Fëanor’s Nietzscheanism, Dionysianism

Fëanor is one of Tolkien’s most tragic characters, not only in the classical sense discussed by Aristotle in his Poetics, but also in the sense developed by Nietzsche in that other landmark analysis of the ancient genre, The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music. I hope someday to develop the Nietzschean undertones of Feanor’s character, motives, and speeches (undergraduate thesis, anyone?), but for a teaser, here are a couple of passages juxtaposing Fëanor’s demagoguery in persuading the Noldor to leave Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and Nietzsche’s (remarkably similar in spirit) exhortation to a Dionysian renunciation of the complacent life and the affirmation of forging one’s character and hearty-hood through the hammer and anvil of conflict and strife:

“‘Fair shall the end be,’ he [Fëanor] cried, ‘though long and hard shall be the road! Say farewell to bondage! But say farewell also to ease! Say farewell to the weak! Say farewell to your treasures! More still shall we make… But if any will come with me, I say to them: Is sorrow foreboded to you? But in Aman we have seen it. In Aman we have come through bliss to woe. The other now we will try: through sorrow to find joy; or freedom, at the least.’” (Silmarillion, “Of the Flight of the Noldor,” 83, 85)

“Yes, my friends, believe with me in Dionysian life and the rebirth of tragedy. The age of the Socratic man is over… Only dare to be tragic men; for you are to be redeemed… Prepare yourselves for hard strife, but believe in the miracles of your god.” (Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, sect. 20)

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3 thoughts on “Fëanor’s Nietzscheanism, Dionysianism

  1. Pingback: Fëanor, “Spirit of Fire” | The Flame Imperishable

  2. Pingback: Feänor, Tolkien’s (Dantean) Ulysses | The Flame Imperishable

  3. Pingback: Melkor: Tolkien’s critique of Nietzsche’s aesthetic | The Flame Imperishable

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