- Feb 19, 2018
- Reaction score
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.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?
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.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?
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.** 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.
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.
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.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.”
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?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.