You know when you procrastinate so much on something you forget where you left off and discover you have lost your inspiration for the project? That was me for a long time with this blog series. This is the final part, though, so I decided I had better fight off that procrastination monster for long enough to finish the series. At long last, here is part 10, the finale!
Of the Ruin of Doriath
Chapters 20-21 of The Silmarillion marked an important event: the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. In the struggle between the sons of Fëanor and Morgoth, this battle had the most dire consequences. Morgoth soundly defeated the Elves and scattered them across Middle-earth. Morgoth also captured Húrin, who knew the location of the secret city of Gondolin, where King Turgon retreated to after aiding the sons of Fëanor in the battle.
In the final chapters of The Silmarillion, much befalls the land. Morgoth “released Húrin from his bondage, bidding him go whither he would; and he feigned that in this he was moved by pity as for an enemy utterly defeated” (227). Of course, Morgoth had no pity and did this with dark intent. After Húrin left Angbard, he sought refuge in Gondolin but was denied entry. Consequently, Morgoth’s spies discovered the region of the hidden city thanks to Húrin’s misstep.
Next, Húrin ventured into the ruin of Nargothrond and retrieved the Nauglamír, the Necklace of the Dwarves which was made for Finrod Felagund (who, if you recall, died while imprisoned by Sauron a few chapters ago).
Húrin angrily cast this necklace at the feet of King Thingol in Doriath since he blamed him for the misfortunes of his family. (His wife and daughter had lived in Doriath at one point, but decided to leave, which was why Bad Things Happened. Húrin threw down the necklace with scornful words because his mind had been twisted by Morgoth into thinking that Melian and Thingol were to blame for everything.) Melian managed to talk some sense into him, though.
After receiving this fair treasure, King Thingol decided it was a good idea to forge the necklace anew with the captured Silmaril set within it. The Dwarves aided him in the task, but they coveted the Silmaril and demanded the necklace for themselves. Thingol refused, and “in his wrath and pride he gave no heed to his peril, but spoke to them in scorn…Then the lust of the Dwarves was kindled to rage by the words of the king, and they rose up about him, and laid hands on him, and slew him as he stood. So died in the deep places of Menegroth Elwë Singollo, King of Doriath, who alone of all the Children of Ilùvatar was joined with one of the Ainur; and he who, alone of the Forsaken Elves, had seen the light of the Trees of Valinor, with his last sight gazed upon the Silmaril” (233).
Melian, Thingol’s wife, was brokenhearted and left Middle-earth, for she knew that the doom of Doriath was close at hand. In the absence of her protecting power, Dwarves invaded Doriath and plundered it, but in time Dior, son of Beren and Lùthien, took up the task of restoring the kingdom. When it became known that he had the Silmaril, the sons of Fëanor attacked and killed Dior. His daughter Elwing escaped bearing the Silmaril, though, and the sons of Fëanor “gained not what they sought” (337). Thus came to pass the ruin of Doriath.
Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
After Doriath was destroyed, Gondolin also fell by the treachery of Maeglin, who was a seed of darkness within the city. (If you recall, Maeglin is from Chapter 16, the son of Eöl the Dark Elf and Aredhel, the White Lady of the Noldor.) Tuor, the cousin of the unfortunate Tùrin, was chosen by Ulmo (one of the Valar) to bear a warning to King Turgon of the imminent destruction of the city. Maeglin’s counsel worked against Tuor’s, though, and the king did not heed the warning. When Morgoth attacked, he wreaked utter devastation on Gondolin, but a remnant of people was saved by escaping through a secret tunnel built by Idril Celebrindal, daughter of Turgon and wife of Tuor.
Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
Seeing the dire plight of his homeland, Eärendil, the son of Idril and Tuor, set sail to Valinor as a mediator between the peoples of Middle-earth and the Valar. When he came before Powers of Arda to beg forgiveness and aid on behalf of Elves and Men, Manwë granted it, and the Valar prepared for a final battle to free Middle-earth from Morgoth’s tyranny. As for Morgoth, he did not expect an attack from the Valar, “for to him that is pitiless the deeds of pity are ever strange and beyond reckoning” (251). Thus, the destruction of Morgoth came swiftly, and his “uncounted legions of the Orcs perished like straw before a great fire, or were swept like shrivelled leaves before a burning wind” (251). The Valar cast down the evil fortress of Angbard and made Morgoth’s crown into a collar for his neck. Finally, the Valar cast him into the Timeless Void where he would trouble the peoples of Arda no more.
The two Silmarils from Morgoth’s crown (minus the one that was captured by Beren and Lúthien and came into the possession of Eärendil, Elwing’s husband) were taken and guarded by Eönwë, herald of Manwë, who refused to give them to Maglor and Maedhros, the last surviving sons of Fëanor. The brothers planned to take the Silmarils, not wanting to go to Valinor and await the judgment of the Valar. When they stole them, the two Silmarils burned their hands, for they were unworthy of them. Because of the pain, Maedhros cast himself and one Silmaril into a fiery chasm, and Maglor threw his Silmaril into the sea. The third Silmaril had been placed by the Valar on a ship in the heavens so that it shone like a star for all to see. “And thus it came to pass that the Silmarils found their long homes: one in the airs of heaven, and one in the fires of the heart of the world, and one in the deep waters” (254).
But though Morgoth was gone forever, his lies still took root in the hearts of Elves and Men as “a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days” (255). Thus ends The Silmarillion.
These last chapters of the book reinforce the theme of light against darkness one final time. Though Morgoth is gone, his darkness lingers in the hearts of Men and Elves. I believe this is an allegory of when Satan tempted Adam and Eve. That was the “Marring” of our world. Unlike the inhabitants of Middle-earth, we know that one day the marring will be amended and the dark seed will finally be destroyed. The symbolism of this book was incredible from start to finish, narrating a constant struggle between light and dark for domination of the hearts and wills of the people of Middle-earth. Allegory, too, is prevalent throughout the whole book, from when Melkor first fell to when he was finally conquered and bound in the Void.
Morgoth began his descent into evil by coveting the Imperishable Flame that only Eru possessed, and his fall was complete when he took the Silmarils for himself. The light created by the Valar was imbued into the Silmarils, which burned his hands. Coveted by all who saw them, the Silmarils caused more evil, including the ill-fated oath of the sons of Fëanor, which brought about many kinslayings. No unworthy soul could possess the Silmarils, though, for by it they either fell as Morgoth ultimately did, or it burned their hands because they were too full of darkness. When Morgoth took the Silmarils, he twisted a good thing to be used for darkness, but the light itself exposed evil and did not aid it.
Another thing to note in the interest of allegory is the need for a mediator between the Valar and the Elves of Middle-earth. It took Eärendil’s journey to Valinor and his mediation on behalf of the Elves to finally bring about Morgoth’s defeat. This can be paralleled to what Jesus did for us on the cross, but only to an extent. Eärendil is not entirely a Christ-figure, but his actions do allude to the need for a mediator between a rebellious people and the authority figure to whom they are responsible. While I did not appreciate the diminishing of God’s power and love in the allegorical representation of Eru as an aloof and silent deity, I did find this book very interesting and entertaining, and I would recommend it to all lovers of Tolkien’s writings.
“But Morgoth himself the Valar thrust through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, into the Timeless Void; and a guard is set for ever on those walls…Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days. Here ends the SILMARILLION. If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.”The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien (pgs. 254-255)
Thanks for reading, everyone! All of your support on this blog series means so much to me. If you want to go back to the beginning of my “Reader’s Guide to The Silmarillion,” you can find the first part here. If you are enjoying my blog, please consider subscribing to get notified whenever I make a new post.
Merry Christmas-in-one-month and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Even though this year has been a little crazy, there is still so much to be thankful for.
Until next time,