Feb 13 2013, 7:53pm
Thanks for the post, NZ!
Re-using the scene: my feelings vary according to how I count them, oddly enough. If I think of them as thousands of years apart, I think it's an appealing recurrence, even more so as Telain says that it's like time moving in cycles, of which these cross-race lovers are just part of the flow. But if I think of it more in book terms of page count, I have a bit of a groan and think, "Oh, love at first sight in the forest again. Don't these people fall in love anywhere else?" There's also Eol and Aredhel falling in love at first sight in a forest (more love on his part than hers, but still mutual). Where does Hurin rediscover Morwen? In the Forest of Brethil. Turin and Nienor falling in love? A forest. Turin's love Finduilas meeting her end? Same forest. I guess Faramir and Eowyn broke the mold by falling in love in a hospital and its gardens.
Nevertheless, I don't really object to it, and forests are typically "enchanted" in fantasies, so why not? It was a romantic setting to Tolkien, and that comes across in the story. If he'd had the same experience in an art museum, we'd probably get that in his books instead. And yes, knowing that it meant a lot to him deepens the charm for me.
I wonder how it works too. Did the other Valar have a say in this? Is that why these two were frozen so long, because Melian was waiting for the debate in Valimar to be settled, or maybe she needed Eru's blessing? What went through Melian's mind at the time: where did she think her children would end up? Did she assume they'd live forever by her side? Did she know that if they died (it seems Elves hadn't died yet, for their fate to be known), they could be stuck in Mandos? Did she think she'd have visitation rights to Mandos, or enough clout to get them an early release?
Why would a Maia marry an Elf and not another Maia? Or do the Ainur couples that we know about have conjugal relations, they just don't bear children? Did Melian even know she could have children? If the other Ainur found out only after Luthien was born, how did they react? Were they concerned that Melian was "diluting the bloodline?" Or did they think it wasn't right to mix divine blood with Elven blood and give Elves undue advantages? Or were they just happy for her, and did Varda and the others give her a baby shower? Yet bloodlines and their purity are so important in Tolkien's stories that, though I have nothing against this union, it seems odd that none of his characters did. If this marriage was okay, did Ainur and Eldar in Valinor beget children? Why not?
And yes, it's easy to see why Thingol fell in love with her, but why the reverse? I also don't think he was the best that the Eldar had to offer, so why didn't she find herself a better man among them? Though love is mysterious, and we never can explain people's preferences. I could say that it blemishes the plot since her motivation is so inscrutable, but then again, she's a divine, other-worldly being, so maybe we couldn't figure her out anyway.
Otherwise, it's a fascinating addition to the plot. On first read, I wondered if they'd spawn a new race of Titans with special powers who'd help set things right in Middle-earth. Luthien was that to some degree, but there was only one of her, and she was a stay-at-home gal until she did some serious dating. In retrospect, spawning an army of Titans wouldn't have been a good idea, but the consequences of this marriage fired my imagination at the time.