Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Feanor

Feanor is one of my favorite characters.  Not that he is one of the best characters, in terms of doing good and valiant things, but he is just an intriguing and passionate character.

When we first meet Feanor, we learn that he is the greatest craftsman ever.  Oh and did I mention he's the prince of the Noldor?  So yeah, he's pretty important.

He really loves his parents and is devastated when his mom dies*.  So like most people who are put in that situation he becomes really attached to his father.  But Feanor is also the broody sort of guy, so he spends a lot of time alone in his forges.

Normally spending a lot of time alone is not necessarily a good quality...Saruman, anyone?

Anywho, Feanor delves really deep into his work (haha, delves, get it...?).  Feanor gets married at around the same time that his father remarries.  I think that Finwe must be the only elf to ever remarry after their spouse died (possibly because his spouse was the only one who really died died).  

At this point in the story it becomes clear that Feanor is pretty stern and unfeeling.  But he does have soft-spots for some people, like his wife (obviously).  She is the only person really known for being able to restrain Feanor in his rages.  Feanor is super close and protective over his father.  I just love this quote after Feanor finds out that his father has died.  It is so heartbreaking.  You know how when someone who never cries or gets upset finally breaks?  It's just so...real.  "Then Feanor ran from the Ring of Doom, and fled into the night; for his father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands; and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathers of greater worth?"

It is at this time that Feanor's anger turns into...irrationality.  The rebellion against the Valar is a bad idea, obviously.  But the climax of Feanor's folly is the burning of the ships.

Out of all the things Feanor has done, he has at least a reason.  But the burning of the Teleri's ships is the most cold-hearted act he commits.  Feanor above all people should understand the value of the work of people's hands.  He even said that if he were to give up the Silmarils, he would die.  But nonetheless he steals the Teleri's swanships which he knows they can never rebuild, and burns them ruthlessly.  If his goal was just to strand Fingolfin on the other side of the sea, he could have tied the ships and left them.  But he had to destroy them.  This is the ultimate worst thing Feanor ever does.

Even when he dies, it is because he foolishly challenged a balrog to a duel out of pride.  Feanor is too proud and too passionate to even allow himself to be buried and he literally burns away.  

I think there is an important lesson to be learned through Feanor about pride.  It is articulated in Ulmo's message to Feanor's nephew, Turgon, who shares a slight case of Feanoritis: "Love not too well the work of thy hands and devices of thy heart."  Remember that you are not the person contriving your thoughts and building your crafts.  All of your power comes from somewhere else, and you must remember to honor that.

Feanor does the exact opposite of this when he witholds the Silmarils from the Valar.  He made them, yes, but they are beautiful because they hold the light of the Trees, which the Valar made.  When the Trees are killed, Feanor holds back the only way for them to be restored.  This seals his fate as one of the most tragic characters of the story.  Think of what good he could have done if pride had not gotten in the way, and if his folly and been avoided.

*Okay she doesn't really die, because they're in the Undying Lands, but her spirit forsakes her body and so she can never really be in contact with anyone ever.  It's sort of weird and I don't know of any other elf who has ever done that.

2 comments:

  1. Wow... That is way much simpler than in the. Silmarillion. I'm glad you summarized it for me! Thank you for posting this! : )

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    1. You're welcome! The Silmarillion is pretty tricky. I summarized all of the chapters in the group read, so if you need any clarification you could check there.

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