Who is the Main Character of The Silmarillion?

Discussion in '"The Silmarillion"' started by HurinThalion, Feb 6, 2017.

  1. HurinThalion

    HurinThalion New Member

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    With a narrative that spans thousands of years, it can be difficult to identify the most central characters of The Silmarillion. If you had to pick one character, who do you think has the most important character arc or ties in the best with the central themes and key events of the Silmarillion, and why?
     
  2. Marina Melinda Heacock

    Marina Melinda Heacock Arwen

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    I didn't think that there was a main character, per-say...I felt Middle Earth and the races were the focus of the tale...It's one of the few stories where I felt it was less about particular characters and more about the history of the world that Tolkien was trying (and successfully) create. Personally, I like the fact it isnt about any one character. To me, it reads like a history book.
     
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  3. HurinThalion

    HurinThalion New Member

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    I agree that there is not literally one main character. I mean more which character do you think is at the heart or core of The Silmarillion.

    For example, I think Maedhros is perhaps the character most central to the Silmarillion's themes and story arc.

    I see the Silmarillion, to some extent, as the story of the Oath of Feanor and the ruinous consequences of pride for the Noldor. We see Maedhros take the oath, go with the Noldor into exile, become High King briefly after Feanor's death, show nobility by relinquishing kingship to the House of Fingolfin, display leadership and prowess in the Wars of Beleriand, but then ultimately descend into darkness in the Second and Third Kinslayings. Ultimately, he and Maglor recover two of the Silmarils--only to be burned by the jewels' holy light. In despair, Maedhros casts himself into a fiery chasm, along with the Silmaril that brought so much grief for his people.

    To me, Maedhros encapsulates in one character the main themes and message of the Silmarillion--of the devastating consequences of pride and rash oaths. Of the slow twisting and corruption that can happen even in pursuit of a seemingly good goal. Maedhros is around from the beginning of the story of the Silmarils to the end. To me, his character captures the heart of the Silmarillion.
     
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  4. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

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    I agree, there isn't really a main character. The Silmarillion is the story of Middle Earth from creation through the Third Age. Sort of like how the Old Testament of the Bible doesn't have one particular main character, each individual story does.
     
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  5. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    To answer this, I'd say that Beren and Lúthien could be said to be the central characters, as Tolkien described their story as being the central piece of his mythos. Indeed, their story (especially their confrontation of Morgoth) in many ways appears to be the climax of the Silmarillion as a whole.

    I think it's notable how through their love and the events in the story, the laws of nature themselves were amended; they had a directness of contact with the Valar that was never reached by any other beings. The story appears to be a crossroad of sorts, with early elements like the Oath of Fëanor and Thingol in Doriath present alongside what would become later themes up through the Second and Third Ages, such as the Half-Elven and the rise of Sauron.

    Edit: Now, I feel like Earendil might be the main character
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
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  6. Matthew Bailey

    Matthew Bailey Member

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    The Silmarillion isn't really one "book" or novel.

    It contains characters that cross over into the different stories that it contains, but asking what character is the most "significant" is rather like asking who is the main character of the Volsungs or Classical Mythology.

    The Central "Characters" in that case are the Valar, and Eru, even though they are not mentioned for most of the work, yet they remain the central element through which everything else revolves.

    MB
     
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  7. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    I agree with Matthew Bailey, Erestor Arcamen, HurinThalion, and Marina Melinda Heacock, here. While there are recurring characters in almost every part of the Silmarillion, there isn't a single "central" or "main" character. The Silmarillion reads like a history book; in many ways, it is a history book. Each arc has its own point of focus, but though each arc ties into the next, the focus shifts from arc to arc. The overarching themes are what tie the whole narrative together. Thus, there is no central character in the Silmarillion.

    One of Tolkien's main goals with his works was to give his languages a world in which to thrive and flourish. I would say that the central focus would probably be the Languages and Cultures of Middle-earth, rather than the specific characters, if you want to look at it a little more abstractedly.
     
  8. HobbitGirl

    HobbitGirl Aurë entuluva!

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    I had never thought of it this way, but I absolutely agree. The Silmarillion was never written as or meant to be a singular book, but if you take the Years of the Trees and the First Age of the Sun as a single cohesive narrative, then thematically, Maedhros is indeed the strongest unifying force.

    And Maglor is the closest witness to what happened to Maedhros. Does that make Maedhros the Sherlock Holmes and Maglor the John Watson?
     
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  9. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    May I just say, approval points for cross-fandom comparisons? Thank you so much for bringing that into play. You just made my day.
     

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