I find Mark-Edmonds thoughts about the Silmarils fascinating. I wonder what Tolkien was trying to get at with the creation of the Silmarils. Obviously one theme is how something pure can be twisted to evil. But there is something more here that can be looked at.
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Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
At long last! The Silmarils! Tolkien titled this volume “The Silmarillion,” so something tells me these little fellas are going to be even more important than Feanor. But, at the same time, since he created them, whatever happens, he will have a hand in it. For without Feanor there would be no Silmarils…and therefore no Silmarillion. Perhaps this great deed, the creating of the Silmarils, is his supernatural act. Perhaps, this is why he sapped so much strength and energy from his mother at his birth.
What’s odd is the Valar’s reaction to the Silmarils. Apparantly, they couldn’t make them or hadn’t thought of it, or something. If he does something that the Valar can’t do, maybe he really is super-natural. What’s more, the Valar seem more finite here than in the Ainulindale or Valaquenta.
As for the Unrest of the Noldor, I like how Tolkien creates strife: the elves develop a kind of fierce pride (not unlike Melkor’s in the Ainulindale), so Melkor spreads insidious lies that fester and spread threatening different elves’ pride. For whatever reason, the elves don’t confront one another to sort out the truth of the situation. Their fears and defensiveness grow till they explode in an angry, armed, confrontation, that sorts out nothing and widens the conflict.
In all truth, by the end of the chapter I was suspicious of the goodness of the Silmarils. Feanor wasn’t “”enthralled”” by the Valar, but by the Silmarils of his own creation. These gems seem to create an incredible amount of negative energy. Melkor envies them, as do the rest of the Valar to a certain extent, and they seem to transform Feanor into a different kind of evil than Melkor. Melkor wanted to create something of his own apart from Illuvatar. Feanor created something apart from anyone else, something he believes is completely of his own doing, and it seems to have awaken a darkness in him. Is there a corelation there?
I keep coming back to the same question, though: How is it that the Silmarils–gems that contain the pure light of Aman–have such a negative impact on those around them?
On a different note, the most incredibly intriguing line of this whole chapter (for me) has to be the following reference to Feanor turning away Melkor, “And he shut the doors of his house in the face of the mightiest of all the dwellers in Ea.” From the rest of the book up to this point, I would’ve thought that somehow Melkor (and perhaps all the Valar) was significantly diminishing in his power/might. So that line is a nice reminder of just how powerful he (and the rest of the Valar) still is–and just how not smart it was for Feanor to turn him away so abruptly! I might add that my vote for the mightiest of the Valar would’ve been for Tulkas considering how easily he manhandled Melkor the last time they duked it out. Ah well.
Till next time, keep thinking,