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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Theme of the Silmarillion

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Sep 15 2013, 11:18pm

Post #1 of 11 (312 views)
Theme of the Silmarillion Can't Post

Now that the Silmarillion discussion is over, I think that I have spotted a theme running through the novel which I have thought of before. That theme is mistakes. I think every character makes them from the highest to the lowest, good or bad. From the Valar been outwitted by Morgoth for long periods, down to the likes of Turin the tale is littered with them and with those in between. Plus of course, Morgoth and Sauron make one or two of their own!


Sep 16 2013, 12:09am

Post #2 of 11 (202 views)
Great point, Ham [In reply to] Can't Post

There are more mistakes than Orcs in that book, and there are thousands of Orcs. I think Eru is the only one who didn't make a mistake. The Valar made plenty. And it seems that by people making mistakes, fate is usually fulfilled, as if that's what it's expecting people to do.

I think one of the most heroic moments in the book is when Fingolfin rides off for single combat with Morgoth, and that was due to his mistaken conclusion that all was lost.

All of the hidden kingdoms were doomed by mistakes. Every Noldorin prince made mistakes, I think, but I'm not sure about Fingon and Finrod. Or Cirdan.

Otherwise, I'm having trouble thinking of characters that didn't make mistakes. Maybe Idril & Tuor, Beren & Luthien, Earendil & Elwing? It seems those happy couples, who also were hybrid races, didn't make any mistakes. OK, E&E mistakenly concluded that their sons were killed in the kinslaying at the Sirion haven, so they sailed west instead of sailing home, and neatly fulfilled fate again. But I can't think of what the other couples did wrong.


Sep 16 2013, 12:36am

Post #3 of 11 (189 views)
agreement in iambic pentameter [In reply to] Can't Post

i, too, have noticed this. mistakes abound.
but some mistakes seem preordained. confused?
so which be fate? which be mistakes, but true?.
am only sure that numenor be drowned.

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 telpemairo


Sep 16 2013, 1:36am

Post #4 of 11 (188 views)
Beren's boo-boo [In reply to] Can't Post

His mistake was to try to take more than one Silmaril, which led to Morgoth waking up. Luthien's mistake was to trust the sons of Feanor. Dig deep enough, and you'll find something for everyone, I wager.


Sep 16 2013, 1:42am

Post #5 of 11 (177 views)
a-choo! [In reply to] Can't Post

Or an attempt at haiku:

Seeking Silmarils
Brave, proud Noldor in exile
Too many mistakes

I guess if we'd stuck to haiku, we could have finished the Sil discussion many months ago.


Sep 16 2013, 1:52am

Post #6 of 11 (179 views)
I love this haiku CG! [In reply to] Can't Post


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!


Sep 16 2013, 8:55am

Post #7 of 11 (179 views)
Eru [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
. I think Eru is the only one who didn't make a mistake.

One could argue that Eru makes plenty of design mistakes, e.g. creating a world full of conscious creatures and grotesque suffering.

Being all-powerful and all-knowing he must also be responsible for evil, or at least have perfect foreknowledge of it.


Sep 16 2013, 2:22pm

Post #8 of 11 (155 views)
Eru's exception [In reply to] Can't Post

I had thought of that, but I think his "out" is that his Grand Plan controls evil in a way that it ultimately fulfills his Grand Plan. So allowing evil and suffering isn't a good thing for those undergoing it, but in terms of making bad decisions that backfire, Eru knew what he was getting into with evil and what its outcomes would be.

Tol Eressea

Sep 16 2013, 3:06pm

Post #9 of 11 (155 views)
And so......we meet again..... Mr.Bombadil..... [In reply to] Can't Post

I always assumed that he was all-powerful and all-knowing(knowing the future and everything that is going on in the present), but is it specifically stated anywhere?

I know that he tells Melkor off in the Ainulinde, and predicts that his meddling can only help along the great plan, but could that be from a more general knowledge? He "held all the cards" in his hands, to use the colloquialism, he couldn't help but 'win'.

We can make pretty accurate guesses upon scientific principles, and these would seem extraordinary to a creature of lesser power. We can have an irresistabke super-weapon,( or better yet knowledge of a cataclysm that will blindside everyone else), and we can take false credit for the effects.

Does that mean that we actually possess the power that is ascribed to us by the lesser creatures? The power is not native to ourselves, but acquired by us and sourced by our knowledge if its use.

I typically equate Eru with the typical Christian archetype of God, but there are distinct differences.

Could this be one more?

Do we have a blind god( in ME context)?

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Sep 16 2013, 4:49pm

Post #10 of 11 (149 views)
Huor? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't think of any mistakes Huor made. Not that he received any thanks for it! He only did what he had to. Though perhaps if he wanted a longer life he might not have been quite so tragically heroic, but then that was his decision!

Tol Eressea

Sep 17 2013, 3:43am

Post #11 of 11 (158 views)
More of Beren's Greatest Mistakes [In reply to] Can't Post

Leaving Luthien behind when he headed for Angband could have been a fatal mistake. It was Luthien who got them into Morgoth's throne room and put everyone to sleep. Beren wouldn't have had a chance without her.

He passed too close to Sauron's domain, and that mistake cost the life of Finrod and their company.

Arguably, showing mercy to Celegorm and Curufin was not wise. Inarguably, it got him shot with an arrow to the chest.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


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