Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Silmarillion discusion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor**
First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All

Ardamr
Valinor


Apr 8 2013, 10:48pm

Post #1 of 90 (1151 views)
Shortcut
**Silmarillion discusion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor** Can't Post

So sorry for the very long delay. Real life has gotten pretty hectic, but thankfully the Reading Room has been plenty busy of late. It's actually been a nice change to see it so active Smile

Well, now onto the chapter - one of my favorite, if more for it's textual history rather than the finished text itself. I'll speak to that a bit, but I'll try to mostly stick to the published text.

The chapter begins with Melkor running off and the Valar in pursuit of him. It's mentioned that Melkor is still able to change his form "or walk unclad." Was there ever really any chance then of catching him?

He comes to forgotten regions in the south where Ungoliant dwells. It is said that she was once in the service of Melkor before disowning him to become her own master. It is then said that she took the shape of a monstrous spider. So what is Ungoliant? She's obviously not just a spider. Some sort of Maia would be my guess. I don't think that seems very inspired, though. Any other ideas?

Melkor visits her and here the published text differs wildly from Tolkien's manuscript. He has an entire conversation between the two of them. Ungoliant is told to be ravenously hungry, so Melkor feeds her gems to strengthen her so that she's strong enough to do his bidding. Then notice this little twist in Melkor's words: "...and if thou art still hungry when we meet again" (italics mine). He means for them to part ways, not go to the Two Trees together. That will come into play later.

It's said that in Valinor there was no winter, but that the seasons are at the bidding of the Valar. Yavanna especially is described as in charge of the "times for the flowering and the ripening of all things that grew." What do you think of this cycle? I do like the more fantastical nature of, well, nature in the early years. Even with the advents of the Sun and Moon later the world is changing more and more to be like the world we know today. I like that the change is subtle and begins so early in history.

Finwe doesn't attend the feast, and Feanor decides to withhold the Silmarils from the eyes of the Elves and Valar. What do you think of these decisions? Obviously, they're bad in hindsight, but without that knowledge, do you think they were wrong choices? I think they're both wrong due to pride in both Finwe and Feanor. Many tragic circumstances could have been averted if pride were not such a vice to our characters.

Melkor then travels with Ungoliant to the Two Trees, destroys them, and then scurries away in her Unlight to Formenos and the Silmarils. Tolkien's version, though, has Ungoliant destroying the Trees as a cover for Melkor. He didn't enter into Valinor until after she destroyed them. He goes to the Ring of Doom and defiles it before heading off to Formenos: a location that he hadn't told Ungoliant about. He didn't want her with him while getting the Silmarils, and didn't actually intend to meet up with her again at all. But she overtakes him on the way so that they end up there together anyway. Which version do you prefer? Which do you think is stronger? I prefer the "separated" version, because it demonstrates more clearly Melkor's and Ungoliant's selfishness. I also like that they're more antagonistic towards each other, rather than the tag-team they're portrayed as in the published version.

Well, that's all for this chapter. Thanks for reading, commenting, or lurking. Feel free to mention anything I skimmed over. Smile

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Apr 8 2013, 11:14pm

Post #2 of 90 (715 views)
Shortcut
I'm not convinced [In reply to] Can't Post

That Ungoliant would have made it all the way to the tree circle by herself. Plus in the published version we do have Melkor's cry as the trees are chopped which I quite like. It was scary to hear as Finarfin mentions later. On the other hand, what were the various guards or Valar up to? Seeing Melkor with a rather scary spidery creature might have aroused ones suspicions I would have thought!


Ardamr
Valinor


Apr 8 2013, 11:27pm

Post #3 of 90 (703 views)
Shortcut
Guards [In reply to] Can't Post

The streets of Valmar are described as silent. Apparently everyone was at the feast.

I don't think it would be any harder for Ungoliant to get to the Trees than it would be for the two of them. She did, after all, clothe herself (or both of them) in the Unlight.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 9 2013, 2:46am

Post #4 of 90 (762 views)
Shortcut
The Darkening of Valinor - thoughts on the chapter [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So sorry for the very long delay. Real life has gotten pretty hectic, but thankfully the Reading Room has been plenty busy of late. It's actually been a nice change to see it so active Smile Thanks for posting the discussion Ardamire! Hope life has been good as well as hectic for you! It has been brisk about the RR lately which is wonderful.

Well, now onto the chapter - one of my favorite, if more for it's textual history rather than the finished text itself. I'll speak to that a bit, but I'll try to mostly stick to the published text. The chapter begins with Melkor running off and the Valar in pursuit of him. It's mentioned that Melkor is still able to change his form "or walk unclad." Was there ever really any chance then of catching him? I don't think so, between still possessing the same abilities as the Valar (travelling unseen) coupled with a well planned strategy of misdirection, heading south instead of north. Plus he has the advantage of the (naive?) Valar simply not comprehending what his cardinal intentions were.

He comes to forgotten regions in the south where Ungoliant dwells. It is said that she was once in the service of Melkor before disowning him to become her own master. It is then said that she took the shape of a monstrous spider. So what is Ungoliant? She's obviously not just a spider. Some sort of Maia would be my guess. I don't think that seems very inspired, though. Any other ideas?
Tolkien himself calls her "Ungoliante the primeval devourer of light, that in spider-form assisted the Dark Power" (Letter #144). In the published Sil he says she "took shape" as a spider of monstrous form. So clearly as you say Ardamire she is not simply a natural or giant arachnid, but something that simply chose to take that form. What is she? In Ainulindale we read that the Valar first entered a dark and undeveloped Ea and Melkor coveted it, after setting great fires; "He (Manwe) called unto himself many spirits both greater and less, and they came down into the fields of Arda and aided Manwe..." About her in Chapter 8 we read "The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwe, and that in the beginning she was one of those he corrupted to his service." So her existence dates back to the time when the Valar first came into Ea, surrounded by darkness. Tolkien writes in Letter #200 that the sprits such as the Maia "were self-incarnated, if they wished; but their incarnate forms were more analogous to our clothes than to our bodies, except that they were more than are clothes the expressions of their desires, moods, wills and functions." She can choose her shape according to her mood and intent, and came out of the darkness surrounding the Creation, a time when greater and lesser spirits were called forth; so I do believe she is one of these first Maia who chose to enter Arda and assist in the work of Manwe before becoming corrupted by Melkor. Her initial form was undoubtedly different than the shape she became known for, and 'fixed' into - considering that her natural offspring retained that arachnid body through the ages.

Melkor visits her and here the published text differs wildly from Tolkien's manuscript. He has an entire conversation between the two of them. Ungoliant is told to be ravenously hungry, so Melkor feeds her gems to strengthen her so that she's strong enough to do his bidding. Then notice this little twist in Melkor's words: "...and if thou art still hungry when we meet again" (italics mine). He means for them to part ways, not go to the Two Trees together. That will come into play later.
It's said that in Valinor there was no winter, but that the seasons are at the bidding of the Valar. Yavanna especially is described as in charge of the "times for the flowering and the ripening of all things that grew." What do you think of this cycle? I do like the more fantastical nature of, well, nature in the early years. Even with the advents of the Sun and Moon later the world is changing more and more to be like the world we know today. I like that the change is subtle and begins so early in history.
For the fulfillment and continuation of life there MUST be a cycle of flowering and fruiting; but it means more than that. When I read this part of how the Valar clothed themselves in the vestment of the Children, and ate and drank and feasted - I see the almost innocent and child-like nature of the Valar, in imitating the beloved Firstborn by harvesting, eating and acting as they do. And as Tolkien points out all the different levels of Creation appeared to envy each other somewhat - its a bit touching to see the almighty Valar wanting to be like the Children and be able to fully enjoy the everyday pleasures of life. This particular feast is almost 'fey', in the sense that the Manwe was trying to heal all the ill-will and sundered relationships among the Noldor, and everyone is present and involved, without a thought to what things might be happening just outside their happy celebration. In their innocence they are so vulnerable.
Finwe doesn't attend the feast, and Feanor decides to withhold the Silmarils from the eyes of the Elves and Valar. What do you think of these decisions? Obviously, they're bad in hindsight, but without that knowledge, do you think they were wrong choices? I think they're both wrong due to pride in both Finwe and Feanor. Many tragic circumstances could have been averted if pride were not such a vice to our characters. Tolkien says that 'the fall of the Elves comes about through the possessive attitude of Feanor and his seven sons to these gems." So true, that the pride of Feanor, his emotional distance from the rest of the Elves (even his own family) and his need to possess the Silmarils are the heart of so much suffering. The fact that he locks them up in an iron box is like a metaphor for the immovable nature of his heart at that point in his life, and also his fear of losing what he values so highly and is so precious (preciousssss) to him. I also note he does not dress like everyone else, for the feast, but more like for a funeral. And the funeral isn't far away, as Finwe's own pride in refusing to come ultimately costs him his life.
Melkor then travels with Ungoliant to the Two Trees, destroys them, and then scurries away in her Unlight to Formenos and the Silmarils. Tolkien's version, though, has Ungoliant destroying the Trees as a cover for Melkor. He didn't enter into Valinor until after she destroyed them. He goes to the Ring of Doom and defiles it before heading off to Formenos: a location that he hadn't told Ungoliant about. He didn't want her with him while getting the Silmarils, and didn't actually intend to meet up with her again at all. But she overtakes him on the way so that they end up there together anyway. Which version do you prefer? Which do you think is stronger? I prefer the "separated" version, because it demonstrates more clearly Melkor's and Ungoliant's selfishness. I also like that they're more antagonistic towards each other, rather than the tag-team they're portrayed as in the published version
.
I have to say I rather like the published version of them 'in tandem" (with Melkor thinking he is in total control) because of how scared even Melkor is when Ungoliant swells to enormous size after draining the Two Trees - sort of like he has a tiger by the tail. I like the fact that even the most evil of beings can be frightened by something; it makes Melkor a more complete and real character for me. I like the way they work together with each having their own separate agenda, and that even though Melkor has an intellectual 'plan' about revenge, the more base power of raw hunger is scarier than he is and produces a monster even he could not foresee.
Well, that's all for this chapter. Thanks for reading, commenting, or lurking. Feel free to mention anything I skimmed over. Smile I love the evocative picture of Tulkas beating the air in the darkness, all alone...such a picture of helpless grief.Thanks Ardamire! Looking very forward to everyone's thoughts on the chapter!


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


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 9 2013, 10:46am

Post #5 of 90 (682 views)
Shortcut
Even the sentries on holiday AGAIN? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a bit odd - Last time they were all on holiday, it was celebrating the Raising of the Lamps. Melkor chose that opportunity to crash the party with an attack by his Legions of Terror, and smash the lamps. Obvioulsy, given that Melkor has just escaped, no need to take any precautions about something like that happening again? ...Crazy

I like Brethil's explanation for it

Quote
This particular feast is almost 'fey', in the sense that the Manwe was trying to heal all the ill-will and sundered relationships among the Noldor, and everyone is present and involved, without a thought to what things might be happening just outside their happy celebration. In their innocence they are so vulnerable.

..but forgetful as well as vulnerable, it seems

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


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Apr 9 2013, 10:56am)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 9 2013, 11:17am

Post #6 of 90 (734 views)
Shortcut
"the primeval devourer of light" [In reply to] Can't Post

Magnificently creepy, Ungoliant:

Quote
In a ravine she lived, and took shape as a spider of monstrous form, weaving her black webs in a cleft of the mountains. There she sucked up all the light that she could find and spun it forth again in dark nets of strangling gloom, until no light more could come to her abode; and she was famished.


My "literary head" is going "oooh" in admiration of the language and the metaphor, and telling my "science head" to shut up pointing out that any old garden plant sucks up all the light it can and makes stuff from it. The point, I think, is that she's the great devourer and unquenchable spirit of obliteration, not some solar-powered spider.

...........I'll go bang my heads together.............

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


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 9 2013, 4:49pm

Post #7 of 90 (654 views)
Shortcut
True N-W-M, and in addition... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Magnificently creepy, Ungoliant:

Quote
In a ravine she lived, and took shape as a spider of monstrous form, weaving her black webs in a cleft of the mountains. There she sucked up all the light that she could find and spun it forth again in dark nets of strangling gloom, until no light more could come to her abode; and she was famished.


My "literary head" is going "oooh" in admiration of the language and the metaphor, and telling my "science head" to shut up pointing out that any old garden plant sucks up all the light it can and makes stuff from it. The point, I think, is that she's the great devourer and unquenchable spirit of obliteration, not some solar-powered spider.

...........I'll go bang my heads together.............(Haha, Okay Zaphod!)




...unlike a plant she is magnificently and evilly sentient and MOVES (shiver). Just picture one of those little jumping wolf spiders and how primevally creepy they are, and magnify it by about 100k (x). JRRT really taps into a real-world but very inhuman well of fear by selecting the spider form for his devourer- as you say quite beautifully, the spirit of hunger and obliteration, who devours and gives back nothing to the world except darkness.

How do you see her origins, N-W-M? Curious on your thoughts.

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


Ardamr
Valinor


Apr 9 2013, 5:33pm

Post #8 of 90 (628 views)
Shortcut
I hadn't even thought of that! [In reply to] Can't Post

I totally didn't even think about the similarity to Melkor's assault on the Lamps. These Valar really don't have any idea how to learn from past mistakes, do they?

Brethil's remarks are good, and probably the closest to accurate, but it still certainly seems to be a fault in the Valar.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 9 2013, 6:27pm

Post #9 of 90 (629 views)
Shortcut
That's why I thought the feast feels "fey" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I totally didn't even think about the similarity to Melkor's assault on the Lamps. These Valar really don't have any idea how to learn from past mistakes, do they?

Brethil's remarks are good, and probably the closest to accurate, but it still certainly seems to be a fault in the Valar.




because they seem to be in a denial of what could happen - as N-W-M perfectly elucidates, they have already seen the destruction by Melkor of items of Light made by the Valar...and as you point out, one should be able to learn from the past....so the question here is:

Are they that nave and simply not experienced enough yet with the repetitive and increasing power of evil?
OR
are they so distracted in that hour by the division of the Noldor and the controversy over the Silmarils that they lose sight of the larger evil?

If the second option is right, it implicates Feanor much more in the destruction of the Trees, because it is due to his breaking of the peace that Manwe seeks to have the feast, leaving the Trees unguarded, and concentrates all of his energy into reconciling the Noldor. (And if we implicate Feanor, then Miriel's choice might be seen at the heart of the matter, IMHO.)

If it is the first option - naivete - it seems that Manwe, possessing the greatest sight of all the Valar, perhaps had the greatest chance to know that danger loomed. We don't read of the most suspicious of the Valar, Ulmo, being at the feast, only Tulkas (also not trusting of Melkor)...I wonder if Ulmo was keeping watch far away, still seeking Melkor or word of his doings. (I can't find any details on this, don't know if anyone else had read anything.)

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


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 9 2013, 7:31pm

Post #10 of 90 (618 views)
Shortcut
My thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

The chapter begins with Melkor running off and the Valar in pursuit of him. It's mentioned that Melkor is still able to change his form "or walk unclad." Was there ever really any chance then of catching him? I don't think so. One would think that they should be able to "feel" his evil presence, but even that wouldn't avail them to physically capture and imprison him again.


So what is Ungoliant? I've always believed her to be a Maia. Obviously a very powerful one to take on such a monstrous form and put a scare into the heart of Melkor.


Finwe doesn't attend the feast, and Feanor decides to withhold the Silmarils from the eyes of the Elves and Valar. What do you think of these decisions? 'Love not to greatly the work of thine own hands' is a central theme to the Silmarillon. Feanor's denial of the silmarils leads to the loss of his father and treasure. Finwe, in his blind devotion to his eldest child, misses his final opportunity to once again unite the Noldor. Pride and vanity win out, to disastrous consequences.


Which version do you prefer? Which do you think is stronger? I prefer the united Melkor and Ungoliant, as it allows the reader to truly understand just how powerful Ungoliant truly is. The narrator can repeatedly state this fact, but it doesn't have the same effect as the vision of Melkor, the mightiest being in Arda, quailing in fear at the sight of Ungoliant destroying the Trees.


As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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.


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 9 2013, 7:53pm

Post #11 of 90 (609 views)
Shortcut
I think it's a combination [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure the Valar's thoughts were concerned with the division of the Noldor, yet I think they miscalculated Melkor's intentions upon his escape. He has a whole realm to return to in Middle Earth, so it's possible Manwe believed that Melkor had fled back to Middle Earth to continue his reign of terror.

Also, I think one has to look at the earlier writings of this chapter to get a larger picture. In Morgoth's Ring, Melkor did not destroy the Lamps during the Feast, he simply used this time to sneak through the Walls of Night and back into Arda. It wasn't until later that he assaulted the Lamps. In one version, he doesn't even assault the Lamps at all. He helps Aule construct them, using ice as supports. He simply kicks up his feet and waits for the heat of the Lamps to melt the ice and cause their destruction. The Valar don't appear as naive in earlier versions as they do in the published Silmarillion.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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.


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 9 2013, 7:56pm

Post #12 of 90 (611 views)
Shortcut
Possibly overconfidence? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have time yet for a full reply, just wanted to pop in and add the option of the Valar being overconfident at this point. They had defeated Melkor and kept him in jail for ages, then had him on parole. They might think he's sufficiently defeated that he's more like a mean gossip than a true foe.

Just an option. They are probably being naive. They still don't get it. Yet I too wonder why the more vigilant and suspicious among them aren't keeping some lookout when they know Melkor is unseen and on the loose, because the story seems to affirm the rightness of Feanor and Finwe in being distrustful. Who wants Feanor to be proven right?


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 9 2013, 8:10pm

Post #13 of 90 (609 views)
Shortcut
One more thing [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone else ever wondered how in the world Ungoliant was hanging out in Aman without the knowledge of the Valar? We've been justifiably ripping on Feanor for his actions thus far, but isn't he spot on in his assessment of the Valar's security measures? Not only was Melkor able to assault the land of the Valar, he did it with the help of the next door neighbor. Were the Valar expecting any nearby enemies to register with Elven Protective Services and go door to door notifying everyone of their residence?

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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.


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 9 2013, 8:51pm

Post #14 of 90 (601 views)
Shortcut
I often think that too. [In reply to] Can't Post

The whole point of Aman was that it was a sanctuary unspoiled by the evil found in the rest of the world. Didn't they call in an exterminator first to get rid of all the bugs before they set up their paradise? So we can come back to the idea of them being childishly naive or overconfident in thinking there's no bogeyman over the hill. Or incompetent. Shouldn't Orome have hunted around Aman once in awhile to make sure it was all clear? Isn't Manwe supposed to see around the world--and Aman at least--from his mountaintop?

The argument I could make in their defense is that fairy tales usually assume that most of any world is unknown, so the Valar wouldn't have had cartographers and satellite photos even of their own backyard. Fairy tales can have children wander just a few feet "into the woods" and disappear/get eaten by a witch/be kidnapped by fairies/etc. So maybe the idea is that they couldn't know every square inch of even Aman. But to a general reader, it sure seems they should have.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 9 2013, 9:57pm

Post #15 of 90 (619 views)
Shortcut
What we know, and don't know, about Ungoliant [In reply to] Can't Post

Asked where Ungoliant fits in, say on the org chat of the Valar I made for Ch 2 ( see http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=557744#557744 ), I just don't know.

A Maia seems a perfectly plausible hypothesis, but I think that someone with a business card saying "Primeval Devourer of Light" sounds pretty senior in the organisation. She also scares even Melkor, and he needs rescuing from her when they double-cross one another in the next chapter.

Something I notice however is that JRRT goes out of his way several times to tell us that there's stuff he **doesn't ** know about her. For example "The Eldar knew not whence she came"; and when she leaves the story in the next chapter we get "of the fate of Ungoliant no tale tells." He does something similar with Shelob, telling us that he doesn't know how she got to Cirith Ungol, and that he doesn't know what becomes of her after her fight with Sam.

Which seems rather odd behaviour for a fantasy writer, especially one so willing to fill in the details usually. What do you think is going on here?

I speculate that his spider villains are **meant** to be beyond knowing or understanding. They are evil in a different way to Melkor and Sauron. M&S would happily have you slaving in their mines to further their latest Evil Scheme ("Melkor and Sauron", that is, not the supermarket chain) Hobbits as miserable slaves" would please either of them because it demonstrates they have the power to make slaves, and to make them miserable. Why is Melkor attacking the trees? Revenge, spite, and a tactical distraction. Why is Ungoliant there? Simply To feed, to feed but never to be satisfied. Bestial Evil rather than Intelligent Evil, perhaps. She's the shadow, the watcher in the darkness that we all instinctively know lies out there, waiting to get us. The chaos and destruction at the end of the world. The something nasty which really is in the woodshed.

So we can't know her, that's the point. Maybe Eru's music had the odd Screechy bit to call her forth. Maybe the Valar don't know about her much either. Or maybe they just don't tell the Eldar ("discretion is the better part of Valar" after all). If they are protecting the Eldar, though, it's all going wrong now...

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


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 9 2013, 10:48pm

Post #16 of 90 (612 views)
Shortcut
Ungoliant and the sometimes puzzling Valar behavior [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The whole point of Aman was that it was a sanctuary unspoiled by the evil found in the rest of the world. Didn't they call in an exterminator first to get rid of all the bugs before they set up their paradise? So we can come back to the idea of them being childishly naive or overconfident in thinking there's no bogeyman over the hill. Or incompetent. Shouldn't Orome have hunted around Aman once in awhile to make sure it was all clear? Isn't Manwe supposed to see around the world--and Aman at least--from his mountaintop?

The argument I could make in their defense is that fairy tales usually assume that most of any world is unknown, so the Valar wouldn't have had cartographers and satellite photos even of their own backyard. Fairy tales can have children wander just a few feet "into the woods" and disappear/get eaten by a witch/be kidnapped by fairies/etc. So maybe the idea is that they couldn't know every square inch of even Aman. But to a general reader, it sure seems they should have.




From the fairy tale/device perspective, absolutely - but that's the basis of so many human fears isn't it, so it's an effective device!

From the standpoint of ME, (and your cartography standpoint CG) it seems JRRT went out of his way to describe this narrow, dark area of Avathar as mournful, shadowed and unexplored, bordered by the deep and cold dark sea. And he tells of Orome patrolling to the North and ignoring the South - based on Melkor's previous behaviors and the location of Utumno. So I guess the Valar learned something - but the learning is limited by their experiences. Indeed as I said earlier I know Ulmo had the most distrust of Melkor, but he came only to the Blessed Realm infrequently, and maybe also did not go the sort of 'dead zone' where no Firstborn lived. Tulkas was there more and Manwe had the vision from the high seat (and with him Varda had the hearing.) so, could it be the simple (almost mortal) failing of not wanting to closely explore places distasteful to them? Of course they are the most likely places for evil to take root...but again I keep coming back to that nave judgment that most of the Valar show. Just based on the idea that though the Valar 'mature' they remain the first generation of children of Eru forever...

(From a fiction perspective it would be fascinating (!!!) to know how JRRT might portray the individual Valar in our time, having seen many more thousands of years of life.)

And I wonder exactly WHEN, if Ungoliant can choose her shape, when she morphed into the spider-form. Maybe in earlier days her shape was different and no so easy to spot as a dark power. It reads "In a ravine she lived, and took shape as a spider of monstrous form..." So maybe this implies that she picked the place before she picked the shape, and thus came unnoticed to Avathar.

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


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 10 2013, 12:02am

Post #17 of 90 (591 views)
Shortcut
Mulling on Ungoliant [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Asked where Ungoliant fits in, say on the org chat of the Valar I made for Ch 2 ( see http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=557744#557744 ), I just don't know. I love your chart N-W-M! I would say originate a box under the Maiar section and draw a line over to the left under Enemies and pop her in there.

A Maia seems a perfectly plausible hypothesis, but I think that someone with a business card saying "Primeval Devourer of Light" sounds pretty senior in the organisation. She also scares even Melkor, and he needs rescuing from her when they double-cross one another in the next chapter.
I think any of the Maiar who chose to be driven by Unending Hunger could potentially be as a scary as her.

Something I notice however is that JRRT goes out of his way several times to tell us that there's stuff he **doesn't ** know about her. For example "The Eldar knew not whence she came"; and when she leaves the story in the next chapter we get "of the fate of Ungoliant no tale tells." He does something similar with Shelob, telling us that he doesn't know how she got to Cirith Ungol, and that he doesn't know what becomes of her after her fight with Sam. Which seems rather odd behaviour for a fantasy writer, especially one so willing to fill in the details usually. What do you think is going on here?
I think with Shelob it is a narrative choice. I have always read that part as an actual description of what really happens to Shelob, just told in a different way. So I think that is a writing choice. As for Ungoliant we know she survives, and has biological offspring (sired by ... ugh...what? Giant natural spiders? Yikes.) that survive and proliferate up to and past Frodo's time.

I speculate that his spider villains are **meant** to be beyond knowing or understanding. They are evil in a different way to Melkor and Sauron. M&S would happily have you slaving in their mines to further their latest Evil Scheme ("Melkor and Sauron", that is, not the supermarket chain) Hobbits as miserable slaves" would please either of them because it demonstrates they have the power to make slaves, and to make them miserable. Why is Melkor attacking the trees? Revenge, spite, and a tactical distraction. Why is Ungoliant there? Simply To feed, to feed but never to be satisfied. Bestial Evil rather than Intelligent Evil, perhaps. She's the shadow, the watcher in the darkness that we all instinctively know lies out there, waiting to get us. The chaos and destruction at the end of the world. The something nasty which really is in the woodshed.
You put this all so well!!!! I read in Letters that as late as 1955 JRRT says he "still" hasn't found out any more about the cats of Queen Beruthiel....some things he simply left 'undiscovered'. As you say its perhaps an instinctive choice of expressing fear by leaving some mystery...but knowing its out there somewhere, lurking.

So we can't know her, that's the point. Maybe Eru's music had the odd Screechy bit to call her forth. Maybe the Valar don't know about her much either. Or maybe they just don't tell the Eldar ("discretion is the better part of Valar" after all). If they are protecting the Eldar, though, it's all going wrong now...
True, but only Eru could tell them all the possible outcomes - the Valar don't have the whole picture. And yes wow it would be a screechy, nasty bit - but probably the same sort of ickiness that allows for Melkor to misbehave.


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


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 10 2013, 12:45am

Post #18 of 90 (578 views)
Shortcut
Ultimately I think its a combination as well Finwe [In reply to] Can't Post

Another almost mortal failing - wishful thinking on the part of the Valar? Certainly they misjudged Melkor, maybe hoping that what had happened to date was the worst he could do or planned on doing (to the Blessed Realm anyway...) And could the fact that Manwe thought he fled to ME to misbehave there allow them a certain safety net?

I like the Morgoth's Ring details - thanks - (just reordered the first five HoME volumes, mine were ruined) it lends a slightly different picture; but I will have to re-read it - want to see what it implies about Aule and the ice (because that seems a bit nave as well).

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


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 10 2013, 2:01am

Post #19 of 90 (595 views)
Shortcut
Morgoth's Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't find my copy and don't remember any specific quotes, but the general synopsis of the Aule/Morgoth ice pillars is similar to the section in the Silmarillion we just discussed last chapter. The Valar capture Melkor and fall for his rehabilitation ruse. The setting is simply moved from Valinor to Almaren. While feigning to aid the Valar, he creates giant pillars of ice to support the Lamps. The Valar, unfamiliar with ice, are awed. Melkor is awed by their gullibility. Ice melts, lights go out, and chaos ensues.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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.


Ardamr
Valinor


Apr 10 2013, 2:09am

Post #20 of 90 (565 views)
Shortcut
Ice Pillars [In reply to] Can't Post

Isn't this version in the Lost Tales? I seem to remember it being one of the very earliest versions, though I could well be wrong. Just a thought.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 10 2013, 2:14am

Post #21 of 90 (567 views)
Shortcut
Ungoliant [In reply to] Can't Post

Although I believe Ungoliant is most likely a maiar, I seem to recall reading that one suggestion Tolkien had for the origin of Ungoliant is that she was spawned from the darkness of the Void. I don't remember where I read this or how early in his life he wrote this, but it seems to fit with her whole "unlight".

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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.


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 10 2013, 2:20am

Post #22 of 90 (551 views)
Shortcut
You could be correct [In reply to] Can't Post

It's hard to keep them all straight. Tongue. Definitely somewhere in HoME.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fanor 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


Apr 10 2013, 2:25am

Post #23 of 90 (559 views)
Shortcut
True - she comes from darkness it seems, in either version [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Although I believe Ungoliant is most likely a maiar, I seem to recall reading that one suggestion Tolkien had for the origin of Ungoliant is that she was spawned from the darkness of the Void. I don't remember where I read this or how early in his life he wrote this, but it seems to fit with her whole "unlight".




It would fit nicely - even as a spirit he seems to describe them as being called out from the darkness around Ea. The philosophical difference here might be that the original darkness around Creation was simply empty, whereas the darkness Ungoliant created herself was the 'unlight' and had a sort-of life force of its own, like when it rolls (eerily) toward Taniquetil.

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


Ardamr
Valinor


Apr 10 2013, 2:54am

Post #24 of 90 (559 views)
Shortcut
Yes, definitely somewhere! [In reply to] Can't Post

Tongue

I don't remember my initial reaction to that idea, but I definitely find it unsatisfactory now. I'm glad Tolkien changed his mind about that. It just seems too simple and stupid of the Valar not to know what ice is.

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 10 2013, 6:32am

Post #25 of 90 (548 views)
Shortcut
Philosophical and in-world-theological problems? [In reply to] Can't Post

If Ungoliant can spontaneously appear out of darkness, isn't that a bit of a problem for the model of Eru as the exclusive creator of life in the Tolkien Universe? (And would it matter if that were true?) if we imagine a Christian model lurking in the background of Tolkien's ideas, this would seem to be a departure.

I'm a bit reminded of the character of Death in Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld. In one book (Reaper Man I think) it's explained that Death (the character) is **necessary** to the universe. When our usual likeable skeleton character is in effect laid off, other "Deaths" begin to appear - the Death of Rats becoming an amusing sidekick once the situation is otherwise resolved. Similarly, is something like Ungoliant implied by the existence of something like Eru?

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

First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.