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Thread: Turin son of Hurin

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Eryan originally began this thread with the following post.

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

Grondmaster replied

Eryan posted on 6/3/2002 at 13:25 under 'Faramir'

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 'Faramir'

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?
Eryan: I have only read the Silmarillion twice and that was long ago. I no longer know his story well enough to join in a discussion about him.

One of these months I will take it into my head to reread the book and then I may feel confident enough to write about the care, feeding, general mollycoddling, and sex life of the great tragic figure of Turin Turambar alias Neithan, Gorthol, Agarwaen, Mormegil, and Wildman of the Woods. Cool Smilie
Poor Turin...
No luck indeed!
I like him, he's fallible and tries to do what's right though constantly cocks it up. I just have little else to say about him other than that. Liked him as the Mormegil best though.
I like him, he's fallible and tries to do what's right though constantly cocks it up

Exactly Plastic!!!!! You really put
the essential in one phrase!!!
I like him, too, for the same reason.
Aren't Turin's cock ups supposed to be a result of the dragon's curse?

The biggest turn off for me was the marrying his sister part. And she was pregnant! Very tragic but...ew!
I liked that bit :o And Turin started cocking up back in Doriath before he'd even met Glaurung, I think it's supposed to be the workings of Melkor from afar as vengeance on Hurin.
Yes, it was Melkor.
Anyway, if you really want to konw more about Turin, you should read "Narn i Hin Hurin" in Unfinished Tales (together with the loose notes at its end!) and not only the shorter story in the Silmarillion. Unfortunately, the Narn i Hin Hurin is not complete, so that actually some parts of his story are to be taken from the Silm version. Anyway, I think that this story could make a really dramatic, "dark" movie, something for Ridley Scott for instance.
Now that I'd like to see, also the Lay of the Children of Hurin in the Lays of Beleriand (HoMe vol 3) has a lot on him as well.
Tolkien usually refused to admit that he was influenced by the Nibelungen myth. Yet the story of love between Turin and Nienor IS strikingly similar to the story of Siegmund and Sieglind (the parents of Siegfried)...
Well, I did this post mainly to move Turin into the first page (to have the two competing threads on him side by side...).
I just thought that Turin had bad luck indeed, but finally he was sucesful at least in one important thing: he killed Glaurung and thanks to that saved so many lives!...
Really, Morgoth must have been asleep (or drunk) on that night! With a really bad luck, Turin should fail to kill Glaurung, and instead to get hurt and/or disabled for the rest of his life (for instance...).
jest to tell that the discussion about Turin is going on in another thread:"Silmarillion: the movie"

Grondy says: And you can find that particular thread under Books and The Silmarillion.

[Edited on 27/6/2002 by Grondmaster]
Good move Eryan, I was getting confused since I thought that we had a longer discussion on Turin here.

Just to recap - the Turin Turambar tales can be found in the following books (correct me if I'm wrong):

1) The Silmarillion
2) The Book of Lost Tales 2
3) The Unfinished Tales (? - please confirm this one, as I haven't read it)
The Silmarillion version is rather complete but also rather dry, there is practically no insight into personalities of heroes, so neither Turin, nor Nienor, nor Brandir are particularly interesting.
The Unfinished Tales version is (in my opinion) very good, although it covers only some selected parts of the whole story, but one may learn a lot there about Turin as a lonely, sensitive child, with an absent father held captive in ANgband and a rather cool mother, making friends with a lame woodwright Sador (I have a feeling that Sador is JRRT himself!). You may learn from that version more details about his life among the outlaws (with some very nice sketches of various outlaws, realy nasty men, in particular Forweg and Androg...). A bit telling about his homecoming to his own land now taken over by Easterlings is also very good and well written. And I like the best the last part telling the story of two men loving the same woman,, Nienor: Brandir who is lame but a noble soul, and Turin doing his best to "settle and live happily ever after" but then once again overcame by his doom and turning at last totally desperate and dangerous. It is a material for a really good movie, dramatic and dark, and yet touching.
I even like the scraps of text found in the commentaries to the UT version, they are sometimes very revealing, for instance the conversation of Finduilas confessing Gwindor that she loves Turin against her will.. it really makes her alive, a very honest and shrewd girl entangled in an unwanted love...
I did not read other versions (mentioned by Plastic in that other thread) but I also read short, rudimentary early version which can be found in the Hostory of Middle-Earth vol.5 (the only one I have).
I am so much interested by Turin because evidently his story was something which haubted JRTT mind during a long time, If he was so important for JRRT, he WILL be of importance for me...
Well, in the past month while waiting for boats to arrive, I've managed to read the Silmarillion and half of Unfinished Tales. This is the first time I've read them back to back and was particularly interested in the Turin saga due to this thread.
As Eryan pointed out, Turin is a lot more human in the UT version. Essentially, I see him as a hero who has the massive burden of carrying Morgoth's personal curse around on his shoulders. With luck like that, he was bound to fail at everything he tried, however noble or courageous he tried to be.
At an early age he lost his baby sister and his father, and watched his people become thralls of the Easterlings. Then his mother sent him to Doriath but never went with him. That is bound to effect him in later life. He then became a hero of renown in Doriath, for which he earned the emnity if Saeros, and was forced to flee after Saeros fell to his death while fleeing from Turin. These were harsh times for Men at this time, and Turin had little choice but to take up with a bunch of cutthroat bandits. Even then though, he tried to be noble to an extent, and the details here make this one of my favourite parts of the story.
Accidently killing his best friend, Beleg Strongbow, must have been terrible for him too.
After the fall of Nargothrond to Glaurung, and his bewitching by the dragon, his actions then failed to help Finduilas. At this stage he appears to know he has a shadow hanging over his life, and finding his mother and sister gone from their homelands, refuses to follow after them, wishing not to pass on his ill-fortune. Again this is terribly noble, for most of his motivation has thus far been to finding his mother.
And then he marries his sister... Yuk??? No, I don't think so. Neither of them have any idea they are kin. They have never met before, and both are under the spell of the dragon. They are both beautiful people and much in love. And in the end, their deaths are tragic.
Okay, Turin did much wrong and was a dark, brooding person, but these were dark times. With the burden he carried, I think he did remarkably well. As Mormegil he single-handedly kept the Orcs at bay over quite a large area, and he did manage to slay Glaurung. If it were not for Morgoth's curse, Turin would perhaps have been the greatest Lord of Men ever.
WAAAHHHH WAAAAHHHH that story makes me wanna cry! So sad! Very Sad Smilie
I agree absolutely with all you wrote Valedhelgwath! A person who does his best and fails cannot be scorned as a "loser". Like Hector of Troy or Roland... Turin certainly was heroic and he did not give up in his efforts to overmaster his dark doom during an astonishingly long time...
Very Sad Smilie Oh no! You're right Eryan, after reading Val's post, even I feel sorry for Turin.

Too bad I can't get my hands on UT...phooey.
Too bad I can't get my hands on UT...phooey.
I agree, Golly. Had I access to them, I could discover the name of the outlaw whom he killed after leaving Doriath. That, Boromir's ford, and the two cats are all that keep me from finishing Val's great quiz. I remember the ford, just can't track it down; and think the cats were probably mentioned in a simiatude someplace. Big Smile Smilie
I found a very fine drawing of Turin at rolozo.org, by Xavier Price. I like his other works, too, especially Legolas with his bow.