Finwë

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Finwë
Tolkien's legendarium character
Finwe.gif
The heraldic device of Finwë drawn after Tolkien
Aliases Noldóran, High King of the Noldor
Race Elves
Book(s) The Silmarillion (1977)

Finwë (IPA: [ˈfinwe]) (Y.T. ≥1050–Y.T. 1495; died aged c.4293), sometimes surnamed Noldóran, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was the first High King of the Elven Noldor to lead his people on the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor in the blessed realm of Aman. He was a great friend of Elu Thingol, the King of Doriath. The story of Finwë and Míriel, his first wife, has been described as an important element of Tolkien's mythology.[1] The Silmarillion, prepared by Christopher Tolkien from his father's unpublished writings, only briefly mentions the tale, although sources suggest that Tolkien had intended to incorporate a fuller version.[2]

History[edit]

Finwë had two wives. His first was Míriel, who died soon after bearing their only child, Curufinwë, who was more commonly called Fëanor. His second wife was Indis, of the Vanyar, who bore him two sons: Fingolfin and Finarfin, and two daughters: Findis and Írimë. All his sons and one daughter were named after himself (Curufinwë, Fingolfin, Finarfin, Findis).

During Melkor's attempt to corrupt the Noldor, Finwë attempted to moderate his people and lead them back to the Valar. When Fëanor was exiled from Tirion, Finwë went with him to Formenos. There he was the first to be killed in Valinor when Melkor slew him at the doors of Formenos seeking the Silmarils. This act was the catalyst that led to the Flight of the Noldor.[3]

Concept and creation[edit]

In the first drafts of the genealogy, Finwë had four sons: the youngest was named Finrun, but he was dropped after that, thus Finrod (later Finarfin) was Finwë's youngest son from then on.[4] In a later version Finwë had three daughters added by Indis, Findis (as their first child) Faniel (as their third), and Finvain (as their youngest). In yet later versions, Faniel was apparently dropped, while Findis and Finvain were kept. Finvain (renamed Írimë) was moved to after Fingolfin, thus Finarfin was once again the youngest child of Finwë.[5]

The death of Finwë is a crucial event for the internal development of Tolkien's legendarium and in fact the loss of a parent or child is a recurring motive in Tolkien's stories.[3]

Finwë's name is not fully translated. The glossary in The Silmarillion translates Fin as "hair"; other sources say it means "skill".

Finwë is one of those major characters whom Tolkien, who also used to illustrate his writings, supplied with a distinct heraldic device.[6]

The story of Finwë and Míriel and its significance[edit]

Tolkien rewrote the story of Finwë and Míriel several times, as it assumed "an extraordinary importance in [his] later work on The Silmarillion".[7] In Tolkien's works, Elves are immortal, being reborn after death, and marriage is forever.

Finwë's wife Míriel died after giving birth to her son, Fëanor, the most brilliant of all the Elves. She was so exhausted that she said she would never return to life. This left Finwë in the position of being on his own, not through his own choice, for eternity, a situation that had never occurred before. Because of this, Finwë was permitted to remarry. However, Fëanor was displeased by this, and had no love for Finwë's other children. This rift was one of the causes of the rebellion of the Elves against the Valar. Had Finwë chosen differently, the whole history of Middle-earth would have changed for the better, thus making his choice a pivotal event in the mythology and showing the importance Tolkien attached to unbreakable relationships.[8]

While rewriting this tale, Tolkien wrote various notes on marriage among the Elves that also discuss their naming and immortality, showing his typical mixture of background philosophy and story telling.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (2006). The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. HarperCollins (UK), Houghton Mifflin (US). ISBN 0-618-39113-4. 
  2. ^ Kane, Douglas Charles (2009). Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion. Lehigh University Press. ISBN 0-9801496-3-0. 
  3. ^ a b Clark, George; Timmons, Daniel (2000). J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances. Greenwood Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-313-30845-1. 
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1986), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Shaping of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-42501-8 
  5. ^ Martinez, Michael. "The Final Eldarin Genealogy". 
  6. ^ Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (1995). J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-74816-9. 
  7. ^ Morgoth's Ring, p. 205
  8. ^ Morgoth's Ring, p. 205-271
  9. ^ Morgoth's Ring, p.209-203
Works cited

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
High King of the Noldor
? – Y.T. 1495
Succeeded by
Fëanor