Jan 20 2013, 6:00pm
Sorry this is a bit long -- so many interesting things in such a small chapter!
The Silmarillion discussion: Of Aulë and Yavanna
Of the writing style: Eavesdropping on the Valar
This chapter is written quite differently than the first few -- less third-person narrative and more dialogue between characters, almost like we are witnessing a past conversation between several of the Valar.
Do you like this style? Is it a welcome departure from all the description and lists, or does it feel inconsistent?
Why do think Tolkien wrote it this way? How do you think Tolkien envisioned this chapter being written? (i.e., did Yavanna sit down with one of the Vanyar and say “Ever wonder how the Dwarves were made? Well, do I have a story for you!”)
Why these two Valar before, say, Manwë and Varda?
Of the Making of the Dwarves: Born/bourne out of holes in the ground
Aulë, like any good teacher, wanted worthy students to whom he could teach his craft. Unfortunately, he was impatient and could not bear waiting for the arrival of Ilúvatar’s Children, so he
“...made the Dwarves even as they still are, because the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind,...”.
In what ways were the Dwarves similar to Elves and Men? In what ways different? Do the differences lie in Aulë’s vague interpretation of the coming Children, or do they arise from his own characteristics (or both?) How does this (does this?) affect your reactions to Dwarves in TH and LoTR?
Ilúvatar learns of Aulë’s creation and calls him on the carpet, suggesting not only that he has gone against the Grand Plan, but has created, and rather unethically so, inferior beings:
“...therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being [i.e., Aulë’s own being], moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle.”
What do you make of this statement? A further association between Aulë and machinery/technology/craft? Are the Dwarves at this stage more like machines or more like slaves? Is this an explanation for an ability for evil to “create” beings, (i.e., could orcs really be just “mindless rabble”?) or does it imply the importance of intent (i.e., machines are evil if you do evil things with them)? Something else?
Aulë rationalizes his decision to make the Dwarves :
“ ...yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee.” (A bit cheeky, no?)
With profound humility, Aulë threatens to destroy his creation, yet Ilúvatar saves them by giving them life. Furthermore, Ilúvatar states: “...often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.”
Why do you think Ilúvatar gives the Dwarves life? Is his statement above regarding strife prophetic or decreed? Why does he say “children of my choice” instead of “children of my making”? Surely it was also his choice to save the Dwarves and to give them life?
Of Aulë and Yavanna’s children: Lover’s spat or more than that?
Aulë concealed the Dwarves from the other Valar, which results in further problems once he reveals to Yavanna what he’s been doing working in the garage all this time...
Yavanna’s response is...interesting.
“Eru is merciful. Now I see that thy heart rejoiceth, as indeed it may; for thou hast received not only forgiveness but bounty. Yet because thou hiddest this thought from me until its achievement, thy children will have little love for the things of my love. They will love first the things made by their hands, as doth their father. ...”What is she saying? What are/is her emotions here? Jealousy? Fear? Worry? Anger? Something else?
Respectfully, she seeks the council of Manwë and while he answers her question about how the Children of Ilúvatar will have dominion over her kelvar and olvar, his demeanour is ... ambiguous. He further responds:
“But why dost thou ask, for thou hadst no need of the teaching of Aulë?”Why does she seek out Manwë? What is meant by his response to her?
As she explains her hope to have more voice for her creations, Manwë considers her thoughts and Ilúvatar hears this and unfolds the Song around Manwë so he can see more aspects of the Grand Plan.
Why does Manwë have to consider Yavanna’s thoughts in order for them to be heard by Ilúvatar? Is it something in Yavanna’s nature that others must hold dominion over her (i.e., like the Children will hold over the plants and animals of her making?)
Just as Manwë is describing the Grand Plan to her, Yavanna is assured that her creations will have special worth -- being high enough to allow eagle’s to nest in their boughs -- only to be brought down to earth, again. It seems Aulë’s mountains are to have that honour. In a huff, Yavanna returns to Aulë, warning him that his children should be wary of hers. His response?
“Nonetheless they will have need of wood, said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.” (Seriously?)
Ilúvatar, Manwë, and Aulë seem, in varying degrees, to be rather dismissive of Yavanna -- do you agree? If you do agree, why would they be so dismissive of her? Furthermore, why would Tolkien set up this relational hierarchy -- especially since he was such a great lover of nature and trees? Are the Ents “Shepherds of the Trees” a worthy compromise?
I was reminded of this passage by Aragalen the Green in the thread “Niggled by rocks” (thanks again!):
'Caves! The Caverns of Helm's Deep! Happy was the chance that drove me there! It makes me weep to leave them.' Is this passage in reference to “Of Aulë and Yavanna”? Is it evidence of some kind of peace offering, Aulë to Yavanna, that the dwarves love and tend stone as much as gardeners love and tend Yavanna’s olvar?
'But do not tell all your kindred...one family of busy Dwarves with hammer and chisel might mar more than they made.'
'No, you do not understand...no Dwarf could be unmoved by such loveliness...do you cut down groves of blossoming trees in the springtime for firewood? We would tend these glades of living stone, not quarry them.'(The Two Towers, The Road to Isengard).
Of the bigger problem: Much ado about Melkor
Melkor’s shadow is over all of this, from Aulë’s making the Dwarves sturdy and hardy to withstand him, to Yavanna’s comment:
“All my works are dear to me. Is it not enough that Melkor should mar so many?”
To what is she referring? Orc? Trolls? Flies? Slime-mould? Are the Dwarves particularly resistant to Melkor, either in battle or otherwise?
As always any comments are welcome! (Including those that suggest this post was far too long for a four-page chapter!) Hopefully one or two of my comments or questions will spark your imagination...
(This post was edited by telain on Jan 20 2013, 6:02pm)