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Old 11-17-2007, 01:09 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Tolkien Finduilas and the Doom of Turin

When I first read The Children of Hurin, there was one passage that I found jarring. After Gwindor is wounded to the death, he warns Turin that Finduilas "alone stands between you and your doom. If you fail her, it shall not fail to find you." I did not recall this from the Silmarillion text and wondered if it was a creation or interpretation of Christopher Tolkien. This is a case of simply failing to take note of details, since the same warning appears in the Silmarillion. Curious, because the words of Gwindor seem odd, as I will discuss in a moment, I checked Unfinished Tales. No help there, because this passage was not revised from the original Silmarillion text in UT. Going farther back, to the Shaping of Middle-Earth, this reference to averting Turin's doom is not present. Instead, Gwindor (or Flinding at the time) exacts a pledge from Turin to rescue Finduilas or, if he cannot, to slay her. A bit more investigation led me to The War of the Jewels where the language from CoH appears almost verbatim. CT's commentary notes that the reference to averting Turin's doom goes back to Lost Tales where it first appeared, but was later modified to the simple pledge to rescue Finduilas, at least until the War of the Jewels version.

Anyway, my question is this. How could the rescue of Finduilas avert Turin's doom, which was imposed by Morgoth's curse? I believe that every version of the Finduilas story emphasizes that Turin did not love her other than as a friend and did not have any desire to wed her. This was not a case where there could have been another marriage of Elves and Men, and even if there were, how would this avert Morgoth's curse? The curse was on Turin, not his name, and it seemed that it would always seek him out, where ever he went and what ever he did. If Turin had not fallen under the binding spell of Glaurung and had somehow managed to rescue Finduilas, how could this affect his doom?
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Old 11-17-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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In my mind, the chief negative consequence of Turin's failure to heed Gwindor's advice was his happening upon Nienor, and their resultant marriage. Turin's death seemed imminent regardless, a fate given him by a power much greater than his own - but what Turin represents (imo) is the ancient ideal of personal honor and incorruption as virtues of far greater importance than whether one lives or dies - which makes his unnatural marriage infinitely worse than death in battle, death by torture, or anything else Morgoth could have devised.

Why did Gwindor mention Finduilas specifically? Why not tell him not to fall in love with the naked girl running through the forest, or something else more directly related to his final fate? I think that the Finduilas strand is a 'What if...?' which Tolkien left vague intentionally - another layer of the misty veil surrounding the predestined fall of his tragic hero.
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:30 PM   #3
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I've not the time at the moment to give this question the thoughtful reply that it deserves; one point however:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan
I believe that every version of the Finduilas story emphasizes that Turin did not love her other than as a friend and did not have any desire to wed her.
I'm not so sure. I don't have the books at hand at the moment, but my impression from the texts (and from the UT version in especial) is that Turin was chiefly reluctant to court Finduilas out of respect for, and a desire not to betray, Gwindor. Also, I recall that he was afraid he would bring his curse upon her. So I see Turin as attracted indeed to Finduilas, but holding himself back from wedding her for these (actually rather admirable) reasons.
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:21 PM   #4
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What Aiwendil assuemd for the version in UT was true for sure in the version of the story in The Lay of the Children of Húrin.

But in my oppinion that does not really matter. Let's assume that Túrin would have followed his heart and rescued Finduilas instead of going to Dor-lómin. What would have happend next? He would have brought the rescued fugitives of Nargothrond to some save habour. This would probably have been Doriath, because that is were the fugitives of Nargorthrond that surivived in the story as we have it went too. There he would at least have leaned about the fatfull search of Morwen and Niënor. He would that have been out on a search by himself for sure. And even if he would have landed in the end in Brethil with his witness sister runing to him, would he not then have been aware of who she could be?

And as to Túrins fate: He killed himself as his sisiter had done when he at last recognised the truth of Brandirs words. That means that the fateful mariage was in the end what killed him not the dragon, nor any other foe. So what ever would have happend, if this marriage had not been, because Túrin would have rescued Finduilas his fate would have been otherwise.

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Old 11-18-2007, 05:54 PM   #5
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Alas, my thread is being hijacked onto a tangent and I will be a willing part of it, paticularly because the tangent relates to the initial subject. I do want to hear what people have to say regarding the initial topic: how could saving Finduilas avert Turin's doom? Son of Numenor comes up with an interesting idea that I will respond to after giving others a chance to put in their two pence.

Aiwendil, I am tempted to accuse you of raising a question that you know the answer to. CoH and the Silmarillion both state that Turin did not return Finduilas' love. Unfinished Tales offers no help as the section of Narn i hin Hurin that would have addressed this issue is not included; the text defers to the published Silmarillion. Confident that what was published in the Silmarillion would be confirmed in earlier versions, I went directly to Shaping Middle Earth and found that Turin loved Finduilas but feared entangling her in his doom. Later versions of the Tale addressed in The War of the Jewels are substantially similar to the earlier versions, Turin loves Finduilas but fears his love. Nor do the commentaries in War of the Jewels express any regret regarding CT's final treatment of the subject in the Silmarillion as he sometimes does. I have not checked all other commentaries.

So the NEW issue becomes, where did the conception of these events found in the Silmarillion and CoH come from? Where is the source material for this version of the story? Does it come from Tokien in some unpublished text or is it CT's own view of where his father would eventually come out on this issue?
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Old 11-19-2007, 08:52 AM   #6
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Mithadan, perhaps you overlooked the fragments of "Turin in Nargothrond" which were published in UT as part of the appendices to the Narn, where the Turin/Gwindor/Finduilas triangle is covered at some length (pp. 155-159). There we find
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...but against her will her love for Turin grew day by day....yet she knew he had no love of the kind she wished. His heart and mind were elsewhere
and so on; all repeated essentially verbatim in CoH. This is a slight modification of the story in the Grey Annals from a few years before, where Turin indeed loved Finduilas, but refused to 'taint' her (or betray Gwindor).

More to the specific point of Gwindor's foresight and the Doom: in UT p. 159 CT says "of the Battle of Tumhalad and the sack of Nargothrond there is no other account," sc. than that used in the Silmarillion, which in fact is that of the Grey Annals (XI. 85), where Gwindor's prophecy appears, and so that text, the published Silmarillion, and the CoH are close to identical.

(with one puzzling exception: the paragraph which appears at the bottom of CoH p. 176, repeating the Silmarillion, does not have any antecedent I can identify ["Then the warriors of Nargothrond went forth, and tall and terrible on that day looked Turin...."])
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Old 11-19-2007, 05:59 PM   #7
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You are correct, William. I did overlook that discussion of what CT terms a somewhat fragmentary text but which reads rather well. So now we know where the Silmarillion version of the tale, that Turin did not love Finduilas, derives from. But this underscores the original question, why would rescuing Finduilas have averted Turin's doom? This statement was a dying declaration of Gwindor and smacks of foresight. What could Gwindor have foreseen? Certainly not that Turin would wed Finduilas and as a result somehow escape Morgoth's curse. It is appears clear that this would not have occurred, if we accept what appears in UT as the final version of this part of the tale. Could it be as simple as Son of Numenor suggests?
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:09 PM   #8
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Sorry if I've led this discussion a bit off-topic, but I do think, as Mithadan says, that the issue of Turin's love for Finduilas is quite important to the main question he raised.

I'm afraid that my memory led me awry earlier; the quote I was thinking of was not in the UT 'Narn' but in GA.

But I am still not convinced that in the UT version, Turin does not love Finduilas. I've just re-read the relavant 'Narn' fragments and I do not find a clear statement to this effect. Yes, Finduilas herself does claim that "Túrin loves me not; nor will," but we don't necessarily know that she is correct (even if Gwindor seems to agree). It seems to me that in this fragmentary version of the account of Turin in Nargothrond, the relationship among Gwindor, Finduilas, and Turin has become quite nuanced and rather complex. I don't think that any of the three is quite able to see the entire truth of the situation, and certainly none can be considered an objective reporter of the facts. Nonetheless, reading this version in isolation, one certainly does find the element of Turin's love for Finduilas significantly downplayed, if (perhaps) not completely excised. Still, it must be remembered that this version is, after all, fragmentary. It's difficult to guess whether, or how, the situation would have been cast in a different light had Tolkien completed this section. (Note also the references to Finduilas in the later parts of the 'Narn', particularly Turin's reaction on learning of her death; of course, these portions were written earlier and are more closely associated with GA).

But let's consider how this relates to Mithadan's original question. Gwindor's warning to Turin appears in GA but not in the 'Narn'; the Battle of Tumhalad was not reached in that text. Now, Tolkien might or might not have included it had he finished the 'Narn'; we cannot say. But it seems to me that as long as we are evaluating the import of Gwindor's words, we must evaluate them within the context of the texts in which they appear. In GA (and earlier), it certainly does make perfect sense to suppose that Turin would have wedded Finduilas if he had saved her.

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Old 11-20-2007, 05:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
. In GA (and earlier), it certainly does make perfect sense to suppose that Turin would have wedded Finduilas if he had saved her.
I think so too. Much depends on the definition of "love".
Túrin certainly is very fond of Finduilas, I think he does love her, but daren't desire her - he is too much in awe of her; ("He had no love of the kind she wished")
Finduilas says in the fragment in the U.T.Narn:
Quote:
....but still pity can ever pierce his heart, and he will never deny it. But he does not pity me. He holds me in awe, as were I both his mother and a queen.
Now if, after the sack of Nargothrond, Turin had managed to rescue Finduilas from the orcs, couldn't that have changed things between them, and his feelings for her?
Gwindor's flash of "foresight" in his dying hour had probably not been explicit. But it is rather noble of him to give this warning and commit Finduilas to his rival.

However, all this is speculation, and I agree with Son of Numenor's conclusion:
Quote:
Originally posted by Son of Numenor
"I think that the Finduilas strand is a 'What if...?' which Tolkien left vague intentionally - another layer of the misty veil surrounding the predestined fall of his tragic hero."
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:01 AM   #10
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Great thread and posts. Maybe the core of this question - due in no small part to the magical subtlety of Tolkiens words – depends entirely on the beliefs of the reader, or as Guinevere states:
Quote:
Much depends on the definition of "love".
Like others, I have always got the feeling that Túrin would indeed have reciprocated Finduilas’ love – of the kind she wished it to be - had it not been for his honour bound friendship with Gwindor. To me it seems like another fey strand of the curse that haunts Túrins every turn: he is brought to the refuge sanctuary of Nargothrond (and Finduilas) by the only one of that realm whom he owes his life to, Gwindor, who just happens to also be the one Elf that was romantically involved with Finduilas in times past. The seeds of a fragile and doomed triangle between the three are sown from the beginning, masterfully shrouded in Tolkiens gift for pathos.
For me, Aiwendil rightly says that none...
Quote:
of the three is quite able to see the entire truth of the situation
- Túrin least of all it seems, as he says of himself, with the truth seeing eyes of his imminent death near the end of CoH: “For see, I am blind! Did you not know? Blind, blind, groping since childhood in a dark mist of Morgoth”.

Over in the excellent Translations from the Elvish – Narn i Chîn Húrin thread http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?p=522376 by Findegil, I saw these wonderfully poignant lines from the Lay that (to me) echo the subtleties and unspoken passion of the situation:
Quote:
…of Túrins Sorrows at this time it is told in the Lay:

From woe unhealed __ the wounded heart
of Túrin the tall __ was turned to her.
...
the glory of her eyes __ that gleamed with fires
of secret thought __ in silent deeps.
This also complements what Son of Númenor wrote here:
Quote:
the Finduilas strand is a 'What if...?' which Tolkien left vague intentionally - another layer of the misty veil surrounding the predestined fall of his tragic hero
As to how could saving Finduilas avert Túrins doom, I’m in agreement with Aiwendil & Guinivere that:
Quote:
it certainly does make perfect sense to suppose that Túrin would have wedded Finduilas if he had saved her.
Thus altering the fateful path of doom that led him to Niënor/Níniel and his bitter end.

Guinivere:
Quote:
Gwindor's flash of "foresight" in his dying hour had probably not been explicit. But it is rather noble of him to give this warning and commit Finduilas to his rival.
If only Gwindor had been as noble and upfront to Túrin regarding Finduilas prior to that dark day, things might have transpired rather differently. Maybe such speculation only begs another unanswerable question, namely; was Love the only fate strong enough to defeat or offset the Curse of Morgoth and Túrins doom?
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Old 11-22-2007, 11:39 AM   #11
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I agree with everyone that this topic calls for rank speculation, on the order of what would have happened if Caeser had not been assassinated or if Napoleon had prevailed at Waterloo. We have no way of knowing what Tolkien was considering when Gwindor suggested that Turin's doom could be avoided if he rescued Finduilas. Nonetheless, I am impressed at the thoughtful suggestions posted here, and add my own comments.

First, in order to avert his doom (note that the word used was doom and not curse; there could be a slight significance there), I do not feel that Turin would have needed to wed Finduilas. It would have been sufficient for him to rescue her. Turin would not have fallen under Glaurung's binding spell, he would not have gone to Dor Lomin and would not have slain Brodda, he would not have come to Brethil and would not have stumbled upon Nienor (who would not have needed to ride with her mother to Nargothrond because Turin was not trapped there). Presumably, Turin would have needed to bring Finduilas to some safe haven whether he wedded her or not, probably Doriath. There he would have been reunited with Morwen and Nienor and his doom is unravelled. Yet he and his family would remain cursed and, more importantly, what about Glaurung? Another line of speculation results. Glaurung and a great army are sent against Doriath and Melian, etc., etc...

Turin's tale is a tragedy. He is a great hero caught up in events beyond his control and beyond his depth. He is cursed. Notwithstanding his curse, he manages to do great things, even though much of what he does seems to turn ill. A great part of the story is his relationship with Glaurung and the slaying of the worm. I do not think that Tolkien would suggest that this might not occur, that Turin's "doom" would not find him if he did or refrained from doing anything. Gwindor's prophecy is a late addition to Turin's tale. I do not think that it does anything for the story; the tale is equally tragic if Turin ignores Gwindor's dying wish that he rescue Finduilas without linking the rescue to an undoing of his curse or doom. To the contrary, to suggest that a simple "good deed" could contravene Morgoth's curse is a bit too blithe a solution. And what of the fact that even Turin's attempts to do good are turned awry by the curse? The idea that rescuing Finduilas would avert Turin's doom simply does not fit.

If Tolkien had ever assembled the "final draft" of Narn i Hin Hurin, I suggest that Gwindor's prophecy would not have been included; the earlier iteration of his dying words would have been used. Tolkien was simply too careful an author to let something slip in that seems to run contrary to the themes of that tale. I used the word "jarring" in my initial post. The use of that word was intentional. Gwindor's prophecy is jarring; it doesn't fit.
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Old 11-22-2007, 09:42 PM   #12
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Yet he and his family would remain cursed
Quote:
I do not think that Tolkien would suggest that this might not occur, that Turin's "doom" would not find him if he did or refrained from doing anything. Gwindor's prophecy is a late addition to Turin's tale. I do not think that it does anything for the story; the tale is equally tragic if Turin ignores Gwindor's dying wish that he rescue Finduilas without linking the rescue to an undoing of his curse or doom. To the contrary, to suggest that a simple "good deed" could contravene Morgoth's curse is a bit too blithe a solution. And what of the fact that even Turin's attempts to do good are turned awry by the curse? The idea that rescuing Finduilas would avert Turin's doom simply does not fit.
Quote:
If Tolkien had ever assembled the "final draft" of Narn i Hin Hurin, I suggest that Gwindor's prophecy would not have been included; the earlier iteration of his dying words would have been used. Tolkien was simply too careful an author to let something slip in that seems to run contrary to the themes of that tale.
I disagree.

I think that this "what if" scenario touches on the interesting questions of just what Morgoth's curse was and how it worked. In particular, there's a fate vs. free-will ambiguity in the curse, and I think that your analysis (though well-thought out and perceptive) considers the matter only from one side.

An interesting question to consider as one reads the 'Narn' is to what extent Turin's misfortunes are the result of Morgoth's curse and to what extent they are the result of his own decisions. The interesting thing is that almost every time something goes wrong for Turin, it seems (at least on one level) to be the result of his own actions. The death of Saeros, for example, occurs because of the particular way in which Turin chooses to deal with his anger in that situation. When one considers that incident (or indeed any of Turin's misfortunes) alone, one is hard-pressed to point out exactly where the Curse plays any role at all. It looks like the characters involved are all acting of their own accord and not subject to any external constraints or influence. On the other hand, when one steps back and looks at the whole story, one does undoubtedly see Morgoth's curse at work. Moreover, we know that Turin's life is dominated by the curse because we see Morgoth pronounce it at the beginning of the tale. It may seem difficult to reconcile these two interpretations; I think the solution is that we must not attempt to reconcile them at all, but rather accept that, strange as it may seem, each is true in its own way. This is, I think, similar to the ambiguity between internal and external evil in the One Ring.

So it is also with the issue of rescuing Finduilas. Though Turin's choice not to rescue Finduilas can perhaps be put down to the dragon-spell, he apparently chooses (of his own unconstrained will) to lift his visor and look Glaurung in the eye. Yet, what looks like (and probably is) a free choice on his part turns out, in the long run, to be part of his doom.

I suppose another way of saying this is that somehow Morgoth's curse is manifested through Turin's choices. His failure to rescue Finduilas is, then, part of his curse. It makes little sense, to me anyway, even to posit that, had he rescued Finduilas, his curse would still have found him. For the curse is (in part) that he failed to rescue Finduilas. One can easily imagine a lot of hypothetical worlds where Turin's lot is happier, had he made this choice or that choice differently. The curse is that he didn't make those choices differently.

What does this matter? It may seem that I'm only addressing an issue of semantics, but I think there's more to it than that. It is integral to the effect of the story, I think, not only that Turin make the wrong choices, but that he regret those choices. The tragedy that follows from his failure to rescue Finduilas is, I think, all the more acute if we can see a way in which it might have been averted. If we simply shrug and say "Oh well, things still would somehow have gone badly if he'd rescued her" then we lose some of the tragedy of his failure to do so.

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Old 11-23-2007, 12:43 PM   #13
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I suppose another way of saying this is that somehow Morgoth's curse is manifested through Turin's choices.
This is a truism. Turin (and his family) is the one cursed. The curse affects or colors, to some extent, all his choices. As a mediocre rock band from the 1970s said, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. One cannot distinguish between Turin's actions and inactions as all are colored by the curse. One can distinguish between the actions of Turin and those of other characters. Turin is cursed, the others are not, yet to the extent they interact with Turin, they get caught up in Morgoth's malice. Beleg does not die because he is cursed. He dies because he is interacting with Turin. This applies to the victims of apparent misfortune throughout the tale, whether it be Brodda, Dorlas, Gwindor, Brandir, etc.

Free will vs. fate. My favorite line on this subject from Tolkien's works is found in the Silmarillion, and it is an early conception found in earlier iterations of the tales. Men "have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the music of the Ainur, which is fate to all things else..." Men, by definition, have free will in the Legendarium. "All things else" are constrained by fate, at least to the extent that the Music of the Ainur addresses their actions and sets forth fragments of their tales. In my view, the Music is not a complete and detailed history. but rather broad brush strokes regarding the world. Thus the waxing and waning of Elves, the nature of Morgoth and his minions, the design of Middle-Earth and more are set in stone Men are free of this influence... except to the extent they deal with those who are bound by fate. So it is indeed perilous for mortal Men to seek out and speak with the Elves and even more so for Men to interact with the Ainur. For Men to interact with Elves, the Ainur, perhaps even Dwarves and Ents, is to subject their actions to the fate directing the decisions and deeds of the other Speaking Races. Morgoth's curse bound Turin with fate, so that even when he exercised free will, his choices were tainted and fated to result in evil.

Quote:
I suppose another way of saying this is that somehow Morgoth's curse is manifested through Turin's choices. His failure to rescue Finduilas is, then, part of his curse. It makes little sense, to me anyway, even to posit that, had he rescued Finduilas, his curse would still have found him. For the curse is (in part) that he failed to rescue Finduilas. One can easily imagine a lot of hypothetical worlds where Turin's lot is happier, had he made this choice or that choice differently. The curse is that he didn't make those choices differently.
Precisely! So why would Tolkien even bother to suggest that one of Turin's decisions, specifically whether or not to rescue Finduilas, would relieve him of his doom? This would be inconsistent with the nature of the curse itself, which twists Turin's decisions to evil. This is why I think that Tolkien, if he had assembled the hypothetical final version of the Children of Hurin, would not have included the version of Gwindor's last words that was included in the Silmarillion.
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Old 11-23-2007, 01:02 PM   #14
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Well, I suppose this one needs a week's answer or none at all, but in short, I think that the idea that there was a way of escaping the curse is central to the tale & enhances the sense of tragedy - in some way Turin could have escaped.

I'm currently listening to Christopher Lee's absolutely wonderful reading of the tale & two passages struck me:

Quote:
You say it,' said Morgoth. 'I am the Elder King: Melkor, first and mightiest of all the Valar, who was before the world, and made it. The shadow of my purpose lies upon Arda, and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will. 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.'
But Húrin answered: 'Do you forget to whom you speak? Such things you spoke long ago to our fathers; but we escaped from your shadow.
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Report of the Dragon-helm in the land west of Sirion came swiftly to the ear of Morgoth, and he laughed, for now Túrin was revealed to him again, who had long been lost in the shadows and under the veils of Melian. Yet he began to fear that Túrin would grow to such a power that the curse that he had laid upon him would become void, and he would escape the doom that had been designed for him, or else that he might retreat to Doriath and be lost to his sight again. Now therefore he had a mind to seize Túrin and afflict him even as his father, to torment him and enslave him.
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Old 11-23-2007, 05:29 PM   #15
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I suppose another way of saying this is that somehow Morgoth's curse is manifested through Turin's choices.

This is a truism.
I don't think it is. A curse could, in principle, work by constantly afflicting its sufferer with external evils, bad luck, and such. Turin's curse seems to work differently; it seems that it is not so much a matter of bad things happening to Turin as of Turin choosinig courses of action that have bad ends. I wouldn't say that Turin's decisions are twisted to evil; there doesn't seem to be any twisting involved. Turin simply makes the wrong decisions, and those decisions seem to lead quite naturally to evil.

Consider the question: "What would have happened if Turin had not lifted his visor, had not fallen under Glaurung's spell, and had rescued Finduilas instead of returning to Dor-lomin?" I can think of three plausible answers:

1. Turin would escape the misfortunes that followed from his return to Dor-lomin and would have had a happier life

2. Somehow, events would conspire such that terrible things happen to Turin anyway

3. The question isn't well-defined and cannot be answered.

Now, it seems to me that if one answers with option 2, one must subscribe to the external view of the curse. Someone who prefers the internal view I propose (i.e. the curse is manifested through Turin's choices) would say that it makes no sense to talk about the curse afflicting Turin if he had decided differently; the curse is that he didn't decide differently. Option 3 may be the wisest answer, but of course it merely refuses to answer the question. Option 1, it seems to me, is the one that serves the story best - even perhaps the one that is vital to much of the tragedy that follows. It seems to me that a key part of that tragedy is the fact that, as we're reading it, we can sigh and say: "If only he had rescued Finduilas!" A terrible fate is all the more tragic when one can see a way in which that fate could have been avoided.

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Morgoth's curse bound Turin with fate, so that even when he exercised free will, his choices were tainted and fated to result in evil.
From this, it sounds to me like you take the 'external' view of Turin's curse that I described above (and I would venture to guess that your response to my query would be my option 2). I suppose there's no definitive way to answer the internal vs. external question. Certainly, your appeal to what is said of Men in connection with the Music of the Ainur seems to lead one to your view (i.e. the external one) of the curse. On the other hand, I think that a close consideration of the events in the 'Narn' tends to point one toward my internal interpretation. Again, it doesn't seem to me that Turin's choices need much twisting to result in evil. And in most cases, it's hard to imagine how evil would have resulted if Turin's choice had been different.

In the end, though, I suspect that the particular interpretation one chooses is less important than the fact that the work can sustain either. As I've said elsewhere, it seems to me that one of Tolkien's greatest strengths as a writer was his ability to create these multi-faceted stories, in which seemingly contradictory concepts (fate and free will, internal and external evil) are combined.
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Old 05-07-2022, 01:06 PM   #16
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In light of the recent discussion in the Tragic Flaw of the Hurin Family thread, I am bumping this to the top as it discusses similar or parallel issues regarding the nature of Morgoth's curse. In particular, Aiwendil's discussion of whether the curse is internal (driven by Turin's own choices and actions) or external (caused by Morgoth's malevolent influence). Aiwendil suggests that I espouse the external view, and he is partially correct. I believe that Turin's exercises of his free will was influenced by Morgoth's focus and attention so that his choices and actions went awry. However, I do not view the curse as being a "thing" that attached to Turin, his mother and sister causing perpetual bad luck. Rather, I view the curse as requiring a degree of Morgoth's attention (see DaveM's post) to nudge Hurin's family along, though their characters and personalities may have been affected so that even when Morgoth was not paying attention, their actions went astray.
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Old 05-07-2022, 02:30 PM   #17
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It seems to me that while Morgoth steered adverse circumstances into Túrin's way, it was the latter's own choices (mainly an artifact of his pride) that effected the "curse" in the end.

If Túrin had awaited Thingol's judgement for the slaying of Saeros, would he have ever left Doriath? Or, if he had accepted the word of Beleg that all had been forgiven, would Morwen and Nienor have needed to seek him?
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Old 05-07-2022, 03:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
In the end, though, I suspect that the particular interpretation one chooses is less important than the fact that the work can sustain either.
I think this is probably the truest assessment of the chicken or the egg - erm, curse or character question, and I would not be surprised if the ambiguity is deliberate. Nothing hurts like hope, so the ambiguity just adds texture to the tragedy.

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Turin's tale is a tragedy. He is a great hero caught up in events beyond his control and beyond his depth. He is cursed. Notwithstanding his curse, he manages to do great things, even though much of what he does seems to turn ill. A great part of the story is his relationship with Glaurung and the slaying of the worm. I do not think that Tolkien would suggest that this might not occur, that Turin's "doom" would not find him if he did or refrained from doing anything. Gwindor's prophecy is a late addition to Turin's tale. I do not think that it does anything for the story; the tale is equally tragic if Turin ignores Gwindor's dying wish that he rescue Finduilas without linking the rescue to an undoing of his curse or doom. To the contrary, to suggest that a simple "good deed" could contravene Morgoth's curse is a bit too blithe a solution. And what of the fact that even Turin's attempts to do good are turned awry by the curse? The idea that rescuing Finduilas would avert Turin's doom simply does not fit.
This was more or less my train of thought on reading the question. I have to admit, I haven't really considered it - but I agree with you that Gwindor's prophecy, if it is such, does not fit in at all. There is nothing inherent in Finduilas or their relationship that could counteract the patterns of the Curse, regardless of the mechanism by which
it is brought about. There is no reason why doing a generic good or selfless deed would stop this train in its tracks either - in fact, even Turin's good deeds come to bite him in the backside (eg sparing Mim). But, in the interest of not coming to the rather unsatisfying conclusion that this is a piece of the story that was in the process of modification and no longer belongs in the text, let me try to find some argument to reconcile it. Perhaps Finduilas's presence might have shielded Turin from his Curse for a time, similar to Beleg. It would not matter how that would be accomplished - by physically removing Turin from Morgoth's sphere of influence, by inspiring to be a better person in her presence, by radiating a healing aura, or what have you. I still do not think it would last - just like Beleg did not. But perhaps it would have given him another "light" period in his life, and perhaps the final blow would not have come quite as hard. But, like has been said many times before, who knows. And I am not trying to cop out of an answer - I truly think that any speculation on what would have happened in this particular story is just absolutely groundless fluff, you can say whatever you want and there will be a way to rationalize it, and it will be no more true than something completely different.
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