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Concerning Hidden Realities and Human Destiny

The Silmarillion - A Beginner's Guide (Redux) - Part 31 - Of the Ruin of Doriath

John Carswell | Thursday, February 22, 2018

But now the rumour ran among the scattered Elves of Beleriand that Dior Thingol’s heir wore the Nauglamír, and they said: ‘A Silmaril of Fëanor burns again in the woods of Doriath’; and the oath of the sons of Fëanor was waked again from sleep.
(The Silmarillion, 236)

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This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walk through of The Silmarillion. This time, I examine the 22nd chapter of The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Doriath". You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here. You can also find other Silmarillion resources here.

Of the Ruin of Doriath by olga-kreuzfahrer

"Of the Ruin of Doriath" by olga-kreuzfahrer © 2014 - 2018.

“Of the Ruin of Doriath” is not one of the longest chapters in The Silmarillion, but it is perhaps the most packed with hugely significant events. There’s a ton of stuff that I could speak about, but I’ve tried to boil it down to the bare essentials. It all picks up after the death of Túrin and Nienor, Húrin’s children.

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Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

Key Events

  • Húrin’s Release: With the deaths of Túrin and Nienor, Morgoth sets the tormented Húrin free to roam about Beleriand in the hope of causing more destruction.
  • The Feud of the Nauglamir: Húrin finds the Nauglamir – Finrod’s necklace from the dwarves – in the ruins of Nargothrond. When he brings it to Thingol, it sets off a feud between the Sindar and the Eldar, especially as Thingol sets in it Beren’s Silmaril.
  • The Death of Thingol and the End of Doriath: The dwarves slay Thingol and with his death Melian departs Beleriand, leading to the eventual downfall of the great realm of Doriath.

Key Takeaways

  • A Silmaril In Play: When Thingol puts the Silmaril in play (hoping to set it in the Nauglamir), he sets off a chain of events that leads to incredible death and destruction. For some reason, Silmarils seem to have that effect on the peoples of Middle-earth.
  • Thingol’s Racist Pride: In an outburst, Thingol insults the dwarves as a “stunted people” and brings down serious dwarf-wrath on himself. This, of course, leads to his death. Remember his attitude toward Beren?
  • Thingol’s Heir: Dior, the only son of Beren and Lúthien, assumes the throne of Menegroth upon Thingol’s death, but his dominion is short lived, as the Sons of Fëanor assault Menegroth, hoping to obtain the Silmaril, and kill him. Yet Dior’s daughter, Elwing, survives.

Key Quotes

  • The Rage of the Dwarves:
    Then the lust of the Dwarves was kindled to rage by the words of the King; and they rose up about him, and laid hands on him, and slew him as he stood. So died in the deep places of Menegroth Elwë Singollo, King of Doriath, who alone of all the Children of Ilúvatar was joined with one of the Ainur; and he who, alone of the Forsaken Elves, had seen the light of the Trees of Valinor, with his last sight gazed upon the Silmaril. (233)
  • Doriath Lay Open to Its Enemies:
    But now Thingol lay dead, and his spirit had passed to the halls of Mandos; and with his death a change came also upon Melian. Thus it came to pass that her power was withdrawn in that time from the forests of Neldoreth and Region, and Esgalduin the enchanted river spoke with a different voice, and Doriath lay open to its enemies. (234)
  • Beren and Lúthien Gone Forever:
    But in that coffer lay the Necklace of the Dwarves, wherein was set the Silmaril; and Dior looking upon it knew it for a sign that Beren Erchamion and Lúthien Tinúviel had died indeed, and gone where go the race of Men to a fate beyond the world. (236)

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Please feel free to share your thoughts on this chapter in the comments below.

Tolkien's Requiem Concerning Beren and Lúthien by John CarswellWant to learn more about The Silmarillion? My book Tolkien's Requiem explores the stories of Middle-earth's First Age through the prism of Tolkien's most personal tale: Beren and Lúthien. It's designed to work as a "back door" approach for those who struggle to get a start on The Silmarillion. Click here to learn more!

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