Turgon Across the Age

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by Marielle, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Marielle

    Marielle Well-Known Member

    First of all, I want to thank cellardur for prompting me to think about Turgon's actions throughout the Silmarillion in a completely new light. It's definitely food for thought, but I think he can be interpreted in several ways, and we get the fun of deciding which interpretation we go with.

    To put my cards immediately on the table, I am sympathetic to the quasi-messianic take on Turgon that Corey proposed -- drawing on the early idea of Melkor feeling dread whenever he encountered Turgon in Valinor, if I recall correctly -- but for perhaps an unusual reason. If we take this tact on Turgon, we get to tell a story rarely told, and even more rarely told well (looking at you, George Lucas) -- the messiah that wasn't, the chosen one who failed.

    That being said, I think that cellardur's points should be considered, even if I would offer opposing interpretations of them.

    1. Now, I'm the first to admit I don't know the unpublished material -- or even the published Silmarillion, as well as some here, but I don't recall any sense in which there's a majority, or significant minority, or anyone other than Aredhel wanting to leave Gondolin. We certainly could go in that direction -- "we came to explore Middle Earth, and you've locked us in this one (admittedly lovely) valley?" -- but I tend to think of Gondolin like Doriath or Lothlorien, where almost everyone is quite content to stay and do the same thing for a millennium., which would make Aredhel's attitude the deviant one. Also, Ulmo did sort of tell Turgon to make a secret stronghold. I think letting Aredhel leave is an act of love, not favoritism, though of course those lines can be blurred easily.

    2. I'd never thought to contrast Maeglin and Hurin before! And I certainly can see the comparison. But Turgon is in a bit of a different situation with Eol and Maeglin. Gondolin's security depends on it remaining a dead secret. Turgon does not know Eol or Maeglin, and has every reason to believe Eol at least can't be trusted with the secret, that he would have no loyalty or fondness for Turgon or the Noldor to in any way risk his own neck to keep the location hidden. Turgon might not be perfectly fair to Eol, perhaps, but it's hard to blame him for being harsh to the man who kidnapped and impregnated his sister.

    Maeglin, I agree, is a bit of a more murky call. It's something I look forward to discussing more.

    3. I confess I don't recall what you're referring to here, with Idril. Is it something from the later unpublished materials?

    When it comes to the "brutal execution" of Eol, well. Yes. Turgon does order an elf executed, which is a Big Deal. But think about it from Turgon's view. This stranger, who professes to hate the Noldor, kidnapped a princess of the Noldor, Turgon's own beloved sister, "wed" her, and kept her and her son prisoners in his home for years. When they flee, he pursues, and demands their return. Even when he scornfully renounces his "rights" to Aredhel, he asserts his authority over Maeglin even to the level of Roman pater familias, and chooses death for his adult son. Then he brandishes a weapon in the king's own hall and attempts to strike down the kinsman of the king, wounding his own "wife". Then, he conceals that the weapon is poisoned, until the princess' wound festers, and presumably isn't exactly helpful in providing an antidote. Turgon has been offended as Noldo, King, and Brother -- is it any surprise he's not exactly merciful?

    Does that justify capital punishment? Well, if you believe it ever is, probably. But cellardur's certainly right to point out the aberration of elvish law and custom, and I think there's definitely a case that Turgon is acting in wrath against Eol, not justice.

    4. When Turgon rejects Hurin, doesn't he get a lamenting line about even Hurin falling under Morgoth's sway? So he underestimates Hurin, like Morgoth did. It's tragic, but I don't think Turgon can be accused of simply being callous here.

    Celladur's final point (in the original post), that emphasizing/building Turgon up too much could distract from his grandson is a good one. I'd like to think and talk more about that.

    All this is to say that I think we have a lot to think through and plan for Turgon's character arch. I look forward to the years ahead; but more pressingly, where do we think we need him at the beginning of Season 4?
  2. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    2. I thought Maeglin wanted to stay in Gondolin, being enamored of what he had heard from his mother in her own longing, and wanting Idril.

    3. Eol's execution is the first in recorded history I believe. Turgon wanting Eol dead might be considering that:
    Eol kidnapped and raped Idril, then tried to kill his own son, and wound up killing his "wife", does that count as kinslaying?
    For some reason, I'm in favor of Turgon killing Eol personally, to emphasize his wrath.
  3. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    On the other hand, what about Turgon makes Morgoth dread him?
    Marielle likes this.
  4. cellardur

    cellardur Active Member

    I am sorry and have been really busy this week so I have not had a chance to reply. I will give my thoughts in more detail.

    What Turgon has that makes him special, is he is Earendil's grandfather.
  5. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    Anyways, Turgon’s got to have some great amount of moral fiber, or his grandson would not have been chosen to be the envoy to the Valar.
  6. cellardur

    cellardur Active Member

    I am not sure it works like that. I will address the issue more later. Earendil is also the great, great grandson of Finwe, who was even more flawed and obstinate to the Valar than Turgon.

    I am not saying Turgon was Morgoth come again, in fact he was one of the most moral and upstanding of the Noldor, but out of the exiles he is not Finrod (beloved by virtually everyone), Galadriel or Glorfindel.

    He is an outstanding individual, but with flaws like all of the Noldor.
    Marielle likes this.
  7. cellardur

    cellardur Active Member

    I don't like this idea, because Earendil was always the Chosen One, like no other character in the whole of Tolkien's legendarium. He was special from the moment he is born and was eagerly awaited. Secondly we already have a story about an immensely gifted character falling: Feanor.
    Aredhel is definitely defiant and headstrong, but so are 90 percent of Finwe's descendants. I agree with you there is a thin line, between favouritism and love. In this case Turgon knew letting her go would cause trouble to his kingdom, but he chose making her happy over the future of his kingdom. I don't think this is a great decision especially when he won't march out for war, but allows it on the whim of his sister.
    I think kidnapped is too strong a word, there was some love between the two of them and perhaps Turgon was right in his decision, but his punishment and the manner of the execution is excessively harsh in my opinion.
    It's extreme to threaten his own nephew with death if he desired to leave the city. Maeglin never says anything, but he clearly feels a certain resentment about it. Huor and Hurin were given a chance to leave, after just a year (which is nothing to the elves), but he was told 'stay or die.'
    Turgon's behaviour is understandable. However, compare his behaviour to that of Eonwe (to Maedhros/Maglor), Frodo to Saruman, Theoden to Wormtongue or even Orodreth to Celegorm/Curufin. Those are just some examples of kings having every right to hand out the death penalty, but they choose mercy. Turgon had every right to hand out the death penalty, but I don't think Aragorn or Elrond would have thrown Eol off a cliff.
    Yet Melian tries to help him and even Thingol as proud as he is has pity in his heart for Hurin. Yes Turgon had his reasons, but again do you think Aragorn, Elrond or Gandalf would have turned Hurin away? The same people that gave Saruman and Gollum a chance for redemption?

    Turgon is noble and wise, but he is not going to be as noble as some around him or others will be after him. I think to try and paint him as a new Earendil does his character a disservice.
  8. MithLuin

    MithLuin Well-Known Member

    Concerning the death penalty in Tolkien's work, I think Gandalf's statement to Frodo is the gold standard. When Frodo points out that Gollum deserves death, Gandalf is quick to reframe the question:

    So, certainly, the noblest characters are going to follow this standard, recognizing that while they might need to pass judgement, they do not necessarily need to execute someone, as having the power of life and death over someone goes above and beyond what a ruler should do. But it does not go beyond what a ruler has a right to do. In other words, there is a difference between someone deserving the death penalty, someone having the right to enforce the death penalty, and having the death penalty be the right thing to do.

    As king of Gondolin, Turgon had the right. As an elf who was guilty of attempted murder and murder of the king's sister, Eöl deserved death. It's on the last point, of whether or not Turgon should have had Eöl tossed off the walls of the city, that Gandalf's condemnation would apply. But please note that while Gandalf is urging pity, he doesn't make a moral imperative of it.

    Eärendil is the messianic figure, of course. He's the one who is foretold, and who changes everything. Turgon, however, is the one on screen, and is therefore an appropriate target of prophecy. It's true that when Tolkien wrote about Melkor suffering disquiet whenever Turgon's shadow crossed him in Tirion, it was pointing to a more direct role for Turgon in Morgoth's demise. But it's still certainly true that, as Huor will prophetically point out, from him and Turgon a new star shall rise. The narrator of the Silmarillion can name-drop Eärendil long before his birth. We can't. We have to rely on a sense of destiny/prophecy/fate to build anticipation of the coming of Eärendil. And so, we're doing that through Turgon.

    Here is what we've done so far. Turgon's wedding occurs at the exact moment that Fëanor creates the silmarils. So, it's a bit...comedic...that Fëanor gate-crashes Turgon's wedding with his brand new jewels. But, hopefully we will have begun the connection of the fate of the silmarils with the fate of Turgon's family in that moment.

    Then, we have 'Melkor on probation' doing some fortune telling for the Noldor. Keep in mind that during this time, Melkor is not recognized as evil by most of the inhabitants of Valinor. So, it's a casual enough conversation, though it certainly ties into the unrest of the Noldor. At any rate, Melkor does not like what he sees in Turgon's future.

    Turgon is the one who looks back at Tirion as they leave, mourning its loss already.

    The way the Noldor in Fingolfin's Host find out they have been stranded in Araman is that Turgon has a prophetic dream/vision showing him the shipburning of the Fëanoreans. We have shown elves experiencing dreams/visions before, usually (but not always) tied to Ulmo, and so this begins marking Turgon out as someone in his generation who might be prone to that.

    And when the host of Fingolfin is deciding to cross the Helcaraxë, Elenwë and Turgon have a private conversation about the future of their family in Middle-earth. She expresses the need to go to Middle-earth in the terms of hope for the Noldor, for the future...and thus we see a hint that Elenwë may see their daughter Idril as having the key role that she does in bringing Earendil into existence and saving the remnant from the destruction of Gondolin. Nothing concrete will be said, but the idea of Turgon being a source of hope will be started.

    I don't think that any of this is too messianic, and I think that most of it does point towards a future destiny and does not focus on Turgon himself. I do think he will be a bit different in character after the crossing of the Helcaraxë, though. Certainly, we'll see more anger and bitterness and paranoia from him that we did not before. But by the time that Turgon gets around to building Gondolin, it will seem right and fitting that he do so. That source of hope for later is crystalized in leaving behind the suit of armor. Someone is coming.....
  9. amysrevenge

    amysrevenge Well-Known Member

    What if it *looks* like all the prophecy points to Turgon, but it actually has been pointing to Earendil all along? Would it feel like a cheap bait-and-switch, or clever misdirection/what-a-twist?

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