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I personally think he was just troubled and was not in the right state of mind, after all he went through many events that made him bitter to his very end:

  1. The death of his mother Miriel
  2. His Father taking up another wife and having kids with her
  3. Having a rivalry with Fingolfin
  4. His father being murdered by Morgoth
  5. Morgoth stealing his silmarils and hauling @$$ to Beleriand

Yes caused a kinslaying of elves and burned their ships but I don't think he was thinking clearly as to what he did. Death and jealousy can make anyone act rash and foolhardy at times and I think Fëanor was suffering from elvish PTSD and was just hellbent on seeking revenge for his father's death ( seriously who wouldn't want to avenge their parent's murder) and the thievery of his jewels that he crafted from the two trees of Valinor.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Mike Scott, Radhil, Himarm, Adamant, Ward Sep 15 '16 at 17:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • @Fingolin I agree that he probably had a mental illness. The issue is he continues sending elves to pointless deaths fighting Morgoroth even after he should have calmed down and let his army leave/return back to the Valinor. – Bellerophon Jul 26 '16 at 9:39
  • Remarrying and moving on with life is so horrible your kids will be driven to evil deeds? Sounds like Fingolfin has some step-mom issues. :D – PoloHoleSet Jul 26 '16 at 13:34
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    @AndrewMattson Keep in mind that this remarriage is something so momentous and controversial that the Valar called a council to decide whether it should go forward. – Matt Gutting Jul 26 '16 at 14:14
  • @Matt Gutting - My comment was strictly tongue-in-cheek, which is why I put the big smiley at the end of it. – PoloHoleSet Jul 26 '16 at 14:25
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    Oh and I can't put tongue in cheek without severely hurting my tongue. (Of course I had to try.) – Matt Gutting Jul 26 '16 at 14:27
9

To be blunt, Fëanor was a jerk before half those things happened.

His first really big moment of being a jerk (at least in the morality of Tolkien) comes when he refuses to let Nienna use the Silmarils to heal the trees. Being a maker, a craftsman, is always a dangerous thing in Tolkien, because you run the risk of loving your subcreations too much.

Yes, it was appalling that the Valar invited the Noldor to live with them, and then couldn't stop one of their own from killing their leader. But repudiating the Valar and going off with tiny pointed bits of metal to get their stolen jewels back from essentially a god was a really stupid idea, and got a lot of people killed.

Turin goes a little crazy with grief after killing Beleg. That's not how Fëanor acts at all. Fëanor's behavior from start to finish was intended to look selfish, not traumatized.

1

Fëanor wasn't bad, but he may have been wrong. There's a distinct difference between evil and sin.

Sin in the Christian faith is depicted as human's natural desires, lusts and dreams. The pride that a father feels when he's down and out on his backside, and someone offers him a handout which he refuses is viewed as a sin in their faith.

Evil on the other hand, is viewed distinctly as the opposite of god's works.

Fëanor's actions were a direct result of his emotions. Love of his father, jealousy of his brothers, the anger due to Melkor/Morgoth's treachery. These are sins which are repent-able in the christian faith.

We've seen in other questions and responses that Tolkien seems to have some Catholic influence. So it wouldn't be surprising that he depicts the actions of his characters based on a scale of good-to-bad based on that faith.

There's also another factor to take into consideration. Relativity/Viewpoint. A Teleri Elf would find Fëanor incredibly evil, since he's taking their life! Whereas a Noldor elf would see that Fëanor is doing what is necessary for the good of his direct kin.

TL:DR Not evil/bad, just unethically self-vindicated and emotionally unstable. He was taken to the Halls of Mandos until the final battle, so it seems that even the Valar saw this in Fëanor and allowed him.

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    I'm not at all sure that your description of sin, in particular, adequately reflects the Catholic teaching Tolkien would have received. Where did you get that? – Matt Gutting Jul 26 '16 at 11:01
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    Your definition of sin I don't think would be accepted by any person who would describe themselves as "Christian." Sin means to "miss the mark." Think of darts, you hit anything but bullseye, you've committed sin, which is evil, because unlike darts, when we miss bad things always happen. Doing it for kicks or by accident makes no difference in being able to classify it as an evil. The mark here, in Christianity, is God's standard. God's standard is perfection. Anything short of that is sin. For all have sinned and fall short of Glory of God Rom 3:23. – user59079 Jul 26 '16 at 12:32
  • Many Noldor didn't find the attack on the Teleri to be necessary. Finarfin's host did not take part in the attack, and eventually turned back and returned to Valinor. – chepner Aug 28 at 23:18

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