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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Silmarillion Discussion Chapter 7: Of The Silmirals and the Unrest of the Noldor

elevorn
Lorien


Mar 18 2013, 4:48pm

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**Silmarillion Discussion Chapter 7: Of The Silmirals and the Unrest of the Noldor Can't Post

{Here lies a brief synopsis of a full chapter}
Things begin to go very quickly once Feanor creates the bling to end all bling, ahem excuse me, once he creates the hallowed jewels that behold the fates of Arda. We have Feanor making the jewels, of a material NASA scientists would undoubtedly love to know about. Varda hallows them and Mandos, the life of any party, speaks incredible doom over them, and Melkor, now freed falls madly in love with their sparkle.
These jewels speed up the downfall of a great people. Melkor in his lust for them begins to spread his dissent among the Noldor and the Sons of Finwe. They begin to fashion terrible weapons. More so they make armor and helms and shields. For a people who have known no war they certainly arm and train up quickly. Melkor speaks of captivity and of the coming of Men to the Elves and spreads his lies and power wherever he can. He succeeds by driving a wedge between the sons of Finwe and there is a frightening exchange between Feanor and his half brother Fingolfin. Fingolfin proves he is the better man and that Feanor is simply a hot headed brat who wants more than he already has.

For his crimes and threats Feanor is exiled for 12 years, I suppose this is the equivalent of a timeout for an elf. Fingolfin agrees to let the matter go after the allotted time. Feanor takes his things and leaves and no one ever gets to see the Silmirals of his will again. Seeing an opportunity Melkor extends his reach a bit too far and feigns help for Feanor, but he makes a grave mistake in speaking about the jewels. Feanor slams the door in his face, a brave and foolish thing to do, yet Melkor skulks away as a thunderstorm and vanishes for a time.

We are left with elves in a state of unrest, and one at a state of extreme displeasure with everything (Feanor, heís just not a happy guy, itís amazing he ended up with so many kids). Not only are the elves restless, but now many of them are quite well armed and armored. Seems we are being set up for some rather large action soon.


What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?


Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?


If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?


Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?


What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist? Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?


With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side? Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening? Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?

Will post my answers later in the week.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com

(This post was edited by elevorn on Mar 18 2013, 4:52pm)


Finwe
Lorien


Mar 18 2013, 7:08pm

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My thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?
To feed his own ego mostly.

Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
I don't know if the creation of the silmarils was the straw that broke the camels back, but they do serve as tangible proof that Feanor's would never love Nerdanel or any woman more than he loved himself or his work.
Like I said in an earlier post, Nerdanel never stood a chance.

If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?
Feanor is the best.

Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?
Great question. I would imagine so. He wanted the Elves destroyed, so what quicker way than with swords? Lies and deceits can be exposed and are long it the sowing and reaping. Mortal blows are swift and permanent. I don't have the text in front of me, but wasn't Orome armed? So it's not like the Noldor wouldn't have eventually turned their skills toward weapons, even if just for hunting at first. Melkor's fatal flaw was thinking he could outwit Eru. Everything that befell him afterwards was a byproduct of that mistake.

What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist? Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?
Feanor fell victim to the sin of pride. His skills and ego were much greater than many, so his fall was that much steeper. I'm no psychologist, but it seems to me he could have reached his full potential if he had learned humility, a trait best learned from one's parents.

With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side? Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening? Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?
I don't know if they take his side, but rather go out of their way to show Feanor that the lies of Melkor are untrue. Melkor really boxed them into a corner. If they argue against him, then they're making Melkor's lies come true from Feanor's perspective. I always thought it was pretty impressive they did what they did. I know Feanor drew his sword on Fingolfin, but I truly wonder if anyone ever thought it conceivable one elf would kill another elf. Is it fair to expect them to worry about something that has never happened in history? Because of this, I wonder what Fingolfin and Finarfin felt the worst case scenario was with Feanor. Up to this point in Elven history, when two factions disagreed they split off and formed their own clan. That's probably what they were most trying to avoid, especially with Feanor and Finwe already relocating to Formenos.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when FŽanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 19 2013, 8:34pm

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Thoughts on Ch 7, Feanor and Family [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much Elevorn for posting the discussion!

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?
I think it shows us in the first few sentences of the chapter, when we find that Feanor had grown to his full power and thought, and had a sense of the Doom that hung over the Trees. I think that, being unique among the Blessed Realm in knowing deep loss, he wanted to prevent the loss of the Light of the Trees, "imperishable", with his own hands. Not a very far-removed symbolic story of Feanor's life really.
(It beggars the question, in the larger picture of the Song, is anything meant to be imperishable?)

Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
The last sentence of the previous chapter leads us in with the statement that Nerdanel's counsel only lasted a little while, but that she supported him until his later deeds. She is described as being of firm will but less controlling of others (and perhaps less ambitious) and initially able to soothe Feanor's temper. I think Feanor was drawn to a strong person, but eventually saw her caution and restraint as holding him back. So the drift might not necessarily be about his own works, but for having his own way. And in this chapter Feanor progresses to threats of violence to attempt to master others, so I think that event would drive Nerdanel away completely. Keep in mind as well that they married quite young, (because Feanor needed a loving female in his life who belonged to him?) and Feanor certainly changed a lot over his adult life.

If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?
Well, I think my vote would be for Telchar. Especially for mithril-work in armor. For weaponry as well, I would feel that a blade from Feanor might have a bit too much spirit of its own!

Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?
No, because arming is the fruit of the harvest which he wanted above all to sow, which is distrust and division. Happy and content people don't stock weapons, but Elves and Men who are restless and unhappy do, and they are Melkor's easiest targets. Only if every single Elf were armed and united against his forces would it have been a flaw, and with the effort and skill he poured into dividing them its unlikely that would ever happen. Besides, to Melkor himself, what threat are weapons really? I think he little to fear for himself, instead the Elves will slay each other while he watches.

What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist? Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?
Maybe a motherly issue. When I think of Feanor I come back to Miriel, the artist in stunning needlework. Having read many ideas about her, I am still left with more than ambivalence - I don't like her, and I think her behavior is a chilly blueprint, almost a negative relief, of Feanor's excesses. We have the statement that somehow birthing Feanor drained her spirit - but only because she herself says it is so. The Valar are largely puzzled by it. There is no corroboration of anyone else having this happen in the Blessed Realm. It also casts a certain blame and guilt on Feanor, as an innocent newborn child. So instead is her "weariness" perhaps a type of self-absorption in one's own work....? As if she is saying 'I have done this wonderful thing, I have poured all of myself into this beautiful work, and now my reward is to rest' ? - as if other mother's did not sacrifice some of their body and spirit to their children - somehow hers is different? And she stubbornly withdraws, away from the love of her husband and, more telling so, the unconditional love of her baby. It shows then: keen artistry, self-absorption, and will that takes advice from no one, and one that can seperate themselves from those that love and need them.
Sound familiar?
Even if one thinks somehow of her "gift of great spirit" to Feanor, it is ultimately a failure; like a modern-day example, the parent who works like a madwoman to provide all the things their child wants but ultimately takes away the greatest gift they have to give - themselves. I think that the vacuum that the loss of his mother, and the guilt he felt for being its cause, were what created such a restless Elf, and it comes out in his deep need to endlessly create better and better things to try to be satisfied and fill the void. So I don't think he was born that different than any other Elf. Deeply talented, yes, and of strong nature, yes. But I think his circumstances - all early ones being not of his choice - started a complex chain reaction. Do I think he is responsible for his adult actions? Yes, I do. But I can see its early parallels and origins in Muriel.

With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side? Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening? Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?
That's a very tough question. Are they standing by Feanor, or is it out of loyalty to Finwe? Because they really barely even speak, other than Feanor's threat to Fingolfin at the point of a sword. So I'm not sure if I can really understand it. I don't know if to Feanor it makes any difference, good or bad, as he is so removed at this point from caring about what others say or do. But this question puzzles me the most.

Cheers all!


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

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Apr 14 2013, 12:06am)


telain
Rohan

Mar 21 2013, 5:21pm

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a few thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?

I think feanor is one of the first over-achievers. He had -- as described in the chapter -- grown to his full skill and power and I think he essentially created the Silmarils because he could. In that way, I think was a bit of a "mad scientist", in reference to a later question (though, I like the "tortured artist" image, too). He seems to me to be someone who is more than a little impulsive; he creates things without thought to what they might mean later on -- or of any consequences they might impart. I also find in this chapter that Feanor is far more reactive than I previously imagined -- reacting to Finwe, to Fingolfin, to Melkor. He really is that "burning coal pit" that sparks rather too easily!

[b]
Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?

I think so, though I think she's been fading out of the picture for some time by this point.

If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?

I'd choose Mahtan, actually. I feel (insofar as I have a clear picture of his character!) he is the most "neutral" of the three and has the least amount of investment in weaponry/armour and might actually make something to suit me personally.

Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?

oh! Interesting question! Part of me says "no" and this was, shall we say "unforeseen" by Melkor, but another part of me thinks Melkor was hoping for it, but that they would more openly turn the weapons on themselves (i.e., the Noldor would essentially destroy one another along family lines/allegiances. Perhaps, then, it is somewhat fortunate that Finarfin and Fingolfin don't take on Feanor directly at this point. Certainly it seems some cooler heads prevailed...




Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Mar 21 2013, 10:57pm

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maciliel-thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?
i don't think he had a purpose. i think he had an artistic vision, and an undeniable calling to bring his vision into reality. anyone who has been struck by the muse (i mean, really clocked on the head), is probably familiar with this feeling. it's almost a physical urge to +do+ the thing (paint, write, whatever). it's something inside you that won't let go of you. and you do it until it's done.



Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
No, i don't think the creation of the Silmarils and his estrangement from Nernandel are connected. They've probably been growing apart for a while, though. I wonder if she started entertaining doubts when she saw the weapons being forged. She was probably repelled by his assault on his half-brother. More than anyone, she was probably most aware of his fey nature, and the chances that this might bring him to ruin.

one of the most wonderful (and sad) things i've read recently is the passage that describes what tolkien's original vision was for nernandel (she was the one who taught feanor so much), and how christopher tolkien just refused to admit his father's vision of her into the silmarilion, leaving her to just be, "the wife." very sad. she seemed to be a rich character, especially for the silmarillion, which provides less personal detail than many (including me) would like.

i think their final break would have been the kinslaying (if she retained any hope of reuniting with him after he vowed to go to middle-earth).



If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?
interesting question. telchar made glamdring and orcrist. eol would also be a worthy swordsmith. feanor's work would be brilliant. i'm rather undecided, but if i had to pick, i think i'd pick telchar, out of reservations that something made by the hand of feanor might retain some bad vibes.


Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?
likely. i think he would have loved to see the kinslaying expanded to epic levels. not a fatal flaw at all. despite their arms, they could ultimately not withstand the power of a vala, which was also said by ulmo (iirc).


What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist? Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?
i think he's someone who willfully turned from the love of his fellow beings for the love of creating his own wonders. yes, an artist. but also with narcissistic tendencies. you don't have to suffer to create great art. the artist clan (of which i am one, so i cast no aspersions) has quite a large subdivision of folks who are so in love with themselves and their work that they think it excuses their bad behavior.

for all his great achievements, and ability to control his hand and mind when it came to creating +things+, it is paradoxical that feanor was all-thumbs when it came to relationships with people. and it is not because he had not the native skill. it was just a skill he did not value, and refused to learn, because he just did not value people. i think it entirely probable that he looked upon his sons as extensions of himself. many powerful, controlling types do.

i certainly do have great pity for his early life. he was probably not the only elf to lose a parent (don't forget, the servants of morgoth had been hunting elves since they awoke), but as much as anyone else, he deserved to have both his parents. perhaps part of his difficulty in valuing others is the fact that his mother essentially abandoned him. trust and intimacy seem to be difficult for him.


With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side? Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening? Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?
partly, they probably saw the deep love finwe had for feanor, and wanted to respect that love through their actions. i think they probably are a lot more forgiving and hopeful by nature, and perhaps they haven't given up on having some sort of brotherly relationship.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel

(This post was edited by Maciliel on Mar 21 2013, 11:01pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 24 2013, 3:24am

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Answers and more questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the great post, Elevorn!

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?
I like Tolkien's suggestion that possibly he had some unconscious warning that the Two Trees would be killed, and he was trying to preserve their light for the world. But I think it more likely that he was competitive and saw the Two Trees as one of the most magnificent works in Valinor, and he wanted to rival it with his own.

Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
He seems so self-centered, my thought on their marriage is that he was charming at first to get his girl, and she at first looked for the best in him, but they were never really close, even when making seven sons together (and possibly some unlisted daughters).

If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?
Aule!

Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves? Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?
Yes, I definitely think so. He wanted them to kill each other. I doubt he ever thought they would pose any threat to him.

What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist? Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?
I think all of the things you listed. He's mightily complex, and the contributing factors to his personality spread out and down like the roots of a tree. Most of all I would say he is childish. His feelings are easily hurt, he doesn't want to share anything with anyone, he doesn't care about others' feelings, he doesn't like authority, and he thinks the world is out to get him. What I wonder is how singular he is. Are there other troubled Elves in Valinor, or is he the only one? But aside from that, I have to admire his skill in creation, and he's clearly intelligent and a hard worker, plus bold and brave.

With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side? Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening? Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?
I think they represent the normal virtue among Elves, at least in Valinor. Fingolfin is proud and strong but willing to make amends as a good person should. I wonder if Feanor sees Fingolfin's willingness to forgive him as a kindness or a weakness?

Some questions of my own:

Why does Melkor lust for the Silmarils? He doesn't just admire them or think they're pretty, he seems obsessed over them, among all the things in Valinor--why?

Doesn't Finwe seem weak and unaware, making him incompetent as a king?
There's unrest among the Noldor with Feanor openly speaking out against the Valar, and Finwe seems to belatedly summon a counsel to try to figure it out. Then Feanor threatens Fingolfin in front of Finwe, and still Finwe does nothing. Why won't he restrain his son instead of leaving it to the Valar? And why does he forsake his duty to his people to reside with Feanor in exile? Shouldn't he feel conflicted over choosing Feanor (who's in the wrong) over his other two sons, wife, other grandchildren, and everyone in his kingdom? Is it his fault Feanor is a spoiled brat who's out of control?

The Noldor are "the Deep Elves." So why do they fall so easily for Melkor's lies? Or does Melkor have a power in his voice like Saruman does, so rational thought has nothing to do with this?

Does anyone else find this line nearly Biblical?
"But he that sows lies in the end shall not lack of a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed while others reap and sow in his stead."

In the chapter "Of Aule and Yavanna," PhantomS made this excellent comment: "
The chapter is entirely about creating and the ethics of doing so." What do you think of the ethics of creation in this chapter regarding Feanor's feelings about the Silmarils?




sador
Half-elven


Mar 24 2013, 9:27am

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Answering your questions [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think was Feanorís purpose for creating such Jewels?
To see if he could - like any artist does.


But his answer to Yavanna in chapter 9 indicates that he did feel he was playing an important part in Eru's Plan.

Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him?
Not necessarily. If I had to guess, it will come once he repeats Melkor's lies (i.e. slanted truths, maliciously presented) regarding the Elves in Eldamar.
And the open break probably was only when he was banished to Formenos.

Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
Fade out? She never was "in" it.
Despite Tolkien's later embellishing of her character (the omission of which Voronwe regrets), she never seemed to have a real role in the story.

If you had to choose a blacksmith who would you want making your swords and armor? Telchar? Feanor? Mahtan? Someone else?
Eol.

Was it part of Melkorís plan for the Elves to arm themselves?
Well, I expect the Elves did defend themselves from the proto-orcs and other foes on the journey. And Celegorm was a great hunter - didn't he use any artifacts for it?
Once people have an interest in slaying otther living beings, and a technology is developed - someone will inevitably join the two. Frown

Do you think this could have been a somewhat fatal flaw in his design?
No; at most, a calculated risk, like setting Turin upon the world.

What are your thoughts on Feanor? Is he a troubled genius or mad scientist?
How do you define the difference?

Is there a deeper seated issue with him, like a problem of fatherly love, or is he a tortured artist of sorts who just cannot be happy with anything save the work of his own hands?
I apologise: my imagination is not enough to speculate on Elvish psychology (and I don't find the Master's own specualtions invaraiably convincing). I would guess there is no lack of fatherly love; but he seems to be the only Eldamar-born elf with no maternal influence.

With such a hotheaded brother, why do Finarfin and Fingolfin find it necessary to take his side?
This chapter was written with the benefit of hindsight; I am sure Feanor's brothers did not automatically assume the worst of their borther, as is both natural and proper. They were no traitors to their kin (as according to one of the IMO less successful suggestions by Tolkien, Galadriel was).

Family is family, but can they not see that something bad is happening?
At what stage?

Is there friendship a good or bad thing at this point?
You must have meant "their" friendship. I doubt it was more than familial loyalty - and suspect that without that, things would have come to an ugly crisis long before.




sador
Half-elven


Mar 24 2013, 10:40am

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And answering Your questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Why does Melkor lust for the Silmarils?
If we take this description at face value - I would say jealousy, for this puny elf creating something that surpasses all of Melkor's own achievements.
Also, if we see Melkor as one who wants to control and manipulate the Elves, once he truly recognizes their greatest and finest work, he needs to possess it as a meaning of asserting control over them.

Doesn't Finwe seem weak and unaware, making him incompetent as a king?
Yes; although refusing to preceive the unpleasant truth is not the same as unawareness.
But he surely is weak. Consider for instance Fingolfin's speech to him, trying to stiffen up his father's backbone. Does Fingolfin seem respectful in any way? Not to me.

Why won't he restrain his son instead of leaving it to the Valar?
1. He probably can't.
2. He might agree with some of Feanor's words.
3. He might still be feeling guilty over the events described in the previous chapter.

And why does he forsake his duty to his people to reside with Feanor in exile?
See answer no. 2.

Shouldn't he feel conflicted over choosing Feanor (who's in the wrong) over his other two sons, wife, other grandchildren, and everyone in his kingdom?
He probably was conflicted, and (unlike the later recorder of the history) did not feel Feanor was entirely in the wrong.
Also see the next answer.

Is it his fault Feanor is a spoiled brat who's out of control?
To a certain extent, yes.
Which might be another reason for the self-imposed exile - perhaps he felt guilt?

The Noldor are "the Deep Elves." So why do they fall so easily for Melkor's lies?

Being deep is no guarantee. Didn't Heidegger himself fall (to an uncertain extent) for Hitler?

Or does Melkor have a power in his voice like Saruman does, so rational thought has nothing to do with this?
The power of Saruman's voice was in its being rational, so that people felt wise by agreeing. I can easily see the Noldor (like many intellectuals) falling for this trap.

Does anyone else find this line nearly Biblical?

Yes. I am sure this is no coincidence.

What do you think of the ethics of creation in this chapter regarding Feanor's feelings about the Silmarils?

At least at first, I don't think there was a problem with them.
This is, of course, all the more frightening: one can start with the purest intentions (after all, Varda did hallow them and Feanor wore them afterwards unscathed) and come to extreme possessiveness.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 26 2013, 7:35pm

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Silmarils and creation ethic [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In the chapter "Of Aule and Yavanna," PhantomS made this excellent comment: "
The chapter is entirely about creating and the ethics of doing so." What do you think of the ethics of creation in this chapter regarding Feanor's feelings about the Silmarils? That's a great question CG. I sort of touched on it in my post, where after reading this chapter I really ponder if the Silmarils should have been made at all. If we accept that Eru's plan involves the inevitable day-pattern progression of lightness to dark, morning until night, is there a good reason to hold onto a relic from the earlier time? Or does creating, thereby essentially hoarding, blessing form an earlier and lost time represent the rejection of what is good and holy in the current time? Like holding on to the past shields you from realizing what is all around you in the present. So maybe because of the damage Feanor has already taken he longs to cling to the past, and in creating a concentrated form of blessing created a huge focus of lust and jealousy as well as (I think) maybe hiding behind his creations instead of dealing with his actual problems.


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


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 12:46am

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Great insights, Brethil [In reply to] Can't Post

Honestly, I'd never dared to ask if the Silmarils should never have been made, but the question deserves to be asked. They changed history, and while you can blame various people for the decisions they made, the context of history and those choices would be very different (and possibly better) if they never had been. I suppose one could run too far with that thinking, and suggest that if Yavanna had never created the Two Trees, Melkor wouldn't have had anything to cut down and ruin all the happiness. But still, the Silmarils didn't necessarily bring anything new and better to the world as the Two Trees did, they just seemed to repeat what was there.

It says a lot about the ethics of creating that Aule was willing to destroy the Dwarves he created, but Feanor was wholly unwilling to destroy the Silmarils, even if that meant restoring light to Valinor. Do you suppose this comparison is accidental, or intended by Tolkien? Does he want us to see that Aule made the right choice, and Feanor made the wrong choice in the same context?

But it seems to me that Feanor's "Downfall" really began with jealously hoarding the Silmarils. Their light was not of his own making, so he should have shared them at least in public view, but he had the vanity to pretend that they were entirely his creation and not something that borrowed from the common wealth of Valinor. That selfish pride caused the chain of events of hiding them in exile with him in Formenos, which led to the death of his father and their theft. Okay, it's easy to second guess people and I shouldn't. But I will anyway, since Tolkien plays with Fate a lot, so we can too. Had Feanor worn the Silmarils in Valimar, it would have been much harder (if not impossible) for Melkor and Ungoliant to attack him in the crowd with Valar present and seize the jewels.

As for clinging to the past, that's another thought that never occurred to me, but you hit a bulls-eye, because that's what Feanor was doing. It's always hard for me to figure out how much Tolkien dabbled in psychology, which is much more commonplace to talk about in the present than it was when he was writing. Was Feanor, the abandoned semi-orphan, always clinging to the past mother he couldn't get back, and were the Silmarils part of that trait? Hard to say, but tempting to say yes, because he sure did cling to them, though he was just plain selfish, and maybe that was reason enough to cling to them.

I've said before that I think the Sil is a journey of wisdom for all its characters. Jumping ahead, I think it says something about the maturing of the Valar that they (FINALLY!) decide to do something for the whole world instead of just for their cozy neighborhood and release the Sun and Moon to illuminate Arda and not just Valinor. They broadened their sense of the common good, and they were willing to let go of their past (constant light in Valinor) for the future. Feanor wouldn't let go of anything, even when with the foresight of death he saw that the Noldor would never win, still he urged them on to their destruction.


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 12:59am

Post #11 of 20 (283 views)
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More questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Not disagreeing, just want to hear your thoughts. Do you think intellectuals are prone to certain traps that others are not? Do they fall prey to arguments shrouded in reason? Or, are they more concerned about seeming smarter than they actually are, so that if they hear something that sounds smarter than they are, they agree with it to keep their status? I know we can't generalize about all intellectuals, but do you think this is a common trait? Because I still wonder why Tolkien called them the Deep Elves and they do not see the depth of evil in Melkor that the Fair Elves do. To me they are the Proud Elves, and that's the seed of their downfall, but he doesn't name them that way.

"This is, of course, all the more frightening: one can start with the purest intentions (after all, Varda did hallow them and Feanor wore them afterwards unscathed) and come to extreme possessiveness."

Again, not arguing, but do you think that Feanor started with pure intentions, and later became corrupted by possessiveness? I'm never sure what to think. There is the bit I read somewhere that he first asked Galadriel for some of her hair, which had the quality of the Two Trees' light, but she rejected him, so he seemed to create the Silmarils almost in spite of her. But that's not necessarily canon. For my own feelings about the story, I'd like to think that Feanor wasn't all bad, and wasn't in the beginning, so the Silmarils were just these really cool gems he created, then later he realized he could never make anything that splendid again, and that's when his obsessive possessiveness began, but I'm not sure.


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Mar 27 2013, 3:21am

Post #12 of 20 (276 views)
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maciliel-thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Not disagreeing, just want to hear your thoughts. Do you think intellectuals are prone to certain traps that others are not? Do they fall prey to arguments shrouded in reason? Or, are they more concerned about seeming smarter than they actually are, so that if they hear something that sounds smarter than they are, they agree with it to keep their status? I know we can't generalize about all intellectuals, but do you think this is a common trait? Because I still wonder why Tolkien called them the Deep Elves and they do not see the depth of evil in Melkor that the Fair Elves do. To me they are the Proud Elves, and that's the seed of their downfall, but he doesn't name them that way.

"This is, of course, all the more frightening: one can start with the purest intentions (after all, Varda did hallow them and Feanor wore them afterwards unscathed) and come to extreme possessiveness."

Again, not arguing, but do you think that Feanor started with pure intentions, and later became corrupted by possessiveness? I'm never sure what to think. There is the bit I read somewhere that he first asked Galadriel for some of her hair, which had the quality of the Two Trees' light, but she rejected him, so he seemed to create the Silmarils almost in spite of her. But that's not necessarily canon. For my own feelings about the story, I'd like to think that Feanor wasn't all bad, and wasn't in the beginning, so the Silmarils were just these really cool gems he created, then later he realized he could never make anything that splendid again, and that's when his obsessive possessiveness began, but I'm not sure."


intellectuals are subject to the same pitfalls as everyone else. it just seems more dramatic when they fall for "arguments shrouded in reason," and for those sorts of failures, there's plenty of schadenfreude from those who feel inferior to or threatened by intellectuals.

throughout his works, tolkien makes a fairly consistent connection between -- not creation -- but craft. be that metal craft or mining craft or what have you.

sauron was affiliated with aule, a master crafter. and he went astray. as did many, many noldor, who also were closely affiliated with aule. saurman was affiliated with aule. he went astray. aule himself went astray, in creating the dwarves. dwarves are depicted by tolkien as often being beguiled by their creations, and by their craft.

i read, in tolkien's works, the message that the love of craft/science (be it jewel-making, metalwork, language-work) that is not +in balance+ with respect and reverence for nature is bound to yield poisoned fruit. (ironic metaphor consciously chosen.)

i think feanor's original intentions weren't pure in the sense that he was working to create something for all. i think he was driven by his artistic muse to create, and heeded the call. i don't think feanor was "bad" to begin with, but i do suspect that, even as a small child, he did not value relations with people as much as he valued the skill of his own hands. people often had value for him because they were connected to this crafting call. i suspect he also had major trust and intimacy issues growing up. one of the few of the eldar in aman without a mother, whose mother consciously chose not to return to him, even though she could. as hard as it is for human children to lose a parent, think how especially abandoned you would feel if your parent had a chance to come back to you, to return from the dead, and refused to do so.

feanor's refusal to let the silmarils be used to restore the trees is beyond selfish. it is sick.

cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel

(This post was edited by Maciliel on Mar 27 2013, 3:25am)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Mar 27 2013, 3:41am

Post #13 of 20 (283 views)
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interesting, curiousg [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"Do you think this is the point of Feanorís marriage to where he becomes estranged from him? Is Feanorís desire for his own works what causes Nerdanel to fade out of the story?
He seems so self-centered, my thought on their marriage is that he was charming at first to get his girl, and she at first looked for the best in him, but they were never really close, even when making seven sons together (and possibly some unlisted daughters).


interesting... i always viewed the trajectory of feanor's relationship with nerdandel as intense and true and fiercely sincere and blissfully happy at first. the motherless feanor, feeling love, receiving love. it's a different sort of love than a mother's love, but when we are loved by a mate in that intimate, caring way, it has the power to heal wounds that are old and deep.

and, frankly, even though christopher tolkien cut out so much of the good stuff from nerdanel's bio (she was the one who taught him so much, not her father), we still can get a good idea of who nerdanel was without it.

feanor did +not+ suffer fools. he valued knowledge. he valued strength. nerdanel must have been feanor's equal in just about everything but the skills themselves. he was such an egotist... he only could have taken advice from someone he perceived as his equal, as having something of value to offer.

i think with feanor's self-centeredness, it couldn't last. but i do think he had intense bliss for a long while (i think the large family is evidence).


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


telain
Rohan

Mar 27 2013, 12:22pm

Post #14 of 20 (255 views)
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oh, good question [In reply to] Can't Post

so many great discussions! Why must it be end-of-term and I have no time!

Coming from the perspective of someone rather well-versed in academia, I would say that quite a few of the things you mention do happen to some academics/intellectuals.

When one's occupation depends on seeming like you know more -- and I stress again, seeming -- then some resort to all sorts of rationalizations, semantics, twisted logic, and the like to maintain their intellectual position. I like to think that the truly wise avoid the pitfalls, but those who are steeped in the pursuit of simply knowing can fall prey easily to "other" motivations. There is also the practice of "proving" others are wrong so that you look more intelligent. Unfortunately, it is often far easier to do this than it is to actually create works of intellectual merit.

I had mentioned in a previous thread that the Valar are more or less "naive"; I'd like to draw that same conclusion with the Noldor. They are still young in the world and many of them are not savvy enough to understand the difference yet between "wisdom" and "knowledge", "admiration" and "envy", "creating" and "possessing". That last comparison is a bit of a stretch, admittedly, but sometimes when an artist creates something truly amazing -- truly unique -- it is sometimes hard to give it up. Perhaps it is a fear that others will not truly understand what you created (and mar it somehow), or that others will forget who created it. I think Feanor fell into this trap and, like you (CuriousG) I think he probably did start out with good intentions, but unfortunately he was saddled with the artist's temperament.

Coming back to intellectuals -- the same trap is apparent. Instead of artistic works, intellectuals create works of knowledge (intellectual merit). These works carry the same possibility of possessiveness and authorship -- to the point of defending them even when it may not be practical or wise to do so. Just as an artistic work displays the craft of the artist, an intellectual work displays the mind of the intellectual, and, well, no one wants to be wrong -- or worse! To look like they are wrong...


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 27 2013, 8:37pm

Post #15 of 20 (238 views)
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Great post CG [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Honestly, I'd never dared to ask if the Silmarils should never have been made, but the question deserves to be asked. They changed history, and while you can blame various people for the decisions they made, the context of history and those choices would be very different (and possibly better) if they never had been. I suppose one could run too far with that thinking, and suggest that if Yavanna had never created the Two Trees, Melkor wouldn't have had anything to cut down and ruin all the happiness. But still, the Silmarils didn't necessarily bring anything new and better to the world as the Two Trees did, they just seemed to repeat what was there.

It says a lot about the ethics of creating that Aule was willing to destroy the Dwarves he created, but Feanor was wholly unwilling to destroy the Silmarils, even if that meant restoring light to Valinor. Do you suppose this comparison is accidental, or intended by Tolkien? Does he want us to see that Aule made the right choice, and Feanor made the wrong choice in the same context?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Yes, the making of the Silmarils took something shared by all and made it possible to own and claim that light for oneself. That's why I ask that question - even though they are the ultimate in beauty and represent such a holy thing, should they be made plebian and ownable? I think the 'possesiveness' is the difference between Aule and Feanor. Indeed as you point out Aule felt love for his creations, and pride, but those feelings were ultimately secondary to his loyalty and honor of Eru, and when he perceived Eru's displeasure he was willing to give up 'his' creations although it would hurt him. Feanor of course I think started out with that need to create, (almost obsessively, and always to be the best) which seems to have gradually grown into that implacable stubbornness in possessing the Light. Not restoring it is a sad and disturbing event - because really that's ostensibly WHY he created them fearing the loss of the Trees! (That was the 'good intention".) But I think at that point in his life he just cared so little about anyone else's desires or thoughts - that hoarding and possessing were more important, and keeping a lid on his cauldron of problems, which having the Silmarils did (barely maybe?) I think a lot of Feanor's problems are from fear and emptiness - and the Silmaril's might have provided some comfort but they don't fix the problem. I think that's where the Curse comes form.......(ooops save that for later..!) And you are right - Feanor didn't 'grow' with the Valar - he is sort of frozen, but that's probably because he fears change so much, clinging to what is and what was instead. I don't know if Tolkien saw it as psychology so much as maybe the more classical idea of the flawed hero, and from what we have talked about in the Arthurian threads how timeless the Hero is. I think the very old tales last because ultimately they make working sense to us, so even if you don't know the 'lingo' its just a sign that humans and their issues are really really old, and that Tolkien translated this so well.

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


elostirion74
Rohan

Mar 27 2013, 10:48pm

Post #16 of 20 (236 views)
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Deep Elves [In reply to] Can't Post

Iīve always associated the name "Deep Elves" with their skill in making jewels and metal work, underlining the similarities between the Noldor and the Dwarves. I donīt see anything to suggest that the term "Deep" here is connected to depth of understanding or perception, nor intellectualism.

I agree that FŽanor began with good or at least normal intentions from the standpoint of an artist; he created the Silmarils primarily because of an artistic drive, a strong urge to make a work of art which would be supremely beautiful, unique and lasting. FŽanorīs great skills were likely to fuel his sense of pride and a belief in his own unique position - an inflated sense of self-importance -, which would only strengthen any inherent possessiveness he felt towards the things he made.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Mar 30 2013, 4:10pm

Post #17 of 20 (203 views)
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Problems of creation playing out on a new level [In reply to] Can't Post

We've already had Melkor and (briefly) Alue getting into trouble because their creative instincts led them too close to things reserved for Eru.

Feanor has a new variant of this problem - excessive attachment to his creations.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Mar 31 2013, 2:27pm

Post #18 of 20 (213 views)
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"Smart people don't start many bar fights. But stupid people don't build many hydrogen bombs." [In reply to] Can't Post

Traps for intellectuals - lets say that talented people have different opportunities to do stupid or unfortunate things than normal people. Their ability to foresee the consequences of their actions isn't necessarily in balance with their ability to get things done. And Feanor does seem to fall into the camp of brilliant but socially dysfunctional.

It was reminding me of PJ O'Rourke's piece "An Intellectual Experiment"

Quote
"Conclusions
Whether smart is worse than stupid or vice versa is an important question. Smart means Neo-Expressionist paintings, which are awful. But stupid means music videos, which are pretty awful too. Ignorance is stupid, but education causes college students. Logic is smart, but Marxism is logical. Smart people don't start many bar fights. But stupid people don't build many hydrogen bombs. Then again, smart people would never drop one. Or would they? It's something we ought to know."

("An Intellectual Experiment" by P J O'Rourke, collected in his book Republican Party Reptile)


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 9 2013, 11:24am

Post #19 of 20 (175 views)
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Just to note that discussion of the next chapter has started [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to note that discussion of the next chapter has started

(can be handy to have a link to the next discussion if you're "watching" this one, or indeed come by this thread much later by searching, when these threads are no longer easy to find by browsing)


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Apr 9 2013, 2:04pm

Post #20 of 20 (220 views)
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very thoughtful addition [In reply to] Can't Post

 
nowizardme, that was a very thoughtful post -- great idea.

cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel

 
 

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