Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice Aug21

Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice...

Ages before the romance of Aragorn and Arwen, Middle-earth was home to a Man named Beren and an Elf maiden named Lúthien Tinúviel. The story of their romance became one of the pillars for J.R.R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth, as well as a foreshadowing of the love between Aragorn and Arwen. The most well-known version of the Beren and Lúthien story exists in The Silmarillion, but Tolkien wrote several versions of the tale—not all of them complete—and this past June, these versions were released in a single compilation, edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. In the earliest version of the Beren and Lúthien story—entitled “The Tale of Tinúviel”—Beren is not a Man, but an Elf of the Noldor race. Like Aragorn and Arwen, much of the tension in the Beren and Lúthien story we know comes from the fact that he is mortal, while she is immortal. You would think that, in a version where Beren is immortal, Lúthien’s father wouldn’t mind Beren courting his daughter. Think again. As it turns out, being immortal doesn’t help Beren’s case at all. Long before his time, the Noldor Elves made the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor, but later betrayed the Teleri (another Elven clan) in order to steal ships and return to Middle-earth. Luthien’s people, the Sindar, are related to the Teleri. By the time “The Tale of Tinúviel” takes place, solid prejudice exists between the Noldor and the Sindar. Lúthien’s people thought the Noldor were “treacherous creatures, cruel and faithless.” In turn, “the lies of [Morgoth the Dark Lord] ran among Beren’s folk so that they believed evil things” of Lúthien’s people. These two clans should have been allies, but instead, they mistrusted each other, hardly better than enemies. In my own life, I’ve seen prejudice...