Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tolkien Study#7 - The Silmarillion pt. 2

Going a little farther into the history of Arda we find an interesting event: the coming of Men into the West. This differs from the Elves and Dwarves who were created on the scene; Men more or less just wander into the story from the far East, running from some darkness that they simply won't speak of (and never do, there is very little history on this subject). The most commonly held theory is that they were running from Morgoth, and the strongest evidence for this is in Hurins debate with Morgoth. Morgoth attempted to enslave them from the very beginning and did indeed succeed with some of them, but nothing other than this is ever found out; it seems to be the most closely guarded secret in Middle-earth (other than Tom Bombadil, but that's another post). All that is known is that they came from the East fleeing a great darkness.

The East is something of an enigma in Middle-earth. There are very few references to it, though it would be reasonable to say that it's mostly a desert wilderness home to a very warlike and very numerous people. It's also interesting to note that two of five Chief Wizards went into the East and were never heard of or seen again. The East of Middle-earth is probably one of the most mysterious places in Arda; more is known even of Harad than the East. East is the direction of nearly all evil, with Sauron dominating the peoples of Harad and Rhun (the only named part of the East) and recruiting many of them to his will.

What is it about the East that is so mysterious and dark? It's something of a representation of Sin unchecked (at least in my mind) and allowed to run rampant in ones life and also of a life lived without any clear purpose, meaning or higher calling. A wasteland, completely uninhabited by any kind of people except for warring barbarians and dark spirits borne on the wind. That is what one becomes when Sin is allowed to run in ones life, and I think that is why the East of Middle-earth is so dark and enigmatic. It's simply a vast, wild land where there is no central law and evil is allowed to fester at will.

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