Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.

J. R. R. Tolkien

One of the main philosophies in J. R. R. Tolkien’s writings is the importance of hope. We see various characters put to tests and deadly peril, but it’s hope that keeps most of them from giving up even before starting. When dark times come one may opt either for surrendering to the darkness, or for fighting with hope in their hearts, and those who choose the latter option usually succeed even in most hopeless quests.

It’s interesting that Elves have two kinds of hope. One is called amdir which stands for «looking up». Amdir is reminiscent of optimism, positive outlook on life and expecting good things to happen. Estel is, however, a more philosophical concept and is grounded deeply in Elvish hearts. It’s synonymous to the trust that Elves have in Eru and implies that all Eru’s designs will turn out good in the end, despite all the troubles that happen in the world or to a particular individual. In Atrabeth Finrod ah Andreth Finrod explains that estel doesn’t come from experience, but rather from the Elvish nature. It lies deep in their hearts and «is not defeated by the ways of the world» (Morgoth’s Ring, p. 320)

Works consulted:

  1. J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien – Morgoth’s Ring; HarperCollinsPublishers; London; 2015.

This post is part of 3 quotes in 3 days challenge. Thank you so much Ava from Reads, Rhythms and Ruminations for nomination. Here are the rules:

1. Pick 3 quotes for 3 days and write what they mean to you.
2. Nominate 3 different bloggers each day (no repetition).
3.Thank the person who nominated you.

Today’s nominations are:

Benita J. Prins

Tolkien Read Through

Aldael’s Attic

Featured image – Creative Common Licence found at Pixabay.

10 thoughts on “Tolkien inspirations /// Hope.

  1. I like this quote very much! And the entire conversation that follows between Gimli and Elrond after this quote is also very interesting to read. Thanks for the mention!

    1. This is one of my most favourite quotes. I do love the idea of two Elvish notions for hope so much. It’s so heart-warming and makes you remember that even after the darkest times there always comes light.

  2. To reflect on the difference between estel and amdir is very important. I really liked Aldael’s question in which she asks what difference it would have made if Aragorn had been named, Amdir. Of course, everyone loves someone of a cheery and optimistic nature but if you meet someone who has passed through great suffering and has been truly tested and yet has hope you know that you are in the presence of greatness. You will follow such a person to the end.

    1. So true. I love this concept of two kinds of hope and believe that it totally makes sense. They’re very different and imply different kinds of perception and outlook. There’s so much to ponder on here. I guess one won’t go far on amdir alone when we talk the events of the War of the Ring, or basically any other global conflict that’s ever taken place in Middle-earth. Such dark times demand a deeper and more grounded kind of hope based on this special inner feeling and faith that can take one even through the darkest times.

  3. Although Sam, Pippin and Merry in particular, all bring Amdir to the Fellowship in ways that make a vital difference. I don’t know what you think but Gandalf’s reference to the hobbits’ “gentle loyalty” when he meets Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the Forest of Fangorn seems to relate to Amdir as you have described it. This certainly wins Treebeard’s heart in a way that “turns the tide” of the whole story.
    However, what has struck me as I have written about each of the hobbits on my own blog is that Amdir deepens into Estel in a profound way in each of them. I have been thinking a lot about this but your reflection on the two words has helped me to give a context and framework for my own reflection. Of course I have also been thinking about hope in the context of the New Testament, something that I am sure that Tolkien did also, thinking of Paul’s words that “hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has been poured into our hearts.”
    Thank you once again for your reflection. I was helpfully guided to it by Shawn M’s comment on my blog. He clearly values your work and now I can certainly tell you that I do as well! I will be visiting your site frequently from now on.

    1. I totally agree! Now when you’ve mentioned the Hobbits, I realise that their role was much deeper and more vital than might seem at first sight. They did bring this amdir to the Fellowship and it seems that they’ve gone through all the trials due to this amdir deep in their hearts. And having endured all the darkness of the road they had to take their amdir became estel and both Merry and Pippin became very different from their own selves who set out from the Shire long ago. Seems that estel is part of this special maturing, changing inside dramatically and becoming a stronger and a totally different person. It seems to come with age and experience.
      Thank you so much! I really appreciate all the support from everyone, and Shawn has been amazing in this. I’d be really glad to see you more often at my blog.

      1. And what an experience the hobbits have in little more than a year between their leaving of Bag End and their returning to it!
        Indeed I look forward to visiting your site many times.

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