Reader: The Silmarillion. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 6 “Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”

Reader deep thought: Putting aside the existential question of Finwë’s second-born, is it fair, to lay all that was wrought by the Doom of Fëanor upon Finwë’s decision to remarry? Maybe, maybe not. Fëanor’s disposition seemed to have precluded more optimistic possibilities. It seemed all that happened was destined to come to pass. Especially with Melkor in the mix. But really, Ilúvatar should have added a dollop of character judgment when he made the Ainur, or at least prescribed it for those who were entering Arda.

“The wedding of his father was not pleasing to Fëanor; and he had no great love for Indis, nor for Fingolfin and Finarfin, her sons. He lived apart from them, exploring the land of Aman, or busying himself with the knowledge and the crafts in which he delighted. In those unhappy things which later came to pass, and in which Fëanor was the leader, many saw the effect of this breach within the house of Finwë, judging that if Finwë had endured his loss and been content with the fathering of his mighty son, the courses of Fëanor would have been otherwise, and great evil might have been prevented; for the sorrow and the strife in the house of Finwë is graven in the memory of the Noldorin Elves. But the children of Indis were great and glorious, and their children also; and if they had not lived the history of the Eldar would have been diminished.”

 

SUMMARY NOTES

So it was in the Noontide of the Blessed Realm, “the fullness of its glory and its bliss, long in tale of years, but in memory too brief”, when the Three Kindreds of the Eldar were gathered unto Valinor, and Melkor was chained that things heated up.

As “the Eldar became full-grown in stature of body and of mind, and the Noldor advanced ever in skill and knowledge; and the long years were filled with their joyful labours, in which many new things fair and wonderful were devised”, the Noldor invented letters, and Rúmil of Tirion, loremaster who used them to create the written word.

During this time, Finwë’s three sons, by two wives were born: Fëanor, “Spirit of Fire”, by Míriel his original wife, who holds the strange honour of being so consumed with the nurturing of her son, she requested to be allowed to relinquish life after birthing him. It was a hard thing for Finwë to bear, for the love they shared was “great and glad, for it began in the Blessed Realm in the Days of Bliss”, and he wanted his own horde of children.

Her depression got so bad Finwë consulted Manwë, who sent her to Irmo in Lórien to recuperate, where she ” lay down to sleep; but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body, and passed in silence to the halls of Mandos.” The maidens of Estë ensured the body of Míriel did not deteriorate but it was just an empty husk.

Broken-hearted Finwë gave all his attention to Fëanor, who was well-named for he “grew swiftly, as if a secret fire were kindled within him.” A preternaturally precocious child, restless and always creating, one of his early achievement was “bettering the work of Rúmil… devised those letters which bear his name, and which the Eldar used ever after”.

…. He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark; in the pursuit of all his purposes eager and steadfast. Few ever changed his courses by counsel, none by force. He became of all the Noldor, then or after, the most subtle in mind and the most skilled in hand….

 

Surely, such a fine specimen of Elfhood was destined to either bring greatness or great tragedy to the Kindreds. And yet, even in his destiny, Fëanor exceeded convention for he was both greatness and tragedy for the Noldor, and in his Doom, he embroiled ALL of Arda, even the Powers.

Fëanor wedded early, and his wife Nerdanel, daughter of the great smith Mahtan (who was favoured by Aulë and from who Fëanor learnt metal and stone-smithing), gave him seven sons.

Like her spouse, she was “firm of will, but more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them, and at first she restrained him when the fire of his heart grew too hot; but his later deeds grieved her, and they became estranged.”

Finwë his father had moved on, and took Indis the Fair as his second wife. Though:

She was a Vanya, close kin of Ingwë the High King, golden-haired and tall, and in all ways unlike Míriel. Finwë loved her greatly, and was glad again. But the shadow of Míriel did not depart from the house of Finwë, nor from his heart; and of all whom he loved Fëanor had ever the chief share of his thought.

 

So Fëanor was not happy, despite being chief in his father’s thoughts, neither with his new mother nor brothers.

While Fëanor fumed, and his brothers grew up, Melkor completed his sentence and was granted pardon at his reassessment, because he had such a poker-face and was that good a manipulator (even Nienna spoke for him).

… the Noontide of Valinor was drawing to its close. For it came to pass that Melkor, as the Valar had decreed, completed the term of his bondage, dwelling for three ages in the duress of Mandos, alone. At length, as Manwë had promised, he was brought again before the thrones of the Valar. Then he looked upon their glory and their bliss, and envy was in his heart; he looked upon the Children of Ilúvatar that sat at the feet of the Mighty, and hatred filled him; he looked upon the wealth of bright gems, and he lusted for them; but he hid his thoughts, and postponed his vengeance.

 

Too soon and too trusting were both the Powers and the Kindreds

…the Valar would not yet suffer him to depart beyond their sight and vigilance, and he was constrained to dwell within the gates of Valmar. But fair-seeming were all the words and deeds of Melkor in that time, and both the Valar and the Eldar had profit from his aid and counsel, if they sought it; and therefore in a while he was given leave to go freely about the land, and it seemed to Manwë that the evil of Melkor was cured….

 

Manwë thought too well of Melkor, being “free from evil and could not comprehend it”. His blindspot was really the knowledge that “in the thought of Ilúvatar, Melkor had been even as he”, and he did not laser-scan “the depths of Melkor’s heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever”. Ulmo and Tulkas though, thankfully, was not on that bandwagon.

So in Melkor’s plans, the Vanyar were too insular, the Teleri of little consequence. The Noldor though seemed to fit like a glove, as they “took delight in the hidden knowledge that he could reveal to them; and some hearkened to words that it would have been better for them never to have heard”. He was not above shameless self-enlargement, unsurprisingly, and claimed Fëanor learnt much from him too, even though it was Fëanor among the Eldalië who hated him most, and all he managed was nurse the Elf’s disdain for the Valar.

For Fëanor was driven by the fire of his own heart only, working ever swiftly and alone; and he asked the aid and sought the counsel of none that dwelt in Aman, great or small, save only and for a little while of Nerdanel the wise, his wife.

 

Oh, and it was Fëanor who named Melkor Morgoth.

(Relevance: read-along schedule)

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