For this third assignment we will be covering Chapters 7-9, namely
7. Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
8. Of the Darkening of Valinor
9. Of the Flight of the Noldor.
After a long time of peace and prosperity for the Elves in Valinor, the lies cast by Melkor are beginning to have their desired effect. Feanor, using all of his skills, created three wondrous jewels and into them he managed to capture the combined light from the Two Trees of Yavanna. These jewels were the Silmarils, and no jewel before or after was more beautiful than they. Feanor, however, soon became jealous of his creation, and fueled by the lies of Melkor believed others were out to steal them. Melkor, at this stage also managed to create a rift between Feanor and his half brother, Fingolfin. Having already secretly taught many Elven groups how to forge weapons and armour, his lies culminated in Feanor drawing his sword on Fingolfin, an act that got him banished from the city of Tirion.
Having escaped from Valinor, Melkor went to the little trod, shadowy lands of Avathar in the far south of Aman. Here he sought out Ungoliant, a terrible, demonic, spider-like creature of darkeness that fed on light. By offering her as much light as she could consume, and offering her whatever she desired if she still hungered after this, Melkor bought her services. Hidden by a cover of her un-light, they travelled to Valinor during a great feast and killed the Two Trees. As Ungoliant devoured their light and then drained the Wells of Varda, they cast Valinor once more into darkness. In the confusion and terror this act created, they then managed to escape from the Valar.
Going to the lifeless Trees, Yavanna revealed their creation was an act she could never perform again. While their light still lived within the Silmarils, however, she announced the trees could be saved but the time was short. Feanor was asked if he would willingly give up the Silmarils in order to save the Trees, but he refused, saying their creation was something he could only perform once too. Messengers then arrived from his home in the north telling how his father, Finwe, had been murdered by Melkor and the Silmarils stolen.
Melkor and Ungoliant escaped back to his old strongholds in Middle Earth where Melkor had his Balrogs drive Ungoliant away before she could devour the Silmarils. Lusting for the return of his jewels and maddened by grief for the death of his father, Feanor then urged the Noldor to forsake Valinor and return to Middle Earth. There were many opposed to this course of action, but fueled by Melkor’s lies, Feanor had many arguments to counter his opposition and soon most of the Noldor were reluctantly ready to follow him. Swearing a terrible oath, which over time effectively doomed himself and his sons, he then led the Noldor forth.
What followed was possibly the darkest deed committed by the Noldor. Requiring ships they sought the aid of the Teleri, but when the Teleri refused to hand over their ships, the Noldor took them by force. Better armed than the Teleri, this first Kinslaying became a massacre. For this deed the Noldor who had joined with Feanor were exciled, and Mandos spoke to them words of great woe, The Doom of the Noldor.
Leaving Aman in the captured ships of the Teleri, Feanor again betrayed Fingolfin. Because their numbers were too many for the ships to carry, Feanor promised to return with the ships for the people of Fingolfin. When they landed in Middle Earth, however, they burned the ships instead leaving Fingolfin without transport. Refusing to be left behind, however, Fingolfin led his people north where they crossed the Helcaraxe, a terrible passage over the bridge of frozen sea.. They eventually came to Middle Earth as the Moon rose for the first time in the sky.
Silmarils: Three jewels created by Feanor, containing the light of the Two Trees
Ungoliant: Demonic spider-like creature who fed on light.
Eldamar: The lands of the Eldar in Aman including the coastal lands to the east of the Pelori mountains and Tol Eressea.
Avathar: Isolated region in Southern Aman where Ungoliant had her lair.
Helcaraxe: Narrow region of the sea between Aman and Middle Earth in the North of Arda. Here a bridge was formed of grinding ice.
Ezellohar: The green mound before the western gate of Valimar upon which the Two Trees grew.
Lammoth: Area on north west coast of Beleriand where Melkor and Ungoliant fought.
Alqualonde: City and port of the Teleri on the coast of Aman.
Gonna start reading this week. And since I've already read chapter 7, that should be no problem. I'm actually beginning to enjoy this...
Unlike the early chapters were in depth discussions can be argued over the religious background of the story, these recent chapters have been relatively straight forward. I'll raise the following points for discussion, however.
1) Why were Melkor's lies so effective against the Noldor, and why did he see them more useful to his purposes than the Telori?
2) What sort of creature was Ungoliant? Was she created from the thought of Eru as the Ainur had been, or was she from outside of his thought?
3) Could there be any justification for Feanor refusing Yavanna the light from his Silmaril's to heal the Two Trees?
4) Fingolfin did not wish to leave Valinor with Feanor. Why did he?
5) Two oaths were spoken, one by Feanor and his sons, and the other by Mandos, the Doom of the Noldor. Both of these have great importance throughout the rest of the book, so be sure you understand the meaning of what was spoken, and the potential problems that are likely to occur because of them. If any of you have any problems with these two oaths, please ask for guidance as they are very important.