Greetings, everyone! As you all are aware, school, work, and life have greatly interfered with my writing—and for good reason! (Someone’s gotta pay for this blog site to be ad-free!). Rather than simply putting it off, I actually have been reading far ahead in The Silmarillion to prepare in advance for readings… that and because I couldn’t put the book down. As discussed two articles ago regarding the House of Finwë, life on Middle-Earth grows darker as each age passes. While I am still on the First Age, the dark times have significantly come and are not going away anytime soon. Even on the back of the book, it reads,
“The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Fëanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor, and return to Middle-Earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism against the great Enemy.”
In this blog post, we will be going over the first part of this quote, Fëanor’s rebellion against the Valar along with Melkor’s deceitful plan. So put away those happy thoughts, because it is going to get dark and depressing for a bit!
Chapter 7: Melkor’s Pride, Greed, Envy, Lust, and Anger
As we saw towards the end of Chapter 6, Melkor was released from his bondage under the Valar. Being the brother of Melkor, Manwë still believed that there was good found in him, despite opposing views. We can also see that, within Melkor’s heart, his greed, his rage, his envy, and his hatred of the Valar grew evermore.
“…Melkor was brought before the thrones of the Valar. Then he looked upon their glory and bliss, and envy was in his heart; he looked upon the Children of Ilúvatar that sat at the feet of the Mighty, and hatred filled him; he looked upon the wealth of bright gems, and he lusted for them; but he hid his thoughts, and postponed his vengeance.”
Talk about heart-hardening.
For readers that are not familiar with the basics of Catholicism, there is a specific topic called the Seven Deadly Sins. For those that need a reference, check out this article from The Catholic Exchange, written by Editor Michael J. Lichens, and Tom Kyd.
Of the Seven Deadly Sins, Melkor resembles Pride, Envy, Lust, Anger, and Greed. (Not too shabby for someone known as The First Dark Lord). I bring this up because Tolkien himself was a Roman Catholic. While I myself am Protestant, I definitely noticed this when reading, and I could not help but have pity for Melkor.
Please note that I do NOT side with Melkor (though I think he looks badass), but I have an understanding of the anger, envy, and even greed. We all have struggled with it, have we not? For me personally, I struggled heavily with envy during my early-20’s. I would see friends and colleagues moving quickly in their careers before even reaching Junior year. Unlike them, I did not have the resources or connections as they did, and had to do the best with what I had and could get. Because of this, envy overcame me throughout the first three years of college.
Obviously, me being envious of classmates is pretty small compared to a former-Valar being envious of the others literally being above him. What we both had in common relating to envy was the fear of being inferior and the desire to possess our rivals’ qualities. When we delve into dark beliefs of life, whether they are of the Seven Deadly Sins or not, it can lead us to dark places without us even realizing it.
Another area that is not of the Seven Deadly Sins but is closely related is coveting. Unlike greed or envy, coveting is to desire something or wish for something that rightfully belongs to someone else. In both Judaism and Christianity, this coveting is found within the 10 Commandments and within Christ’s teachings and St. Paul’s writings. To quote Pastor Tim Keller in his sermon, War Between Your Selves (Part 1),
“It is not because you want something. Wanting things are fine, wanting things area great, God gave you wants. Coveting is you saying ‘I have to have it, I must have it, this is the thing that will make me…Coveting does not just mean want something. Coveting means to idolatry want something….[Apostle] Paul came to understand that coveting was the essence of sin.”
Chapter 7: Melkor the Deceitful & Fëanor the Deceived
With the light of The Silmarils being from the Trees of Valinor, Melkor greatly coveted what he did not have. Because of this—along with five of the Seven Deadly Sins, Melkor returned to his old ways (as if he ever left his old ways to begin with). With envy, covetousness, and lust overcoming him, Melkor devised a plan to separate the Elves from the Valar.
“Long was [Melkor] at work, and slow at first and barren was his labour. But he that sows lies in the end shall no lack of a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed while others reap and sow in his stead. Ever Melkor found some ears that would heed him, and some tongues that would enlarge what they had heard; and his lies passed from friend to friend, as secrets of which the knowledge proves the teller wise…When he saw that many leaned towards him, Melkor would often walk among them, and amid his fair words others were woven, so subtly that many who heard them believed in recollection that they arose from their own thought. Visions he would conjure in their hearts of the mighty realms that they could have ruled at their own will, in power and freedom from the East…”
The first thought to come into my head after reading this was The Garden of Eden in Genesis Chapter 3. To summarize the fall of Humanity in the Bible, Genesis states that,
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” – Genesis 3:1-4
After this, Eve eats of the fruit followed by Adam and the two are kicked out of the Garden of Eden, having now been exposed to good and evil. I want to focus on this specific passage in relation to Melkor’s scheme. An interesting parallel between the two was that it wasn’t a voice or a spirit that provoked the Elves or Adam and Eve to sin, but actual figures being physically present before them. Melkor walked with those who listened to hi—just like how the Serpent revealed himself to Eve who listened to him.
To me personally, this shows evil does not only show up as great dark forces, but something that seems harmless or sounds logical. Going back to the Seven Deadly sins, the main one of the two is Greed. According to the Catholic Exchange,
“[Greed] is the inordinate love for riches. Its special malice, broadly speaking, lies in that it makes the getting and keeping of money, possessions, and the like, a purpose in itself to live for…It is called a capital vice because through it many other sins are committed. It is more to be dreaded in that it often cloaks itself as a virtue, or insinuates itself under the pretext of making a decent provision for the future.”
Along with covetousness, greed overcame them as rebellion began to sink into their hearts. As if that was not bad enough, Melkor then revealed the greater plan of the Valar for Middle-Earth.
“Melkor spoke to them in secret of Mortal Men, seeing how the silence of the Valar might be twisted to evil. Little he knew yet concerning Men, for engrossed with his own thought in the Music he had paid small heed to the Third Theme of Ilúvatar; but now the whisper went among the Elves that Manwë held them captive, so that Men might come and supplant them in the kingdoms of Middle-Earth, for the Valar saw that they might more easily sway this short-lived and weaker race, defrauding the Elves of the inheritance of Ilúvatar. Small truth there was in this, and little have the Valar ever prevailed to sway the wills of Men; but many of the Noldor believed, or half believed, the evil words…The Noldor began to murmur against them, and many became filled with pride, forgetting how much of what they had and knew came to them in gifts from the Valar. “
When I read sections of a book or of the Bible like this, I always ask, “Why would you honestly believe something like that when you know the truth?” And my answer is always the same: necause that is how people are.
Throughout the Bible and history, humanity has always forgotten its ways, its origins, and foundations. No matter how much we learn or are reminded of our origins and foundations, we fall for even some of the most absurd lies and deceit from others. In a time where we have access to nearly anything at the click of a button, we are vulnerable to lies that others claim to be the truth, such as politics, theology, morals, laws, and much more.
Tracing back to the blogpost of Chapter 6, this is why the raising of children needs to have a strong foundation—both in belief and genuine love. When the foundation is strong, children will be more guarded and observant in their belief when lies come before them. As for Fëanor’s case, he greatly fell for the lies of Melkor, and the result was pride, greed, and anger, which all lead to rebellion.
By this point, Fëanor had spoken openly about rebellion and had made great threats to those of his own family, significantly Fingolfin. The Valar summoned Fëanor before the ring of Doom and within this summon, the lies of Melkor were brought forth. The dealing of Melkor would come soon, but until then, Fëanor answered for his actions and paid the consequences.
“…Fëanor was not held guitless, for he it was that had broken the peace of Valinor and drawn his sword upon his kinsman; and Mandos said to him; ‘Thou speakest of thraldom. If thraldom it be, thou canst not escape it; for Manwë is King of Arda, and not of Aman only And this deed was unlawful, whether in Aman or not in Aman. Therefore this doom is now made; for twelve years thou shalt leave Tirion where this threat was uttered. In that time, take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art. But after that time this matter shall be set in peace and held redressed, if others will release thee.'”
This banishment is a great example of the Israelites being exiled from their homeland, and the punishments we may have faced on our own. I love Manwë’s choice of words. “In that time, take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art.” Punishment is not just meant for one to take on their consequences, but it is a chance to remember who they are. We lose that remembrance when we give in to lies and see them as truth. The emphasis is that it is a choices.
Will we remember who we are and fall on our swords? Or will we let the punishment consume and fuel the rage within us?
Although Fëanor stood up against Melkor, he did so out of pure rage, a rage that continued to consume him.
I cannot tell you how long it took to write this blog posts honestly. Between the time when I published on chapters 4-5 to now, I went through different topics from rewrites to focus on, all while working on my grad school assignments. But the pay-off is finally here, and more will come in time.
I hope you enjoyed this read, and if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or even criticism, leave a comment below or send me a message in the contact tab on the main page. Until next time!