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Silmarilion Discussion, Chapter 6: "...and the Unchaining of Melkor" 2 of 2

telain
Rohan

Mar 11 2013, 4:42pm


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Silmarilion Discussion, Chapter 6: "...and the Unchaining of Melkor" 2 of 2 Can't Post

From the "bright flame" of the Noldor to the darkest Valar: the Unchaining of Melkor

In the second half of the chapter, we see that Melkor has "completed the terms of his bondage" and is awaiting judgement. Manwe grants him pardon, and in the beginning the Valar are wise enough not to let him out of their sight. Melkor's honey-coated words and deeds made some (Manwe) believe that his evil had been cured. They were (almost) all of them deceived...

In truth, Melkor still has no love for the Valar and all their glory, nor for the Eldar as the seemingly "chosen people". Biding his time, he seeks to make himself useful by promising to aid the Valar in all their pursuits and by offering the Noldor "... the service of his lore and labour in any great deed they would do." The summary continues, but first a few questions...

Crime and Punishment:


1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like?

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?


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?

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?


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:

Quote
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?

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)?


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?

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?


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?

Thank you all for your comments, clarifications, and questions!

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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