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Middle-earth Reflections

Essays on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien

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The Silmarillion Essays

Like dwellers, like land.

There are various places around Middle-earth, and very often we see that the dwellers of a certain land and the land itself are a good match for each other. There can be observed a particular interdependence between an area and its inhabitants, but is it the land that shapes the dwellers or vice versa? Continue reading “Like dwellers, like land.”

Harp the magical.

Music has always possessed the air of mystery around it. Enjoying a long history and a special charm of its own, the harp is, probably, the most enigmatic instrument ever played by people. The harp has often been ascribed magical qualities which are reflected in various myths, legends and tales featuring this ancient instrument. Though several races in Tolkien’s Middle-earth are mentioned as playing the harp, it is the Elves who are mostly associated with it: an otherworldly thing in its own right, the harp perfectly emphasises the Elves’ fairy nature. Let us begin the journey into the enchantment of the harp by looking into the tales and legends of old. Continue reading “Harp the magical.”

Language notes /// On Fingon.

Among the characters in The Silmarillion one of the most renowned for his deeds of valour and nobility was Fingolfin’s eldest son Fingon. Named the Valiant, Fingon won great honour for his glorious feats and showed himself as a person of real courage.

Continue reading “Language notes /// On Fingon.”

“One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters”.

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.

(Two Towers, p. 203)

Aragorn’s words to Pippin on returning a Lórien brooch to the Hobbit reflect one of the fundamental concepts of the whole Tolkien Legendarium: it is dangerous to become unhealthily possessive of something as it can lead a character to either death, or moral downfall, or both. Fëanor grew proud and possessive of the Silmarils and turned into a rebel, who led himself and his people into dire perils and the wrath of the Valar. Morgoth became addicted to Arda in his desire to control it, and dissipated his powers only to be reduced to a pitiful, weakened state. The One Ring ensnared the wills of most of those taking it into their possession and changed them beyond recognition. Inability or, in some cases, unwillingness to disentangle from all these treasures when necessary caused the ruin of many characters. Continue reading ““One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters”.”

Challenged with a song.

The significance of songs in Middle-earth has long been established. By including poetry and verse into his books, Tolkien assigned different roles to them: transmission of historical information, telling of tales, giving messages. There are a lot of songs that give a sense of continuity and connect the events in Middle-earth throughout the times, linking the Ages of Arda together and showing how interdependent they are. A special place is given to the songs of challenge. Continue reading “Challenged with a song.”

Melkor and Manwë: like night and day.

Manwë and Melkor were brethren in the thought of Ilúvatar.

The mightiest of those Ainur who came into the World

was in his beginning Melkor; but Manwë

is dearest to Ilúvatar and understands most clearly his purposes.

(Silmarillion, p. 16) Continue reading “Melkor and Manwë: like night and day.”

It is all in the mind.

When in the heat of his grief over the murder of his father and the theft of the Silmarilli Fëanor accused the Valar of being idle and taking no steps to punish Morgoth and return the gems, little did the Elf know how much he erred. Even sitting in silence in that dark moment, the Powers were far from being inactive.

Continue reading “It is all in the mind.”

Sea the majestic (Part III).

All roads are now bent

Over the course of Ages, the Sea in Arda was becoming an increasingly impenetrable obstacle on the way to the Blessed Realm. Having gone the whole way from being a passable border between two continents to the realm of confusing waters and magical islands, the Sea turned into the border between two worlds within different planes of the universe.

Continue reading “Sea the majestic (Part III).”

«Alone of the Valar he knew fear»

for though his might was greatest

of all things in this world,

alone of the Valar he knew fear.

(Silmarillion, p.178)

Quite often throughout The Silmarillion we can read of Morgoth’s being afraid at those especially tense moments when his safety was in peril. While fear is a common reaction in mortals as a means of self-preservation, it does not seem to be a very typical emotion for immortal divine beings, even in their physical forms. Morgoth was the only exception: he could feel fear. But how come the mightiest of the Ainur was frightened of anything at all? Continue reading “«Alone of the Valar he knew fear»”

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