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Old 02-22-2002, 10:23 AM   #1
Shade of Carn Dm
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 259
Thingol has just left Hobbiton.
The Eye Suicide in Middle Earth

Tolkien's handling of suicide in his books has always been fascinating to me. In a way Tolkien condones suicide. It is considered proper for the kings of Numenor to forsake life once they reach a certain point in their life. Tolkien describes the forsaking of that practice by the Numenorian Kings as foolish and even against nature. Aragorn renews this tradition when he nears the end of his natural life span. I have always taken this to mean that Tolkien believed that once a man reaches an age where he is no longer in control of his faculties it is against nature to continue to live. Perhaps this is not an approval of suicide, but a reaction against what Tolkien perceived as modern medicine unnaturally prolonging people’s lives. I could never tell how Tolkien felt about Turin’s suicide, the tone after Turin kills himself is unclear; it is certainly sad, but I can not tell if Tolkien approved or condemned the suicide. That is partially because the Silmarillion is put together by Christopher Tolkien, but for the most part the Silmarillion comes from actual text written by J.R.R. Tolkien. There is also the curious situation of Denethor’s suicide.
"Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death. And only the heathen kings, under the dominion of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death."
Tolkien clearly does not view suicide as an acceptable means of escape when faced with overwhelming hopelessness and despair. However, it is totally acceptable for elves to forsake life when they are faced with despair. Miriel (Feanor’s mom) is not condemned for committing suicide and it seems to me that Denethor had much more reason to commit suicide than Miriel did. There seems to be a double standard for elves and men.
Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days.
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