Thingol

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Thingol
Tolkien character
THINGOL FIGHTS BOLDOG.jpg
A battle between Thingol and the orc chieftain Boldog. Illustration by Tom Loback.
In-universe information
AliasesElwë Singollo,
Elu Thingol,
King of Doriath,
King of the Sindar,
King of the Teleri,
High-king and Lord of Beleriand
RaceElves
GenderMale
Book(s)The Silmarillion,
The Children of Húrin,
The Lays of Beleriand,
Beren & Lúthien

Elu Thingol or Elwë Singollo is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Silmarillion, The Lays of Beleriand and The Children of Húrin and in numerous stories in The History of Middle-earth. Depicted as the King of Doriath, King of the Sindar, High-king[T 1] and Lord of Beleriand, he is a major character in the First Age of Middle-earth[1] and an essential part of the ancestral backgrounding of the romance between Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings.

Alone among the Elves, he married a Maia, Melian.

Etymology and characteristics[edit]

Thingol is Sindarin for "grey cloak". The Quenya form of his name, Singollo, has the same meaning.[T 2] He is said to be "the tallest of all the Children of Ilúvatar" and the "mightiest of the Eldar save Fëanor only".[T 3]

Fictional biography[edit]

In The Silmarillion, Thingol is introduced as Elwë, one of the three chieftains of the Elves who departed from Cuiviénen with Oromë as ambassadors of Valinor, and who later became Kings. Upon his return, he persuaded many of his kindred, the Nelyar, to follow him back to Valinor. This host became known as the Teleri. He later met Melian the Maia and fell in love with her. They had a daughter, Lúthien, who in turn fell in love with the mortal Man Beren. Disapproving of their relationship, Thingol set numerous quests that he thought impossible for Beren, so as to prevent him from marrying Lúthien. One of these was to recover one of the Silmarils from the crown of the Dark Lord Morgoth; but even that quest succeeded.

With the return of the Noldorin Elves to Middle-earth, perhaps threatening his kingdom, Thingol's mood darkened. After he learnt the truth of the Kinslaying at Alqualondë perpetrated by the Noldor on the Teleri, Thingol banned the use of their language Quenya in his lands, and Sindarin became the most prevalent Elven tongue in Middle-earth. He took successively darker actions, moving further and further from the light, so that even when he received the Silmaril from Beren, he knew neither how to appreciate it nor how to use it.[2] He fought numerous wars with Morgoth; finally, he was killed by the Dwarves over a dispute about ownership of Nauglamír, the Necklace of the Dwarves, which bore his Silmaril. The Sons of Fëanor, who swore a terrible oath to recover the Silmarils on behalf of their father, later sacked Doriath to recover the Silmaril set on Nauglamír.

Analysis[edit]

Verlyn Flieger writes that Thingol's actions may seem unjustified thematically, but in terms of plot they make sense in terms of his politics and dynastic needs. She contrasts him with Beren, who though a Man is constantly drawn towards the light.[2] Evans drew a further parallel between Thingol and the Noldor: like them, he turned away from the Light, and chose to remain in Middle-earth with Melian, who could stop time and its changes.[3]

Tom Shippey writes that Thingol is part of the tightly-woven trap of The Silmarillion. There are three Hidden Elvish Kingdoms including Doriath; these were founded by three relatives, including Thingol; and they are each betrayed and destroyed; they are each penetrated by a mortal Man, again all relatives, in Doriath's case Beren; and the sense of Doom, which Shippey glosses as "future disaster", hangs heavy over all of them in the tale.[4]

The medievalist Marjorie Burns states that Thingol gained "great power" through his marriage to Melian, noting that she resembles Rider Haggard's infinitely desirable Arthurian muse, Ayesha of his novel She: A History of Adventure.[5] Lisa Coutras drew attention to Thingol's later depiction as a prideful king who rarely listens to his wife's counsel, even though she is defined as a character with immense foresight and wisdom; notably, Thingol's reckless actions and refusal to heed Melian's advice about the Silmarils brought about the downfall of his kingdom, while the hero Tuor is wiser by comparison for listening to his wife Idril.[6] Robley Evans observed that Thingol's marriage with Melian seemed to "promise a model union of diverse created beings" on first impression, but noted that Thingol is the "complementary opposite of Feanor in Tolkien's structural counterpoint" in that he is ultimately destroyed by his own version of Feanor's oath, since the act of claiming the Silmaril recovered by Beren placed his kingdom under the Doom of Mandos.[3]

Genealogy[edit]

The House of Thingol, Elmo, and Olwë[edit]

Melian
the Maia
THINGOL
(Elwë)
ElmoOlwëCírdan
the shipwright
GaladhonEärwenFinarfin
LúthienGalathilCelebornGaladrielAngrodEldalótëFinrodAegnor
DiorNimlothOrodreth
ElurédElurínElwingGil-galadFinduilas
ElrosElrondCelebrían
Elendil
IsildurAnárion
ArveduiFíriel
AragornArwenElladanElrohir
Eldarion
Colour key:
Colour Description
  Elves
  Men
  Maiar
  Half-elven
  Half-elven who chose the fate of elves
  Half-elven who chose the fate of mortal men

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Primary[edit]

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R.; Christopher Tolkien (ed.) History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), p. 21, "Fingolfin...acknowledged the high-kingship of Thingol"; p. 380, Thingol is also acknowledged high-king by Círdan and his following: p. 410, the Grey-elves of Mithrim acknowledged Thingol as high-king.
  2. ^ The Silmarillion, annotated index entry for "Thingol"
  3. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien; Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.XI, (1994), pp. 21, 25.

Secondary[edit]

  1. ^ Bulles, Marcel E. (2013) [2006]. "Thingol". In Michael D. C. Drout (ed.). J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 646. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
  2. ^ a b Flieger, Verlyn (1983). Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 120–130. ISBN 978-0-8028-1955-0.
  3. ^ a b Evans, Robley (1987). "Tolkien's World Creation: Degenerative Recurrence". Mythlore. 14 (1). article 55.
  4. ^ Shippey, Tom (2005) [1982]. The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 287–296. ISBN 978-0261102750.
  5. ^ Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. University of Toronto Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-8020-3806-7.
  6. ^ Coutras, Lisa (2016). Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth. Springer. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-1375-5345-4.