I’m confused about the existence of destiny in the world of The Lord of the Rings and, subject to it, free will.
Clearly the characters seems to think there is, indeed, free will and the choices to have some meaning on the events that are to unfold. Some other writings reference specifically the whole thing is Illuviatar’s “song” and was planned from the beginning.
I seem to recall some sort of comment from Iluviatar himself to Melkor in the form of “even when you try and sing your own song you’re still following mine." Other reference could be the “dominion of men” age which would only make sense if Sauron actually loses.
This seems to indicate everything was predestined. Is there any writings or reference to indicate whether Tolkien considered the characters had (or not) free will?