Was Feanor right in withholding the Silmarils from the Valar?The Silmarillion, Chapter 9: Of the Flight of the Noldor"
[Feanor, when asked to give the Silmarils to Yavanna after the destruction of the Two Trees]
This thing I will not do of free will. But if the Valar will constrain me, then shall I know indeed that Melkor is of their kindred.
Whether the jewels had some innate power is not conclusively proven, but their effect on their 'owners' was similar in later ages, giving some validity to the concept. For example Thingol:For Feanor began to love the Silmarils with a greedy love, and grudged the sight of them to all but his father and his seven sons.
Feanor had also been led to believe, albeit incorrectly that the Valar wanted the jewels for themselves, and this had provoked a violent reaction.And every day that he looked upn the Silmaril the more he desired to keep it for ever, for such was it's power
Secondly, we have the nature of the Noldor as a whole, and Feanor in particular. they were master craftsmen and were greatly enamoured of their own creations. Feanor was acknowledged as the greatest craftsman of them all. He was known to be steadfast and strong minded and to take little in the way of counsel when his mind was set.Get thee gone thou jail crow of Mandos!
Feanor repliedEven for those who are mightiest under Iluvatar there is some work that they may accomplish once and once only.
Should the Valar have asked Feanor to destroy his once in a lifetime creation, in order to save Yavanna's? His creations were equally important TO HIM, as hers were to her.For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest. It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their like; and if I must break them, I shall break my heart, and I shall be slain; first of all the Eldar in Aman.
He knew, as only another craftsman could, the anguish it would cause Feanor to destroy these precious things.We ask a greater thing than thou knowest. Let him have peace yet awhile.
If Feanor had permitted the destruction of the silmarils, what then the Fates of Arda?The fates of Arda, earth, sea and air , lay locked within them.
Mandos said that because he had foresight of what would happen. Had it been that the simarilli being unlocked at the time of the darkening of Valinor had actually happend, Mandos would have had knowledge of that instead of whatever end it is that he does have knowledge of.
because feanor was silent for awhile before answering, it can be concluded that he was considering handing them over. But even if Tulkas had not butted in, Feanor probably would have refused the request.If we look at all these circumstances, it is hard to believe that he was wrong to refuse. For Feanor, it was the ONLY possible choice he could have made.
No, I wont.I will show Feanor was wrong.
From the prophecy of the final battle.The Quenta, HoME IV
Then Feanor shall bear the Three and yield them unto Yavanna Palurian; and she will break them and with their fire rekindle the Two Trees...
Manwe said:The Light of the Trees I brought into being, and within Ea I can do so never again. Yet had I but a little of that light I could recall life to the Trees, ere their roots decay; and then our hurt should be healed, and the malice of Melkor be confounded.
Tulkas said:Hearest thou, Feanor son of Finwe, the words of Yavanna? Wilt thou grant what she would ask?
Aule said:Speak, O Noldo, yea or nay! But who shall deny Yavanna? And did not the light of the Silmarils come from her work in the beginning?
Nowhere did they ask for all three. Feanor assumes they want all three. 'But a little of that light', may very well be one or even two silmarils. Feanor, you could say, should have offered up one or two of them. It is fair to assume that no one present knew just how much light was needed, and it might have hurt Feanor much less to try with one or two than to break all three.Be not Hasty! We ask a greater thing than thou knowest. Let him have peace yet awhile.
Yavanna said:For Feanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he pondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable.
Yavanna clearly thinks this was foresight, but even if it was not, Yavanna thought then that the purpose of the silmarils should be to rekindle the Trees, and so it seems did the other Valar.The Light of the Trees has passed away, and lives now only in the Silmarils of Feanor. Foresighted was he!
The request was I agree not unreasonable. No more unreasonable than that light was denied to Middle-earth for long ages because the Valar remained in Aman where the Trees gave light to their domain only. Even the Teleri of Aman could only have this light by forsaking their havens and ships.By NomThe request was not unreasonable. This is evident by the fact that it came from the valar. Not only Yavanna who had herself just lost something that ment as much to her as Feanor's silmarils did to him, but also Manwe, High King of Arda, who works more than any others the will of Iluvatar and is closest in thought with him. And while Aule says they ask a greater thing than they know, he does not object to their asking, and furthermore he may have been a craftsmen but Yavanna and Varda and others among them that day were also makers. Elentari made the stars and their making was 'a great labour, greatest of all the works of the Valar since their coming into Arda'. So Aule's opinion or assumption that they asked more than they knew one could say he was probably incorrect.
So Yavanna and the rest of the Valar thought that the purpose of the Silmarils should be to rekindle the Trees? Perhaps they should have given this matter more thought from a less self-centred position.Yavanna clearly thinks this was foresight, but even if it was not, Yavanna thought then that the purpose of the silmarils should be to rekindle the Trees, and so it seems did the other Valar.
The Blessed realm, the home of many of the Eldar, and the eventual home of many more of the Eldar, was hugely diminished when Melkor killed the Trees. Feanor not only denied the light to the Valar, upon whom one might lay part of the blame for the death of the trees, but also to the Eldar, who there in the Blessed Realm and nowhere else in Arda could live more according to their true nature. The holy light was the cure for the hurts that Melkor caused to Arda, and when Feanor denied the silmarils he withheld that cure, and seeming to him at the time, to the benefit of no one other than himself.
The silmarils were of much more use lighting the trees than they were hidden away in an iron chamber. Because of this some could say Feanor was wrong.
The Ainur did not know of the Children of Ilúvatar and did not decide the conditions under which each would awaken. The Elves would do so under the stars while Men would wait for the light.The Ainulindalë.
And they saw with amazement the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and the habitation that was prepared for them; and they perceived that they themselves in the labour of their music had been busy with the preparation of this dwelling, and yet knew not that it had any purpose beyond its own beauty. For the Children of Ilúvatar were conceived by him alone; and they came with the third theme, and were not in the theme which Ilúvatar propounded at the beginning, and none of the Ainur had part in their making.
So the Valar gave light to the whole of Middle-earth in that time. But then Melkor struck once more.From The Silmarillion: Chapter 1
In that time the Valar brought order to the seas and the lands and the mountains, and Yavanna planted at last the seeds that she had long devised. And since, when the fires were subdued or buried beneath the primeval hills, there was need of light, Aulë at the prayer of Yavanna wrought two mighty lamps for the lighting of the Middle-earth which he had built amid the encircling seas. Then Varda filled the lamps and Manwë hallowed them, and the Valar set them upon high pillars, more lofty far than are any mountains of the later days. One lamp thy raised near to the north of Middle-earth, and it was named Illuin; and the other was raised in the south, and it was named Ormal; and the light of the Lamps of the Valar flowed out over the Earth, so that all was lit as it were in a changeless day.
So then, did the Valar replace the lamps?Chapter 1
But Melkor, trusting in the strength of Utumno and the might of his servants, came forth suddenly to war, and struck the first blow, ere the Valar were prepared; and he assailed the lights of Illuin and Ormal, and cast down their pillars and broke their lamps.
It would seem not. Did they ensure that Middle-earth would have light?Chapter 1
Therefore they departed from Middle-earth and went to the Land of Aman, the westernmost of all lands upon the borders of the world;
and since Melkor was returned to Middle-earth and they could not yet overcome him, the Valar fortified their dwelling, and upon the shores of the sea they raised the Pelóri, the Mountains of Aman, highest upon Earth.
alsoBehind the walls of the Pelóri the Valar established their domain in that region which is called Valinor; and there were their houses, their gardens , and their towers. In that guarded land the Valar gathered great store of light and all the fairest things that were saved from the ruin; and many others yet fairer they made anew, and Valinor became more beautiful even the Middle-earth in the Spring of Arda;
So they did not at that time give light to Middle-earth.But as the ages drew on to the hour appointed by Ilúvatar for the coming of the Firstborn, Middle-earth lay in a twilight beneath the stars that Varda had wrought in the ages forgotten of her labours in Eä.
The Elves were destined to awake in the darkness. Yet, look at what Mandos said again. "Great light shall be for their waning". This is important. The dominion of Men could not happen while Middle-earth was in darkness.Chapter 3:
But at the bidding of Manwë Mandos spoke, and he said: 'In this age the Children of Ilúvatar shall come indeed, but they come not yet. Moreover it is doom that the Firstborn shall come in the darkness, and shall look first upon the stars. Great light shall be for their waning. To Varda ever shall they call at need.'
What I wonder was this "Shadow of foreknowledge" that may have come to him? Our opponents of the GoO would probably say it was of the destruction of the Trees. However, this was an incident far too minor in nature for the need of the Silmarils. No the foreknowledge was not because of the death of the Trees but the due to the reason the Trees had to go!Chapter 7
For Fëanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he pondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable. Then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.
So what was it that his refusal accomplished?Chapter 9
'Here once was light, that the Valar begrudged to Middle-earth, but now dark levels all.
These became the Moon and the Sun and were set to give light to all of Arda.Chapter 11
Then Manwë bid Yavanna and Nienna to put forth all their powers of growth and healing; and they put forth all their powers upon the Trees. But the tears of Nienna availed not to heal their mortal wounds; and for a long while Yavanna sang alone in the shadows. Yet even as hope failed and her song faltered, Telperion bore at last upon a leafless bough one great flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold.
Finally the Valar gave thought to Middle-earth and it's need for light. Manwë "Knew also the hour of the coming of Men was drawn nigh". So then, if this was the case, "Why was it only at this point did he give thought to light for Middle-earth? Because until now he had been content in Aman. The death of the Trees and the Refusal of Fëanor had forced him to remember his duties as "High King of Arda" and vicegerent of Ilúvatar!Chapter 11
These things the Valar did, recalling in their twilight the darkness of the lands of Arda; and they resolved now to illumine Middle-earth and with light to hinder the deeds of Melkor. For they remembered and Avari that remained by the waters of their awakening, and they did not utterly forsake the Noldor in exile; and Manwë knew also that the hour of the coming of Men was drawn nigh.
About the Silmarils:he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.
He used the light that radiated from the Trees, nothing more.Like the crystals of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda. Yet that crystal was to the Silmarils but as is the body to the Children of Ilúvatar; the house of its inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and is its life. And the inner fire of the Silmarils Fëanor made of the blended light of the Trees of Valinor,
Not even a hint that someone is claiming ownership of that light.All who dwelt in Aman were filled with wonder and delight at the work of Fëanor. And Varda hallowed the Silmarils,
Fëanor was the most skilled of all the Eldar when it comes to making things with his own hands. When it is told that he put forth all his skill, his lore, and his powers, then making the Silmarils is no small feat accomplished on a Sunday afternoon.Then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his powers, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.
He isn't even sure if he is able to unlock them, and why should he believe that he could?For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest. It may be that I can unlock my jewels,
Noone could.Like the crystals of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.
So there it is: The Silamrils were the product of Fëanor's own work, even his own idea, made with all the lore, skill and powers that the mightiest Noldor ever could put forth. They were so strong that none could break them, and filled all with wonder and delight.For Fëanor was driven by the fire of his own heart only, working ever swiftly and alone, and he asked the aid and sought the counsel of none that dwelt in Aman,
Yes the Darkening of Valinor might have been enough to do so. However, we only see the Valar wanting to re-light the Trees and put things back as they were. The Noldor had already left Middle-earth. I am sure that this is a typo but I am not sure if you mean :-The Darkening of Valinor could have been enough to remind them to light all of Middle-earth, even had Feanor not refused.
Also, the Noldor were bound to leave Middle-earth, do you think this wouldn't have reminded the Valar that it needed light?
How do you know this? I have provided a quote to show that Men woke with the light. But since the Valar were doing very little to provide this light something had to be done. If the Trees had been saved at that time just when do you think the very content Valar would have stirred themselves enough to do some work for Middle-earth?Causing the Valar to think of Middle-earth being dark and then put up the Sun and Moon because of this, is not the puprose of Feanor's foreight (if he even had foresight) nor it is the puprose of the refusal. One thing common to the legendarium from the very beginning and lasting for many years, is men waking with the coming of the light. Because men must have woke in the light, and you have provided a quote to show this, the Valar were bound to light Middle-earth eventually, regardless of if Valinor had light or not.
I agree that the purpose of the Silmarils must be at the later point in time. Therefore even if his reasons were not of the highest he was still right to refuse to give them to the Valar too early. His reasons are not used to justify his action. The fact that it was the Wrong time does that.The true puprose of the foresight (if there was any) and the higher purpose achieved in the refusal on the silmarils, if not the relighting of the Tree as that point in time, must be the role they play in the end when Arda is re-made. But unless Feanor refused to give them up for this reason, it doesn't matter as it can not justify his refusal, nor can it make his action right in hindsight.
Who said that the purpose of the Silmarils was to have them denied to the Valar? I said that the Foresight of Fëanor had to do with the reason the Trees had to go. He then preserved the light of the Trees for a time far in the future. When he was asked to open them too early he very rightly refused. Although he may not, and no doubt did not, know fully the reasons why he made them nor why they should not be used for such a lowly purpose as the simple comfort of the Valar, he did know that he should refuse. This he did.To think the high purpose of the simarils was to have them denied to the Valar who would then, being in darkness, think to light all of Middle-earth, is absurd, as it could have been achieved just is well if the things were never created.
The simple fact is that if the Silmarils were used to allow Valinor to have once more the light of the Trees it would have meant the Valar had no reason to make the Sun and the Moon. They were too content with the way things were in Aman.The simple fact is that the silmarils were of more use lighting Valinor than being locked in iron.
Fëanor and only Fëanor knew the secrets of the Silmarils and how they were made. The Valar did not know how the open them and could not "Break" them. Therefore it is obvious that Fëanor would have to open them for the Valar. And as for possibly only one or Two being needed, I very much doubt this to be the case. By doing it in this fashion the greatest risk is that by using less than is available in the first attempt all that would happen is that you waste the little you have. In such a case it would be only simple wisdom to open all three and divide the light equally between the two Trees.Feanor, because of his mindset, assumed all three should be opened and assumed Yavanna and none of the other Valar could open them.