To be or not to be

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thetruewest 23/Dec/2006 at 11:05 PM
Expendable of Mordor Points: 81 Posts: 8 Joined: 07/Dec/2006
Remember that passage in the Silmarillion that says somthing such as a lot of evil might had been averted if Finwe hadn’t taken a second wife however the world would have missed out on the beauty and valour of his other sons? I don’t have the quote exactly, but I was wondering whether Tolkien affirms either position in the general feeling of his works. I mean the whole story of The Lord of the Rings is about fixing just one crisis that comes up in the history of ME because Isildur screwed up. If he had done right when he had the chance, then there would be no more Sauron, but there would also be no story. A lot of great authors have touched this subject, such as Shakespeare in Hamlet (to be or not to be) but even then the subject is never really resolved. Sure Tolkien’s works follow Celtic "beauty in sorrow" genre, but I can’t find evidence to support whether this is condoned as good or just as true. At some points Lord of the Rings at least, the carefree life of the Shire seems to be ideal way of the world, but then again the story as a whole is about the valour and beauty that came out of a series of evils. As far as I can see it seems that Tolkien doesn’t officially answer the question, as Frodo can’t stay in the Shire while his friends get to. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, or maybe I’m overthinking it. Please, what are your thoughts about this?
Magradhaid 24/Dec/2006 at 12:02 AM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008
You’re missing one of the (in my opinion) stronger arguments in your favor for something beautiful coming from evil: Melkor’s dissonance in the Ainulindalë and the themes of Ilúvatar that were therefore sung: ’And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’ An earlier draft of this in the Lost Road had the continuing passage "Though Melko have terror as fire, and sorrow like dark waters, wrath like thunder, and evil as far from my light as the uttermost depths of the dark places come into the design. In the confusion of sound were made pain and cruelty, devouring flame and cold without mercy, and death without hope. Yet he shall see that in the end this redounds only to the glory of the world, and this world shall be called of all the deeds of Ilúvatar the mightiest and most lovely."
I think this theme was discussed elsewhere, but cannot exactly remember where. These quotes go to show Tolkien’s idea of good coming from evil (I’m not even going to start on his themes of evil coming from good!); if Melkor (Morgoth Bauglir) hadn’t risen against Eru Ilúvatar and fashioned themes of his own, there would have been more harmony and certainly less evil and strife, but the concomitant beauty of the resulting themes, e.g. the Children of Eru and beauty of Arda, would have lessened or disappeared as well.