Tuesday, September 8, 2015

End of The Silmarillion

“If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos (Last page of Chapter 24).

What do you make of this quote at the end of The Silmarillion? What does it add to the legendarium that would have been absent without it? How does it relate to the very beginning of the text, if at all? Does it seem a fitting end to you? Why or why not?

3 comments:

Nienna said...

I quite enjoyed reading "The Silmarillion". I actually got ambitious over labor day weekend and read the entire text. Therefore, the ending I found to be quite intriguing. The ending is interesting because it brings back this idea of "marred" and "marring" that we touched on in class discussion. It seems as if there was a perfect plan by Iluvatar for how Arda was to be shaped in the beginning. However, throughout the text this ideal is continually "marred" and moves away from this original plan. This quote brings it back full circle by commenting on how Arda is not as it was meant to be. I find it interesting that the final fate of Arda is not revealed. I like this quote because it leaves some mystery and emphasizes the role of choice in acting out the fate of the world. The fate is not known and therefore cannot be acted on according to a revealed plan. Rather, the fate of the world is left to the character's own devices.

Oromë said...

When reading The Simlarillion, this ending felt curiously abrupt. It seems to set up the idea that there is something else coming, that a change shall come and amend the "Marring" of Arda, but it leaves readers without anything substantial. Once again, this quote brings me back to Tolkien's influences from Christianity, specifically the prophecy of the End Times. In the Gospels, Jesus says that no one knows the day or the hour in which he will return to redeem the earth except God the Father alone. This immediately came to my mind when reading these final sentences of The Silmarillion, for only Manwe and Varda know if the redemption of Varda is something to be awaited. I think that this ending intentionally leaves the story open-ended. As in the real world, time moves on past the point where the story finishes. Arda may be marred for now, but it may not always remain so. The ending, though a little unsatisfying, leaves the reader with hope that there may be restoration in Arda's future.

Lórien said...

I think that this quote speaks to the hope that all people must have in order to carry on. We need something to look forward to, something that we can work towards. Otherwise everything we do is pointless, and we need not continue. Hope is a very common theme, but one that I would argue is essential to any plot. It is always at the very base of a character's motivation.

This quote also brings to mind something that the narrator says at the beginning of The Silmarillion. Melkor disrupts the music of Iluvatar and the Ainur, seeking to take control of the song. But Iluvatar introduces another song of a different theme. This song works in coordination with the discord of the first song. The narrator says that Melkor's song "essayed to drown out the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn pattern." Iluvatar allowed Melkor's disruption to occur, but rather than letting it take over he used it as a part of his own song. Taking Tolkien's Roman Catholic background into consideration, this quote is reminiscent of Genesis 50:20, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people." What Melkor meant for evil, Iluvatar used for good. Just because Arda is marred by Melkor doesn't mean Iluvatar cannot make something good out of it.