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Old 04-24-2007, 02:21 PM   #14
Illustrious Ulair
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
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davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.

Of course, one could argue that CoH doesn't obey the rules (principally the absence of a Eucatastrophe) of Fairy story as laid down by Tolkien. Which begs the question: Is CoH actually a fairy story? LotR is, so is TH, so is The Sil as a whole. Yet CoH apparently is not. There is no 'glimpse beyond the walls of the world'. The tale ends in despair, with no glimpse of hope. What there is, is courage against all odds, a flawed human being defying evil alone, even though he is in the end destroyed by it.

Yet in the end he gives in to despair & takes his own life. He has nothing to live for, having apparently accepted that he cannot escape his doom, & throws himself on his sword. It could be argued that he never had a chance. The trigger had been pulled & the bullet was in flight. It was simply a matter of time before it struck him down. Breaks all the rules.

Yet if is is not a 'fairy story' what is it?

Do we admire Turin? He is, on the surface, a hero - he slays Morgoth's ultimate 'WMD'. He defies his fate. The 'incest' is hardly a 'sin' because he is not aware that Niniel is his sister, so he cannot be blamed for it. But is his suicide a 'sin'? From a 'Christian' viewpoint, yes, but from a Pagan one, or a pre- or post Christian one it is not - necessarily. It is a tragic end for a tragic hero. In the pre-/post-Christian worldview there is no moral judgement. Turin can commit suicide without being judged 'sinful' because in the world of the story his act is tragic but understandable, & he is still a 'hero', because he hasn't 'broken the rules'.

Yet, if Frodo had thrown himself on Sting at the end of LotR we would have been shocked. It would have been 'against the rules'., because while LotR is not a 'Christian' story it is one where a deity is a guiding force, & certain rules apply. Denethor ought not commit suicide either, because that act is against the rules. The fact that he does makes him wrong. Turin & Nienor are not wrong in taking their own lives. In fact, if Mablung had done a 'Gandalf' & started 'moralising' to Turin about having 'no authority' to take his life we'd have responded by thinking him a prig. Gandalf is not a prig - Gandalf is right to upbraid Denethor about neglecting his duty, because in the world of LotR there are certain rules - but those rules do not apply in the world of CoH, which is both an older & a more contemporary one.

Turin has not chosen to reject the Valar, he has not chosen not to have faith - he never had any to begin with - because, as Garth stated

As a boy, Turin poses immense questions of fate & death, but no-one in this benighted world knows the answers. If The Lord of the Rings is an expression of faith in a God who turns events to good, The Children of Hurin expresses a visceral sense of evil undermining everything of worth.
Turin is a man of his (& our) time. No-one knows the answers to his questions, because there are no answers that work. There is no overarching religious vision or philosophy - his world is cut off from meaning & all a man can do is fight wrong to the best of his ability. His actions may be wrong, stupid, reckless, even cruel, but they are not seen as 'sins'. One cannot imagine Turin in the world of LotR, because he is of a different time & place. CoH is almost an 'anti-LotR' - different values, different rules. One cannot 'escape' into CoH as one can escape into LotR. For all the suffering, the tragedy & loss in LotR, there is a sense that there is a guiding hand, that somehow it will all be well in the end - because the characters will get what they deserve. Good will win out & evil will be overcome. CoH stands apart from that vision.

Of course, one can read it as part of The Sil, & see it as the darkness before dawn, yet in a sense that is to cheapen the tragedy, & thereby make ourselves 'comfortable' with the horror. Many of the reviewers of CoH have expressed a dislike of CoH - some of them lovers of TH & LotR. Perhaps that's because, deep down, CoH is the more challenging work, uncomfortable reading without a glimmer of hope. There is no 'escape' in CoH, no happy ending, no eucatastrophe to give us hope. As I said, CoH 'balances' LotR, it is an 'anti-fairy story'.
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