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Middle-earth Reflections

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

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The Silmarillion Essays

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»”

Marriage divine.

The Valar – the Powers of the World – were the Ainur that descended into Arda upon its coming into being. They were so enamoured of the beauty of the world that wished to abide there and prepare the place for the Children of Ilúvatar. While some of the Valar dwelt alone, most of them were in spousal relationship.  Continue reading “Marriage divine.”

Under the cover of darkness.

Our Enemy’s devices oft serve us in his despite.

(Return of the King, p.120)

Dark Lords of Middle-earth had a full arsenal of means to wield wars against enemies. Their weapons were not limited to physical objects, like swords, spears or hammers, but also included other, less tangible, means of instilling dread and despair into the hearts of their opponents. One of such means was darkness. Continue reading “Under the cover of darkness.”

Sea the majestic (Part II).

Being places to traverse rather than to inhabit, seas separate continents and nations. They serve as a natural border and by dividing lands they also do so with cultures: traditions and customs may vary significantly on different coasts of one and the same sea. In the past travelling overseas was a thing necessary for the exchange of cultures and traditions, enriching a people’s background and, eventually, contributing to their evolution. Continue reading “Sea the majestic (Part II).”

Melkor’s secret vice.

Tolkien stated in The Silmarillion that Melkor was the mightiest of the Ainur and surpassed his brethren in many ways. He had a share in everything others knew, but how he chose to apply his unique gifts is a matter for another discussion. While very often Melkor comes across as a pure machinery adept and keen on technology, he had a talent which could make even Fëanor twitch with envy: the First Dark Lord was a gifted linguist.

Continue reading “Melkor’s secret vice.”

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