I have a huge problem with Túrin escaping the Doom of Men, the circles of the world, and returning to a) slay Morgoth, b) slay Ancalagon or c) be counted among the sons of the Valar.
I actually don't see it as "escaping the Doom of Men". With the remaking of Arda, the "circles of the world" would become a thing of the past, from my understanding of Tolkien's cosmogony. Arda Remade and Healed would not, I believe, be constrained any longer by the space/time continuum....it would, in essence, be heaven
No. That's just too neat, it ties up loose ends and wraps them nicely in a ... a .... Christian package. That is not how I perceive the Silmarillion.
I don’t know about it being a specifically “Christian package". I think it definitely fits within a broader mythological tradition of the “End of Days”, where there seems to be four possible outcomes: the complete and final annihilation of the world and all it contains, the “rebirth” or regeneration of the world to begin the cycle all over again, the destruction of the “wicked” or “faithless” and the redemption/reward of the “chosen” or “enlightened”, and the “remaking” of a blemished, woeful world into a transcendently blissful, “timeless” paradise (which has been, I guess, my personal take on “what’s most likely in store” for Arda).
For me, the scenario of Túrin issuing forth from the Halls of Mandos to engage in the final battle with Morgoth, and Eärendil descending from the heavens to “drive him from the airs”, seems more consistent with the historical myths of the Elder Days than the Athrabeth’s
not-so-subtle hints that Eru will enter into Arda in order to heal its Marring. Although I consider the Athrabeth
to be a powerfully compelling work (and one that I truly love), I’ve always had a real problem with this aspect of the debate. Quite honestly, it pulls me right out of the mythological structure that is the foundation of my own “belief” in Tolkien’s cosmology because of its resonating (and far too obvious IMO) Christian undertones. Even the Downfall of Númenor, with all its Old Testament parallels, doesn’t jar me as much as the idea that Eru will somehow be manifested in flesh and blood. I’m just not comfortable with this late turn in the direction of the myth, along with other “re-thinkings” in “Myths Transformed”
, and (I know I’m in perilous territory here) I’m rather unimpressed with Tolkien’s own assertion in his Commentaries on the Athrabeth
that the Second Prophesy could not be “true” Elvish lore, but is instead a solely “Mannish” interpretation of that lore. This, I find to be quite perplexing, as I believe Tolkien was also working on the Annals of Aman
at about the same time (late ‘50’s) and in that work, he writes (as cited in “Morgoth’s Ring
Then Varda went forth from the council , and she looked out from the height of Tanequetil, and beheld the darkness of the Earth beneath the innumerable stars, faint and far. Then she began a great labour, the greatest of all the works of the Valar since their coming unto Arda.
Now Varda took the light that issued from Telperion and was stored in Valinor and she made stars newer and brighter. And many other of the ancient stars she gathered together and set as signs in the heavens of Arda. The greatest of these was Menelmakar, the Swordsman of the Sky. This, it is said, was a sign of Túrin Turambar, who should come into the world, and a foreshadowing of the Last Battle that shall be at the End of Days.
Is this another “Mannish” interpretation or, as it seems clearly indicated at the beginning of the Annals, the direct words of Rúmil? Hmmmmm.
I also find it……well….. odd that the Second Prophecy was deemed overtly “Man-centred” when it explicitly states that the Elves and Valar shall be renewed after Dagor Dagorath, but that the fate of Men remains unknown (although they are “avenged” by Túrin’s slaying of Morgoth), while in the published Sil, it is written that Men will participate in singing the Second Music, and that it is the fate of the Elves that is unknown. I don’t know……something just seems “back to front” about all that. Hmmmmmm.
I guess I’m of two minds about the Second Prophesy. Although I think that it fits very appropriately into the structural foundation of the published Sil, it certainly is a bit of a hodge-podge. I especially like the parallel “redemptions” of Fëanor and Túrin, both coming from Mandos to finally fulfill their greater dooms (I’m probably drawn to the kind of positive “final balance” this gives to their dark and bitter tales). I also love the idea that the blessed Light of the Trees will restore Arda to its original form and bestow its Healing – for me, it is somehow reassuring that Light continues to symbolize a manifestation of the eternal purity, goodness and love of Eru. Something that totally confuses me: the “arising” of the Elvish dead……what’s up with that?
All this being said, I think that when it comes down to it, I do prefer the ending of the published Sil to that of the Second Prophesy of the Quenta. I like the mystery of it, that tinge of darkness and uncertainty that remains wrapped in possibilities that may or may not come to pass. Should one despair, or hold to estel
? Like the characters that have come and gone from the great stage of Arda Marred, we are left to listen to the secret whisperings of our hearts, and make our own choice.