Friday, December 4, 2015

Sil Annotations

I've gotten fairly far through The Silmarillion (up to Of Turin Turambar) and I've been annotating as I go.  I want to share with you some of the things that I have found as we go.  I annotated for the following things:

So first, the theme of fate.  I decided to annotate for fate because I've read that fate was a really big part of medieval life and people back then believed that their lives were completely bound by fate.  Knowing that Tolkien was influenced a lot by the middle ages, specifically in England, I wanted to try to see if that theme appeared in his stories.  I found a couple mentions in Of Beren and Luthien.

"And he [Beren] passed through the mazes that Melian wove about the kingdom of Thingol, even as she had foretold; for a great doom lay upon him." (pg. 165)

This passage indicates that there is something that Beren is meant to do, something that is his fate--which is, of course, to meet Luthien and go on the quest of the Silmaril.

"It came then into Beren's mind that he would go beyond his vow, and bear out of Angband all three of the Jewels of Feanor; but such was not the doom of the Silmarils.  The knife Angrist snapped, and a shard of the blade flying smote the cheek of Morgoth.  He groaned and stirred, and ll the host of Angband moved in sleep." (pg. 181)

This quote makes it sound as though it was not Beren's fault that the blade snapped.  Some other power was at work it would seem which willed that the Silmarils remain with Morgoth for a limited time.  Perhaps this was Eru!  Eru himself has stated that all of the evil that Morgoth (or anyone, for that matter) does, only achieves greater glory for him.  Maybe Eru didn't want the Silmarils all taken right now because then the Sons of Feanor would stop trying to attack Morgoth, and all of their valiant deeds against him would not have happened.  Or maybe, possession of the Silmarils would have caused Beren to become greedy like King Thingol later on and Eru wanted to prevent that.  There is a whole host of reasons for Eru to prevent Beren from taking the other two Silmarils.  The quote demonstrates that (as Gandalf says): "There are other powers at work, besides that of evil...and that is an encouraging thought."

"Therefore after a while he persuaded her, and their footsteps forsook the houseless lands and he passed into Doriath, leading Luthien home. So their doom willed it." (pg. 183, emphasis mine)

Doom and fate seem to be closely related.  Doom actually comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which means a statute or judgement, for example, the Doom of Mandos, the judgement of Mandos.  In today's language, doom seems to have a negative connotation, one of foreboding and ill-fate.  That is not how it is used in this section.  Again, this passage makes it seem like they were meant to enter Doriath by someone other than themselves.

So the passages relating to fate (called "doom" by Tolkien) seem to reflect that while humans have free will (such as Beren wanted to go to Doriath himself), there is a larger power at work that has plans for people.

The next theme is pride.  I know that pride will play a factor in the downfall of Gondolin once I get there, but I also found it in a couple other places.

"But the delight and pride of Aule is in the deed of making, and in the thing made, and neither in possession nor in his own mastery; wherefore he gives and hoards not,and is free from care, passing ever on to some new work." (pg. 19)

This is a stark contrast to Feanor's immense pride over the Simarils and subsequent self-destruction.

"Manwe has no thought for his own honour, and is not jealous of his power, but rules all to peace." (pg. 40)

Another example of one of the Valar being humble.

"They hoarded them not, but gave them freely, and by their labour enriched all Valinor." (pg. 60)

I suppose this goes more with greed than pride, but I think that greed comes as a direct product of too much pride.  Pride leads you to think that you are the best and that you should have everything nice and own as much as you can.  This is contrasting that opinion.

"The Noldor began to murmur against them, and many became filled with pride, forgetting how much of what they had and knew came to them in gift from the Valar." (pg. 68)

This one is pretty obvious.

"He [Feanor] seldom remembered now that the light within them [the Silmarils] was not his own." (pg. 69)

I really like this aspect of the book and this theme.  There are so many different applications of this in real life, and I think it is a beautiful message.

"I will go as seems good to me." (pg. 131)

Aredhel refusing counsel was not a good idea, and she ends up dead because of it.

Next up is death.  I was specifically thinking of the Akallabeth when I decided to annotate this theme, but just like with pride, I ended up finding a couple of passages elsewhere.

"But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers.  Death is their fate, the gift of Illuvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy.  But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope." (pg. 42)

The first part of this quote, about Men being called the Strangers of the world, I think is very interesting.  It shows that the world is not the ultimate home for Men and so clinging to it and relying on it's material things is probably not a good plan.  Also, the fact that gift is called a gift is very neat.  Illuvatar gave it to them presumably so that they could come and live with him, nearer to him.  Melkor has twisted and perverted it as he ever does and it has become a thing of dread instead of a gift.

"For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold Death from him, which is the fit of Illuvatar to Men." (pg. 187)

I just thought that it was interesting that the word "withhold" was used.  Like you would withhold candy from a child, or something good from someone.  This indicates, again, that Death is a very good thing and a gift.

I chose to annotate for self-sacrifice with Earendil in mind, and I found one other thing:

"And he [Fingolfin] marched against his wisdom, because Fingon his son urged him, and because he would not be sundered from his people that were eager to go, nor leave them to the rash counsels of Feanor."  (pg. 84)

Even though Fingolfin that it was unwise and dangerous to accompany Feanor on the trip back into Beleriand, he sacrificed his own safety in order to protect his people from Feanor's "rash counsels".

For the final theme, I did the nature of evil and I found a lot especially in the beginning.

"This desire is at once wedded to a passionate love of the real primary world, and hence filled with the sense of morality, and yet unsatisfied by it.  It has various opportunities of 'Fall'.  It may become possessive, clinging to the things made as 'its own, the subcreator wishes to be the Lord and God of his private creation.  He will rebel against the laws of the Creator--especially against morality." (pg. xiii)

This was actually from the letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to Milton Waldman which is included in part as the preface to the second edition.  I find that entire letter very interesting and I have referenced it many times, and this is especially intriguing with regard to how evil comes about and how it is made manifest.

"His [Morgoth] was a sub-creative Fall, and hence the elves (the representatives of sub-creation par excellence) were peculiarly his enemies, and the special object of his desire and hate--and open to his deceits.  Their Fall is into possessiveness and (to a less degree) into perversion of their art to power." (pg. xiv)

The elves in Tolkien's story demonstrate how creating things can be honorable, as they are acting in Eru's image.  Sub-creation is a big theme of Tolkien's and you can read more about it in my other post on that very topic.  Morgoth, on the other hand, demonstrates how sub-creation can be perverted in order to have power over others and bend others' will.  

"He [Sauron] becomes a reincarnation of Evil, a thing lusting for Complete Power--and so consumed ever more fiercely with hate (especially of gods and Elves)." (pg. xviii)

This would indicate that power leads to hate which constitutes Evil.

I would suggest reading Of the Enemies in the Valaquenta which is all about the nature of evil.

"And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery.  This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Illuvatar."  (pg. 50)

The deed discussed here, is the corruption of elves into orcs.  It would seem that corruption and perversion are the methods of evil.

"But she [Ungoliant] had disowned her master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness...for she hungered for light and hated it." (pg. 73)

It is possible that the very fact that Ungoliant relies on light causes her to hate it.  It may be that Ungoliant resents having to rely on other things and would rather be completely self-reliant (which, of course, is impossible).  For that reason, she hates the fact that she needs light, and seeks to destroy it.  She is destroying what she needs, however, which causes her to run out of food and consume herself in her "uttermost famine".

"And desiring above all else to sow fear and disunion among the Eldar..." (g. 116)

Morgoth's top priority is spreading lies and misleading good creatures.

"Though he [Eol] was amazed no less than his son at all that he saw, his heart was filled the more with anger and with hate of the Noldor." (pg. 137)

Now I'm not sure if this hate is originating from Eol's political views on the Noldor and the fact he wants them out of Beleriand, or just a general hate of things that are good that are not his.

"His [Maeglin] love turned to darkness in his heart.  And he sought the more to have his will in other matters, shirking no toil or burden, if he might thereby have power.  Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown." (pg. 139)

This demonstrates that Evil can come from love that is unrequited.

"'All this is but Elvish lore, tales to beguile newcomers that are unwary.  The Sea has no shore.  There is no light in the West.  You have followed a fool-fire of the Elves to the end of the world!  Which of you has seen the least of the Gods?  Who has beheld the Dark King in the North?  Those who seek the dominion of Middle-earth are the Eldar.  Greedy for wealth they have delved in the earth for its secrets and have stirred to wrath the things that dwell beneath it, as they have ever done and ever shall.  Let the Orcs have the realm that is theirs and we will have ours.  There is room in the world, if the Eldar will let us be!'" (pg. 145)

This is the type of lie sown by evil which starts rumors of doubt among the elves.

Tomorrow I will relate the signposts I found.  I hope enjoyed all of the different themes and annotations I have found so far.  I will continue reading through Of Turin Turambar and should have more annotations soon.  Galu!

*All page numbers are from the Second Edition of The Silmarillion from 1999.
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