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I know the Gift of Men was to leave the Circles of the World, but does Tolkien ever discuss the further fate of Men? Does he talk about Heaven, Hell or Purgatory?

I remember allusions to these concepts in the fate of the Elves, and how they may be kept in the Halls of Mandos for longer or shorter periods before possibly taking up their lives again in Valinor (and maybe even returning to the East). Is there a similar discussion/explanation for the fate of Men?

  • He left that as a mistery as far as I know. There's quite some speculation, though, because he told quite a bit about what's outside of Arda... – Mithoron Sep 24 at 16:54
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    I think I remember one of the books (not sure which, maybe the Silmarillion) making a specific point about the ultimate fate and purpose of Men being unknown to anyone but Iluvatar. – Misha R Sep 24 at 16:57
  • @Mithoron yeah, I didn't recall anything specific, but I was reading some of the questions, answers and comments about the origin and ultimate fate of the Orcs, and I was wondering how the fates of the other sentient beings might speak to that of the Orcs – Quasi_Stomach Sep 24 at 16:57
  • @MishaR I think I recall that too, but much that shouldn't have been known to men or elves was still written, so I was hoping that there was something (even if it were in a letter or unfinished work) that might mention it. – Quasi_Stomach Sep 24 at 16:59
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    @Johan I was thinking Silmarillion mostly, it's enough to speculate if Void and Timeless Halls are approximations of heaven and hell. – Mithoron Sep 25 at 22:58
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No, Tolkien never wrote in any published works about a Heaven or Hell for Men, however he may have hinted at a possible afterlife for Men. As you've already stated, it was the "Gift of Men" to leave the Circles of the World and be freed from Arda. Although what this is is never discussed, Aragorn states in the Appendices to the Lord of the Rings that:

In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!
Return of the King, Appendix A: A Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

Some people speculate that Utumno was the equivalent of Hell, although that was created by Melkor.

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This is not canon, because Christopher explicitly edited out references to Dagor Dagorath in the final published Silmarillion (due to a note in John's last draft that Mandos' prophecy was never heard by any but the Valar). However in earlier versions, the book concluded with Mandos telling a prophecy of the end of the world, which would describe Melkor being finally killed by a reincarnated Tūrin. From what I remember,

At Dagor Dagorath, humans who died in Arda will be reborn to fight in the final battle, and when the universe is remade humans progress into the second universe (Second Song of the Ainur) while the elves remain in what is left of Arda.

  • I seem to recall that there are also versions in the Lost Tales where it's Eönwë who kills Melkor, after Melkor causes Arien's death, but they both involve Melkor busting out of the Doors of Night and killing Arien. – Fodagus Sep 25 at 20:32
  • After the final battle, both Elves and Men (and presumably Dwarves?) would participate along with the Ainur in the creation of a new Arda. – chepner Sep 27 at 13:42

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