Silmarillion Book Club (Week Nine)

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Chapter 19: Of Beren and Lúthien

First of all, this chapter is *intense* and probably my favorite in all of The Silmarillion. I've read this book concerning Beren and Lúthien (Tolkien's Requiem by John Carswell) and I found it very helpful to understanding the story of The Silmarillion as a whole! Highly recommend. You can read more about it here (affiliate link). 

In this Chapter

Important Quotes

  • "Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin tha come down to use from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and Lúthien."
  • "But Lúthien heard his answering voice, and she sang then a song of greater power. The wolves howled, and the isle trembled. Sauron stood in the high tower, wrapped in his black thought; but he smiled hearing her voice, for he knew that it was the daughter of Melian. The fame of the beauty of Lúthien and the wonder of her song had long gone forth from Doriath; and he thought to make her captive and hand her over to the power of Morgoth, for his reward would be great."
  • "Then Thingol’s mood was softened; and Beren sat before his throne upon the left, and Lúthien upon the right, and they told all the tale of the Quest, while all there listened and were filled with amazement. And it seemed to Thingol that this Man was unlike all other mortal Men, and among the great in Arda, and the love of Lúthien a thing new and strange; and he perceived that their doom might not be withstood by any power of the world. Therefore at the last he yielded his will, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father."
  • "This doom she chose, forsaking the Blessed Realm, and putting aside all claim to kinship with those that dwell there; that thus whatever grief might lie in wait, the fates of Beren and Lúthien might be joined, and their paths lead together beyond the confines of the world. So it was that alone of the Eldalië she has died indeed, and left the world long ago. Yet in her choice the Two Kindreds have been joined; and she is the forerunner of many in whom the Eldar see yet, though all the world is changed, the likeness of Lúthien the beloved, whom they have lost."

Discussion Questions

  • What name does Beren give Lúthien?
  • What does Beren ask of Thingol? How does he respond; what Quest does he give him? How does Luthien respond?
  • How is Luthien able to escape out of Nargothrond?
  • Who is Huan?
  • What roles do Morgoth and Sauron play in this chapter?
  • What is the importance of loyalty, glory, and love in this tale?
  • The loss of Beren's hand is reminiscent of the loss of Frodo's finger in The Return of the King. In what other ways are they similar?
  • What is the significance of this story to The Silmarillion as a whole?

Chapter 20: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad

In this Chapter

  • Melian grieves the loss of Luthien
  • Beren and Luthien dwell in Ossiriand in peace, and are never heard from again
  • Maedhros seeks to assail Morgoth once more (the Union of Maedhros)
  • Only a small group comes to fight alongside Maedhros
  • Thingol will not surrender the Silmaril to Maedhros; Celegorm and Curufin vowed to slay him if they return from war victorious and he would not give them the jewel
  • Turgon and his armies from Gondolin arrive to fight alongside Fingon
  • Ulfang's treachery is revealed when the Easterlings turn against the Union of Maedhros
  • All the sons of Feanor are wounded but not slain
  • The Naugrim stand firm against Glaurung
  • Gothmog slays Fingon
  • Húrin is taken into Angband alive
  • The servants of Morgoth roam freely, destroying as they desire
  • At Turgon's bidding, Círdan’ builds 7 swift ships to ask the Valar for help; only one returns
  • Húrin is brought before Morgoth and does not reveal the location of Gondolin
  • Morgoth curses Húrin and his family
  • Morgoth commands his servants to gather the slain into a great pile and the Elves name it the Hill of Slain and Hill of Tears. 

Important Quotes

  • "But Maedhros made trial of his strength too soon, ere his plans were full-wrought; and though the Orcs were driven out of all the northward regions of Beleriand, and even Dorthonion was freed for a while, Morgoth was warned of the uprising of the Eldar and the Elf-friends. and took counsel against them."
  • "In the morning came hope, when the horns of Turgon were heard as he marched up with the main host of Gondolin..."
  • "Yet neither by wolf, nor by Balrog, nor by Dragon, would Morgoth have achieved his end, but for the treachery of Men. In this hour the plots of Ulfang were revealed." 
  • "Then he [Gothmog] turned upon Fingon. That was a grim meeting. At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog... Thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood." 
  • "Thus ended Nirnaeth Arnoediad, as the sun went down beyond the sea."
  • "Great was the triumph of Morgoth, and his design was accomplished in a manner after his own heart; for Men took the lives of Men, and betrayed the Eldar, and fear and hatred were aroused among those that should have been united against him. From that day the hearts of the Elves were estranged from Men, save only those of the Three Houses of the Edain."

Discussion Questions

  • What causes disunity between the Elves at the beginning of the chapter?
  • How is Morgoth able to gain his victory? 
  • What is the result of Morgoth's victory on the relationship between Elves and Men?
  • How does Húrin respond to Morgoth's demands? What is his consequence?
  • What becomes of the slain at the end of the chapter?

Chapter 21: Of Túrin Turambar

In this Chapter

  • Morwen, wife of Húrin, has three children: Túrin, Lalaith (who died at age 3), and Nienor. 
  • Túrin is sent to be raised in Doriath, fostered by Thingol
  • Saeros dies after an incident with Túrin; Túrin leaves Doriath an an outlaw
  • Thingol pardons Túrin; Beleg leaves to find Túrin
  • Túrin does not wish to return to Doriath and continues to live with his band of outlaws
  • Morgoth learns of Túrin and his servants capture him
  • Beleg and Gwindor search for Túrin
  • Túrin kills Beleg, mistaking him for a foe
  • Morwen and Nienor come into Doriath but are saddened to learn Túrin isn't there
  • Túrin is deceived by the dragon
  • Túrin takes the name of Turumbar
  • Morwen leaves Doriath in search of Túrin
  • Nienor flees to Brethil where Túrin finds her and renames her Níenel 
  • Níenel does not remember that she is the sister of Turin and falls in love with him
  • Túrin insists on marrying Níenel and she consents
  • Túrin slays Glaurung but is burned by his blood and knocked unconscious when he opens his eyes before dying
  • Nienor comes to Túrin but he will not speak; instead Glaurung speaks and tells her that Túrin is her brother
  • Nienor casts herself off of a cliff to her death
  • Túrin awakens and kills Brandir, though later realizing it was unjust
  • Túrin kills himself

Important Quotes

  • "Those days were evil; for the Easterlings that came into Hithlum despised the remnant of the people of Hador, and they oppressed them, and took their lands and their goods, and enslaved their children." 
  • "It is not fitting that the Elder Children of Ilúvatar should wed with the Younger; nor is it wise, for they are brief, and soon pass, to leave us in widowhood while the world lasts. Neither will fate suffer it, unless it be once or twice only, for some high cause of doom that we do not perceive . But this Man is not Beren. A doom indeed lies on him, as seeing eyes may well read in him, but a dark doom. Enter not into it! And if you will, your love shall betray you to bitterness and death. For hearken to me! Though he be indeed agarwaen son of úmarth, his right name is Túrin son of Húrin, whom Morgoth holds in Angband, and whose kin he has cursed. Doubt not the power of Morgoth Bauglir! Is it not written in me?’"
  • "Then Turambar summoned all his will and courage and climbed the cliff alone, and came beneath the dragon. Then he drew Gurthang, and with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, he thrust it into the soft belly of the Worm, even up to the hilts. But when Glaurung felt his death-pang, he screamed, and in his dreadful throe he heaved up his bulk and hurled himself across the chasm, and there lay lashing and coiling in his agony. And he set all in a blaze about him, and beat all to ruin, until at last his fires died, and he lay still."
  • "Thereat Glaurung stirred for the last time ere he died, and he spoke with his last breath, saying: ‘Hail, Nienor, daughter of Húrin. We meet again ere the end. I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. And now thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Túrin son of Húrin! But the worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.’ Then Glaurung died, and the veil of his malice was taken from her, and she remembered all the days of her life."

Discussion Questions

  • Reflect on the differences of the names of Morwen's daughters, Lalaith and Nienor. What do these names mean?
  • What lies does the Dragon tell Túrin?
  • What name does Túrin take? 
  • What do you make of the love between Níenel and Túrin? What's going on here? 
  • What happens when Nienor realizes the truth of her relationship?
  • Why does Túrin kill Brandir?
  • What is the source of all the discord in this chapter?