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Old 02-19-2013, 12:31 PM   #1
EluThingol
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Tragic flaw of the Hurin family

I love the Children of Hurin.

But one thing bothers me.



It is supposed to be the very WILL of Morgoth, and the power therein, to spoil everything within Hurin's family. Chris Tolkien made a comment about how since Morgoth is actually the source of evil, the source of ill-intent, he can CREATE those things, then why is it that all of the terrible things that happened with Turin, his sister and Morwen come from their pride?


Each character has many chances to avoid a major calamity, and they always choose the direction paved by their own arrogance or willfulness or spite.

Are these characteristics not WITHIN them? I almost feel like their downfall was more because of their pride... and less of Morgoth's will. Unless their over-pride WAS his will, which is kind of a stretch.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:26 PM   #2
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I personally think it's a combination of both. It is because of their pride that they did not listen to wise counsel, and because of Morgoth's will that the path they took turned to be as tragic as it was (you know, not every time that you do not agree with a wise person you end up falling such a long way to such a dreadful end).
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EluThingol View Post
I love the Children of Hurin.

...
Are these characteristics not WITHIN them? I almost feel like their downfall was more because of their pride... and less of Morgoth's will. Unless their over-pride WAS his will, which is kind of a stretch.
This is one of those quantum things:

Is it a particle?
Yes
Is it a wave?
Yes.

or the Heisenburg uncertainty principle where we can either measure an object's position or velocity but not both at once, even when an object clearly has both.


There is a tale in a series called Babylon 5 where some telepaths take a guy (called Garibaldi) and heighten his natural suspiciousness to manipulate him to their own ends. Once one allows for such things as telepathy, which does exist in ME, then Morgoth manipulating Hurin and his family through their pride is not such a stretch.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:14 PM   #4
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You guys rock. Thank you.
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Old 03-26-2022, 11:02 AM   #5
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I enjoy wandering through old threads. I tend to reread threads that I posted on, but this means that I am overlooking threads that I did not participate in. Because I have been absent for periods of time over the years, this means that I have missed discussions that were interesting or that were promising but did not develop. This thread is an example of the latter. The first post shows that the thread was created as a result of Elu's reading of the Children of Hurin, and questions the nature of Morgoth's curse upon the family of Hurin. Specifically, Elu wonders whether the tragedies that befell Turin, Morwen and Nienor resulted from their own pride and willfulness.

Until the publication last year of The Nature of Middle Earth (NoME), a significant essay by JRRT, Osanwe-Kenta, was only available in a limited fashion. Originally published in Vinyar Tengwar in 1998, this essay was available only to those who had a copy or could find it, or excerpts of it, on the internet. Osanwe-Kenta was known to many here, and I was fortunate enough to get a copy of that edition of the pamphlet shortly after it came out.

The essay, on its face and from a quick review, addresses mind to mind communication, primarily what we see at the end of LoTR during the post-war journey back north, when the bearers of the three Elven Rings converse in this manner after the Hobbits have fallen asleep. However, the essay goes much deeper than being a simple discussion of Elvish "telepathy." The essay touches upon the relationship of the "soul" (Fea) to the body (hroa), the "clothing" of Valar and Maiar in "bodies," and, applicable here, gives insight into the fundamental nature of Morgoth.

Osanwe-Kenta states that for minds to communicate without words, among other things, both the sender and the receiver must be willing participants. Osanwe can not be used when a participant is unwilling. This type of communication cannot be forced. Nor can information be "stolen" from another's mind without permission. For this reason, when Hurin was captured and brought to Angband, Morgoth could not simply look into his mind and take from him the location of Gondolin. Morgoth could physically torture Hurin or use Osanwe to pressure Hurin's mind or cause pain or distress. Morgoth could also use Osanwe to show things to Hurin (just as Gorlim, a member of Barahir's band, was "shown" an image of his wife to cause him to betray Barahir). But Morgoth could not simply take from an unwilling Hurin's mind the information he wanted.

So what does this have to do with Hurin's curse? The essay also discusses "axani" and "unati." Axani are rules or laws imposed by Eru. It would be an axan that one should not murder another. Unati are things that are impossible or cannot be done due to the nature of Arda. Among the unati is using osanwe against one's will. It cannot be done. Morgoth's nature, at least as he evolved, was to repudiate all axani and rage against all unati. Imagine Morgoth's fury when he could not take from Hurin the location of Gondolin. But he could use osanwe to pressure Hurin and his family and to deceive them or lead them astray.

Turin, Morwen and Nienor were willful and prideful. But these traits were subject to the influence of Morgoth, at least when his attention was focused upon them. Elsewhere on these boards, it has been speculated that while they were in Doriath, behind Melian's girdle, Morgoth could neither perceive them or directly affect them. But their temperaments had already been affected by Morgoth, and in their pride and willfulness, they left Doriath and became available to Morgoth's influence. This is how I believe Morgoth's curse worked it's way to fulfillment.
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Old 03-26-2022, 03:08 PM   #6
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A couple of thoughts:

1) Melkor ultimately was the source of all evil in Arda, and, closer to this, the origin of evil in Men (the Fall). But this of course applied generally. What was specific to Hurin's family?

2) Turin's and Morwen's personalities and character were already in place before the Nirnaeth and the Curse. The Curse apparently amplified what was already there, rather like the Ring granted power by amplifying what was already present in the Bearer

3) I think that both character and Curse-amplification led to Hurin, Morwen and for that matter Nienor, while in Doriath, nonetheless furthering Morgoth's designs: Turin by killing Saeros, Morwen and her daughter by willfully journeying to Nargothrond against all advice

4) Still, you can't deny that Hurin's kids had an amazing run of bad luck. "Chance," as men call it.

5) Morgoth really, totally won. He didn't just ensure that all concerned suffered miserable deaths; after all, he could have just killed Hurin at any time. Nor was it simply a matter of torturing Hurin for the Eevuls. He broke Hurin: by which I mean he took one of the noblest and most stalwart of men and made him a minion. Not that Hurin realized this; he thought, from the time of his release, that he was defying Morgoth- but when your motivation is hate, you are acting on Morgoth's behalf whether you admit it or not. Hurin was made into a sort of moral Typhoid Mary, spreading corruption to Brethil and Doriath: the proud, bitter old man, in his hatred of the enemy, had turned his back on all that was good. (Pop-culture parallel: as if Luke embraces his hate and falls to the Dark Side)
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Old 03-31-2022, 01:32 PM   #7
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Regarding Hurin and his family, Morgoth "won" in that he wreaked havoc, punished and abused the entire family, destroyed Nargothrond (likely on his hit list anyway) and, importantly, gained some knowledge about the general whereabouts of Gondolin. I doubt that he foresaw the slaying of Glaurung, but, in the balance of things, this was not an overwhelming loss in that other dragons were already being spawned.

With respect to the War of the Jewels, generally, it cannot be disputed that he thoroughly defeated the Elves and their allies. From the time Gondolin fell through the arrival of the host of the West, he was likely sitting back, gloating over his victory and pondering his next steps.

But this is the central point of the entire Silmarillion, which was undeniably a tragedy, beautiful and inspiring at times, but an overwhelming defeat of the Noldor and their allies. The defeat was inevitable. The Noldor had chosen to make war upon one beyond their ability to successfully challenge; Morgoth, corrupt and corrupted as he may have been, a Vala nonetheless. As the messenger of Manwe stated when the Noldor were departing from Tirion, "Vala he is thou saist. Then thou hast sworn in vain, for none of the Valar canst thou overcome now or ever within the halls of Ea, not though Eru who thou namest had made thee thrice greater than thou art."

Hurin's defiance against Morgoth falls into the same category. Brave and inspiring, but nonetheless, part of a tragedy. It was beyond Hurin or his family to evade Morgoth's curse. While some small good may have come of Hurin's defiance, certainly a good story, the fall of Glaurung, and a short term delay in Morgoth finding the precise location of Gondolin which gave Turgon time to dispatch his messengers into the West (failures all, but leading to Tuor and ultimately Eardendil), at bottom the fight against Morgoth was futile.
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Old 03-31-2022, 01:43 PM   #8
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It was beyond Hurin or his family to evade Morgoth's curse. While some small good may have come of Hurin's defiance, certainly a good story, the fall of Glaurung, and a short term delay in Morgoth finding the precise location of Gondolin which gave Turgon time to dispatch his messengers into the West (failures all, but leading to Tuor and ultimately Eardendil), at bottom the fight against Morgoth was futile.
When Húrin faced down Morgoth, his back was against the wall.

He had been captured while warring against Morgoth; his unbreakable loyalty was to the Noldor.
He had two options: accept Morgoth's offer to join him, and sell out Turgon in the process, or defy him. Húrin kept the faith. I don't think he believed he could withstand everything Morgoth could throw at him, but in his mind he had no choice. Had he taken the first option, could there have ever been a messenger to the West?
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Old 03-31-2022, 01:59 PM   #9
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All true. My post was in response to William's in which he states "Morgoth really, totally won." My response is simply, "of course he won." In a sense, this relates to my post above regarding "unati." It was not possible, within Arda, for the Children of Iluvatar to successfully make war against and defeat one of the Valar. While the pride and willfulness of Turin and Morwen were certainly factors that Morgoth took advantage of, at the end of the day the family could not evade the curse. One way or another the curse would come home to roost.
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Old 04-05-2022, 10:50 AM   #10
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What I was saying, though, was not simply that Morgoth won in a battlefield sense, but that he succeeded in perverting one of the greatest of Men: ruining Hurin, turning him into an agent of evil, was a far greater victory than merely killing him. The goal of the Devil after all is not our death but our damnation.
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Old 04-05-2022, 12:41 PM   #11
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What I was saying, though, was not simply that Morgoth won in a battlefield sense, but that he succeeded in perverting one of the greatest of Men: ruining Hurin, turning him into an agent of evil, was a far greater victory than merely killing him. The goal of the Devil after all is not our death but our damnation.
The last sentence is undoubtedly true.

But how "perverted" did Húrin become?
I see it as analogous to the difference between the much later falls of Saruman and Denethor.

Saruman actively aided Sauron, whether as a true ally, or for his own evil ends.
Denethor never stopped opposing Sauron, but the latter's superior will overcame Denethor's resistance, and convinced him the West could not win.

Húrin did not become an ally of Morgoth, nor did he willingly help him in any way. At the time of his release, he was simply a broken man, physically and spiritually, who had seen the loss of everything he loved, and had stopped caring.

In that sense, Sauron was much more a victim of Morgoth than Húrin ever was.
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Old 04-08-2022, 06:32 PM   #12
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What happened to Denethor mirrored what happened to Hurin in a small way. Denethor was a small piece of Sauron's game. He saw what Sauron showed him and was deceived. But it appears that the attention Sauron gave to Denethor, apparently limited to when the Palantir was used, was nothing compared to Morgoth's focus upon Hurin. Denethor was tricked, what he was shown drove him into a deep depression and caused him to lose his mind.

Morgoth did not undertake to influence or even kill Hurin, he chose to destroy him and his family. Hurin and his family were not merely shown images, whether false, exaggerated or subject to misinterpretation. They were the focal points of Morgoth's malice and influence, which, as I suggest above, was inexorable and beyond their ability to resist. At the end, Hurin was physically and emotionally a broken man, but he was not "perverted" as perhaps Saruman was. He did not, at least not intentionally, betray his old friends and allies. He did slay Mim (at least in some versions), which may have been wrongful though deserved. He was undeservedly scornful towards Thingol, at least until he was, to some extent, relieved from Morgoth's sway by Melian. But his disclosure of Gondolin's general location was not a knowing betrayal. Ultimately, his will was not broken.
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Old 04-11-2022, 08:38 AM   #13
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I think what I had most of all in mind was The Wanderings of Hurin (HME XI), where the bitter old man manipulates the folk of Haleth into destroying themselves, in revenge for the deaths of his family (at, as he saw it through Morgoth's eyes, their hands). His motivation at first seems to be mere unbending pride, like Denethor, but it becomes increasingly apparent as the story goes on that he is driven by vengeance and hate, his soul in thrall to Morgoth even as his will rejected him.
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Old 05-07-2022, 03:54 PM   #14
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While making a post on the Finduilas vs Doom thread, a certain thought occurred to me which I think is better fitted for this thread - without necessarily cracking the cycle of internal vs external workings of the Curse. I thought - even Turin's good deeds like sparing Mim (and not just good-intentioned but poorly-chosen ones), turn to bite him at some later time. And then I thought - there is just an awful lot of bad luck for all people who go near him, even those only tangentially involved. I always had a soft spot for Hunthor - we don't know much of him, but he seems to be a fairly neutral party in the story until he volunteers to go with Turin to fight Glaurung. He steps up to Brandir's defense, and seems very fair and rational-minded, and is clearly brave and responsible and dependable and a bunch of other good qualities. He goes with Turin, and dies because of a stupid rock. Is that a surprise? Not really - they went on a dangerous mission where they could have all died a dozen times. But it's like - if someone good can stand by Turin's side uncorrupted by arrogance or greed or cruelty or any other vice, and exerts a good influence on Turin, and cannot be used to further his doom through these vices - then they have to be removed with an "accident" (quotation marks deliberate). Beleg. Hunthor. I am not sure if Gwindor truly counts, that love triangle is a bit too complicated to tackle. I was unfortunately interrupted while writing this and forgot my bright idea and where I was going with this in relation to the Curse. But one does wonder - how much is accident, and how much is "accident", and if the latter, by what means is it brought about. There is nothing - nothing - that the man touched which did not break. It's just a bit too much bad luck to be discounted as your average badluckiness.

Actually, no - there is one group of people that were involved with the family and with Turin directly which did not end horrifically: Mablung and his company. What happened in Doriath is questionable, being under the shield of Melian's Girdle, but Mablung interacts with both Turin and Morwen and Nienor outside of Doriath too and somehow survives without witnessing his life crumbling around him. Is that somehow significant?

I'm sorry, I'm rambling. This started off as a thought but I soon forgot where I was going with it, and now it's just unraveled into snippets of component thoughtlings.
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Old 05-07-2022, 06:25 PM   #15
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Yes, a very good point Galadriel55. The bad luck that seemed to stalk Turin and his family does seem to affect those around them. The examples you offer, Beleg, Hunthor, Mim and especially Gwindor, are just the top of a long list.

The wording of Morgoth's curse is relevant here. There is a marked difference between what appears in the Silmarillion and what is said in the Children of Hurin (and, unfortunately, I cannot put my hands on Unfinished Tales right now). The Silmarillion barely summarizes the curse, stating that "Morgoth cursed Hurin and Morwen and their offspring, and set a doom upon them of darkness and sorrow..." This, on its face, might not extend past the family itself. In contrast, Children of Hurin sets out an extended dialogue between Hurin and Morgoth. In relevant part, Morgoth is quoted as follows:

Quote:
"But upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death."
Maybe this explains why Turin and his family seemed to shed ill-fate like a duck sheds water?
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