About the Book

Book Protagonist: Eru Iluvatar
Publication Date: 1977
Genre: Fantasy

Themes and Analysis

The Silmarillion

By J.R.R. Tolkien

‘The Silmarillion’ connect themes of the passage of time and the struggle between good and evil. These themes help in the gratifying narration of the book.

The Silmarillion‘ was J.R.R. Tolkien’s fourth book and was published posthumously in 1977 by his son Christopher, four years after his death. In his second and third books, The Hobbit and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, he had stretched what readers expected fantasy fiction to be like and elevated the genre to new heights. The publication of ‘The Silmarillion‘ took his work even higher, creating the first true high-fantasy book in history.

The Silmarillion‘ is a deep and broad book spanning several ages and thousands of years. It deals with themes that affect the human spirit, like loss, love, and arrogance. It also seeks to teach deep lessons about the transient nature of even the strongest and most beautiful works created because, in time, they will crumble and will eventually be lost.

‘The Silmarillion’ is divided into five parts: Ainulindale and Valaquenta, the tale of the Music of the Children of Iluvatar that envisioned the world created, the deeds of the Valar, and their struggles against Melkor; Quenta Silmarillion, which tells of the Awakening of the Elves, the creation of the Silmarils, the killing of the Trees by Melkor, and the wars fought against him by the elves after he stole the Silmarils; Akalabeth, the sad story of the creation of the island kingdom of Numenor, which is gifted to the three Houses of Men who helped the Elves fight Morgoth, and it’s destruction after they challenged the Valar; Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age; this last part tells of the Rings of Power and Sauron forging the One Ring in secret. Following this, war breaks out between Elves, Men, and Dwarves allied to Gil-Galad and Saurons’s forces of orcs and fell creatures.


Bravery Against All Odds

Bravery is one of the most important themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion.’ Bravery is often depicted as one of the most crucial driving forces that propelled the events that occurred in the book. There are several instances where bravery against all odds proved a pivotal point that changed the history of Middle Earth.

After King Thingol gives Beren, a man, the impossible task of bringing back a Silmaril in exchange for the hand of the elf-maiden Luthien in marriage, bravery drives him, Luthien, and Finrod to go on the quest for the Silmaril. When Beren is captured by Sauron, Luthien bravely faces Sauron and defeats him. They then storm Angband, the fortress of the Valar Morgoth, with Luthien singing songs of power, and cut a Silmaril from his crown.

Bravery also plays a part in men’s involvement in wars between powers that are greater than they are. When the three houses of men come into Beleriand, they ally themselves with the elves against Morgoth during the Wars of Beleriand. They are so crucial to the elves in their war that they receive the name Edain, a name of honor that means Elf-friend.

The bravery of men proves pivotal in the fate of the elves of Middle Earth. This fate climaxes when Earendil takes the suicide mission to go to Valinor, forbidden to all inhabitants of Middle Earth, elves and men alike, and pleads with the Valar to come to save Middle Earth from destruction by Morgoth. As a reward for this bravery, the Edain are granted a long lifespan by the Valar. They are also gifted the blessed island of Numenor as their new home.

Fate And Free will 

Fate is an important theme that runs throughout ‘The Silmarillion,’ and it brings pain, suffering, salvation, and glory to many characters in the book. As a subject, fate is so complicated within the circle of Arda that even the Valar, the supreme powers, cannot fully understand it. Before the beginning of the world, after Eru Iluvatar ended the Song, he showed the Valar a vision of the world they had just sung into being, but they did not see the ultimate fate of the world. They also did not see the effects the individual choices of the Children of Iluvatar would have on that fate.  

Free will and fate often clash in the book, which may lead a reader to ask where free will ends and inexorable fate begins. There are three types of fate at work in the book: the ultimate fate is the first, which is preordained by Iluvatar and cannot be escaped by any character, no matter how powerful. Their actions, good or bad, add to the fulfillment of this fate. The second type and second most powerful are curses and inherited fates. After the Kinslaying in Alqualonde, where the Noldor kills their cousins, the Teleri, and steals their ships, Mandos sends his herald to proclaim a curse on them. Though curses are hard to avoid, the Doom of Mandos becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that comes to pass because of the evil nature of the leaders of the Noldor. The third type of fate is one driven by choice and individual actions. The Noldor decides to chase after Morgoth in disobedience of the Valar’s edicts. They also choose to kill their kin and steal their ships. The resulting doom they suffer is a result of the choice they make.


Without acts of violence, ‘The Silmarillion’ will not exist. Melkor, the malevolent Valar, brings violence into the world. His rebellion drives him against Eru Iluvatar and his jealousy of the things created by the other Valar. After he corrupts some of the Maiar, powerful spirits who serve the Valar, to his service, he uses them to wage war on the Valar and destroy the things they created. At the end of the Years of the Trees, Melkor attacks Valinor, the land of the Valar, with the help of the primal spider named Ungoliant and kills the Two Trees, plunging the land into sudden darkness. In the ensuing chaos, he storms the fortress of the Noldor elves to kill Finwe, the king, and steal the Silmaril jewels that house the last lights of the dying trees. The theft of the Jewels and murder of Finwe leads to the War of the Jewels and earns Melkor the name Morgoth, Black Foe of the World.

In haste to pursue Morgoth to take revenge on him and recover the Silmarils, the Prince of the Noldor, and now their King, attacks their kin, the Teleri, who live by the sea because they would not lend him and the Noldor their ships against the wishes of the Valar. Many Teleri die in the attack protecting their ships, and as punishment, the Valar proclaims the Doom of Mandos over them. This Doom foreshadows the violence, death, and anguish that befalls them as they pursue their mission of revenge against Morgoth.

Pride And Arrogance

The world of ‘The Silmarillion’ comes into existence partly because of the pride and arrogance of one Valar, Melkor. He is also the first to exhibit pride and arrogance, showing how destructive both emotions can be. Driven by his pride and desire for power and glory, Melkor changes his part of the Music of the Ainur that Eru Iluvatar taught them. This disrupts the Music and introduces discord and pain into the world brought to being by it. Still, he does not change after he and the rest of the Valar enter Aman to prepare for the coming of the Children of Iluvatar. He frustrates the efforts of his brothers and sisters because he feels he is the most powerful and gifted of the Valar, so he should rule Aman.

Another example of overreaching pride and arrogance lies in Feanor and his seven sons. Feanor is depicted as having a singular will and unreasoning pride. He hardly listens to advice from other people. When he listens, he soon abandons it. These traits he passes unto his sons. In his pride and suspicion that his step-brother coveted his position, Feanor pulls a sword on him, becoming the first being to ever threaten violence in Valinor. After Morgoth destroys the Trees, the Valar pleads with him to surrender the Silmarils, so they will use them to heal them, but his arrogance prevails again. Also, in a singular feat of pride and arrogance, he makes his sons swear an oath to disallow any man, elf, or Valar from standing in their way in the quest to recover the Silmarils from Morgoth. Feanor’s oath proves to be the doom of many who follow him, including himself and all his sons.

In Akallabeth, the tale of the way pride and envy of the immortality given to elves and the Valar cause the fall of the blessed isle of Numenor and the kingdom built upon it is narrated. During the reign of Ar Pharazon, the host of Numenor answers the call for aid sent by the elves of Eregion as they are fighting the War of the Rings against Sauron and his dark forces. The Numenoreans overwhelmed Sauron’s forces, and they abandoned him, leading to his capture. In his pride, Ar Pharazon takes him alive, intending to imprison him in Numenor, but Sauron begins to work his lies on him. Before long, Ar Pharazon falls to Sauron’s deceit, turns away from the worship of Eru Iluvatar, and worships Morgoth. Still hating the Numenoreans for humbling and disgracing him, Sauron plots their downfall. He begins to push Ar Pharazon to attack Valinor and take immortality for himself, hoping that this act will make Valar destroy Numenor. Ar Pharazon lands in Numenor in force and challenges the Valar, but Eru himself intervenes, crushing Ar Pharazon and his men under rocks. This sends a huge wave to destroy Numenor. Only a handful of Numenoreans escape the destruction, including Elendil, whose sons establish the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.

Analysis of Key Moments  

  1. Eru Iluvatar creates the Ainur from his thoughts and teaches them the theme of the Music of the Ainur.
  2. In his pride, the Melkor, first among the Ainur, introduces a theme of his own into the music, causing discord and commotion among the Ainur.
  3. Eru reveals to the Ainur the world they created through their music and sends them into it to build it up and prepare for the Children. 14 Ainur and Melkor answer this call and go down into the new world, which is called Arda.
  4. Melkor creates mischief among the other Valar and tries to frustrate their work because he wants to rule over Arda and the rest of the Valar. For his constant meddling and mischief, Melkor is ejected from the council of the Valar.
  5. Melkor builds his dark army by converting lesser Ainur, the Maiar, into his service and corrupting them into dreadful creatures like the balrogs, vampires, werewolves, and dragons. He builds up Utumno as a fortress of darkness from which he would attack the Valar.
  6. Melkor attacks the Lamps Illuin and Ormal and casts them down, causing widespread destruction, earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires raging across Arda. While the Valar tries to contain the damage, Melkor makes his escape.
  7. The Valar Orome stumbles upon the elves by the waters of Cuivienen, a bay created in the aftermath of the destruction of the Lamps. The Valar goes to war against Melkor to protect the Elves. Melkor is captured, and the elves are invited to Valinor.
  8. After a time, Manwe, the chief of the Valar who is unable to comprehend the extent of the evil within Melkor, judges, reforms, and releases him within Valinor, and he begins fomenting discord once more. He convinces Feanor, eldest of the king of the Noldor and preeminent in wisdom and craft that the Valar intended to limit them and give over Middle Earth to Men who would soon awaken.
  9. Melkor covers the Silmarils, great jewels created by Feanor which bear the Light of the Trees, but when Fearnor refuses him, he seeks the help of the spider creature Ungoliant, and with her help, he destroys the Trees. In the darkness and confusion, Melkor attacks the fortress of the Noldor, kills their king, and steals the Silmarils.
  10. Feanor vows revenge on Melkor, now Morgoth, and leads the Noldor in pursuit of the command of the Valar. They attack and kill many of their kin, the Teleri, and steal their ships. The Doom of Mandos is proclaimed on Feanor, and all that will follow him. The doom quickly takes effect.
  11. Morgoth attacks the elves of Middle Earth, and they seek refuge in the kingdom of Thingol and Melian the Maiar. Melian erects a magical barrier to turn away the forces of Morgoth.
  12. The Valar creates the sun and moon from the last fruits of the dying Trees, the Moon from Telperion, and the Sun from Laurelin. Men first appear at the first rising of the Sun, many of them allying themselves with the elves.
  13. Feanor is mortally wounded in an attack against Morgoth’s fortress in Angband, with only his vanguard for protection. During the attack, a squad of balrogs comes out from Angband with whips of fire.
  14. The Noldor establish themselves in Beleriand, founding various kingdoms like Gondolin and Nargothrond. They lay siege on Angband, but the encirclement is never complete, nor are they able to assault the fortress.
  15. Men enter Beleriand for the first time, and Fingolfin welcomes them into his kingdom. They become allies, though Morgoth tries to corrupt them into his service.
  16. Morgoth breaks the encirclement in a storm of lava and fire, signaling the beginning of the Dagor Bragolach and the end of the Siege of Angband. Morgoth sends forth his dark creatures; balrogs, multitudes of orcs, and Glaurung, the father of dragons.
  17. Beren and Luthien go on a quest to recover a Silmaril after Thingol, Luthien’s father, demands it as dowry for Luthien’s hand in marriage. High King Finrod dies in a fight against a werewolf. Beren and Luthien snatch a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown but are attacked by a werewolf that bites off Beren’s hand holding the Silmaril. The werewolf is hunted down by Beren and his companions and killed, but Beren is mortally wounded. Luthien dies of heartbreak, but they are both resurrected to live as mortals.
  18. The Union of Meadhros comes close to defeating Morgoth and his armies, but they are betrayed by spies and the turning of the Easterling army, which had secretly allied with Morgoth. Many leaders of elves, dwarves, and men are killed, including Fingon, Azaghai, Bor, and Hurin. Huor, the brother of Hurin, is captured and set on a mountain where he can watch the destruction Morgoth causes.
  19. Turin, son of Hurin, is sent to Doriath for safekeeping. He eventually grows to become one of King Thingol’s advisors. Turin advises Thingol to build a bridge that would enable his soldiers to move more freely, but unfortunately, it enables Glaurung to access Doriath and sack it. Turin falls under Glaurung’s spell during the sack, and his sister, Nienor, is captured. Glaurung also wipes her memory and sets her to wander wild and naked. After a time, Turin comes across her and rescues her, but they don’t recognize each other. Turin set out again to find Glaurung. They fight, Glaurung is mortally wounded, and the spell on Nienor is lifted. Nienor finds them as Glaurung lies dying, with Turin passed out nearby. She remembers him as she lost her brother and jumped into the water. When Turin wakes up and realizes what has happened, he kills himself too.
  20. Hurin is finally released, but Morgoth sets watchers after him. They learn of the location of the hidden Gondolin. He recovers Nauglamir from the ruins of Nargothrond, and takes it to King Thingol, who hires dwarves to set his Silmaril in it. After they finish the work, they kill Thingol and sack Doriath, causing Melian to flee to Valinor in her grief. Beren soon returns and kills them all. He eventually sends it to his son, Dior, who has become King of Doriath.
  21. Earendil, the lord of the elves of Sirion, undertakes the voyage to find Valinor and pleads with the Valar to rescue elves and men from the power of Morgoth. The remaining sons of Feanor earlier attacked the Havens of Sirion as they tried to recover the Silmaril, which was eventually recovered by Beren and Luthien and passed to Elwing through her father, King Dior of Doriath. Elwing throws herself into the sea to prevent the children of Feanor from capturing the Silmaril. When the Valar sees her sacrifice, they turn Elwing into a swan, which helps her find Earendil. With the help of the Silmaril, they are able to find Valinor and gain entrance.
  22. The Valar attack Morgoth, totally defeating him and sacking his strongholds. The Valar captures and cripples him, binding him with an unbreakable chain. He is thrown into the timeless void. Gifts are given to the three kindreds of the Edain, Men who have fought side by side with the elves from the beginning. They are given the blessed island of Numenor. Earendil and Elwing, both descended from elves, are given the choice of the immortality of the elves or the mortality of men. They choose to be immortal and live in Valinor.
  23. The Numenoreans prosper under the blessing of the Valar, but they soon begin to rebel. After Ar Pharazon attacks the forces of Sauron, servant of Morgoth, in aid of the elves, and captures him. Sauron soon corrupts his heart and completely turns him against the Valar. In jealousy of the prosperity of Numenor and malice for his defeat, he convinces Ar Pharazon to invade Valinor and claim immortality. Numenor is finally destroyed by Eru Iluvatar, but some of the faithful in the line of Earendil survive and settle in Middle Earth. They establish the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.
  24. The Valar gives the same options to Earendil and Elwing’s children, Elrond and Elros. Elrond chooses immortality, but Elros decides to remain mortal. Elros and his descendants are given the gift of long life and the power to choose when to leave Arda.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language

‘The Silmarillion’ is regarded as the best fantasy book ever written, and the author, J.R.R. Tolkien, is regarded as the father of High Fantasy. The story is told in the style of Viking sagas from which the author drew inspiration. ‘The Silmarillion’ is a compilation of interrelated epic fantasy stories told from the perspective of an omnipresent and distant storyteller.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s rich powers of world-building and his gift for creating vivid characters made his book into a cultural icon that has influenced the fantasy genre for nearly a century.

Analysis of Key Symbols


In ‘The Silmarillion,’ JRR Tolkien uses music to create the universe and the world within it. The Music of the Ainur creates the world and everything that come to live within it, including all the events that happen in it. The songs of the Valar, Maia, and elves also carry great powers of enchantment and magic. Yavanah’s songs create the Two Trees and many other living things. Luthien’s songs of enchantment put Morgoth and his minions to sleep.


Light in ‘The Silmarillion‘ symbolizes purity, innocence, beauty, and hope. The forces of the dark cannot bear its presence, and they hate it. Morgoth destroys the Two Trees because he envies the Valar. Varda creates the stars to give light to Middle-Earth, and the first of the elves wake up as the first stars rise. The stars and Varda forever become sacred to them. After the destruction of the Trees, the Valar creates the sun from the seed of Laurelin, and the servants of Morgoth flee and hide far underground as it rises.


In ‘The Silmarillion,’ darkness is portrayed as an ambiguous force. It could be restorative in the hands of beings that mean well, or it could spread fear, confusion, or helplessness in the hands of beings that serve evil. Varda uses it to heal and restore the living things in Aman after Morgoth destroys the Lamps, and Luthien uses it as a refuge as she and Beren escape from Angband. On the other hand, Morgoth uses it to hide his machinations and to confuse and frighten his enemies.


What are the themes in ‘The Silmarillion?’

Some of the themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion’ include bravery against all odds, exemplified by Beren’s quest for the Silmaril during which he went up against powerful spiritual beings like Sauron and Morgoth himself. Another theme in the book is fate and free will, shown by Luthien’s choice of forsaking the fate of the elves to die as a mortal woman so she can save Beren’s life. Other themes include valor, violence, pride, and arrogance.

Why was Arda made? 

After the Ainur made their Music which was introduced by Eru Iluvatar, Eru decided to show them the result and manifestation of their music. He wanted to show the Ainur, most especially Melkor, that all they are and all they do come from him, and that they will add to the beauty of His purpose in the end.

Why did Feanor refuse to hand the silmaril over to Varda? 

The three silmarils were the greatest of Feanor’s creations. They were the most beautiful jewels ever made, and Feanor had poured much of his life’s force into them. Aside from his great pride and arrogance, he felt that breaking the Silmarils would be equivalent to breaking his spirit.

What is the doom of Mandos?

The doom of Mandos is a curse laid on the Noldor, especially the House of Feanor and their followers, for the killing of the Teleri on the beaches of Alqualonde. The Valar proclaimed that they would be killed, betrayed, and defeated in everything they aimed to achieve, and they would shed unnumbered tears.

Fave Ehimwenma
About Fave Ehimwenma
Fave Ehimwenma is a proficient writer, researcher, and content creator whose love for art and books drives her passion for literature reviews.
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