Were the Valar right to doom Fëanor?

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Were the Valar right to doom Fëanor?

Postby Fëanor25 » Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:30 pm

Something I noticed while re-reading The Silmarillion is that that Fëanor's suspicions that the Valar were coverting the Silmarils were somehow justified. You know, they already did two kind sources of light to Valinor: the Lamps and the Two Trees (Telperion and Laurelin). And, with a flour from Telperion and a fruit from Laurelin, they managed to create the Sun and the Moon. So, why didn't they aided Fëanor in his war against Morgoth in the beguinning, weren't they seeing the deaths the War of the Jewels were cousing to both Men and Elves? Was Manwë realy worried about the exiled Noldor. If yes, why didn't he accepted them back and sent Tulkas to stop the Dark Lord? And if it was FËANOR who crafted the Great Jewels, why did them burn Maedhros' and Maglor's skin.

Yes, I know the Kinslaying was not the kindest action Fëanor and his fellow Noldor took in their lives, but I think the Valar were the real responsibles (though indirectly) for the murder of Finwë and the theft of the Silmarils. Hadn't they banished Fëanor and his family to Formenos, The Noldo could have remain in Tirion and Morgoth would never manage to achive what he did. :thumbsup: [/i][/b]
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Postby krawler » Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:51 pm

Fëanor's own pride was the cause of temporary his banishment to Formenos, which was lifted at the feast being held at the time Morgoth stole the Silmarils. His family joined him in that banishment out of solidarity, not because the Valar ordered them to.

The Valar are not infinitely wise nor infinitely powerful. They could not make another source of light and life from scratch by that time. They allowed the Noldor to walk into exile because Fëanor had infected them with his pride. They didn't send aid to Middle-earth until Earendil (is that spelled right? I don't have my copy of Sil on hand) came as a messenger because they made a choice to leave Elves and Men to figure things out on their own. They made this choice because their earlier choice of sheltering the Elves in Valinor had resulted in the rebellion of the Noldor. As I said, the Valar are not perfect by any means. They made mistakes.

Maedhros and Maglor were burned by the hallowed jewels at the end of the War of Wrath because by that time they had committed so many evil acts that they were no longer worthy to hold them unscathed: two more instances of Elf-slaying for the Silmarils plus a healthy dose of pride, not to mention the fact that they killed the guards protecting the two remaining Silmarils after the battle.

I hope this answers your questions. :)

If not, I'm sure someone more knowledgeable (or at least with their personal copy of Sil at the ready) will provide more detail and correct me if I'm wrong. :D
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Postby Fëanor25 » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:41 am

Yeah, you may be right, but, among the Sons of Fëanor, I think Maedhros was the less guilty: he may have taken part of the two Kinslayings, but he was persuaded by Caranthir to join the second (against the Sindar in Doriath), he didn't take part in the burning of the ships led by his father, and he passed over the Noldorin High Kingship to his uncle Fingolfin when hw was rescued by Fingon, so I believe he was the best of the seven Sons of Fëanor.
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Postby krawler » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:35 am

Maedhros may have been the most clear-headed and rational son of Fëanor, but he was still his father's son. At any point he could have renounced the quest to reclaim the Silmarils. While he did let the matter rest for a while after Beren and Luthien brought one of them to Doriath, he eventually did take part in the attack on the people of Doriath. And then again against the people at the Mouths of Sirion. Yes, he did regret these deeds, but he still committed them. He never once renounced his right to the Silmarils, because of pride. After the War of Wrath, he had one last chance to give up the quest, to let the Valar take the jewels and accept their judgment for what was to be done with them. But he didn't. He let his brother talk him into stealing the jewels, because in his pride he still thought that they were his by right. He may have been the best of Fëanor's seven sons, but his actions and pride still rendered him unworthy to even touch the work of his father.

Throughout the book Tolkien gives us glimpses into the mind of Maedhros, much more with him than with any of the other sons of Fëanor, and he is one of my favorite characters. I've always felt sorry for him, to have been caught up in these events, but he still made the active choice to participate. Actually, given how much time Tolkien spends on Maedhros, I've always wished that it was actually him that threw the jewel into the sea and began wandering the shores of the world singing of his sorrow, instead of Maglor. Jumping into a lava flow opened up by the wrath of the Valar never seemed to be a fitting end for him, to me at least.
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Postby solicitr » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:42 am

I'm not sure if pride and possessiveness were still controlling Maedhros by the time of the last Kinslaying. He did it with reluctance, even revulsion, because he believed that the Oath was binding and inescapable. Of course, this is an area I would love to have the psychologically-astute post-LR Tolkien take on, but he didn't; this matter all dates back to 1930.
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:02 am

krawler wrote:After the War of Wrath, he had one last chance to give up the quest, to let the Valar take the jewels and accept their judgment for what was to be done with them. But he didn't. He let his brother talk him into stealing the jewels, because in his pride he still thought that they were his by right.


Actually, it is just the opposite of that. It was Maglor that wanted to allow Eonwe to bring the jewels to Valinor and accept the Valar's judgment, and Maedhros that insisted on following the dictates of the oath.

Throughout the book Tolkien gives us glimpses into the mind of Maedhros, much more with him than with any of the other sons of Fëanor, and he is one of my favorite characters.


Christopher actually left out one of his best scenes, when he came to Valmar and brought news of Finwe's death and the rape of the Silmarils. One of my biggest regrets about the published Silmarillion.

Actually, given how much time Tolkien spends on Maedhros, I've always wished that it was actually him that threw the jewel into the sea and began wandering the shores of the world singing of his sorrow, instead of Maglor.


Except that it was Maglor that was known as the great singer, not Maedhros. And it was Maglor who was Elrond's foster-father (a role that Christopher reduced in the published text).
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Postby krawler » Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:55 am

solicitr wrote:I'm not sure if pride and possessiveness were still controlling Maedhros by the time of the last Kinslaying. He did it with reluctance, even revulsion, because he believed that the Oath was binding and inescapable.


Voronwe_the_Faithful wrote:Actually, it is just the opposite of that. It was Maglor that wanted to allow Eonwe to bring the jewels to Valinor and accept the Valar's judgment, and Maedhros that insisted on following the dictates of the oath.


:doh:
This is exactly why I should never attempt this sort of thing without my own copy of Sil on hand. :lol:

So what were you doing while I was running off my mouth on things I didn't have a clear memory of? :nono:

Christopher actually left out one of his best scenes, when he came to Valmar and brought news of Finwe's death and the rape of the Silmarils. One of my biggest regrets about the published Silmarillion.


Well, I never knew that to begin with. Again I ask: where were you these past few days? :P

Except that it was Maglor that was known as the great singer, not Maedhros. And it was Maglor who was Elrond's foster-father (a role that Christopher reduced in the published text).


And here I was thinking it was Maedhros who raised Elrond. :whistle: And I do know that Maglor was the great singer, but I still hold to my opinion that his end would have suited Maedhros better. It is my opinion, after all. :)
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:18 am

And a perfectly reasonable opinion to hold it is.
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Postby MithLuin » Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:44 am

I have little sypathy for Fëanor, because I see him as not only bringing about his own doom, but also dragging his family and entire people down with him.

Maedhros, on the other hand.... :love:

He was most reasonable, less likely to be governed by pride than his brothers. He could see the wisdom of recognizing Fingolfin as High King, and moving into East Beleriand. He could keep his family focused on what was important. What set him apart from his brothers was his capture and torture at Thangorodrim. There is a 'refined' quality to him that they lack. In a way, he suffered with the people on the Ice, eliminating the division between Fëanoreans and Fingolfin's followers.

But...at the same time, the fire burned hotter in him than in Fëanor. (This is from a fragment of poetry in HoME III). His battle rage was just as intense, if perhaps more controlled - less rash. His spirit was tempered by Nerdanel's calm influence.

Maedhros' failure was an inability to see any other option than: "MUST fulfill the Oath." As long as Morgoth held the Silmarils, that meant "fight Angband" - an honorable pursuit, and a reasonable goal for all the Eldar in Middle Earth. He was valiant in the defense of Himring, and his brothers with him.

Once Beren's quest was accomplished, the Oath was now directed at other Elves. Unfortunately. He tried to treat with them first. He sent for the jewel. The Oath was known to all...surely they knew that to refuse him was suicide? And so..when the refusal inevitably came......

That does not justify what he did. But he at least tried to be reasonable. He thought he had no choice but to fulfill the Oath. He delayed for awhile (both with Doriath and the Havens), but the torment of the Oath eventually drove him to it.

The final assault, in Eonwë's camp, was an act of desperation. If the Silmarils went to Valinor, and he followed...he saw no choice but to demand them. And if the Valar refused? Fight them there? He could not contemplate such a course of action, so chose the (to his mind) lesser evil of getting it over and done with in Beleriand. And I think he fully expected to be slain in that attack. To die with the Silmarils in his hand was his only goal. He didn't know what to do after he was let go, and was not prepared for the hallowed jewels themselves to reject his claim. Hence his tumble off a cliff.

The final roles of Maglor and Maedhros developed gradually. Early on, he did return the Silmarils. At one point, he was the one to foster Elrond (who did not yet have a twin brother). And it was Maglor who first argued the more strongly for the attack (IIRC). The final picture of Maedhros is much more conflicted than his first appearance, and it was the Oath that dragged such a noble character through the mud at the end of the day.

Why did he not forswear it and give it up? It was not his Oath - his brothers and father also had taken it. They damned themselves to the everlasting Darkness if they didn't fulfill it. And so...as the last two sons of Fëanor, fulfilling the Oath was the only way to save his (dead) family from that fate. I think that that, in part, drove him to the Havens, and certainly to do what he did in the end. Poor, poor Maedhros :(
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Postby Fëanor25 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:08 pm

Yes. Among the Sons of Fëanor, Maedhros is my favorite, for he was the wisest of all the Fëanoreans. I am very sad that he had to kill himself without passing on his bloodline. See how his life was filled with losses: First, he lost his grandfather Finwë. Then he lost his father Fëanor. After that, he lost his own hand. Centuries later he lost his beloved cousin. After that he lost almost all of his brothers. At last, he lost his life! :cry2:
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Postby MithLuin » Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:07 pm

But to answer your opening post, the Valar did not doom Fëanor. He doomed himself. The Lord of Mandos merely...articulated it.

Here is a conversation between Fingon and Maedhros, after the deaths of Fingolfin, Finrod and Beren (but obviously before the battle that claimed Finrod's life) written by a fan.

perelleth wrote:“In short,” [Fingon] said in faint amusement, “our wise cousin maintained that the Doom of Mandos is our very own estel.”

Fortunately I wasn’t looking his way when I spluttered the wine.

“Take this,” he said evenly, handing me a cloth, his grey eyes alight with mischief and something alike to... gratefulness?

“You may need more wine to wholly grasp the concept,” he interrupted my musings, shamelessly refilling my goblet and his, and I suddenly realized that he was back, the same brave and light-hearted cousin of old, all in a moment he was there, in the flash of a smile and a wicked grin, so I raised my goblet and silently drank to him.

“You may be right. After all, you’ve always been the one with the brains,” I admited willingly, and we both drank to that.

Our moods restored, I waited in eagerness for the rest of the tale.

“…and we ended up on the highest rampart with two decanters of Fingolfin’s most prized wine, after putting Ereinion to bed. We talked until dawn, you know how Finrod is…” he drank fiercely to hide his grimace, unwilling to redress that slight mistake. “Anyway, what Finrod claimed is this: When we defied the Powers, we had our fates sealed by our own choice… and so the Doom is just the expression of it. We were not expelled from the Blessed Realm, nor rejected by the Powers or deprived of our rights, nor restrained and kept there in force… we simply chose to leave, we just exerted...how did he call it?” he frowned briefly, and despite his utterly clear and distinct speech, I suddenly realized that he was beautifully drunk.

“Our...Our free will, that’s it… We choose to fight without the Valar, and depart from their care? So be it! And let songs be sung about our madness!” he continued, raising his goblet in mock salute. “But not even they can deprive us of our heritage, Maedhros, we’re Iluvatar’s sons, his firstborns, and we’re bound to Arda until the end, and so... we shall return some day, we’re not banished forever from his mind, he will not allow his children to be despoiled of their gift so.…not even by Oath or Doom, and that’s the promise within the Doom and that’s estel!” he triumphantly ended his explanation, casting an expectant, smug glance my way.

I drank down the whole content of my goblet and presented it to him. I let myself drown in his infectious laughter while he happily served another round.

...

We might be faced with a desperate fight against an enemy that was beyond our power to defeat, headed to utter destruction in what might turn out to be further proof of our folly, but all of a sudden, Finrod’s wise words offered an unexpected light in those darkened times, reminding us of an heritage that was beyond Morgoth’s grasp, a gift not even he could take away from us, and that was a comforting hope, estel, even for one so undeserving of grace as myself.

The story is, appropriately enough, called 'In Vino Veritas,' and is based on the ideas Finrod expresses in the Athrabeth.

So yes, the Valar were most certainly concerned about the Noldor. But what they could and couldn't do about it depended on the choices of the Noldor, not of Manwë!
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:35 pm

MithLuin wrote:So yes, the Valar were most certainly concerned about the Noldor. But what they could and couldn't do about it depended on the choices of the Noldor, not of Manwë!


What the published Silmarillion says is that after the Noldor went into exile in Middle-earth, Ulmo kept them most in mind. However, Christopher removed a further statement that indicated that Ulmo and Manwë continued to be concerned about them, but that the other Valar put the Noldor out of their minds.
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Postby scirocco » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:04 am

Do we know that for sure, V? Unfortunately, CT didn't publish JRRT's Later Quenta Silmarillion revision of the chapter "Of Men" in Morgoth's Ring (on which the published Sil chapter was presumably based). Instead, he identified the differences between the QS and LQS text, which he says were not great. He may just have overlooked or decided not to comment on his father's removal of the dismissal of the Noldor from the thought of the Valar (except Ulmo). Or perhaps he did it himself. I don't think we know. Here's the sequence (or as much as we've been allowed to see):

The Valar sat now behind the mountains and feasted, and all save Manwe and Ulmo dismissed the exiled Noldor from their thought; and having given light to Middle-earth they left it for long untended, and the lordship of Morgoth was uncontested save by the valour of the Gnomes. Most in mind Ulmo kept them, who gathered news of the earth through all the waters....

The Lost Road, Quenta Silmarillion, Of Men


????Who knows exactly what JRRT wrote??? (CT, that's who :angry: )

The War of the Jewels, Later Quenta Silmarillion, Of Men


The Valar sat now behind their mountains at peace; and having given light to Middle-earth they left it for long untended, and the lordship of Morgoth was uncontested save by the valour of the Noldor. Most in mind Ulmo kept the exiles, who gathered news of the Earth through all the waters...

The Silmarillion, Of Men


Regardless of all this, Tolkien does admit that the Valar were guilty to a certain extent of closing their minds to the problems of the Noldor in Middle-earth:

Thus the 'Hiding of Valinor' came near to countering Morgoth's possessiveness by a rival possessiveness, setting up a private domain of light and bliss against one of darkness and domination: a palace and a pleasaunce (well-fenced) against a fortress and a dungeon...

Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:47 am

scirocco wrote:Do we know that for sure, V? Unfortunately, CT didn't publish JRRT's Later Quenta Silmarillion revision of the chapter "Of Men" in Morgoth's Ring (on which the published Sil chapter was presumably based). Instead, he identified the differences between the QS and LQS text, which he says were not great. He may just have overlooked or decided not to comment on his father's removal of the dismissal of the Noldor from the thought of the Valar (except Ulmo). Or perhaps he did it himself. I don't think we know.


You mean The War of the Jewels, of course, not Morgoth's Ring (as you correctly identified later in your post). In any event, it is certainly possible that Tolkien himself removed that comment and Christopher overlooked it or decided not to comment on it, but if so, I think it really would bring into question the validity of much of his work in HoME. The changes that he does note in this chapter are very detailed, and some of them are much smaller and less significant than the removal of that phrase about Manwe and Ulmo (e.g., 'vanished from the earth' > 'vanished from the Middle-earth'). Given the thoroughness that Christopher demonstrates throughout HoME, I tihnk we are justified in assuming that he would have commented on a change of that magnitude. The alternative is that we have been severely mislead. I guess the only way to be sure would be to consult the manuscripts themselves.
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Postby MithLuin » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:28 am

Manwë and Ulmo were the two who were foremost in my mind, but I find it very difficult to think that Varda, who can hear the cries of the exiles, would ignore them so thoroughly as to put them out of mind. Same with Námo, Lord of Mandos. He may be inexorable, but it is not like him to forget. He spoke his Doom as fair warning...and therefore, out of concern. Yavanna did not forget her work in Middle Earth when she removed to Valinor; it seems strange to think that she would have neglected it when the Sun finally rose! Many of the Noldor who refused to march did so for love of Aulë; was this love not reciprocated?

Tulkas, on the other hand, is simple enough to fall into 'out of sight, out of mind.' I would expect nothing less from him. The Valar are not a cohesive group, but very different individuals.

Ulmo and Manwë were the only ones who did anything about it, of course. Manwë sent Thorondor to aid Fingon in his rescue of Maedhros in direct answer to a prayer, and the role of the eagles was always a sign of his watchfulness and involvement. Ulmo of course set up the whole Gondolin/Tuor thing. So, from the point of view of the exiles, it may have seemed that the others all forgot....but I would suggest that exiled Noldor are perhaps not the right people to talk to if you want to understand the Valar!

Not to say that the Valar are faultless - they are not. Inviting the elves to Valinor in the first place, even making Valinor as a place apart in Middle Earth....these can be seen as errors. There were some important decisions they made that had mixed consequences - allowing Finwë to remarry, or releasing Morgoth after his time of imprisonment. But apathy, overall, is not a trait they share as a group. Fëanor called them 'idle,' but that was his own ignorance. Morgoth repeats the word, but in mockery and derision (surely he knows better).
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Postby Fëanor25 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:44 am

Yes, the Valar were very complacent by trusting in Morgoth's would-be-good intentions. Since the Dark Lord was ruling Middle-earth from the Years of the Lamps, they wanted to spare the Elves from his influence, this is why they made their kingdom in Aman, and this is why they invited the Elves to dwell there. I think their greatest mistake was to fill Valinor with the light of the Two Trees while delivering Middle-earth to darkness. This only fuelled Morgoth's lies to Fëanor.
When they discovered the worth of Men, they invited the descendent of Marach's and Bëor's Houses to go to Númenor. By doing this, they would prevent the Dúedain to be influenced by the Easterlings and Sauron, now the new Dark Lord; and, by forbidding the travel to Aman, they controlled Men's greed.
But, as we saw in "Akallabêth", this was useless, for the King of Númenor made Sauron surrender and took him to Númenor, and thus Sauron influenced the hearts of Men and it resulted in the deluge of Númenor and the Reshaping of Arda.
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Re: Were the Valar right to doom Fëanor?

Postby Lackluster » Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:09 am

But did the Valar really doom Feanor, in any extraordinary way? I tend to agree with MithLuin here.

to answer your opening post, the Valar did not doom Fëanor. He doomed himself. The Lord of Mandos merely...articulated it.


The Prophecy of the North is quite interesting. Yes, due to the Marring of Arda, Elvish hroar are subject to death and fading - their hroar can endure their fëar only in Aman without fading. So that was a plain fact having little to do with the rebellion. Another thing told in that prophecy was that the Oath would fail through treachery of kin unto kin and the fear of treachery. But although the kin treachery happens many times and causes lots of trouble, I am not sure if there is any single example when the kin treachery prevents regaining of the Jewels by the House of Feanor or prevents Feanorians from taking revenge (which is part of the Oath).

Fëanor25 asked:
And if it was FËANOR who crafted the Great Jewels, why did them burn Maedhros' and Maglor's skin.


It seems that it was not Feanor who made the Silmarils in such a way as to burn 'mortal flesh or flesh unclean' but Varda who hallowed them and bestowed this quality upon them. Feanor indeed had no idea of mortals at the time.

solicitr wrote:

I'm not sure if pride and possessiveness were still controlling Maedhros by the time of the last Kinslaying. He did it with reluctance, even revulsion, because he believed that the Oath was binding and inescapable. Of course, this is an area I would love to have the psychologically-astute post-LR Tolkien take on, but he didn't; this matter all dates back to 1930.


Well, in the post-LOTR Tale of Years Maedhros's (Maidros's) unsuccessful attempt to foreswear the Oath appears again, although the 1930 version is closely followed there. True there is no elaboration on it.

Voronwe_the_Faithful wrote:
Christopher actually left out one of his best scenes, when he came to Valmar and brought news of Finwe's death and the rape of the Silmarils. One of my biggest regrets about the published Silmarillion.


I too found it regretful that this scene was not there but in it the Feanorians are shown as being respectful of the Valar - it is to them that they bring the news - and one might wonder how these same individuals then take the Oath in which the Valar are named among those on whom they will not hesitate to take revenge should they come in a possession of a Jewel.

MithLuin wrote:
Why did he not forswear it and give it up? It was not his Oath - his brothers and father also had taken it. They damned themselves to the everlasting Darkness if they didn't fulfill it. And so...as the last two sons of Fëanor, fulfilling the Oath was the only way to save his (dead) family from that fate. I think that that, in part, drove him to the Havens, and certainly to do what he did in the end. Poor, poor Maedhros.


An interesting thought - I never got an impression that the Oath was a collective undertaking. We are told that Feanor for example is in Mandos and will not be released (anytime soon). The literal meaning of the (latest variant of the) Oath is to pursue with hatred whoever gets a Silmaril. And in that at least they don't fail except for the younger twin (considering the alternative scenario of the Shipburning).

MithLuin wrote:
Ulmo and Manwë were the only ones who did anything about it, of course. Manwë sent Thorondor to aid Fingon in his rescue of Maedhros in direct answer to a prayer, and the role of the eagles was always a sign of his watchfulness and involvement. Ulmo of course set up the whole Gondolin/Tuor thing.


Ulmo indeed was behind Tuor's actions but Turgon declined to listen to Ulmo's advice; as did Orodreth when Gelmir and Arminas brought a message from Ulmo to him. And they were not even Feanorians. I don't think we are told much about what Ulmo thought of all that.

Whether the Valar delayed their intervention too much or not is also a good question. In Myth Transformed (following the paragraph cited above by scirocco) it is said that they timed their actions with precision, and that their delay was well justified while the perception of their reluctance and neglect reflected the point of view of those who recorded the history - the exiled Elves (whose lore was subsequently transmitted through Numenoreans who because of their own rebellion 'darkened the picture' further). In fact the Valar and especially Manwe understood that the whole Exile was an example of evil turned into good - as Manwe said, 'evil...good to have been'.
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Re: Were the Valar right to doom Fëanor?

Postby Billobob » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:31 am

If the Valar hadn't let the Noldor go then they wouldn't have learned the lesson of what happens when you let your pride consume you, and they would have continued to resent the Valar just like Morgoth resented Eru. But when the Eldar's strength was wasted and they were asking for help then the Valar helped because the Noldor needed them and they had learned their lesson.
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Re: Were the Valar right to doom Fëanor?

Postby Billobob » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:32 am

Sorry accidentally posted twice. :lol:
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