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Hello all, my first post about Sil, but I have been following :)


Mar 16 2013, 2:01am

Views: 637
Hello all, my first post about Sil, but I have been following :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks for continuing the fascinating discussion!

Crime and Punishment:

1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like?
I think it was a form of well-intentioned reproof, but ultimately due to Melkor's nature it was torture, one having unforseen consequences, and perhaps not intended as torture by the Valar. To be chained and confined in the midst of beauty, in the 'Noontime of the Blessed Realm, the fullness of it's glory and bliss," knowling that the Three Kindreds were safely gathered and daily prospering, and to be unable to take part in either its joy (had he been able to heal and desire that joy) or, alternately, to have a hand in it's disfigurement (the feeling most likely to be continued, without any internal reason to desire healing) must have been particularly painful to a masterful and controlling nature such as Melkor's.

2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?

I think the concept of punishment versus reform requires a greater familiarity with the nature of Evil, which the Valar at this point lack.
If only Illuvatar has the power to create or destroy, and the valar only the power to change, then it would seem that only Illuvatar could possibly inflict a capital punishment. The question of whether a reform-based approach helping more (it certainly could hardly have helped LESS) in intimately bound with the origin of the nature of Melkor. Do we presume an "illness" on his part, which perhaps implies a cure; and if no cure can be made, then he is beyond saving. Or do we see his actions as a conscious choice, which implies that with motivation and innate desire for change the saving could be effected? My feeling is that having chosen to take for granted all of his blessings and pursue a larger allotment of such, he was beyond help UNLESS he chose to accept his place and thus heal himself.

As Manwe debated the fate of Melkor, Nienna aided Melkor in his defence, while Mandos (shockingly) remained silent.

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?
Perhaps because he offers to aid in "healing" she feels a connection with him. Also, because she feels pain so distinctly, perhaps the faith that if Melkor were to work with her to heal the pains he had wrought upon Arda, that she felt so personally, so much hurt upon the world and her heart would lessen. And perhaps it is the weakness of a great healer who feels too intensely for safety - to desire too deeply the fixing of all problems, perhaps beyond reason.

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?
I can't help but feel that at the least he is perhaps suspicious. I think his silence might be more for Nienna than Melkor - desiring for her, dwelling I think the most alone and aware of the hurts of the world - to gain the hope of healing it all.

The Nature of Evil: The Enemy Within

It seems that Manwe believes Melkor has been "cured" of his evil ways, yet others are not deceived -- namely Ulmo, Tulkas, and (somewhat surprisingly) the Vanyar. Tolkien writes:

For Manwe was free from evil and could not comprehend it, ..., and he saw not to the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.

5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?
I don't think there is one common reason for all of their behaviors, I think it varies. Ulmo is completely undeceived, perhaps this is because of his habit of being alone in his depths, keeping very much to Arda and not Valinor, and having much to do with the Firstborn there. His songs coursed and gave life even as Melkor darkened Arda, so perhaps it is a case of Ulmo having taken full measure of Melkor, and not being swayed by the softe, theoretical and and less life-bound politics of the Blessed Realm. Tulkas as well, I think took Melkor's measure from the first, his powerful personality is not one to be swayed by appearances; an inertial Valar, once started in a particular direction he is unlikely to change course. The Vanyar seemed content in the light of the Two Trees, and thus I think a restless and fomenting presence such as Melkor, even disguised, repelled them.
6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)? Admiration and envy differ in their desire for possession and control of the beloved thing. Admiration is passive. Since envy implies possession as a drive, it is active, and thus by can cause the envious person to attempt to take action to obtain control or possession of the desired object.
Melkor chooses to teach his knowledge and skills to the Noldor over the Vanyar (who still do not trust him), and over the Teleri (a people he believes are not worthy of his teaching). Given what we know of the Noldor's interest in understanding the world and crafting things, this seems to makes sense. Melkor also, falsely, takes credit for teaching Feanor all he knows, though Feanor hate for Melkor exceeded any of the Eldalie.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest? Perhaps out of envy for the beauty of all of Feanor's work, and desiring to be considered as part of its history, because he is motivated by the envy not only of the jewels wrought by Feanor (as well as the Silmarils, since the statement is made 'afterwards') but the regard and honor of others. Feanor does not protest because his ego and spirit burns so fiercely that the statements of others were meaningless to him. Polar opposites, in that way, but similar in outcomes.

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this? I think the Vanyar were lulled by contentment, and therefore passive, although they would not accept Melkor they also took no action; the danger in deep contentment perhaps. The Noldor, in the Noontime, were absorbed in advancing their skills and their knowledge. Considering the time and the glorious blooming in Valinor, Aule perhaps was busy in creating and teaching with the Noldor. To the Teleri Melkor gives little heed and calls them weak tools - implying that they too were content, like the Vanyar, and unavailable for any beguiling by Melkor. It seems that for Melkor to achieve his goals requires a restless spirit or a longing for something not yet possessed or understood (ie: a wisp of envy...)

A Coda

If you haven't read Voronwe_the_Faithful's post and article (above), I strongly urge you to do so. Our current chapter, it appears, is rather thin for a reason. I, for one, would have loved to learn more about the society of the Valar and the Eldar, to understand better the actions of certain people -- especially once prominent female characters, and to have a fuller, more complex Silmarilion than the one resting on my coffee table.

In the Foreword, Christopher Tolkien describes the creation of the Silmarilion and his father's variations of form and focus: poetry and oral tales, mythology and philosophy. The following questions deal with this topic. I apologize for straying out of chpater bounds and for introducing material that has likely been hashed, re-hashed, and hashed again, but I felt it belonged here.

i. Why did Christopher seek to standardize this text? Was it the publishers? His view of what the audience wanted or could handle? Do you think the chapters of the Silmarilion are cohesive? (i.e., did Christopher achieve his goal?) Or would you rather have seen the collection of annals, poems and tales that lay scattered about the Tolkien residence? Would it have been charming, or too difficult, to read in that format?
I think the standardization benefits the reader. I think it was motivated by his desire to have readers understand the beliefs and the flow of JRRT's creation legend. Charming to read a piece at a time true, but placing them in a timeline helps, especially with so many significant events and numerous charactars.
Thank you all for your comments, clarifications, and questions! Your welcome!

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.

Subject User Time
Silmarilion Discussion, Chapter 6: "...and the Unchaining of Melkor" 2 of 2 telain Send a private message to telain Mar 11 2013, 4:42pm
    Unleashing the beast CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 13 2013, 5:55pm
        how well do we really know Melkor? telain Send a private message to telain Mar 16 2013, 11:02pm
            Melkor Choice and naivete of the Valar Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 17 2013, 1:38am
                Melkor's dark music and Nienna's healing telain Send a private message to telain Mar 17 2013, 11:34pm
                    Pride and pity CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 18 2013, 12:49am
                        I get your thoughts CG! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 18 2013, 1:19am
                    Some thoughts on Nienna and Olorin and pity Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 18 2013, 1:12am
                        I'm always learning something new here CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Mar 18 2013, 2:04am
                            Clueless? Hardly! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 18 2013, 3:15am
    My thoughts Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Mar 14 2013, 7:07pm
        how did Aule get in this chapter? Oh, yes... telain Send a private message to telain Mar 16 2013, 11:39pm
            The whole "Knowledge- good or bad?" question elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Mar 17 2013, 10:28am
    my thoughts Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Mar 16 2013, 12:30am
        Free will Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 16 2013, 4:40am
            then how does this apply to the gift of men? Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Mar 16 2013, 11:09am
                It's not easy for us Mortals to see it as a gift, is it? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 16 2013, 3:45pm
                    as you've described it.. Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Mar 16 2013, 4:06pm
                        Scratching head, flipping though text- Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 16 2013, 4:49pm
                            I think the "gift" is not connected to "free will". Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 16 2013, 9:40pm
                                Did not intend to imply control Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 16 2013, 10:13pm
        Feanor is a pit of smouldering coals... telain Send a private message to telain Mar 16 2013, 11:52pm
    Hello all, my first post about Sil, but I have been following :) Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Mar 16 2013, 2:01am
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Mar 18 2013, 7:35am


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