A Tolkien Virgin: Of the Darkening of Valinor - The Journey Continues
I don't know what I think of Ungoliant. It seems odd to me that she appears out of nowhere and no one knows where she came from. The idea that she could have been "one of those that [Melkor] corrupted to his service," is weak and practically ridiculous. Ungoliant was an elf? She was "corrupted," escaped Melkor and the other Valar and some how transformed into a giant spider? I don't think so. It's a good thing Tolkien has the "some say" introduction to this lame explanation to fall back on. This is the first time I seriously find myself pleading with Tolkien, "Come on! You can do better than this!"
But then, as far fetched as her possible origins are, check this: didn't Tolkien just get done telling us in the last chapter the Melkor was the mightiest being in all of Ea? If that's the case, then the idea that Melkor could be frightened of Ungoliant is downright silly. Either Tolkien has done a terrible job of describing Melkor up to this point or he's blatantly contradicting the description that he has clearly given us; with the way he tells us Tulkas captured Melkor so easilly earlier in the story, maybe it's the former.
The monstrous spider sucking the life out of the trees and draining Varda's barrels is great imagery, but that doesn't mean that Ungoliant's sudden appearance and "mysterious origins" make any coherent sense with the rest of the story. Are we to expect more beings with "some say" origins to keep popping up over and over suddenly to help the story along? I hope not. What's the point of telling an epic history if you're not going to use it?
I suppose even the greatest writers drop the ball sometimes.
till next time, keep thinking,