Jun 16 2013, 1:33pm
Post #26 of 26
I've never done this before; but as I haven't had the time last week to answer all the excellent responses by you, I will try to comment on them in this way, while also referring to those questions which weren't answered.
in this thread, I actually did manage to answer people (except for Brethil); so I'll be briefer.
Why did it take Men so long to come West – not the Edain, but why didn't Morgoth (who was said in Of Men to have deemed the matter of great importance, so that he left Angband just once to inspect them) brings his minions to Beleriand earlier? Could he use them to overturn the Siege of Angband? Or did he simply consider Men of no consequence, to be corrupted to spite the Valar, but relatively worthless even as cannon-fodder for his War?
Brethil's idea here is neat - that Men are frail and fragile, so he prefers Orcs - it also reflects on my idea, that Sauron (as one of the originalk Morgoth-team) managed Orcs just as well as he did Men, while Saruman didn't!
But if so, this surely applies only to the published Silmarillion - orcs, which were bred of corrupted Elves, and not of Men, as in Tolkien's later ideas.
How did this turnabout happen? Did Men prove themselves so well? Or did all the "good" orcs perish in the wars of old? Or is it just Aragorn's prejudice?
Well, in the LotR I used to play Devila's Advocate, insisting that whatever Aragorn and Gandalf stated needs to be taken with a grain of salt; but I admit that it surely reflects Tolkien's ideas while writing!
The best way I can think of to reconcile this contradiction is the distinction I've made between Sauron and Saruman. However, Aragorn doesn't make this distinction, and Grishnakh's knowledge of the Ring contradicts his words immediately afterwards! Perhaps Grishnakh was present at the torturing of Gollum, and his Boss decided that rather than following Billy Bones' pronciple "dead orcs tell no tales", he gave him over to the Nazgul to give him a good fright (Grish seems to refer to it when Ugluk speaks lightly of the Nine), trusting him to become an obediant servant ever after. It seems to have worked.
As a matter of fact, even Gorbag's resentment towards the Nazgul, which are Sauron's "apple of His eye these days, or so they say" implies that before their rise to prominence, orcs were high up.
The only snag in my theory (and a formidable one!) is that the lieutenant of Barad-dur was a Man.
In short, I don't know.
Or has the insertion of chapters 15 and 16 spolied the effect for you?
Nobody answered this question; but perhaps having three more leisurely chapters (by which I mean, having no immediate impact on the War) could have helped to convey the sense of time passing. However, there is a precedent of a three-chapters interlude in the history of the Noldor (10-12, Of the Sindar, Of the Sun amd the Moon and Of Men) which does break the action - so it seems more like a typical Tolkienism, realising he has to fill in some blanks just before going on with the story! Also, as early as the 1937 Quenta this was only the second half of the chapter; it was preceded by a discussion of Dwarves - so this break was always there, and isn't an addition of Christopher's.
What does he mean? Who has failed? The Valar? Númenor? Or the whole enterprise of Men going westward, in a futile search for the light?
As to what Denethor meant - I suspect he means Numenor, as he speaks of the heathen kings before any ship sailed in from the West.
As anyone who has read Tal-Elmar (an unfinished tale of the second age, published at the very end of the HoME series) knows - those heathens (odd choice of word, is it not?) were rather an unsavoury lot.
'But my father loves them,' said Túrin, 'and he is not happy without them. He says that we have learned all that we know from them, and have been made a nobler people; and he says that the Men that have lately come over the Mountains are little better than Orcs.'
'That is true,' answered Sador; 'true at least of some of us. But the up-climbing is painful, and from high places it is easy to fall low.'
Who was right?
Join us in the Reading Room, for the discussion of Of the Coming of Men into the West, beginning on June 9!