“The Foreknowledge of Death”

Consuming Sons: The Nihilism of Fëanor and Denethor, part 5

The previous post ended on the seemingly inevitable doom and futility involved in the oath of Fëanor and his sons. So long as there is the possibility, however, that the quest to which Fëanor and his sons swear themselves may yet be achieved, it may seem uncertain that Fëanor has purposely or knowingly committed himself and his sons to their own utter destruction. All doubt, however, is removed when Fëanor, in his final moments,

beheld far off the peaks of Thangorodrim, mightiest of the towers of Middle-earth, and knew with the foreknowledge of death that no power of the Noldor would ever overthrow them; but he cursed the name of Morgoth thrice, and laid it upon his sons to hold to their oath, and to avenge their father. Then he died…

On his death bed Fëanor now knows that his war on Morgoth is vain. Instead of having them repent of their oath (itself one of the consuming consequences of their oath?), however, Fëanor demands that his sons continue to carry out their hopeless task anyway. In doing so, Fëanor is virtually guaranteeing their destruction, yet for the madness of Fëanor, his own sons’ lives is none too high a price to pay that they might “avenge their father.”

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