Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What if Luthien Lived?

One aspect of The Silmarillion I would have liked to see explored in class is the concept of Luthien living and dying as a mortal alongside Beren. The story of Beren and Luthien provides a moment of romance in the legendarium of Middle-earth, but it also provides an aspect of the story for future generations of Middle-earth to immortalize and idolize in a nonfiction fairy-tale. In a way, their deaths are equally as important as their lives and their journey to retrieve the Silmaril and claim their right to love. On Tuesday, I pondered the idea of rewriting the story of Beren and Luthien in such a way that, while Beren passes away as a mortal man, Luthien remains living and immortal. If the romanticism of her death was removed, her continued life would only remain significant should she make her way into the stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I thought about whether she would present herself as a central character, or whether she would be discovered living alone and isolated, grieving for Beren and cursing her immortality. Would she allow herself and her story to remain in the past, or would she live in Rivendell, in the House of Elrond, and contribute to the quest to destroy the Ring of Power? What sort of relationship would she have with the other characters? What are your thoughts? What significance does Luthien's mortal death contribute to Tolkien's Middle-earth? What effects would an alternative ending to the story of Beren and Luthien present to the overall legendarium?

1 comment:

Aulë said...

If Tolkien had chosen to write the story so that Luthien lives and retains her immortality, I would guess her continuing life would be similar to that of Arwen in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings: she would depart from her remaining family and friends and take to the wilds to grieve her loss, eventually fading away and losing her immortality in a different form, rather than becoming a full mortal.
However, I like toying with the idea of Luthien being a central (or assisting) character in The Hobbit or LOTR. She may have become a mentor figure for Arwen (Luthien is her great-great grandmother...) who influenced the choices she made regarding Aragorn, either scorning the mortal-immortal relationship because of bitterness regarding the death of Beren, or encouraging it because she knew the love and joy it gave her despite the accompanying darkness and sorrow. Then again, if she had continued living and not joined Beren as a mortal, there would have been no child, Dior, or Elwing to help Earendil....so who is to say there would have even been an Arwen?
It is also possible that she would have been a sort of second Galadriel: a powerful, beautiful, mysterious elf woman with ancient strength and memory that gives advice, gifts, prophecy, or just a place to rest, or perhaps even a foil to Galadriel: beautiful and powerful, but fallen and distraught, wandering aimlessly and overcoming those who chance upon her with her immortal grief and loss.