Feanor - Good v.s Bad

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∆deling Beorhtlig 20/Oct/2006 at 04:42 PM
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do you thing that what feanor did was good or bad and for what reasons

i still havent decided

Auūri 20/Oct/2006 at 07:47 PM
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Feanor is such a difficult character. I must confess the first time I read about him, I absolutely hated him. He seemed quite evil and selfish to me but having read his story several times now, I’ve changed my tune considerably. What Feanor did was wrong in my opinion but he has good excuses. You are asking quite a broad question as Feanor did many things that most don’t approve of but I assume you speak specifically of his reluctance to give up the Silmarils and then of course the Kinslaying. I do believe that what Feanor did was wrong but as regards the Silmarils, one the the Valar (I believe it was Aule or Mandos) said that the Valar did not know what they asked of Feanor when the requested the Silmarils to heal the damage Morgoth and Ungoliant had caused.

Having made those amazing treasures, they were precious to him and while it -was- selfish not to give them up, I think it’s important not to judge too quickly and immediately say he was a horrid elf for refusing to give up his wroks. The pain of losing his father also affected his desicions to some point and perhaps his judgment was slightly clouded because of the anger he felt against the Valar whom he accused of not being able to defend their own lands (and thus the death of his father whom he loved greatly). As for the Kinslaying, he has no ecsuse there that I can see! I don’t think Feanor was "bad" and what decided that for me was this quote: "Then Feanor ran from the Ring od Doom, and fled into the night; for his father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands; and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathers of greater worth?" Of the Flight of the Noldor, The Sil. I think Feanor was selfish and what he did was wrong but I think people need to have more understanding when they read his story and fiction though it is, I must confess that quote to be my favourite of all of Tolkien’s works! Again, your question was very broad thus the answer was very broad but perhaps this will develop a bit more into something more specific.

Maegolfin 20/Oct/2006 at 09:49 PM
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One thing that I love about Tolkien’s works is the realism.  Just like in the real world, there are no totally evil or totally good people.  You can’t brand Feanor as a "bad guy", because you will always be able to find some good in him.  Of course, characters like Morgoth and Sauron can definitely be marked as "evil", because they embody evil itself.  But when it comes to the Children of Eru, all have their faults, some more than others.  Feanor’s main fault was his pride, and that was helped along by the stealing of his amazing works, the Silmarils.  He did commit a huge wrong at the Kinslaying, and what’s more never repented of it.  Yes, he had a very bad side, but deep down inside, he was still human - er - elven.
KingODuckingham 20/Oct/2006 at 10:26 PM
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Maegolfin is right when he says there are no totally evil or totally good people. This includes Feanor. However he is to be considered evil in general for both leading the Noldor to ME (in a sense betraying them by causing them to reject and rebel against the Valar-an evil act) and for burning the ships and stranding Fingolfin (for he betrays those who had followed him for his cause, also a horrendously evil act). He didn’t strand them in Aman for their own good--his intentions were malicious only. On top of that, with his dying breath, he makes his sons reaffirm the terrible and futile oath, KNOWING that no power of the Noldor will ever be able to overcome Thangorodrim. The Silmarillion says of his death:

Thus ended the mighties of the Noldor, of whose deeds came both their greatest renown and their most grievous woe.

And furthermore, it says:

"But at that last word of Feanor: that at the least the Noldor should do deeds to live in song for ever, he raised his head, as one that hears a voice far off, and he said: ’So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Ea, and evil yet be good to have been.’ But Mandos said: ’And yet remain evil. To me shall Feanor come soon.’[/BLUE]"--Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor, The Silmarillion.

Thus, Feanor accomplished mighty deeds, but also great woes, and Mandos says that the good that came of Feanor’s deeds does not change the fact that the deeds themselves were evil. There is also the fact that Feanor is confined to the Halls of Mandos for eternity in judgement. Or would someone say the Valar were being to harsh or making a mistake?

In the final analysis, I would say it was not just Feanor’s initial deeds, but his malicious spirit and unrepentant heart that lead me to condemn him as evil.
Earendin 21/Oct/2006 at 01:25 AM
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Feanor was not a bad Elf.As Tolkien says:He was driven by the fire in his heart.He was a free sprit.He wanted many good things and wanted to live and see more.Maybe he believed that the Valar didn’t let him do this.He was really wrong so I think that is why the Noldor went to Middle Earth.
Endril 21/Oct/2006 at 04:04 AM
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Feanor was at the begining a very gifted and good elf. He wanted to increase his knowledge and had nothing against the valar. But then came Morgoth and introduced lyes ti Valinor. So the elves started to talk bad things against the valar.

Feanor lead the elves that vanted to live the blessed grounds of Valinor and go to Middle Earth. At this point he became evil. He betraied the valar and than killed his own kin, the telery that were innocent people. So indeed Feanor is a character to hate. He was a traitor and he must have realised that Morgoth lied him.
Arvellas 21/Oct/2006 at 02:02 PM
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Tolkien was certainly very good at painting his characters in shades of gray, not all good, and not all bad, but many of them still lean one way of the other.  I think Feanor was a very dark shade of gray.  There are some things to like about him, and I think it’s sad that those things didn’t come out a little more, but overall, I don’t like him.
cadno 21/Oct/2006 at 02:07 PM
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The evil deeds of Feanor were the result of the machinations of Melkor, compounded  with the former’s haughty spirit. Was Feanor predestined to do evil things or did he exercise a free choice of will? I think he had some sort of breakdown after his precious gems were nicked. He should have exercised some Elf-control.
Arvellas 21/Oct/2006 at 07:51 PM
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cadno: "Elf-control" *g* I like that...

I don’t think that Feanor’s fate--or anyone else’s, for that matter--were predetermined.  Free Will is a very strong theme in Tolkien’s work, and though there were some things about Feanor that could not be helped, his choices are still a large part of the matter.

I’ve also just noticed the semblance of his name to "fea" which means "spirit."

Battlehamster 10/Nov/2006 at 12:51 PM
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I think that it was Feanor’s own faults that got him into trouble and Melkor was very good at finding what buttons he could push to make the most out of them.  Feanor was already very close to his father and was afraid of losing him to anyone and Melkor used that to get him in trouble.  Feanor was paranoid about anyone else getting the Silmarils, so Melkor insinuates that the Valar will take them.

After Feanor was turned against the Valar, it was mostly his insane single-mindedness that drove him.  Definately an "ends justify the means kind of guy."  It seems like his hamartia (yay! I actually use stuff learned in my classes) was selfishness and that led to his fall.  So he’s not totally bad, but it is still pretty much his fault.

MithrandŪr 10/Nov/2006 at 03:06 PM
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i think that Feanor’s character was portraied very well J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a hard task, being a writer and describing your character and plot, and mpas, and all the thiings that are going to happen. And i think that Tolkien executed that job greatly and with a big brain and some enthusiasim.
Kaos the Gold 18/Nov/2006 at 06:49 AM
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He’s a bit like Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, actually.  He has the wrong idea and interpetation of what he has to do and suffer because of it, and the idea then gets passed on to his sons, who then suffer.  If yuo haven’t seen the play, see it, then come back and you might see what I mean.
    Battlemaster, you make Feanor sound a lot like Anakin Skywalker actually.  They both mistrusted their higher authorities and feared losing something that was dear to them.  this led them both to their fall.  Never liked Feanor after he burned the fleets, though. Don’t mind Vader.
kitsuneyouko5 21/Nov/2006 at 06:08 AM
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With the question of Feanor you also have to think on this: without the Silmarils the light of the Two Trees would have been lost forever. Yes they would have lived on, however dimmed, in the light of the sun and moon that much we are told in the Silmarillion. Also Beren and Luthien would never have come together if you consider that. After all Luthiens father demanded the Silmaril from Morgoths iron crown for Beren to wed Luthien, and Beren was hunted I believe because of some strife dealing with the silmarils. What Feanor did was both inexcusable and beyond reproach. Though I agree with kingoduckingham the oath was beyond evil.
    "Be he friend or foe or seed defiled
     Of Morgoth Bauglir or mortal child
     That in afer days on earth shall dwell
     No law nor love nor league of hell
     Not might of gods not moveless fate
     Shall him defend from wrath and hate
     Of Feanor’s sons who takes or steals
     Or in finding breaks the Silmarils
     The thrice enchanted globes of light
     That shine until the final night."
That insane oath spoken as Feanor died after battling with Morgoth bound his sons and eventually led to the demise of all of them. If I am not mistaken it also led to the fall of Nargathrond(sp).
Cigfa 21/Nov/2006 at 06:56 AM
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I think...Feanor was good at some point in his life, until he made the Silmarils and became tainted by Melkor’s lies. The fact that he was full of pride could also contribute to his downfall into insanity. The oath that he had taken, along with anyone else who followed them, practically would destroy each one of them one by one unless they repent of their sins (i.e Galadriel). In the last moments of his life is what can be considered the most regrettable, as he doomed himself to death. Maybe, he had wanted to die, but with honour for his actions, as his fea was consuming him.

Dany 21/Nov/2006 at 11:31 AM
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You know... I’m going to go with Feanor was good. Being prideful does not mean that someone is bad. Feanor’s actions were certainly not good, but I think Feanor’s person was still good, despite everything bad that he might have done. In my opinion, the Valar were a bit unfair in judging Feanor and all that; I think they were way to harsh in their punishment of him and his sons.
Deagol77 21/Nov/2006 at 03:55 PM
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I think he was a good character, but was so twisted by his hatred of Morgoth, that he made some really terrible decisions.
KingODuckingham 27/Nov/2006 at 05:22 PM
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Being prideful does not mean that someone is bad.
Really? The whole reason evil entered into ME is because Melkor was prideful and wanted a station accorded to him higher than he deserved. Thus pride is the root of all evil, and since we see it so much in Feanor, we can be quite sure he is evil. Not absolutely evil, which is what I think is bothering so many here. Yes, he could do good and did do good. But this does not stop us from labeling him as evil. The Silmarillion says he was the elf who caused the greatest woes in all the Noldor’s history. How much more does he have to do before you will admit that he is evil?

Yes, Morgoth led him into a snare, but it was one that was already present. And even if it hadn’t been, by that sort of logic one cannot call Sauron evil, since it was Morgoth that originally led him astray and corrupted him as well. No, there really is no way of beating around the bush. Feanor was evil. He was a bad, bad elf.
Celethil 29/Nov/2006 at 08:19 AM
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The only truly evil acts that I can think of Feanor committing are the burning kinslaying and then the burning of their ships. Feanor was prideful and willful, but then so was Galadriel as well as the majority of the Noldor.

I don’t think that the rebellion against the Valar was an inherently evil act though it was misguided. And as for the oath, beyond being rash it was not evil in itself though it did lead to evil acts in the Feanorians.

So no, Feanor was not evil. He spent the last days of his life in a crusade to destroy evil, though not for a good purpose.
KingODuckingham 29/Nov/2006 at 10:02 AM
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He spent the last days of his life in a crusade to destroy evil, though not for a good purpose. He spent the last days of his life in a crusade to destroy Morgoth, not to destroy evil. For Feanor, the end justified the means, and if he had to do evil to accomplish his end, then he didn’t mind doing it.

All this talk of inherently evil or truly evil are just misconceptions and skewing the point aside. Just because Feanor was not all evil or that he did good deeds does not mean that we cannot call him evil. If Tolkien went so far as to call Gollum evil (which he did), I feel certain that he would agree that Feanor was evil as well.
LothmÓl 30/Nov/2006 at 02:12 PM
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i think he was an ambitioned elf, you see he was like a man ambicious always wanting more and selfish but also very very gifted, he was able to learn and explore art, and shaped into something new,

He was good, im sure of that but he was a refletion of all of us our dreams and our falls, and if he was a reflection can we say if we are good or bad...

I guess not...


Dany 30/Nov/2006 at 02:54 PM
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I know I’ve already contributed, but I was rereading this and an idea came to me. I don’t think that you can classify Feanor as solely good or solely bad. In other words, I think that "good" and "bad/evil" are too black and white to call such a complex character as Feanor. Some of his actions were certainly bad, but there were actions that were definitely good at the same time. Also, it’s not like his character was bad throughout his entire life; certainly up until the point where he created the Silmarils he was "good," in my opinion.
KingODuckingham 30/Nov/2006 at 03:57 PM
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I don’t think that you can classify Feanor as solely good or solely bad. Of course not. You can’t do that for anyone in LOTR. But in a sort of weighing of the scales through his entire life, the evil clearly outweighs the good. Alot. And therefore we can and should apply the general term of evil to Feanor. Of course we don’t think he was absolutely evil. But evil doesn’t have to be absolute in a person before we call them as such. I will point once again to Sauron--obviously evil, but not even he was absolutely such.
VardaElbereth 30/Nov/2006 at 04:56 PM
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No one is absolutely evil. Not even Sauron. Not even Morgoth. "In my story I do not deal in Absolute Evil. I do not think there is such a thing, since that is Zero." The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter #183

As for Feanor, I do not know, what can we say of the fiery one? That through him the greatest jewels in the history of Middle-earth were created, containing within them the last bit of Pure Light left in Middle-earth that is untainted by evil? That through his single-minded need to possess these jewels, the Noldor ended up leaving Valinor and the first Kinslaying happened? And what says The Silmarillion of Feanor after his death? "Thus ended the mightiest of the Noldor, of whose deeds came both their greatest renown and their most grievous woe." The Silmarillion, Of the Return of the Noldor. I do not own HoMe, but I have read in my places on the Plaza, of how Morgoth shall eventually come back from the Void, that Turin shall slay him, and that the Silmarils shall be gathered together and Feanor shall hand them over to be broken up that the Light in them may be used, as should have been done so long ago. I will say that Feanor did evil things. I do not know if I can call him evil though, for even though he has died he is not truly dead, his fea lives on, and if the legends be correct, he will make the right decision in the end.
Endril 01/Dec/2006 at 03:23 AM
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I always thought Feanor was a bad character together with all the noldors that followed him in his infamouse task to betray the valar and leave Valinor. His deeds caused great sufference to all the elves that inhabited Middle Earth. Feanor was the kind of character that thought that it’s good to cause benefits only to himself. 
KingODuckingham 01/Dec/2006 at 01:52 PM
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Sometimes I wonder...if they made a movie of The Silmarillion, would people be more likely to admit that Feanor was evil? People seem to dismiss the horror of the Kin-Slaying (And remember that actually there were three, and all of them are attributable to Feanor because it was his Oath that caused it) when they read it. It is easy to see the sentences:

Thus at last the Teleri were overcome, and a great part of their mariners that dwelt at Alqualonde were wickedly slain. For the Noldor were become fierce and desperate, and the Teleri had less strength, and were armed for the most part but with slender bows.-The Sil, Of the Flight of the Noldor.

It is another to see them played out before your eyes, even if only in the theatre. This is hardly even a battle; the description makes it into almost a massacre. Devised because Feanor in his wrath and pride will stop at nothing to take back the Silmarils. Pride and selfishness. Not to mention rashness.

People that talk of Feanor as doing bad deeds but not actually being evil makes me wonder what they think of Hitler. Yes, he did bad deeds in his megalomania and the Holocaust, but during most of his life he served loyally in the German army and wanted to be a painter--he even applyed to get a job under Walt Disney! Because he was involved in these perfectly good and normal pursuits for much time in his life, does this make him not evil?
Beriel_1229 04/Dec/2006 at 08:20 PM
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I am no great lore-master but i think that he was in love with the silmarils, a love-hate relationship (a lot like gollum and the one ring)I think he hated what they did, but lusted after them, nonetheless. Remember..he was wiling to sacrifice them to redeem the two trees. Morgoth stole them before he could though.
Mirkwoodworker 05/Dec/2006 at 01:10 AM
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KingODuckingham raises an interesting point about art and artists.

I think people tend to confuse artists with their art. A painter or musician or writer might create incredible works of beauty and genius, but he or she can still be a truly awful human being. He could be a criminal. The life of an artist doesn’t necessarily add to or detract from his or her art. Biographies of artists are often boring because people expect artists to be as interesting as their art.

So Feanor was an artistic genius. He create unsurpassed (literally) works of beauty and power in Middle-earth (the Silmarils, the palantiri, etc.). But he still committed acts of great evil. Acts of great art and great evil can still originate in the same person and are not mutually exclusive.

Melkor/Morgoth contributed to the creation of Arda, although for selfish, destructive reasons. Eru stated that Melkor’s acts of evil were nonetheless a part of the Song of Arda and only contributed to its beauty.

Kaulargorn 15/Dec/2006 at 01:12 PM
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I wouldn’t say if Feanor was good or bad except for what harm he did it was not deliberate at least in the beggining. I will say that Feanor is a copy of the mythological Greek hero who can be defeated only by his own weakness, the too big ambition and in the end he dies because of it.

Yarrow Loamsdown 17/Dec/2006 at 02:31 AM
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Feanor was not evil, he was very clearly wrong, but if you look at the words Tolkien used to describe the actuall moment when Feanor Snapped, I believe it is clear he didn’t think so either.

"And he cursed also the summons of Manwe and the hour in which he came to Taniquetil, thinking in the madness of his rage and grief that had he been at Formenos his strenght would have availed more than to be slain also, as Melkor had purposed. .... for his father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands; and who among the sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathera of greater worth?
    Many there grieved for the andguish of Feanor, but his loss was not his alone;..."
                                       Of the Flight of the Noldor (emphasis mine)

Oh how easy it is, to overlook what someone feels and thinks in favor of what they say.
Evil requires premeditation, which requires sanity, Feanor was desperate and quite out of his head with grief, and it all spiraled downward out of hand.

Now this is where my support of Feanor (with all his rights and wrongs) gets personal. I am a kind easy going person, I save drowning spiders, I comfort small children, I weep at the mere thought of the death of an innocent. I have made very few mistakes, and seldom say anything remotely hurtful... the few times I have are such tiny blunders no one else even remembers them (I know cause I asked) and yet they keep me awake. And have never once really lost my temper, though I sulk and pout often.
But if anyone killed my mother, or anyone I loved, I would hunt them down and rip them limb from limb with my bare hands! And I can not promise that if you tried to stop me I wouldn’t push you in front of a bus in my haste to get that F****** who killed my mom.

Am I evil?
I don’t like to thinks so.   Everyone has something that will make them snap, that can drive them to evil acts, that can make them crazy. The person can only be evil if that something never happened and they still did evil things.   
If what had destroyed Feanor were the Jewels alone, he would be evil, but that is not the case.     His love of his father is his redeeming grace.
Battlehamster 17/Dec/2006 at 01:01 PM
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Aewen/Filit-  I really agree with you.  It does seem like people think, "oh, evil dude who killed all those Teleri" or when it does come down to his motives, it’s all the Silmarils.  The fact that he totally asn’t inhis right mind does lessen how evil he was.

And to  point out something that I haven’t seen posted-  Feanor died.  We don’t know what he would have done.  The second and third kinslayings were what his sons thought he would have wanted, and they may have been right, but bottom line is we don’t know.

KingODuckingham 17/Dec/2006 at 09:37 PM
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I don’t buy it A/F. Not one bit. Have you seen my The Prosecution Speaketh Thread? It deals fairly in-depth with this topic and my defense of the thesis that Feanor is evil. And not to sound judgemental, but yes, I would say you were evil for acting out of your place for taking such violent revenge for the death of a loved one. Yes, justice needs to be meted out, but not by you, and certainly you should not harm innocent bystanders who got in your way. The end DOES NOT justify the means.

Evil requires premeditation, which requires sanity, Evil does not require sanity. Premeditation we have, in the case of the Kin-Slaying. Feanor, when balked by the Teleri, plans his attack on their ships and massacres those outnumbered and outgunned elves to steal their ships in his selfish rage. No excuse for that. It’s just plain evil.

And Battlehamster. We do know. The Oath that he took would have driven him, just as it did his sons, to attack those same people and commit those same Kin-slayings. In fact, judging by his treatment of his fellow elves while he was alive, it may actually have been worse. I for one think we can be glad he died when he did, before he could do anymore harm.
Battlehamster 18/Dec/2006 at 08:16 AM
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So Hamlet seeks to avenge his father and in the end (I’ll assume everyone knows what happens and I’m not spoiling it) he kills Claudius. Not to mention dooming Rosencratz and Guildenstern before. So is Hamlet evil for trying to take revenge on the murderer of his father?
KingODuckingham 18/Dec/2006 at 03:12 PM
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Hamlet was a prince and therefore the default Law of his land. "Revenge" or rather justice, is in his jurisdiction. That is the difference. I won’t say Hamlet commited no evil because I don’t want to make absolute statements when I haven’t read the play in two years. But I would say his slaying of Claudius is just because he is the prince, and there is no higher authority to turn to, whereas Feanor should have submitted to the Valar.