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Old 02-22-2002, 10:23 AM   #1
Thingol
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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.
Quote:
"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.
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Old 02-22-2002, 11:07 AM   #2
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Very interesting question. I will do my best, although I am currently in the middle of the Silmarilion and so don't have as much background...

First of all, it's important to remember that Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic. In fact, he was instrumental in the conversion of C. S. Lewis. So with that information, I am going to operate on the basis that he does not condone it, and try to come up with an explanation there.

I think he does have a double standard for elves and men. I don't think he approves of suicide in men (and therefore that takes care of modern humanity), but it is a little different with elves. It seems to me that this difference would be due to their longevity. Elves are immortal basically and therefore do not have the gift of death that Men have (I think Tolkien said something about death being a gift in the Silmarilion...I will find the quote later if I can), so perhaps Tolkien sees the suicide of the immortal or more than mortal (Dunedain) as simply a seizng of a gift that was denied them by Illuvatar..

BUt then that gets weird because Iluvatar didn't give them death, they took it... Oh well. I'm perplexed. I must muse on this further and bust out my copy of The Silmarilion.

I hope I made some sense.

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Old 02-22-2002, 04:33 PM   #3
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Luthien, I believe you are on the right track. I was wondering about what Thingol said, because of Tolkien's Catholicism. You actually made a lot of sense!
Now I'm going to go look into The Silmarillion & see if I can find it...but I think you are right.
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Old 02-22-2002, 05:31 PM   #4
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I'm not sure that the Numenoreans resigning their lives is exactly suicide. The way that it is phrased it's a "grace" given to them to be able to die when the time comes. I think that it means that there is a sort of inner certainty that the person in question has that it is their time to go, and they can go then before they start to decay or they can go when their bodies can no longer support their life. The choice is up to them. I guess that maybe a sort of suicide, but I don't really look at it that way.
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Old 02-22-2002, 06:07 PM   #5
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As for Elves, I don't have a clue, but with the case of Aragorn, I agree with Kuruharan. It was a special grace that enabled them to know when their life was at its end and choose to pass on, to yeild their spirit back to Ilùvatar, who created them. I have seen cases of several people who in their 80's or 90's have decided that they are ready to die. They tell their family's and have their will read and executed, then they go to their beds and die within the hour. They, by their own will give their spirit permission to leave.

This is not suicide in the common sense of the word. The word suicide come from the Latin sui meaning self and another word, which I have forgotten meaning murder. They do not kill themselves in a violent matter, like a murder, but peacefully decide to let their spirit go.
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Old 02-23-2002, 06:00 AM   #6
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I agree with Joy...if, after many years, a day comes which is devoid of light then passing is natural, not suicide
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Old 02-23-2002, 10:41 AM   #7
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I don't think that Aragorn committed suicide. It was more like acknowleding the end of his life. As a Catholic, I think that Tolkien was talking about a "Happy Death", meaning in communion with God, not committing suicide.

Thatm at least, was my interpretation. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-23-2002, 11:17 AM   #8
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But the thing is there is a choice. One can choose to live out ones natural lifespan, as did many of the so called foolsih Numenorian kings, or one can just give up on life and die. I'm not saying that I think that it is wrong to just lie down and die if you will become witless and totally dependent on others, I just think it's curious the way Tolkien dealt with it. Perhaps it reveals what Tolkien thought of old age. The Elves would never die naturally so it is not like they are accepting the inevitable. It is not frowned upon for the elves to give up on life. I guess this is because they don't really die in the same sense that men do. They go to the Halls of Mandos to find healing for their spirit. It is difficult to equate elven experiences with those of men, especially modern men.

[ February 23, 2002: Message edited by: Thingol ]
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Old 02-23-2002, 11:29 AM   #9
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In some cases with the suicide of elves, I've noticed that it's not very fair how it effects others around them. Like when, oh I can't remember her name now, but that Elf maid who forgot everything, than accidentaly married her brother, and when she found out what she had done she threw herself off a cliff, even though she was pregnent with her brothers child. I understand the whole taking the gift Illuvatar deprived them of, but when it means other innocents are killed when an elf kills themself, that just not right.
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Old 02-23-2002, 11:33 AM   #10
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She wasn't an elf maid she was a mortal woman. She was Nienor daughter of Hurin and Morwen, Turin's sister.
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Old 02-23-2002, 12:16 PM   #11
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Oh, alright then never mind, got my facts mixed up, but I still think it wasn't fair.
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Old 02-23-2002, 03:21 PM   #12
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I agree with KuruHaran on this. In Tolkiens works there is a marked difference between forcibly trying to take ones life and the relinquishing of it voluntarily as part of the Gift of Men. There are some interesting quotes in the Akallabeth which illustrate how Tolkien perceives mortality in his sub-creative world.

Quote:
Then the Messengers said: 'Indeed the mind of Illuvatar concerning you is not known to the Valar, and he has not revealed all things that are to come. But this we hold to be true, that your home is not here, neither in the Land of Aman nor anywhere else within the Circles of the World. And the Doom of Men, that they should depart, was at first a gift of Illuvatar. It became a grief to them only because coming under the shadow of Morgoth it seemed to them that they were surrounded by a great darkness, of which they were afraid; and some grew wilful and proud and would not yield, until life was reft from them. We who bear the ever-mounting burden of the years do not clearly understand this; but if that grief has returned to trouble you, as you say, then we fear that the Shadow arises once more and grows again in your hearts. Therefore, though you be Dúnedain, fairest of Men, who escaped from the Shadow of old and fought valiantly against it, we say to you: Beware!
Now this is a very indicative passage by J.R.R. Tolkien and it is expanding upon by other references to the mysterious "fall" of mankind in the East of Middle-Earth before the three Houses of the Edain passed over the Ered Luin in the First Age of Middle-Earth. It appears that by the above quote, the ability to relinquish ones life was part of the original gift of men, as the Valaquenta touches upon ..

Quote:
'But to the Atani I will give a new gift.' Therefore he [Illuvatar] willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life; amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else....
Silmarillion - Chapter 1 - Of The Beginning of Days

So I would argue that Melkor, being the truest to his purpose amongst the Valar, saw his chance, as he tried with the Quendi in the Ages of the Trees and left Angband to go East and corrupt Men in the infancy of their existence

Quote:
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 ....
Silmarillion Chapter 12 'Of Men'

and also ..

Quote:
But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun spies of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought to him; and this seemed to him so great a matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and went forth into Middle-Earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War. Of his dealings with Men the Eldar indeed knew nothing, at that time, and learnt but little afterwards; but that a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men (as the shadow of the Kinslaying and the Doom of Mandos lay upon the Noldor) they perceived clearly even in the people of the Elf-Friends whom they first knew. To corrupt or destroy whatsoever arose new and fair was ever the chief desire of Morgoth; and doubtless he had his purpose also in his errand: by fear and lies to make Men the foes of the Eldar....
Silmarillion - Chapter 17 - Of the Coming of Men into the West

It was indeed evident that Morgoth had planted lies into the hearts of the fathers of the fathers of the fathers of mankind before they even met the Avari and that these lies were the beginning of the Shadow and the fear of death that all mankind had ...

Quote:
All this is but Elvish lore. tales to beguile newcomers that are unwary. The Sea has no shore. There is no Light in the West. You have followed the fool-fire of the Elves to the end of the world!
The Silmarillion - Chapter 17 - Of the coming of Men into the West

Quote:
This last then I will say to you, thrall Morgoth,' said Húrin, 'and it comes not from the lore of the Eldar, but is put into my heart in this hour. You are not the Lord of Men, and shall not be, though all the Arda and Menel fall in your dominion. Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you.'
'Beyond the Circles of the World I will not pursue them,' said Morgoth. 'For beyond the Circles of the World there is Nothing. But within them they shall not escape me, until they enter into Nothing.'
'You lie,' said Húrin.
Narn I Hin Hurin - Unfinished Tales

So as you see, the original 'Fall of Mankind' was the lie, created by Melkor that there was nothing beyond mortal death and that the Eldar did not die and were therefore in some fashion, privileged and to be envied

And Sauron in Numenor echoed this lie as he said to Ar-Pharazon the Golden when, in his pride, he felt old age approach ..

Quote:
The Valar have possessed themselves of the land where there is no death; and they lie to you concerning it, hiding it as best they may, because of their avarice and their fear is lest the Kings of Men should wrest from them the deathless realm and rule the world in their stead. And though, doubtless, the gift of life unending is not for all, but only for such as are worthy, being men of might and pride and great lineage, yet against all, justice is done that this gift, which is his due, should be withheld from the King of Kings, Ar Pharazon......
Akallabeth

And down the ages this lie seems to be repeated and expanded and sown deeper into the hearts of men, comparable with our own 'Original Sin' in so far, like the men of Tolkiens mythology, the gift of our existence has been spurned and we reap the consequences thereof.

Faramir makes another evocative reference to the passing of the truth and the waning of the Men of the West when he says

Quote:
'For so we reckon Men in our lore, calling them High, or Men of the West, which were Númenoreans; and the Middle Peoples, Men of the Twilight, such as are the Rohirrim and their kin that dwell still far in the North; and the Wild, the Men of Darkness.'
'Yet now, if the Rohirrim are grown in some ways more like to us, enhanced in arts and gentleness, we too are have become more like to them, and can scare claim any longer the title High....'
But I think JRRT sums it all up neatly when he says ...

Quote:
But the view of the myth is that Death - the mere shortness of human life-span - is not a punishment for the Fall but a biologically (and therefore also spiritually, since body and spirit are integrated) inherent part of Man's nature. The attempt to escape it is wicked because 'unnatural', and silly because Death in that sense is the Gift of God (envied by the Elves), release from the weariness of Time, Death in the penal sense, is viewed as a change in attitude to it; fear, reluctance. A good Numenorean died of free will when he felt it to be time to do so.
So to sum up it is evident that suicide in the sense of terminating ones existence in a 'forced' sense, i.e self-immolation or by the blade of one's own sword is different from Tolkiens innate, consistent mythological scenario of a "free" [from Shadow] man willfully and peacefully relinquishing his existence within the Circles of the World when he thought it appropriate.

Quote:
In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!
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Old 02-24-2002, 12:02 PM   #13
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I agree with Kuruharan and Mat Heathertoes: the deaths of the Numenorean kings can't be called suicides. The lived to the ends of their natural lifespans and then died by their own free wills. The later kings of Numenor, on the other hand, tried to live longer than it was natural. Of the first Numenorean king to do so, Tolkien says the following: "And Atanamir lived to a great age, clinging to his life beyond the end of all joy... refusing to depart until he was witless and unmanned...". Remember also that in Numenor "wise men laboured unceasingly to discover if they might the secret of recalling life, or at the least of prolonging of Men's days". This doesn't sound very natural to me.
Of course, same kind of things could be said about modern medicine... andperhaps Tolkien is trying to.

I think that Elves who die to depression are very different from despaired Men who commit suicide. Elves go to Mandos for healing and may return to life, but a Man's lifetime in Arda is limited. A Man should use his life for good purposes and not to abandon it without purpose. If an Elf dies to depression... well, it wasn't his own choice to be so depressed and if there was any other way out, I'm sure that no Elf would have to resort to abandoning his body. A Man who commits suicide in desperation is not looking for healing or solution to the situation at hand, but escape from it. Denethor could have, for example, died honorably like Theoden and fulfilled his obligation to his people.
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Old 02-26-2002, 04:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
The word suicide come from the Latin sui meaning self and another word, which I have forgotten meaning murder.
The word you're thinking of is occidere - to kill. None of the characters who relinquish life do so by an act of violence against themselves, wherein lies the distinction.
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Old 02-26-2002, 06:07 PM   #15
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Thank you Squatter. It has been almost 10 years since my Latin class. I have forgotten a lot though the years.
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Old 03-02-2002, 02:15 PM   #16
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I never knew that much to start with, Joy; just the words concerning violence and alcohol. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 03-04-2002, 02:21 PM   #17
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Squatter - I am confused by your statement:

Quote:
None of the characters who relinquish life do so by an act of violence against themselves, wherein lies the distinction.
Are you just refering to the Numenorean Kings, or all of Tolkien's characters? Just wondering. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Thingol, I was thinking about Maedhros (elf) who took his own life by throwing himself into a fissure. I always assumed he went to the Halls of Mandos to wait for many long ages, but was at some point healed and walked again among the Noldor in Valinor. So, it would seem that there is no "punishment" for elvish suicide, other than a rather lengthy stay in Mandos.

I think you've answered your own question in that it is not a "double-standard" between elves and men, but there is just such a great difference in what death means for the two races. Elvish "death" in Arda seems more like a physical death than a spiritual one. And human death is refered to as more of a "release" from the confines of the world - a nice way to put it I think! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Mat_H - thanks for posting all those passages, I never have my books with me, so it's great when someone else looks the stuff up!
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Old 03-04-2002, 04:52 PM   #18
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Sting

I mean throughout the books. Suicide is always portrayed as such, and never referred to as the relinquishing of life. I believe that there's a definite distinction there.
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Old 03-04-2002, 06:14 PM   #19
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Thanks Squatter, now I understand what you were saying. At first I thought you meant that there were no "violent suicides" in Tolkien's writings and I would have disagreed due to Maedhros, Turin and Nienor. But, you were stating that the relinquishing of life is distinctly different than suicide. Got it now!
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Old 03-04-2002, 09:00 PM   #20
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Ah! I said a while back that I thought I read somewhere in the Sil that death was actually a gift given to Men by Ilúvatar. It turns out I was not crazy, but right.

Quote:
For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold death from him (Beren), which is the gift of Ilúvatar to Men.
The Silmarillion Chapter 19 -end

So this would lend itself to the theory that perhaps the "suicide" of elves was less of a negative, extinguishing action, but rather the seizing of a gift naturally denied them. I don't know. Perhpas this helps a little.
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Old 03-05-2002, 12:36 PM   #21
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i also never perceived the "laying down" of the lives of numenorean kings as suicide, thingol. it was more like another element in the continuum of grace accorded to the descendants of elros, in that elros having chosen to be joined with the atani and sundered from the quendi, had forfeited eternal life for all his seed, but nevertheless bestowed with the mitigating grace of lengthy years and the privilege of declaring such grace full by commending one's soul to illuvatar. in short, it was sort of not ending life itself, but rather, ending the grace of a longer life, which by ancestral choice should've been short.

the distinction of suicide being less acceptable in elves also escaped me, hmmm...from what i understood, tolkien associated the taking (not commending) of one's life with negative conditions, such as niennor's despair at discovering the truth, maedhros torment from the silmaril or miriel's post-partum despondency after the birth of fiery feanor, as the guys above have pointed out. because of such states occasioning it, suicide as i understand was, for tolkien, something wrong regardless of who commits it, be he elf or no. and i'm more inclined to think that it must be more grevious for men to commit it, because this is an act tantamount to forcing the gift of death to men from illuvatar.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:11 PM   #22
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Not sure that this is the exact thread for my thoughts...but here goes anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mat_Heathertoes View Post
So to sum up it is evident that suicide in the sense of terminating ones existence in a 'forced' sense, i.e self-immolation or by the blade of one's own sword is different from Tolkiens innate, consistent mythological scenario of a "free" [from Shadow] man willfully and peacefully relinquishing his existence within the Circles of the World when he thought it appropriate.
I started rereading The Stand by Stephen King, as it's January and nothing helps with the post-holiday blues than reading about a pandemic that wipes about 99.4% of the world's population, followed by a showdown between good and evil, all taking place within a book of over a billion or so words (get the extended version if you really really need to read something).

An aside: One of the fifty or so 'main' characters, Frannie, makes reference to Tolkien. Her father had a shed in the back yard, and the door to the same was smaller than usual. As a child, and maybe even as a young woman, she always hoped that when she opened the door, instead of finding her father's work room, she would find Bag End, and the tunnels (dry) and oddities that made up any well-to-do hobbit hole. This never happened, but she still liked her father's room just the same.

Did I mention that her father smoked a pipe? And that one of her ancestors took the name of Tobias Downs? Anyone else wonder which muse was murmuring in the author's ear?

Where was I? Oh, anyway, so in the first part of the book, you, as the reader, realize that a super germ gets out and starts killing every man, woman and child (and dog) that gets near anyone that is infected. It's sometimes bleak reading, as you know that anyone near any character that sneezes or coughs will soon be dead, and that includes the infant in the car, the kids out in the backyard, etc. Mostly the death happens off screen, but you do get to read about some of it, and it's not very uplifting.

Also, the persons responsible, instead of trying to stop the pandemic, first want to cover up their involvement, and in doing so, allow the plague to spread to the point where it gets out of hand. They even seed it across the oceans to confuse any researchers - not that any are left after a few weeks to point any fingers. After that, civilization breaks down, the dying take one last swing at the resistant people, and then, well, the real fun begins...

So I started thinking about facing such a plague - been here before, as, as a former molecular biologist, you think about plagues and super bugs and biowarfare sometimes. That got to thinking about facing such a death, especially now that I have a little family, and what you would do in such a scenario. Knowing that most probably you weren't resistant - especially when you started with the symptoms - how would you face that day, knowing that death was just around the bend? Is there a way around the despair, or, better put, where would one find hope (assuming no thoughts of afterlife)?

And, anyway, that broadened into thinking about despair in general. We all know, even if we never think about, that we are going to die. Big whoop most days. But what if...sniff...cough... you were faced with that 'day' today?

Hurin showed great courage when he and his men provided a rearguard so that Turgon could escape. Surely that day Hurin thought he was going to die. But what made him stay, when he could just as easily fled with Turgon, having his men hold the pass until he got away? Maybe if he had gotten away, his and his family's lives would not have been so sad. Regardless, he chose to stay and fight, and yet did not die, but in choosing to stay, was that not a form of suicide? And yet, even making this decision, was he not being filled more with hope (that some good would come from his death) than with despair (that all was lost)?

Not that I'm advocating anything, but when you are faced with that kind of a decision, how do you know when to stay and fight, or when to run, and how do you maintain hope and fight back despair? And how can we judge those that give into despair, as, in my example, Hurin chooses death because of hope, though we may never have known it?

Hope that this makes sense to someone.
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:48 PM   #23
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I see a difference between suicide and self-sacrifice in Western culture. Suicide is something selfish, considered immoral by the main western religion (Christianity), and is something for which people can be forcibly locked up if they fail (a process known as a "committal").

Self-sacrifice is done for a purpose, with nobler intentions in mind- usually to save the lives of others.

Addendum: I read The Stand, as well, and the book never made much sense to me: here are the plights and trials of all of these people in what is supposed to be a great struggle between good and evil, and how is it resolved? Trashcan Man, in a blatant and silly deus ex machina, setting off the nuke. Not only that, but his actions also render the entire plot pointless; no matter what the heroes would have been doing or not doing, he would have set off that explosion anyway. Very disappointing plot.
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:55 PM   #24
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I see a difference between suicide and self-sacrifice in Western culture. Suicide is something selfish, considered immoral by the main western religion (Christianity), and is something for which people can be forcibly locked up if they fail (a process known as a "committal").

Self-sacrifice is done for a purpose, with nobler intentions in mind- usually to save the lives of others.
So suicide and self-sacrifice differ only in the mind of the observer? You may think I'm cowardly for not wanting Captain Trips to take me by hopping off the tallest building I can find (not very easy to do in Hobbiton), but I see it as self-sacrifice as my caretakers wouldn't then need to waste their time on me.

Plus I'd be feeding the pigeons too.

Quote:
Addendum: I read The Stand, as well, and the book never made much sense to me: here are the plights and trials of all of these people in what is supposed to be a great struggle between good and evil, and how is it resolved? Trashcan Man, in a blatant and silly deus ex machina, setting off the nuke. Not only that, but his actions also render the entire plot pointless; no matter what the heroes would have been doing or not doing, he would have set off that explosion anyway. Very disappointing plot.
Much agreed. The characters are very well done; you spend much time getting to know and like (or hate) them, and the plot seems so mysterious...what's with the Walkin' Dude, etc? And then Stephen King doesn't disappoint - the plot just falls to nothing and you're left wondering why you wasted the effort.

That said, I'm still going to read it again.
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:00 PM   #25
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Didn't Turin bump himself off ?
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:38 AM   #26
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So suicide and self-sacrifice differ only in the mind of the observer? You may think I'm cowardly for not wanting Captain Trips to take me by hopping off the tallest building I can find (not very easy to do in Hobbiton), but I see it as self-sacrifice as my caretakers wouldn't then need to waste their time on me.

Plus I'd be feeding the pigeons too.
Very noble intentions.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:33 AM   #27
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Didn't Turin bump himself off ?
Practically yes, although he did 'ask' Gurthang (His sword) if it would be so kind as to end his life, before he let his body fall on it's edge
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:46 AM   #28
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Practically yes, although he did 'ask' Gurthang (His sword) if it would be so kind as to end his life, before he let his body fall on it's edge
Another example of 'suicide' for the greater good and for hope. Turin made a mess of everything he touched and everyone with whom he formed a relationship and so, to him perhaps, exiting the stage would further the cause against Morgoth and cut short the mayhem that the dark vala hoped to continue via the CoH. Níniel/Niënor may have felt the same.
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:27 AM   #29
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And to be fair, Turin and his sister might well
have been considered to have been
driven clinically (at least temporarily) insane.
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Old 01-16-2009, 12:39 PM   #30
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Not to make this thread too schizophrenic, but I stumbled upon this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen King
For a long time-ten years, at least-I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting. I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Then, slowly after my wife and kids and I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I saw a 60 Minutes segment on CBW (chemical-biological warfare). I never forgot the gruesome footage of the test mice shuddering, convulsing, and dying, all in twenty seconds or less. That got me remembering a chemical spill in Utah that killed a bunch of sheep (these were canisters on their way to some burial ground; they fell off the truck and ruptured). I remembered a news reporter saying, "If the winds had been blowing the other way, there was Salt Lake City." This incident later served as the basis of a movie called Rage, starring George C. Scott, but before it was released, I was deep into The Stand, finally writing my American fantasy epic, set in a plague-decimated USA. Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg. The land of Mordor ("where the shadows lie, according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas.
Guess he missed it by *that* much...
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:50 AM   #31
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Guess he missed it by *that* much...
Is laughing oneself to death considered suicide?
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:56 AM   #32
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Pipe

Stephen King makes Terry Brooks look
like Frank Herbert .
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:58 PM   #33
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Every time I see this thread title I think of that iconic song, not the cover by Manic Street Preachers or Marilyn Manson, but the theme song from MASH: the movie and the TV show.

Those were definitely not Tolkien moments, though, so this post must be just another schizophrenic comment which muddies al's query about hope and despair.
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Old 01-20-2009, 08:37 AM   #34
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Miriel (Feanor’s mom) is not condemned for committing suicide
Ah, but that's not really true. In later years, the Wise considered her choice to have been at the root of Everything Bad. Even at the time, Mandos predicts that no good will come of it. Laws & Customs Among the Eldar and its associated texts are pretty hard on Miriel.

It is however the case that 'suicide' for an Elf means something rather different than for a human, as the Elf's life within Arda can never be ended. The fea may be houseless for a time, and confined to Mandos, whether the hroa is physically destroyed or merely 'dies of grief:' but these are 'seeming deaths,' because the Elf never leaves the World.

In fact, since Elves can 'die of grief,' it would seem that 'suicide' by violence isn't even necessary for them; they're capable of 'suicide' by will.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:59 AM   #35
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This might just be me, but the Kings letting go of their lives always seemed to me to be like the chronically ill person who instead of clinging to live by the use of machines and stuff lets themselves die. As somebody who is very sickly (having had meningitis, tubes in her ears due to severe ear infections that cause her ear drums to burst several times and lose of hearing, chronic tonsilitis, born premature, etc.) the distinction is very clear to me that once a person passes a certain point it stops being living and becomes merely existing. I myself have decided that as soon as I am old enough I will have a living will telling everybody to not put me on any machine. Perhaps this seems like suicide to some, but to me it is putting my fate in God’s hands and excepting that I will go when it is my time. While I hesitate to stick words in anybody’s mouth, this may possibly be along the same lines that Tolkien (and by extension the Númenorean Kings) was thinking.

Um, sorry if this isn’t very clear or anything. I’m rather nervous as this is my first post of this website, though I have posted on other websites and have lurked here for a long time.
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Old 02-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #36
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Actually, you've made your point perfectly clear, and I find your analogy quite convincing. So keep on posting, and welcome in the Afterlife!
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:54 PM   #37
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This might just be me, but the Kings letting go of their lives always seemed to me to be like the chronically ill person who instead of clinging to live by the use of machines and stuff lets themselves die. As somebody who is very sickly (having had meningitis, tubes in her ears due to severe ear infections that cause her ear drums to burst several times and lose of hearing, chronic tonsilitis, born premature, etc.) the distinction is very clear to me that once a person passes a certain point it stops being living and becomes merely existing. I myself have decided that as soon as I am old enough I will have a living will telling everybody to not put me on any machine. Perhaps this seems like suicide to some, but to me it is putting my fate in God’s hands and excepting that I will go when it is my time. While I hesitate to stick words in anybody’s mouth, this may possibly be along the same lines that Tolkien (and by extension the Númenorean Kings) was thinking.
LadyBrooke, welcome to the Downs! Sorry for your illness; hope that you have better days.

My father, in his last days of battling advanced cancer, decided to 'let go.' He had had enough, and while his mind was still able, he had his feeding tube removed along with any source of hydration. At the time, though as a biologist I knew better, I hoped that maybe, just maybe he was feeling better, but he wasn't. I explained to my siblings that the countdown clock had started and we would only a few days left together. He made it about five days- a couple of them conscious - and then that was it. Now we wished that he had tried some of the experimental treatments that he was offered, but at the time he had found inconvenient.

Anyway, it all reminds me of the Kings.

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Um, sorry if this isn’t very clear or anything. I’m rather nervous as this is my first post of this website, though I have posted on other websites and have lurked here for a long time.
You're doing fine.
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:28 PM   #38
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Sorry to hear about your Father. In the last couple years our family has been in similar situation with both my Mom’s aunt and my Step-Dad’s uncle. My great-aunt actually had been in remission, but it came back and this time she wasn’t strong enough for chemotherapy. Her life is actually the biggest inspiration for both my view on my life and the analogy above. At the end of her life she said it was time for her to go to the Lord and that it was her time. Of course this view has gotten me in trouble several times because my family can’t understand it. Much of the same bitterness Arwen has. Which I can understand and at the same time I can’t.
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:36 PM   #39
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I miss my father at times, of course, but I try to look forward, as I am the father to my kids. When we speak about such things, I never hide that we all will die - with four kids, I'm constantly being plied with questions, and so it comes up. I've even been asked the second question, which is "why do we *have* to die?"

My answer's been that we need to move on, that we need to make room physically and emotionally for our children to grow. I guess that what I'm trying to say that I never truly will be a parent until I'm no longer anyone's child (or something).

This 'letting go' is, to me, consistent with what Tolkien was expressing.
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:05 PM   #40
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I strongly believe that death is not the end but the beginning of something new. Which is probably one of the reason’s I enjoy Tolkien’s books so much - Death is not portrayed as the horrible thing that it is viewed as in the modern world but rather a natural part of life and a gift from Eru.

I suppose as a teenager who almost died as a child I can’t help but view it as something to not be feared. Once you’ve faced something once it becomes a lot less scary because you know you can handle it. A rather morbid view from a kid, but I’d rather spend my life living rather than spend it avoiding death. Also I’ve held pets while they’re dying - an inevitable when you have as many as we do - and when they’re just about to die you can tell they’re at peace. I’ve heard the same thing from many people who work in hospices.

I miss everybody in my life who’s died but at the same time I’m kinda happy for them. They’re in a better place which is all I want - for them to be happy and to have the same happen to me when it’s my time.
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