Was Melkor ever good?

Discussion in '"The Silmarillion"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Gandalf said that nobody started out as evil, not even Sauron. While Sauron may have been good before he became corrupted by Melkor, it seems that, even during the creation song, Melkor was, if not openly evil, at least openly trying to go his own way rather than follow Eru.
     
  2. Scaverius

    Scaverius New Member

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    I think he was. For example, he didn't always wear the name Morgoth. And there was no evil in trying to go one's own way, unless 'one's own way' was to try to openly withstand the will of Illuvatar. Melkor didn't intentionally withstand the will of Illuvatar until he descended into Arda to fight other Valar and even then he was not irredeemable. His name was still Melkor when he was captured and held captive and then released later to walk free within the bounds of Valinor. It is when he seduced Feanor to distrust the Valar, destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor and slew Finwe - Melkor was named Morgoth or 'the Black Foe of the World'. I think the slaughter of Finwe was the act that crossed the final line for Melkor - here he openly withstood not the Valar, but Illuvatar, daring to kill one of the Firstborn children of His.
     
  3. Elaini

    Elaini Lost in Eä

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    He was the most ambitious of all. Ambition in itself isn't a bad thing, but in excess it leads to jealousy. Melkor is basically the embodiment of that. Each Vala embodies an attitude or an element, remember? :)
     
  4. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    He hang out in a bad neighborhood for a while that's all.
     
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  5. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    Tolkien says how the music and actions of the Valar were from their own decisions. It seems like Melkor chooses this path during the music when he plays with pride instead of pure creativity which is balance between the individual voice and the whole of the music.

    I think this is a good point, it was ambition that held potential to be a negative trait for Melkor. It's interesting, because Tolkien writes that ultimately even all the destruction of Melkor would be used for the greater fulfillment of Ilúvatar's vision, and he says that Melkor knew more of the mind of Ilúvatar than any other. So, Melkor has the largest impact on the whole history of Arda.

    One could even argue that evil gradually entered Melkor more, from his discord in the music, to when he was destroying the landscape before the Two Trees were created as a titan-like figure, to when he was trying to conquer in battle against the Valar, to when he was enslaving and killing the Children of Ilúvatar.
     
  6. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Good point. A couple of other examples could be cited: Aule's drive for making things, or the wild exuberance of Osse, either of which, if unchecked, become destructive.
     
  7. Inziladun

    Inziladun Member

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    The way I see it, Melkor in the beginning had good intentions, yea he brought discord into the Music, but that discord was part of the music too—it was free will that was made from his Song. That was his role in the Music. Think about it: is it not the pain and hardness of life that gives life meaning, discovering our purpose?
     
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  8. gentleDrift

    gentleDrift New Member

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    I wonder wether the answer might not be "no" by definition, in some sense at least. These are of course highly philosophical questions, but to me it seems that the very concept of Evil in Tolkien's world is created with the discord of Melkor in the Ainulindale. Before that, or in some alternate Arda Unmarred, would there even have been anything evil? I don't get that impression, and therefore everything we might judge as evil or imperfect must have its root in the discord of Melkor. In particular, Melkor himself cannot have been "good" ever since the Music of the Ainur, but rather it is through Melkor and his actions that the concept of Evil itself is defined*.

    So if Melkor ever has been "good" in the sense of adhering to the original design of Eru**, it must have been before the Music. Of that time we are told little in the Silmarillion - but we are told that Melkor went alone into the void to seek the Flame Imperishable, being misguided in this, for it was with Eru. This seems to me like the earliest sign of Melkor's fall, but it is all so abstracted that it is hard to tell what precisely is happening here - remember that within the fictional frame this is some mortal (possibly Bilbo) recalling/translating what he has heard from Elves, who were told this by the Valar in an attempt to somehow make relatable events occurring before the creation of Arda. This makes any interpretation of events and motives in the Ainulindale quite difficult.

    * This might be only partially correct, as there seem to be some things that are evil and yet don't have their origin in Melkor, like Ungoliant for example.

    ** Another point (that Inziladun has raised as well) is that ultimately, Melkor cannot alter the plans of Eru, and that even the Discord in the Music only gives rise to more beauty in creation. But I think that this is just to say that Melkor being evil is part of Eru's plan, and not that Melkor was not evil. Or that in some sense, Evil itself is not an evil thing. It is a complex topic.
     
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  9. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Well-Known Member

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    In a sense it is similar to biblical and ancient writings, where certain individuals (The Creation Story) or Satan or similar protagonists committ an evil act bringing disharmony into the world. However God, a Divine Spirit or Power eventually uses that evil for good.

    Since I am Christian I think of the Story of Joseph in Genesis when he says to his brothers who faked his death and sold him into slavery but who has survived and since prospered,

    "As for you, you meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good." (Joseph saves his family from starvation during 7 yrs of famine.)

    Even Melkor's discord/marring/evil bringing was used by Eru for good to his purpose. Melkior's power and creations are only parasitic, without free will. A corruption of Eru's. But thru this evil comes great beauty, the friendship and servanthood of The Nine. Evil is undone not by the mighty but by the lowly, often out of view of Sauron and others who have succumbed to the slavery of evil. In the words of Elrond,

    “Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

    In the end good triumphs over evil. I love Sam's thoughts on the beauty of a star shining above in the darkness of Mordor,

    "The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of that forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
     
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  10. Inziladun

    Inziladun Member

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    You both make very good points, and I believe that he was ultimately evil after he descended into Ëa, but he was not made to be evil. And his discord was necessary to the fulfillment of Arda (though those in Arda might disagree). No one ever will want to admit that good came from evil, especially if they experienced that evil; yet if they looked at it beyond their own lives, then is it a glorious role to have suffered it.
     
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  11. Sulimo

    Sulimo Registered User

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    Melkor was not evil from his inception. All the Ainur were created from the mind of Iluvatar, and only understood the portion of his mind that he had gifted them. Iluvatar is perfect and the creator. The discord and strife sowed by Melko was in no way a desire of Iluvatar. Melkor expressed his free will and the gifts given to him to express himself.

    "But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly."
    Ainulindale pg 15

    The Book of Lost Tales goes into more detail on this matter, and what it reveals is Melkor is unlike so many of the other Ainur, or more specifically Valar. Each of them have there classic representation similar to Gods in so many mythologies created by people attempting to understand the natural forces at work around them, and explain their existence. Melkor, however; created in the image of Iluvatar was given the gifts of: power, wisdom, and knowledge. Compounded with a strong desire to create. He sought out these things and they drove him to clash against the theme of Iluvatar. Because the very gifts made him seek independence and mastery. One could argue that just as Manwe could not comprehend evil when he allowed Melkor to be unchained. Melkor could not understand empathy. He only knew his own desires that drove him to be what he is. While other Ainur listened to their brothers and their understanding and bonds grew and deepened, Melkor was off chasing the Secret Fire. It is truly a tragedy that the one most gifted and like his father in skill lacks the compassion and understanding of fellowship.

    "But as the great theme progressed it came into the heart of Melko to interweave matters of his own vain imagining that were not fitting to that great theme of Iluvatar. Now Melko had among the Ainur been given some of the greatest gifts of power and wisdom and knowledge by Iluvatar, and he fared often alone into the dark places and the voids seeking the Secret Fire that giveth Life and Reality (for he had a very hot desire to bring things into being of his own); yet he found it not, for it dwelleth with Iluvatar, and that he knew not till afterward."
    Book of Lost Tales 1 The Music of the Ainur pg 51

    Now this could open up all sorts of philosophical debates of was Melkor doomed to rebel. That is a difficult question to answer. What we can know for a fact are that he was made in the image of Iluvatar. That he sought his own pursuits and desires over those of Iluvatar as well as the other Ainur, that he does not appear to possess humility, and that he is driven by pride and desire. What's interesting is how much he has in common with Feanor. However, no one would make an argument if Feanor was always evil or even evil at all. I personally believe that Melkor had a capacity to do great good, but failed because he never took the time to understand others. Also he is very similar to Turin. He wanted what he couldn't have fooling himself into believing it was in his grasp, and the thirst for that power overrode all other desires in his life. This characteristic is further exhibited in the Fall of Gondolin.

    "Then arose Thorondor, King of Eagles, and he loved not Melko; for Melko had caught many of his kindred and chained them against sharp rocks...whereby he might learn to fly (for he dreamed of contending even against Manwe in the air); and when they would not tell he cut off their wings and to fashion therefrom a mighty pair for his use."
    The Fall of Gondolin pg 106

    I personally believe that Melkor was not evil, but he probably would have rebelled regardless of the circumstances. However, never did his rebellion have an effect on the plan of Iluvatar. For he only knew that which had been gifted to him by Iluvatar.
     
  12. Inziladun

    Inziladun Member

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    The greatest question is how much was revealed to the Ainur in the Vision? Melkor could do no evil deed, or good without it having its source Ilúvatar. Eru designed these things with a vision of what they should become. One could say Melkor was good because he was evil, but 'evil' is just a notion. Could evil exist without sentient life?
    There is no progress without change, evil and conflict seem to be the catalyst that brings the greatest change to events in our world, and Tolkien's. Therefore it is a natural thing, like the transition of one season to another.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  13. Malfurion

    Malfurion Proven Healer

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    This is a wonderful forum, first time posting, not really on the internet much but I love Tolkien and I happened across this.

    I feel like the core answer is “of course”, for the first five paragraphs of the Silmarillion, which covers an expanse time, Ilúvatar is well pleased and there is no discord. And the mere fact that Melko was created by Ilúvatar causes me to believe that he can’t have been fully evil. In the same way that Lucifer can’t be pure evil in the Christian narrative, he was an archangel once. Another point to this would be that after Ilúvatar puts an end to their music, and criticizes Melko for his song of discord, Melko is ashamed of himself. Certainly that shame lead to anger, but simply feeling shame is, I’d argue, the mark of a conscience.

    Now the interesting question I think is when did Melko become irredeemable, because I imagine we’d all agree he certainly was, but at what moment did he cross that line? Some great answers already on this thread. When he earned the name ‘Morgoth’ in my opinion, but it might be rather subjective.

    Love the forum!
     
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  14. Belthil

    Belthil Active Member

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  15. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    Nienna visits Melko and they talk about Fëanor:

     
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  16. grendel

    grendel Registered User

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    Melkor was the epitome of selfish love, IMO. The other Valar loved the vision of Arda and wanted to be part of it, to enjoy it and SHARE it. Melkor just wanted it, for himself. This type of perverted love led him to (eventually) be nothing but evil.
     
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