Fëanor had a grudge against him for some reason, I don't know why: for example Fëanor threatens Fingolfin with a sword in either Tuna or Tirion, then Fëanor purposely burns the Teleri ships so Fingolfin can't sail with him, forcing Fingolfin to lead the majority of the Noldor across the Helcaraxë.

So why does he feel deep resentment and hatred for Fingolfin?

  • There are several excellent and justifiable reasons why the heir to a throne reacts in the way Feanor did given the unnecessarily ambiguous actions taken by other parties. Melkor just pointed a few things out. If only someone had sat down with Feanor, or better, with Fingolfin and his new wife and new sons, and counselled them to act with clarity, since Feanor, being the best Elf alive, is prone to jump to conclusions, as such people tend to be. Melkor's key advantage is that he knows mortals more than the others. My god, they repeat many of the same mistakes with Numenor.
    – chiggsy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 22:48

3 Answers 3


Feanor was never fond of Fingolfin. The seeds of discontent were sown long before Melkor was unchained.

Feanor's family history is extremely unusual.

Then Finwë was grieved, for the Noldor were in the youth of their days, and he desired to bring forth many children into the bliss of Aman; and he said: ‘Surely there is healing in Aman? Here all weariness can find rest.’ But when Míriel languished still, Finwë sought the counsel of Manwë, and Manwë delivered her to the care of Irmo in Lórien. At their parting (for a little while as he thought) Finwë was sad, for it seemed an unhappy chance that the mother should depart and miss the beginning at least of the childhood days of her son.

She went then to the gardens of Lórien and lay down to sleep; but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body, and passed in silence to the halls of Mandos.

Miriel died in Aman. Feanor grew up without a mother.

All his love he gave thereafter to his son; and Fëanor grew swiftly, as if a secret fire were kindled within him. He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark; in the pursuit of all his purposes eager and steadfast. Few ever changed his courses by counsel, none by force.

We might suspect then that he was a little spoiled by this attention.

But what never, ever happened among the Eldar, before, and very seldom after, was this: Finwe remarried:

Now it came to pass that Finwë took as his second wife Indis the Fair. She was a Vanya, close kin of Ingwë the High King, golden-haired and tall, and in all ways unlike Míriel. Finwë loved her greatly, and was glad again. But the shadow of Míriel did not depart from the house of Finwë, nor from his heart; and of all whom he loved Fëanor had ever the chief share of his thought

The wedding of his father was not pleasing to Fëanor; and he had no great love for Indis, nor for Fingolfin and Finarfin, her sons.

(Of Feanor and the Unchaining of Melkor)

In other words, Feanor hated all his half brothers from the very beginning. To an elf, this was positively unnatural. Elves did not remarry. Indeed, afterwards, many among the Eldar blamed Finwe for what happened:

In those unhappy things which later came to pass, and in which Fëanor was the leader, many saw the effect of this breach within the house of Finwë, judging that if Finwë had endured his loss and been content with the fathering of his mighty son, the courses of Fëanor would have been otherwise, and great evil might have been prevented; for the sorrow and the strife in the house of Finwë is graven in the memory of the Noldorin Elves. But the children of Indis were great and glorious, and their children also; and if they had not lived the history of the Eldar would have been diminished.

(Of Feanor and the Unchaining of Melkor)

We can refer to HoME for a few more details. For example, Finwe had to get a special ruling from the Valar to do this:

Since death and the sundering of spirit and body was one of the griefs of Arda Marred, it came inevitably to pass that death at times came between two that were wedded. Then the Eldar were in doubt, since this was an evil unnatural. Permanent marriage was in accordance with elvish nature, and they never had need of any law to teach this or to enforce it; but if a ‘permanent’ marriage was in fact broken, as when one of the partners was slain, then they did not know what should be done or thought.

In this matter they turned to Manwë for counsel, and, as is recorded in the case of Finwë, Lord of the Noldor, Manwë delivered his ruling through the mouth of Námo Mandos, the Judge.

‘Marriage of the Eldar,’ he said, ‘is by and for the Living, and for the duration of life. Since the Elves are by nature permanent in life within Arda, so also is their unmarred marriage. But if their life is interrupted or ended, then their marriage must be likewise. Now marriage is chiefly of the body, but it is nonetheless not of the body only but of the spirit and body together, for it begins and endures in the will of the fëa. Therefore when one of the partners of a marriage dies the marriage is not yet ended, but is in abeyance. For those that were joined are now sundered; but their union remains still a union of will. [...] It is therefore true to say that, though achieved by and in the body, marriage proceeds from the fëa and resides ultimately in its will. For which reason it cannot be ended, as has been declared, while that will remains.’

So Manwe made a judgement: a marriage cannot be broken unless the dead Elf never returns to life. Which means that when Finwe remarried, that Miriel was dead-dead.

While there is hope or purpose of return it is not ended, and the Living cannot therefore marry again. If the Living is permitted to marry again, then by doom Mandos will not permit the Dead to return. For, as has been declared, one reborn is the same person as before death and returns to take up and continue his or her former life. But if the former spouse were re-married, this would not be possible, and great grief and doubt would afflict all three parties.

(Laws and Customs among the Eldar, HoME II)

This was done with some degree of Miriel's consent. But as we saw above, even if she changed her mind, she couldn't return to life.

Mandos had spoken his doom as has been recorded,3 Manwë called Finwë to him, and said: ‘Thou hast heard the doom that has been declared. If Miriel, thy wife, will not return and releases thee, your union4 is dissolved, and thou hast leave to take another wife.’

(Laws and Customs among the Eldar, HoME II)

So Feanor has a pretty understandable reason to hate Fingolfin and Finarfin. Jealousy, in that Finwe used to be focused entirely on him, which was fair, considering that losing his mother after childbirth was something considered incredibly grievous by the Elves - they preferred to not have children rather than risk raising them alone. And on top of that, the very existence of Fingolfin was a reminder that Miriel, Feanor's mother was dead forever and could never come back. Which is why he moved out ASAP:

As soon as he might (and he was wellnigh fullgrown ere Nolofinwë was born) he left his father's house and lived apart from them, giving all his heart and thought to the pursuit of lore and the practice of crafts.

(L&CoE, HoME)

Morgoth simply exploited the feelings Feanor already had towards his half-brothers by planting the rumor among the Elves that Fingolfin planned to usurp him and Finwe. This was already something Feanor believed them capable of, because he was blinded by his feelings.

  • 4
    As a side note, Miriel actually did return to life after Finwe died, and went into the service of Vaire, apart from the Eldar. Finwe took her place as the one never coming back to allow this to happen.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 15:25
  • 1
    I wonder what Fëanor thought about that.
    – muru
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 17:14
  • 1
    They are technically half-brothers, rather than step-brothers, having the same father. Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 17:35
  • @suchiuomizu: yeah I noticed I made that mistake and thought I edited it out but evidently I missed one, thanks
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 17:41

This was Morgoth's work:

Then Melkor set new lies abroad in Eldamar, and whispers came to Fëanor that Fingolfin and his sons were plotting to usurp the leadership of Finwë and of the elder line of Fëanor, and to supplant them by the leave of the Valar; for the Valar were ill-pleased that the Silmarils lay in Tirion and were not committed to their keeping. But to Fingolfin and Finarfin it was said: 'Beware! Small love has the proud son of Míriel ever had for the children of Indis. Now he has become great, and he has his father in his hand. It will not be long before he drives you forth from Túna!'

And later on:

Then there was great unrest in Tirion, and Finwë was troubled; and he summoned all his lords to council. But Fingolfin hastened to his halls and stood before him, saying: 'King and father, wilt thou not restrain the pride of our brother, Curufinwë, who is called the Spirit of Fire, all too truly? By what right does he speak for all our people, as if he were King? Thou it was who long ago spoke before the Quendi, bidding them accept the summons of the Valar to Aman. Thou it was that led the Noldor upon the long road through the perils of Middle-earth to the light of Eldamar. If thou dost not now repent of it, two sons at least thou hast to honour thy words.'

But even as Fingolfin spoke, Fëanor strode into the chamber, and he was fully armed: his high helm upon his head, and at his side a mighty sword. 'So it is, even as I guessed,' he said. 'My half-brother would be before me with my father, in this as in all other matters.' Then turning upon Fingolfin he drew his sword, crying: 'Get thee gone, and take thy due place!'

Lies, and misunderstandings.

This was immediately followed by Fëanor baring his sword at Fingolfin. Note that Fëanor also gave weight to Morgoth's lies when the Valar requested the Silmarils. Given the perversion of Fëanor's nature by the Silmarils, Morgoth's lies were presumably enough to engender deep hatred for Fingolfin in Fëanor.

  • What perversion? By what right does Fingolfin demand the suppression of Feanor via royal fiat? That's coercion! Bad for the Valar but ok for Fingolfin? And he got caught. What? Why not argue with him, convince him of a better way? Feanor did not force anybody to follow him, he convinced them. This poopshow is not on Feanor's watch. Feanor as prince is the problem! He should be High King! Silmarils are not One Rings, dude just likes them a ton. As a prince, understandable. As High King of the Noldor, Feanor could then demand accountability from the Valar. It's badly needed!
    – chiggsy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 22:27

Because Fingolfin pronounced things wrong

While this is certainly not the only reason for the strife between Fëanor and Fingolfin, it would be remiss to not mention The Shibboleth of Fëanor (c.1968), as this writing is an great example of Tolkien making the minor linguistic details that he loved highly relevant to the plot.

Quenya used to have a Th sound. (Tolkien represents this with a "þ", the Old English "thorn" character.) Over time most of the Noldor made a conscious decision to change this sound to an S sound. (A reverse-lisp if you will.) However Fëanor's mother used the original Th sound when pronouncing her own name, and thus her son Fëanor did the same.

The change þ > s ... was a general one, based primarily on phonetic 'taste' and theory, but it had not yet become universal. It was attacked by the loremasters, who pointed out that the damage this merging would do in confusing stems and their derivatives that had been distinct in sound and sense had not yet been sufficiently considered. The chief of the linguistic loremasters at that time was Fëanor. He insisted that þ was the true pronunciation for all who cared for or fully understood their language. But in addition to linguistic taste and wisdom he had other motives. He was the eldest of Finwë's sons and the only child of his first wife Míriel. ... She was .. called þerindë (Needlewoman) - a name which she had indeed already been given as a 'mother-name'. She adhered to the pronunciation þ (it had still been usual in her childhood), and she desired that all her kin should adhere to it also, at the least in the pronunciation of her name.
The Peoples of Middle-earth - The Shibboleth of Fëanor

Fëanor loved his mother, and when she died, he made her pronunciation into a sticking point of his.

How this ill will grew and festered in the years that followed is the main matter of the first part of The Silmarillion: the Darkening of Valinor. Into the strife and confusion of loyalties in that time this seemingly trivial matter, the change of þ to s, was caught up to its embitterment, and to lasting detriment to the Quenya tongue. Had peace been maintained there can be no doubt that the advice of Fëanor, with which all the other loremasters privately or openly agreed, would have prevailed. But an opinion in which he was certainly right was rejected because of the follies and evil deeds into which he was later led. He made it a personal matter: he and his sons adhered to þ, and they demanded that all those who were sincere in their support should do the same. Therefore those who resented his arrogance, and still more those whose support later turned to hatred, rejected his shibboleth.
The Peoples of Middle-earth - The Shibboleth of Fëanor

When his father remarried, his father's new wife changed her pronunciation to s, to match what most of the Noldor were now doing, and Fëanor took this as a personal offense.

Indis was a Vanya, and it might be thought that she would in this point at least have pleased Fëanor, since the Vanyar adhered to þ. Nonetheless Indis adopted s. Not as Fëanor believed in belittlement of Míriel, but in loyalty to Finwë. For after the rejection of his prayers by Míriel Finwë accepted the change (which had now become almost universal among his people), although in deference to Míriel he had adhered to Th while she lived. Therefore Indis said: 'I have joined the people of the Ñoldor, and I will speak as they do.' So it came about that to Fëanor the rejection of þ became a symbol of the rejection of Míriel, and of himself, her son, as the chief of the Ñoldor next to Finwë. This, as his pride grew and his mood darkened, he thought was a 'plot' of the Valar, inspired by fear of his powers, to oust him and give the leadership of the Ñoldor to those more servile. So Fëanor would call himself 'Son of the þerindë and when his sons in their childhood asked why their kin in the house of Finwë used s for þ he answered: Take no heed! We speak as is right, and as King Finwë himself did before he was led astray. We are his heirs by right and the elder house. Let them sá-sí if they can speak no better.
The Peoples of Middle-earth - The Shibboleth of Fëanor

  • 1
    I assume that Tolkien is indulging in some transference here. Is Fingolfin based on his students?
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 7:44
  • Fingolfin's statecraft is ridiculously poor. It's not Feanor's shibboleth, it's his dead wife's, who, having died in childbirth, is innocent of what came after. New wife, who should have been a concubine, used the same speaking pattern, she changed because Fingolfin changed! WHY? Noldor do whatever, Finnie and new girl maintain the former pronouciation, of course dead wife's kid is gonna feel some kind of way about this situation! If the intent was not to snake Feanor, then why proceed in that manner? It looks exactly like Feanor is being cheated out of his inheritance!
    – chiggsy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:01
  • If Fingolfin was dead set on this course of action, then he should have abdicated in favor of Feanor, and then he could do as he pleased. None of this was at all necessary, and Feanor's duties as King would have been an excellent buffer against rash acts such as the Oath.
    – chiggsy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:05

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