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**Silmarillion discusion, Chapter 8: Of the Darkening of Valinor**
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elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 10 2013, 12:39pm

Post #26 of 90 (464 views)
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a few answers [In reply to] Can't Post

Personally I find the finished text very interesting in itself, both because of the ideas that are put forth in the chapter, such as Ungoliant┤s unlight and her insatiable hunger, the darkness following the death of the Trees, described as more than a loss of light. The various images conjured, such as Melkor looking out over the Blessed realm and "the tall wheat of the Gods", or Taniquetil being the only thing not to founder in a sea of darkness, also appeal to me.

It┤s an interesting question what Ungoliant is or originally was; probably one of the Maiar, but I┤m ok with not knowing exactly what she is. The fact that Tolkien doesn┤t try to explain everything, but leaves much to the imagination of the reader is a strength of his writing and the conception of his imagined world.

When I read this chapter and about Ungoliant┤s unlight I immediately think of the darkness in Shelob┤s lair, a darkness which has the power to enter the will and the mind, a sort of primordial darkness which is something else and far more powerful than darkness as it┤s ordinarily understood.

I prefer the version where Ungoliant and Melkor travel together, especially because of it showing how Melkor becomes afraid when Ungoliant grows. The idea of him allying himself with a power which grows beyond his control is very fascinating, since he otherwise seems so clever at plotting and scheming.

As for FinwŰ not coming, I think this was a wilful choice and a wrong one, as I think he has a responsibility to contribute to reconciliation among the Noldor.


elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 10 2013, 12:58pm

Post #27 of 90 (467 views)
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well [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm, I guess I see this quite differently. The Valar have fortified their country, raising the Pelori, and they probably base their "security measures" on their previous experience with Melkor, who had his first stronghold in the north of Middle Earth. Consequently their vigilance and their defences are primarilyi directed towards the north. And from previous experience, when Melkor eluded them, they might have expected that he had returned to Middle Earth.

Also I have the impression that the Valar focus mostly on preservering and furthering their work, their contact with the Elves and the more immediately habitable lands. Avathar seems like a really sad and dreary place, not a region The Valar would have been prone to approach often.They make some security measures, but that does not mean they are infallible or that focusing on security becomes their sole concern overriding everything else. And it is so improbable that their attention now is primarily focused towards healing the feud among the Noldor, which could threaten the peace of Aman severely?


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 10 2013, 2:06pm

Post #28 of 90 (527 views)
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The sprits called forth, such as Ungoliant [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
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?




I get the feeling that the Maiar and lesser sprits called forth to help Manwe in building Arda exist as undedicated beings in the negative space around Creation, and 'come down' to Arda (Ainulindale) In Letter #200 JRRT details ideas about different spirits, and talks about 'some' spirits choosing to become engrossed in the creation of the world and becoming self-incarnate (ie like Ungoliant choosing her spider form) so logically there would appear to be an array of spirits/potential beings who DON'T choose to be part of Arda. So I think they are all created by Eru, and come forth when called upon because they choose to come forth. And by being self-incarnate they can embody themselves of their choice one 'realized'.

I remember reading about Death (enjoyed those books!) - I think this is philosophically different than a spontaneous balancing of Creation with destruction. I think instead everything in the Song is possible and known by Eru, and she is a spririt created by him but who makes her own choices once within the physical world - none of which can surprise Eru but they CAN surprise the Valar as they lack the complete picture or knowledge of all possibilities.

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


Finwe
Lorien


Apr 10 2013, 3:59pm

Post #29 of 90 (448 views)
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You and I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

See my post farther up in the thread, assuming your viewing in threaded mode, and you'll see I pretty much share your viewpoints. As far as Ungoliant is concerned, I'm not surprised the Valar were focused on the unrest of the Noldor during the events of these last two chapters. They should have dealt with Ungoliant before even bringing the Eldar to Valinor. It seems unlikely that Ungoliant wasn't dwelling in Aman before the arrival of the Eldar. If Manwe was able to detect her presence, or at least the presence of something unusual, in Avathar, it seems irresponsible to ignore it. If Manwe was completely unaware of her, it lends credence to Feanor's assertion the Valar are incapable of protecting the Noldor in Valinor.

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


elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 10 2013, 9:42pm

Post #30 of 90 (459 views)
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The Valar and Ungoliant [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for replying. I┤ve read the post you┤re referring to, so you┤re right that we agree on several things. And of course there are several other posters who bring up varieties of the same issues.

As far as Ungoliant is concerned: Is there anything that indicates that ManwŰ or the other Valar are aware of Ungoliant┤s presence in Avathar? Even if the Valar haven┤t searched or kept a watch on the remote region of Avathar, that is not something I would equate with being irresponsible or na´ve. It just shows that despite being very powerful, they are not almighty and there are limits even to their perspective and knowledge.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 11 2013, 5:47pm

Post #31 of 90 (461 views)
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The timing of Ungoliant settling in Avathar [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As far as Ungoliant is concerned: Is there anything that indicates that ManwŰ or the other Valar are aware of Ungoliant┤s presence in Avathar? Even if the Valar haven┤t searched or kept a watch on the remote region of Avathar, that is not something I would equate with being irresponsible or na´ve. It just shows that despite being very powerful, they are not almighty and there are limits even to their perspective and knowledge.




I was doing some research on the 'when' of Ungoliant setting in Avathar. In Ch 8 it says that she fled south after disowning Melkor "escaping the assaults of the Valar and the hunters of Orome". So I think this must refer to the period of the Battle of the Powers (Ch 3) which began the siege of Utumno. So if that is the time frame it means she headed south and found Avathar AFTER the Children were awakened. In the early days of their awakening it mentions them telling tales of frightening shadow-shapes who spied upon the Firstborn, and some who then never returned (presumably taken to Utumno and tortured into Orc form.) This sort of shadowing and abducting sounds like a potential job for a dark Maiar (until perhaps she was not allowed to feed to her liking and broke with Melkor to find food on her own?) and maybe explains what she was doing in the North before she fled South.

And after that the focus of the Valar and Orome was on the region of Utumno, and perhaps thinking their enemy was completely centralized there (which for the most part he was) and that Avathar to the South simply remained cold and empty. And who knows if she chose a different shape to head South (or shadow the Elves, if she did). There is a slight indication she might have found the place before picking the shape ("In a ravine she lived, and took the shape of a spider of monstrous form...) [ital. by me] So maybe not spotting her was due to a number of circumstances other than poor judgment alone (which we see other examples of.)

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


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 11 2013, 9:02pm

Post #32 of 90 (405 views)
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Sounds plausible! I like the idea of Ungoliant the elf-stalker // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 11 2013, 9:06pm

Post #33 of 90 (418 views)
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*applause and guffaws* [In reply to] Can't Post

You've reached a new height with this one, noWiz:

' "discretion is the better part of Valar" after all '


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 11 2013, 9:29pm

Post #34 of 90 (399 views)
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Some answers [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm late to the party, but will toss out a few answers even though other people had far more articulate ones.

1. Catching unseen Melkor: it seems to me that since all the Ainur can walk unseen, can't they see each other in the Unseen World? Obviously not, but seems they should.

2. I have no way to substantiate this, but part of me thinks that Ungoliant is on the Ainu-level. I know that she served Melkor at one point, and grows more powerful as part of their exploits than when he found her, but still, my gut makes me think she's more than a Sauron or Balrog. I do like how he's afraid of her and has to be rescued by his Balrogs. Big sissy. He even screamed like one too.

3. There's just nothing likable about Feanor and how his personality works, is there? Though his grief for Finwe over all other things (Silmarils implied) redeems him for about 2 minutes in my mind.

4. I like the evil duo of Melkor + Spiderwoman, though I would have been happy if the other version were the published one.

Thanks for doing such a great job with this chapter, Ardamire!


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 11 2013, 9:31pm

Post #35 of 90 (440 views)
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Melkor & Ungoliant are like Frodo & Sam [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anyone else see the parallel? Both pairs venture into the very heart of the enemy realm, disguised and unseen, and destroy the heart of that realm. And get away! Plenty of differences, of course, but I wonder how intentional this was on Tolkien's part?


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 11 2013, 10:01pm

Post #36 of 90 (390 views)
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Yes she might have quite a resume...! (And discretion and Valar...hahahah!) [In reply to] Can't Post

And I must second that **applause** by CG. I was so embroiled in my grown-up answer I never gave you a tip of that hat for that piece of clever phrase.....!Cool

I like the idea of Ungoliant 'evolving' from being a helpful spirit, to a Melkor lackey (maybe some elf-nabbing, letter her appetite build) to becoming a monster in her own right, the Devourer... and I like the style in which JRRT tells her story in bits and pieces - like you posted earlier the scary part is in the mystery of what's lurking just beyond our sight.

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


ArdamÝrŰ
Valinor


Apr 12 2013, 2:39am

Post #37 of 90 (385 views)
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Good points [In reply to] Can't Post

I hadn't thought at all about the Unseen World. I'm not sure exactly how that comes into play, but it's certainly a possibility.

Ungoliant is such an enigma to me. I'd like to think that she's an Ainu on some level, but it's hard to make that fit with her death. In earlier versions, Earendil kills her. In the published version, she ends up devouring herself. Now, are these just talking about her physical bodily death? So she could still be Ainu, but I think her physicality is something very innate in her (though that seems to contradict her "taking" the shape of a spider). It's all very confusing, but I kind of like it that way. I do love how she swells to so great a size that the biggest baddie of Middle-earth is terrified of her (which, for everyone reading this thread, is also in the "separated" version). She must have been a sight to behold!

Yeah, Feanor's a jerk. 'Nuff said.

Don't get me wrong, I do like this version. It's just that I think the other one is that much more excellent.

"...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 12 2013, 2:43am

Post #38 of 90 (379 views)
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Wow interesting dark parallel [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Does anyone else see the parallel? Both pairs venture into the very heart of the enemy realm, disguised and unseen, and destroy the heart of that realm. And get away! Plenty of differences, of course, but I wonder how intentional this was on Tolkien's part?




It's like the idea of anti-heroes needing a complement as well as heroes. I would guess it was subconscious; I don't know if I have ever read anything in Letters about an intent by pairing them. Power in companionship, on either side of the aisle?

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


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 12 2013, 7:56am

Post #39 of 90 (377 views)
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I have a (partial) defence of Feanor - which I'm preparing as part of discussion of next chapter... // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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 12 2013, 10:18am

Post #40 of 90 (372 views)
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just was reading the chapter last night [In reply to] Can't Post

 
more later, but for now...

there was a snippet in the chapter that said something along the lines that ungoliant first appeared when melkor was having his envious, dark thoughts.

a poetic interpretation of this would be that she is the physical manifestation of envy, born of melkor's own envy, an envy so deep and formed from the basest and most ill-willed aspect that she has no other ambitions than to devour all that she can. she cannot stop, and she cannot be sated.

since only eru can create independent life, then perhaps she is a splinter of melkor's fea, that can grow and has powers akin to some of his own.

i think this is a very poetic view, and i enjoy it on that level.


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


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Apr 12 2013, 11:21am

Post #41 of 90 (362 views)
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What an interesting idea! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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 12 2013, 11:43am

Post #42 of 90 (375 views)
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Your ideas on Feanor [In reply to] Can't Post

I look forward to reading them N-W-M, as I have a certain compassion for Feanor.

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 12 2013, 1:05pm

Post #43 of 90 (388 views)
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Ungoliant is almost a bad Bombadil [In reply to] Can't Post

They both have enigmatic origins and seem to represent qualities more than just being individuals.

I think Ungoliant is fascinating in a weird way because her hunger is never satisfied, and it almost seems logical that she dies by eating herself, which probably didn't satisfy her either. It appears to say a lot of what Tolkien thought about extreme evil and envy. Even Melkor had his limits: after killing the Trees and stealing the Silmarils, he was content to go back to rule his old kingdom in Middle-earth. He didn't say, "And now I must destroy every building in Valmar, and every home in Tirion, and sink every ship at Alqualonde, and kill every Elf in the world, ..."


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 12 2013, 1:10pm

Post #44 of 90 (368 views)
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Her unending hunger [In reply to] Can't Post

Its odd too that she hungers for what she HATES - Light...usually one hungers for what one wants, or loves. So her hunger is a form of destruction, versus satisfaction...is that why it never ends?

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 12 2013, 1:20pm

Post #45 of 90 (358 views)
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Yes, her hatred is fascinating too [In reply to] Can't Post

Melkor hates and destroys the Trees, but doesn't hunger for more. He loves/lusts for the Silmarils, and steals them and doesn't seek to destroy them. But Ungoliant hates what she is not (light, since she seems wholly dark), and the only thing she can do is turn that light into more darkness, leaving her hungrier and more hateful than ever.

Gandalf said that Gollum both loved and hated the Ring, but it was evil. And Ungoliant doesn't seem to love light, she just wants to consume it and hates it. I'm not sure if she's like a modern-day addict, who hates their drug but can never have enough of it, or if there is some original 1% good in her that reaches out for something good (light), but the 99% evil destroys it.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 12 2013, 1:35pm

Post #46 of 90 (356 views)
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I really like this - she consumes the reaminder of her goodness [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Melkor hates and destroys the Trees, but doesn't hunger for more. He loves/lusts for the Silmarils, and steals them and doesn't seek to destroy them. But Ungoliant hates what she is not (light, since she seems wholly dark), and the only thing she can do is turn that light into more darkness, leaving her hungrier and more hateful than ever.

Gandalf said that Gollum both loved and hated the Ring, but it was evil. And Ungoliant doesn't seem to love light, she just wants to consume it and hates it. I'm not sure if she's like a modern-day addict, who hates their drug but can never have enough of it, or if there is some original 1% good in her that reaches out for something good (light), but the 99% evil destroys it.







Wow CG I like your 1% analogy...and maybe that's why she consumes herself, to devour whatever remainder of light in the form of the Flame Imperishable (which Melkor seeks out in the early days of creation in order to 'make' his own things, but never finds) is within her.

And as you posted about comparing them - Melkor indeed seems to have 'limits' to what he desires, because to rule and dominate one must have things in existence, even if they are dark and ugly. Wheras in Ungoliant's case the overruling hunger and hate of Light just leads to endless consumption and the exact OPPPOSITE of what Eru Illuvatar did.....

So even though Melkor helped create her - which one is JRRT saying is the most dark expression of evil? I am thinking Ungoliant...because she undoes the work of Eru, she doesn't just pervert it.

AND: also must add that your comparison of Bombadil (who might be ultimate good) might well be Ungoliant's opposite!

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

(This post was edited by Brethil on Apr 12 2013, 1:39pm)


telain
Rohan

Apr 13 2013, 12:17am

Post #47 of 90 (342 views)
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overconfidence and naivete? [In reply to] Can't Post

My take on "What were the Valar thinking?" is a combination of overconfidence and naivete -- almost like they (especially Manwe) thought "We want to have a festival, AND we want to cure all the ills the Noldor have recently wrought, AND since we have decreed it then what could possibly go wrong?"

silly, silly Valar!


telain
Rohan

Apr 13 2013, 12:46am

Post #48 of 90 (345 views)
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don't read this post after dark... [In reply to] Can't Post

Could it be that the less we know about Ungoliant, the scarier she is? I repeat the mantra of every critic of every horror movie that tries to show you the "big bad". As soon as it appears on screen, it is no longer that scary.

Not knowing exactly what she is (I could go with either the Maia or the Ainu theories) or where she comes from is really quite terrifying. She could appear practically anywhere, at any time (given the imagination) -- especially if it were very, very dark...

On the other hand, I might put her closer to the Balrog (perhaps a wingless Balrog?!). She doesn't seem to have much initiative; she just sort of follows Melkor's lead. Her moving into the south seems to be more of a response to Orome and "the assaults of the Valar," rather than a more active, planned approach. I suppose her lack of initiative is a blessing; if she was clever, and motivated, and huge and immensely dangerous, then what hope would anyone (even our hapless Valar) have?

Another thing that strikes me about Ungoliant was the line: "...for she hungered for the Light and hated it." It reminded me of Gollum, for some reason. But the mere thought of ingesting that which you despise -- that must be a particularly wretched sort of hell. It was certainly mentioned earlier, but Tolkien did have a way of describing the truly awful...


telain
Rohan

Apr 13 2013, 12:56am

Post #49 of 90 (334 views)
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agreed! things are "taking shape" [In reply to] Can't Post

I like this theory quite a bit; the shapeless forms (then she decides on spider form) and it also links her (albeit tenuously) earlier with Melkor, which would give some, er, shape to the following: "...that in the beginning she was one of those corrupted to his (i.e., Melkor's) service."

I also really liked your theory (reminder?) that not all the Maiar came into the world at once and took shape. It leaves some metaphysically imaginative room for some of the "supernatural" or "magical" things that take place in Arda from time to time.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 13 2013, 2:08am

Post #50 of 90 (334 views)
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Very good point Telain about other spirits "out there" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I like this theory quite a bit; the shapeless forms (then she decides on spider form) and it also links her (albeit tenuously) earlier with Melkor, which would give some, er, shape to the following: "...that in the beginning she was one of those corrupted to his (i.e., Melkor's) service."

I also really liked your theory (reminder?) that not all the Maiar came into the world at once and took shape. It leaves some metaphysically imaginative room for some of the "supernatural" or "magical" things that take place in Arda from time to time.




That there are potential spirits out there to make more things happen in Arda....actually I always laugh about Tolkien's spiders because my husband HATES spiders...and in ROTK when Shelob appears he did a scrunch into the theater seat and muttered (Indiana Jones fashion) "hadda be a giant spider...." then she was gone, and he sat back up, breathed a sigh of relief...just to have her reappear again! He was very unhappy with me not warning him too...!

I like how Tolkien describes the forms that the Sprits take not as 'bodies' but as 'clothes'...

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

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