(...And Tolkien's views on women)

Print bibliography:

Carpenter, Humphrey. Tolkien. N.Y.: Ballantine, 1977.

Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light. Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Revised Edition. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2002

Fonstad, Karen. The Atlas of Middle Earth. N.Y. Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Foster, Robert. Tolkien's World from A to Z: The Complete Guide to Middle Earth. N.Y.: Ballantine, 1978.

Helms, Randel. Tolkien and the Silmarils. N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin, 1981

Shippey, Tom. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Silmarillion. New York: Ballantine, 1979

______. The Letters of JRR Tolkien (Christopher Tolkien, ed.). N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin, 1981.

Tolkien, Christopher: (editor)...

Tyler, J.E.A. The New Tolkien Companion. N.Y.: Avon Books, 1980.







Indeed a formidable task would entail analyzing (if that is the right word) the dynamics of The Silmarillion in light the creation mythologies we have studied, but the attempt must be made, however inadequate the result, for in reading LOTR as with The Iliad or Odyssey, one becomes aware of a vast unseen universe glimpses of which are in The Silmarillion augmented by the primary sources, Tolkien's manuscripts, that his son Christopher has gradually published as listed above.

Analysis is the wrong word for as Coleridge notes, to dissect mutilates and kills. As a sacred text, the beauty of Tolkien's creation story approaches Genesis, with no disrespect intended of course to Sacred Scripture. Given Tolkien's love for Catholic Christian theology and philosophy, one wonders, though, whether he indeed had such inspiration as his compositional aid, so I offer these remarks knowing fully in advance that they in no way do justice to the text.


SIL is a prefix meaning "shine" (with white or silver light). Tolkien adds, "The Quena word Silmarilli is said to derive from the name silima that Feanor gave to the substance from which they were made." (p. 456). We will note how the three jewels (of silima) made by Feanor were ultimately derived from the light of the two trees, Teleperion and Laurelin, and given Tolkien's love of trees, such is not surprising. Their destruction by Melkor plus the theft of the jewels was the greatest atrocity of the first age.


(A note on Genealogies)

Tolkien himself admitted The Silmarillion to be a difficult book. The two major concordances, Tyler's New Tolkien Companion, and Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle Earth combined exceed 1200 pages of commentary. Tolkien's own notations in The Silmarillion and the Appendices to LOTR plus Christopher's Tolkien's publications of his father's notes would add many hundreds more. On-line Concordances are listed above.

As an aid, therefore, I have added two charts, one for THE ELDAR, and one for THE EDAIN. Tyler's book is used since as of August, 2002 when this page was written, it is out of print:




The events of the FIRST AGE are described below in The Silmarillion. Primary sources for Tolkien's chronologies are of course The Silmarillion, The Appendices to The Return of the King. and Christopher Tolkien's publications, The Book of Lost Tales, Volumes I and II.

(Secondary sources include Foster's and Tyler's Guides, listed above, plus the following on-line resources as also listed above:)






What follows here, therefore, are events selected for treatment in this course:

Tyler's provides a chronology (p. 217) as does Foster in an Appendix. The most important events are the creation by Illuvatar, the making of the lamps and the two trees, the destruction of Melkor, and the Battles of Beleriand. The kin-slaying and its effects dominate this period. The first age ends when the Valar finally destroy Melkor. Much of these events are pre-recorded history (like Genesis)...



There appears a detailed chronology of the Second age at the conclusion of Volume III of the Trilogy. See also Christopher Tolkien's' publications above, especially The Peoples of Middle Earth. The Age begins with the end of The Great Battle, and ends with the LAST ALLIANCE defeating Sauron and destroying Barad-dur. Some events of note...

---1: Foundation of the Grey Havens
---600; the coming of men to Middle Earth
---1000: Sauron alarmed fortifies Mordor; builds Barad-dur
---1590: the three rings are completed: Details: (We will see also: OF THE RINGS OF POWER AND THE THIRD AGE in THE SILMARILLION, and CHAPTER V of THE HOBBIT:

The greatest feat of craftsmanship in the S.A. was the making of the rings of power: 3 for the elves, 7 for dwarves, and 9 for men, but the greatest was the One Ring wrought by Sauron. The elven-smiths who made them were of Feanor's family. They were assisted by Sauron who thus acquired great knowledge. The rings gave special powers to those who wore them. Of course, Sauron intended to distort their powers for his own end. The three rings for the elves were not related to Sauron in any way, but the knowledge he had gained enabled him to forge the ONE RING. With the rings, Sauron was able to dominate those who had the rest; The control was not complete, but it does, however, account for the Dwarves' love of Gold. As LOTR opens, Sauron controls the nine, and three of the seven; four having been lost or destroyed.

The ruling ring constituted the most dangerous threat to Middle Earth. At the end of the Second Age, the ring was taken from Sauron by Isildur, (founder of the kingdom of Gondor / tries to escape death at Gladden Fields by using the ring, but it slips off, and he is killed / Aragorn is his descendent). The event is dramatized in the opening moments of the movie. The ONE remains lost until the events described in Chapter V of The Hobbit.

Disposition of the rings...

Three Elf rings:

A--Vilya-worn by Gilgalad and Elrond (in the Third Age). Carried to the Blessed Realm by Elrond when he left Middle Earth

B--Nenya- Called also the ring of waters. Given to Galadriel when she took it to the Blessed Realm It was given to her by its maker, Celebrimbor (Sole forger of the three rings).
C--Narya- Called also the ring of fire. Kept by Cirdan until given to Gandalf and later returned by him.

The Dwarf Rings:

These had no names; three were held by Sauron; four were consumed by dragons--a symbol in Tolkien for greed.

Nine Rings for Men:

Worn by the Nazgul, and probably destroyed when the ONE was.

---1600: the one ring is forged...suspicions of Celebrimbor
---1699: Sauron overruns Eriador (home of the Shire and Rivendell); later driven out
---1800: Sauron lusts for Numenor
---3261: ff. The corruption of Ar-Phazaron by Sauron
---3320: Arnor and Gondor founded.
---3429: Sauron attacks Gondor and takes Minas Ithil
---3440-3441: The LAST ALLIANCE; DEFEAT OF SAURON, Isildur takes the ring.


These of course constitute the TRILOGY, LOTR, and the Appendix to Volume III has a detailed chronology.

Rubric: following each chapter summary of The Silmarillion will be citations that correlate with our study of the creation myths...

We have considered that a creation myth must reference at least the following...

    1. Romantic period:
      1. The primacy of the imagination
      2. Preservation of the environment (Nature) --all is good as it comes from God
      3. Technology pollutes and destroys
      4. Man has heroic potential that can lead to hubris
      5. Man has the power to (sub-) create
      6. Should man play god?
    2. Roman Catholic Dogma:
      1. Objective moral and metaphysical truths exist that derive from God
      2. Evil exists objectively and can mar the God, but God will bring about an atonement ("at-one-ment"-Campbell)
      3. Subcreation occurs with (and without God's permission)--free choice exists
      4. Evil will destroy itself
      5. There are consequences to choices that one cannot evade
      6. Myths are not lies
      7. Dr. Freitas' questions on evil and moral philosophy
    3. Greek and Judeo-Christian Mythology:
      1. Campbell: mystery, expanse, wonder and pedagogy of myths
      2. Explanation for the 'fall' from grace
      3. Order from chaos
      4. Establishment of a hierarchy of values and classes--ages of man
      5. Strife is good
      6. Would we be a bunch of babies if we left the garden?
      7. Need for a bliss station
      8. Alienation from the creator
    4. The Mythopoeia, The Essay on Faerie Tale Literature, and the Interview:
      1. Daring to create? Restraint?
      2. The importance of language
      3. sub-creation--we participate in the divine
      4. The Beatitudes
      5. The perilous realm of fantasy
      6. loss of innocence
      7. secondary worlds operate according to their own laws--why is the grass red?
      8. We do not need to suspend disbelief. (anti-Coleridge)--need for inner consistency
      9. The Euchastrophe (The Redemptive sacrifice)
      10. Should we have left the garden?
      11. What macrocosmically does leaving entail?
      12. Should we be afraid of the quest?
    5. Shakespeare:
      1. From A Midsummer Night's Dream--the role of the imagination
    6. Metaphors for creation and the fall:
      1. The flame imperishable
      2. The fruit of the tree
      3. Pandora
      4. Defiance of the Gods
      5. The importance of Music and motifs
      6. The fading coal
      7. The 'presence' (Wordsworth)
      8. Dreams (Keats), but with Tolkien's reservations
      9. Primary and secondary imagination --the Infinite I am (Coleridge)


(Song of the Holy Ones)

Chapter one: THE MUSIC OF THE AINUR: The Beginning of days unfolds creation details and explains the evil caused by Melkor. The Valar ordered Middle Earth, but Melkor destroyed it. The Valar fled to Aman and established the "blessed realm" called Valinor. There two beautiful trees were planted. Elves and men are created and settled in middle earth. This chapter fixes the dynamics of the creation myth, and establishes what will come...

Fire and music of course predominate, and creation emanates from the thought of the One, Illuvatar. Helms notes (p. 21 ff) the classical influences, especially "The Music of the spheres," and then traces the motifs through Sacred Scripture to Milton. However, he does not discuss the Romantic period use of the metaphor which, to me, is central to Tolkien's mythology. We know that classical myths create a hierarchy of values, which Tolkien accomplishes by putting us "inside a song." Flieger notes an important comparison to Dryden's

A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687 

From Harmony, from heavenly Harmony
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
Arise, ye more than dead!
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From Harmony, from heavenly harmony
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the chorded shell
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell
That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

The trumpet's loud clangour
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries 'Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat!'

The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.

Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depths of pains, and height of passion
For the fair disdainful dame.

But oh! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach
The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race,
And trees unrooted left their place
Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
When to her Organ vocal breath was given
An angel heard, and straight appear'd—
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

Grand Chorus:

As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And music shall untune the sky.

Dryden, rather interestingly for Tolkien a convert to Catholicism, simultaneously speaks of "heav'nly harmony," and "shrill notes of anger" not unlike the discord of Melkor who beings to weave matters of his own into Eru's creation anthem. For Dryden and Tolkien, however, discord and harmony become one: "Notes that wing their Heav'nly ways / To mend the choirs above." Keats also sets the right tone in his letters,

...have you never by being surprised with an old Melody--in a delicious place--by a delicious voice, fe[l]t over again your very speculations and surmises at the time it first operated on your soul-do you not remember forming to yourself the singer's face more beautiful that it was possible and yet with the elevation of the Moment you did not think so--even then you were mounted on the Wings of Imagination so high--that the Prototype must be here after--that delicious face you will see What a time! I am continually running away from the subject-- sure this cannot be exactly the case with a complex Mind--one that is imaginative and at the same time careful of its fruits--who would exist partly on sensation partly on thought--to whom it is necessary that years should bring the philosophic Mind--such an one I consider yours and therefore it is necessary to your eternal Happiness that you not only have drink this old Wine of I-leaven which I shall call the redigestion of our most ethereal Musings on Earth; but also increase in knowledge and know all things...(November 22, 1817 to Bailey)

Likewise, we should not forget Coleridge's Kubla Khan. Using a hierarchy of knowledge established by the creative mind as it strives to reconcile opposites, he envisions a dome that transcends from a physical structure to one made of fire and ice ("A miracle of rare device / A sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice") to ultimately one existing only in the imagination, made of musical notes, (That with music loud and long, / I would build that dome in air".)

I think this is what Tolkien does with the cosmos. We yearn to complete the hierarchy by rejoin the Prototype (Iluvatar). As Keats elsewhere reminds us, the mind has many chambers, most of which are dark-he encourages us to awaken our potential by daring to live, to explore as many as possible as Tolkien wishes in The Mythopoeia.

I know a profoundly spiritual person who reminds me of what Tolkien is doing here. In a homily that left her listeners entranced, she spoke of the need to quietly and patiently listen to God's voice, his will. Too often the din of the moment obfuscates, as Tolkien well knew, as he writes of Iluvatar speaking to the Ainur in musical themes.

And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music, and they sang before him...each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.

Tolkien establishes a hierarchy: Illuvatar to the Ainur, the Holy Ones, who are his spiritual emaninations, each with a function and from whom will come those who sow discord. Thus Tolkien introduces discord in his cosmos, but to us (paradoxically) will come a greater good.

Iluvatar, using fire and music imagery, tacitly gives permission for the Ainur to subcreate, "And since I have kindled you with the flame imperishable" [Coleridge's 'divine spark'], you shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thought and devices, if he will. But I will sit and harken, and be glad..."


"But when the Valar entered into Ea, they were first astounded and at a loss, for it was as if naught was yet made which they had seen in vision, and all was but on point to begin and yet unshaped, and it was dark. For the great music had been but the growth and flowering of thought in the Timeless Halls, and the Vision only a foreshadowing; but now they had entered in at the beginning of Time, and the Valar had perceived that the world had been but foreshadowed, and foresung, and they must achieve it."

These passage are complicated

As with Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VIII, the free will of the created is asserted. The angel warns Adam:

...and then departs to heaven to watch. The sin, not allowing passion to check reason, finds echoes in Tolkien who beautifully describes a harmony of "...endless interchangeable melodies..." , that fill the void with infinite combinations, until " came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own, imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar, for he thought therein to increase the power and the glory of the part assigned to himself.

As Milton did, Tolkien assigns Melkor a dominate position in the hierarchy; right under Illuvatar in knowledge and power, but as his hubris grew, he became inflamed with desire to supplant his creator. Shakespeare provides an archetype: "Untune that string, and hark what discord follows." ("Order and Degree" speech by Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida). Melkor's discord recalls this macrocosmic turmoil. Renaissance conservative politics mandated that a monarch invoke divine right to maintain a moral perspective, and in that context the reaction of Iluvatar suggests a Machiavellian wisdom, although Tolkien would probably not like the adjective I chose. However, the genius of the Catholic Church through its own "ages" has been an ability to absorb and assimilate conflicting theologies from Aquinas to Trent to Vatican Two.

If wisdom means to reconcile opposites, that is exactly what Illuvatar does. Order indeed comes from chaos, as Iluvatar arose, and

"...a new theme began amid the storm...he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others...And it seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Illuvatar, and they were utterly at variance. The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came."

Here we find validated our initial premise that the substance of Tolkien defies analysis. The beauty of the words do indeed place us "inside a song." Only divine wisdom could create (not sub-create) this EUCHASTROPHE. His plan is revealed...

Establishing the hierarchy, Illuvatar's 'chain of being' following the Ainur are Elves and Men. At first existing potentially in a vision to the Ainur who are promised a sub-creative role in their actualization, the Elves and Men arouse the most gifted Ainur, Melkor who from envy wishes to subdue them and thus thwart Illuvatar's design as did Satan reason in Book IV of Paradise Lost:

Illuvatar will thus allow Melkor as God did Satan to exercise free will, only to engender a greater good. From lust and greed, therefore, will paradoxically arise renounciation as in LOTR, the company does what Melkor and Sauron would never dream of doing--giving the ring back, and not using its power.

Working from traditional scriptural and classical perspectives that assigned functions to the Trinity and the gods (So God the Father = creation; the Son = redemption; the Spirit = wisdom; Zeus = justice; Apollo= prophecy etc.), the 14 greatest of the Ainur, the Valar, are given specific roles by Illuvatar to actualize the creative hierarchy he established. There are seven males and seven females:

  1. Manwe--male--brother of Melkor, married to Varda--(chief) air, winds, clouds. Flaw! He misunderstands evil & frees Melkor.
  2. Ulmo--male-- (water, where the echoes of music sacred to the Elves reside). The nexus of Tolkien's concept of evil comes from Illuvatar's alerting Ulmo to how Melkor plans to pollute what he has created. Ulmo's reply is typically Tolkien's view of good; 'I will seek Manwe, that he and I may make melodies forever to thy [Illuvatar] delight."
  3. Aule--male--married to Yavanna--crafts, made the Dwarves, Shapes Arda and makes lamps of Valar to light earth. His happiness comes from NOT possessing what he creates.
  4. Orome--male--married to Vana--Lord of forests; loves hunting and discovered the elves
  5. Mandos--male--brother of Lorien and Nienna; married to Vaire--keeper of the dead; with permission reveals dooms implied in the great music
  6. Lorien--male--brother of Mandos and Nienna; married to Este--master of dreams and visions;
  7. Tulkos--male--the brave; is able to defeat Melkor in the Battle of the Powers
  8. Varda --female--married to Manwe-- the stars (Eleberth) Filled lamps with light; dearest to the Elves.
  9. Yavanna--female--sister of Vana--married to Aule--fruits, watches over all living things; made two trees..Their light fills the Silmarils.
  10. Este--female--wife of Lorien--heals the hurt
  11. Vaire--female--wife of Mandos--controls time; scop-like tells stories
  12. Vana-- flowers and birds; has communicative powers with them
  13. Nessa--female--sister of Orme--deer and dancing;
  14. Nienna-female--sister of Mandos and Lorien-ministers to those in grief; important in saving the two tree; values pity. Pity for Gollum of course when reason dictated the opposite will save the company and complete the quest.

Shippey observes that Aule, Ulmo, Manwe and Melkor represent the four elements of earth, water, air and fire respectively (p. 239). Fire as we know associates with the creation urge, thus according to Shippey, presenting a creation paradox in The Silmarillion. Feanor too lusts for the silmarils. Boundaries have always presented dilemmas for romantics. Shippey and pages on this site have also suggested that darkness exists as metaphysically real; not as the Greek concept of the absence of good.

Illuvatar, sensing dismay, actualizes what has existed only in potential by sending forth the "Flame Imperishable," resulting in "The world that Is." Such echoes Genesis, and AQUINAS: It sufficiently appears at the first glance, according to what precedes...that to create can be the action of God alone. For the more universal effects must be reduced to the more universal and prior causes. Now among all effects the most universal is being itself: and hence it must be the proper effect of the first and most universal cause, and that is God. Hence also it is said (De Causis prop., iii) that "neither intelligence nor the soul gives us being, except inasmuch as it works by divine operation." Now to produce being absolutely, not as this or that being, belongs to creation. Hence it is manifest that creation is the proper act of God alone.

It happens, however, that something participates the proper action of another, not by its own power, but instrumentally, inasmuch as it acts by the power of another; as air can heat and ignite by the power of fire. And so some have supposed that although creation is the proper act of the universal cause, still some inferior cause acting by the power of the first cause, can create. And thus Avicenna asserted that the first separate substance created by God created another after itself, and the substance of the world and its soul; and that the substance of the world creates the matter of inferior bodies. And in the same manner the Master says (Sent. IV., D, 5) that God can communicate to a creature the power of creating, so that the latter can create ministerially, not by its own power.

Such is the operation of Illuvatar. Those who participate in sub-creation complete the actualization that God began; interestingly and importantly, he uses fire as an example. Hence Tolkien has Illuvatar allow the Ainur to sub-create, creating motifs that emanate from the music He originated. Manwe, the brother of Melkor, however, initiates, and therein merits sanction:

And Manwe said unto Melkor, "This kingdom thou shalt not take for thine own, wrongfully, for many others have labored here [i.e. with permission] no less than thou." Melkor withdraws, consumed with envy, lusting to destroy what came to be legitimately. From a romantic perspective, we learning very quickly, in Chapter one, how Tolkien defines evil. As the Valar sub-created,...

...they built lands, and Melkor destroyed them; valleys they delved and Melkor raised them up; mountains they carved and Melkor threw them down; seas they hollowed and Melkor spilled them...for as surely as the Valar began a labour, so would Melkor undo it or corrupt it.

The coal does fade (Shelley), but is not extinguished; Campbell's "at-one-meant" seeks the reconciliation that Melkor destroys, but as the chapter concludes, Tolkien makes clear creation continues, according to the plan of Illuvatar.

Chapter two: VALAQUENTA (Account of the Valari and Maiar according to the lore of the Eldar.)

Working within an oral tradition, Tolkien recounts the events of chapter one from differing points of view:

  1. The Eldar (the Elves: Vanyr, Noldor, Teleri)

Here the creation myth seems to echo (but not literally) Timaeus, wherein we know the Maker looked to the forms as models, from which the physical world took shape using them as models. Of course, the Ainur were products of his thought, they made "a great music" to which Illuvatar gave form, the secret fire "...was sent to burn at the heart of the world; and it was called Ea."

The Valar are named, hierarchically, and their personalities and duties are described as listed above (Another instances that validates how summaries mar the beauty of the original). Importantly, Tolkien concludes this section by observing that, "...if little is here said of all that the Eldar once knew, that is as nothing compared with their true being, which goes back into regions and ages beyond our thought." In reading the Trilogy, one is always aware that there is a vast unseen world, only glimpses of which are manifested,

2. The Maiar (the lesser Ainur who come to Ea--what is created including Arda (earth). Sauron will be one of them)

Importantly, this short section anticipates the next one, entitled "The Enemies,"

Melkor's name means, "He who arises in might," and by the Elves is renamed MORGOTH., the Dark enemy. The Roman Catholic perspective modifies the Greek one. Evil is not just the absence of the good; it exists objectively and seeks to mar the good, but in Tolkien's scheme, in so doing will destroy itself, for "...In the powers and knowledge of all the other Valar he had part, but he turned them to evil purposes, and squandered his strength in violence and tyranny." For he coveted Arda and all that was in it...From splendor he fell through arrogance to contempt for all things save himself..."

We are also told that Sauron is servant. Here the Greek view merges--Sophocles warns that man is NOT the measure of all things, and that any guilty of HUBRIS will fall. The Promethian potential of man is not without peril. Tolkien's Catholicism warns that man is man and God is God. Knowing one's limits as expressed by Pope ("Know then thyself, Presume not God to scan" -Essay on Man, Epistle II), cannot be ignored.


(...and Tolkien's views on women)

CHAPTER ONE : OF THE BEGINNING OF DAYS: As the creation myth unfolds, the Spring of Arda blossoms with Yavanna's love of all that grows manifest in planting the seeds of the two trees. The role of women in Tolkien should therefore be noted; Dr. Freitas has observed that given an all male Company, what role does Tolkien envision for women? It is quite true, perhaps coming from his experiences in WW I, that Tolkien did see the world from a male perspective, and the quest is a military adventure. The adventures of Eowyn thus merit considerable attention as does the role of Arwen, including the changes Jackson made in the movies.

Carpenter notes that Tolkien's attitude toward women was shaped by two people. His mother Mabel who died of diabetes in 1904 when he was 12, and his marriage to Edith Bratt [who was born out of wedlock herself] in 1916 (They had been engaged in 1914). He had been forbidden to see her as early as 1909 by his guardian Father Francis, and Tolkien complied. The loss of his mother was a blow, Carpenter notes, from which he never recovered. Tolkien said, "My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary [his brother] and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith." Carpenter further believes that Tolkien's profound spiritual perspective comes from a devotion to his mother and that the faith was a compensation for her loss (p. 34). I think this suggests that additionally given his interests in Medieval romances, his mother becomes a surrogate for the Virgin Mary, whose chastity nonetheless allowed the birth of Jesus.

Further, his love affair with Edith contravened the mores of the time, which further shaped his views. Tolkien notes that Father Francis called the liaison "evil and foolish." (p. 48). When Tolkien was beyond the legal age for a guardian, he did propose to Edith, who broke her engagement to another, and the two were married, with Father Francis' consent, but not enthusiasm. Although Tolkien loved his wife, his academic career and military service placed him largely in the company of males, and although he had too much moral vision to be a misogynist, his biography and education suggest that the company of males (today we would say 'bonding") was what he preferred. Chapter V of Carpenter's biography seems to sustain this:

  1. He did not encourage her to pursue any intellectual activity because he did not consider it to be a necessary part of her role as wife and mother, and partly because his attitude to her in courtship (exemplified by his favourite term for her, "little one," was not associated with his own intellectual life; to her he showed a side of his personality quite different from that perceived by his male friends. Just as he like to be a man's man among his cronies, so at home he expected to live in what was primarily a women's world." (Carpenter, p. 170)
  2. Carpenter concludes that although the Tolkien's were happily married, the world of Oxford academically and to some degree socially was not for women, and Edith knew it.
  3. We find in a letter dated 6-8 March, 1948 advice to his son Michael, who was contemplating marriage ...
      1. To view women as sexual objects only is damaging to their souls and the man's
      2. The Genesis myth he believes sustains this view morally
      3. Friendship between male and female without sex is possible, but not likely (Letters, p 48)
  4. Carpenter parallels this, saying Tolkien, "...believed that this was one of sad facts of a fallen world, and on the whole he thought that a man had a right to male pleasures, and should if necessary insist on them." (p. 174).
  5. He argues that two other issues further complicated their relationship: her jealousy regarding C.S. Lewis, and his wife's anti-catholic bias. Although she had converted, (Tolkien felt mission-bound to do that for people), Edith apparently found her husband's religiosity confining and rigid. They later reconciled on this issue.

It would be quite incorrect, though to present these conclusions as the only ones. Carpenter notes that anyone visiting the Tolkiens could not but note how much they loved each other especially regarding their devotion to the children.

Consequently, Tolkien's letters sustain a conflicted view of the role of women, one which we today would regard as blatantly misogynistic, and simultaneously the opposite. I quote from the same letter:


  1. He admits to falling in love at 18, but regrets (undoubtedly influenced by Father Francis) that such harmed his academic career.
  2. He stipulates that not seeing Edith for three years was the right, and that he would not have blamed her for marrying someone else.
  3. He ends the letter by noting how difficult his financial circumstances made having a family, and adds, "Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament...There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, by the taste (or foretaste), of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained or take on that complexion of reality, eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires." (Letters, pp. 48-54)

Psychologically the comments are fascinating. Tolkien seems to be endorsing in his last comment what he early rejected: the ideal role model for a man's love must be a man; thus eliminating the distractions women impose. In my GOTHIC HORROR class, I teach Matthew Gregory Lewis' THE MONK. Although Tolkien was no Ambrosio, an interesting sociological parallel emerges. Matilda insists in seducing the Monk, that his education, his view of women had been perverted by corrupt institutions. Obviously Tolkien would reject that view out of hand, but the historical misogynistic misread of Genesis did have its educational impact, and Tolkien was a victim of it.

There are two evidences that suggest he knew this at least potentially. In the Letters, he warns Michael, "Grave abuses were as much an element in Christian 'liturgical' behaviour from the beginning as now...Roman Catholics still suffer from disabilities not even applicable to Jews...As a man whose childhood was darkened by persecution, I find this hard. But charity must cover a multitude of sins!" (pp. 394-395)

I wonder if Tolkien is thinking of our current topic? His writings might suggest the affirmative. Literature of course functions as catharsis especially for Romantics. In The Silmarillion, the Tale of Beren (mortal) and Luthien (elf-maiden) is one of the most beautiful. The chapter outlines the joys and pains of the union of the man Beren, and the Elf-maiden, Thingol's daughter Luthien. To prove her love for Luthien, Beren agrees to seek one of the jewels Melkor stole for Thingol who of course wishes it for himself. Finrod agrees to go along on the quest to honor a pledge he had made when Finrod's father saved his life. They are trapped by Sauron, and both are cast into a deep pit. Beren is freed, but Finrod is killed. Beren now with the help of Luthien, approach Melkor and take one of the jewels from his crown. Melkor's wolf~beast Carcharoth severs Beren's hand and swallows it along with the jewel. Driven mad with pain, the wolf attacks Doriath ironically fulfilling Thingol's hope. Thingol sanctions the union of Beren and Luthien, but in the quest to kill the wolf, Beren is mortally wounded, but he lives long enough to get the jewel and give it to Thingol. Luthien agrees to stay in middle earth and accept mortality. From the union of the two will eventually come an event that will in no small measure save the company in LOTR.

Carpenter outlines the facts of composition. Tolkien and his wife would take long walks in the woods, and he recalls, "Her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes bright, and she could sing---and dance." She sang and danced for him in the wood, and from this came the story....The tale...was the one most loved by Tolkien, not least because at one level he identified Luthien with his wife.

Some autobiographical moments...

  1. "Luthien danced upon a green hill, and suddenly she began to sing...
  2. " But as she look on him, doom fell upon her, and she loved him; yet she slipped from his arms and vanished from his sight..."
  3. Beren: "And here I have found what I have sought not indeed, but finding what I would possess forever. For it is above all gold and silver and beyond all jewels...For Luthien your daughter is the fairest of the Children of the world."
  4. Luthien stood upon the bridge, and declared her power...But Beren came deep was his anguish [over the death of Finrod] that he lay still...Then thinking him dead, she put her arms about him and fell into a dark forgetfulness. But Beren coming back to the light out of the pits of despair lifted her up...[and]...went free again and together walked through the woods renewing for a time their joy."
  5. Luthien to Beren: "You must choose, Beren, between these two: to relinquish the quest and your oath and seek a life of wondering among the face of the earth; or to hold your word and challenge the power of darkness upon its throne. But on either road, I shall go with you, and our doom shall be alike."
  6. Luthien song casts a spell on Morgoth who wears the crown with the Silmarils, and "As a dead beast Beren lay upon the ground, but Luthien touching him with her hand aroused him, ..and he drew forth the knife Angrist, and from the iron claws that held it he cut a Silmaril."
  7. Although mortally wounded by Carcharoth, Berens's spirit lingers until Luthien "...came to say her last farewell."
  8. NOTE THAT HER SONG ECHOES THE CREATION MYTH, AND IS A SUB-CREATION IN ITS OWN RIGHT; (RITE): " The song of Luthien before Mandos was the song most fair that ever in words was woven, and the song most sorrowful that the world shall ever hear. Unchanged, imperishable, it is sung still in Valinor beyond the hearing of the world, and listening the Valar are grieved. For Luthien wove two themes of words, of the sorrow of the Eldar and the grief of Men, of the Two Kindreds that were made by Illuvatar to dwell in Arda, the Kingdom of the Earth amidst the innumerable stars. And as she knelt before him her tears fell upon his feet like rain upon the stones, and Mandos was moved to pity who never before was so moved, nor have been since."
  9. Acting to fulfill the will of Illuvatar, Mandos offers a choice: "Because of her labours and her sorrow, she should be released from Mandos, and go to Valimar, there to dwell until the world's end among the Valar, forgetting all griefs that her life had known. Thither Beren could not come...But the other choice was this: that she might return to Middle-earth, and take with her Beren, there to dwell again, but without certitude of life or joy. Then she would become mortal..."


1-How do the excerpts mime Tolkien's view on marriage and love?

2-How does the tale emanate from the creation myth?

3-What choice did Luthien make?

4-From the choice comes a great good that will have a profound influence on the victory over Sauron.

5-Just as The Wife from Bath's Tale mirrors the narrator's subconscious desire for more than control, so Beren and Luthien reveals much of Tolkien's attitudes toward women. There is much pathos in what he told Christopher:

She was (and knew she was) my Luthien. I will say no more now. But I should like ere long to have a long talk with you. For if as it seems probable I shall never write any ordered biography--it is against my nature, which expresses itself about things deepest felt in tales amid myths--someone close in heart to me should know something about things that records do not record: the dreadful sufferings of our childhood, from which we rescued one another, but could not wholly heal wounds that later often proved disabling; the suffering that we endued after our love began all of which (over and above personal weaknesses) might help to make pardonable or understandable, the lapses and darknesses which at times marred our lives--and to explain how these never touched our depths nor dimned the memories of our youthful love. For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death before our last parting. (Carpenter, pp. 109-110)

Chapter 22, OF THE RUIN OF DORAITH, discussed below will have further autobiographical significance in relation to Luthien and the Silmaril.

Right after that, Tolkien was in combat. There is reason for charity: Tolkien struggled to reconcile two discordant opposites: a sociology that mandated women second-class existences, with a personal ethos that asserted the opposite. But his view of women profoundly influenced the direction the quest was to take. Luthien and Lady Galadriel, without whom Sauron would have been successful, are featured prominently in The Silmarillion. Galadriel's role in the cyn-slaying is discussed below.


THE QUENTA SILMARILLION'S 24 CHAPTERS outline the events of the FIRST AGE, and its most profound tragedy, resulting "...when the evil of Melkor defiled the Two Trees and the Silmarils, the greatest constructions of the Valar and the Children of Iluvatar." ( Forester, p. 408-09).

Several themes emerge from the creation myths...

1-sub-creation without permission, followed by contrition
2-the objective existence of evil, its lust and its nihilistic quest
3-the consequences for Elves and men
4-the loss of innocence
5-the emergence of opposites, discord and hubris

From each chapter, questions will be posed that relate aspects of creation mythology to what Tolkien creates...


1-What Greek theme is reflected as the chapter begins?
2-How also is Genesis paralleled?
3-What romantic period themes emerge?
4-How would you describe Melkor's response? (There will be Sauron parallels in the Third Age)
5-Note that what Tolkien most hates is dramatized as part of Melkor's destruction.
6-Reverence for nature predominates--the love of Yavanna for all things that grow especially the two trees: Telperion (sliver) and Laurelin (gold)--both associated with beautifying the cosmos and the reckoning of time--how?
7- Subcreation is important in this chapter: Aule's work with the Noldor has the sanction of Iluvatar, and they create what that will profoundly influence the history of Tolkien's cosmos?
8-How does Tolkien contrast the thoughts of Manwe and Melkor?
9-Tolkien ends this chapter by reinforcing the hierarchy established earlier. What limits are imposed? How do elves (Eldar: Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri--p. 139, Foster ) and men (Atani) differ? Recall what was said by Hesiod regarding strife. How is that so applied to men here?
10. What paradox ends the chapter regarding gifts to elves and men? Which would you prefer to have? Note that for Tolkien, there is grief and joy related to what each race receives. Do we want immortality? Chapter12 and The Akallabeth will further consider immortality when men are described.
11-What is the theological paradox that ends the chapter regarding Melkor?


1. The Dwarves are made in secret by Aule. They are spared due to the mercy of God, and are cave dwellers and master craftsmen. Is this a violation of sub-creation? Of what did Tolkien warn in The Mythopoeia?
2.What saved the Dwarfs from extinction? Illuvatar and Aule in a fashion allude to what Biblical Old Testament story?
3. How is prophecy important in this chapter? Note again how the chapter echoes Hesiod's belief regarding strife. Which kind appears here? Durin and Khazad-dum will be important in LOTR.
4. What breaks Yavanna's heart, and what is foreshadowed in this chapter that will be one of the turning points in LOTR? Note that here, we have a macrocosmic perspective of what will be a major turning point in the war against Sauron.
5. What is created herein suggests an Aristotelian influence--that is the relationship between potency and act.


1. From the summary, what do you conclude regarding the creation myth?

The elves journey to Aman, and Melkor builds a fortress in the north called Angband. Elves are created in actuality and name themselves Quendi (those that speak with voices); they are called Eldar or people of the stars. Melkor captures some and breeds them as Orcs. The Valar react by occupying Arda (earth) which they did after a war fought in Middle Earth. The march to the West begins when some of the elves wish to return to the Blessed Realm. Tolkien calls this trip the Great Journey. The Elves that remain settle in an area of Middle Earth called Beleriand. Melkor was returned to Valinor and made prisoner. What do the elves especially revere when awakened? How is Varda involved? (Manew's spouse will be invoked at a critical moment in LOTR.)
2. Are the intentions of Illuvatar marred? How severely?
3. Notice the influence of Aristotle and Aquinas again. Here creation occurs in actuality. An issue central to Medieval philosophy was whether God made the best of all possible worlds. If He has an infinite number of ideas which should correspond to an infinite number of "X's" in the physical world, but do not of course, then what was held back by God and why? Sorrow and wisdom mingle as musical notes.
4. Melkor works to pervert what Illuvatar has done, and is allowed to do so, but out of evil will come a much greater good, as in Scripture, without the (fortunate) fall, there would have been no redemption. This sub-creation Tolkien calls a mockery; not unlike the events of Frankenstein.
5. What is the BATTLE OF THE POWERS, and what happened to Middle Earth as a result? Note what happens to Melkor, and Sauron? Parallel: During the Watergate era when John Dean spoke to the special prosecutors, he was told that once the toothpaste was let out of the tube, it would be difficult to put back again. What is the moral issue involved?
6. Did Iluvatar intend for the elves to be sundered (p. 53)? Note that the refusal of the summoning of the Elves from Middle Earth is allowed, but not without consequences:

7. What does the word DOOM mean, and why is it used so often? The role of free choice of the created is respected, but not without consequences? Can evil be contained? Paradoxically, should it?


1. Melian tended the flowers, birds and trees in Valinor. In Middle Earth, she met and fell in love with Elwe (the great Elf lord who founded the kingdom of Doriath.) Elwe was also known as Thingol. They were called the grey elves or elves of the twilight. What motifs are involved related to the creation myths? Here Tolkien works microcosmically.
2. The founding of Doraith will be important in the Tale of Beren and Luthien.


1. The two tribes of Elves (Vanyar and Noldor) (or fair and wise-elves) were taken to Aman by a floating island called Tol Eressea. The third tribe or Teleri (sea elves) remained on Middle Earth. Because the Vanyar and the Noldor loved the white tree, Yavanna made a model (think Plato) of it for them. A seedling from Telperion in Valinor was thus transported to Tirion (a city of the Elves in the west across the sea). Yet, some of the elves longed to return to Middle Earth chief of whom was Finwe, whose son Feanor, whose oath will precipitate much tragedy. Galadriel can trace her ancestry to Finwe.
2. What metaphor is used to describe Feanor in this chapter; relate it to the creation myths (p.63). What seems to motivate his behavior?


1. Tolkien seems to argue that unless good is very, very careful, evil gains a decided advantage, often by probing the good for (apparent) weaknesses that can be exploited and perverted. Note how during the 1930's, Hitler was able to do precisely that, with perhaps the Munich conferences of 1938 being the example which redefined appeasement. "My enemies are little worms; I saw them at Munich," he said; and regrettably and with a cost of millions of lives, the world paid a terrible price.
Melkor, Saruman and Sauron are the exemplars whose exploitation of the good may bring short term success, but ultimately defeat.
2. Discuss in this chapter how evil tactically functions. What kind of imagery is used to describe Feanor's personality? How does irony function if the creation myth is recalled? Feanor's character might be examined from an Aristotelian perspective; is the so-called flaw (moral and/or intellectual) operative?
3. Why did Manwe pardon Melkor? Is the event parallel to Munich, 1938, especially when we know what is in Melkor's mind right as he is pardoned? What is the most important quality that Manwe has that pro tem, works against him. Much of this reads like British diplomacy of the 1930's with Ulmo as ____?
4. The final paragraph in the chapter is quite complicated morally. Find evidence for...

    1. evil envying the good
    2. Melkor's psychological profile as_____?
    3. Which elvish clan most is susceptible to Melkor's "wooing"? Why?
    4. Although Feanor hates Melkor (Morgoth), the question of influence is nonetheless present. Why?


1. The creation myth of Milton in Paradise Lost is not unlike Tolkien's. Melkor's plan is to cause a split between the Elves, which he does by suggesting that the coming of man will displace them. Feanor's pride was aroused, and he lusted after the Silmarils himself, as Satan lusted for power when God created Jesus as His son and heir. Thus in secret he forges weapons and demands permission to return to Middle Earth, as Satan conspired with some angels to assault heaven, and failing that, man. Tolkien's myth though is more complicated in that two races are involved, elves and men. Perhaps elves represent man before the fall, and man after, as we recall the prophecy of humans being born for strife and struggle in a post-Eden world.
2.Romantics often wish for immortality, and art makes this transcendence possible so that sub-creation becomes creation; hence Coleridge's pleasure dome (by an act of the secondary imagination) ultimately is made of musical notes that in theory last forever; hence Tolkien's creation myth. Here, Feanor wishes to preserve the light of the two trees, and " the end of all, he made the Silmarils." (p. 72).Is this hubris? Tolkien's language should remind you of another romantic period work of creation? Do you think he intended the parallel?
3. Of what are they made?
4. How is prophecy bound to them?
5. Evil perverts the good; how does Tolkien use biblical imagery to describe Melkor's lust for the Silmarils? See MATTHEW 4: 8-9.
6. Note how love becomes lust; and how Melkor uses equivocation with the Noldor to thwart Illuvatar's creation. (There is a reference to the "third theme.").
7. Melkor's plan works. How? What does Feanor propose against the will of the Valar?
8. How did the Valor react? What is the RING OF DOOM?
9. Brother strives against brother. For drawing his sword against his brother, Fingolfin, the Valar banish Feanor from Tirion for 12 years. Does Feanor comply internally?
10. How does evil over-reach itself regarding Melkor and Feanor as the chapter ends?
11. How great was Melkor's influence on Feanor, and what made that influence possible? A parallel to Hitler's abilities would offer useful comparisons.


1. Evil in this chapter reaches its most destructive horror. What happens, but more importantly why does it happen? One of Dr. Freitas' questions should help.
2. Using the archetype of descent to the underworld, Melkor finds Ungoliant (An incident recalled by Carpenter explains what Tolkien does here).
3. Campbell is right that heroes (and villains) do have a thousand face. Any Star Wars parallel here?
4. Why did Melkor "laugh in his heart?" What is an UNLIGHT?
5. Notice how the "romantic" feasting of Yavanna and Manwe is juxtaposed in the midst of the unfolding horror. Finwe (father of Feanor) refuses to attend? Why? Yet what reconciliation appears to take place?
6. How does the destruction of the two beautiful trees modify the Greek concept of evil? Macbeth and Paradise Lost are also paralleled."


1.The Valar called a council, the 'Ring of Doom,' to decide how to respond to the destruction. Feanor is asked to give some of the light from the Silmarils to negate the darkness, but he refused unless compelled. The moral issue is complicated. Should he have?
2. In Hamlet, Claudius reminds us (ironically) that "When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions." What did Melkor next do, and how did Feanor respond? One of Tolkien's didactic perspectives seem to suggest that the good will paradoxically seem to serve evil and advance its cause when perspective is lost. How does that occur here?
3.What does "not the first mean"?, (p. 84).
4. Are the characters free agents?
5. What does Morgoth mean?
6. How paradoxically in this chapter is evil thwarted? What does Morgoth not anticipate?
7. What LOTR creatures can trace their origins to Ungoliant
8. How does INSATIABLE apply to so much in the chapter?
9. What does legend say happen to Ungoliant? There is a parallel in Ulysses' "Order and Degree" speech in Troilus and Cressida, with a wolf as Shakespeare's metaphor.
10. What happens to the good when it contacts evil? And the converse?
11. Even after Melkor withdraws, the evil effects remain; how flawed is Feanor in his demands? Do you think Tolkien alludes to an episode in Beowulf?
12. Discuss the implications of the OATH OF FEANOR (p. 90). Think of Beowulf again, and Tolkiens' Essay on Fairy Tales. What does Feanor disallow?
13. With LOTR, we must keep in mind that many races are ages old. Who witnesses the Oath, that will be a major character in the trilogy, and what is his/her reaction? Knowing the character in the trilogy, are you surprised here?
14. How is Fingolfin different from his half-brother?
15. Pay very careful attention to Manwe's warning, (p. 92). What is Feanor's response, and who else had a similar reaction? Is there a kind of blasphemy here?
16. It tragically does not take long for Manwe's prophecy to actualize. As horrid as the destruction of the two trees and the theft of the Silmarils is.....? (The Teleri are involved). Do you think that Fingolfin is a tragic character?
17. From this comes the famous PROPHECY OF THE NORTH. What is it? (P. 95). What are the moral implication regarding free choice, evil, consequences, and man's relationship to the creator? Note that some of the elves abandon their journey and return. Which kind of strife do you think Hesiod would recognize here?
18. How would you characterize Galadriel as the chapter ends?


1.This chapter describes the establishing of the kingdom of the Teleri in Beleriand by King Thingol (Sindarian or Grey-elves). (See Ch. IV.). When Melkor was imprisoned, Dwarves came there and were accepted as friends by the elves. War comes, however, when Melkor sends Ores against Thingol. The First Battle of Beleriand ends in victory, but may Elves die, Thingol built forts and established Doriath, a powerful kingdom in the First Age. As this kingdom takes Shape, no one predicts the coming of Feanor.
2. Thingol will be important later in The Silmarillion as one of his descendents is....?
3. What do we learn of the Dwarves (Khazad-Dum ./ Moria) that will be important in the Trilogy?
4. With whom do the Dwarves seek affinity? Why? (p. 104)
5. How does Tolkien foreshadow that the peace will not last? Notice that the same stories are told (as in any oral tradition), from differing points of view. Melkor's evil is never far away, and the Battles of Beleriand are fought.
6.As the chapter ends, we know there are some events that the created cannot know. Tolkien's point of view thus becomes omniscient What is foretold? Can the event be traced to any prophecy?


1. Tolkien's Catholicism reminds that however potent evil may be, that God will be with us all days, even to the end of the world. How, using the creation myth's hierarchy, does Chapter 11 illustrate the belief?
2. Further, does the chapter illustrate that however potent, evil will engender a good?
3. What do the Valar really mourn and why?
4. Tolkien's poetry cannot be analyzed--its existence is its beauty. Nonetheless, Nienna and Yavanna's hope in despair yield fruit. What happens?
5. What is the astronomical consequence for which we all give thanks?
6.How is the love of Illuvatar manifest? Ironically, the evil that Melkor wrought turns against him in this chapter.
7. It would be useful in this chapter to compare Wordsworth's Intimation's Ode. The shifting perspectives of the light imagery mirrors what Tolkien accomplishes here.
8. Melkor's evil, however, has another consequence. How does the chapter end?

---12--OF MEN

1. This very short chapter describes the coming of the race of men, the Atani or second people, who will dominate the fourth age.
2. What are the details of Tolkien's cosmology? (The Years of the Sun).
3. Contrast the elves and men. Why does Tolkien make them different? Other than the so-called gift of immortality to elves, what other contrast is important? Are the seeds of strife sown here? Recall what was said in Chapter One.
4. How in this chapter did Melkor apparently triumph? There will be important LOTR consequences?
5. Significantly ahead of his time (as was Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek), Tolkien allows for intermarriages between elfs and men: from Earendil and Elwing will come Elrond, of LOTR fame.


1. The theme is strife as the consequences of the PROPHECY OF THE NORTH unfolds...the tears are unnumbered. What happens?
2. Would Aristotle agree that Feanor's fate merits him tragic status according to the POETICS? Recall the fomative moments in his character:

Of contrasting interest might be the reactions of Fingolfin and Finarfin (father of Galadriel)

3. Recall the oath he swore, his reaction to prophecy, his quarrels with his half-brother, the cyn-slaying, etc. The list is long. How did he die? What imagery does Tolkien used that ironically (or perhaps not) flashes back to Ungoliant? What are his last words in this Battle-Under-the-Stars?
4. How does evil continue to manifest its effects?
5. Jesus regarded peacemakers as blessed. (Sermon on the Mount). What roles do Fingon (son of Fingolfin, the half-brother of Feanor) and Maedhros (son of Feanor) play in that regard?
6. The events regarding the rescue of Maedhros by Fingon have antecedents in The Iliad, and foreshadow the rescue of Gandalf, out of which come what moral perspective that will in no small measure aid the company in the Trilogy?
7. Feasting in literature has many connotations from the banquets on Olympus to the suitors of Penelope to the perversions of Macbeth toasting Banquo. What is Fingolfin's purpose? Who does not attend and why?
8. Lady Galadriel's moral perspective is important in this chapter. Rather than observe Finrod's construction of Fortress Nargothrond, she remains with Celeborn (her spouse). Her decision will have important consequences for Middle Earth.
9. The chapter ends with Morgoth. Any parallels to the third fight of Beowulf? How does Morgoth maintain terror? What are the "new evils?" During World War II, Himmler, Gestapo chief, noted that when people in Berlin passed his headquarters, they put their heads down and walked quickly. He said he understood why. So does Morgoth.
10. The Glorious Battle is called both a victory and a warning. Why? The chapter ends by miming what would be the strength and weaknesses of British foreign policy in the 1930's. Shippey's treatment is worth considering.


1. Chapter fourteen: Beleriand and its Realms--The kingdom is described. Note especially the founding of Minas Tirith, built by Finrod, a descendent of Finwe, It is the key to the defense of west Beleriand; it is later used by Sauron.
2. Tolkien's description of evil continues unabated; Order is deconstructed into what kind of chaos?
3. The chapter, with accompanying, map is essentially a geographical survey. Since The Silmarillion was published, maps of Middle Earth appeared, the most recent employing modern cartographic principles:


Stratchey, Barbara. Journeys of Frodo, An Atlas of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings.
N.Y. Ballantine, 1981.

Fonstad, Karen. The Atlas of Middle Earth. N.Y. Houghton Mifflin, 1991.


1.The 'unnumbered tears" continue to flow...Ulmo's warning is important, foreshadowing both doom and hope ("..the true hope of the Noldor lieth in West and cometh from the Sea.".
2.Tolkien (p. 151) continues to develop Galadriel's character. She seems to be naturally____? How would you describe her attitude toward the cyn-slaying retrospectively? Compare Chapter IX.
3. Do you think that Melian's conversations with Thingol regarding Feanor fulfill the Prophecy of the North? See especially, "..none of the Noldor that followed after Feanor could escape from the shadow that lay upon his house." (p.155).


1. Aredhel's(daughter of Fingolfin) tragedy may subconsciously be a product of Tolkien's (latent) misogynistic beliefs as outlined earlier. Does her strength of will lead to her undoing? Does Tolkien think women have "a place,"?
2. How would a feminist read her story? How is she initially portrayed?
3. What does her contact with Eol suggest regarding Tolkien's view of women?
4. Their child is Maeglin. Is there anything of Feanor's personality latent of which Aredhel is proud?
5. What is their quest? Eol, following his son and wife in anger, (p.163) may represent what?
6. Comment on Eol to Turgon, "Yet if in Aredhel your sister you have some claim, then let her remain; let the bird go back to the cage, where soon she will sicken again, as she sickened before. But not so Maeglin. My son you shall not withhold from me...Your father commands you." (p.164)
7. What does the death of Aredhel (p.165) suggest from a feminist perspective?
8. From a different perspective, observe how the Melkor's influence remains pervasive. What is the "dark seed of evil?"
9. Maeglin will appear again in Chapter 23.


1. Tolkien to his credit envisioned a time when races might live in harmony--when opposites would be reconciled. As men come to Beleriand, does this happen? What seems to be preventing it?
2. Beor's arrival is welcomed by Felagund (Finrod), but Morgoth lurks. What does he fear, and how does he plan to corrupt the new alliance?
2. Are humans guilty of the same hubris as some elves? Check Haleth. (P. 175), from a feminist perspective.
3. Linguistically, we recall them as the Atani, the second people, who in Beleriand are called the Edain. In LOTR, to know the Genealogies is important. Foster's charts (p. 561ff) provide the details: <m> = marries:


1. How is Melkor able to accomplish such evil? Do these questions from DR. FREITAS provide a clue? She notes,

2. Any creation myth must account for the fall from grace. Examine the following details:

    1. What does Fingolfin not understand? Why? How would Illuvatar answer the same question? Hint: evil seems to have its own dimension for Tolkien, and the good (Chamberlain-1938?) cannot initially comprehend it?
    2. Tolkien does make it clear, though, that evil defeats itself? How?
    3. How is evil dramatized from a Romantic period perspective?
    4. What is the Anglo-Saxon allusion, and what does it represent?
    5. Who wins the BATTLE OF SUDDEN FLAME? Are Feanor's sons being punished?
    6. Is Fingolfin like his father? What imagery is used to describe both?
    7. What is GROND? We know from Tolkien's Beowulf criticism that he sees a fundamental paradox in their culture? Reference too The Battle of Maldon. What is it, and is it at work here?
    8. Note the appearance of Sauron. Study carefully the description of his character (pp. 188-189) for the obvious LOTR application. The effects of the cyn-slaying seem to increase. Is Tolkien's inherent pessimism evident?
    9. Another of DR. FREITAS' questions probes the relationship between evil and the passions. As Tolkien describes the advance of Morgoth and Sauron, does he see any such connection?
    10. Note too (p.189) how some men are corrupted.
    11. Why do the Valar not respond to Turgon's plea for aid to the Noldor?


This chapter has been examined above when discussing Tolkien and feminism.


1. THIS IS THE FINAL BATTLE OF BELERIAND, THE BATTLE OF UNNUMBERED TEARS . On the dramatic level, the victory of Melkor was achieved largely through the treachery of men. Are there more ethical / philosophical reasons?
2. The forces of Melkor are opposed by The Union of Maedhros (Feanor's son) which was divided into two groups--Army group West and Army Group East. Melkor attacked the Western armies first and was losing the battle. Why was his attack repulsed? Is Tolkien again reiterating a theme he considers central morally and biographically to his creation myth?

3. Melkor is eventually pushed to the gates of Angband. Victory seemed certain, but Melkor counterattacked and Fingon, although receiving reinforcements, was in serious trouble. The Eastern army planned to attack Melkor from the rear, but the two armies could not join. The battle hung in the balance until the Easterlings (men) betrayed the alliance. Fingon was slaughtered, Melkor won and dominated Beleriand. However, Turgon's forces (Western armies) managed to escape and withdrew to Gondolin.
3.Does this tactical summary sufficiently account for who wins and loses if a complete victory is possible at all?
4.The "evil deeds" of Feanor continue to overshadow the war. In Sophoclean fashion, those who defy the Gods will pay dearly for their hubris. Divine inscrutability from the human perspective is almost absolute. Does Tolkien believe that?
5. Does Thingol's hatred foreshadow? What is its origin (i.e., what does Dr. Freitas' question imply?)
6. Maedhros seems to have the same flaw as his father. How does he behave in the war? Ironically, all of this will foreshadows the same problems Eisenhower faced in WWII---from the allies!!
7. Notice allusions to Beowulf (Fingon) and (later) The Hobbit. What does the mythology represent? Is evil defeating itself?
8. Tolkien writes, "Great was the triumph of Morgoth, and his design was accomplish in a manner after his own heart..." What does he say next regarding why evil spread so quickly? Note the implications for LOTR regarding the relationship between Elves and Men?


1. In reading this summary, what comes to mind regarding a major influence on Tolkien's philosophy and academic interests: Turin is considered to be the most tragic of all the men who fought with the elves. Residing with Thingol, he fled thinking that the former would hold him responsible for the death of his advisor Saeros. Saeros had been accidentally killed in a fight between the two, the details of which Tolkien describes huberistically (p. 244). "Fate goes as fate must" reads Beowulf, and such in this tale is only the beginning.
2. Pridefully fleeing and unwilling to accept Thingol's pardon, one of Turin's company again accidentally kills a Dwarf, Khim, and captured another, Mim. Offering wergild, (see Beowulf) Mim seems assuaged, but the befriending of Turin by the elf Beleg stirs enmity in Mim.
3. How does Tolkien explicate the ontology of these events regarding Morgoth's tactics? Recall how he won Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Is cause - effect discernible as tragedy leads to more tragedy and the deaths mount. What can be foreseen?
4. Vowing revenge and wishing to save his own life, the traitor Mim betrays Turin to Orcs and wounds Beleg. Even more tragedy follows: Beleg's rescue of Turin (p. 255) precipitates....? Tolkien said that to be Anglo-Saxon was to be tragic inherently. How does this tale dramatize that conclusion? If we recall the MONSTERS AND THE CRITICS ESSAY, does he offer a solution?
5. Is Mim moral by Tolkien's standards? Is Turin? Recall the doom of Manwe. Are these events examples.
6. Regarding the rescue of Turin by Beleg and Gwindor, how dominant a role does fate play, for it seems that the best efforts to bring about good inevitably lead to tragedy. What does Tolkien believe in this Anglo-Saxon Tale? The Tone of this chapter (p. 256) cannot be ignored. Tolkien calls the legend "..the tale of grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed the most evil works of Morgoth."
7. Taken to Nargothrond by Gwindor, Turin found love with Finduilas, but tragedy continues as she is torn between Turin and Gwindor. Jealously, Gwindor reveals Turin's true identity, which ironically leads to Nargothrond being revealed to Morgoth How does this happen, and how is hubris involved? (P. 259-260). Do the actions of Turin breed that which he wishes to avoid? Read: "...he was become proud [sic.] and stern, and would do all things as he wished." See as an example, the building of the bridge--pp. 259 and 262. Why does Morgoth win?
8. What allusion to Beowulf appears in Turin's next conflict? Is the summary correct? (p. 262)
9. Of what does Glaurung warn? The conflict with the dragon recalls Gardner's novel, Grendel, wherein the beast speaks extensively of Anglo-Saxon mores. Glaurung's words serve his master's needs, as the dragon's ability to exploit Turin's weaknesses recalls the advice Grendel receives in the novel. Good seems ironically to engender evil. Is Turin culpable for Finduilas' captivity? What is the connection to his mother and sister? (p. 263)
10. In what sense, following the encounter with the dragon, does Tolkien mean that Turin's "eyes were opened?" (p. 265). What does he resolve to do?
11. Does Tolkien (once again) subconsciously dramatize the behavior of Morwen and Nienor from a misogynistic perspective? (p. 267), or do you believe that he sees Anglo-Saxon men and women as equally tragic? The Battle of Pelennor fields will suggest an important parallel, and a good Anglo-Saxon poem to consider is THE WIFE'S LAMENT. Note that Tolkien calls mother and daughter's quest for Turin "ill-fated." (p. 267) Do you think in Tolkien's universe, that he believed women should be behaving as Nienor does? Is there a 'punishment' of sorts involved?
11. Aristotle speaks of a tragic predisposition; what is Glaurung able to exploit in Nienor, and does the marriage make sense in terms of Tolkien's critique of Coleridge's
"willing suspension of disbelief?" Did these events 'have' to happen?
12. How does the news of Nienor affect Turin? Is his behaviour consistent with Tolkien's evaluation of Anglo-Saxon society? How would you define the evil in this tale? Apply Dr. Freitas' questions.
14. The denouement is Anglo-Saxon pessimism at its purest. What happens to:

15. What finally does the dragon represent? Recall the conversation the dragon has with Grendel regarding free will in Gardner's novel. In what sense must fate go as fate must. Are the characters victims?


1. The Chapter outlines the downfall of Thingol and Doriath, as the prophecy of the Valar continues to unfold. Our stories have been largely tragic? Does Tolkien envision optimism as at all possible on earth? The first paragraph opts for...?
2. The release of Hurin (father of Turin), while seemingly An act of compassion (from Morgoth?), Is obviously meant to further Morgoth's plans. Ironically, it is subcreation in reverse, a kind of sub-destruction in which those whom Morgoth controls do his bidding, sometimes unknown to them, as with Hurin when he reveals the location of Turgon's Gondolin to Morgoth.
3. What does the death of Morwen cause in Hurin?
4. Dragons personify lust and greed, and Tolkien's Christian-romantic perspective would obviously eschew such conduct as it destroys all involved. Here revenge and the lust for treasure cause conflict between man (Hurin) and Dwarf (Mim). Mim is slain, and "one thing only" (p 285) is taken, the NAUGLAMIR. Why? What does Hurin do with it, and are there any Beowulf parallels? Give an Aristotle read to the fate of Hurin.
5. Are the events directed by forces over which the characters have no immediately knowledge, much less control? Greed breeds greed. What does Thingol wish to do? Discuss the result, noting how Tolkien flashes back to the creation myth. What is the intent? (p. 288). What is the result? What is the cause of Thingol's death, morally, and what are the macrocosmic implications (p.289)?
6. Do the events described effect what happens to Doraith and Thingol? We are reminded of the ancestry of Melian, but what befalls her after Thingol's death?
7. Note that Tolkien's afternote on the BATTLE OF A THOUSAND CAVES, reads, " has not been forgotten?" Who remembers in LOTR?
8. Does the disposition of the Silmaril have autobiographical significance for Tolkien?
9. Dior, son of Beren and Luthien likewise lusts for the jewel, and more carnage follows. Tolkien poignantly calls it, "the second slaying of elf by elf." (p. 292). What is the final disposition of the Jewel?
10.Does Tolkien weave into the narrative an inevitable sense of doom? Do you think he believed that man could not overcome evil and horror. Such of course might be a read of his Anglo-Saxon pessimism, but what of his Catholicism?


1. Tolkien's hatred of technology and its anti-romantic destructiveness dominates the chapter.
2. Huor, brother of Hurin, had a son by Rian called Tuor who seeks at Ulmo's bidding, the hidden elf city of Turgon's Gondolin, for reasons stipulated later in the chapter. What are they, and what do they offer relative to the last question of the previous chapter?
3. A Biblical allusion might be to the Tower of Babel. In what should the created NOT put their hopes?
4. How is the work of Melkor evident in Maeglin? ( With what archetype is he associated that Tolkien usually employs to dramatize evil?) (p.299). Recall Chapter 16.
5. What accounts for the treason of Maeglin? Have we been prepared? Compare Richard III.
6.Anglo-Saxon virtues and vices predominate, especially in the Glorfindel-Balrog conflict, that also prefigures a similar contest in LOTR How does Tuor earn distinction?
7. There can be no doubt that Tolkien intended a direct connection between the cyn-slaying by Feanor and the activity of Morgoth. See the paragraph beginning, "But Morgoth thought..."
8. As the chapter ends, Tolkien would seem to even limit Manwe's power and influence; why?
9. What unique distinction is afforded Tuor?


1. Along with TURIN, this chapter presents an Anglo-Saxon perspective, but with a distinct Christian / Catholic perspective dervied from Cynewulf's Crist: from the trial come hope:

"Hail Day-Star [Earendil]! Brightest angel sent to man throughout the [middle] earth, and Thou steadfast splendour of the sun...Now we are full of hope and put our trust in Thy salvation..." (Charles W. Kennedy translation)

Earendil, son of Tuor and Idril and spouse of Elwing, (from whom will be born Elros and Elrond) vowed to seek aid from the Valar against Melkor. Three times he tried to sail, and he was finally rescued by Elwing. His ship, with the Silmaril affixed, is a sign in the heavens as hope to all of those in Middle Earth. His sons (Elros and Elrond) became King of Numenor. The Valar respond to the plea and Melkor was destroyed in a great flood.
2. Is Elwing correct in thinking that " the Silmaril lay the healing and the blessing that had come upon their houses and their ships?"
3. What happened to the Silmaril? Is the answer an instance of divine intervention? Water imagery is important?
4. Does the presence of a virtue Tolkien most admires and will play no small role in LOTR influence events in this chapter, especially regarding the execution of the Oath when Elros and Elrond are taken prisoner by Maglor?
5. Why does Tolkien use the epic simile comparing Earendil and Morgoth? (p. 307)
6. Not for a long while had we dialogue from the Macrocosmic perspective. Mandos and Ulmo decree what? Is the doom similar to what Odysseus must decide on Calypso's island?
7. Has there been a conversion in this chapter that amounts to an important Tolkien theme, renunciation?
8. A very clear LOTR parallel emerged regarding Morgoth and Sauron. What is it? (p.310). The resulting conflict, THE GREAT BATTLE AND THE WAR OF WRATH, has an Armageddon like quality.
9. What happens to Morgoth that flashes back to an earlier confrontation? What happens to the remaining two Silmarils?
10. Does this chapter, the last in The Silmarillion, re-order the cosmos? Tolkien of course believes Jesus; "I will be with you all days, even unto the end of the world." The disposition of the three Silmarils and their possessors is important:

11. Melkor, although confined, has left a legacy in elves and men which, according to the text, "...that does not die and cannot be destroyed." The metaphor is from what Biblical source?







.Akallabeth-The Downfall of Numenor

1. This chapter explains the rise and fall of the Numenorians having been enslaved by Sauron. The men who refused to follow Melkor (the Edain) were given an island called Numenor, (Andor) and were called the Dunedain; their king was Elros, son of Earendil. Numenor, however, begins to resent the ban prohibiting travel to Valinor, and Sauron seeing an opportunity suggested rebellion. Is "history" repeating itself?
2. Those who did not rebel were led by Amandil. In the battle, the leader of the rebels, King Pharazon is destroyed, but earth is restructured. Aman is separated, and the island is destroyed. Is this Tolkien's conservative Catholicism?
3. In Middle Earth, however, Elendil, son of Amandil established the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Elendil's son, Isildur was an ancestor of Aragorn, and both of course figure predominately in the history of the ring.
4. Why is Earendil called "the blessed?"
5. Recalling Chapters1 and 12, does this chapter add details regarding immortality? When the travel ban is described, there is an allusion to Genesis. Recall the Tolkien interview. What did the Garden represent for him? Notice the allusion to the "tree." (Telperion), and Milton's read of the temptation scene in Book IX of Paradise Lost. Recall too what Campbell said; do the two disagree?
6. What exactly motivates the Numenorians to defy the ban? How is Melkor at work? Tolkien also alludes in this connection to classical Greece--what was carved on Apollo's temple?
7. Manwe's observation is important--in Greek terms, tragic disposition explains why the ban remains; what of the Christian perspective?( pp.326-327)
8. A sad consequence is a division of men? What happens that would be a good explanation for the origin of the GOTHIC perspective?
9. None of this is lost on Sauron. What weakness in men can he exploit, and as will be obviously important for LOTR, how does he begin? King Ar-Pharazon's relationship has been noted before. What is the fundamental error that good often makes with evil, unless the former is verycareful? What tactics does Sauron use that flashback and foreshadow how Saruman will behave? What is the one word that Tolkien always uses in this context? The equivocation Sauron uses is not unlike Satan in Paradise Lost to Eve, and Matilda to Ambrosio in The Monk. Tolkien obviously dislikes the gothic.
10. Does Isildur's act seem to differ from how Tolkien normally studies Genesis?
11. In time, King Az-Pharazon seems to prosper from his Sauron alliance. His successes seem to rival Hitler's of the 1930's-early 1940's until....? How does evil defeat itself? What does the king plan, and what is the result?
12. Is Amandil's conduct proper? (p.340) What will Elendil do?
13. What are the "seven stones?"
14. Az-Pharazon almost wavers in the assault on the Blessed Realm. Find a line that for Tolkien would most prevent that from happening: it is his primal sin? (As it is for Sophocles).
15. Illuvatar responds with a significant geographical change--what happens? There are at least two biblical allusions: Moses and the Pharaoh, and Noah? How?
16. Manwe, however, (see question 12), does respond, and in an act important for LOTR, does what?
17. What happens to Sauron at the end of the tale. What image is used that will dominate his presence in the LOTR?