Here is the next installment in Mark-Edmonds journey through Tolkien. Some of the issues that he raises are thought provoking and add a new depth to the story that I’ve not considered.
“I’m amazed by the thoroughness of certain aspects of the Silmarillion. The fact that he starts at “”the beginning”” is impressive, and the amount of time involved is simply incomprehensible. Over all, the creation process is pretty impressive. It’s also very beautiful. Something I really like about this section is that the Ainur can’t actually see at first.
The one thing I’d like to talk about in this section is the whole situation surrounding Melkor and the nature of evil. Every good fantasy (and a lot of bad ones) has a foe, of course, and in this one it is Melkor. Tolkien creates the ultimate foe for his realm. And, when you think about it, the story really begins when things go wrong (Only a few paragraphs into it)–that is, when, “”it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself.”
It’s interesting that this evil is spontaneous–it merely “came into the heart of Melkor.” We should also keep in mind that he is the “mightiest,” the most greatly endowed with “power and knowledge.” What do you think of how Tolkien puts a determinist spin on ‘evil’ when Ilúvatar proclaims, “And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” So we end up with the sense that nothing is truly evil, since even when Melkor is at his worst, he’s merely the instrument of Ilúvatar. And I’m pretty sure Tolkien doesn’t even use the word evil in this section. Peculiar–no?
Before we go on, let’s note that the first sin–if we can call it that–in Tolkien’s universe is a lust for power and glory–that is, a dissatisfaction with the lot that Ilúvatar had given Melkor, and he was already the greatest among the Ainur. It makes me wonder what role megalomania, selfish pride, and lust for power will play as the story unfolds–and what consequences they will have.”