MiddleEarthBlog: MiddleEarth and Death


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MiddleEarth and Death

It seems a strange subject to discuss but an inevitable one for each race in Middleearth, for there was a lot of death going on in this turbulent and violent world. It is known that elves are immortal and therefore do not die of disease or old age they continue on for many, many centuries of life.Yet Elves can die under certain circumstances, they can die of catastrophic wounds or from weariness of the world.They are immortal but not eternal, their fate is bound up with the fate of the world,it is their gift or curse to survive till the end of MiddleEarth, what the plan  Eru(The Creator) has for them out into eternity they do not know for Eru has not revealed it unto them,or to the Valar.It is believed in Middleearth that each being is divided into the Fea and Hroa that is the soul and the body. For the Elves, the hröa is made to fit the fëa and it is unnatural for them to be separated.The fëar of Men, however, become separated from their hröar at death, and in this case separation is natural because it is in accordance with the nature of Men.The Elves are bound up into this world and can't leave it.Even if they suffer death from wounds or grief there fëa is sent to the halls of Mandos where it may rest for awhile from the weariness of the world. the Elvish fëa may, if it chooses, be reincarnated in a hröa identical to the one in which the fëa was formerly housed. The Valar were given permission and power by Eru to see to the construction of a new hröa for the 'houseless' fëa, and they can judge that a fëa may not be reimbodied, or at least not yet, in certain situations.If an Elf is reincarnated it must stay in Aman (the blessed realm0except for certain circumstances it is allowed to return to MiddleEarth if it has some unfinished task to complete , this is the same grace that was allowed Gandalf when he died after fighting the Balrog, does that mean that Gandalf was an elf? No, he was an Istari(Wizard) and one of the Maiar(lesser Gods) at least that is what I believe from my readings. Glorfindel an Elf you read about in the Lord Of The Rings was an Elf from the first age who was slain by a Balrog but eventually allowed to return to Middleearth,what his unfinished task was I am not certain.Men,are mortal, that is, they die. There Fea and Hroa are completely seperaed which was the way Eru planned it,it is said the Elfs were jealous of mans mortal death because it seemed to tham a final release from the cares and worries of the world.Men,of course felt differently about it.They felt death was a curse and were jealous of the Elfs immortality.The Numenorians were men who had been granted a longer life span than other men, some three to four centuries but this wasn't enough.The Valar had established a home Island for them to live in within sight of the Valars home(the Undying Lands) but would not allow them to ever enter there,The Numonoreans were led astray by Sauron who they had taken captive, he laid a great anger in their hearts for not having received the gift of immortality and convinced that all they need do was to enter the Undying lands and take it for their own.This they foolishly attempted to do and the Valar destoryed them and their kingdom so death was always an important catalyst of great tragedy in Middleearth.Only one man was allowed to return from death,Beren,and then only for a short time. What of the other races?Dwarves were given long life, centuries of it, but they were not created by Eru but by one of the Valar(Aule) it is said they do die and then return to the stone that came from.Gimli being an exception as he was allowed to travel with Legolas back to the undying lands and did not therefore suffer death.Hobbits were relatives of Men and therefore suffered death as Men do,The exceptions being the three Ringbearers Bilbo,Frodo and Sam.Ents could suffer death from fire and Axe but wether or not they died of old age I can find no readings to indicate so,Orcs were supposedly bred from Elfs, they were originallly Elfs who had been captured by Melkor and through slow and painful tortures turned to Orcs,Wether they maintained the immortality of the Elfs is not stated, personally I don't think so I feel they died a mortal death and where there Fea (if they had one) went I do not know. Wizards were as stated earlier,I believe Maiar and if they were Gods them I'm sure they did not die a mortal death,at the end of the Lord Of The Rings Saruman was knifed by Wormtongue and his physical body turned to smoke and drifted away not a natural death to be sure,but did he die? That does not appear to have a findable answer either but I shall keep looking. It was mans fear of death that Sauron used to his advantage,in the destruction of his captors,the Numonoreans, and as a lure for the great Wizards and Kings of old that fell under his sway by the promised immortality the Rings of Power would give them.It did extend their lives far beyond those of regular men but they eventually were consumed by the rings and passed into an existence as Slaves of the Rings and their master,Sauron.So as you can see Death in Middleearth was a complex issue for us and even for Professor Tolkien who changes his mind on how to represent it many times,I will not try to define things that he had such difficulty in doing but just simply state the facts as I have studied them.For an excellent essay on this I direct you to the article "Death In Tolkiens Legendarium" at http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/encyc/papers/Amaranth/DeathinTolkien.htm

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