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Men and elves were the Children of Eru. The Valar were also 'children' of Eru so they were the older siblings, useful for childminding, taxi service, loans, advice and all the other things older siblings have to do.

Did they do a good job?

I don't think so. They held back valuable information, they ignored pleas for help, they delayed, they chastised without guidance and they basically let the kids wander off with the local psychopath.

Now, V, knowing what you know about Tolkien, do you really think he would have written such a bad part for the Valar? I think they were bound by certain laws by Eru, just as the lesser "children" were bound. They had to respect the freedom of the Elves and of Men, ie., they could not force themselves or overwhelm the world of these other children by their power. So they were rather reluctant to interfere in the various "dooms" that Elves and Men had. But I don't think that makes them bad. Just a bit remote at times. But remember also, the Elves always sang to Elbereth, so they obviously thought she was listening.
As is the case anywhere, you get good parents and bad parents. And sometimes, when it is time for a child to leave the parental home, you also have to be cruel to be kind. Like doting parents, the Valar loved the "Children", particularly the Firstborn. They wanted them close and protected. They knew Melkor intended mischief so they encouraged them to return to Valinor where they could be taught and be safe. There, they taught them a great deal of knowledge, and for a while had paradise on earth. When things went bad, they advised the Noldor to stay. When they refused, Mandos imparted his Doom. This was not a punishment, however. Of any of the Valar, Mandos had the best knowledge of the future. His Doom was pretty much just a premonition of what would happen if the Noldor followed Melkor to Middle Earth. By their actions it became a curse, and much of the wrong doing came about because of the Oath of Feanor and his sons, rather then the Doom of the Noldor, although both are closely intertwined.

On this score I think the Good Valar were good siblings. Those who tried to manipulate without giving choices, however, are considered as being evil (ie. Melkor, Sauron, Saruman).

The question arises of why the Valar gave so much time to the Elves, but very little to Men. Had they had their fill of the Children by the time Men awoke, and like an old toy had no use for them? I don't think so. It was written that the Elves were more akin to the Valar, while Men were more akin to Eru. I think they understood the Elves better than they did Men. The fate of Men was also hidden from them. Men frequently committed acts that the Valar did not understand, and frequently grieved. I think they realised that Men needed to have more independence in order to achieve their destiny than the Elves did. Also, when they realised how short lived men were, they propbably thought it kinder not to bring them to a world in which everything else is immortal. Again, then, I think the Valar did okay with Men. They did not simply abandon them, but left them to their best course.

After the sinking of Numenor, why did the Valar become so isolationist? Well, one, it would have been a pretty short book if the Valar had had interceded everytime something went wrong. Maybe, however, they realised they had taught the children enough by then, and that they now had to learn how to sort their own problems out. The Children had come of age, in other words. For the Elves, whose fate was tied to Ea, they had their home in Valinor, where they had their Heaven on Earth until the End, as was their fate. For Men, whose fate lay outside Ea, they had their own world in Middle Earth, in which they lived for a short while until their deaths took them to their own fate.
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On this score I think the Good Valar were good siblings. Those who tried to manipulate without giving choices, however, are considered as being evil (ie. Melkor, Sauron, Saruman).

All fourteen Valar seem good to me.

Melkor wasn't counted among the Valar after he started war on his brethren, and Sauron and Saruman are Maiar, not Valar.
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Now, V, knowing what you know about Tolkien, do you really think he would have written such a bad part for the Valar?


What's this obsession with good being absolutely good and bad being absolutely bad? Only a Sith deals in the absolute, remember? This is one thing that annoys me about Tolkien. Evil is shown to be completely evil. Orcs are ugly to look upon. They are corrupted, bad.. Why can't Morgoth be a great painter or say, Sauron a great singer? Apparently not. Because they're evil. Now as far as I'm concerned, it would be very very narrow minded of Tolkien to make the Valar absolutely perfect in all respects.

Mind you, I don't treat Tolkien as some kind of a legendary figure. As far as I'm concerned, he was a human who had great imagination. I can find a few 'faults' in his works. I see him being narrow minded about some things. Though, obviously, on the whole, I do love his works.

Anyway, great post Val, bang on target, as usual.
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Evil is shown to be completely evil. Orcs are ugly to look upon. They are corrupted, bad.. Why can't Morgoth be a great painter or say, Sauron a great singer? Apparently not.

In fact, Melkor was a great musician, even though his Morgothic chants kinda swept his fellow Ainur off his feet during the Music of the Ainur.

And Sauron was a great craftsman as after all, he was originally a Maia of Aul's.
Being evil did not negate the innate power held by Morgoth or Sauron. But, Floyd, you cannot fault Tolkien for writing from his own perspective which was both Western and Catholic. He did his best to write a "rousing good tale" that would interest very many people. But there are bound to be many aspects, based as these are in his background, which will not please people from other cultures. I don't think this limitation of Tolkien's is necessarily a bad thing. Knowing one's limitations and working with them is accounted a strength. I would pay good money to have Tolkien's talent and "limitations."
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The question arises of why the Valar gave so much time to the Elves, but very little to Men.

I think the answer was that the lives of Men flashed by so fast in the eyes of the Valar, that they didn't have much time to get to know them individually, whereas the Elves each hung around for millenia.

Sort of like us and fruit flies. We have an idea about them as a whole, but have no idea about whether there are any who like Nike over Adidas, are rooting for the Seahawks over the Redskins, like reading Tolkien, or who their famous authors are, or even if they can read.

There have been Sci-Fi stories that also describe what I'm trying to say here, those about abutting dimensions that occupy the same space, but operate at quite different speeds. Where were they to slow down to a crawl and speak, we would only here a slight buzz.
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Being evil did not negate the innate power held by Morgoth or Sauron.


I can't find any mention of any good qualities held by either. The only thing that's been made obvious is the fact that they used their powers for bad.

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But, Floyd, you cannot fault Tolkien for writing from his own perspective which was both Western and Catholic.


I'm not faulting him for that. My mere point is that if you're creating something as big, you would do well to at least try and understand what other cultures are about, before directly associating their rituals or whatever with the evil side. I think it is high time that we rose above such narrow minded approach and actually tried to understand what other cultures are about. This is what makes Tolkien just a normal human in my book. He would have been quite a legend if he had actually taken into consideration what other cultures stand for. Then again, this is just my view.

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I don't think this limitation of Tolkien's is necessarily a bad thing. Knowing one's limitations and working with them is accounted a strength.


I never said that it's a bad thing. But there's always a room for improvement Smile Smilie Though actually I wonder if Tolkien himself would see this as a limitation of his. I'm sure the thought never occurred to him. Wink Smilie

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I would pay good money to have Tolkien's talent and "limitations."


I already have paid the money Wink Smilie

Anyway, I do think that Tolkien's works are quite extraordinary. I just don't think the same of the man himself Smile Smilie
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I'm not faulting him for that. My mere point is that if you're creating something as big, you would do well to at least try and understand what other cultures are about, before directly associating their rituals or whatever with the evil side. I think it is high time that we rose above such narrow minded approach and actually tried to understand what other cultures are about. This is what makes Tolkien just a normal human in my book. He would have been quite a legend if he had actually taken into consideration what other cultures stand for. Then again, this is just my view.


I think you have to bear in mind what generation Tolkien came from. I've seen big differences towards cultural tolerance in my lifetime in this country. My parents, who lived through WW2 and come from a less diverse culture than is present today, still see Germans, for instance, as bad guys. Tolkien came from my grandfather's generation, a generation who lived through two world wars, and who were born at a time when England had very little cultural diversity. He began writing his books early in this period, too, before attitudes towards cultural tolerance began to relax.

Quite often attitudes we are brought up with take a lot of breaking as we get older. Now days people seem to understand better that life is more complicated than being able to personify evil as ugly etc. Tolkien simply came from a generation where that was not the case. Look at any old story and you will often see a similar flaw... Cinderella is beautiful under her grime, whereas her nasty sisters are ugly, Beowulf vs Grendel, etc. I think had Tolkien been born 50 years on, and still writing, his cultural attitude would have been different.

Can you all please try to ensure this thread stays on topic, and does not breach our rules on politics or religion
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Valedhelgwath wrote:

There, they taught them a great deal of knowledge, and for a while had paradise on earth. When things went bad, they advised the Noldor to stay. When they refused, Mandos imparted his Doom. This was not a punishment, however. Of any of the Valar, Mandos had the best knowledge of the future. His Doom was pretty much just a premonition of what would happen if the Noldor followed Melkor to Middle Earth. By their actions it became a curse, and much of the wrong doing came about because of the Oath of Feanor and his sons, rather then the Doom of the Noldor, although both are closely intertwined.


As for the Noldor and especially the Feanorians, I don't think it was that simple. I do agree with Vee here, why did they let Melkor walk around freely amongst the Noldor and allow Melkor to corrupt them? Why for example, did the Valar keep on insisting, pushing Fanor to hand the Silmaril's to them, if they knew this craftsman would never relinquish it? You can't have Fanor walking around on Valinor for so long and not knowing how he would react to it, especially also since Morgoth killed his father?

The Feanorians are not evil at heart, there was more going on, also on what the Valar should have acted on if they loved the elves so much..

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Grondmaster wrote:
I think the answer was that the lives of Men flashed by so fast in the eyes of the Valar, that they didn't have much time to get to know them individually, whereas the Elves each hung around for millenia.


I completely agree with this, I thought that Tolkien also states this.... maybe someone with the books nearby (or knows them in and out) can find that... if possible
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As for the Noldor and especially the Feanorians, I don't think it was that simple. I do agree with Vee here, why did they let Melkor walk around freely amongst the Noldor and allow Melkor to corrupt them?

Melkor was freed because Manw had forgiven him and believed him to be cured, because at that point Manw did and could not understand the evil inside Melkor, as Manw himself was free from evil.

From the Simarillion :
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Then Manw granted him pardon; but the Valar would not yet suffer him to depart beyond their sight and vigilance, and he was constrained to dwell within the gates of Valmar. But fair-seeming were all the words and deeds of Melkor in that time, and both the Valar and the Eldar had profit from his aid and counsel, if they sought it; and therefore in a while he was given leave to go freely about the land, and it seemed to Manwл that the evil of Melkor was cured. For Manw was free from evil and could not comprehend it, and he knew that in the beginning, in the thought of Ilvatar, Melkor had been even as he; and he saw not to the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.


Melkor didn't corrupt the Noldor, he only spread lies amongst them which caused strife between the Houses of Fingolfin and Fanor. This strife though, was later settled and Melkor unmasked as the cause of it all.
Corruption is for ever and can not be undone. Sauron, the Balrogs, etc. were corrupted by Melkor.

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Why for example, did the Valar keep on insisting, pushing Fanor to hand the Silmaril's to them, if they knew this craftsman would never relinquish it?

The Valar did not insist, let alone push him (Tulkas merely urged Fanor to answer immediately); they merely asked once, and accepted Fanors denial. Though the reason Fanor declined, was erroneous.

From the Silmarillion :
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'Not the first,' said Mandos, but they did not understand his word; and again there was silence, while Fanor brooded in the dark. It seemed to him that he was beset in a ring of enemies, and the words of Melkor returned to him, saying that the Silmarils were not safe, if the Valar would possess them. 'And is he not Vala as are they,' said his thought, 'and does he not understand their hearts? Yea, a thief shall reveal thieves!' Then he cried aloud: 'This thing I will not do of free will. But if the Valar will constrain me, then shall I know indeed that Melkor is of their kindred.'
Then Mandos said: 'Thou hast spoken.'


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The Feanorians are not evil at heart, there was more going on, also on what the Valar should have acted on if they loved the elves so much..

The Valar wouldve acted upon it, but Fanor did not give them time. While the Valar were mourning in the Ring of Mahanaxar along with the Vanyar, Fanor was speaking before the Noldor, swearing a terrible Oath and leaving Valinor - even though it was impossible for any Man or Elf to overcome a Vala.

Note that the Valar did not try to stop them at all, as that was not their right; freely they came and freely they could go, although the Valar advised them not to. Only after Fanor caused the first Kinslaying, the Valar took their hands off the Noldor who would not turn back (and rightfully so).
The Valar were supposed to only shape Arda not the thoughts and skills of Illuvatar's children...Ulmo was right along...the children should have not been brought to Valinor...but still you can't blaim them for trying to protect the children from Morgoth...
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Tolkien simply came from a generation where that was not the case. Look at any old story and you will often see a similar flaw... Cinderella is beautiful under her grime, whereas her nasty sisters are ugly, Beowulf vs Grendel, etc. I think had Tolkien been born 50 years on, and still writing, his cultural attitude would have been different.


Has it occured to anyone that maybe Tolkien personified good as being beautiful and evil as being ugly because he was going for a particular style of writing? Would the silmarillion really have the same mythological feel to it, if the elves had been fat little people with faces full of moles?

No that couldn't be it. It must obviously mean that Tolkien thought all good people were pretty and all bad people were ugly.

And as for attributing it to the time period when he was born, I've heard said elswhere something similar. The subject at hand was Elven marriage, and someone suggested that Tolkien wouldn't have had such "flawed" views on sexual relationships if he had been born about 50 years later. Think what you like, but I think that Tolkien had the wisdom to figure out his own values even if culture disagreed with him. I was born almost 100 years after Tolkien was born and I happen to have very similar views on the subject as Tolkien did. Now if some 18 year old from the U.S. can do that, I think J.R.R. Tolkien, who had far more wisdom than I do, wouldn't let society tell him what to believe.

If Tolkien was born 50 years later I don't think it would change his writing that much (except that in he couldn't have started writing the lost tales in the trenches of world war one, and that could have had a drastic effect, his war experiences definately seemed to have an effect on his writing) Tolkien was going for a mythological style where evil is dark and generally ugly and good is bright and associated with beauty.

Not all Tolkien's good characters were beautiful. In Leaf by Niggle, which isn't aimed for a mythological style, Niggle's just a plain old painter. And even in his Middle-earth writings, Hobbits aren't particularly great looking but they're generally good, the wild men of the woods don't get a very flattering description, but they're good guys. Feanor, Curufin, and Celegorm are pretty but they aren't the world's nicest people, are they?

Perhaps when we say Tolkien is narrowminded, it's only a reflection on our own narrowmindedness, that we can't see all the ways in which Middle-earth isn't, as they say, "black and white" Wink Smilie
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Has it occured to anyone that maybe Tolkien personified good as being beautiful and evil as being ugly because he was going for a particular style of writing?

The reason why evil creatures are generally ugly in Tolkien's works, is that they were originally created as a mockery of the good creatures, which had been created as indescribably beautiful.

In other fantasy works, there are 'evil' creatures that are hauntingly beautiful, for example the Drow in D&D universe or Melnibonans in one of Moorcock's many works.

There are many examples of good characters being Ugly or Dreadful... 

Dwarves are hardly beautiful and are not evil as also are some Hobbits.

There are also examples of bad characters being beautiful...

Anatar, the Sons of Feanor (some consider evil), the later Kings of Numenor were evil Tyrants, and so on.

This old argument seems a little silly. 

To me his writing in this way was natural of the time and reminds me of several faerie tales, Snow white's step mother was indescribably beautiful and totally cunning and evil, only when she took the potion did she look on the outside as she looked inside. It is just the showing of how even a thread of malice or any evil seems to naturally distort the person little by little until inevitably they cannot hide the dread evil of thought and intent and their features somehow absorb that and become ugly. It is like a pure glass of crystal clear water looking ugly as soon as a drop of black mud is dropped into it. The more mud the uglier the glass of water.

Perfectly put Lee Lee.

Anyhow, what is ugly??  A Wart Hog, a Wilderbeast, a Spider?  What is Evil?  Its all perspective and if we think about Gollum, as an example, he wasn't evil or ugly in the beginning of his life.  As with most things in the Tolkien universe nothing starts out Evil, bad or hideous.

CS Lewis points out in Mere Christianity, what is evil, but good corrupted?  Maybe this is the point that Tolkien is making as well?

 

I believe that it was a mistake for the Valar to call the elves to Valinor in the fist place.  It seems to me that if Eru wanted them there,he would have placed them there.  In my mind, the decision to bring them to Valinor was as perilous as the Noldor's decision to leave.  When the Valar made the decision to summon the Quendi to Valinor  thethe the Silmarillion tells us that " Mandos broke his silence, saying: 'So it is doomed.' From this summons came many woes that afterwards befell."

 

I wonder what would have become of men had the Noldor not gone to Middle-Earth to wage war on Morgoth?  Would the Valar have completely neglected men to become thralls of Morgoth?  I doubt that Morgoth would have just left men to go their own way.  After all, he desired power most of all. 

 

Anyway, I was very entertained by Vee's analysis of Valar as parents. 

 


 

That is of course very true Aylee, and an example of the Naivity of The Valar. The action of bringing The Elves to The West actually made Morgoths job a lot easier. It's frustrating, and not a few Valar could see that the decision was wrong. Ulmo knew that it would lead to heartbreak, but had to concede. I guess as with all of JRRT's writing, Eru had a plan and we must all go along with it. Perhaps if they had stayed in the East Melkor might have captured them all and do goodness knows what with them.

The Valar realized that Holding the Noldo back would do them more harm then letting them go.Also they thought that Feanor  and those that followed him would learn a valuable lesson.

What? How could the elves stay in middle earth? There isn't even any light there. If the Valar had not summoned the elves to Valinor then they would not have belived in the light. The Silmarils would not have existed for there would have been no Feanor in Valinor to make them. The Valar want to live with the elves. The Valar don't want to go to middle earth after Morgoth ended the spring of Arada. It would have been no problem for Morgoth to corrupt elves outside of Valinor, because only Ulmo and Orome even went to middle earth. I doubt that they could beat Morgoth at his own game.

I think the valar were too overprotected. They blinded themselves and the elves of not letting them know what the world is really like. In my opinion, the elves of Aman accomplished great things, but also suffered greatly in comparison to those who stayed in ME. The silmarils was a great achievement, but it came with heavy price. All who came upon them received nothing but sorrow. I think this represented how Tolkien felt of the industrial age. Mankind achieved great things during the industrial age but it came with a price. Nature was slowly vanishing away before his eyes.

Remember only the Noldor were affected by the silmarils,not the Vanyar or the Teleri,(except at the kinslaying  of alaquonde) I think that the valar only made one mistake,unchaining Morgoth.

Remember only the Noldor were affected by the silmarils,not the Vanyar or the Teleri,(except at the kinslaying of alaquonde) I think that the valar only made one mistake,unchaining Morgoth.

The silmarils affected more than just the Noldor. Everyone in Aman was lost the light of the trees. Melkor stole the jewels making it impossible to rekindle the light. The jewels also affected the Sindar, dwarves, and men in middle earth.