Feanorean Storylines

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by Marielle, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Marielle

    Marielle Well-Known Member

    Question: do we deem it wise to attempt to tell full, nuances, multi-season stories for each of the Feanoreans? There’s a rather large number of them still running around, even after this season’s finale, and I suspect it might be wiser to focus on only a few. I propose three:

    Maedhros: this one is kind of the no-brainer, and not only because MithLuin would hurt me if I didn’t include him ;). He’s the leader after his father’s death (incarceration aside), and one of the last two. He’s making many of the decisions, and seems to struggle most with the Oath. Also, several of his other brothers (Maglor most especially, but Caranthir as well) are partially defined by their relationships with him.

    Celegorm: first and foremost, this keeps Huan front and center. You think I kid, but Huan’s aliénation from Celegorm has the potential to be one of the most pathos-filled stories we tell. Celegorm also offers a very different take on the Oath, but must have been, in his own way, as virtuous (in the old sense) as Maedhros to attract Huan in the first place.

    Celebrimbor: one of our longer-term characters: as a grandson of Feanor, but not personally bound by the Oath, Celebrimbor offers a perspective at once inside and outside. We also might want to flesh out his story— and his reactions to all the death, destruction, and loss around him— to explain why the Rings and Anatar seemed like a good idea at the time.

    This is just Feanoreans, mind: this doesn’t touch which others of Finwe’s progeny to focus attention on, much less others Houses of Elves or Men.
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  2. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    Well obviously I think we should tell all of their stories :p

    But I do concede the point that some of the stories are more nuanced than others, so deserve more of an arc, more screentime, and more development.

    Caranthir is mostly a one-trick pony. He is proud and anti-social and speaks his mind when he really shouldn't. So, other than being the world's worst diplomat, he doesn't have much characterization, and....not much of an arc. He was proud and anti-social in Valinor, and he'll be proud and anti-social in Beleriand. Sure, he has stories. He is the Fëanorean who befriends the dwarves and the Easterlings (though 'befriend' may be a bit strong of a term there) and he's the one who is impressed by Haleth. He's the one who publicly accuses Angrod, and prompts the Fëanorean move to parts east - why don't you settle in Thargelion, Caranthir? It looks to be a nice land, and far, far away from all of the other elves. But we don't have to develop him much or get to know another side of him. He's the brother without a partner in crime (Maedhros has Maglor, Amrod has Amras *sniffle*, and Celegorm has Curufin). So he can be on the periphery of others' stories, mostly.

    Maedhros goes through the most character development. We had his friendship with Fingon to make him stand out in Season 2 (he obviously is more in favor of peace between the families than in continuing the feud), but what really sets him apart is his time as Morgoth's captive. He comes back from that changed, and in a very obvious way - he's maimed, and you do *not* want to face this guy in battle after that. His spirit has burned through a bit. The burden of the Oath combined with his personal goal to keep peace among the Noldor leads him into some impossible places. He wants so badly to have both - to keep his Oath, and to make sure the elves are all united against a common enemy. Ultimately, that fails utterly on all counts, though the reasons it fails aren't entirely his fault. Thingol was never supposed to lay claim to a silmaril - that destroyed all the delicate balances Maedhros was using to keep the Oath pointed at Morgoth (and only Morgoth). While the quest of Beren and Lúthien should be viewed as a triumph, it's very much the tragic landslide for the Fëanoreans, and leads directly to both the Unnumbered Tears and the remaining 3 kinslayings. We need a character to feel the despair of that on the side of the Fëanoreans. Maedhros is that guy.

    With the death of Amrod, Amras is suddenly available for a story arc in Beleriand now. Tolkien didn't give him one; but we can. I think that if we tragically slay his twin now so that he has to go through the whole First Age alone, then...we owe it to him to finish that story. We can't just leave him hanging. What propels him forward, what choices does he make, and how and when will he die? I do think we should keep him until the Havens, but...there's a wide open field there. We need to do something with him. I think he will gravitate towards Caranthir a bit, which should work with him being both adrift and bitter.

    Curufin is another one who is most interesting in relation to others (not on his own), and there is little change to his character or his story. He is Atarinque, 'Little Father', and the only son who chose his father name rather than his mother name to be known by (Curufinwë is also Fëanor's father name). So, until the death of Fëanor, Curufin is essentially Fëanor's yes man, though he does show himself to be clever in his own right. After the death of Fëanor, we will mostly show him as Celegorm's shadow. The two of them are always together, and Curufin is the brains of that operation. It's his plot that (essentially) usurps Finrod in Nargothrond. And one can see his hand in the decision to challenge Dior for the silmaril. We are told that 'not all' of the brothers accepted Maedhros' decision to recognize Fingolfin as High King - it's fairly certain that Curufin is the strongest in the opposition camp. While we never see Curufin *directly* challenge Maedhros' leadership, it should be clear that he's working at cross purposes to him at times.

    Maglor is easily lost in Maedhros' shadow. The things that make him stand out are all a big deal, though. As a musician, he is solely responsible for maintaining that the Oath does not make barbarians out of the Fëanoreans. They're fallen, certainly, but not incapable of producing beauty. We don't know when he composed the Noldolantë, but he is obviously able to face what he has done and acknowledge it with some honesty and remorse. He also is the only one who ever proposes breaking the Oath. He urges Maedhros to take it back at the end. Obviously they do not, and Maedhros' fears (of taking the Oath to Valinor where it is unfulfillable) overrule him, but...he had at last got to the point of realizing that it might be better to break it than keep it. And he is the one who fosters Elrond and Elros (according to the published Silmarillion), and that decision is huge. He also is the only survivor. He lives through the First Age. He witnesses the deaths of his father and all of his brothers, but he does not die. So, he is the witness left standing at the end. We will surely give him at least a cameo in the Second Age, where he learns what became of Elros and what Numenor is like....

    And yes, we need Celebrimbor, because he is our other survivor. He also breaks with his father (though not the House of Fëanor) after Nargothrond, and we'll need his voice there.

    And Celegorm has a dog; we mustn't forget him :p
  3. Brian Dimmick

    Brian Dimmick Active Member

    Maedhros and Celegorm/Curufin will have the most natural screen time, as they are heavily involved in a lot of the major events, so they seem obvious choices (and Celegorm is a bit more interesting than Curufin because of Huan). I like the idea of showing the change in Maedhros after his rescue. He is changed and in many ways more noble and wise, but that is always marred by the Oath, and more so as time goes on. Caranthir I agree doesn't cry out for too much individual character development or separate storyline. I'm torn about Amras. I see the power in developing his grief over his brother and how that affects his character, but he doesn't have that big a role in many of the First Age stories and I'm hesitant to insert him into too many of these stories given all of the other characters we have to keep track of. I think we can do a lot to convey his emotional state and thinking with relatively little screen time.

    The prominence of some of the brothers changes as we get later in the series. Especially from the entrance of Men until the Nirnaeth, we have tons of characters running around and we may not have a lot of screen time to devote to the Feanorians. But as other characters are killed off they become mroe prominent and their storyline more important. We can spend some time fleshing them out before the sack of Doriath, and Maedhros, Maglor and Amras all have big roles when we get to the Havens. (So, for example, we can do a lot with Amras there without having to have him play a big role in the intervening seasons). I also see Celebrimbor being a relatively minor character early and growing in stature as the other FEanorians fall--his character arc starts relatively late and will of course extend into the Second Age.

    One thread that should flow through all of this is showing the relationships among the Feanorians--they start off as completely united in opposition to Morgoth and dedication to their father, but as the seasons go on they begin to drift apart because of the effects of the Oath and the bad choices they make. They seem to more or less split up when they go to east Beleriand, and we could show developing tensions and even suspicion of treachery among them. We also need to find ways to make the more nuanced in the later seasons--I worry that the audience will perceive the Feanorians (with the possible exception fo Maedhros/maglor) as basically villains, and while their deeds do justify that to some degree it makes them less interesting.
  4. Marielle

    Marielle Well-Known Member

    As usual, you said it better. Is it better or worse to characterize some of the Sons as either Primary or Secondary Characters? Maedhros is just so much more interesting than Caranthir, who, as you said, is a bit of a "one trick pony".

    Another reason I think we should focus somewhat on Celegorm -- above and beyond him "having a dog" :p. While none of the Sons are really "good guys", after the Kinslaying and everything else, as you and others have said, Maedhros and Maglor will likely have some sympathy until the very end. But the rest could easily become caricatures of villainy: Celegorm might be our best option for combating that. As MithLuin has heavily suggested elsewhere, he might very well have avoided his dark fate had he ended up with a different dark-haired princess than the one he ended up trying to pursue/kidnap. And Huan loved him. There's so much potential there, and I can't help but want to explore all the twists and turns in his tragic fall. If we pull it off, the audience would be weeping both when he deceives Luthien and when Huan abandons him.

    Though, if we fail, Celegorm is perhaps of all the boys holds the highest risk of becoming a "Draco in Leather Pants"... but maybe we can embrace the bad boy in him? In some not-trite way? Is that even possible anymore?
  5. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir should definitely be portrayed as 'bad boys' - but I agree that straight-up villains is not the way to go. It becomes frustrating when writers do that. For instance, I've watched the first two episodes of the History Channel's "Knightfall" (Templar knights, early 14th century France), and King Philip's adviser is this - a conniving, untrustworthy, ruthless, faithless villain. Which, okay, fine, the show is allowed to have a villain, and an ambitious dishonest adviser is a type. But. The guy is so smarmy, that anyone who trusts him (even a little) looks like an idiot. And if he's supposed to be achieving his goals by maintaining an honest facade, it seems rather counterproductive to be so openly and brazenly in it for himself. In other words, by episode 2, I am so done with this guy. There are other characters who have fatal flaws, who are betraying someone, or who are rather disagreeable characters. But they have mitigating circumstances or characteristics to at least have more going on than 'super blatant villain'.

    The Hosts have more-or-less insisted that Caranthir have no arc - that he be as villainous as he is going to be from day one. But that doesn't mean we have to portray him as entirely unsympathetic, nor make him push old ladies out of life boats or anything like that. Cold, proud loners...can become lonely. We can see his disappointment in his alienation from his brothers (particularly with Celegorm and Curufin being so tight with each other, and with Maedhros being so openly disgusted with Caranthir's lack of tact). This could become his motivation in joining with them in the attack on Doriath - at least when it comes to the Oath, he's an equal member of the family. We can see his genuine sorrow over his lost chance with Haleth - his realization that, oh, hey, there is more to this younger race of Men than I gave them credit for, and now I'll never get to know this person. That could fuel his desire to make allies with the Easterlings later, and they in turn must find some weakness in him to exploit so that he does not discover their duplicity. [Flattery gets you everywhere, but what more than that lets Caranthir be duped here?] As long as we tell the stories he is in thoughtfully, I think we can avoid making a caricature out of him. He doesn't need to be likable, nor should the audience view him as redeemed of his wrongdoings, but if they think he is straight up evil (in a story that also includes Gothmog), then we've really dropped the ball.

    Celegorm certainly does have a downward trajectory. He doesn't start the way he ends. He comes across as a bit of a jock - someone who does not think through the consequences of his actions, and someone who is used to his looks/strength/position getting him what he wants easily. So, while he can be brutal and callous, it isn't a deliberate/intentional thing. It's when he stops getting what he wants that we see a darker side of him. In the published Silmarillion, the first loss for him is his father's death, and that is closely followed by Maedhros passing up the crown. We are adding in the death of his little brother at Losgar. But by early Season 4, we should be seeing some anger in Celegorm that was not there in Valinor (despite the Fëanoreans having felt wronged in the whole exiled-to-Formenos thing). He probably always had a temper, but this would be different - simmering dissatisfaction with some lashing out. That is another important reason to tie together Aredhel and Lúthien. We know that Aredhel is friends with Celegorm and Curufin...and we know that half-cousins isn't incest for elves. Obviously, nothing happened between Celegorm and Aredhel, but that doesn't mean he was never interested. He (and Curufin) are angry with Eöl, certainly, for very obvious reasons, but I want there to be some simmering anger on Celegorm's part - maybe not stated in so many words, but certainly the idea that Eöl stole something that was his, and he's never going to forgive or forget. That makes his reaction to Lúthien...reactionary. Would he have gone the kidnap route if Eöl/Aredhel had never happened? Maybe not. And, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers aside, we obviously aren't going to portray marriage-by-kidnap in a positive light, so to avoid making Celegorm look simply like a possessive creepy jerk (I mean, he is, but...), we can see a bit of the background to understand what is going on with him there. And in the final (for him) confrontation with Dior, we can see that Celegorm never let go of his claim on Lúthien, and he very much resents that she went and had a son with Beren. He ends in a fairly dark place (yes, it's a vault in an underground cave, but you know what I mean....) In other words - sure, portray Celegorm as a fallen villain (especially from the time Huan leaves him), but give him reasons for acting the way he does, and let the audience see the bitterness and pain and anger that is behind the rashness so that it does not look like some sort of intentional cruelty. Celegorm is capable of great cruelty - but he's not sadistic, and he's not doing any of this for the fun of it.

    Curufin is the hardest. He's not necessarily the most evil, but he's the most calculating of these three. He is making conscious deliberate choices that he knows have nasty consequences...and he's egging others on as well. Celegorm may not have fallen as far as he did if Curufin wasn't standing at his shoulder giving him bad ideas. Nargothrond may not have taken the turn it did if Curufin didn't talk them all into fear and secrecy at the expense of their king. He's got his father's gift for convincing people that spectacularly bad ideas make perfect sense. So...what's in it for him? Is he some sort of villain who enjoys watching the world burn? Is he trying to prove something, trying to be his father's equal and feeling like an inadequate failure? What is his deal? His father is the greatest craftsman the elves have ever seen, and his son is the greatest craftsman of the 2nd Age, but...what is he, exactly? We show him as his father's confidant before the shipburning - thus implying that he's far enough gone to still be seeing eye-to-eye with crazy paranoid Fëanor. And yet he never says or does anything to imply that he's crazy or lost his reason at any point. So...what do we do with that? I think we need to show some unforgiving resentment of Maedhros passing up the crown, but I don't think that alone explains Curufin.
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  6. Marielle

    Marielle Well-Known Member

    I think you're on to something, suggesting Curufin feels he has to fill his father's shoes. After all, he shares his father's name, and that's important in Tolkien-world.

    Perhaps he wouldn't have felt that way at first, but Maedhros first gets captured and is kept for a really long time, and Maglor is kind of a disaster as "king", so Curufin might start to think of himself as the "real power behind the throne", until Maedhros comes back and betrays all his hard work by submitting to Fingolfin. Nargathrod could be equal parts ambition, sticking it to the usurper Fingolfin, and thumbing his nose at craven-and-weak Maedhros.

    Even before Feanor's death, if Curufin defines himself in some way as his father's second, that could explain a lot about why he's willing to do and listen to what he does.

    EDITED TO ADD: I think that, if we did/do this right, all the sons (with the executive-demanded exception, perhaps, of Caranthir) should be someone we'd like to know and likely envy/admire back in Valinor, and their fall from our admiration should be gradual, and maybe they never fully fall out of our hearts. I'm okay with the idea of teenage girls weeping over Celegorm's or Amros' death, even if they've become horrible people by that point.
  7. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    It's an interesting aspect of modern society that we consider murderers to be horrible people whom you must recoil from. This is mostly possible because few of us know anyone who has killed another human being, let alone a murderer. In more violent societies, you have to learn to deal with many of the people you know being murderers. You can either accept them (with their flaws) or not, but you probably don't have the luxury of automatically writing off all murderers as complete outcasts.

    One sees this with the recent spate of sex scandals. Many people are being condemned for supporting friends/colleagues by saying 'he always seemed a decent guy to me' or 'I never saw any of that horrible behavior.' Which, while no doubt true, hardly demonstrates anything - but does demonstrate an expectation of social shunning (at the very least) for such egregious behavior....which is all well and good, until the accusations become too numerous to actually do so. We're hardly to that point - most people are given the benefit of the doubt until the accusations pile up ridiculously, and have to start over with proving to a new group because that 'never happened here'. But if you actually know someone who has been accused (or even convicted) of a crime, then you realize that that is not the *only* thing you know about that person, and the knowledge does not in any way negate the other things they've done.

    The Noldor do not have the luxury of writing off everyone who has blood on their hands from the Kinslaying. It's not just the Sons of Fëanor - plenty of elves in other places are guilty, too. In our story, the High King himself, though he did break his sword in Araman. Even demanding repentance isn't a thing that can be enforced outside of Doriath.

    TL;DR - Problematic faves are a thing, carry on.
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  8. amysrevenge

    amysrevenge Well-Known Member

    Regarding poor Amrod - have we decided whether or not he has consciously broken the Oath, or merely gone against his father's wishes, in the moments before his death? If it is the former, perhaps we could see his twin take a similar stand before his own death.
    Wait skip this. I forgot what happens with Amros/as at the end. Never mind.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  9. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    Gathering other discussions about personalities and trajectories:

    All the brothers started out as decent people in Valinor. They were guests of Aulë and Oromë. Curufin, Maglor, and Caranthir (yes, Caranthir) were married. Celegorm was given Huan as a companion/follower. All of them fall, but none seem to become ‘complete monsters’ – Eöl is the only Elf who’s given not one redeeming feature or scene, ever. Yet, three of them become extremely nasty, truly awful people with almost nothing to keep them sympathetic. For several, their redeeming features lie almost entirely in opposing Morgoth and not being as bad as Orcs, as in their lack of omnicidal hatred, sadism, etc.

    They do all have the potential for interesting character arcs, except perhaps Caranthir, because they all fall and some then show remorse and even try to redeem themselves. But in a cast of hundreds they don't all need a focus. Caranthir apparently has no arc other than 'he fell', and therefore no need for focus, except in the canonical scenes where he plays a part.

    I agree Celebrimbor needs character development, as the one Feanorian who’ll be a major character in the Second Age. It will be pretty interesting to show him in Nargothrond – his relationships with Orodreth and Túrin, his rejection of his father, his somehow gaining entrance to Doriath with the other refugees, and his [presumably] siding with Doriath and the Havens against his own family. For the earlier seasons he doesn't need as much -- enough to show he is not really in sync with those who swore the Oath, in thought or word. One interesting character observation by Tolkien is that he shares the Dwarves' "obsession" for crafts. While his father and uncles are mostly focused on war and feuds, to paraphrase Tolkien, Celebrimbor really mostly just wants to make beautiful and amazing things.

    Curufin and Celegorm:
    I agree they and Caranthir should not be as evil as Orcs, but absolutely not good guys either. And I don’t want to end up with “Draco in leather pants.” In the Grey Annals none of Maedhros’ brothers agree with giving the Kingship to Fingolfin, but Curufin and Celegorm are probably the most resentful and unhappy about it. And they’re not going to win that argument with Maedhros, so it just simmers for centuries. I like the idea of Curufin being ambitious to fill his father’s shoes.

    But their actions were not only Curufin's idea. Celegorm stood up and spoke first, with drawn sword, after Finrod's public speech about the Quest for the Silmaril. Curufin was the third to speak.

    Fortunately Tolkien gave Curufin a ‘redeeming feature’ scene with Eöl in the Maeglin story. His screwups allow Eöl to find and murder Aredhel, and he only looks ‘honorable’ in comparison to the Worst Elf Ever, but it is something. Tolkien’s notes on that scene point out that he’s not murdering somebody he really, really wanted to murder, even though he would definitely have gotten away with it – the only witnesses would have been his followers, who would never tell. If you have a copy of The War of the Jewels, look in the Maeglin story. If we decide to give Curufin more than that, perhaps give him a scene working on a project with his son?

    Indeed. Yet it’s not Thingols’ triumph. Melian and Finrod both consider his demand for the Silmaril foolish and wrong, and they’re correct.

    I’m surprised by the very idea of letting him die before the Third Kinslaying. I think it’s very important to the character arcs of Maedhros and Maglor that they are not the ones who initiate that Kinslaying, but participate only reluctantly, and that their servants are not the ones who kidnap Elrond and Elros and threaten or plan to kill them. (Christopher Tolkien's word choices in the 1977 Silm make them look less repentant than in JRR Tolkien's original texts.) Amros can still have an arc – see below.

    This I do agree with. He doesn't need a ton of focus except in the aftermaths of Amrod's and Feanor's deaths, and once the Kinslayings start again. Yet, Tolkien left him with almost no characterization, and we could really take advantage of that to flesh him out.

    But that’s not true. Maedhros foreswears the Oath, and he and Maglor and Amros try for 26 years to break it. They endure 11 years of torment trying to break it. To me that's very significant, even in a way [tragically] heroic. They give in, but they all do try to break it... at first. (The number of years is from the post-LotR Tale of Years, in The War of the Jewels.)

    They all come to different conclusions at the end of that time. Amros apparently stops wanting to break the Oath. He had come to show some remorse – though his brothers may have had to persuade him to try to break it, he did try – but he attacks the Havens with determination. Maedhros hates the Oath and the kinslaying, but concludes that they're incapable of breaking it and resistance is futile. Maglor hates it at least as much, but still thinks it’s worth trying to break the Oath, and possible to succeed. After the last line published in his conversation with Maedhros at the end of the First Age, when he says they will do less evil in the breaking than in fulfilling and still go to the Void either way, Maedhros probably replied that breaking the Oath is flat impossible – if they go West, sooner or later they will be forced to start killing again, and if Maglor wants to do the lesser evil, it had better be done in Middle-earth.

    And I still want Maedhros to be the one to foster Elrond and Elros, like in the post-LotR text. It makes much more sense with his reaction to the Second Kinslaying (“bewailing” the killing of Dior’s sons, and trying to find and rescue them) than with Maglor’s reaction (which was clearly remorseful, but not strong enough for Tolkien to describe at all.) Maedhros tries and fails to save the sons of Dior, while Maglor doesn't. So logically Maedhros is the one who feels the most desire to help/responsibility towards the sons of Elwing. Plus Tolkien went back and forth on this endlessly, but the only word written on it after the LotR makes Maedhros the foster-father. Maglor is their music tutor, of course.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  10. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    For Curufin's influence on Nargothrond, I meant their absolute devotion to secrecy and not going to war until the time of Túrin. But of course there are other factors that influence that. Considering Celegorm and Curufin are indirectly responsible for the death of Finrod, it was always unlikely that Orodreth was going to join in an alliance called 'the Union of Maedhros'. Suffice it to say that Curufin left his mark there, albeit not single-handedly.

    As for the Oath, there is a difference between ignoring it/letting it be...and downright breaking it. I recognize that the 'delay' ate at all of the Fëanoreans after the Unnumbered Tears, but agreeing to go to Valinor and let the Valar decide whether or not they could have the silmarils back is definitely a pretty severe departure from the Oath. Because the Valar themselves are named in the Oath as people with no right to withhold the silmarils from Fëanor. That's why I consider Maglor's plan a step beyond simply letting the Oath sleep or go ignored. It's actively breaking it in a way that the passive delay was not.

    But yes, the Oath no longer sleeps peacefully with a silmaril in the hands of another elf, certainly. There is a lot of resistance to the idea of attacking Doriath and the Havens. I am not taking anything away from the effort it took to prevent/avoid future kinslayings. I am just saying that Maglor proposes going even further.

    Obviously, the end of the First Age stuff is very sketchy - Tolkien never fully told those stories, and there are multiple versions to refer to. I recognize that just going with his most recent thoughts makes sense, but we'll see what we want to do. While I am very much in favor of keeping Amras until his canonical death, we do have to acknowledge that the death of Amrod at Losgar would affect him significantly, and could alter his future story. Tolkien never incorporated this idea into the later material, so it could have altered it significantly. We need to think through Amras' story, and there could be possible versions where he dies in an earlier part of the story. I'm not suggesting this or advocating for it, just pointing out that keeping the story of the attack on the Havens unaltered while significantly altering the earlier story might not make sense. We have to...have a plan. Also, Dave Kale brought this up during the broadcast.

    I certainly like the version of Doriath where Maedhros is the one who is upset by the news that Celegorm's servants abandoned Dior's sons in the woods to die. So, he certainly has a motivation to accept the idea of adopting Elrond and Elros. But it is also true that Maglor is the more reasonable of the two surviving brothers, so allowing him to foster the twins while Maedhros still simmers in bitterness might make more sense. Maglor will be alive in the 2nd Age, so having him have a direct connection to Elrond and to Numenor would probably be neat, but probably not an important enough reason to keep the version in the published Silmarillion, since that would just be a cameo situation. We certainly have options here, though.
  11. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    I don't think "who is most reasonable" is entirely one-dimensional.

    Certainly Maglor goes the farthest against the Oath, and is the most reasonable about it. He still claims the Silmarils, but is willing to let the Valar take them away permanently, if he must. He almost, almost just accepts their judgment, and basically says he is willing to accept it even if he disagrees with them. That is huge. But I think foreswearing the Oath is also an explicit declaration of intent to break it, probably made again on the names of Manwe, Varda, Taniquetil, and Illuvatar. But Maedhros.... somehow... has so little faith in Manwe that he can't imagine the Valar might be smart enough not to summon them to Valinor without having a way to release them.

    That is, Maglor clearly became wiser and less proud, but I'm not convinced that Maedhros necessarily became any less repentant. He felt more despair for their ability to break the Oath. Ultimately, neither was repentant enough to do anything, anything at all to break the Oath.

    Can you think of a reason, if Maglor was the more interested in helping Elrond and Elros, why didn't he also do something to help look for Elured and Elurin? It doesn't really make sense to me. Not that he would have been happy they died, but I don't recall any version in which he does anything about it.

    Nor do we need to treat "who is the worst of them" as a one-dimensional measure. Caranthir has the worst temper, but seems less vindictive and vicious than Curufin and Celegorm become.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  12. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    I think that Maglor's motivation for adopting the twins is mostly the death of his own twin brothers (which is both of them in that version of the story) at the Havens. Regardless, this is the death of the last of his younger brothers.
  13. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    Which ironically could have saved them, if they hadn't stopped doing it. :p

    But you're right about it, of course.

    That's possible.
    I like to think that whoever raised them was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to make amends. I'd expect there to be some of that, for the boys to forgive and eventually come to love their foster-father.

    Moved from one of the Episode Question threads:
    Oh yes, I agree fear was their primary motivation there, and desire for the Silmarils the second. But IMO pride was there, too. And they could have sent Eonwe a letter explaining what they were afraid of and why they didn't want to rebel against the Valar in Valinor again, to see what he would say. That, I think, they failed to do from pride.

    The story of Maedhros and Maglor's last conversation could have gotten recorded in history two different ways. One way is that there were witnesses. The other possibility is that somebody, perhaps one or both sons of Earendil, found Maglor somewhere by the sea and he told them about it.

    I think both of them should be set up for a fall-and-redemption arc that's tragically cut short at the end when they fail to redeem themselves. I think it's a quite tragic story.

    So, what if he just cannot, ever, forgive his brothers (other than Maedhros) for Amrod's death? And he just refuses to hang out with them, including Caranthir. Or even works at cross-purposes to them, probably not in sabotaging the Union of Maedhros or the attack on Doriath, but in lesser things. So instead of living just south of Estolad, he lives closer to Amon Ereb, far from his brothers. When they get together for hunting or councils or Mereth Aderthad, he doesn't come. When they send letters to him, his responses are cold, or nothing. When they want to trade with the Dwarves, he won't let the Dwarves traffic through his land on the way to Himlad or Aglond, prompting them to prefer the road that turns north before it reaches Sarn Athrad (which ends up helping Caranthir, but whatever). When they invite Men to ally with them, he pointedly doesn't. He isn't in any other way abrasive or unpleasant on a personal level. It's just that he holds a grudge against those particular people who happen to be his brothers. Like a personal, one-man feud.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  14. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    Though Nargothrond going underground turned out to be the better approach, since Turin caused them to be wiped out...
    Faelivrin likes this.
  15. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    Also, I thought that Maglor, out of all of Feanor's sons, came closest to repenting of his crimes.
  16. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    I am certain that both Maedhros and Maglor genuinely, sincerely repented. That is not incompatible with their participation in the Third Kinslaying and their violent actions after the War of Wrath. They believed they were incapable of breaking the Oath, and had spent 11 years being tormented while trying to break it, wearing away their will to resist. That doesn't require them to think what they're doing is right -- they don't, they clearly feel terrible about it. Their motivations and actions should not be evaluated as though they were free to act on their consciences, because they certainly were not -- even before the Fifth Battle, they are described as "constrained by their oath". They did retain some free will, but were much less free to use their will than any human is in real life, except those who are actually broken by torture. Their actions do not represent what they wanted to do or what they believed was morally right.

    If "reluctant[ly]" giving in after 11 years of torment by the Oath means they felt no repentance, then (for consistency) we would have to make the same judgment of Gorlim who betrayed Barahir under torture -- clearly he was a fully willing servant of Morgoth! But we know that he was not.* The same thing happened to the last 3 sons of Feanor,** but they were tormented by the Oath they themselves had created, not by Morgoth. So of course it's all still 100% their fault.

    Christopher Tolkien reworded his father's texts in ways that remove many of the words relating to their choices and feelings, making them look much less repentant in the 1977 Silmarillion than in the original texts that JRRT wrote. Those texts were sparse to begin with, so there is less detail than we would want -- but to me it does paint a picture of guilt, remorse, and very great reluctance.

    I think that in their last conversation, the difference between Maglor and Maedhros is not (or only slightly) a difference in degree of repentance, but of hope and humility and faith in the Valar, vs. despair and pride. Clearly Maglor was right. But they both proceeded with "loathing and despair" to kill people again -- IMO loathing for the Oath and their deeds, or even themselves, not for their victims.

    I wouldn’t even assume, necessarily, that Amros wasn't at least a little remorseful. JRRT didn't use any of the same language to describe him, but he also endured those same years of torment. However I do think we should tell a different character arc with him so he isn't a repeat of his older brothers.

    *Except in the first version of the Lay of Leithian, where Gorlim deliberately seeks out Sauron.

    **And that brings up the question of just what Maeglin was thinking and feeling when he betrayed Gondolin under torture or the threat of it. We don't have to make him 100% unwilling and broken, but depicting him that way may not be inconsistent with what JRRT wrote (except in the Lost Tales).
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
    Marielle likes this.
  17. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    The thing Maglor almost did that his brothers did not, was to almost give up his claim to the Silmarils. He actually said that they should do so, if the Valar made them do it, and at least was willing to consider accepting it.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  18. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    I thought Feanor made the Silmarils. Which brings up an interesting question: Would Feanor, as their maker, be able to handle them? Or would his misdeeds prevent him from touching them?
  19. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    Faelivrin is saying that Maglor's argument was that they (Maglor and Maedhros) should give up their claim on the silmarils if the Valar told them to do so.

    There is one version of the story where Mandos' prophecy is that at the end of days, the silmarils will be recovered from air, water, and earth, and then Fëanor will give them to the Valar to be broken to relight the Trees. So, in that version, it's at least heavily implied that (given enough time to think over his choices) Fëanor himself would abandon the Oath, and possibly be able to handle the silmarils without damage.

    Technically, Beren shouldn't have been able to touch it either, though, and there is no mention that it burned his hand while he carried it in Angband.
  20. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I meant "if the Valar make them give up their claim". Sorry for not being clear.

    The Second Prophecy of Mandos is hard to reconcile with the later concept that Morgoth's return and the final battle will entirely destroy Arda Marred, and then Eru will build a new Arda Healed. Feanor presumably won't get resurrected until after that, having finally finally repented and become purged of evil... but then are we to suppose the Silmarils don't get destroyed when the rest of Arda ceases to exist? In any case the later story was that the Trees died "utterly" and couldn't be revived. But we can hope that Yavanna can make new Trees (and a new, clean Sun and Moon) in Arda Healed.

    In the meantime in Arda Marred, if Feanor hadn't died, I assume that if he had somehow gotten a Silmaril it would have burned him.

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