Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Elwing and the Silmaril

 “For Ulmo bore up Elwing out of the waves, and he gave her the likeness of a great white bird, and upon her breast there shone as a star the Silmaril, as she flew over the water to seek Eärendil her beloved” (About 2 pages from the beginning of Chapter 24).

As we finish our work with The Silmarillion, it is important to think about why certain stories come at the end of the text. Why is it important that the story represented in the quote above come toward the end of the whole legendarium? Remember that Tolkien could have chosen to write it so that it could be placed somewhere else. Why is it important that this story, with this image of Elwing as a white bird, come near the end of the whole?

1 comment:

Aulë said...

To me, placing this tale at the end of the Quenta Silmarillion allows the story to come full circle. For the Elves, everything fell apart after the creation of the Silmarils, the destruction of the Trees, and their departure from Valinor. They abandoned the Valar and slaughtered their kin, and the doom of the gems of Feanor continued to follow and haunt their race, but Earendil's journey is, in some ways, healing those wounds. He is returning to the Valar for help, bears with him one of the very gems which Feanor jealously refused to give up to them, and is rewarded by keeping the Silmaril and guarding the skies forever as a bright star. In a similar way, the image of Elwing as a white bird has ties to the swans that bore the Teleri ships to Valinor.