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Míriel

Ardamírë
Valinor


Mar 12 2013, 3:57am


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Míriel [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, don't at all feel badly about not including HoME. It's a long, complex series, and very difficult to wade through at times. This being one of my favorite stories, I just automatically went to its fullest versions in Morgoth's Ring and The Peoples of Middle-earth. Now that I'm home with my books, I'll try to bring what I can to the table.

The first thing I notice is that there is a line in "Laws and Customs A" that says "so that wellnigh all strength seemed to have passed from her." It's not a whole lot, but it does make her a little bit more sympathetic, I think, by adding just another descriptor of the state she was in. Now, a little bit after that (also included in the published version) is Miriel's own words "I would weep if I were not so weary." The lady is so incredibly exhausted by Feanor's birth that she can't even cry. I think that goes a long way to explaining why she gave up, but I think it's also quickly passed over.

Then we really get into the heart of the story, and it's not at all present in The Silmarillion as published. Finwe goes to Manwe after a number of years and asks what he should do since he has no wife. Miriel is asked if she would now like to return from Mandos, and this is her reply: "I came hither to escape from the body, and I do not desire ever to return to it. My life is gone out into Feanaro, my son. This gift I have given to him whom I loved, and I can give no more. Beyond Arda this may be healed, but not within it." After this it is said that "she had died under a necessity to great for her to withstand."

Those are from a narrative account, but there is also a debate among the Valar about Finwe and Miriel that adds a little more insight. In the council Yavanna said, "The failing of the strength of the body of Miriel may then be ascribed, with some reason, to the evil of Arda Marred, and her death be a thing unnatural." And Nienna said, "Miriel, I deem, died by necessity of body, in suffering [for] which she was blameless or indeed to be praised, and yet was not given power to resist it: the cost of so great a child-bearing." On the other hand, Ulmo had this to say, "But this resolve entailed not only abandoning her own life, but also the desertion of her spouse, and the marring of his. The justification which she urged is insufficient." Then comes Vaire's words that I alluded to in my earlier post. Speaking of the spirit of Miriel in the Halls of Mandos, she says, "I know it well, for it is small. But it is strong; proud and obdurate. It is of the sort who having said: this I will do, make their words a doom irrevocable unto themselves. She will not return to life..." Even if the whole of these quotations doesn't serve to maker her more or less sympathetic, they do at least shed a fair bit of light onto her character. I think the wealth of information about her that was left out of The Silmarillion is one of the saddest editorial decisions of the entire book.

You asked in your original post Who is/was Miriel? Reading through Morgoth's Ring, I came upon this description that I had completely forgotten about. I cannot for the life of me understand why it was not included in The Silmarillion.

Quote
Her hair was like silver; and she was slender as a white flower in the grass. Soft and sweet was her voice, and she sang as she worked, like rippling water, in music without words. For her hands were more skilled to make things fine and delicate than any other hands even among the Noldor. By her the craft of needles was devised; and if but one fragment of the broideries of Miriel were seen in Middle-earth it would be held dearer than a king's realm; for the richness of her devices and the fire of her colours were as manifold and as bright as the wealth of leaf and flower and wing in the fields of Yavanna.


Many years later, near the end of his life, Tolkien returned to the story of Miriel as it related to the linguistic history of the elves. There the story was changed somewhat, though I'm not sure if this was deliberate or just a misremembering of what he'd written earlier. In it Miriel is said to have waited to die until after Feanor was fully grown - "Her weariness she had endured until he was full grown, but she could endure it no longer." It's also explicitly stated here that she was Noldorin, though I think that was heavily implied in the final narrative version of her story. Also added in this writing is that she was repeatedly asked while in Mandos whether she would return to life or not and that she would each time only say "not yet". Then it says, "Each time that she was approached she became more fixed in her determination, until at last she would listen no more, saying only: 'I desire peace. Leave me in peace here! I will not return. That is my will.'" I think that by having her wait until Feanor was grown shows her in a better light because it allows her to have been there during his childhood, something that I think shows her as more motherly and sacrificial and selfless. But of course, by the time she gets to Mandos, she's absolutely determined not to come back, so I guess it really serves to enhance both aspects of her character.

There is one final thing to note about Miriel's story, and really, this might put her in the most sympathetic light possible after the choices that she made. She does not stay forever in the Halls of Mandos. Instead, she at last relents and admits her fault in abandoning Finwe and Feanor, but not until after Finwe also has died (though that is a discussion of another chapter). They met again in the Halls of Mandos where she said this: "I erred in leaving thee and our son, or at least in not soon returning after brief repose; for had I done so he might have grown wiser. But the children of Indis shall redress his errors and therefore I am glad that they should have being, and Indis hath my love. How should I bear grudge against one who received what I rejected and cherished what I abandoned." After this, Finwe stayed in Mandos, but Miriel was allowed to go back to life in Aman, but "she had no desire to return to her own people." So she went to the House of Vaire and was admitted and became her "chief handmaid." It is here that she put her skills in broidery to their fullest use weaving "webs historial, so fair and skilled that they seemed to live". Finally, her name is changed from Míriel to Fíriel which means "She that died".

I don't know about you, but after having read such a wealth of story and detail, the scant two pages in The Silmarillion just don't do it for me anymore. It's too bad really, because it is such a wonderful tale that explores so many intriguing aspects of the elves and their lives. It's a pity that it was stripped to the bare essentials for the published, and most-widely known, telling. What's even more disheartening is that Miriel is reduced to a shadow the character that Tolkien wrote.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).

Subject User Time
Silmarilion Discussion, Chapter 6: "Of Feanor..." 1 of 2 telain Send a private message to telain Mar 8 2013, 8:46pm
    Alas that I am on holiday... Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 9 2013, 4:29am
        I didn't include HoME... telain Send a private message to telain Mar 10 2013, 11:51pm
            Míriel Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 12 2013, 3:57am
                Wow, many thanks, Ardamire CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 12 2013, 10:33pm
                    It was my pleasure! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 12 2013, 10:56pm
                        I absolutely agree with CuriousG -- thank you! telain Send a private message to telain Mar 12 2013, 11:07pm
                            Finwe and Miriel detailed Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 12 2013, 11:42pm
                                All the same CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 13 2013, 12:43am
                                    Reissue Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 13 2013, 12:51am
                                        count me in, too! telain Send a private message to telain Mar 13 2013, 1:21am
                                            Critique Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 13 2013, 2:09am
                                                For those who may be interested in delving deeper into the story of Finwë and Míriel Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Mar 13 2013, 9:51pm
                    homely Miriel and party-girl Indis, no more! telain Send a private message to telain Mar 13 2013, 1:13am
                Great info Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Mar 13 2013, 5:46pm
                    Thanks, Finwe! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 13 2013, 6:18pm
    Excerpt from Arda Reconstructed Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Mar 9 2013, 8:06pm
        Thank you Ethel Duath Send a private message to Ethel Duath Mar 9 2013, 10:49pm
        and thank you again! telain Send a private message to telain Mar 11 2013, 12:11am
        Another thank you CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 11 2013, 10:55pm
            The daughters of Indis Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Mar 13 2013, 2:06am
    Personality development: nature, nurture, or fate? CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 11 2013, 11:41pm
        did Valinor have daylight savings time? telain Send a private message to telain Mar 14 2013, 1:20am
    Unbelievable Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Mar 13 2013, 8:23pm
        2 bits of advice CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 13 2013, 10:12pm
            Thanks for the advice./// Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Mar 14 2013, 5:57pm
        definitely "going with it"! telain Send a private message to telain Mar 14 2013, 1:30am
            Don't feel sheepish Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Mar 14 2013, 5:58pm
    Coming after the party is over... sador Send a private message to sador Mar 14 2013, 4:04pm
        Unhappy in paradise noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Mar 30 2013, 2:46pm

 
 
 

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