OK, I’ve been lagging here. Mark-Edmond has been doing a great job keeping up with me on The Silmarillion, but I have failed to post his articles. I need to be slapped.
Anyway without making you wait any longer here is the next one in the series.
For those of you who are new to the site, Mark-Edmond has never read anything of Tolkien, so he is reading through Tolkien’s books and making comments, allowing us to post them to the site. Follow along as he takes his trip through the Silarmillion, then the Hobbit, and finally through the Lord of the Rings.
Of Thingol and Melian
Here we have Tolkien’s first take on love in the Silmarillion. Thingol is drawn by the beauty of her singing, but it isn’t love till he sees her. Love at first sight. She’s indescribably beautiful, sings wonderfully, and has the light of Aman in her face, but what does she see in him? Tolkien doesn’t really say. She’s a type of goddess, a Maia, existing before Ea, while he’s an elf, born in Middle Earth. It seemed strange to me that she would “stoop” to the level of a Quendi. But then mythology is full of tales of gods and godesses falling in love with earthlings. Even in the Torah, Genesis 6 to be more precise, it says, “the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” They had children by them and they were the “heroes of old.” In Tolkien’s version it’s somewhat reversed and apparently an isolated instance.
Thingol and Melian’s is a fairy-tale love. Neither of them speak and neither had previous knowledge of the other, so it is either utterly without regard to virtue or somehow they are able to know each other and communicate without words. Wouldn’t it be nice if love worked like that for us? We wouldn’t have to bother with dating or pointless conversations. We could just know. Well, I suppose love can be like that…or so I’m told. Both people just know the other is right for them. And I guess that’s Thingol and Melian for you.
Their love, or the love spell between them, has its nasty side effects, too. It causes Thingol to forsake his people and his role as leader–not just for a short time, but for years. Just as in our lives, the love between two people relatively new to one another can result in the forsaking of friendships that have lasted decades. So perhaps their love story isn’t so different than the love we can know in our own lives.
Till next time, keep thinking.