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The Silmarillion discussion: Of Aulë and Yavanna
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telain
Rohan

Jan 20 2013, 6:00pm

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The Silmarillion discussion: Of Aulë and Yavanna Can't Post

Sorry this is a bit long -- so many interesting things in such a small chapter!

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

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“...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:

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“...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 :

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“ ...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.

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“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:

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“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?

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“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!):

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'Caves! The Caverns of Helm's Deep! Happy was the chance that drove me there! It makes me weep to leave them.'
'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).

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?


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:

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“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)


FlyingSerkis
Rivendell


Jan 20 2013, 9:36pm

Post #2 of 40 (800 views)
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I do like the last lines of this chapter ;-) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry to immediately divert attention away from your great questions (I tend to enjoy reading others' insightful answers, but not try to come up with my own Blush) but I have a question of my own...

Here is an extract of Aulë's defence of his creation to Ilúvatar:


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"...the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father. ... As a child to his father, I offer to thee these things, the work of the hands which thou hast made"


My question is: how does Aulë have a concept of a father-son relationship? The Valar have no children or parents, unless you count Eru who is really the Father. But Aulë seems to talk about things which are "normal" for a son to do in admiration of his father. How should he know that?

Then Manwë and Yavanna parted for that time, and Yavanna returned to Aulë; and he was in his smithy, pouring molten metal into a mould. 'Eru is bountiful,' she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.'

'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.


(This post was edited by FlyingSerkis on Jan 20 2013, 9:37pm)


masinger
Registered User

Jan 20 2013, 10:46pm

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Aluë and Yavanna [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this section likely reflects Tolkien's changing ideas about Dwarves as the mythology developed and as LoTR was written. To me, it looks like this more positive view may have a terminus ad quem of 1937 with the sending of the material of The Silmarillion to Allen and Unwin. The actual story is presented in The Lhammas (The Lost Road 194-5) as a comment by Pengolod/Pengoloð to Rúmil's writing about the origin of languages. There, though, Pengolod says "the Dwarves have no spirits indwelling" and the story of Ilúvatar noting that they demonstrate free will by begging not to be destroyed by Aluë is a later addition.

One way to read all of this might be to assume that Rúmil knew little of Dwarves and that what Pengolod knew was less than positive, so that later glosses had to correct this error. Those glosses made use of invented speeches, something that is common in antique and medieval histories alike to illustrate events that were known to be true. They may even reflect what the Dwarves said about themselves, though they wouldn't necessarily have to do so.


telain
Rohan

Jan 21 2013, 1:33pm

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what are Valar "children" anyway? [In reply to] Can't Post

The "children" part, in particular intrigued me. As I was quoting Yavanna referring to Aulë's children, I thought "What a weird comment!" Yavanna and Aulë are supposed to be "together" but clearly the Dwarves are his children, not theirs. Clearly, Valar "children" aren't like children of Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, etc., and your question about how Aulë understands a father-son relationship really underscores this issue.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the Valar sometimes act so strangely with regard to the people/events in Middle-earth? How much are the Valar's creations "of" themselves like human children are? Is that analogy accurate or, would a better analogy be something closer to a human sculpting a statue or building a house?

As for Aulë, he understands that Ilúvatar made him and that Ilúvatar's Vision is to be followed, but as for a closer approximation of how a, for example, human child would act toward its father (or mother)? That deserves some thought. Perhaps there is something in the Song/Vision that Aulë is drawing on?


telain
Rohan

Jan 21 2013, 1:48pm

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... I do remember reading at one time something about the Dwarves having no spirit/soul, though, as you have pointed out, that is clearly not the case as far as this chapter goes -- and I would argue for the more "fleshed-out" Dwarven characters in TH and LoTR. I can't imagine those characters could have been written the way they were if they truly had no spark of the Secret Fire. Especially since they react so passionately to some things... (would Thorin really have gone through all that trouble if he had no spirit/soul?)

I think it makes sense to read it as you have stated: Rúmil had little knowledge and Pengolod had a rather negative outlook. Also, it is worth noting here that the Dwarves were intensely secret about their language -- apparently it was exceedingly "complicated and cacophonous" so much so that the Elves did not bother trying to learn it (H. Carpenter, Letter 25). So, not only is it reasonable to assume that if the Dwarves kept their language (even their true names) secret from non-Dwarves, then they might keep their true natures secret as well. Additionally, as you suggest, it might not have occurred to the Elves in question to take the time and energy to find out.


PhantomS
Rohan


Jan 21 2013, 2:52pm

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Why these two Valar before, say, Manwë and Varda?

Probably because those two don't seem to create anything, or at least create anything with great effort and care like Aule and Yavanna. The chapter is entirely about creating and the ethics of doing so.

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?

They seem to be , as Tokien says 'a race apart'. All we know about them is based on their interactions with other races and none from an 'insider'. They seem to have adapted to the world at large rather than imposed their will on it (apart from the mountains, which Aule made himself anyway). so there is an aura of mystery and uncertainty around Dwarves when others are concerned of them. The similarities come from their origins as free, speaking people on two legs-after that everything diverges wildly.


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?


Morgoth literally imbued himself into the Orcs; Sauron is basically controlling a biological weapon that can reproduce itself, animated by a shred of Morgoth's power. They are not mindless but the will that drives them to live is not their own, which is what separates them from the Free Folk or the Men who serve the Dark Lords. They may chatter and hiss and even sing, but they do so with Morgoth lurking in the back of their head somewhat....

The Dwarves were not robots but could only be extensions of Aule' s willpower. As Aule did not go as far as Morgoth with the biology, he was forgiven by the One.

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?"

Here comes the song about the Plan- which originally contained only Elves and Men (and animals). Eru has amended the plan by adding a new stanza to the poem, but now the song sounds a little off-key at times; like how Treebeard added Hobbits to the Long List, but with more potential for misunderstanding. Elves and Men weren't even built to interact with Dwarves- luckily for them Aule made the Dwarves adaptable to other races instead.


What is she saying? What are/is her emotions here? Jealousy? Fear? Worry? Anger? Something else?


Aule and Yavanna both took part in the song that created Elves and Men, and created them together with the other Valar and Maiar. it was all OK for Aule to build mountains and other rocky things while Yavanna tended trees and small animals- the Elves and Men would treasure all of them as A/Y had a hand in their making. However, since Yavanna had no say in the Dwarves' mentality and needs they are built completely disregarding her concerns. She is noticably sarcastic and upset, as this is one of the few things Aule has made without consulting her at all. She doesn't realize though, that both Elves and Men will also hurt the forests and animals later as they too have free will.

Why does she seek out Manwë? What is meant by his response to her?

Manwe is the king of the Valar and the only one (besides Mandos) who knows what Eru is willing. His response is diplomatic enough, and since he would know why Eru gave life to the Dwarves, he's not about to share it with Yavanna just yet. he offers her a compromise by creating his Eagle corps and giving her the Ents, but the will of the One stays.

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?

While Tolkien loved trees and forests, that won't mean his characters would. Yavanna seems pretty demanding, getting two new species of creatures to do her bidding and still unhappy. Yet Eru and Aule are creators while Yavanna is a grower- their things just up and go, while she has to wait for her trees to grow and her grass to green.


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?


I don't see it that way at all; in the context of that discussion Legolas is quite unflattering about those caves as Gimli is about Fangorn Forest. That passage is a rare insight about how Dwarves can be coaxed into prose and love, as Gloin was when talking about Erebor to Frodo. Legolas offers the pro-Yavanna proposal that a family of Dwarves will destroy the caves by mining, but Gimli retorts that they would treat it like a work of art and probably chip a bit here and there. It's more of an arguement between a Dwarf and an Elf rather than two of the Valar; Gloin even says that they've lost some smithing skills and have started shaping stone like the pros- the love of art is probably reflected in his son.


To what is she referring? Orc? Trolls? Flies? Slime-mould? Are the Dwarves particularly resistant to Melkor, either in battle or otherwise?

As Morgoth made the world his Ring, everything that grows is tainted with his spark in some way or another- disease, decay and other things were not in Yavanna's plan for the kelvar and olvar, and the burning and stripping of the forests was probably not good for her either. it must be painful to see things you've raised since seedling days die prematurely or deformed.

The Dwarves were built to survive the dark and damp as well as intense fires/colds- things Melkor was very specialized in. Their age is the amazing thing, almost always up to 250 years regardless of condition (other than being killed of course). The Dwarves also are incredibly difficult to convince of anything. Being a race apart also protects them from the lies and division that englufed Elves and Men, though not resistant to personal taunts. Morgoth cannot lie to them or undo their mansions, so they are relatively safe from him.



CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 21 2013, 7:30pm

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Thanks for the great analysis, Telain! It isn't too long for me; Tolkien has a lot going on in only four pages.

Of the writing style: Eavesdropping on the Valar
This is the most approachable of the early chapters for the reasons you give: we get to listen to people speak to each other as individuals and hear their thoughts and conflicts. I would call it a progression from the previous style rather than inconsistent. As for how it was written down in Arda, it seems pretty private to divulge to someone, doesn't it? So I'm not sure how it leaked out, but I think what Masinger (Welcome, Masinger!) said about "invented speeches" filling in the blanks in history would make sense. If an Elf child asks their parents where babies come from, and Ents too, they have to come up with something to tell them. Now I want to know if Tolkien's kids asked him where babies came from and he said, "From angels singing."

Why these two Valar before, say, Manwë and Varda?
That was certainly my question on first read! Nothing wrong with choosing them, but it seems like he's starting in the middle of his lists rather than at the top, so it feels odd, especially since we never get another close-up look at Valar couples later on. I like PhantomS's explanation that it's all about creation, and particularly about the creation of living things. Manwe's air, Ulmo's waters, and Aule's earth are essential elements of Arda, and Yavanna couldn't have anything grow without them, but there's no life or Imperishable Flame in them, and no thought or will. What we see in this chapter is progression (not just stylistic) from the basics of creation to more sophisticated beings. Manwe gets tucked into this chapter not only as arbitrator but because he helps create eagles. It would probably be awkward to include Varda and other Valar who aren't involved in making creatures. Though I wonder why Orome isn't included somehow, since he loves trees and is called the Lord of Forests--shouldn't he have been involved in Ent-making?

Of the Making of the Dwarves: Born/bourne out of holes in the ground
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?
My gut-level feeling about Dwarves is that they are cruder than other beings that go on two legs, and from reading this chapter it seems that Aule didn't quite get all the details right when he tried to imitate Papa's work. Their personalities never seem as varied as those of Elves, Men, and hobbits. Reading their origins reinforces my understanding of them in The Hobbit and LOTR. "Aha! That's why they're like that." And while I wouldn't say I dislike Dwarves, this chapter makes me like them more. Do you suppose Tolkien had this creation story about Dwarves in mind when he first wrote about them, or added it later?

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?
They come across as machines to me. I think even a slave would beg you not to kill it, but these creatures wouldn't have protested their demise without Eru making them his own. What I wonder about is why Tolkien seems to admire the greatness of smiths while also having them cause the most trouble (Melkor, Aule, Sauron, Feanor). We don't see Yavanna getting into trouble with her creations.

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?
I think Iluvatar is a generous being/father that can't bring himself to destroy Aule's creation, even though he initially disapproves of it. Your other questions are mine too! And really, isn't "adoption" the same as "choice"? Tolkien seems to be picking his words very precisely throughout the dialogue in this chapter, leaving me baffled by "children of my choice." What did he choose them from--a catalog? Were there other options available? Didn't he make them/sing them/think them himself?

Re: strife. It seems mostly prophetic to me. I wonder if it's a little decreed also, as a warning to Aule or anyone else to not overstep the bounds of creation.

Of Aulë and Yavanna’s children: Lover’s spat or more than that?

What is she saying? What are/is her emotions here? Jealousy? Fear? Worry? Anger? Something else?

She definitely sounds jealous to me: Aule not only escaped punishment, Daddy rewarded him with a blessing on his illicit activity. Shouldn't the Valar be above envy? (Besides Melkor.) And it sounds like the sort of marital tension you get over big decisions on houses and kids that you're supposed to make together. She works in some guilt: "Well, since you didn't include me in your secret project, these kids of yours will probably be destructive of my creations. If only you had included me!" And it's interesting that her first reaction seems to be anxiety, not appreciation: "Wow! You made your own race? That's neat." She also seems a little resentful with "Eru is merciful," as if she thought he shouldn't have been. So it seems to be a lover's spat combined with the gods of Oil and Water finding that they don't mix well together.

Why does she seek out Manwë? What is meant by his response to her?
I'm not quite sure if she's seeking out his greater wisdom or authority, or both. She doesn't seem to be seeking him out as a friend to complain to.

His response seems to indicate mild suspicion, or at least curiosity: she should know this already, so why is she citing Aule as her source?

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?
Yes, this chapter makes me feel that Yavanna is getting a rotten deal out of the whole Arda thing, and no one seems to care. Does she need some feminist sisters to help make the patriarchy take her seriously? Or is Tolkien projecting himself onto her--aren't nature lovers doomed to feel helpless against the destructive and uncaring forces of industry? (And Dwarves are pure industry.)

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?
I personally find Gimli's sudden burst of passion for the Glittering Caves to be awkward. Partly it's the timing: they've just been through a terrible battle that they nearly lost, and Gimli was forced to take refuge in these caves, yet he immediately falls in rapturous love with them? Weren't there other things on his mind? Why didn't we see the same passion from him in Moria? But my own skepticism aside, I think you're probably right that Tolkien was trying to equate Dwarf and Elf passion in that portion.


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“All my works are dear to me. Is it not enough that Melkor should mar so many?”
Since she loves even "the small and secret things in the mould," I think she's hurt by all of Melkor's perversion and destruction--even when he harms slime-mould!



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“'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.”
I never know what to make of this chapter ending. Is he being callous, or a pragmatist? Yavanna has had all sorts of angst and finally comes to a happy resolution, and poof! She's back where she started. Is he a horrible husband, the unthinking Industrial Age, or just telling her that the world isn't perfect and she needs to adapt to that?


telain
Rohan

Jan 22 2013, 8:25pm

Post #8 of 40 (707 views)
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of ethical creation [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Probably because those two don't seem to create anything, or at least create anything with great effort and care like Aule and Yavanna. The chapter is entirely about creating and the ethics of doing so.


I really like this answer -- if we are looking at the first few chapters of The Silmarilion as creation stories, then it makes perfect sense to talk about these two first. I am intrigued by the ethics angle, so I'll run with that a bit. As I see it -- from this chapter -- we have the following options:

a) create beings with minds of their own (up until now Iluvatar only, though Aule is responsible now for the Dwarves)
b) create beings subject to your will (what the Dwarves might have been if not "enspirited"(?) by Iluvatar; orcs? other evil creatures?)
c) create beings with unknown and/or limited sentience (Yavanna's olvar and kelvar)

(did I miss any?)

So my question is, Did Iluvatar "enspirit" (i.e., give spirit/fire to) the Dwarves as a warning -- or the very least as a double-edged sword? Sure, now Aule has someone to teach his craft to, but these beings have minds of their own and may do anything -- for good or for ill. As their creator, Aule (if he looks up from the smithing-table from time to time) must (I would think) feel responsible for what happens to them, as well as their actions for or against others. Is this a weight that Iluvatar himself felt only he should bear, but now that the Dwarves are in play, he has decided to make an example of Aule? Is Iluvatar really being merciful as Yavanna says?

As for Yavanna, as you say, her creations grow; their actions are never seen as evil and are generally seen as good (if it is a given that all of Nature is, as movie-Meriadoc says "green and good").
Obviously it is seen as ethically, morally wrong to create creatures subject only to the will of the Creator. So, who has the greater ethical dilemma? Is it more of a conundrum to create creatures that will be dominated by others, or to create creatures that will do the dominating? Why is Yavanna so worried -- if Elves and Men are in the Song, would it not be prudent of her to accept the situation, or does she have a good point?

thanks so much for all your great thoughts, PhantomS! more later!



elostirion74
Rohan

Jan 22 2013, 9:32pm

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Questions part 2:
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?)"

The differences lie in Aulë´s characteristics and his decision to strengthen the dwarves for future hardihood. The dwarves seem to be more coarse, more bound to the earth, but also tougher than Elves and Men. It´s only natural that the dwarves should share several of the characteristics of their maker and therefore the dwarves clearly are bound to and interested in working with stones, metals, mining and building. It´s also said that he made them hard and enduring to make them more able to resist Melkor´s influence, which is why they are tough and stubborn. The dwarves seem more protective of their knowledge and prone to adopt a possessive attitude towards their creations than their maker, though, compare the remarks about Aulë´s nature in chapter 1.

Questions part 3:
"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:

"Quote
“...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?"

I don´t see any association between Aulë and machinery in itself here, only an assertion of the fact that only by the will of Ilúvatar can a creature be given the power of independent life. Without Ilúvatar´s decision to give them independent life, the dwarves are like machines and pure extensions of Aulë´s will.


Questions part 4
"Aulë rationalizes his decision to make the Dwarves :
Quote
“ ...yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee.”
(A bit cheeky, no?) "

Isn´t it similar to Tolkien´s reasoning in his theory about sub-creation: we still make by the law that we were made..

Questions part 5:

Quote
“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?

I interpret her emotions as partly worry and fear that there will be yet another race which will have mastery over her works and partly a reminder to her husband (implied rebuke?) of the consequences of his keeping his thoughts secret from her.

Questions part 6:
"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?) "

As the lord of/chief among the Valar, it seems like it´s Manwe´s role to consult Ilúvatar and interpret his will. Yavanna is not treated differently from the other Valar here, Manwë has the same appointed role and particular understanding of the will/thought of Ilúvatar vis à vis them.

I don´t see Ilúvatar, Aulë or Yavanna being dismissive towards Yavanna. What gives you that impression?
The conversation between Manwë and Yavanna only shows that a) there are aspects of the Grand Plan that Manwë has overlooked or has been less conscious of and b) that Yavanna´s thoughts and questions provide him with an imperative to gain new perspective. I can imagine Manwë´s mind having been more akin to that of Ulmo and Aulë and him being so preoccupied with shaping the basic structures of the Earth (sky, water, valleys/mountains and the fabric of the Earth), protecting that aspect of their work against Melkor, that he sometimes forgot to consider the importance of all the different living species in Middle Earth and how to protect them.

Last of all: Yavanna has the role of making the Two Trees of Valinor, the supreme symbol of the height of the bliss and beauty of this realm. How can holding such power be seen as being dismissed?

Aulë´s last words I only see as an expression of his practical thinking and an acknowledgement that the trees are also needed to provide for the dwarves as well as Men and Elves (either as energy or as material for building and making things), they do not exist solely for their beauty



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telain
Rohan

Jan 23 2013, 8:30pm

Post #10 of 40 (702 views)
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that last line... [In reply to] Can't Post

...is so intriguing/frustrating!

Such great responses! Now if there were only a few more hours in the day...

'Approachable' is a great word to describe this chapter, CuriousG, and I'll run with that a bit, if you don't mind. One of the things that I realized when I read this chapter is how much more like "real people" the characters of Aule and Yavanna seemed. Since they are supposed to be higher powers, I'm not sure if "more like real people" is good or bad, but it certainly does invite discussion.

Aule (from this chapter) seems like the introverted, focused, absent-minded scientist. He doesn't realize that creating his own race of beings might cause problems, and he doesn't get the the not-so-subtle verbal cues from Yavanna. This image helps me understand how he could say that last line without me thinking he is unfeeling and horrible. I have more sympathy for the character if I see him as a bit more obliviously practical.

Yavanna is tough. I want to see her as quietly strong; caring, but powerful. Almost like Galadriel's best in Valar form. Yet this chapter does not present her this way -- she is jealous, worried, fearful, even almost petty (in the way she uses language, not the significance of what has happened). She seems to be taken less seriously by the other Valar and Iluvatar. All of this (in my mind) conflicting imagery seems to make more sense when I read this:

Quote
Or is Tolkien projecting himself onto her--aren't nature lovers doomed to feel helpless against the destructive and uncaring forces of industry? (And Dwarves are pure industry.)


I wonder if that was what Tolkien was up to. It makes sense that the Valar responsible for creating those creatures that are destined to be dominated by others would be more cautious, and more fearful. She already knows what happens to creatures that are perverted by Melkor, whereas the other Valar (esp. in this case, Aule) do not. This does not really explain the jealousy part, but then, later in the chapter she basically admits that she would have done the same if she knew she could get away with it.

Which leads me to the Ents. Isn't it interesting that they essentially are dying out in LoTR, because they have lost the Entwives? Sounds like a replay of Yavanna and Aule's spat, though with a slightly different form. The Entwives are more agriculturally-minded, while the Ents are more "wild nature". Maybe if Orome had been consulted, they would have ended differently.

Still want to discuss the nature of the Dwarves a bit more since everyone who has responded seems to have interesting viewpoints on them ... soon!




FlyingSerkis
Rivendell


Jan 23 2013, 9:25pm

Post #11 of 40 (669 views)
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I'm going to jump on that comparison! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Aule (from this chapter) seems like the introverted, focused, absent-minded scientist. He doesn't realize that creating his own race of beings might cause problems, and he doesn't get the the not-so-subtle verbal cues from Yavanna. This image helps me understand how he could say that last line without me thinking he is unfeeling and horrible. I have more sympathy for the character if I see him as a bit more obliviously practical.


I think that's a wonderful description of Aule. To take the scientist description further, I'm sure many of the greatest scientists of this world have caused terrible things to happen which they never intended - I think Einstein felt that he had helped to bring about the development of nuclear weapons which he was strongly against. I would imagine Tolkien would be only too aware of the terrible things that come from good intentions like these.

Going a bit further with that, many great scientists love to pass on their knowledge to anyone who is interested. But it seems that there will be those who will learn these skills from a well-meaning teacher and use them to bad ends, and here I am of course thinking about Mairon and, to a lesser extent, Curunir, both Maiar of Aule.

Then Manwë and Yavanna parted for that time, and Yavanna returned to Aulë; and he was in his smithy, pouring molten metal into a mould. 'Eru is bountiful,' she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.'

'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 23 2013, 9:36pm

Post #12 of 40 (682 views)
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Great insights from both of you.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 24 2013, 6:01pm

Post #13 of 40 (674 views)
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The problem with Ents [In reply to] Can't Post

I like Ents, but I don't see them as effective guardians of forests in general. The Ents in Beleriand are never mentioned as routinely opposing orcish depredations, and the Ents in LOTR live in isolation in Fangorn Forest, not sprinkled throughout Middle-earth protecting forests from harm. I suppose they could be in Mirkwood (and maybe one was spotted in the Shire), but I get the impression that apart from the lost Entwives, the Ents only live in Fangorn (and Entwives preferred open lands to forests anyway). If Ents really were vigilant guardians of the woods, there should be more general knowledge of them as someone you don't want to provoke, but instead they're a forgotten race. Hence the solution given to Yavanna of Ents protecting her creations is yet another situation where she didn't get a very good bargain.


telain
Rohan

Jan 24 2013, 6:39pm

Post #14 of 40 (635 views)
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thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

... and I really like how you expanded it. I do think this is a problem that we face and that Tolkien is likely alluding to. How do we celebrate the inventiveness of people (or Valar!?) without worrying about how the fruits of those labours will bear out? While we would love to believe that all these new fantastic inventions and creations would/will be used for good, there is always a rotten apple or two to spoil it. Unfortunately, as you said, the scientist/inventor often bears the brunt of the responsibility -- either externally from society's perspective, or internally from one's own conscience.

From Tolkien's perspective, this world is our home and it is part of our nature (nature of Elves, Men, Dwarves, Hobbits,) to "renovate" from time to time. Again, one of those conundrums -- it is part of our nature, but that does not mean it necessarily ends well every time.


telain
Rohan

Jan 24 2013, 6:44pm

Post #15 of 40 (644 views)
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good points! [In reply to] Can't Post

And if you take Fangorn as the "prime" example of Ent guardianship, are they then merely protecting the forest by making it (or allowing it to be?) inhospitable to pretty much everything else?

Perhaps a reason is that it takes such a long time to do anything in old Entish... Wink

poor Yavanna...


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 24 2013, 6:57pm

Post #16 of 40 (695 views)
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Yavanna is to Galadriel as who is to whom? [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting that you mention the Yavanna/Galadriel connection.


Quote
Almost like Galadriel's best in Valar form.


I feel the same way about her, but oddly, I can't think of any other Vala/non-Vala pairing. I try thinking of Elrond and all the rest, but don't have any intuitive connections, even between Feanor and Aule. I suppose Tulkas and Boromir are a match. Maybe Cirdan and Ulmo? Can anyone else think of any natural pairings of similar personalities?


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Jan 24 2013, 6:59pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 24 2013, 10:16pm

Post #17 of 40 (646 views)
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Noble goals, dropping it stylistically, selfishness and retrofitted Ents [In reply to] Can't Post

The discussion of creativity & where it ends reminded me of this...

Quote
"Most noble goals can remain so only in principle: carnage and misery form a very large part of how things come to fruition"
Aliette de Bodard (author )
"Author Spotlight" interview in Lightspeed Magazine #30, November

How often that happens!

A confession - the Eru/Aule conversation is one of the few places where , for me, Tolkien irritates me stylistically. i can't take all the thee/thou/thine seriously. Sounds too much like a lift from the King James Bible. Does this passage clang for anyone else, or is it just me?

In our last thread we discussed whether something selfish about the Valar was surfacing. Continuing that theme, I notice that 3 of them are now wanting their own special kind of sentient creatures: is there a bit of Melkor in all Valar, perhaps?

Lastly- I wonder whether the bit about the Ents is retrofitted? Treebeard says that the Elves woke them up: is that because he doesn't know the Yavanna part of the story, or because Tolkien has had to dig himself out of having allowed the Elves to do something he later decided was the preserve of Eru only?


telain
Rohan

Jan 24 2013, 10:59pm

Post #18 of 40 (684 views)
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Whateth dost thou speaketh of? [In reply to] Can't Post

(sorry! could not resist!)

Sometimes I can gloss over the language (no pun intended - really!), but sometimes it catches my eye in a way that I find distracting. I guess I am usually just happy to have "real" conversation and character development that I often let the awkwardness slide.

On one hand, I understand the desire to make the speech of the Valar seem older, higher, somehow, and less easily understood. But then there is the other hand:

Quote
For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; ...


...and the Ents! As much as this chapter talks about Dwarves, this thread now moves in an Entish direction! Hurrumph!


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 25 2013, 12:08am

Post #19 of 40 (627 views)
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Okay, back to Dwarves, or Telain complaineth to Eru [In reply to] Can't Post

There's the usual problem with sex here: how do these Fathers of Dwarves reproduce if there are no mothers or even concubines?

Aule builds mountains and must think big: why are Dwarves short?

Since Eru made it clear to Aule that his act of mercy of ensouling the Dwarves didn't extend to letting them actually live and breathe before the Firstborn (even though they were born first), why did he allow them to be born second, before Men?

When confronted with death, the Dwarves begged for mercy. Don't you have trouble imagining Dwarves begging for anything? They seem too proud to.

Do you suppose Aule ever visits the Dwarves after they are awakened, either disguised or not? Wouldn't he want to?

Why do you think Dwarves are reincarnated, but only the original seven? Why do Men get left out of the reincarnation party? Is it because Men leave Arda and Elves and Dwarves don't? Then why don't all Dwarves get the chance to come back?

We must vote whether we think the Eldar or the Dwarves are right about their afterlife: return to the earth, or get their own wing of Mandos Mansion? We just can't let Tolkien to get away with ambiguity every time he tries or there will be no end of it.

An Ent and a Dwarf walk into a bar... (never mind)


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 25 2013, 12:54am

Post #20 of 40 (671 views)
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Maiar of Aulë and Yavanna [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
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?
Quote
“Nonetheless they will have need of wood, said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.”

Interesting how the "conflict" between
Aulë and Yavanna is continued through the ages with the scorn Saraman (a Maia of Aulë) has for Radagast (a Maia of Yavanna).


There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 25 2013, 1:34am

Post #21 of 40 (636 views)
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Superb connection!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Jan 25 2013, 1:34am)


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 25 2013, 1:46am

Post #22 of 40 (667 views)
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Then again, Yavanna... [In reply to] Can't Post

has the last laugh, so to speak, when the Ents attack and destroy Isengard, effectively stopping Saruman's machinations.

Sorry to digress into the Third Age, when I know your topic is set Before the Ages, but again, interesting how the relationships between the Valar have impacts throughout the Ages.
(and I've left Dwarves out as well!)

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


(This post was edited by Aragalen the Green on Jan 25 2013, 1:46am)


squire
Valinor


Jan 25 2013, 12:58pm

Post #23 of 40 (703 views)
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Some passages are to be found in the original Silmarillion, and others ent, as you might say [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right that the Ents were "retrofitted" into the Silmarillion tradition - after the writing of The Lord of the Rings. All of it, from the passage we are discussing to their intervention in the wars with Morgoth's folk, was made up and added sometime in the late 40s or even 50s to stories that were more or less complete by the end of the 1930s.

Same goes for Galadriel, for the same reason.

Look in the indexes of the History of Middle-earth volumes 4 and 5, which present the textual development of the Silmarillion right up to the point where The Hobbit was launched and Tolkien began its famous 'sequel'. One finds there absolutely no mention of the Ents whatever - and only a few references to Galadriel. She actually appears in the notes a couple of times, where Christopher Tolkien takes the time to point out that she is missing from the main text in places where she later was inserted.

As annoying as it is, I have always found it hard to do more than casual textual analysis of The Silmarillion (1977) - in the sense of, what does this mean or why does he write this like that? - without a working knowledge of HoME. I found this out when I conducted my first Sil discussion on TORn. It's annoying, because it makes a lot of work for everyone and alienates a lot of Tolkien readers who wish the Sil was just a good ripping yarn to read after finishing LotR.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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telain
Rohan

Jan 27 2013, 12:45am

Post #24 of 40 (567 views)
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absolutely no complaints here! [In reply to] Can't Post

though I am still trying to come up with something for "an ent and a dwarf walk into a bar..."

I do have trouble seeing the Dwarves beg (especially the original seven fathers); perhaps this is due to their perceived might of both Aule and Iluvatar. Perhaps also there is something to this moment in their "birth" that resonates throughout their race -- a sort of "never again will we beg for our lives!" moment.

On the fathers, I read (and now the reference escapes me...) that in fact it was the seven fathers (but six of them had wives.) So, in reality there are 13 initial dwarves. Whether this is commentary on dwarves, on Aule, on Tolkien himself, or on the time/place/culture in which Tolkien was writing I think I could say, "a little from columns A, B, C, & D."

Also, will higher powers please stop creating things in numbers of 13? Don't they know it always ends badly? Wink

Dwarf reincarnation! (on goes the thinking cap once again...) It is strange, because although Dwarves have long life, they certainly are not immortal; Men who were descendants of Numenor would also have had long live, but are still under the "Human" clause for life after death in Iluvatar's Grand Plan -- so it isn't just long life. I had wondered about "their own rooms in halls of Mandos" -- do they get to visit with those residing in the Elven wings, or are they eternally separated? And why attach Dwarven afterlife to that of the Elves? Why couldn't they have their own system? (for instance, they could become part of the mountain in which they lived?)

questions, questions that seemingly have no answers!


telain
Rohan

Jan 27 2013, 12:56am

Post #25 of 40 (585 views)
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superb connection seconded! [In reply to] Can't Post

and no apologies needed! I had wanted to post something about the Dwarves, but all these amazing responses have me pleasantly sidetracked!

I think it is very appropriate to bring in Third Age material. As squire posted earlier, The Silmarilion is somewhat thin in spots and there is a bit of retrofitting going on. To make heads or tails of it, we do need to look outside it. I also think your connection is inspired because what Tolkien is writing about in The Silmarilion is meant to have an affect on all the other tales and texts. This is supposed to be the beginning of all things Middle-earth, so what goes on here should be connected to the stories which chronologically happen later.

And let's hope Yavanna was paying attention when her Ents saved the day in Isengard! Personally, I'm hoping she opened the door to Aule's smithy and yelled "toldeth thou so!!"

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