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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » The Ban of the Valar (Page 2)
Author Topic: The Ban of the Valar
Hamfast Gamgee
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The Valar did seem to understand Elves better than mortals
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
White Gold Wielder
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I think you are failing to remember the source of nearly ALL our information about the Valar - the Elves. All of their actions / "intentions" / "thoughts" are through the filter of elvish tales. It's a layer that cannot be ignored. Then you go and lay your own mortal interpretation on top of that, and all of a sudden, Morgoth had free will - presumably in the same way Men have it.

I say it is not as simple a matter as that.

I offer this example: Imagine a typical old man. Experience has forged who he is. There is an ending to growth. His days of defining his character are over. He is who he is. Does a man of character suddenly become a liar at age 60? Ah, but free will... I say, there is no more free will in the matter. He has already made his decision freely. At some point, he cannot help but be what he has become - what he is. Perhaps a simplification, but see the truth there and bear with me.

Now, imagine the lifespan of the elves. Base treachery of Men seems so distasteful to those who have long since left their younger days behind. Days which they pine for, when the world was green and new, and all their decisions lay ahead of them. But they have since forged who they have become. The character of the elves is unwavering. Ah, but free will... There is no more free will in the matter. They have already made the decisions that determined who they are.

I venture even Galadriel's test with the One Ring wasn't as dramatic as the story made it seem from Frodo's point of view. I'm sure it seemed intoxicating and dangerous to Frodo, who was present for an ancient and powerful elf facing a new situation and a decision of character (probably the first in many long years). Yet she remained Galadriel - she understood in the end she could not help but be who she was. It was interesting to eavesdrop on the "internal" monologue, but I never, ever had any doubt as to what her decision would be. Did you?

Now try to fathom the innumerable years the Valar have existed. They don't have lives like we understand them. They are deathless. I think they are beyond lying about taking the garbage out as much as they are beyond joining up with Melkor.

And forgive my filter of Men showing itself, but their victories and failures I spoke of are all from OUR perspective. Or should I say our interpretation of the elvish interpretation of events. I would never feign to claim any sort of real understanding of the Valar, especially to be able to say "the Valar felt obliged to correct their mistake".

I would say the final nail in the coffin for "free will" as Men understand it applying to the Valar would be the Music. You can lose track of how many times events or decisions of Vala AND Elf were said to be "doomed" to happen. Even the history of Men began in a time when the Music was still said to be afore told and we were under its sway.

But that time has long since passed. This is the time of our dominion, and the visions of the themes that the Valar were given have all since come to pass. We are in the age of free will, but it is only meant for us.

As it was doomed to be. []

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Belthronding
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Super-meta awesomeness.

With a thunderbolt.

I agree the key is how we interpret the Music as told in Ainulindale.

From: Boston, MA | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Galin
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On a side note regarding Galadriel, Tolkien does note [letter 246] that Galadriel's rejection of the One 'was founded upon previous thought and resolve', and in a later letter [320, 1971] JRRT notes that she was a 'penitent', in her youth a leader of the Rebellion and at the end of the First Age still proud...

... but still [second letter] '... she was pardoned because of her resistance to the final and overwhelming temptation to take the Ring for herself.'

An overwhelming temptation suggests to me that this was a difficult moment, and that perhaps it was her former contemplation of the rejection of power that helped get her through it. The thing is, once again we have so much external stuff to deal with here, Tolkien changing his mind about Galadriel -- but in the early 1950s at least, as close to the writing of The Lord of the Rings as I can get, Galadriel was a leader of the Rebellion, desiring to rule a realm of her own [these ideas were taken up into the 1977 Silmarillion], and in The Lord of the Rings she is a Queen* or at least called one by Gimli [and noted as one in Of The Rings Of Power].

And now comes the test of ruling Middle-earth! Galadriel admits that she has 'greatly' desired to ask what Frodo offers, and that for many long years she had pondered what she might do should the One come within her grasp.


Admittedly one could shine both sides of the coin here, but I would say that Galadriel, through her long tempering, had become able to reject an overwhelming temptation, given that that temptation was:

A) arguably igniting the spark of Galadriel's great desire.

A1) whatever Galadriel had learned about the desire for power over other wills, she was still, even when Frodo arrived, preserving Lorien with Nenya.

B) and arguably 'magically' igniting that spark -- in other words, Galadriel is not here tempted by, for example, a mere path to power, but an artifact which actually played upon her desire for rule and power...

... in other other words: it's not like offering a billion dollars to an old man who had, in his youth, greatly desired to be rich and finally can be, even if in his middle and older age the same man has come to realize that money is not the source of happiness, for instance; but rather offering that with an extra force, of some measure, working upon him.

Or perhaps I am wrong about B? I always thought the One worked on people beyond the normal temptation, and with respect to the desire for power, making the powerful [like Galadriel] even more susceptible to its 'magic' in this regard.

I don't know if that disagrees with WGW necessarily, or with his main point even if it might disagree with something about Galadriel or her temptation of the One.

I admit the text itself [The Lord of the Rings] doesn't give the reader an explicit reference to how 'close' Galadriel came to accepting the Ring. She even laughs before her statements, after Frodo offers the One to her. But then again Frodo cannot know her inner mind at this moment, and perhaps Tolkien's style of writing here means to express what the Hobbit could not know: what Frodo writes in the Red Book arguably speaks to the two potential Galadriels here...

... after her first laugh she is beautiful, terrible and worshipful, but suddenly she laughed again and her very stature, clothes, and voice seems changed.

I wonder if the One had worked on her already in Lorien, and she had passed the test not to take it by force, but now came the ultimate test: freely given, or at least freely offered.

__________

*I'm aware that Tolkien would later reject Galadriel accepting this title, but that's part of my point above about Tolkien changing his mind, although in any event she still rules with Celeborn.


**incidentally, according to the text Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn [Unfinished Tales] in the Second Age Galadriel still, in my opinion, seems to 'fall' (in some measure) in Eregion where Gil-galad shines in his realm: she is founder and ruler of Eregion [now in a position of power and has to be ousted by the Mirdain] and seemingly allows Annatar to work with the Mirdain -- although in my opinion Tolkien eventually abandoned this idea.

[ 05-21-2014, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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White Gold Wielder
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Well written and argued.

The reason I didn't mention the power of the Ring's influence is because, well, I minimize it. It's really the subject of its own thread, and I'm too tired to bang one out now.

However, the effect of the Ring (however that may have been felt) does need to be considered in Galadriel's debate.

From: Chicago | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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