Author's Note: This is the English version of the Spanish paper I wrote. Thanks for reading!
The Will of Ilúvatar
I Vala Ilúvatarya
" . . . I am Ilúvatar . . . . And thou . . . shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined" (Silmarillion pt. 1; p. 17). In Tolkien's world, known as Arda and Middle Earth, he illustrates how resisting and rebelling against the will of God (Ilúvatar) leads only to destruction. He illustrates this in several circumstances, most notably in the cases of Morgoth, the land and people of Númenor, and the Noldor.
The very first part of Tolkien's Silmarillion tells the story of the beginning, and of the fall of Melkor. Before Arda was, the Ainur, the Holy Ones dwelt with Ilúvatar in the Timeless Halls. The greatest ones among the Ainur are the Aratar, the Exalted Ones, and the greatest among the Aratar is Melkor. In the Ainulindalë, the Music of the Ainur, the thoughts and purposes of Ilúvatar and the Ainur form a symphonic vision which will later become Arda. However, in the midst of the vision that creates Arda, Melkor the Arata rebels against Ilúvatar. from that point forward he is named Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of the World (Silmarillion pt. 2; p. 31). With some of the faithful Ainur, Morgoth and his allies go down to the newly created Arda, where they rebel against the will of Ilúvatar further by warring with Manwë Súlimo, "the Wind Lord and the First King", rightful king of Arda and Elbereth Gilthoniel, the Elentári, which means "Star queen", his wife and the queen of the Ainur of Arda (Day 253-255). Morgoth, continuing to resist Ilúvatar, wars with them constantly and at times seems successful in his rebellion. Morgoth destroys Almaren, the first kingdom of the Ainur (also called the Valar), their great Lamps that the Ainur made to give light to Arda, the Trees of the Valar, Laurelin and Telperion, and makes war against the Children of Ilúvatar, Elves and Men. Upon Arda are two lands, Middle-earth and Aman, and after Morgoth destroys Almaren, the Ainur pass over the Great Sea Belegaer to Aman in the westernmost parts of Arda. Very soon, Morgoth's influence stretches over nearly the whole of Middle Earth and it becomes a wretched place, full of death and evil. Few lands of Elves or Men escape Morgoth's dominion. In contrast, the land of Aman is blessed and peaceful, earning the name the Undying Lands. As he sees Middle Earth falling to Morgoth, Eärendil the Half-Elven sails to the Undying Lansds to seek the Ainur. When he arrives he meets the herald of Manwë and begs the Ainur to rescue the Children of Ilúvatar from Morgoth. Yet, "Morgoth looked not for the assault that came upon him from the West; for so great was his pride become that he deemed that none would ever again come with open war against him" (Silmarillion pt. 3; ch. 24; p. 250). But war did come upon him. In what the Elves later call the War of Wrath, the Ainur declared war upon Morgoth, defeated all of the powers of his darkness, "thrust [him] through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, into the Timeless Void; and a guard is set for ever on those walls" (Silmarillion pt. 3; ch. 24; p. 254). Although Morgoth had thought to rebel against Ilúvatar, in the end, all of his success and prosperity came to nothing and he was cast out of the world.
One of the most tragic tales in all of Tolkien's works is the story of the Noldor and the Doom of the Noldor that Mandos spoke. The Noldor are an elven people who dwell with the Ainur in the Undying Lands. Mandos is the "Speaker of Doom . . . most aware of the will of Ilúvatar. He is unbending and unmoved by pity, for he knows all the fates that are declared in the Music [of the Ainur]" (Day 257). After Morgoth steals the silmarils, beautiful jewels that shine with a glorious light, from Fëanor and destroys the Trees of the Valar, a group of the Noldor led by Fëanor leave the Undying Lands to find Morgoth, take back the silmarils, and take their revenge upon him. In order to do this, Fëanor and his people try to take ships from the Teleri Elves, shipwrights who live in the Alqualondë—the Haven of the Swans. When the Teleri refuse to give to Fëanor the ships—for they were a gift from Ulmo the Ainu, Lord of the Sea—Fëanor and the Noldor slaughter many of them and take their ships. On the ships they sail over to Middle Earth, desert some of their companions not involved in the slaying of the Teleri, and burn the ships, the gift of Ulmo. For all their evil and treachery Mandos pronounces upon them the Doom of the Noldor:
"Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar [Ainur] will fence Valinor [Aman] against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also . . . . To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of reason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.
"Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow. For thought Eru appointed to you to die not in Ëa, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief . . . . The Valar have spoken." (Silmarillion pt. 3; ch. 9; p. 87-88)
And this Doom, this destiny, does come upon the Noldor. One of the greatest cities of the Noldor is called Gondolin, and it is built by Turgon, the son of Fingolfin, the High-king of the Noldor Elves. This city, along with all of the other cities, realms, and kingdoms that the Noldor form in Middle-earth fall, and are eventually destroyed or waste away. The Lays of Beleriand tell how the Doom of the Noldor ensnares the great Sindar kingdom called Doriath and Beleriand. The Sindar are the Gray-Elves, elves that have never lived in the Undying Lands and who had no part in the treachery of the Noldor. Nevertheless, Thingol, the king of Beleriand binds the fate of his kingdom with that of the Noldor with a challenge he makes to Beren, a man who wishes the hand of his daughter Lúthien in marriage: "Bring me one shining Silmaril / from Morgoth's crown, then it she will, / may Lúthien set her hand in thine; / then shalt thou have this jewel of mine" (Beleriand 192). But to this Melian, one of the Ainur and wife to Thingol, replies, "O King, you have devised cunning counsel. But if my eyes have not lost their sight, it is ill for you, whether Beren fail in his errand, or achieve it. For you have doomed either your daughter, or yourself. And now is Doriath drawn within the fate of a mightier realm" (Silmarillion pt. 3; ch. 19; p. 168). And Melian is correct; because Beren retrieves the Silmaril, Thingol is killed and Doriath falls. In a similar fashion, the Doom of the Noldor is revealed in the life of Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlórien. Although Galadriel was not apart of the slaying of the Teleri, she did not go back to the Undying Lands when Mandos commanded. Therefore, the Doom rests upon her life, too. Galadriel is the keeper of Nenya, the elven Ring of Adamant, one of three. Thousands of years after the Noldor fled the Undying Lands, Galadriel is still known as White Lady and the Lady of Light, "like a queen, great and beautiful" (Fellowship bk. 2; ch. 8; p. 423). And Lothlórien is "The fairest Elf-kingdom remaining on Middle-earth in the Third Age . . . where Noldor queen Galadriel and the Sindar lord Celeborn ruled. In this wooded realm the tallest and fairest trees of Middle-earth grew, and some part of the brilliance of the Elf-kingdoms of ancient times seemed to glow in this forest" (Day 174). Again, Legolas, prince of Eryn Lasgalen and the Elf-Lord of Ithilien, praises Lothlórien, saying: "'That [Lothlórien] is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the rood, and the pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey'" (pt. 2; ch. 6; p. 374). Yet, for all the glory of Lothlórien and her fair lords, "the great light of Lothlórien" fades (Day 120) when Galadriel sails over the sea to Aman and Celeborn leaves Lórien for Imladris, a realm of his kinsman (Return bk. 2; ch. 9; p. 339). In Tolkien's Arda, the Doom of the Noldor exemplifies the fate of those that resist the will of Ilúvatar—all of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil, comes to nothing.
The final illustration of what happens to those who resist Ilúvatar's will is in a tale both long and bitter. It is the story of Númenor. Númenor has many names, but its name most remembered is Akallabêth the Downfallen, also Atalantë in the elven tongue. But, before Númenor falls from grace, it is a blessed land specifically made by the Ainur for the Edain, the faithful Men of Arda who follow after Ilúvatar and fight with the Ainur in the War of Wrath (Silmarillion pt. 4; p. 255, 259-61). For this, Númenor is also called Andor, the Land of Gift, Elenna or Elennanórë, "the land named Starwards", and Anaûnê and Númenorë, which means Westernesse (pt. 4; p. 260-61). Númenor is blessed because her people, the Edain are blessed—they are the children of three peoples, Ainur, Elves, and Men (pt. 4; p. 255, 259). Although Númenor's kings are mortals, they live for many years beyond the lives of mortals without sickness (pt. 4; p. 261). Still, the Númenóreans ". . . grew wise and glorious, and in all things more like to the Firstborn [Elves] than an other of the kindreds of Men; and they were tall, taller than the tallest of the sons of Middle-earth; and the light of their eyes was like the bright stars", and for this they were called the Dúnedain—Kings among Men. Upon the highest point of the land of Númenor they set the Meneltarma, "the Pillar of Heaven, and upon it was a high place that was hallowed to Eru Ilúvatar, and it was open and unroofed, and no other temple or fane was there in the land of the Númenóreans" (pt. 4; p. 261). The Elves too brought gifts to the Númenóreans—they brought a sapling of the White Tree from the Undying Lands and planted it in Númenor. However, even though the lives of the Númenóreans were far beyond the lives of other men, they feared death and its approach and long to travel to the Undying Lands although they are forbidden this. Tolkien writes, "Now this yearning grew ever greater with the years; and the Númenóreans began to hunger for the undying city that they saw from afar, and the desire of everlasting life, to escape from death and the ending of delight, grew strong upon them; and ever as their power and glory grew greater their unquiet increased" (pt. 4; p. 263). They begin to envy their friends and lords the Ainur for their immortality, and become jealous both of the Ainur and the Elves. The Ainur warn them for their error, but the jealousy of the Númenoreans increases, and they grow first angry, and then prideful. They stop attending to the Meneltarma, and their friendship with the Ainur ceases. Despite their foolishness, the power of Númenor grows so great that the Númenóreans are able to capture Sauron the evil Ainu, the Lord of the Rings and the most powerful servant of Morgoth left on Arda. However, Sauron is cunning, and although he hates the Númenóreans, he feigns friendship with them and becomes the most trusted advisor to the king. He then leads them into much further error telling the king of Númenor that "'Darkness alone is worshipful, and the Lord thereof may yet make other worlds to be gifts to those that serve him, so that the increase of their power shall find no end'" (pt. 4; p. 271). In this way, Sauron deceives Ar-Pharazôn, the twentieth king of Númenor and lures him into the worship of Morgoth, whom Sauron the Abhorred called "Lord of All" and "Giver of Freedom" (pt. 4; p. 272, 348). Finally, Sauron commands that the White Tree Nimloth be cut down and he burns the Tree on the altar to Morgoth, "but men marveled at the reek that went up from it, so that the land lay under a cloud for seven days, until slowly it passed into the west." But the evil of the Númenoreans only increases: "Thereafter the fire and smoke went up without ceasing; for the power of Sauron daily increased, and in that temple, wit spilling of blood and torment and great wickedness, men made sacrifice to Melkor that he should release them from Death. And most often from among the Faithful they chose their victims . . ." (pt. 4; p. 273). Thus, the anger of Ilúvatar is kindled and "Death did not depart from the land, rather it came sooner and more often, and in many dreadful guises. For whereas aforetime men had grown slowly old . . . when they were weary at last of the world, now madness and sickness assailed them; and yet they were afraid to die and out into the dark, the realm of the lord that they had taken; and they cursed themselves in their agony" (pt. 4; p. 273). Then Ar-Pharazôn begins to plan for a war against the Undying Lands as the wickedness, strife, and madness in his own lands increase. Ilúvatar sends the people of Númenor a last sign of their evil: "and a fiery bolt smote the dome of the Temple and shore it asunder, and it was wreathed in flame. . . . Sauron stood there upon the pinnacle and defied the lightning and was unharmed; and in that hour men called him a god . . . . When therefore the last portent came they heeded it little. For the land shook under them, and a groaning as of thunder underground was mingled with the roaring of the sea, and smoke issued from the peak of the Meneltarma (pt. 4; p. 277). Yet Ar-Pharazôn heeds not the warning and sails into the West, to make war upon the Undying Lands. So the Day of Doom comes upon Númenórë: "In an hour unlooked for by Men this doom befell . . . . Then suddently fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea . . . vanished for ever" (pt. 4; p. 279). Only the Faithful of Ilúvatar, nine ships of the house of Elendil, and Sauron the Ainu survive Númenor's fall. That is the tale of Atalantë—of the vanity and loss of Akallabêth the Downfallen; for Atalantë strove against Ilúvatar and "even the name of that land perished . . ." (pt. 4; p. 481).
Resplendent throughout Tolkien's tales of Middle-earth is the message that if one tries to work against Ilúvatar, he will fail and bring pain to himself in the end. Very truly, it is written: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."