NARN I HÎN HÚRIN - The Tale of the Children of Húrin

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Wed May 06, 2009 10:00 am

I think that's a good insight, Chrissiejane. He loves Turin despite all his faults - he can see a great man and also, I think, a brother. He sees a Turin that most people don't, hardy, courageous, faithful and trustworthy. The fact that he dies at his hand is such a terrible irony. The one guiding hand that might have steadied Turin and kept him on course is snatched from him by his own unwitting act.

The more I think about it the more I see that Turin's Doom works itself out through ignorance. He is always tripped up by what he doesn't know, not by what he does. He kills Beleg because he doesn't 'know' him. He flees Thingol's protection because he doesn't know he has been held blameless for Sador's death. He abandons Finduilas because he doesn't know his mother and sister are safe. He marries his sister because he doesn't know who she is. He falls foul of Gwindor and Brandir because he doesn't know they love Finduilas and Niennor. I'm sure there are other examples. Everything that could save him is hidden from him.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Wed May 06, 2009 11:38 am

Iolanthe, you've really nailed something that has been rolling around in my brain for a few days!!

Whilst I am reading the various versions of this story, the notion of the Palantirs keeps on coming to me, entirely unbidden, and your comments mean that I'm now reminded of Brian Sibley's words (on one or other of the LOTR DVDs I think) about how the users of the Palantirs think they are learning "the truth" but that they are often getting misled.

This seems to be a really Tolkein-esque notion - this business of action through either ignorance or mistaken knowledge - and its dreadful consequences.

To Turin's ignorance, I would add his particular mix of pride and impetuosity. A very dangerous combination!!
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Wed May 06, 2009 1:03 pm

Chrissiejane wrote:To Turin's ignorance, I would add his particular mix of pride and impetuosity. A very dangerous combination!!
I think you and Iolanthe have hit the nail on the head, ChrissieJane. There's a kind of awful inevitability about Turin's doom, born of these factors, which I find really hard to take. Thanks for your insights - this is a really interesting discussion to read, although I haven't been able to contribute much!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Wed May 06, 2009 6:12 pm

Ladies you've really opened Turin up for me now. I still see him as a victim of his own doing but Iolanthe's simple analysis:
The more I think about it the more I see that Turin's Doom works itself out through ignorance. He is always tripped up by what he doesn't know,...
put into words what I thought all along. I still dislike the character though and although I know ignorance sometimes is changeable, in this instance I couldn't see Turin being any other way.
Everything that could save him is hidden from him.
But some could have easily been found out. This was his downfall.
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

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Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Wed May 06, 2009 7:23 pm

Philipa wrote: I know ignorance sometimes is changeable, in this instance I couldn't see Turin being any other way.
Everything that could save him is hidden from him.
But some could have easily been found out. This was his downfall.
I think that's where his innate personality and the learned behaviours he picked up from his environment really crash into each other, with such disastrous results, and not just for him.

We were thinking of Beleg....loyal, slow to judge, patient, courageous but also cautious in his actions: all that Turin is not. Yet he too finishes tragically - tainted, it seems, as much by the qualities that make him into a good being, as by those that make Turin into such a dangerous one.

I really love this story! There is so much to think about.
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu May 07, 2009 4:00 am

Great discussion! All of these factors are so balanced by Tolkien that it's hard for me to single one out.

Beleg doesn't have a lot of personality, in my mind. He's just kind of the form of good person, so that clearly his death is unjust and a tragedy. His torture by the outlaws and rescue by Turin is then turned around when Beleg rescues Turin, but their reactions are so different. Beleg somehow endures his captivity in a patiently elvish way and doesn't even seem to hold a grudge, but Turin blindly lashes out and kills his liberator. I'm with Chrissiejane when she says above that she can't forgive Turin for killing Beleg, although more rationally, I suppose I ought to find it hard to blame him for his reaction.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Thu May 07, 2009 1:50 pm

I think it's also good to remember that Turin couldn't forgive himself for killing Beleg and, ultimately, it's Beleg's black sword he kills himself with. In the words of Gwindor it 'mourns for Beleg even as you do'
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Thu May 07, 2009 3:09 pm

Iolanthe wrote:I think it's also good to remember that Turin couldn't forgive himself for killing Beleg.....
Indeed - and Turin's ability to feel pity for the suffering of other beings, and also to feel persoanl remorse for his own actions, help immensely in "softening" the picture I have of him.

It interests me that, his remorse and pity notwithstanding, he seems unable to apply his experiences and learning within different contexts: that's a child-like characteristic, and I wonder how much Turin's lack of hands-on guidance from his parents, in his early years, is responsible for him sustaining this quality into his adult years.

I have wondered, whilst reading this story, whether this particular aspect of Turin perhaps reflects the Professor's experience from within his own childhood and formative years??
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri May 08, 2009 11:57 am

It's possible, isn't it? Shippey points out that he was shunted from pillar to post, moving from one lodging to another from when his mother died right up to his marriage. That was the first time that he had another proper home.

Even though he had his brother, many guiding hands and his love for Edith to sustain him it's a very unsettled existence and he must have identified with Kullervo and Sigurd (both mother and fatherless, though Sigurd doesn't know his father is Wotan) and ultimately with his Turin (fatherless and separated from his mother). It's probably significant that Turin is one of the first stories he wrote. Out of his early stories Tuor is also disposessed and orphaned and Beren is dispossed, though not at a young age. But he was also a homeless wanderer. Later on he was writing about the orphaned and disposessed Aragorn and the motherless Boromir and Faramir. Bit of a pattern, isn't it?

I think he must have found relief in the comfortable, homely Hobbits - but he still couldn't resist making Frodo an orphan too and shoving both him and Bilbo on the road against their wishes. No wonder he loved Sam who has a father (but, AGAIN, no mother that we know of) and who finally comes truly home to wife and family.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Fri May 08, 2009 12:48 pm

That's a really good point, Iolanthe! Éomer and Éowyn have been orphaned, and Arwen is also motherless by the time we meet her in LoTR..
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Fri May 08, 2009 1:07 pm

Wow when you add them all up... that's messed up. :P
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Merry
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Post by Merry » Fri May 08, 2009 2:40 pm

I haven't read Joseph Campbell yet, although I have bought the book--looking forward to our discussion soon!. But isn't the hero archetype always an orphan?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Fri May 08, 2009 2:57 pm

Merry, I was just coming here to refer to Campbell and make that point - the childhood of the heroic archetype is marked by a period of obscurity, often via exile from the parents and home, and/or as a foster child, and/or in reduced circumstances: overcoming the drawbacks and privations of this dubious start in life is the very first step on the heroic journey.
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Fri May 08, 2009 11:53 pm

Well than we can not expect anything else of Tolkien being the mythological purist he was. Although he didn't always agree with some important mythological ideas he did implement them regularly.

This discussion has been most interesting. It will be even more interesting to implement the same mythological story lines with the rest of the books tales too.

Though sometimes I feel we can analyze these stories to death, some insight is helpful. :D
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Fri May 08, 2009 11:58 pm

Tolkien did change one thing from the past writers of heroes. His hero Aragorn broke the mold on the old english hero of doing the right thing because it was for personal gains. Aragorn was a hero and put his life on the line because it was for the good of people of Middle-earth and not for personal gain.

Was Turin's motives for 'doing the right thing' for personal gain or for the good of the people?

Just throwing that out there. :wink:
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

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