Concerning Maeglin

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miruvor
Posts: 849

Concerning Maeglin

Post#1 » Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:19 pm

It came to pass that at the midsummer the Dwarves, as was their custom, bade Eöl to a feast in Nogrod; and he rode away. Now Maeglin and his mother were free for a while to go where they wished, and they rode often to the eaves of the wood, seeking the sunlight; and desire grew hot in Maeglin's heart to leave Nan Elmoth for ever. Therefore he said to Aredhel: 'Lady, let us depart while there is time? What hope is there in this wood for you or for me? Here we are held in bondage, and no profit shall I find here; for I have learned all that my father has to teach, or that the Naugrim will reveal to me. Shall we not seek for Gondolin? You shall be my guide, and I will be your guard!'

(from Chapter 16 of the Quenta Silmarillion)

Until adulthood, Maeglin had always lived in the dark confinement of Nan Elmoth where not even the slightest ray of sunlight could enter ; his father Eöl made sure that nor his son nor his wife came into contact with the Noldor. In Nan Elmoth Maeglin was taught in everything that Eöl had to teach, yet his father could not avoid that Maeglin loved his mother Aredhel better and was always eager to listen to her stories about her kin and the city of Gondolin, so that as soon as Maeglin was a fully grown young man, he desired to leave the small, protected asylum that his father had tried to make his home. His mother, whose desire to see her kin again was awokened again by the telling of her stories, and who was tired of the loneliness in the shadows when her spouse and son were away, did of course not disagree.

Then Maeglin bowed low and took Turgon for lord and king, to do all his will; but thereafter he stood silent and watchful, for the bliss and splendour of Gondolin surpassed all that he had imagined from the tales of his mother, and he was amazed by the strength of the city and the hosts of its people, and the many things strange and beautiful that he beheld.

(from Chapter 16 of the Quenta Silmarillion)

Once Maeglin and his mother had reached Gondolin, Maeglin was in awe by the glory and splendour of the Hidden City, whose greatness even surpassed his mother’s stories. After living in almost complete confinement and isolation his entire life, Maeglin was so impressed by the world outside his former home that every new emotion, every new input to his senses made a lasting impression on him – which is of primordial importance in understanding Maeglin’s feelings when he met Idril Celebrindal :

Yet to none were his eyes more often drawn than to Idril the King's daughter, who sat beside him; for she was golden as the Vanyar, her mother's kindred, and she seemed to him as the sun from which all the King's hall drew its light.

(from Chapter 16 of the Quenta Silmarillion)

No, it is not surprising that Maeglin was in complete awe, completely bamboozled, when he first saw his niece, and that she appeared to him as impressive as described in the above quote : one must not forget that except for his mother, Idril was the first woman he ever saw – this, combined with the fact that Idril was regarded as a unique beauty even among the Noldor (she was one of the most beautiful children of Illúvatar in the history of Arda) were the reasons for his immediate feelings for his niece : complete reverence and awe.
Yet, the reasons why Maeglin’s feelings for Idril deepened, and in the end were the cause of Gondolin’s downfall, are more complex.
One must keep in mind that shortly after Maeglin and Ar-Feiniel arrived in Gondolin, his father also appeared, after which Maeglin lost both his father and his mother ; while he did not feel any sorrow for his father’s death, he was shattered by the death of his mother, whom he had always loved deeply.

It is here that we come to the core of Maeglin’s future feelings for Idril : had his mother still been alive, she would have sensed her son’s feelings for his niece, and she would have quickly quenched her son’s « crush » and awoken him from the emotional delirium he was experiencing (for the same, would not Míriel Serindë have been able to temper her son Fëanor, had she not passed away ?).
But as Ar-Feiniel had passed away, no one was there to understand and quench Maeglin’s feelings : Maeglin had lost the person who had been his guide in the world outside Nan Elmoth, this whole new world that somehow had to become his new home. Maeglin had not only lost his protector, but also the first woman he had ever loved, and felt completely alone in this strange, yet disconcertingly exciting new place that was his mother’s City.

At this point, Maeglin was longing for somebody like his mother, somebody to love him and to guide him, and considering the emotional short-circuit (caused by the death of his mother and the awe he felt for Idril) he was experiencing, he fixated his longing on Idril and instead of just revering her, he began to love her like he had loved his mother. Of course, Maeglin quickly adapted to his new life in Gondolin, and became a true prince of the Noldor, a great craftsman and valiant warrior, loved by Thingol like a son, but there remained one weakness inside him : his love for Idril, as the wounds that were his mother’s death and the loneliness caused by it, never healed.

Before the end, Maeglin was captured by Morgoth’s servants and led before the Dark Enemy of the World himself; Morgoth sensed and recognized Maeglin's weakness and used it to turn Maeglin into a tool for his hatred and revenge by twisting Maeglin’s love (which was hurt and vulnerable because Idril had given her heart to Tuor) for Idril into mere desire and lust, and feeding it – and Maeglin ultimately betrayed both his mother’s city and his mother’s people, in order to have the only woman he thought could possibly replace his mother.

It was not the first, and would not be the last time that the dark powers abused one’s love as a tool of betrayal and malice : one must remember Sauron abusing Gorlim’s love for Eilinel, Glaurung destroying Túrin and Níenor with love, and Saruman abusing Gríma’s love for Lady Éowyn.

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cloveress
Posts: 2289

Concerning Maeglin

Post#2 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:15 am

I don't really think Maeglin would have loved Idril like a mother. How can that sort of love turn into pure lust? And I never really thought Maeglin loved his mother that much either. He was just interested in the stories Aredhel had to tell him. Maeglin was a craftsman, Gondolin would have been a place of splendour and awe to him. And he probably saw Gondolin as just that, too - a masterpiece of craftsmen.

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miruvor
Posts: 849

Concerning Maeglin

Post#3 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:11 am

I don't really think Maeglin would have loved Idril like a mother. How can that sort of love turn into pure lust?

I believe it was Morgoth that turned Maeglin's love for Idril into lust, making use of Maeglin's jealousy for Tuor.

What i wrote, is my opinion on why Maeglin did what he did. I try to find possible reasons for Maeglin's actions, instead of just going "Maeglin was evil".

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valedhelgwath
Posts: 4233

Concerning Maeglin

Post#4 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:27 am

Probably the wrong place to pose this question, but what exactly did Tolkien have against craftsmen? Sauron and Saruman were both apprentices of Aule, both craftsmen...Both turned bad. Feanor, greatest of the elven craftsman, and the greatest elven bad guy. Eol, great craftsman, but very dark hearted. His son Maeglin, another great craftsman, but probably the darkest of the bunch. Celebrimbor... not too bad considering he was a grandson of Feanor, but helped Sauron start the ball rolling by helping him craft the rings of power. And that's without even considering the dwarves!!!

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cloveress
Posts: 2289

Concerning Maeglin

Post#5 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:59 am

Yup! I agree with Eruwen. Tolkien was just telling us that we should always seek to be in harmony with Nature. Why else would he have Aule be Yavanna's spouse? They have a very unique relationship. Craftsmen take from Nature, yet what they are really trying to do is just preserving the beauty of Nature. The reason Aule didn't go evil (as some of his Maiar did) was due to the fact that he loved the thing that supported him and his craft - nature. Feanor's "love" for his Silmarils was actually just over-possessiveness. Sauron fell because he couldn't see the true meaning of making things. He thought craft was some tool to gain power with. Sauron sort of "abused" the art of smithcraft, and he was in the end consumed by his lust for power (and his own power). Saruman is similar to Sauron, and if he were given time, perhaps he would become just as powerful too. They did not consider the consequences of such abuse to Nature which supports them. They also did not understand the real reason for "craft". They twisted the art into various evil forms to serve their own purposes. The downfall of these beings are of course certain.

Craftsmen are the easiest to fall, since they are the cleverest and most inventitive. I do not have my copy of the Shaping of ME with me right now, but I remember something from it talked about the differences between Aule and Morgoth. About why Morgoth fell and Aule didn't.

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eruwen
Posts: 1277

Concerning Maeglin

Post#6 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:23 am

Great points, Cloveress. I love the support you give. I forgot about craft being married to nature. Nice.

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miruvor
Posts: 849

Concerning Maeglin

Post#7 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:48 pm

All those craftsmen that have been mentioned - Sauron, Saruman, Fëanor, Eöl - 'fell' because the works they made were made for their own selfish purposes, instead for everyone's enjoyment and/or benefit.

Aulë is a true craftsman and artist, as everything he ever made he made for everyone; he did not cling to his works like Fëanor clinged to his Silmarils, nor did he make any works in order to enhance himself.

Celebrimbor doesn't belong in the list with Sauron, Saruman and Fëanor, as he never made anything for his own benefit - he made the Elessar and the Three, objects that couldn't
be used to enslave and dominate, but instead could only be used for healing and preserving.

The Seven and the Nine cannot be attributed to Celebrimbor alone, as Sauron helped in their making - but he never had any doing in the creation of the Three.

There's also a difference between the renowned Elvish craftsmen, and the fallen disciples of Aulë : all creations by Elvish craftsmen never harmed Arda, or 'nature', but merely made use of resources of Arda and enhanced them; Saruman and Sauron though, never paid any regards to nature and were abolishing it - and at least one of them was utterly punished for this, as the spirits that were sent by Eru on Yavanna's bidding, the Onodrim, struck back. One must keep in mind that the Onodrim were sent to Arda to maintain the equilibrium that was disturbed by the creation of Aulë's Dwarves.

Anyway, to go back on topic, it is puzzling that both Fëanor and Maeglin were responsible for such fell deeds, while the both of them had lost their mother on one point, after which there was no one around anymore who could temper their spirits. Instead, they were left alone, brooding in the shadows.

In the end, it all comes down to psychological traumas.

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eruwen
Posts: 1277

Concerning Maeglin

Post#8 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 5:06 pm

I don't think Tolkien had anything against craftsmen actually. I believe he had
a problem with people who did not consider the consequences when they made creations.
He had a problem with people who did not think about what they were going to destroy
in order to advance. The elves are great craftsmen, and what may seem like magic
to us simply could be considered advanced technology -- a technology that actually works
in conjunction with nature rather than destroying it. I think Tolkien has a think
before you act attitude.

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eruwen
Posts: 1277

Concerning Maeglin

Post#9 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 5:10 pm

Anyway, to go back on topic, it is puzzling that both Fëanor and Maeglin were responsible for such fell deeds, while the both of them had lost their mother on one point, after which there was no one around anymore who could temper their spirits. Instead, they were left alone, brooding in the shadows.

In the end, it all comes down to psychological traumas.

I wonder if this has anything to do with Tolkien's own loss of his mother, his own brooding, his own despair as an artist not having his spirits tempered?
-- Do you know if there is anything regarding this in his letters, Mir? (Oooo...this actually is a good point for my thesis. I can expand on the theory of repetition.)

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valedhelgwath
Posts: 4233

Concerning Maeglin

Post#10 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 5:21 pm

I've always seen Tolkien's loss of friends during the Great War as being an influence on his work, lending that feeling of hopelessness and loss you see in the Silmarillion so frequently.

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