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Poll: Fan Perceptions of Maglor

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Poll: Fan Perceptions of Maglor

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ETA:: Please note: As of 10 May 2009, I have collected the results for this poll. You're welcome to still contribute, if you wish, as I may return to this topic in the future, but further replies will not be used in my current essay. However, do check out the discussion on this post, which is as fabulous as I have come to expect from my flist and passersby! :) A sincere thank-you to all who participated in the poll and provided such insightful discussion of the topic. /ETA

I am getting ready to write an essay for my weble The Heretic Loremaster, and I am interested in how Tolkien fans familiar with The Silmarillion perceive the character of Maglor. I appreciate the input of anyone who has a few minutes to spare me and my LJ-created poll. :) Also, please pass the word to other Tolkienites, if you're so inclined. I would like as many responses as I can get.

If you do not have an LJ account and would like to contribute to the poll, feel free to leave an anonymous comment with your responses. (Click "Confabulate with Me" at the bottom of the post.)

Please note also that I do not expect people to look up information for this. I am interested in your perceptions of his character, not how well you can find what the book says about his character. (And, for those who do not already know, I don't believe in "canon," so I don't believe that there are right or wrong answers to any of these questions, although I certainly possess my own opinions on them. :)

Poll #1387001 Fan Perceptions of the Character of Maglor

Which of the sons of Fëanor do you believe was the kindest and most gentle?


What informs your choice on the above question?

It says so in the books.
I have inferred it based on the books.
I have inferred it based on fan fiction or the interpretations of other fans.
No reason; I just like it that way.
I don't know.
Something else (please elaborate in the comments).

Which of the following traits do you think best characterize Maglor? Choose as many as you'd like. (Continues in the next question.)


(Continued from last question.) Which of the following traits do you think best characterize Maglor? Choose as many as you'd like.


Which of the following events from The Silmarillion most influence how you perceive Maglor's character? Please choose no more than *three*; I will not count responses from anyone who chooses more than three.

His skill and renown as a musician.
His decision to swear the Oath of the Fëanorians and go into exile.
His participation in three kinslayings.
His choice not to rescue Maedhros from Morgoth.
His regency as High King during Maedhros's captivity.
His choice to hold the lands in Maglor's Gap and then, with Maedhros, at Himring.
His presence at the Mereth Aderthad (Feast of Reuniting).
The destruction of Maglor's Gap during the Battle of Sudden Flame.
His composition of the Noldolantë.
His slaying of Uldor the Accursed during the Fifth Battle.
His choice to foster Elrond and Elros.
His doubts about the Oath at the end of the First Age.
His decision not to foreswear his oath, after being persuaded by Maedhros.
His choice to throw away the Silmaril and wander in lament.
Something else (please elaborate in the comments).

Anything that you'd wish to add or elaborate upon, please feel free to do so in the comments. :)
  • I found it hard to choose character traits because it depends on what time frame you are talking about. In the end? During the First Age? I think he is an extremely complex character that changed a lot over the course of the ages. I would think if he is still wandering the shores, he is much different from the elf he was when he swore the oath, or even at the end of the First Age. If that makes any sense?
    • Ai, you're on to me! ;) I chose traits that could all belong to Maglor at various points, depending on how you interpret the texts. (For example, that he is ambitious and unfaithful for choosing not to rescue Maedhros, knowing that he was Maedhros's heir.) What's interesting to me is how people take such a complex character and pull out the traits that they feel are most definitive of him, or not. (For example, I'd bet many people would balk at characterizing him as cruel or ambitious or unfaithful, but all are valid interpretations ... just not popular ones! :)
  • Fascinating results (only four when I looked; I'll have to check back later). I'm curious where "gentle Maglor" is to be found in canon. Musicians of that calibre of genius in RL do not tend to be gentle, rather driven and narrowly focused. I not think of warriors and leaders of their people as particularly gentle. Based on the books alone, a process of elimination would lead me to see Maedhros as the most gentle of the sons of Feanor.

    It was not a gentle guy who took revenge on Uldor at the N.A. The choice to foster Elros and Elrond would be a no-brainer for someone from a family of seven siblings and not a huge moment of anguished decision. (But being a devil's advocate against myself here, I doubt that Tolkien would have realized how acutely developed are the nuturing instincts in a large family.)

    It's hard for me to separate RL experience and acquired wisdom from impressions gleaned from canon. I figure they are always going to mixed in my work. (I hope to my advantage.) But I do like to find some teeny canon nudge in the direction of any characterization I pursue.

    In that last part, it was almost impossible for me to choose only three. I guess all the hyperbolic descriptions about music in the spotty characterization we have for Maglor in The Silmarillion leade me to think of him as the Mozart of the Noldor. So musician and the composer of Nodolante would necessarily be a huge part of who he was.

    As far as independent decision-making goes, not to try to rescue Maedhros would come next in importance for me in determining who Maglor was. To go after Maedhros would have been his gut reaction, but he chose the welfare of his people over doing so. Like I mentioned above, taking care of the kids (Elros and Elrond) for me would have been a no brainer, so not high up on the list of determining characteristic, although the historic fallout from it would be large indeed within Tolkien's story cycle.

    Edited at 2009-04-20 11:16 pm (UTC)
    • Ah, we're at eight now! :)

      I'm curious where "gentle Maglor" is to be found in canon.

      Imho, he's not. I know that some people will swear that he is listed as the gentle son who is most like his mother, but JRRT (or CT) never tell us who that is. I think an argument can be made for Maedhros or Maglor as the gentlest, and I have a hard time choosing. I chose Maglor simply because, in my verse, he tends to construct around himself the impression of being softer and gentler than his brothers ... but in a pinch, he's always the most courageous. (This from his slaying of Uldor, when I think that--if that was part of a fanfic and not the texts--most people would whine about how it's not canon! :) And it certainly takes some guts to regularly defy Feanor's expectations as he does (in the Felakverse).

      I also find it interesting that you mentioned his identity as a musician and how that makes him likely not gentle. Do you get the feeling that most people see it the other way around? (I do.) That because he's the musician and not a warrior or a metalsmith or hunter, than he's somehow softer than his father and brothers?

      On E&E ... I agree. In fact, as was pointed out during the discussion about whether Maedhros threatened to kill E&E at any point, his/their decision to foster them could have been a very calculated one. Or his/their decision not to kill them. That is not to say that affection could not have eventually grown up between them, but I don't think the texts necessarily support the notion that Maglor took pity upon them simply because, in his pie-eyed innocence, he could not abide with the killing of children. It is Maedhros, after all--not Maglor--who is said to have repented the desertion of Elured and Elurin in the forest.

      In that last part, it was almost impossible for me to choose only three.

      Me too. :)
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  • Very interesting! I was definitely interested by the results of your Maedhros poll, and this one is even more fascinating. I think you should do one like this for all the Silm characters, or, at least, the house of Finwë xP (Inquiring minds want to know--what's the fandom consensus on Celegorm's hair color?!)

    And I ended up voting for Amras as the kindest and gentlest...while I think Maedhros can be kind, and Maglor can be gentle, Amras, being the baby, was likely to be both of those things--especially thinking on the HoME version of his fate.

  • I'm afraid I always get the sons of Feanor mixed up, but I think Maglor was one who rescued Elrond and Elros,so he must have had some compassion.
    • Yep, you're right! :) Here's the mnemonic I used to remember them when I first read the Silm:

      Maedhros and Maglor
      are the nice guys

      Celegorm, Caranthir, and Curufin
      are the jerks

      Amrod and Amras
      are the twins, and we know not much about them

      That is very simplified and very fanon, but it helped me! :)
  • The last one was difficult for the simple reason that you limited us to three! Most of the ones you listed are formative.

    I picked musician, because if he's the best of the Noldor and second best of the Eldar, he had to have discipline and creativity. Oath, because it shows his loyalty to his father. Elrond and Elros, because it shows he cares. The Kinslayings came a very close fourth, but I couldn't pick it, and it also ties into the Oath.

    His music is also the reason I picked ambitious-- you don't get to be the best without it!

    I read the comments above, and there are people who think Maglor's a wimp?! (My Maglor's not very happy at that…) In my mind, he's quiet, the consummate introvert. And depending on what time period I'm writing in, has mental issues. But he survived 600 years at war, which had to include constant training even at times of "peace." He may have changed his mind-- with good reason!-- about the Oath, but that makes him just as human as the rest of us.

    Gah-- I could write an essay on how I see him, but that would defeat the purpose of my stories. :P
    • Most of the ones you listed are formative.

      They're taken directly from the texts, which is probably why. :) I have a document with all the mentions of Maglor in all of the books, and I just went down the section from the Silm and made this list.

      I read the comments above, and there are people who think Maglor's a wimp?!

      I think among this crowd, there is a more nuanced understanding of him ... but yes, I have seen a lot of stories where he lacks courage to (for example) stand up to Celegorm after Maedhros's capture, where Celegorm is trying to move in to take the kingship. I am willing to be convinced of anything in a story, but I personally do not see that based on how Maglor is depicted in the texts. (Nor do I see that being true of Celegorm, but now I digress ... ;)

      Anyway, this eventual post/essay will argue against that point. Although, polling the people who read here probably doesn't address the group most apt to use that particular fanon. :)
  • I, of course, mentioned Maglor the Musician, but then . . . well, I wouldn't be me if I didn't think of him as a musician.

    The one trait that I associate most with Maglor is one that you didn't mention, probably because it's a negative -- that is, something that can only be expressed in terms of what it is not, rather than what it is. It's always struck me that Maglor is very much Not A Leader. I don't see this as being a flaw, necessarily, but it is kind of a drawback when you find yourself Regent of the Noldor. In that respect, I think he's like the twins -- they don't strike me as real leaders, either.

    I think birth order has quite a bit to do with that; Maglor and the twins were both born immediately after boys with very powerful leadership abilities, and they seem like they'd be perfectly content to be followers, and they'd be good followers, too. Just not natural leaders, and when leadership gets thrust upon them, interesting things happen as a result.
    • That's a good point about the birth order. I certainly get the same impression of those three as well, especially the twins who have always struck me as being rather apathetic ... either that or sheltered; I'm not sure which and suppose there's no textual "proof" either way.

      This is purely invention on my part, but I've always seen Maglor as a guy that comes through in a pinch. I view his regency the same way: He never would have chosen to play High King, and he wasn't cut out for it, but he did well enough because he had to.
  • I have to admit I skipped 1 and 2 because I just couldn't decide. When looking at a lot of fanfics it would probably be Maglor, reading the Silm without thinking further on it, it would probably be him, too. But considering my perception of the sons of Feanor (and that's just a personal thing, nothing of the "if-you-had-read-the-book-more-thoroughly-you'd-be-of-my-opinion-too" sort) it would probably be none. I think all of them probably had their kind moments (and in my version of the event that's mostly stemming from the fact that blood is so much thicker than water among Feanorians), but you don't hold land or command armies by being such a nice guy. I mean, my Haleth and Carathir are being nice to each other too. But that doesn't change the fact that Caranthir doesn't like people and that Haleth is of the rather bitchy sort. ;) (Damn, it's time I re-wrote that story!) So really, considering question 1 and 2, I just couldn't answer... hope that doesn't mess up your poll! ;)

    Considering your last question I'm recently beginning to realize that my conception of Maglor is more and more based on more obscure events than the obvious, like the reason he went to Himring when the Gap fell and didn't flee South like his other brothers. It's hard for me somehow to describe that with certain character traits, but those facts somehow shape him for me as a character more than the musician and Silmaril bit do (and the wandering the shores thingy and all happens at a point where everything is fallen to pieces anyway, so it's not that important for my conception of Maglor as a character throughout the events of the First Age). I actually seem him as a diplomatic and rational person (did I choose the latter or did I forget?), which may probably make him seem softer than his brothers but I don't think he is. Not anymore, at least.

    Wow, I think it's time I put all of my thoughts into a story once more. I seem to think a lot more these days and write a lot less. It's a pity, somehow. :(

    Well, and now I'm going to read the other comments. I bet that's going to be interesting.
    • Nope, it doesn't mess it up at all! :) If I correlate between answers, then I'll just skip yours if it involves those questions.

      I actually agree with you (although I answered all of the questions ...); I think that all of the brothers had their good and bad moments. Even the 3Cs--who tend to get vilified except among Feanatics--could not have been all bad and had their redeeming traits/moments. (Especially looking back into the earlier material; it always strikes me that JRRT introduced a stricter good-evil dichotomy between the Feanorians as he wrote.)

      Considering your last question I'm recently beginning to realize that my conception of Maglor is more and more based on more obscure events than the obvious, like the reason he went to Himring when the Gap fell and didn't flee South like his other brothers.

      I feel the same, which is probably why I get annoyed when, in general, fandom tends to regard him as the wishy-washy and sweet-as-pie because he was a musician and fostered E&E after Elwing took a long walk off a short pier. Maedhros gets explicit credit for taking Himring, so near to Morgoth, but Maglor tends to be overlooked for holding the Gap, which sold really stunning khakis and sweatervests was not only in the same region geographically as Himring but also did not have the protection of the hills that Maedhros had. As you note, when the Gap was overrun, he went to Himring--that oh-so-dangerous realm--and not into secluded/protected realms, as all of his other brothers save Maedhros did. Then, his behavior at the Nirnaeth ... yes, I think the majority of textual evidence points to him as being a much stronger and braver character than most fans seem to give him credit for. I'm really interested to see what the conclusion among Silmaniacs is; I have other tricks up my sleeve for tapping into the ff.net hive mind. ;)
  • *squeeeeees*

    There, got that out of my system. I am not going to state that the books said Maglor was gentle (actually my initial gut instinct was to choose Celegorm, but folks probably would think of me mad, yet as you know I will have my reason for thinking this, but I just gonna say that this must be Rhapsy!verse that I think he's gentle (and yes fierce, impatient, outspoken, but who is to say that people who are very passionate can't be gentle? I can think of more reasons, but this is not about Fëanor's third (no Turko, it isn't)), but there is mentioning of Nerdanel "Seven sons she bore to Fëanor; her mood she bequeathed in part to some of them, but not to all." I can imagine that based on some of his acts people think of him gentle, but as far as I know Tolkien never mentioned Maglor and the word gentle anywhere near the other. Based on some of his actions, not all, and yes I am heavily influenced by HOME I have a heard time thinking him like that *all* the time. When making a balanced scorecard of all actions I do scratch my head where the whimp impression comes from. Most musicians I know aren't wimps, trust me. Secondly how much is a 'trait' as gentle in your genes and how much is this more defined by the environment you grew up in? (Thinking of the word bequeathed, did she do it when she raised her sons and how this that work, or upon the marvellous elvish conception? How does that work exactly (Steel or Pandemonium if you read this... I am curious).There is a phrase which says nurturing vs something, but I am the last of my family here to end up with this nasty headcold and my synus is clogged... LOL And I can chatter on, but I have to quit sometime. :c)
    • I thought you might like this topic! :D

      actually my initial gut instinct was to choose Celegorm, but folks probably would think of me mad

      Personally, I think that you can defend with the texts choosing any of them. Some require more creative thinking than the others, but I think it is possible. I mean, really, we only see eensy glimpses of any single brother's life. And those moments that we do see are going to be those that 1) are worth mentioning in history (which, if Celegorm took in homeless cats, for example, probably would not be) and 2) are going to be things that are obvious to, worth mentioning by, and advantageous to mention by the fictional historians and authors of the Silm. Which Celegorm--from the moment he did ill to Luthien--was guaranteed not to get a fair shake in history.

      One of my soon-to-come projects will be to poll my friends among the Tolkien community as to who they believe is the baddest Feanorian ... and then write a defense of him. >;^)

      When making a balanced scorecard of all actions I do scratch my head where the whimp impression comes from.

      Me neither. Throughout his time in M-e, he was just as brave as Maedhros, if not more so. He didn't fall for Morgoth's tricks. He considered forswearing the Oath. And he didn't kill himself from the pain of the Silmaril but bore it long enough to toss the thing into the sea.

      Definitely not a wimp! :)

      There is a phrase which says nurturing vs something

      Nature versus nurture. :) I had that pounded into my brain as a psych student! The prevailing opinion (at least, when I was still studying psychology) is that it is a bit of both. People are born with a genetic predisposition to some traits (I believe introversion/extroversion might be one, but don't quote me on that), and people are also shaped by their environments over the course of their lives. In a comment above yours, frenchpony makes an interesting point about Maglor and the twins not seeming as strong of leaders as their brothers based on birth order; I think that this is a fantastic example. Maglor may have been predisposed to be more introspective than his brothers, and being between two such "personalities" as Maedhros and Celegorm growing up might well have sealed the deal. All speculative, of course, but interesting to ponder nonetheless. :)
  • I couldn't reply to question 1 as I couldn't quite decide. I'd definitely count Maglor among the gentler ones, as well as the twins (or whichever twin survives the ship-burning). Maedhros, before his captivity, would've made the cut as well (.... that sounds wrong in this context), but after I'm not so certain. Depends on the situation, I suppose. Same goes for Caranthir; personally I think he's quite a gentle guy around people he cares for, but less so around people who didn't mean much to him, and downright hostile towards anyone who so much as said anything unkind about his loved ones.
    Poor Celegorm and Curufin, alas, are not on my "gentle" list at all, although I am certain Curufin was a gentle and loving husband and father and Celegorm wasn't a total brat all the time. *coughs*

    At any rate, now you know why I didn't reply to that question ;)
    As question 2 is based on 1, I ignored that as well. (Although I could swear having read something along the lines of "who was ever the gentlest of the brothers" somewhere in Tolkien's writings, but although I think it was about Maglor, I am not certain, and I can't find it, so perhaps I read it somewhere else. Or I just imagined it after all.

    Wasn't easy to choose just three... at first, and then I thought a bit more, and found that actually my idea of Maglor is based on four of the things you listed, and then I managed to kick the fourth one out. Hah.

    I have no Maglor icon. That is very sad.

  • This was harder than I thought it'd be!

    For some reason, I always think of musicians as being gentle people even though I know it's not always the case.

    Courageous - I think he'd have to be if he ever performed publicly, to say nothing of the fact that he was involved in all those battles. Loyal - he did take the Oath and stand by his family even though it must have cost him. Passionate - to be a good musician, you have to be, at least about your music.

    For some reason I sort of associate him with the sort of strength and courage that O'Carolan must've had - he's commonly called the last of the great Irish harpers, and despite being blind, he travelled all over Ireland in an era when that would've been exceedingly difficult. So he must've been one tough guy, but he also must've trusted others a great deal.

    And he must've been a fairly tough fighter to have survived all of those First Age battles, too, although an awful lot of fanfic seems to gloss that over.
    • It was challenging! It was my poll, and I was challenged to answer it. :)

      I like your example of O'Carolan. In the Felakverse, Maglor is very much a good guy to have around in a pinch. He is exceedingly brave, even if he doesn't put on the front that characters like Celegorm do, but if he believes in what he is doing, he will be the last to flee or fear. Because, as you say here,

      And he must've been a fairly tough fighter to have survived all of those First Age battles, too, although an awful lot of fanfic seems to gloss that over.

      he not only faced all those battles but also lived along the same northern border for which Maedhros was credited for bravery, and he proved braver (or cannier) than Maedhros several times as well. But that does get overlooked, which I think is a pity, as it makes him an exceedingly interesting character.
  • Oh man, I thought this would be terribly hard, but it wasn't so much! Only the last question really stumped me and then I just went with my gut feelings. ^^;

    Wonderful poll, though, Dawn; it gave me a perfect opportunity to sit down and think about a character which I really haven't done much lately. For the first question, I had a hard time choosing between Maedhros and Amras, actually. I can see the youngest and last being gentle, but didn't have much to support it besides 'I like it that way'. So I chose Maedhros simply because I can see him being the nurturing, gentle, kind eldest brother taking care of his younger siblings (and younger cousins too, I'll bet). I mean, I can see all of the Sons of Feanor looking after each other because if they did one thing, it was sticking together, but Maedhros sticks out to me as probably having been the gentlest. I'm hazy on the book quotes right now so I chose 'Something else' for #2, but that's really why I chose Maedhros. As for Maglor's fostering of Elrond and Elros, while it was obviously very awesome of him to do so (for lack of a better word ;), I'm going with Oshun on this one-- being part of a large family myself, the dynamics usually result in a disposition of 'looking after' young ones.

    Mini-Rant: I do always seethe at the whimpering!submissive!placid!Maglor that I've seen in a lot of fic, it makes me indignant on his behalf. What did the guy do to make people think he's a weakling, idk. >:/ Compassion and a good singing voice don't make you some teary-eyed do-nothing. *fume fume grumble*

    The final question, as I mentioned above, stopped me for a bit. But after closing the Silmarillion for the first time, all breathless and overawed and feeling that funny pang in my heart that comes after reading a beautiful story, the impression Maglor left on me was not of his tragedy-- well, it was, but... mainly... I think if I recall correctly... the fact that he was Maglor the Mighty Singer who swore the darkest Oath of all time and didn't ever foreswear it even when he was tempted to do so... that's what remained in my mind. And I loved him for it. Love him for it. Will love. 8D

    Of course, I'm completely biased when it comes to the Sons of Feanor and I adore them all equally. \o/! Fascinating poll, fascinating answers!
    • Thank you, Noliel! :D

      I share your opinion with respect to the mini-rant, too, btw. (Which probably isn't particularly surprising!) One of the things I hope(d) to show with this poll is how fans tend to form a judgment of Maglor based on only a few isolated incidents from his life. I don't know, in retrospect, if this was the best group to ask, since the people who respond have done at least the study of his character that I have, and most every comment so far mentions a grave annoyance with the Maglor-as-a-wimp motif! :D I have other tricks up my sleeve, though.

      In a way, I wonder if it isn't discomfort or lack of confidence with a more nuanced characterization that makes people tend to characterize Maglor as the pie-eyed wimp. The sons of Feanor, en masse, can be intimidating to characterize. It is easy and tempting to pigeonhole each into a stereotyped identity that is supported by the most written-about moments in that character's life. For example, how many people write Celegorm as cruel, basing it on his treatment of Luthien and Dior's sons, without considering his life in Aman, as a companion of Orome and a friend to all living things? Of course, everyone who reads fanfic will be somewhat affected by it; we're social beings, so it's inevitable. All those pie-eyed Maglors and cruel Celegorms come to be seen as the "right" way to look at the texts, and when reading, it is easy to see most clearly those traits or events in a character's life that support what we believe to be true of him/her. The fact that Maglor met or exceeded the same challenges as Maedhros (for example) becomes easy to overlook.

      Or, that's my theory, anyway. :)
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  • I can't add much to the previous discussion. I'll just say that I think that killing Uldor in the middle of the worst, bloodiest, most terrible battle to save his brother is enough to debunk the autistic Maglor/wimp Maglor version that you find in some stories. And the final argument with Maedhros about turning themselves in, is my favourite part of the whole Silm since it tells so much about the brothers, their relations and the intellectual clarity that Maglor has -even at that moment- that allows him to see that they should look for an alternative to keep killing to get the Silmarils. I also agree with Oshun's assessment about musicians: at this level they are not peace and love types but focused, concentrated, selfish (as much as you can in such a large family) individuals who have one target in life.
    I shoud add that Maglor is/has always been/will forever be my number one elf.
    • I agree with you about Uldor. Even as a tender newby Silm writer working on AMC, that single moment really defined how I developed his character. It is impossible for me to reconcile a character capable of that act--to say nothing of kinslaying three times, acting as regent for the Noldor in Beleriand, holding Maglor's Gap, and bearing the Silmaril to the sea when the pain of that drove his brother to suicide--with the doe-eyed wimp with hands suited to a harp and not a sword that appears in many fanfics.

      I can say, too, that fandom itself is perhaps proof of how artistic/creative types tend not to be particularly meek or passive, else we wouldn't fight so bitterly at times over things both silly and serious. ;)
  • My answer at the beginning is because of this.

    His choice to throw away the Silmaril and wander in lament.

    It is too hot here to elaborate. Cannot think to describe more at the moment.

    Thanks for the poll. I am not hugely knowledgable about maglor.
  • I must confess that I think of Maglor as gentle, even if Tolkien never used the adjective in connection to Feanor's second son. To me, it takes a certain degree of gentleness (as well as great patience) to rear two orphaned boys whose mother one's own brother and oneself hounded to her presumed death.

    I think of Maglor as being something of an independant thinker among the brothers, but also being fiercely loyal to them; hence his following the Oath even though he doubted it, at the last, and finally, after his last brother (and liege-lord) had perished, feeling free enough to throw the remaining Silmaril into the sea.

    I wish that Tolkien had elaborated on Maglor's raising Elrond and Elros. We know that Elrond grew up to be a strong and courageous and very compassionate Elf; some of that, I believe, came from Maglor.

    I also confess that I don't believe that poor Maglor spent tens of thousands of years wandering the shores of Middle-earth in lament and never was seen again by other Elves. The author of the Silmarillion was, I think, dead by the time of the Ring War; and if that section was written down by someone else, or even Bilbo (who did have the benefit of information from the Elves of Rivendell); Maglor could have taken ship for the West after the departure of the Ring-bearers; it's not impossible...I can't believe the Valar would be that cruel to never let him return. I also think that eventually Maglor would have wanted to go, though it might have taken him an Age or even two to forgive himself and seek redemption and healing.
    • Thanks for the reply, Raksha! :) I wish that JRRT had elaborated on E&E as well ... but I wish that about a lot of moments in the Silm. At the same time, such teasing leads are what makes the Silm so delightful for me to write about, so I suppose I am in a catch-22!

      I'm not inclined to the "wandering forever in lament" conclusion either. First of all, there's no way that anyone could know this, so I trust it about as much as I trust Pengolodh to write in truth about the kinslayings. Secondly, that particular detail has always struck me as a heroic exaggeration; it sounds much more poetic than saying, "He wandered off and who knows what happened after."

      I think he could have returned to Valinor; I think he also could have died. Or he could have faded--not the fanon "death of grief" but honest t' goodness fëa-overwhelming-hroä fading. In which case, he could be looking over my shoulder right now as I type this! :)
  • My vision of Maglor has been totally spoiled by Ithilwen, aaa! ;) In other words I don't know what was he before I've red "The Glitter of metal" and the rest of her Maedhros' saga, and then other fiction which more or less depicts caring and gentle Maglor, rather a diplomat than a warrior. I've encountered only one fic where he was cruel and even terrified Maedhros at one point (mind - I haven't red many fan fics in last years, so maybe more variety appeared with time). But I admit I probably never paid much attention to Maglor. Also - I can't say much of my vision of most of the characters from times when I've red the Silmarillion and then forgotten; I rather remember visions created anew with fan fiction, fan art and endless discuassions. We all influence each other, that's inevitable :)
  • Aaaa, and I haven't noticed how long and I expect interesting discussion takes place here. Can't read now, but I'll be back. Damn, you must have posted this poll ages ago, but I haven't checked LJ (need a solution for that). Good that you sent e-mail to SWG.
    • I actually only posted it about a day before I put the message on the SWG list! The people I know on LJ are just talkative and opinionated, I guess (which is why I love them! ;)

      But the discussion will be here for as long as you need ... and it is interesting and certainly worth the read!
  • I couldn't choose between Maedhros and Maglor for the first question. It seems to me that they're pretty much the same, and that the balance shifts slightly over time (both in their own histories and over the course of Tolkien's lifetime - when you read HoME 4, you still get the impression that even at the end of the First Age, Maedhros was still the slightly gentler guy, and then that is changed in favour of Maglor.)
    I tend to strongly disagree with the characterization of Maglor as overly gentle/soft/easygoing -three kinslayings, duh, not to mention quite a few other battles-, especially when it's implied that he is so because he's such a great artist. I mean, look at his father. In terms of courage, again I think he's very similar to Maedhros: probably very courageous when it came to fighting, and very cowardly when it came to morals. They did try to make amends, but still: they knew very well that what they were doing was wrong -more so, I guess, than Celegorm or Curufin ever did-, they were able to consider not doing it, but did it anyway. That I think is very damning.
    I still love him (and Maedhros) though. There's no doubt he could be compassionate. His fostering of Elrond and Elros is to me one of the most touching things about the Silmarillion. But I think that to do him justice is to take into account the very dark, not at all gentle parts of his character, which after all are also what makes him such an interesting figure (and, possibly, a great artist. Daeron wasn't the nicest chap in the world either, and he did pretty well.)
    • It seems to me that they're pretty much the same, and that the balance shifts slightly over time (both in their own histories and over the course of Tolkien's lifetime

      Yes! This is a good point. I think a lot can be revealed about all of the sons of Feanor by looking at how they evolved; even the "evil" 3Cs have redeeming points in some of the earlier works. It's always felt to me like JRRT was shifting them more into a good-evil duality, which (as a reader) is never my preferred means of characterization, but which I understand is very much in keeping with the mythic style in which he was trying to write. But that he waffled so much with respect to Maedhros and Maglor and which of them raised E&E and wished to forswear the Oath, to me, has always been telling about how he saw both of their characters ... and had he lived to see the Silm to completion, perhaps the pendulum would have swung back in the other direction to Maedhros as the gentler brother. Who knows.

      Anyway, at the same time, I definitely agree with you here:

      I tend to strongly disagree with the characterization of Maglor as overly gentle/soft/easygoing -three kinslayings, duh, not to mention quite a few other battles-, especially when it's implied that he is so because he's such a great artist.

      Looking at the list of events in his life, most of them do not support him as particularly gentle--much less a wimp--at all. And it seems to me that the stereotype of a musician/artist as effeminate or gentle is a modern one. Certainly the scops who sang of great deeds and great battles in Old English (where JRRT took so much of his inspiration) were not soft and squeamish to the ideas of violence and bloodshed. You mention Daeron as well, and I think that is further example that musicians and artists in JRRT's writings were not the soft-hearted pie-eyed wimps we would have them be. I haven't done an exhaustive review, but it seems to me that the most gifted musicians in his works were generally tough as nails.
  • I divide the 7 sons of Feanor into 3 groups: the oldest, the youngest, and the troublemakers. Seems Tolkien did too, because their names and habits reflect this: Maedhros and Maglor both begin with 'M' and are often together, while Amrod and Amras (the earlier Damrod and Diriel) are twins. Caranthir is more of a loner, but I am comfortable lumping him in with his not-entirely-pleasant 'C' brothers.

    Neither 'kind' nor 'gentle' is a terribly appropriate adjective to describe Feanoreans. As a group, they are proud, possessive and heated (okay, fine, hot :P). But if you wish to distinguish between them, Maglor seems slightly cooler and with less personal ambition/pride than his brothers. I do not find him more kind/gentle than Maedhros, though I would consider the twin who died in the ship (going with that version) as the least ruthless of the Sons of Feanor - he was not guilty of Doriath or the Havens, and went beyond Maedhros' words in favor of going back. So, those are my three 'candidates' (I voted Maglor) with the understanding that you can have a 'kinder, gentler' Dark Lord. They all have their moments, but their cousin Finrod is able to mop the floor with them when it comes to these traits - I could actually call him 'kind' or 'gentle' without qualifiers. Whereas I will only say that Maglor is 'kinder than his brothers' (or most of them, anyway).

    I found it difficult to choose 3 pivotal events to nail down his character, but settled on ones that I thought emphasized his differences from his brothers, not the things he did in common with them. So, even though the Oath (and the Kinslayings) are huge, I glossed over them. ;)

    The Mereth Aderthad was an opportunity for diplomacy and healing wounds. While Maedhros chose to abdicate to Fingolfin on his own, Maglor's presence at this Feast suggests that he supports his brother's goal. The absense of the others suggests several possibilities - they did *not* support Maedhros in his decision, or Maedhros did not trust them to behave themselves [in effect, told them to stay home], or they supported Maedhros, but did not see the need to make nice with the host of Fingolfin or the people of Doriath. Maglor's presence sets him and Maedhros apart as people with a better understanding of diplomacy and, perhaps, some wisdom. Wisdom is tricky - both Maedhros and Maglor have *some*, but neither has enough for me to count them wise. The Noldolante - which implies an understanding of their fall - is a sign of Maglor's wisdom, but he made other mistakes.

    I selected Maglor's time as regent-king simply because it was the one time we see him apart from Maedhros. What is shocking about it is that he shows a lack of pride and ambition that we associate with the Noldor in general and the Feanoreans in particular. I mean, yes, he wants to get the silmarils back, and is doing what he can, even making the hard decision not to barter for his brother. But there is no question of him coveting Maedhros' leadership position, and he proves wholly loyal throughout the rest of the Age (to a fault, possibly). But I could have forced these conclusions into the Feast of Reuniting, so I've squandered one.

    Certainly, something in the end-game has to count. His staunch loyalty accounts for him being the one to slay the betrayer...but I snuck in loyalty already. I wanted to take him fostering the twins (certainly, it shows compassion, and the ability to see life beyond Oath and battles). But I settled on 'doubting the Oath' - a willingness to rethink a position that the others took for granted. It shows his humility (I mean, for a proud Noldo), to admit that he might just have been wrong all along.... Letting Maedhros talk him out of this showed his to-a-fault loyalty (I think that's why he didn't join his older brother in protesting his father in the ship-burning) and his lack of personal ambition...but I've covered both of those. His choice not to die, but to live, while tossing away the jewel ties into both questioning the Oath and fostering the twins. It was a worthy candidate, but I was out of choices at that point. ;) Also, it's so depressing.....

    Being a musician definitely shapes my view of him, but I went for events rather than attributes.
    • I'm very late on replying to this--sorry! :(

      I divide the 7 sons of Feanor into 3 groups: the oldest, the youngest, and the troublemakers.

      Me too! M&M, the 3Cs, and double-A. That was my mnemonic when first learning all the Silm characters! :D

      I comfortably put Caranthir in with the rest and class the 3Cs as "those not well-regarded by history." The others get neutral, or even positive, depictions, but no one has much nice to say about the 3Cs.

      So, those are my three 'candidates' (I voted Maglor) with the understanding that you can have a 'kinder, gentler' Dark Lord.

      Totally agreed. I find it hard to justify some of the pie-eyed Maglors I find in fanfic for this very reason, especially given the wealth of "canon" that is passed over in order to come up with that characterization.

      But I settled on 'doubting the Oath' - a willingness to rethink a position that the others took for granted. It shows his humility (I mean, for a proud Noldo), to admit that he might just have been wrong all along.... Letting Maedhros talk him out of this showed his to-a-fault loyalty

      I hadn't thought on this too much before this poll, to be honest. (So when I speak of fans who overlook some events of his life in favor of others, I point to myself. ;) I've always seen his willingness to forsake the oath as a sign of great courage; he did not know what lay beyond that choice, but he was willing to make it. I completely agree with your explanation as well.
  • I'm with NiRi--actually Maglor was all of the above, but each at different times in his life. A most interesting and complex character, and the one son of Feanor I truly like. Feel sorry for Maedhros, but actually like Maglor.
    • I came up with the "trait list" by going through each quote in the Silm where Maglor was mentioned and listing possible traits that described why he might have behaved that way. So you and NiRi are exactly right in that; the interesting thing, for me, was to see which of those traits fans and readers identify most strongly with his character. :)
  • Your poll

    No account so I can't fill in the poll. These are my answers then: 1) Maedhros. Until the end at least. He seemed to be more reluctant about the oath, the kinslaying, the leaving behind of the other Exiles, etc. 2) Inferred it based on the books. 3) Cruel. All the sons of Feanor strike me that way. Maedhros less so, until his personality conversion near the end. 3) reckless. 4) His decision to take the Oath, his participation in 3 kinslayings and his decision not to forswear the oath (caving to Maedhros).
  • I know that some people will swear that he is listed as the gentle son who is most like his mother, but JRRT (or CT) never tell us who that is.

    I assume you're referring to the following passage from The Silm:

    While still in his early youth he wedded Nerdanel, the daughter of a great smith named Mahtan, among those of the Noldor most dear to Aulë; and of Mahtan he learned much of the making of things in metal and in stone. Nerdanel also was firm of will, but more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them, and at first she restrained him when the fire of his heart grew too hot; but his later deeds grieved her, and they became estranged. Seven sons she bore to Fëanor; her mood she bequeathed in part to some of them, but not to all.

    So "some" of her sons but not "all" of them had apparently inherited their mother's temperament. I'll note that this does not state that Nerdanel was "gentle" but rather, firm of will, patient and empathetic. Not gentle. Digging around in the HoMe doesn't reveal anything that contradicts Nerdanel as an especially strong and wise woman. Yet her temperament as part of the second eldest son (fannishly speaking that is) becomes "gentle." Huh. One wonders why "gentleness" is assumed.

    In my estimation, Maglor and Maedhros are the more complex of the brothers because -- in a work of fiction that takes a mythic view from 30,000 feet -- Tolkien spent more time and effort on their characters. Had he fleshed out the other five, I would imagine each would be equally nuanced.
    • Sorry for the delay in reply! :(

      I'll note that this does not state that Nerdanel was "gentle" but rather, firm of will, patient and empathetic. Not gentle. *snip* One wonders why "gentleness" is assumed.

      Perhaps looking at her in contrast to Feanor? Though you bring up a great point; this is another one of those fanons that has weaseled its way into everyone's mind, including mine, despite little evidence in the texts. (Because--famous last fanon words!--I would have sworn that it was there! ;)

      I wonder also if her faith in the Valar doesn't contribute to that impression. Yikes, now you've got me pondering another essay, and I haven't even started writing this one and already have another lined up after ... ;)

      Had he fleshed out the other five, I would imagine each would be equally nuanced.

      I think that the HoMe shows this as well. For example, JRRT's earliest version of Celegorm had him--not Barahir!--rescuing Finrod during the Battle of Sudden Flame. The detail that Celegorm and Curufin rescued Orodreth from Minas Tirith was conveniently edited out of the published book. C&C asked--and convinced!--their father to let Aegnor and Angrod on board the ships to Losgar in some early versions as well. I'm not sure if JRRT struck that idea, or if it just never made it into the published Silm but, in any case, I've always taken details like those to mean that JRRT certainly didn't have them in mind as unequivocal villains, even if they did end up that way in the published book.

      Make that Essay #4 ... ;)
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