Mytholder (mytholder) wrote,

Narn I Hin Hurin, Chapter III

The Words of Hurin and Morgoth

This brief chapter really surprised me. I can't recall a similar confrontation from The Silmarillion, although I admit it's a long time since I read that or Unfinished Tales. In summary: Hurin's been captured by the forces of Morgoth. Morgoth tries to intimidate Hurin into revealing the location of Gondolin. Hurin mocks Morgoth, which the Dark Lord doesn't take kindly to.

Morgoth is much more of a Satan-figure than Sauron. While Sauron was this remote, silent, impersonal force, Morgoth's pretty chatty and hands-on. Some of it is standard evil overlord stuff:
Therefore Morgoth had him chained and set in slow torment; but after a while he came to him, and offeredhim his choice to go free whither he would, or to receive power and rank as the greatest of Morgoth's captains, if he would but reveal where Turgon has his stronghold, and aught else he knew of the King's counsels.

After that, though, Morgoth takes Hurin out to the Haudh-en-Nirnaeth, a huge hill made of the bodies of all those who died in the battle, and shows him the world. The Biblical overtones are obvious; it's Christ being tempted by Satan on the mountaintop, although Morgoth's offer isn't half so generous.
Morgoth set Hurin upon its top and bade him look west towards Hithlum, and think of his wife and son and other kin. 'For they dwell now in my realm,' said Morgoth, 'and they are at my mercy.'

'You have none', answered Hurin.

Their conversation there gives insight into Tolkien's conception of the Valar. I'm intrigued by the restrictions and rules hinted at. Morgoth curses Hurin's offspring, and Hurin replies.
'You speak in vain. For you cannot see them, nor govern them from afar, not while you keep this shape, and desire still to be a King visible on earth.' It seems the Valar have to make a choice between local power and presence, and the ability to affect things at at a distance, that there's a continuum between the physical and the spiritual.

Of course, it's Morgoth, who's one of the mightiest of the Valar. The curse is worth repeating here.
'I am the Elder King, Melkor, first and mightiest of 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 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.'

Tolkien rarely brings his villians onstage - I think this chapter is the longest speech of Morgoth's in the whole canon, and Sauron never gets any lines at all - which is a pity, 'cos he does it so well. Smaug was a great presence at the end of The Hobbit, and I'm looking forward to Glaurung.

Anyway, after some more snark between the two, Hurin argues that even if Morgoth conquers all the world, Men can still escape him in death. Morgoth claims that death brings nothing but oblivion, and chains Hurin to a chair high above the fortress of Thangorodrim. By the power of Morgoth, Hurin can see all the world, but cannot move or die.

My reading is four chapters ahead of my blogging, so I'll stop here in the hopes of catching up later.
Tags: books, narn i hin hurin

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