The Constitution of Evil in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion

A fantastic leaving gift from a lovely fellow Tolkien fan; a full essay on the essence of evil in this book is coming soon…

The Silmarillion is the work of Tolkien’s heart, which explores a vast spectrum of philosophical and theological themes including one of the most researched topics of the ages: the constitution of evil. The topic of the nature of evil in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit has gained widespread popularity in recent decades and has been widely described by scholars. However concerning The Silmarillion; it is surprisingly limited. The narrative structure of The Silmarillion introduces a different image of evil from the image of evil presented in other works. Moreover this image is in contradiction with Tolkien’s view of evil and good in which good is absolute and evil is just its absence, the shadow of good. Evil in The Silmarillion is a more powerful and more progenitive force than good; it spreads itself very quickly in a shape of darkness and corrupts everything around. Hope and good luck turn into despair and sadness and even good intentions almost always turn out badly. In order to understand the contradiction between Tolkien’s own beliefs about evil and the image of evil in The Silmarillion, it is necessary to examine Tolkien’s views of evil and compare them with the position of Tolkien’s critics on his views of good and evil. Next, the role of evil in the creation of the world will be considered and its part in the shaping of Middle-Earth. Darkness, Melkor and their servants represent evil in Tolkien’s fiction therefore it is important to discuss their origin, nature and active role in the war with good. Finally, examples of the different presentation of evil between The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion will be introduced. It seems like the nature of evil in The Silmarillion is more powerful, complicated and complex than in other works of Tolkien. Therefore, it can be argued that evil in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion is absolute and a more powerful force than good.