Of Marriage

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First Age 26/Dec/2006 at 04:08 PM
Master of Isengard Points: 263 Posts: 38 Joined: 08/Nov/2006

I have a question but I fear it may tread on a non-plaza-friendly-topic.  However, I will try to present this in an acceptable manner.  I realise this may be purged but this is an honest question.

Okay, my question is thus. Is it acceptable in ME for a child to be born out of wedlock? I mean acceptable within society?  I know that some (such as Finwe) took a wife after the death for their previous wife and had children to the second wife. But  would people shun the pregnant female as happened in real life society?

KingODuckingham 26/Dec/2006 at 04:18 PM
Grey Counsellor of Isengard Points: 15053 Posts: 15390 Joined: 27/Aug/2006
What gives you the idea any society would accept a child born out of wedlock? Did something make you feel like a certain society would? A quote? If not, I think the obvious answer to your question is no.
First Age 26/Dec/2006 at 05:01 PM
Master of Isengard Points: 263 Posts: 38 Joined: 08/Nov/2006
In answer to your question there are thousands of children around the world born out of wedlock. THOUSANDS.  I’m pretty sure that they get on just fine. I just wondered if this would be the case in ME.  I mean from what I’ve read the child always comes after marriage in ME.
Alcarináro 26/Dec/2006 at 06:06 PM
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I’d say millions, seeing as we have six thousand separate millions in the world population, and more than one out of every six thousand people is illegitimate. However, we still refer to those births as illegitimate, and a few other words that, for the sake of caution, I shall not list here. So even though there’s a lot of them and they can end up leading normal lives, it still isn’t a practice generally recognized in society as being acceptable.
And I see no reason why it would be in any societies in Middle-earth.
Maiarian Man 26/Dec/2006 at 06:59 PM
Steward of Isengard Points: 9003 Posts: 10968 Joined: 10/Mar/2002
It is impossible for an elf to have a child out of wedlock. In Elven society, having a child would be equivalent to getting married.
Brandywine74 26/Dec/2006 at 10:22 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1291 Posts: 562 Joined: 20/Apr/2006

For the majority of people in Middle earth, having a child out of wedlock is not an option and so I’d say this would not be acceptable anywhere in Middle-earth. The main reason I say this is that the majority of the population would be rural farmers, as it would have been in the middle ages of Europe, and therefore they would have a much lower economic standard of living than we do.. Having a child out of wedlock means that you wouldn’t be able to support the child. In most rural societies there is little way for a woman to earn a living besides being part of a farm set up in some way (assuming the child stays with the woman). If the man were to care for the child then how will he keep his farm going?Children out of wedlock being acceptable is a modern western phenomenon.

There’s also the fact that this isn’t mentioned anywhere in middle-earth though this may be more to do with Tolkien’s society than anything else.

Morgil 27/Dec/2006 at 02:04 AM
Minstrel of Lothlorien Points: 2612 Posts: 3541 Joined: 10/Dec/2008

I would say that it would be unlikely in the extreme that it would be considered acceptable in ME. Tolkien’s world displays a number of influences from his own time and society. That so called "illegitimate" children and their mothers were shunned at the time was almost universal among many nations. That view unfortunately still persists today among those who choose traditional views on the matter.

Kirinki54 27/Dec/2006 at 02:59 AM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005
Quote: Originally posted by Maiarian Man on Tuesday, December 26, 2006
It is impossible for an elf to have a child out of wedlock. In Elven society, having a child would be equivalent to getting married.

But it is not quite that simple. If we talk about formal rituals and thus legitimacy (and I perceive this is largely what this debate is about) then Elves could well be married without these rituals, though not wed. “Out of wedlock” I think refer specifically to such rituals. It is possible that Tolkien perceived similar customs for other people.


But these ceremonies were not rites necessary to marriage; they were only a gracious mode by which the love of the parents was manifested, and the union was recognized which would join not only the betrothed but their two houses together. It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage, and after which the indissoluble bond was complete. In happy days and times of peace it was held ungracious and contemptuous of kin to forgo the ceremonies, but it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to another without ceremony or witness (save blessings exchanged and the naming of the Name); and the union so joined was alike indissoluble. In days of old, in times of trouble, in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made. (HoME 10: Morgoth´s Ring: Laws & Customs)


First Age 27/Dec/2006 at 01:45 PM
Master of Isengard Points: 263 Posts: 38 Joined: 08/Nov/2006
Thank you for your replies they have cleared a lot up.
KingODuckingham 28/Dec/2006 at 08:53 PM
Grey Counsellor of Isengard Points: 15053 Posts: 15390 Joined: 27/Aug/2006
I didn’t mean in our world...I meant in Tolkien’s world when I asked what gave you the idea any society accepted children out of wedlock.
Phil_d_one 29/Dec/2006 at 07:31 AM
Shipwright of Umbar Points: 13181 Posts: 12667 Joined: 14/Jan/2004
I see no problem with the topic as such, as long as the discussion follows all other rules that we observe on the Plaza. I have already had to delete a post (no pointloss) and edit volatile sections out of two others -- it is the acceptability of the matter in Middle-earth, not the morality (or otherwise) of the matter in general that is at issue, and it would be appreciated if the discussion is limited to that debate.

Sil 31/Dec/2006 at 04:14 AM
New Soul Points: 25641 Posts: 21386 Joined: 22/Sep/2004
Considering the importance that was attached to one’s house and honour of said house amongst both Elves and Men, (Túrin for one reacted rather violently to Saeros’ insulting of his family), especially the three houses of such in the earlier tales, it must have been upsetting indeed and a stigma not to have a known or acknowledged father. Amongst the Elves as MM said it surely would be impossible - for looking at Kirinki’s quote, although you say that without the ceremonies "Elves could well be married without these rituals, although not wed". Now I understand marriage to be the same as wedlock... isn’t there a contradiction there somewhere? To have a child they must needs have had such union and therefore would be married anyway. And affairs do not happen with Elves, from the same source, if you read on a little further:

"The Eldar wedded once for all. Many, as the histories reveal, could become estranged from good [...] But among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another’s spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible (even if it could be thought that any Elf would purpose to use it); for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed." (HoME, Morgoth’s Ring: Laws and Customs, Notes)

I suppose it might occur amongst Men. Or possibly Hobbits. Although again, the importance of family for them would have made the children unacceptable in ME society.