1

After Miriel died, Manwë decreed that Finwë could choose another spouse and he did get remarried to Indis, mother of Fingolfin and Finarfin; Fëanor wasn't too happy with that.

Why would Manwë allow Finwë to remarry if Elves only get married once?

  • 2
    Ask your mother. – Mithrandir Jan 12 '16 at 3:47
  • 1
    "Elves can only get married once" - what is the source for this statement? – HorusKol Jan 12 '16 at 4:04
  • @HorusKol maybe prefer to marry only once – Fingolfin Jan 12 '16 at 4:08
8

Misconception

Before I get going, I want to correct a misconception: Manwë did not "allow" Finwë to re-marry, in the sense that he did not grant special dispensation. What happened was that Finwë was the first Elf to want (or need) to re-marry, so nobody knew if that was okay yet. What Manwë (and the rest of the Valar, in council) did was to fill the gap in the laws of the Eldar; after Finwë, any elf was allowed to re-marry (under certain conditions). It's just that not many did, because (from their perspective), this one ended so disastrously.

Elvish Marriage

It's also a bit of a misconception that Elves only marry once; that's not actually an explicit part of their laws, but rather a natural consequence of two factors:

  • Strict monogamy
  • Immortality

If you mate for life, and your life is unending, logically you will only marry at most once. That's all fine and dandy, but ignores the complication that it is, in a sense, possible for Elves to "die". This is further complicated by the fact that, in Aman, death is literally just another country; the Valar can go and ask Miriel what she wants, because she's right there, in Mandos.

Why was it okay?

There are sort of two parts to this, because the Statute of Finwë and Miriel was introduced in two stages:

  1. Mandos made the Statute
  2. The rest of the Valar debated its merits, and ultimately decided to let it stand

The reason Mandos made it was because of Justice. Finwë and Miriel were in a bit of an odd situation, for three reasons:

  • Miriel had willingly given up her life
  • She had no desire to return to life
  • Finwë really wanted to marry Indis

In Mandos' educated opinion, there was no good reason to forbid re-marriage in this situation; despite the fact that death is a temporary inconvenience for Elves, Miriel's choice to stay dead made it a permanent condition. With no chance of a happy reunion with his first wife, why shouldn't Finwë be allowed to take another?

The debate of the Valar is the subject of a very, very long essay in Morgoth's Ring. It's far too long to include here in its entirety, but I'll try to pick out the highlights.

The gist of the debate is whether Miriel's death and Finwë's desire to re-marry is a consequence of Melkor's corruptive influence ("Arda Marred"), or if it's part of Eru's "True" conception of the world. If the former, then this is against Eru/God's law and should be forbidden; if the latter, it's the will of Eru.

While there are a lot of arguments back and forth over this question, Manwë's ultimate justification is essentially "Eru moves in mysterious ways." There's also an element of practicality to his decision; although the Elves are by nature immortal, death is nonetheless a reality of the world, and the laws of the Eldar need to take it into account:

The Valar have not and must not presume certainty with regard to the wills of the Children. Nor, even were they certain in this one case concerning the fea of Miriel, would that unmake the union of love that once was between her and her spouse, or render void the judgement that constancy to it would in Finwë be a better and fairer course, more in accord with Arda Unmarred, or with the will of Eru in permitting this thing to befall him. The Statute openeth the liberty of a lower road, and accepting death, countenanceth death, and cannot heal it.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 2: The Second Phase Chapter 3: "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" Of the Severance of Marriage

There are a number of reasons put forth for the Valar as to why they should allow this, but they essentially boil down to these two:

  • Finwë, Miriel, and Indis are blameless in all of this, so why should they suffer when the solution to their griefs is so simple?
  • Since Miriel doesn't want to return to life, Fëanor would grow up without a mothering influence; this is considered a problem in Elvish society, where childrearing is believed to require energy from both father and mother

So because of those three reasons, Manwë and Mandos decided to allow Elvish remarriage, under certain conditions. Those conditions are outlined in the full Statute, also given in the text:

Marriage is for life, and cannot, therefore, be ended, save by the interruption of death without return. 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.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 2: The Second Phase Chapter 3: "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" Of the Severance of Marriage

There is one final reason, which Mandos hints at near the end of the debate; Mandos has a certain power of foretelling, and he predicts that allowing Finwë and Indis to have children will have massive (beneficial) consequences:

'Hearken now, O Valar! To me foretelling is granted no less than doom, and I will proclaim now to you things both near and far. [...] [T]he children of Indis shall also be great, and the Tale of Arda more glorious because of their coming. And from them shall spring things so fair that no tears shall dim their beauty; in whose being the Valar, and the Kindreds both of Elves and of Men that are to come shall all have part, and in whose deeds they shall rejoice. So that, long hence when all that here is, and seemeth yet fair and impregnable, shall nonetheless have faded and passed away, the Light of Aman shall not wholly cease among the free peoples of Arda until the End.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 2: The Second Phase Chapter 3: "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" Of the Severance of Marriage

And its worth pointing out just who is descended from this union:

  • Eärendil (instrumental in ending the War of the Jewels and the direct dominion of Morgoth)
  • Aragorn and Arwen (who restored the Race of Men to its nobility)
  • Gil-galad (instrumental in the Battle of the Last Alliance)
  • Galadriel (instrumental in bringing about Sauron's final defeat)
  • Earendil fought in the War of Wrath not Jewels lol – Fingolfin Jan 12 '16 at 4:42
  • 1
    @Fingolfin The War of Wrath came later; that was the Host of Valinor versus Morgoth, which Eärendil initiated by travelling to Aman, which resulted in Morgoth being cast out of the world. The War of the Jewels was the Age-long conflict between Morgoth and the Noldor over possession of the Silmarils – Jason Baker Jan 12 '16 at 4:43
  • i thought the War of the Jewels was the Valar vs Morgoth in the Years of the Lamps before the awakening of the Elves? – Fingolfin Jan 12 '16 at 5:28
  • 1
    @Fingolfin no. The jewels in the title should give it away, they refer to the silmarils. The Elves don't know much about the battles before their awakening. – user46509 Jan 12 '16 at 9:12
  • @AncalagonTheBlack probably right but then what was the war before the awaking of the elves called? – Fingolfin Jan 12 '16 at 17:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.