This is one of the most human characters in Tolkien's world. I particularly like
"Narn i Hin Hurin", the more detailed version of his story, the one from "Unfinished Tales".
He has been cursed by Morgoth and has no luck at all - almost all his actions
are disastrous for himself and for people which love him and harbour him.
However, during a long time he does not give up and is striving to control his
doom. And he succeeded at least in one but very important thing: in killing of the Dragon.
His story in "Unfinished Tales" is so much interesting for me because Tolkien does not
describe only the actions of Turin, but gives us some hints about his psychology.
There is an astonishing and insightful comment on him in the Appendix to
Narn i Hin Hurin:
:"He is proud" said Gwindor
"But also he is merciful" said Finduilas. "He is not yet awake, but still pity can ever
pierce his heart, and he will never deny it. Pity maybe shall be ever the only entry
It seems that Tolkien saw Turin as a person almost on the border of autism, having
problems with the communication with others and with reading of their minds.
Do you remember Raskolnikov from the "Crime and pusnishment" of Dostoievski?
A similar mixture of rash pride (leading him to a shocking crime) and pity and compassion
(for the poor and the rejected).
What did it mean for Tolkien "to be awake"? To be compassionate with "every living
thing" - like Beren who did not even slew animals for food?
In LOTR Frodo's personality undergoes a complex evolution in that direction. He first
learns to be a warrior & a hero... and then he stops altogether to engage in direct fighting.
Of course he is shattered by his "cruel time" during the quest - but he also feels more
"awake". When the hobbits return to Shire, Merry tells that his adventures are now
"a dream that has slowly faded" - but for Frodo "it feels more like falling asleep again".
I feel strongly that this transition from a warrior to a compassionate "healer"
(portrayed also in the transformation of the character of Eowyn) was not meant by
Tolkien to represent only some mental hurt or a step backwards
(from strength to weakness) - but a step forward. A compassionate healer is more
"awake" than a heroic warrior.
:"All the same' said Frodo to all those that stood near ' I wish for no killing;
not even of the ruffians, unless it must be done to prevent them from hurting hobbits
:Frodo was in the battle but he had not drawn sword, and his chief part had
been to prevent the hobbits in their wrath at their losses form slaying those of their
enemies who threw down their weapons
Eryan posted on 6/3/2002 at 13:25 under
But look now - nobody in this Forum even wants to discuss the character of Turin! I started that thread... and no reply so far!
Ungoliant posted on 7/3/2002 at 20:10 under
Sorry about that Eryan. Dunno about others, but I particularly disliked the character, and so have nothing interesting to say on the subject. He was a bumbling idiot, and I have neither patience nor pity for him. Other may view him in a more favourable light perhaps?