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

telain
Rohan

Mar 11 2013, 4:42pm

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

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

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

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

Crime and Punishment:


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

2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?


As Manwe debated the fate of Melkor, Nienna aided Melkor in his defence, while Mandos (shockingly) remained silent.

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?


The Nature of Evil: The Enemy Within

It seems that Manwe believes Melkor has been "cured" of his evil ways, yet others are not deceived -- namely Ulmo, Tulkas, and (somewhat surprisingly) the Vanyar. Tolkien writes:

Quote
For Manwe was free from evil and could not comprehend it, ..., and he saw not to the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.


5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?

6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)?


Melkor chooses to teach his knowledge and skills to the Noldor over the Vanyar (who still do not trust him), and over the Teleri (a people he believes are not worthy of his teaching). Given what we know of the Noldor's interest in understanding the world and crafting things, this seems to makes sense. Melkor also, falsely, takes credit for teaching Feanor all he knows, though Feanor hate for Melkor exceeded any of the Eldalie.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest?

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this?


A Coda

If you haven't read Voronwe_the_Faithful's post and article (above), I strongly urge you to do so. Our current chapter, it appears, is rather thin for a reason. I, for one, would have loved to learn more about the society of the Valar and the Eldar, to understand better the actions of certain people -- especially once prominent female characters, and to have a fuller, more complex Silmarilion than the one resting on my coffee table.

In the Foreword, Christopher Tolkien describes the creation of the Silmarilion and his father's variations of form and focus: poetry and oral tales, mythology and philosophy. The following questions deal with this topic. I apologize for straying out of chpater bounds and for introducing material that has likely been hashed, re-hashed, and hashed again, but I felt it belonged here.

i. Why did Christopher seek to standardize this text? Was it the publishers? His view of what the audience wanted or could handle? Do you think the chapters of the Silmarilion are cohesive? (i.e., did Christopher achieve his goal?) Or would you rather have seen the collection of annals, poems and tales that lay scattered about the Tolkien residence? Would it have been charming, or too difficult, to read in that format?

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 13 2013, 5:55pm

Post #2 of 24 (477 views)
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Unleashing the beast [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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

Excellent question that never occurred to me before. My assumption is the Valar expected him to spend his time in silent contemplation of his descent into evil ways, hoping he'd see the light and go back to being the good Ainu he was before his Fall. But I expect the reverse happened: he remained bitter and resentful, and like Saruman in Orthanc, gnawed the ends of his old plots, awaiting revenge of some kind. It would also make sense to keep him isolated, or he'd torment and perhaps pollute the souls of Elves in Mandos. Nevertheless, Mandos is the jailor. Did he have any chats with Mandos? Or did Nienna visit, hoping to find the best in him, or Manwe? Arm-wresting with Tulkas? Otherwise, I think he just plotted and planned and scoffed at the thought of redemption.


2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?

I think they didn't intend punishment and hoped that the solitude would reform him. As I allude above, maybe visits by other Valar could have been counseling visits, though I doubt they happened. The Valar a new at dealing with a captured criminal and didn't know what to do with him.

As Manwe debated the fate of Melkor, Nienna aided Melkor in his defence, while Mandos (shockingly) remained silent.

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?

Nienna is given to pity and understanding, and she's a softie. I can't imagine what role she would play in Valar wars against Melkor, unless as field nurse, but not as combatant. She wanted to see the good in Melkor, and there was probably a little spark of it left buried deep, though it was inconsequential.

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?

Great point. There should be some responsibility of a prophet to speak up and save his people from going down the wrong road, but Mandos never sees it that way. I wouldn't buy the argument that he needed to let Fate take its course, because everyone here has free will and nothing is completely predetermined, so speaking up wouldn't have disrupted the plan behind the Great Music. But possibly his utter silence is meant to be a warning, or he doesn't really know what Melkor would do, or he knows the other Valar well enough, particularly Manwe, that they can't be dissuaded from mercy for Melkor.

5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?

Another great question. I think Manwe is both naive and unwilling to permit the division between Valar to persist. He's the ruler and needs to keep the peace and the tribe together, and that means seeing the best in Melkor even if it's missing. Also, they were similar in the beginning, so seeing evil in Melkor means worrying that it exists in you too.

Manwe doesn't strike me as the wisest of the Valar. I think Ulmo is wiser and sees through Melkor's deceit. For the Vanyar and Tulkas, I think they have good gut instincts about who is trustworthy.

6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)?

I'd say there's a great gulf between admiration and envy. Admiration is a positive feeling where you appreciate the good qualities in someone else. It's a nobler sentiment. Envy is related to greed and selfishness where you feel you must have what someone else has, and it's baser and compulsive. It comes from a negative feeling that you don't have enough, that it's unfair someone else has more, and you're going to settle some score through immoral means to get what the other has, or at least hate them for having it. Like the old commercial "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."

Melkor chooses to teach his knowledge and skills to the Noldor over the Vanyar (who still do not trust him), and over the Teleri (a people he believes are not worthy of his teaching). Given what we know of the Noldor's interest in understanding the world and crafting things, this seems to makes sense. Melkor also, falsely, takes credit for teaching Feanor all he knows, though Feanor hate for Melkor exceeded any of the Eldalie.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest?

I've never been sure of the reason for this. A ploy on Melkor's part to provoke Feanor and sow discord?

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this?

The Vanyar seem pretty passive, like a heavenly choir adoring the Valar on cue but doing little else. The Noldor are certainly the doers of the three tribes. I'll give Melkor credit for choosing them well as his instruments. The Teleri seem insular and unconcerned with other matters. Aule is hard to figure out. Did he and Melkor spend male bonding time together in the smithy and exchange trade secrets? Yet it seems to me that Varda and Yavanna should have been suspicious of Melkor, and if they were, it didn't seem public.

A Coda

If you haven't read Voronwe_the_Faithful's post and article (above), I strongly urge you to do so. Our current chapter, it appears, is rather thin for a reason. I, for one, would have loved to learn more about the society of the Valar and the Eldar, to understand better the actions of certain people -- especially once prominent female characters, and to have a fuller, more complex Silmarilion than the one resting on my coffee table.

In the Foreword, Christopher Tolkien describes the creation of the Silmarilion and his father's variations of form and focus: poetry and oral tales, mythology and philosophy. The following questions deal with this topic. I apologize for straying out of chpater bounds and for introducing material that has likely been hashed, re-hashed, and hashed again, but I felt it belonged here.

i. Why did Christopher seek to standardize this text? Was it the publishers? His view of what the audience wanted or could handle? Do you think the chapters of the Silmarilion are cohesive? (i.e., did Christopher achieve his goal?) Or would you rather have seen the collection of annals, poems and tales that lay scattered about the Tolkien residence? Would it have been charming, or too difficult, to read in that format?

My guess is that Tolkien fandom was underestimated at the time. It was already clear that literary critics disdained Tolkien's works as beneath them, so why publish for them? The audience appeared to be people who loved The Hobbit and LOTR and wanted SOME backstory, but not all of it, so we got the condensed version. I suppose there were other constraints such as how much time and energy he could put into it, and the frustration of welding together many disparate and contradictory sources his father left behind. If he assumed his audience wanted a sort of synopsis instead of a deep plunge, that would explain his approach. The deep plunge came later when it became clear The Sil wasn't enough, so HoME etc followed. Or maybe there were limitations imposed by his editor/publisher.

On the whole I think he succeeded. I found the laster books showing all the sources rather frustrating at times. You can see 4 different versions of the same story, with details unique to each, and Christopher will admit himself it wasn't clear which version his father felt took precedence, or if some merger had been intended, or if his father just remained indecisive. Wading through the forest of repeititions, indecisive speculations, and mostly unpolished and choppy writings robs me of the pleasure of reading Tolkien's polished prose. So I would say he did a good enough job most of the time. Yet reading what Ardamire posted about the backstory of Miriel is a tragic loss to the book, in my opinion, since it could have been much richer.


Finwe
Lorien


Mar 14 2013, 7:07pm

Post #3 of 24 (507 views)
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My thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like? Personally, sounds awful to me, but I would imagine it didn't faze Melkor too much. He's used to being alone after all the time he spend in the Void searching for the Flame Imperishable. I hate to reference a future event, but I can't help myself here. When you think about it, he spends the vast majority of the First Age confined to the deepest pit of his own fortress.

2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help? I don't know if they necessarily favored punishment over reform. The text states the Valar are unable to comprehend evil, hence they seem to be incapable of reforming Melkor without the necessary understanding. They probably intended his confinement to achieve reform. Irregardless, I believe Melkor was a hopeless case. I really have no idea whether the Valar would have executed Melkor or anyone else give the chance. Would Saruman's spirit being blown away count? I would think that only Eru possessed the ability to destroy one of the Ainur, but I could be wrong.

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?
It was her nature. She couldn't help but take pity in everyone and everything. That is the part of Eru's mind she most understood. She didn't understand evil enough to know that Melkor was a lost cause.

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to? Great question for which I really haven't got a great answer.

5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit? I think there is a difference between recognizing something and understanding it. I suspect Ulmo and Tulkas simply hate Melkor for what he has done and have no desire to see him rejoin their ranks. Manwe, as the brother of Melkor and leader of the Valar, would prefer to see Melkor reformed. The Vanyar have only known Melkor as an evil tyrant who hunted them at Cuivienen, not as the once mightiest of the Ainur of Eru. They have no evidence to suggest he ever had any good within him to begin with.

6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)? I'm sure others will be able to more eloquently state the differences, but to me admiration implies a unequivocal love of a person, place, object, accomplishment, etc. without strings attached. Envy implies a desire to possess. Coveting thy neighbors goods leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest? I think he's attempting to bait the hook for Feanor. Feanor probably doesn't protest because he could care less what Melkor says at this point. Also, his confidence in himself his great enough he doesn't concern himself with how others view him.

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this? The Vanyar seem to follow the lead of Manwe. Since he's not taking any action at this point, neither are they. The Teleri don't seem too concerned with things that don't directly concern them. Since we don't really know Aule's thoughts on the subject, all we can do is speculate. Perhaps he was also benefiting from the instruction of Melkor in some ways. It's no coincidence that Sauron and the Noldor, some the biggest troublemakers in the history of Arda, are closely tied to Aule.

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea

Mar 16 2013, 12:30am

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my thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like?
it probably was a piece of cake for melkor, relatively speaking. time does not pass in the same way for a vala. probably the valar were thinking meditation would help in on his path. also, he had done great harm to the world and individuals, many of whom dwelled in valinor. so keeping him away from them was probably also in their thoughts. i suspect isolation was precisely the wrong approach. i think if melkor had a chance at rehabilitation, it would have been through the company of others. but i also question whether he was redeemable. did he have free will, or was his rebellion part of eru's plan? if so, what a horrible position to be in -- being the chosen one, but chosen to be irredeemable, chosen to be the greatest sinner for whom salvation was doomed.


2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?

see above.

As Manwe debated the fate of Melkor, Nienna aided Melkor in his defence, while Mandos (shockingly) remained silent. 3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?

it is nienna's gift. if melkor had any chance of being healed (he certainly had sickness), it was through her.


4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?

mandos knows a lot. certainly more than he says. but it's unclear when he's silent because he chooses or cannot tamper with the fates of others, or whether he's silent out of caprice. i suspect in general he's kind of a calvin coolidge sort of fellow.


The Nature of Evil: The Enemy Within. It seems that Manwe believes Melkor has been "cured" of his evil ways, yet others are not deceived -- namely Ulmo, Tulkas, and (somewhat surprisingly) the Vanyar. Tolkien writes: Quote For Manwe was free from evil and could not comprehend it, ..., and he saw not to the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever. 5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?

i don't think you have to understand evil to deal with it. you can just be observant of pattern. but some aspects of our personalities may be strengths in certain circumstances, and vulnerabilities in others. forgiveness, here, is a wonderful quality to bestow on someone worthy. if melkor was worthy, then the reticence of ulmo and tulkas would have been vulnerabilities. in this instance, they were strengths. i think also that being so powerful, like manwe, can color one's thinking. what does he have to personally lose? the individuals who are relatively powerless against melkor perhaps should have had more say, as they had more to lose, and perhaps their sense of danger was sharper, for that reason.


6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)?

envy is inherently negatively charged. it is desire that becomes negatively charged, and becomes envy. and envy taken to extremes is blinding.


Melkor chooses to teach his knowledge and skills to the Noldor over the Vanyar (who still do not trust him), and over the Teleri (a people he believes are not worthy of his teaching). Given what we know of the Noldor's interest in understanding the world and crafting things, this seems to makes sense. Melkor also, falsely, takes credit for teaching Feanor all he knows, though Feanor hate for Melkor exceeded any of the Eldalie.

i have doubts that melkor truly admires anything but himself, so i think the only thing he sees in the noldor is a kinship of making things, and they are the most likely to revere him for being a great maker of things. he wants to be adored, revered, and to have his portion praised above all others. which turns into an intolerance for anything created by others. if there's something worth having, he will have it (the silmarils) or destroy it (the elven kingdoms).

i also think that melkor sees the noldor as tools, rather than people. tools that he can use (better than the vanyar, better than the teleri) for his purposes. the noldor flatter his vanity and are easily manipulated. aule is also a great maker, and the noldor are affiliated with aule. that must make it extra sweet for melkor. by rights (by melkor's thinking, perhaps), the noldor should be revering +him+ above all other valar.


7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest?

i think melkor takes credit for feanor's work because he cannot stand rivals. and to have one of the eldar, a race less in might and skill, be a rival to him, a vala, must be galling. i think it also gives him pleasure to try to discredit feanor. on a tactical level, it sows seeds of discontent that he will reap later.

i think feanor does not have much response because he has such contempt for melkor. by definition, anyone who would claim credit for his work (feanor's) is a thief. and worthy of contempt. i do think it bothers feanor, however, but it is a hot coal that is smoldering under many others. feanor is a hot coal pit.


8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this?

all the valar probably had something to say, but perhaps it was not all recorded. not sure that the eldar were invited to say something, as they were not of the order of the valar. which is a shame, as they were the ones who had been directly harmed, and suffered most.


.


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 16 2013, 12:32am)


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 16 2013, 2:01am

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Hello all, my first post about Sil, but I have been following :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks for continuing the fascinating discussion!

Crime and Punishment:

1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like?
I think it was a form of well-intentioned reproof, but ultimately due to Melkor's nature it was torture, one having unforseen consequences, and perhaps not intended as torture by the Valar. To be chained and confined in the midst of beauty, in the 'Noontime of the Blessed Realm, the fullness of it's glory and bliss," knowling that the Three Kindreds were safely gathered and daily prospering, and to be unable to take part in either its joy (had he been able to heal and desire that joy) or, alternately, to have a hand in it's disfigurement (the feeling most likely to be continued, without any internal reason to desire healing) must have been particularly painful to a masterful and controlling nature such as Melkor's.

2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference? Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"? Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?

I think the concept of punishment versus reform requires a greater familiarity with the nature of Evil, which the Valar at this point lack.
If only Illuvatar has the power to create or destroy, and the valar only the power to change, then it would seem that only Illuvatar could possibly inflict a capital punishment. The question of whether a reform-based approach helping more (it certainly could hardly have helped LESS) in intimately bound with the origin of the nature of Melkor. Do we presume an "illness" on his part, which perhaps implies a cure; and if no cure can be made, then he is beyond saving. Or do we see his actions as a conscious choice, which implies that with motivation and innate desire for change the saving could be effected? My feeling is that having chosen to take for granted all of his blessings and pursue a larger allotment of such, he was beyond help UNLESS he chose to accept his place and thus heal himself.

As Manwe debated the fate of Melkor, Nienna aided Melkor in his defence, while Mandos (shockingly) remained silent.

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?
Perhaps because he offers to aid in "healing" she feels a connection with him. Also, because she feels pain so distinctly, perhaps the faith that if Melkor were to work with her to heal the pains he had wrought upon Arda, that she felt so personally, so much hurt upon the world and her heart would lessen. And perhaps it is the weakness of a great healer who feels too intensely for safety - to desire too deeply the fixing of all problems, perhaps beyond reason.

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now? Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?
I can't help but feel that at the least he is perhaps suspicious. I think his silence might be more for Nienna than Melkor - desiring for her, dwelling I think the most alone and aware of the hurts of the world - to gain the hope of healing it all.

The Nature of Evil: The Enemy Within

It seems that Manwe believes Melkor has been "cured" of his evil ways, yet others are not deceived -- namely Ulmo, Tulkas, and (somewhat surprisingly) the Vanyar. Tolkien writes:

Quote
For Manwe was free from evil and could not comprehend it, ..., and he saw not to the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.


5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it? What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?) Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?
I don't think there is one common reason for all of their behaviors, I think it varies. Ulmo is completely undeceived, perhaps this is because of his habit of being alone in his depths, keeping very much to Arda and not Valinor, and having much to do with the Firstborn there. His songs coursed and gave life even as Melkor darkened Arda, so perhaps it is a case of Ulmo having taken full measure of Melkor, and not being swayed by the softe, theoretical and and less life-bound politics of the Blessed Realm. Tulkas as well, I think took Melkor's measure from the first, his powerful personality is not one to be swayed by appearances; an inertial Valar, once started in a particular direction he is unlikely to change course. The Vanyar seemed content in the light of the Two Trees, and thus I think a restless and fomenting presence such as Melkor, even disguised, repelled them.
6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration? How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)? Admiration and envy differ in their desire for possession and control of the beloved thing. Admiration is passive. Since envy implies possession as a drive, it is active, and thus by can cause the envious person to attempt to take action to obtain control or possession of the desired object.
________________________________
Melkor chooses to teach his knowledge and skills to the Noldor over the Vanyar (who still do not trust him), and over the Teleri (a people he believes are not worthy of his teaching). Given what we know of the Noldor's interest in understanding the world and crafting things, this seems to makes sense. Melkor also, falsely, takes credit for teaching Feanor all he knows, though Feanor hate for Melkor exceeded any of the Eldalie.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor? Why doesn't Feanor protest? Perhaps out of envy for the beauty of all of Feanor's work, and desiring to be considered as part of its history, because he is motivated by the envy not only of the jewels wrought by Feanor (as well as the Silmarils, since the statement is made 'afterwards') but the regard and honor of others. Feanor does not protest because his ego and spirit burns so fiercely that the statements of others were meaningless to him. Polar opposites, in that way, but similar in outcomes.

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this? I think the Vanyar were lulled by contentment, and therefore passive, although they would not accept Melkor they also took no action; the danger in deep contentment perhaps. The Noldor, in the Noontime, were absorbed in advancing their skills and their knowledge. Considering the time and the glorious blooming in Valinor, Aule perhaps was busy in creating and teaching with the Noldor. To the Teleri Melkor gives little heed and calls them weak tools - implying that they too were content, like the Vanyar, and unavailable for any beguiling by Melkor. It seems that for Melkor to achieve his goals requires a restless spirit or a longing for something not yet possessed or understood (ie: a wisp of envy...)

A Coda

If you haven't read Voronwe_the_Faithful's post and article (above), I strongly urge you to do so. Our current chapter, it appears, is rather thin for a reason. I, for one, would have loved to learn more about the society of the Valar and the Eldar, to understand better the actions of certain people -- especially once prominent female characters, and to have a fuller, more complex Silmarilion than the one resting on my coffee table.

In the Foreword, Christopher Tolkien describes the creation of the Silmarilion and his father's variations of form and focus: poetry and oral tales, mythology and philosophy. The following questions deal with this topic. I apologize for straying out of chpater bounds and for introducing material that has likely been hashed, re-hashed, and hashed again, but I felt it belonged here.

i. Why did Christopher seek to standardize this text? Was it the publishers? His view of what the audience wanted or could handle? Do you think the chapters of the Silmarilion are cohesive? (i.e., did Christopher achieve his goal?) Or would you rather have seen the collection of annals, poems and tales that lay scattered about the Tolkien residence? Would it have been charming, or too difficult, to read in that format?
I think the standardization benefits the reader. I think it was motivated by his desire to have readers understand the beliefs and the flow of JRRT's creation legend. Charming to read a piece at a time true, but placing them in a timeline helps, especially with so many significant events and numerous charactars.
Thank you all for your comments, clarifications, and questions! Your welcome!


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


Elizabeth
Valinor


Mar 16 2013, 4:40am

Post #6 of 24 (407 views)
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Free will [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Melkor had free will. Just as Eru endowed the dwarves with independent spirits, rather than allow them to remain Aüle's puppets, he endowed all his creations with free will, from the Valar to the Children and dwarves. This is an important theological concept.

The Music is an improvisational work, with room for many variations from the free spirits who are contributing. But the orchestra is sufficiently large that discords caused by errant (ok, "evil") players can be absorbed in the whole, providing there are enough harmonious ("good") musicians who are open to hearing Eru's orchestration.








Maciliel
Tol Eressea

Mar 16 2013, 11:09am

Post #7 of 24 (406 views)
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then how does this apply to the gift of men? [In reply to] Can't Post

one of the things that i have read regarding mortality / the gift of men is that it is linked to the ability to command one's fate. if all races have free will, where does that leave the gift of men?

i have found the GoM to be damnably confusing.

.


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


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 16 2013, 3:45pm

Post #8 of 24 (387 views)
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It's not easy for us Mortals to see it as a gift, is it? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
one of the things that i have read regarding mortality / the gift of men is that it is linked to the ability to command one's fate. if all races have free will, where does that leave the gift of men?

i have found the GoM to be damnably confusing.

.


[Going on a limb here - hope this is right, its just how I see it-]
I know!!!!
Especially when to be one of Tolien's Elves seems so intoxicating...difficult for us, having imagined Immortality, to see mortality as a gjft. But in Tolkien's universe its a huge component of Men's free will, because of the Gift they can act as they choose: either in harmony with ancient Arda and the Music, simply choose to go their own way unrelated to it or decide to live in sharp defiance to it, or even work against it. Thus they have even more "will" than the Firstborn. They can achieve higher heights OR choose to sink to darker lows, but it is CHOICE. So as far as their time in the World they can utterly and completely choose their own fates. They also are given the option to leave the circles of the world before they are tired and weary in spirit (like Bilbo feeling thin and stretched) - to an unknown reward, potentially happier than waiting about in the halls of Mandos or wandering Arda, even hanging about Valinor. So its like a balanced quality versus quantity equation: Men have the option to live richly, passionately, change the world to their desires, but their time is limited. Whereas Elves are limited by the Song, live in beauty within the restrictions of the Song with less fire and passion, but have so much time.
As far as what lies beyond the circles for men's spirits, maybe that's the most difficult thing for me personally to understand - how or what would be 'better', because Valinor seems so perfect. Maybe something more suited to Men's spirits.

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea

Mar 16 2013, 4:06pm

Post #9 of 24 (381 views)
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as you've described it.. [In reply to] Can't Post

as you've described it, i really don't see a difference between free will in elves and free will in humans ('tho loved reading your thoughts).

how are actions of an elf bound to arda? they seem to be quite able to act in harmony with the music or not, and have choices. feanor. galadriel. maeglin. thingol. finwe. miriel. there are consequences. but they do indeed act on their choices.

how is this different from the choices of humans? i don't really see a difference.

the only substantive thing that i can see is that humans are supposed to be part of the making of the second music. elves not (yes?). all elves perish at the unmaking of arda (yes? no?)

and if it is, as you say, only humans have the choice to act in harmony or discord with the music, then that brings us back to melkor. he was not human. nor mortal. so, if only humans have the gift of choice, then did melkor actually have a choice?

.


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


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 16 2013, 4:49pm

Post #10 of 24 (383 views)
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Scratching head, flipping though text- [In reply to] Can't Post

(Thanks Maciliel, for the compliment! )
It's not a crystal clear idea, I know. I have read it for almost twenty years, and sometimes not sure if I really get it. Have my DH making fun of me here doing my TORn "homework" LOL!!!

To try to explain what I mean, I found this in Ainulindale:
(Illuvatar to the Valar)
no theme may be played that has not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall be but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

So maybe what he is saying here (as Elizabeth pointed out earlier) that there will be strains of his music, both negative and positive, but he is not unaware of ANY of them. And that the Valar themselves lack the ultimate knowledge of outcomes, but that Illuvatar does not - and that even if they attempt to alter the grand scheme, Illuvatar's designs will still be achieved. So that the actions of all those somewhat darker and conflicted Firstborn, or Melkor himself, aren't "preordained" (they still choose how to act) but that Illuvatar is aware of those strains in the Song, and that they ultimately cannot undermine his will.

So that gives Melkor room to misbehave, (choosing to do so) as it were, and still ultimately serve the Song. The Kinslayers too, and Feanor as well, ultimately will somehow bring about Illuvatar's will, because as Firstborn they serve the ends of Illuvatar even if they don't see it themselves, or if it is ages in coming.

Men though, are outside this restriction because of the Gift. Their choices are NOT limited by the forsight of Illuvatar. Their impacts on Arda then can be outside the Song, and outside of any planning by Illuvatar - loose cannons, in short, the essence of spontaneity and completely free will. And as such can alter Arda in ways that the Firstborn or the Valar cannot, also in ways that Illuvatar himself cannot see in advance because it is not in his Song. A bold, bold gift actually.
Don't know if that is clearer or nor - I hope so Smile I also hope this sounds reasonable...sometimes its hard to tell.


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

(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 16 2013, 4:51pm)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Mar 16 2013, 9:40pm

Post #11 of 24 (360 views)
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I think the "gift" is not connected to "free will". [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't see that Elves and Men differ in terms of their freedom to act for good or ill.

The one sense in which it seems to be relevant is that Men can choose to die at will, though not all do. They have this one choice in the belief that, as they are not bound to Arda, there is an alternative afterlife, even though they don't know what it is.

But the main (and important) sense in which the term "free will" is used has to do with the choices one makes while living. The passage that you cite asserts that Eru knows what the outcome will be, not that He controls any of the myriad specific actions or decisions taken by Men, Elves, Valar, Maiar, etc., along the way.








Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 16 2013, 10:13pm

Post #12 of 24 (350 views)
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Did not intend to imply control [In reply to] Can't Post

or lack of free will. Apologies.

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


telain
Rohan

Mar 16 2013, 11:02pm

Post #13 of 24 (366 views)
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how well do we really know Melkor? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't believe how fast time is flying -- and I assure you it is no "noontide in Valinor" around here!

I find everyone's response to how Melkor might have endured his confinement so divergent and therefore so very interesting. Some posters feel it was "a piece of cake" for Melkor (Maciliel and Finwe), while others felt it would have been especially unbearable for someone as active and meddlesome as Melkor appears to have been (Brethil). Not to mention the idea (and image) of Melkor arm-wrestling with Tulkas to pass the time! (CuriousG)

I guess the truth is we really don't enough about Melkor yet to say definitively one way or the other. Put the above range of responses against an almost unanimous understanding of Nienna's compassion. Even though we know comparatively little about her -- but perhaps what we know about her is important to answering questions about her character? The truth is, Melkor hid himself from the world for a while, and was forcibly hidden from the world for an even longer while, and we just don't know much about him apart from the fact that he is intensely and destructively envious and hateful -- but even this doesn't give a terribly good clue to why he takes credit for Feanor's skill (though I think we came up with some very good and reasonable answers to that one!). Maybe I'm not so upset with Manwe for not completely understanding what Melkor had become...

However, most of us also thought that leaving him alone to "gnaw the ends of his old plots" was probably the wrong move. Since many of the Valar did not live extensively with the creatures of Middle-earth (sullied by Melkor), they simply had no way of understanding him or his intentions (save Ulmo and Tulkas, apparently). This I find really fascinating! I have always envisioned the Valar as so knowing, so capable, but now I have a sense that many/most of them at this noontide of Valinor were perhaps a bit naive. Anyone else think so?

I also think it is interesting that Melkor really was the instrument of his own downfall. He allowed a reprimand for playing the Music out of tune and a dismissal from Varda cloud his vision of who he was -- a rather supreme being, and surely one capable of making the right decision... which leads me to bring up one of the newer posts about the Fate of Men...

Is Melkor some extraordinary example of the choice humans face in Tolkien's Middle-earth (i.e., to be "evil")? Is this part of Eru's plan all along? (If so, how?)


telain
Rohan

Mar 16 2013, 11:39pm

Post #14 of 24 (371 views)
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how did Aule get in this chapter? Oh, yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

The last chapter discussion I led (Of Aule and Yavanna) I described Aule as: "...the introverted, focused, absent-minded scientist. He doesn't realize that creating his own race of beings might cause problems, and he doesn't get the the not-so-subtle verbal cues from Yavanna."

So, when I saw this:

Quote
It's no coincidence that Sauron and the Noldor, some the biggest troublemakers in the history of Arda, are closely tied to Aule.


...it rang a rather not-too-distant bell. I am reminded of modern, real-world scientists who work alone in their laboratories, discovering things that eventually lead to, oh, I don't know, atomic weaponry or biochemical warfare, or something else equally awful. Are the scientists to blame? Many think not, probably just as many think so ("They should know these things could be used for evil purposes!") Of course I know Tolkien was not interested in allegory, but I find it hard not to draw connections between modern science/invention, Aule, and "bad things happening". Aule is "of the Music", so invention and craft themselves are not inherently devious, but just what level of invention, technology, or knowledge was alright? And do we blame Aule, or just those who misuse his crafts?

In that same chapter, Aule creates the dwarves and nearly destroys them because he realizes they were not in Eru's plan. Here is where I see the difference between admiration and envy. Aule admired the idea of Eru's children (incidentally, so he could teach his craft to them -- Now, are we counting the dwarves as some of the biggest troublemakers? There may be scope to do that...), but Eru reprimanded him, he would rather destroy them than keep them -- so the desire to possess I think has a part in envy, as many of you have pointed out. I cannot see Melkor destroying his creations just to appease Eru (or certainly not without significant retribution!)


telain
Rohan

Mar 16 2013, 11:52pm

Post #15 of 24 (350 views)
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Feanor is a pit of smouldering coals... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and a CEO of a modern corporation! We are really getting some interesting images of Feanor! Excellent!

I think you are spot-on saying that tacticly Melkor is doing this to discredit Feanor later (taking credit in order to discredit, hmmm that Melkor is a devious fellow!) And I do think that Fenor is a hot coal pit, and I would add he probably isn't always aware of what makes him angry (or how much it makes him angry.) By the end of these discussions, I feel we should be able to work up a decent psychological profile of Feanor.

I like the idea that Feanor's skill galls Melkor. It fits because we know he is motivated by envy (how and why it manifests the way it does is still sometimes a mystery to me.)

"Noldor as tools, rather than people". Makes so much sense since we are told that all love has left Melkor. All he has left (it appears) are envy, hate, and a very devious mind. It makes sense that he would even use people as tools (tools - craft - Aule, yet again!)


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 17 2013, 1:38am

Post #16 of 24 (369 views)
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Melkor Choice and naivete of the Valar [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


However, most of us also thought that leaving him alone to "gnaw the ends of his old plots" was probably the wrong move. Since many of the Valar did not live extensively with the creatures of Middle-earth (sullied by Melkor), they simply had no way of understanding him or his intentions (save Ulmo and Tulkas, apparently). This I find really fascinating! I have always envisioned the Valar as so knowing, so capable, but now I have a sense that many/most of them at this noontide of Valinor were perhaps a bit naive. Anyone else think so?

I also think it is interesting that Melkor really was the instrument of his own downfall. He allowed a reprimand for playing the Music out of tune and a dismissal from Varda cloud his vision of who he was -- a rather supreme being, and surely one capable of making the right decision... which leads me to bring up one of the newer posts about the Fate of Men...

Is Melkor some extraordinary example of the choice humans face in Tolkien's Middle-earth (i.e., to be "evil")? Is this part of Eru's plan all along? (If so, how?)


I think Telain you have stated it perfectly, "naive" being an ideal word. It implies perhaps their lack of experience outside of the Blessed Realm, with negativity, and as being the 'first Children' of an all-knowing being. Ulmo and Tulkas seem a bit more hardened by life in Arda, and also by their individual natures.
I do believe that Melkor is an extreme example of choice in Tolkien's model. Melkor who, with the small withdrawal of blessing (a reprimand) did not adequately appreciate the rest that he had, and chose to recover that dignity with resentment, then anger and then envy. I think though that as the Valar will always function within the Song and yet have free will, it is not Eru's "plan" (which implies control) but it certainly does not take him by surprise. He might not want the darkest notes to come to life, but on some level Eru is prepared. Why have these rogue notes at all? I think because in the long life of the First Song ultimately his will and design will come about regardless; and (speculating here) perhaps darker notes bring about the rise of light and heroic notes (ie: would we have Aragorn without Sauron?) I think free will is more valuable to Eru than a "flat" song and a "flat" world.

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


elaen32
Gondor

Mar 17 2013, 10:28am

Post #17 of 24 (358 views)
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The whole "Knowledge- good or bad?" question [In reply to] Can't Post

is one which is so fundamental to much of Tolkien's work and of course to humanity as a whole. The destruction of nature for technological "advance" was a topic seemingly close to Tolkien's heart and is more relevant than ever today. I feel that he was very ambivalent- seeing the beautiful things which could arise, as well as the destructive. This translates into his, IMO, somewhat ambivalent view of the Noldor as striving for beauty,but also causing, inadvertently, great evil (due to the input of Messrs Melkor & Sauron respectively) as a result of the creation of the Silmarils and the Rings. In Arda, I feel that Eru is aware of this dichotomy, but his plan through the Music, is that the two will balance out- the fact that it takes millenia to cast out Melkor and then further millenia to destroy Sauron, would possibly be irrelevant to Eru, since he is outside of time and of Arda. Sorry if this all sounds a bit simplistic- I am relatively new to the Silmarillion and do not know it that well yet.
In our own world, as you say, there are two sides to most human discovery and knowledge- nuclear science led to atomic weaponry, but also to many medical applications which save lives; the isolation and discovery of certain viruses and the development of vaccines to them v the perversion of these discoveries into biological weapons. As you say, it all boils down to choice in how knowledge is used, but it is interesting to speculate whether these real world "evil uses" would have happened in the way that they did, without WorldWar II. Tolkien despised allegory-true, but any writer worth their salt is bound to be influenced by their own world and times.

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


telain
Rohan

Mar 17 2013, 11:34pm

Post #18 of 24 (342 views)
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Melkor's dark music and Nienna's healing [In reply to] Can't Post

And welcome to the SIl discussion! I meant to respond more quickly to your first post; I hope you won't mind my doing that here.

I really like your take on how Melkor is part of the music:

Quote
He might not want the darkest notes to come to life, but on some level Eru is prepared. Why have these rogue notes at all? I think because in the long life of the First Song ultimately his will and design will come about regardless; and (speculating here) perhaps darker notes bring about the rise of light and heroic notes (ie: would we have Aragorn without Sauron?) I think free will is more valuable to Eru than a "flat" song and a "flat" world.


As someone now more keenly aware of music and the effects it has on us, I can better appreciate these comments. Sometimes it is the dark that inspires the best from the light. I think I almost wrote something to that effect during the discussion of why the noontide days were not more fully chronicled. Sometimes melancholy can be so beautiful -- haven't you heard those mournful, almost painfully beautiful songs about lost love (or things even more tragic?) You're right -- of course Eru isn't planning on evil things happening, but he is prepared for them -- otherwise Nienna wouldn't be such a prominent figure and one so firmly rooted in sympathy, compassion, and all things melancholic. (your earlier post re: choice and Eru is fascinating!)

On that note, I am intrigued further by your connection between Nienna, Melkor and healing. Do you think that Nienna feels it is necessary for Melkor to heal in order for the wounds he inflicted on the world to heal? Is she optimistically hopeful - going with that degree of naivete -- or desperately hopeful? We know from "Of the Maiar" that Olorin (Gandalf) was closely associated with Nienna "...and of her he learned pity and patience." I think we can assume then that she had pity for Melkor and was willing to wait to see if he showed any reform or healing. Though, I wonder if we now know how someone like Melkor might respond to being pitied...

And why is it we sometimes associate "pity" with something negative? Is it is the feeling that one is vulnerable or weak if they are being pitied??


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 18 2013, 12:49am

Post #19 of 24 (299 views)
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Pride and pity [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading through all these posts tonight, which leave my head spinning a bit from all the great thoughts being aired, I found myself looking at Melkor as something besides the classic evil villain. Pride/vanity/ego seem to dominate him, yet oddly, he seems emotionally vulnerable. I don't think all proud people get hurt so easily, but he does. Melkor seems frail when he's rejected by Varda. Why didn't he try to woo other Ainu-women if she looked askance at him? Instead his easily wounded pride made him all the more bitter and withdrawn. Back in the Great Music, he proudly led an alternative theme, then seemed crushed when he was chastised for it and was told he wasn't as clever and creative as he thought he was. And again, when he realized he couldn't have everything in Arda his way once he and the Valar arrived, he spitefully destroyed whatever they made. Doesn't he seem like a hurt little boy in an Ainu's body?

Which brings me to Pity, because I can't say that I pity him, for I think he does have free will and is smart enough to know how corrupt he is. When it comes to Nienna pitying him, I think Melkor's fragile pride would make him resent it from her or anyone else, since that pity would imply something is wrong with him, and he couldn't handle the notion that others might think that. Though all the Valar seem naive to me, and Nienna wouldn't guess that her pity for him would backfire and stoke up more resentment in him.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 18 2013, 1:12am

Post #20 of 24 (338 views)
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Some thoughts on Nienna and Olorin and pity [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And welcome to the SIl discussion! I meant to respond more quickly to your first post; I hope you won't mind my doing that here.
*******Thank you so much Telain, for the warm welcome and in maintaining these wonderful discussions!********
I really like your take on how Melkor is part of the music:

Quote
He might not want the darkest notes to come to life, but on some level Eru is prepared. Why have these rogue notes at all? I think because in the long life of the First Song ultimately his will and design will come about regardless; and (speculating here) perhaps darker notes bring about the rise of light and heroic notes (ie: would we have Aragorn without Sauron?) I think free will is more valuable to Eru than a "flat" song and a "flat" world.

As someone now more keenly aware of music and the effects it has on us, I can better appreciate these comments. Sometimes it is the dark that inspires the best from the light. I think I almost wrote something to that effect during the discussion of why the noontide days were not more fully chronicled. Sometimes melancholy can be so beautiful -- haven't you heard those mournful, almost painfully beautiful songs about lost love (or things even more tragic?) You're right -- of course Eru isn't planning on evil things happening, but he is prepared for them -- otherwise Nienna wouldn't be such a prominent figure and one so firmly rooted in sympathy, compassion, and all things melancholic. (your earlier post re: choice and Eru is fascinating!)

Very kind, Telain.Angelic Sometimes I worry about overthinking it, but I feel like the link is there, between the uniqueness of the fate of Men and our relationship to the Song.
Very, very true about what you say about Nienna! Her skills are needed to right the balance - it seems like balance is an integral part of Eru's plans. So her existence and prominence is a sort of negative evidence for his foreknowledge of the possibility of evil. Such beauty in the logic.
Perhaps the nature of melancholy is such a logical, albeit emotional, connection between our (fleeting as mortals) hopes and dreams and our knowledge of our own end (poor mortals that we are.) I think it gives richness to life too, like the light and dark balance that Eru seems to always be creating. Maybe that's why we feel the beauty in that kind of sadness?
On that note, I am intrigued further by your connection between Nienna, Melkor and healing. Do you think that Nienna feels it is necessary for Melkor to heal in order for the wounds he inflicted on the world to heal? Is she optimistically hopeful - going with that degree of naivete -- or desperately hopeful? We know from "Of the Maiar" that Olorin (Gandalf) was closely associated with Nienna "...and of her he learned pity and patience." I think we can assume then that she had pity for Melkor and was willing to wait to see if he showed any reform or healing. Yes, I would agree that Nienna sees Melkor's own healing as a part of the repairing of what he wrought on the world, whether it occurs first or a as result of doing good work. I see Nienna as a VERY naive Valar (since she is not only clueless enough about Melkor not to suspect him, but actively canvasses for his release) so I would say she does pity him, and is hopeful - but also needful. Her knowledge of the hurts affect her as a wound, I think, beyond just awareness, which is why she so wants Melkor to be fixed. It is healing for her as well, if Melkor and thus world are no longer sick. That's why I see her depth of empathy and compassion WITHOUT fear as a very dangerous combination for her - it leaves her completely unshielded. As for Olorin, I think he begins with more active judgement and awarenes than Nienna, because before leaving for ME Olorin confessed to fearing Melkor, indicating more wisdom in taking his true measure. So as Gandalf, he has the pity and patience COMBINED with the knowledge of fear and certainly more knowledge of evil and why it should, perhaps, be pitied - but certainly should be feared. (Of course we know the amazing work of Gandalf in later years, and how his teachings of pity save all of ME). Though, I wonder if we now know how someone like Melkor might respond to being pitied... I wonder too. Perhaps he could (and would too) use pity to his benefit - but as I see Melkor as desperate for the high thoughts and regard of others, perhaps it would increase his hidden and ever-present resentment. So maybe it would be an unseen and deep anger at he pity, coupled with an outward use of the emotion to prey upon those who feel it. Dangerous combination for the unwary sympathetic person...!
And why is it we sometimes associate "pity" with something negative? Is it is the feeling that one is vulnerable or weak if they are being pitied?? I do think so, as it seems to imply looking down from a stronger position on someone more wretched, unlike words like "compassion" or "sympathy".


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

(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 18 2013, 1:20am)


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 18 2013, 1:19am

Post #21 of 24 (297 views)
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I get your thoughts CG! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was writing as you posted - and I so completely agree with many of your ideas! Melkor does have an almost childish weakness in his ability to be deeply wounded. And I also agree with your take upon how pity would really backfire against anyone feeling that for him. Like petting a hurt scorpion. Ouchie.
Smile

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 18 2013, 2:04am

Post #22 of 24 (301 views)
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I'm always learning something new here [In reply to] Can't Post

Great observation, Brethil!

Quote
Very, very true about what you say about Nienna! Her skills are needed to right the balance - it seems like balance is an integral part of Eru's plans. So her existence and prominence is a sort of negative evidence for his foreknowledge of the possibility of evil. Such beauty in the logic.

I'd never thought of that before, but of course it makes sense now that you point it out. Nienna's role was preordained and required to balance the malice of Melkor and Sauron. I think the other Valar are as clueless as me. Why didn't they look at her and figure the reason she existed, or at least the reason her personality was oriented towards tears and compassion, was because of all the evil that the world was doomed to undergo, and then grasping that fact, why didn't they try harder to understand evil (i.e., Melkor) to better prevent it? Easier said than done, of course.

To fast forward, when Melkor is ultimately defeated, there's no pardon, no pity (not even from Nienna, I guess), no cooling off period in Mandos. He's thrown outside the world, permanently, because the Valar finally realize that he is irredeemable and poisons everything he touches. You don't cure plutonium of emitting deadly radiation; if it exists, that's what it does. Though I shouldn't be too hard on them. I think The Silmarillion is as much about the youth and maturing of the Valar as it is about Elves and Men, even if we don't see much of the Valar after the initial chapters. Everyone is on a journey of wisdom in this book as they are in LOTR. And giving Melkor the benefit of the doubt was the moral thing to do.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 18 2013, 3:15am

Post #23 of 24 (301 views)
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Clueless? Hardly! [In reply to] Can't Post


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Great observation, Brethil!

Quote
Very, very true about what you say about Nienna! Her skills are needed to right the balance - it seems like balance is an integral part of Eru's plans. So her existence and prominence is a sort of negative evidence for his foreknowledge of the possibility of evil. Such beauty in the logic.

Telain gave us a great basis for this construct, by pointing out the prominence of Nienna's role. I'd never thought of that before, but of course it makes sense now that you point it out. Nienna's role was preordained and required to balance the malice of Melkor and Sauron. I think the other Valar are as clueless as me. For starters - having read so many of your amazing insights in these last months CG, NEVER would I call you clueless....! Why didn't they look at her and figure the reason she existed, or at least the reason her personality was oriented towards tears and compassion, was because of all the evil that the world was doomed to undergo, and then grasping that fact, why didn't they try harder to understand evil (i.e., Melkor) to better prevent it? Easier said than done, of course. I think it comes back to that childlike naivete, the starting point of the Valar. The Spring, the early morning of the world.

To fast forward, when Melkor is ultimately defeated, there's no pardon, no pity (not even from Nienna, I guess), no cooling off period in Mandos. He's thrown outside the world, permanently, because the Valar finally realize that he is irredeemable and poisons everything he touches. You don't cure plutonium of emitting deadly radiation; if it exists, that's what it does. Though I shouldn't be too hard on them. I think The Silmarillion is as much about the youth and maturing of the Valar as it is about Elves and Men, even if we don't see much of the Valar after the initial chapters. Everyone is on a journey of wisdom in this book as they are in LOTR. And giving Melkor the benefit of the doubt was the moral thing to do. It is totally true, CG, both points. It WAS the moral thing to do, in the beginning, with not enough knowledge of the damage that "benefit of the doubt" could cause. It's also true that later - with the knowledge they now had - casting Melkor far from Arda was also (although the opposite action) still the moral thing to do. Odd right? I think it's Tolkien's theme of cyclicality and seasonality, as you all so aptly discussed (and its an amazing discussion) previously, and with that the gaining of wisdom. Like all things it always seems to grade from light to dark, spring to winter, light notes to thunderous ones. Even as Arda was being made Illuvatar had sung its final, violent, dark notes in preparation for the Last Battle and the Remaking. As for pity - maybe by then Nienna had learned more fear, and less pity, and thus had more regard for the dangers of Melkor. (Wish we had more reaction text to go by here.) If she hadn't, maybe it caused her a hurt, if she still held out hope. Drifted a bit here but the points you brought up are so good. I always learn things here too. Enriches my inner Tolkien world that I already love!


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

(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 18 2013, 3:20am)


sador
Half-elven


Mar 18 2013, 7:35am

Post #24 of 24 (335 views)
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Crime and Punishment:

1. Melkor was kept chained in the halls of Mandos, and in solitary confinement. What do you imagine that was like?
Hardly fun; but I agree with those who suggested that time passage for a Vala is rather different than for us. As Saruman said: "we can bide our time…"

2. The Valar apprently believed in punishment rather than reform; would a different approach have made any difference?

Maybe.

Were the Valar capable of "capital punishment"?
Well, Melkor gave himself up because he apparently feared something…
And at the end of the War of Wrath, he was thrust out of the Doors of Night. So perhaps the answer is yes.

Would another more reform-minded approach worked, or was Melkor beyond help?
I suppose it wouldn't; but who can tell?

3. Why does Nienna aid Melkor in this way?
That's her essence.
I'm not sure to what extent the Valar embodied divine attributes, as opposed to their having distinct personalities. I tend to think Tolkien wavered between the two options; so perhaps Christopher and Guy Kay felt that the debate regarding Miriel would tilt the balance too much in one direction? I am more reluctant than others in the forum seem to protest against their decisions, but it's not as if I have a good answer myself.

4. We have seen so far in The Silmarilion that Mandos can be maddeningly vague -- why does he choose to say nothing now?

As above – who said it's a choice?

Does he think he's offering a not-so-subtle hint, or does he actually not know what Melkor is up to?
Let's say that he didn't look into what Manwe didn't bid him, or Eru did not reveal.

The Nature of Evil: The Enemy Within

5. Is Tolkien suggesting (like many modern crime dramas and police procedurals) that one must know -- or be -- a little evil in order to recognize it?
I disagree with what Macilliel wrote – of course one needs to understand evil to recognize it! But I suspect s/he didn't mean that, but only to contradict your suggestion that you must identify with evil yourself to comprehend it. I don’t think that's what Tolkien meant, either.

What does this say about Ulmo, Tulkas, and the Vanyar (or is suspicion something else entirely?)Why do they suspect Melkor of deceit?
Ulmo is deep enough, Tulkas is shallow enough, and the Vanyar are Manwe's lackeys and haven't been told specifically to speak to Melkor.

6. Melkor's evil seems to stem from envy -- what is the difference between envy and admiration?

Of whom? It seems to me that his evil stems from the wish to subjugate all other wills and talents to his own. Once the Noldor surpass him in anything, he needs to break them, since as long as they do so they are free to a certain degree. Consider Gwindor's escape from Angband – although Tolkien does leave open the possibility that several of the thralls escaped in according with Melkor's plan.

How does envy become so negatively charged and why does it inherently spell doom in this story (and many, many others)?
Because envy is the malevolent side of admiration.

7. Without staying too far into future chapters, why does Melkor take credit for Feanor?
You meant "straying", I assume.
I suppose Melkor would take credit for anything he could.

Why doesn't Feanor protest?
It seems that he holds Melkor in contempt, so he doesn't bother to.
In which case, Feanor's fundamental sin is really the oldest and most grevious one – the sin of pride in one's greatness. If you wish, of self-admiration.

8. It seems to me that the actions or protestations of some key people are missing in this chapter (more on that subject later). What were the Vanyar, the Teleri, and Aule -- the one who first taught the Noldor -- doing during all of this?

Why should they protest? The Vanyar were not told to, the Teleri are not uppity enough to speak, and at the moment they enjoy the fruits of the Noldor's craft (as Feanor will later remind them). and how much does Aule know, or care?

i. Why did Christopher seek to standardize this text?
If you read the footnotes to Voronwe's book, you'll see that this was not Christopher's initial purpose – apparently Guy Kay urged for this format.

Was it the publishers?
I don't think they really had a part in it.

His view of what the audience wanted or could handle?
Look, CuriousG stated that Christopher underestimated the audience, and then admitted that he never properly read UT!
With benefit of hindsight, one could say that the audience could handle more – but that is only after years of reading the published Sil, and having the great wisdom of Wikipedia and similar works to fall upon. I am sure that if I had read on my first reading the full digression of the Valar puzzling over the concept of Catholic marriage among elves, I would not really care – but I would get the impression that Eru left Arda in the hand of a bunch of hifaluting incompetents.
And I am still not sure that Tolkien had any intention of "fleshing out" the personalities of the individual Valar – for an Orthodox Christian, this would be anathema! He might have intended them to be more of impersonal virtues, and the debate regarding Miriel could have been just a mediaeval drama of morals (with Patience allying itself with Sloth and Indifference against the excesses of Zeal and Sentimentality, etc.).

Do you think the chapters of the Silmarilion are cohesive?
Far more than the source material, to be sure.

i.e., did Christopher achieve his goal?
But what was his goal? To the best of my recollection, we haven't established that as yet.

Or would you rather have seen the collection of annals, poems and tales that lay scattered about the Tolkien residence?
But I have seen it – or at least, the bits which Christopher published in the twelve volumes of HoME.

Would it have been charming, or too difficult, to read in that format?
Now, I like it and am fascinated by it. But I have worked as an editor for a decade, and for half a decade I have been a member of a message board given to analyzing to death these minutae. Would I have liked the said collection had I read it twelve years ago? I don't know.

Thank you all for your comments, clarifications, and questions!
Thank you, telain! As usual, you did a great job.

 
 

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