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Middle-earth Reflections

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

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Arda

“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.”

The wonder of Middle-earth.

Wonder surrounds us everywhere if we care to look carefully. It can be hidden in the smallest details which seem ordinary and which we tend to take for granted as time passes, but which are still wonderful in their own right. “Invoking Wonder” was the topic of Mythmoot IV held at the beginning of June by Mythgard Academy. Unfortunately, I was not present at the conference, but these invoked-wonder posts by Tom and Joe inspired me to do a similar essay.  Continue reading “The wonder of Middle-earth.”

Glorfindel: the power of white light (II)

The rider’s cloak streamed behind him, and his hood was thrown back; his golden hair flowed shimmering in the wind of his speed. To Frodo it appeared that a white light was shining through the form and raiment of the rider, as if through a thin veil.

(Fellowship of the Ring, p. 275)  Continue reading “Glorfindel: the power of white light (II)”

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.”

Great tales never end.

Don’t the great tales never end?

(Two Towers, p.400)

Readers of Tolkien are very well aware of how many songs and poems the Professor included into his books. Varying in length and tone, form and function, these verse pieces play a very important role in the general world-building.

Continue reading “Great tales never end.”

Finarfin: soft strength.

Arda is full of characters who remain somewhat in the background and occupy only a small space in the narrative. However, once you delve deeper, they appear to have striking personalities and remarkable stories. In the present essay I would like to talk about one of such characters – Finarfin.  Continue reading “Finarfin: soft strength.”

Fëanor and Melkor: so different, so alike.

When we talk about the cruelest villain in the whole Middle-earth – Melkor (or rather Morgoth) that is – we might be inclined to think that he is one of a kind in the whole of Ёa. However, if you take a closer look, it’s not exactly so. Melkor is indeed a mighty evil spirit that virtually no one can rival, but a lot of his traces can be surprisingly seen in the eldest son of Finwё and the greatest of the Noldor – in Fëanor. A careful look will reveal that these two have more in common than seems at first sight.

Continue reading “Fëanor and Melkor: so different, so alike.”

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