Monday, June 27, 2016

Wishful Thinking

In which I read way too far into the text and see things that aren't actually there...*shrugs*

Okay here goes.

I have been reading The Unfinished Tales again (in record slow time--I thought I would have more time to read in the summer...)

Anyway, I'm reading the extended edition of the story of Turin Turambar which includes one of my favorite unrequited-love-efforts, that of Nellas the Elf who watches over Turin.  I've always completely shipped the two even more than Turin and Finduilas, but this time reading through I found something particularly interesting.

Okay the relevant passages:
"In the years of his childhood in the kingdom of Doriath Turin was watched over by Melian, though he saw her seldom. But there was a maiden named Nellas, who lived in the woods; and at Melian's bidding she would follow Turin if he strayed in the forest, and often she met him there, as it were by chance.  From her Turin learned much concerning the ways and the wild things of Doriath, and she taught him to speak the Sindarin tongue after the manner of the ancient realm, older and more courteous, and richer in beautiful words.  Thus for a little while his mood was lightened until he fell again under shadow and that friendship passed like morning of spring.  For Nellas did not go to Menegroth, and was unwilling ever to walk under roofs of stone; so that Turin's boyhood passed and he turned his thoughts to the deeds of men, he saw her less and less often, and at last called for her no more.  But she watched over him still, though now she remained hidden."

First of all, obviously Nellas has a thing for Turin--she keeps watching over him and teaches him and they clearly spend quality time together.  At this point it could be platonic, but the next section seals the Nellas/Turin ship:
"Then Beleg went out, and led in by the hand the maiden Nellas, who dwelt in the woods, and came never to Menegroth; and she was afraid, both for the great pillared hall and the roof of stone, and for the company of many eyes that watched her,.  And when Thingol bade her speak, she said; 'Lord, I was sitting in a tree;' but then she faltered in awe of the King, and could say no more.  At that the King smiled, and said: 'Others have done this also, but have felt no need to tell me of it.'  'Others indeed,' said she, taking courage from his smile.  'Even Luthien!  And of her I was thinking that morning, and of Beren the Man.'  To that Thingol said nothing, and he smiled no longer, but waited until Nellas should speak again.  'For Turin reminded me of Beren,' she said at last.  'They are akin, I am told, and their kinship can be seen by some: by some that look close.'
We all know what it means when an Elf compares a Man to Beren--that was certainly no accident.

But notice also how Beleg led her in by the hand...
'You bring graver news to my ear than seemed likely.  Take heed now to all that you say; for this is a court of doom.'  'So Beleg has told me,' she answered, 'and only for that have I dared to come here, so that Turin shall not be ill judged.  He is valiant, but he is merciful.'...But when the doom was pronounced, suddenly Nellas wept.  'Where can he be found?' she said.  'He has left our land and the world is wide.' 'He shall be sought,' said Thingol.  Then he rose, and Beleg led Nellas forth from Menegroth; and he said to her: 'Do not weep; for if Turin lives or walks still abroad, I shall find him, though all others fail.'
...obviously Beleg wanted to rescue Turin because they're fast friends, but perhaps he had other reasons as well, particularly Nellas' concern?

'The Elf-maiden who you named: I owe her well or her timeless; yet I cannot recall her.  Why did she watch my ways?'   
Then Beleg looked strangely at him.  'Why indeed?' he said.  'Turin, have you lived always with your heart and half your mind far away?  You walked with Nellas in the woods of Doriath when you were a boy.'
'That was long ago,' said Turin.  'Or so my childhood now seems, and a mist is over it--save only the memory of my father's house in Dor-lomin.  But why should I have walked with an Elf-maiden?'
'To learn what she could teach, maybe,' said Beleg.  'Alas, child of Men!  There are other griefs in Middle-earth than yours, and wounds made by no weapons.  Indeed, I begin to think that Elves and Men should not meet or meddle.'
Turin said nothing, but looked long in Beleg's face, as if he would read in it the riddle of his words.  But Nellas of Doriath never saw him again, and his shadow passed from her.'" 

Okay this is the scene.  First of all, can we all acknowledge Beleg's line "have you always lived with your heart and half your mind far away?" is beautiful and perfectly quotable--that is my new saying.  But Beleg seems genuinely offended that Turin would forget Nellas.  Plus Nellas made a conscious effort to be inconspicuous when following Turin, yet Beleg still noticed her.

Beleg's line in that second to last paragraph is actually really touching--it could be read like he felt bad for Nellas, but also it could be seen like Beleg himself was upset.

The following is barely backed up by any textual evidence.  I take tiny little lines, stretch them out of proportion and probably misread a lot of things so that it fits the perfect little love triangle I have been trying to create.  Suspend your disbelief for the following summary of the love triangle.

As we've already established, Nellas loves Turin.  That is actually supported strongly by the text and carefully insinuated.  But, Beleg cares strongly for Nellas, and Nellas regards him as a close friend; he is the only one she confides in when she sees Turin threatened in the woods and she trusts him enough to lead her into under a stone roof.  Turin is oblivious to everything.  Beleg is frustrated because he knows that Turin hurts Nellas by ignoring her and it hurts even more because Nellas doesn't notice that Beleg has feelings.

There is the far fetched love triangle.  I've searched through the text diligently and you can't prove me wrong!

And don't try to tell me that Beleg did everything not for Nellas but for Turin--you can't prove he wasn't thinking of her!

Someone with the Silmarillion writing skills (I lack) please--I need a fanfiction for this love triangle!

I can come up with any theory I want!
Don't try and tell me it's unlikely!


  1. I never paused to wonder if Beleg might harbor feelings for Nellas. But as you say, it could well be true. If that's the case, it makes me more sad about the story than ever. :'(
    I love Beleg's personality. Of all the elves, he seems to have gotten the most up-close and personal attention, even more than Legolas. The Silmarillion may spend a great deal of time on other elves like Feanor and his sons, or Fingolfin and his sons, but Beleg's part of Turin's tale is narrated in a much more close and personal manner. :)

    As a side note, I just love the scene where Nellas is speaking to Thingol. His response to her awkward introduction his hilarious. XD

    1. It is so much sadder this way D:
      I agree--Beleg is fantastic! In such a short time his character was developed so well.

      I know, right? That part is so vivid--I can just see Thingol's expression when she says that XD