Significance of Death & Mortality & Immortality in The Lord of the Rings

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by CirdanLinweilin, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California
    Hi All!

    A bit of a morbid subject, but I feel like it's perhaps the most important aspect of Tolkien and his legendarium.

    Death, Mortality and Immortality.

    It is no mystery that The Good Professor was no stranger to these two aspects of Life, (Death and Mortality) having served in WW1 and losing most of his friends. This hit John Ronald harder than we normally believe, since it was diffused into every aspect of his mythology.

    Túrin, Beren and Lúthien, Tuor and Idril, Elrond, Elros, Arwen, Aragorn, Boromir,

    It may seem trite, but these three themes and aspects have touched these characters and many more in such heartbreaking and heart wrenching ways.

    My question to you is: How has these themes portrayed by Tolkien in his legendarium, based on his own experiences, shaped your thoughts and mindset on these topics?

    Go Wild.

    CL
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
    Justin Swanton and Erikhk like this.
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2016
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Luxembourg
    Dear - I think this is wide over the roof.
    Whoever looks at his own death and mortality (immortality obviously does not exist) will not connect such intimate thinking to any book of fiction.
    No disrespect meant but I fail to see the point or the interest in this type of forum.
    My opinion, my own, of course.
     

  3. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California
    I can see your point, and I don't disagree, I just see The Professor's experience with losing most of his friends in The Great War, which had a tremendous effect on him, purveying his work, especially The Silmarillion. This is my own opinion, you definitely don't have to agree with it.

    CL
     
    Erikhk likes this.
  4. Margaret Shirley

    Margaret Shirley New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2017
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Bristol,England
    I have to respectfully disagree with Merroe. I think something like that can absolutely be affected by fiction. I have had many instances where works of fiction changed significant parts of my worldview, sometimes because they showed me things I hadn't experienced or didn't know about, because they made me think about something I hadn't thought of before, or even just that they really beautifully portray something. Anyway, as for mortality and LOTR, that is a big thing for me. LOTR definitely gave me a significant change in worldview relating to that topic. In LOTR, the passage of time is a clear motif, and it made me really think about how I will grow old and die, that it will actually happen to me. Of course I've always known that, but it's another thing to watch it play out, makes it more real. This may seem insignificant, but by having the story take place in the past, which things like the appendices where surviving characters die or set sail, makes it feel as though they are both alive and dead, at once present and a distant memory. And now it sounds like I am describing Lothlorien, but that is of course another place heavily related to the passing of time. My point is, I guess, that it started to close the rift between alive and dead, as there is nothing like seeing an extended period of time(I'm including The Sil as well) and watching everyone due to make you realize the only real difference between the ones that live and the ones that don't is a little time. That sounds kind of deppressing, but I don't intend to say it like that. I'm not sure how to explain. I guess I have always loved time, been fascinated by it, and so in a way I like feeling more a part of it. I feel I have not explained myself properly, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that LOTR didn't give me any real "conclusions" in how I think about death, but it forced me to think about it, to stare something I usually would have...avoided in the face. Over the past 4 months(exactly as of tmw!), I've thought a lot about this subject, and I think that LOTR didn't give me any exact perspective on it, instead it forced me to think about it myself. That's one of the things I love about Tolkien actually. He doesn't give any easy answers, no clear "this is what it means"(or at least"this is what I think it means"). Much of what he writes is open to the interpretation and "applicability" of the reader, he forces me to think for myself, in a way that makes me uncomfortable, but that I love precisely for that reason, I have to come to the answer myself.
    I know that was somewhat repetitive, but I was trying to think of the best way to say it. It still didn't come out quite right, but I think it will have to do.
    Also, today is Tolkien's birthday!
     

  5. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California

    I think that was a good explanation!

    And, Happy Birthday Tolkien!
     
  6. Yalerd

    Yalerd Thinker

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Great question!

    I think because JRRT was very clear when he explained there is no allegory in his stories, the idea of death may be the one thing that ties this reality to Middle Earth. Humans in Middle Earth always struggled with the notion that their fate was a "gift", and even some of the wisest and oldest still have no conceivable notion of exactly what happens. Very similar to our own history.
     
  7. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California

    Good Point!

    CL
     
  8. Yalerd

    Yalerd Thinker

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Given that said, I believe one of the most powerful notions in these stories is how the Numenorean Kings, gifted with so much, long life being the greatest, willingly forfeited their lives when they felt appropriate. Laying themselves down to die when they after what they felt was a long well spent life. King Elessar reviving that act. What a concept! Must've made the Eldar wonder
     
  9. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California
    Exactly! I think in the beginning of the elves' existence, and some times maybe still in the Third Age, Death was foreign to the Elves, at least how men die, how, like you said the Númenoreans willingly gave up their lives, and where they go afterwards, no one in Arda knew, no one, during the Third Age, and past, and beyond, knew of the Fate of Men.

    Such a powerful, breath-taking, yet profoundly terrifying thought, to willingly give up your life, after a life, deemed by oneself, to be was a well spent life, to journey beyond the Circles of the World, to go where no Elf can Fathom, nor go. When Elves die, they are still bound to Arda, yet when Men die, it is a journey into the Unknown.

    Not even Men knew of the Fate of Men after-death!


    Wow! :eek::eek::eek:

    CL
     
    Yalerd likes this.
  10. Yalerd

    Yalerd Thinker

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Man, I know. Everyone is so protective of their life, fearful of death, and almost in denial over the notion that it ends when it ends. Can you imagine that happening in this world? (Let alone someone in power)
     
  11. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Writer
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, California

    From what I've personally seen, it kinda already is. It's both powerful and profoundly terrifying. Tolkien hit nails on heads with this concept.

    CL
     
    Yalerd likes this.
  12. Rána

    Rána Wayward

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    I believe that one of the main reasons people create art is so that others will connect it with intimate thinking. Be it a painting, a musical composition, a work of written fiction, or any other medium that we use to express ourselves. Art is the language of intimate thought and emotion.

    The theme of mortality is all over the stories of Middle-earth, how can you avoid talking about it? I absolutely love these works as a way to explore things like death and spirituality without getting caught up in a discussion about personal religious beliefs. It sort of levels the playing field when everyone is treating the material as works of fiction. I actually started poking around in Tolkien forums looking for these kinds of conversations. It’s tough not to just spew out all of the thoughts that have been rattling around in my mind over the years.

    Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world...

    That’s one of the passages that made me realize that the writings of Tolkien are writings that I should be exploring more in depth. It made me realize that the torment of uncertainty that stirs around within my innermost depths wasn’t something that I felt alone. That maybe it was common to the human experience.

    I think it’s really interesting that we can compare the memories of the elder days for Men, which are based on stories, and the memories of the Elves which are based off of their actual experiences of the events. It makes me think of the expression, “those that don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” The problem isn’t that we forget the historical record of the events, the problem is that we lose our emotional connection as the generations pass. There’s an inherent lack of wisdom that comes along with a finite lifespan.

    Talking about death doesn’t have to be depressing. It’s sobering, sorrowful yet enlightening, but it’s an essential element of life and life is to be celebrated. A lengthy discussion can definitely feel heavy on the mind, the emotions, and the spirit... but heavy lifting makes us stronger, a little bit from time to time is healthy. I think it would be folly to refuse to acknowledge death. That’s essentially what the later Númenórean kings were doing. “You can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.” They learned that lesson more bitterly than was required.
     
    CirdanLinweilin likes this.

Share This Page