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Ramblings about Fëanor

When they die, Elves are summoned to the Halls of Mandos by the authority of the Valar. But they don't have to go. They can choose.

Does Fëanor really seem like the kind of person who would accept that summons?  Even dead, having suddenly realised that he could not win, and his body disintegrated into ashes?

The spirits of Elves are supposed to flee from Middle Earth in terror, once Morgoth has returned there.  And yet, I have difficulty imagining Fëanor fleeing anywhere, and certainly not from Morgoth.

It is hard to imagine him hearing the summons of Mandos, and obediently following it.  Of all the Noldor, apart possibly from his father Finwë, Fëanor is the one who would have thought about the Halls of Mandos: about what going there meant for his own mother.

It meant losing the ability to 'do and make things and continue their experience of Arda, until released - and surely he must have known he would not be released quickly, if at all.    I  find it hard to accept that he'd choose that, if there was any other choice still on the table.

 His sons, yes, they would go to Mandos.  All of them lived long enough, and saw enough terrible things that the summons of Mandos must surely have seemed a relief.  But Fëanor?

"There upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Morgoth, Fëanor was surrounded, with few friends about him. Long he fought on, and undismayed, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds; but at the last he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs...

... There he would have perished, had not his sons in that moment come up with force to his aid; and the Balrogs left him, and departed to Angband.
Then his sons raised up their father and bore him back towards Mithrim.   HBut as they drew near to Eithel Sirion and were upon the upward path to the pass over the mountains, Fëanor bade them halt; for his wounds were mortal, and he knew that his hour was come.

And looking out from the slopes of Ered Wethrin with his last sight he beheld far off the peaks of Thangorodrim, mightiest of the towers of Middle-earth and knew with the foreknowledge of death that no power of the Noldor would ever overthrow them; but he cursed the name of Morgoth thrice, and laid it upon his sons to hold to their oath, and to avenge their father.

Then he died, but he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as it sped his body fell to ash, and was borne away like smoke; and his likeness has never again appeared in Arda, neither has his spirit left the Halls of Mandos."

That last, admittedly, suggests that he is inside the Halls of Mandos.   But perhaps not leaving the Halls of Mandos does not entirely imply that he ever entered them?

"Refusal had grave consequences, inevitably proceeding from the rebellion against authority" says Morgoth's Ring of the death of Elves.     That could mean that he was zapped into nonexistence, I suppose, which would fit with his body falling into ash.   But I don't think the Valar would have the authority to do that.

If he were unbodied, he might try to communicate with the living, but Morgoth's Ring suggests that is forbidden (forbidden when, I wonder?)

It is therefore a foolish and perilous thing, besides being a wrong deed forbidden justly by the appointed Rulers of Arda, if the Living seek to commune with the Unbodied, though the houseless may desire it, especially the most unworthy among them. For the Unbodied, wandering in the world, are those who at the least have refused the door of life and remain in regret and self-pity. Some are filled with bitterness, grievance, and envy. Some were enslaved by the Dark Lord and do his work still, though he himself is gone. They will not speak truth or wisdom. To call on them is folly. To attempt to master them and to make them servants of one own's will is wickedness. Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant.

He would certainly not go to Morgoth: Fëanor hated Morgoth more than anyone else hated him.    I wonder what the other possibilities are.

And I wonder who Fëanor's 'few friends' were. I think this may be the only reference to Fëanor having friends.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
22nd Oct, 2016 20:14 (UTC)
I suspect that "friends" just means "people who were not enemies"; and it being Feanor, I suspect that one needs to add "for the purposes of this fight", and possibly "yet" :-)

The natural reading of the bit about not leaving Mandos is that he's still stuck there, though it's quite possible that he never arrived. So far as I can tell, what we know about Valinor all comes from what the elves know, and I'm not sure that they ever get to go into Mandos much to ask around. Although as they do get out again, you'd think that someone who gets out might have mentioned meeting Feanor while in there.

So maybe he never went; or maybe he was in solitary; perhaps people forget what they did in there when they leave; or maybe our reports are all a little out of date. Most people go to Valinor, not out of it, so information after the War of Wrath could only come from the Teleri talking to the Edain, or the Istari coming to Middle-Earth. The Teleri might not think that news of the chap who orchestrated the massacre of loads of their people is the most pressing gossip to pass on, and the Istari are all mad, paranoid, or abroad.

If he never went, then either he didn't go anywhere or else he went somewhere else. Being obliterated seems a bit harsh for Iluvatar, as you say, so if not in Mandos I think he probably went somewhere else. I think the idea of Mandos is that you sit on the step and think about what you've done, and when you're finished you may be allowed back into class to see your friends. If Feanor has actuallydecided not to go to Mandos but just started flitting around in an incorporeal rage, he's not going to finish his meditation and be reincarnated; so he's probably zooming around invisibly and unable to interact with anyone. It would of course be horribly frustrating for him trying to talk to people like say Maedhros, the son who wanders round in lonely places apparently talking to himself...

Or he might have had the might to reincarnate himself: there are all sorts of other beings around in Arda. Has anyone ever seen Feanor and Tom Bombadil in the same room, for example?
22nd Oct, 2016 21:46 (UTC)
I feel the fact the 'friends' get no other mention suggests that an alternative reading might be 'balrog-fodder' :-D

I was also moving in the direction of 'he's probably zooming around invisible becoming increasingly infuriated'!
22nd Oct, 2016 22:45 (UTC)
My reading of 'few friends' has an implicit 'who were still alive'
22nd Oct, 2016 23:06 (UTC)
Not 'who were still prepared to be friends with Feanor..?'
22nd Oct, 2016 23:01 (UTC)
I think Dawn Felagund wrote a somewhat experimental fic about Feanor refusing or not refusing the summons, at some point.
But alternatively, the fact that both Miriel and Finwe were in Mandos could have been the one incentive that would make Feanor answer the summons. (As in: losing the two of them, one after the other, had been what made him go off the rails so completely in the first place).
In fic, it seems often to be assumed that those who refuse the summons just hang around and slowly fade. I don't remember at the moment what the canon basis might be.
I think I may have assumed, subconsciously, that the "few friends" are surviving Feanorians that are of Feanor's generation rather than contemporaries of his sons, although I'm not sure what gave me the idea.
22nd Oct, 2016 23:10 (UTC)
I may write another, for I have now come up with a wacky theory...

There's some stuff about refusing the summons in Morgoth's Ring, but to me it has the ring of some of the other pronouncements about Elves : The Noldor always have dark hair (except when they don't) Elves never remarry (except when they do) etc etc :-D
22nd Oct, 2016 23:20 (UTC)
I'd like to see wacky theory fic on that!
Here's Dawn's piece, if you're interested:
24th Oct, 2016 03:26 (UTC)
I read "few friends" in the Homeric-epic sense, of "few people from his side". This was a battle, after all.

5th Nov, 2016 00:31 (UTC)
I read a fic that was somewhat relevant to this question, though can I remember who it was by or what it was called? Of course not!

ETA*: Couldn't stand the uncertainty, so searched ao3. Bless its comprehensive tags system! Handily, very few fics contain the particular overlapping character set, so it was quite easy to find once I thought of searching that way :-) Not necessarily directly speaking to the points you are making here, but still a very good fic so I'm recommending it anyway: http://archiveofourown.org/works/3747508/chapters/8315305

Would also of course be interested to read your take if you write it :-)

*(does it count as an ETA if you didn't actually post the comment, merely left it hanging unfinished in the box while you chase up references, having changed your mind about posting as-is?)
5th Nov, 2016 09:44 (UTC)
I read that one! I liked it too, but it didn't quite get over the original problem of 'would he actually answer the summons' for me.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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