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Thread: Your thoughts on Thingol?

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I am very on the fence over this king and am wondering of your perceptions of him? Do you love him, dislike him, or neither? I really can't make up my mind. Most characters I have strong feelings for one way or the other, but I can't figure this guy out.

 I do not really understand his feeling and treatment of the Noldor when they first arrived in Middle Earth. His reception of them seemed chilly at best. Why was this? Did he perceive them as disrespectful? He was also not welcoming of Men at the beginning. Was this just fear of people he did not understand or prejudice? However, he did redeem himself with the fostering of Turin. Also, it seems to me that it would have been in Doriath's best interest had his realm participated in the Fifth Battle. Morgoth was his foe also and Morgoth considered Thingol his enemy as well as the Noldor. I understand that he was angry with the sons of Feanor for the kinslaying and their demands of the Silmaril being returned to them. But the Silmaril did rightfully belong to them and Melian even couseled him to return it. Did the Silmaril begin to have the same effect on Thingol that it did on Feanor? Was he becoming obsessed with the jewel, leading to more division?

 

 I apologize for asking so many questions in this one post, but I do not understand this guy and he confuses me. What do you think of him?

Well I think that his distrust of The Noldor, or at least towards the Sons of Fell Feanor, was justified. He after all realised that the truth had been withheld regarding their return.

His unfortunate actions of greed and pride in regards to the Silmaril was intact partially caused by the Silmaril itself. The Silmarils had a power somewhat like The One Ring. They inplanted a lust upon those who handled them or indeed saw them. A lust which could only lead to greed in keeping them. Thingol fell for this lust and therefore fell under the curse which the Silmarils carried and lead to his downfall.

If only he'd listened to his blessed wife.

Of course the Dwarves fell under the curse as well once handling the Silmaril and therefore carried out murder for it, and foolishly thought they could keep it. Setting up a hatred between good people's who could have worked together in future Ages.

Melkor himself could not have planned this split between Eru's Children better if he tried.

Brego, I am so glad that you replied to this thread.  I am always interested to read your insight.  Perhaps my judgment of Thingol is a bit harsh.  I do consider that a lot of my criticism of him does come after he has been corrupted by the Silmaril.   Indeed, you are right, it did seem to have a similar power of those who possessed it, as did the ring.

I am curious what your thoughts are on his shunning of men when they first came to Middle Earth.  This perplexes me as well.

Well Aylee in my mind Thingol is very complex. His opinion regarding the early Men seems odd, given that most Elves felt wonderment regarding the mortals. I think tho that Tolkien uses Thingol's dislike of Men to heighten the drama throughout Beren's trials and eventually he is won over by this "base born Mortal" and he is changed. This leads on to many and other strange actions by Thingol and its here that here, upon Berens first death that he first sees a Silmaril with his own eyes and its Doom seals his fate.

Well I think there's a few main reasons for Thingol's distrust of both elves, men, and dwarves. For one, he probably felt slightly betrayed and abandoned by the Noldor for leaving in the first place. If not betrayed then perhaps even jealous he did not go himself, though his pride would never let him admit that. After all, he was so prideful he refused a first class ticket to heaven in order to make his own living. Of course upon their return he learns a large part of them killed a bunch of other elves...pretty legit reason to not trust someone. Then when he acquired the silmaril, he truly believed he had outdone his heavenly brethren, further inflating that pride. Finally, because he held this grudge against The Noldor, and he knew The Noldor welcomed Men (for the most part), he was probably wary of anything his long lost brethren trusted. And he wasn't as "in touch" with the Vala and as accepting that they were another child of Eru. To him they were wild beasts who ate his food. IIRC he did do trade with dwarves (correct me if I'm wrong), but like most others, particularly elves, probably didn't really trust them either.

Then, because of all this deception, jealousy and betrayal, he never trusted anyone again, turning that pride into greed as he kept his land and his jewels to himself.

One thing that always bothered me most is how he hardly helped anyone but himself. The battle against Morgoth is a perfect example. He had no reason not to go. If he lost his lands....so be it (which he probably wouldn't have if he went). It's slightly hypocritical to be mad with someone for slaying others, but then be a primary cause for the slaying of even more elves by not showing up to help. Does death begot death? This is what made me dislike Thingol more than anything and made me question Melian's judgement. Anyone who REPEATEDLY doesn't listen to the wisdom of a particularly wise Maia is a fool in my opinion.

But, he does have a fascinating story, so I guess I like him as a literary character. Not so much as a personal character though.

Thingol is a complex character, as we all know.  Proud as can be, so self-satisfied and gratified that he disdained going back  to the Blessed Realm.  A lover above all others, especially considering cases like the beloved Finrod who nonetheless abandoned Valinor and his lady-love.   Elwë Singollo stumbled upon the most beautiful creature ever taken by his eyes (even counting his trip to Valinor) and he stayed forever.  He didn't want to go to war or anywhere else, because he had all he wanted and would ever want.  Ages passed, thousands and thousands of years, and yet he still took his trips every summer with Melian to soak in the bliss and beauty of the forest.  He ruled his people, yes, but I'm clear on the solid and unique purpose of his life: live with this divine woman and love her forever.  The Silmaril... that was really a bad day, a poor choice, a wrong turn in the road.  

One other bit of evidence for Thingol as lover: observe Melian when he was brutally butchered by the Dwarves, her immortal life bereft of joy or meaning.  She dragged herself back to Lorien's gardens of forgetfulness in Valinor, and was never heard of again.

Perhaps the Professor created Thingol to suggest that there is no lasting joy in this world, that bliss cannot be a way of life, that we cannot build walls around our lovely homes and ignore the pain and strife of the world outside.  Shame, though, isn't it? 

Beautiful words as always Marghana.

Balrogs, I see where your coming from but I think you a little harsh on Elu. He went missing for years and I'm sure did not begrudge the Noldor for leaving. He had the light of Aman in the face of Melian and this was enough for him as Tolkien states. Also he supplied tens possibly hundreds of thousands of Elves a safe and wonderful place to live during his reign and that's at least something to be proud of.

 

Marghana; I like your words as well Thingol is a good example of how the Elves had a real Problem with change.

Wow.  All of you have given me something to think about.  Perspectives that I had not even considered.  I guess I was going with my first reaction having read the lore.  But he is indeed a complicated character.  Even more complicated than I had even initially guessed.  That really says something of the writer, when people can see the character in so many different ways.

 

It seemed to me strange, that he would not have participated in the Fifth War, even out of the instinct for survival.  I had not really considered all of these possibilities that you all have spoken of.  Possible corruption by the Silmirils, pride, disengagement due to the bliss he was living in,  and fear of change.

 

As Balrogs stated, I can really appreciate him as a very complex character in a very complicated story, though not necessarily like him.  You have all given me a lot to think about and for that I thank you.