The story of Beren and Lúthien, summarised by Aragorn (Strider), can be found in more detail in the Silmarillion and The Lays of Beleriand, both published by Christopher Tolkien after his father’s death. The theme of a mortal man loving an elf maiden occurs several times in Tolkien’s mythology, and it foreshadows the fate of one of the main characters in The Lord of the Rings.
The story of Beren and Lúthien was one of Tolkien’s particular favourites. He imagined his wife Edith as his Lúthien, inspired by a time when she danced for him in the woods. When she died he had the name Lúthien inscribed on her gravestone, and after his own death he was buried with her, under the name Beren. The engravings read:
Edith Mary Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Similarities have been noted between the story of Beren and Lúthien and the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen.
" In those days the Great Enemy, of whom Sauron of Mordor was but a servant, dwelt in Angband in the North, and the Elves of the West coming back to Middle-earth made war upon him to regain the Silmarils which he had stolen "
The Silmarils were captivating jewels made by Fёanor (one of the Noldorin Elves who came to Valinor) that were able to hold inside them some of the light from the Two Trees. When Morgoth stole the jewels and poisoned the Trees, Valinor was left in perpetual twilight. The Noldorin Elves were furious, and swore an oath to return the Silmarils. The Valar did not wish the elves to leave, but Fёanor and the Noldor disobeyed them, causing the exile of their people from Valinor. After this the Undying Lands were closed to the elves.
Fёanor and the Noldor returned to Middle-earth and fought a war against Morgoth that lasted for centuries, during which Fёanor was slain. One Silmaril was recovered by Beren and Lúthien, and brought back by Eärendil the Mariner. Eventually, the Valar took pity on the people of Middle-earth and came themselves to destroy Morgoth. In the ensuing battle, Morgoth’s fortress of Thangorodrim at Angband was destroyed and the Great Enemy defeated. The Silmarils were recovered, but two were lost forever, one beneath the earth and one in the sea. The one that had been recovered by Beren and Lúthien was placed in the sky by Elbereth as a symbol of hope for the people of Middle-earth. At the beginning of the Second Age the Noldorin Elves were allowed to return to Valinor, but many chose to remain for a time in Middle-earth, becoming known as High Elves (see bookmark for page 104).
Note: Fёanor also created the palantírs, or seeing-stones, that will appear later in Lord of the Rings, and perfected the Tengwar script used by the elves (see bookmark for page 66).
In Tolkien’s world there are only three mortal men ever to have married elves, and all the half-elven can be found in the same family tree. The half-elven Eärendil was the son of the elf Idril and the man Tuor. He married Elwing, the grand-daughter of the elf Lúthien and the man Beren. Eärendil and Elwing’s children were Elrond and Elros. These two were given the choice of whether they would like to embrace their mortal side, or continue to live among the elves. Elrond chose his elvish side and immortal life (he is now over 6000 years old) . Elros chose to be mortal, and became the first of the Númenorian Kings. Aragorn (Strider) is descended from Elros’ line. Elrond’s daughter, Arwen, is also half-elven and she too has been faced with the choice of whether to embrace mortal or immortal existence. Her choice is told in the appendices of Return of the King.
N.B. ‘Half-elven’ refers to any elf descended from men and elves, rather than those who are literally half-elf. E.g. Elrond Halfelven is actually 3/8th man, 9/16th elf, and 1/16th maiar!
This is a reference to an episode in The Hobbit, when three trolls captured Bilbo and the dwarves. They were so absorbed with arguing over how to cook their dinner, that they were caught by the dawn and turned to stone.
Trolls can be found in Norse mythology as strange and sometimes magical creatures, humanoid in appearance, and ranging in size from giants to smaller folk living in caves. They are not always evil, but often devious, dangerous or tricky. Trolls are also common in fairytales and fantasy fiction. In the latter they are usually portrayed as large, brutish and stupid monsters that have a taste for human (or dwarf/hobbit) flesh, as in The Hobbit.
" Troll sat alone on his seat of stone "