Anne Marie Gazzolo, guest author at Mythic Scribes, has written a very informative article on dragons in the imagination and writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Here is a sample:
The great worms will ever live in the world of Faërie, and we can enjoy them from the safety of our favorite reading place. But as we shiver in delighted terror, let us not forget what they can also teach us.
In presenting Smaug as the personification of the destructiveness of avarice, Tolkien shows us the ugliness of materialistic greed. The dragon jealously guards his treasure but does not enjoy it, cannot possibly use it, and does not even know what has true value and what is just a trinket. Even so, he does not wish to share his amassed wealth with anyone. His overreaction after discovering that the cup Bilbo stole is missing is almost as bad as Gollum’s regarding the Ring, and it grows much worse.