany choose to use a narrator to convey this story?
Last modified 5 April 2004