Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Melkor = the Devil?

I had a couple questions concerning Melkor that I wrote down in class on Tuesday, so here's a little taste of them:

How is Melkor similar to or different from the Christian (or other religion's/worldview's) conception of the Devil? Does he really rebel against Ilúvatar? - or, what exactly is his "sin"?

It seemed to me at first that he's suuuper similar to the figure of Satan, but just to play devil's advocate (har har har), I found some things that go against that interpretation. For example, is it so bad that he had such a strong desire to create things of his own? Don't the rest of the Valar end up creating things of their own? I also found it interesting that after being put back in place by Ilúvatar, Melkor feels shame - the opposite of pride, Satan's downfall - then anger. Any other ideas?


Anna Adams said...

I guess Melkor is sort of like the Devil. He does rebel against Ilúvatar's wishes. I don't think it's so bad that he wants to create things of his own, but the way he creates the Orcs is pretty horrible. I would say his sin is that he wants power. He wants more power than any of the other Valar.

Richard Wentworth said...

It has occurred to me that these angelic beings are quite different from the angels (according to St. Thomas Aquinas) in at least one respect.

Thomas Aquinas wrote that the will of an angel is immovable, so the fallen angel is obstinate in evil. We know that Melkor's repentance was insincere, but we also know that Ossë repented sincerely.

There's an interesting difference between Melkor and Satan, then, in that Melkor might at least in principle be redeemed.

Austin M. said...

The comparison between Melkor and Satan is especially evocative of Milton's portrayal of the fallen angel in Paradise Lost. While pride is not the only facet of his 'Fall,' Melkor is given ample opportunities to redeem himself and only responds with further deception and evil. Pride disallowed Satan from repenting and returning to the fold of God. This is precisely what is seen when Aule creates the Dwarves. He repents and asks forgiveness for his misstep and Iluvatar grants his creation life. Melkor refuses to acknowledge Iluvatar as his better, continually attempting to usurp his power and raise himself to equal standing.