Tolkien Encyclopedia > Man > Purpose and Fate of Man
Purpose and Fate of Man
Fate of Men:
In The Silmarillion,
""Akallabeth", Manwë hears the report of the Eldar that the
Númenórean Men are not happy with their gift of death.
Manwë, grieved at seeing this distubance at a time that should be
great in Númenor, sent messagers to the
Númenóreans who spoke earnestly to the thirteenth King
Tar-Atanamir and all who would listen concerning the fate and fashion
of the world.
"The Valar cannot take away the gifts of
Ilúvatar." The Eldar do not die and it has nothing to do with
reward or punishment but of their nature. "'They [Elves] cannot escape,
and are bound to this world, never to leave it so long as it lasts, for
its life is theirs." "'...so it is that you die. But that was not
at first appointed for a punishment. Thus you escape, and leave the
world, and are not bound to it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us
therefore should envy the others?" "...your home is not here,
neither in the Land of Aman nor anywhere within the Circles of the
World." "Hope...that in the end even the least of your desires shall
have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar,
and he does not plant to no purpose. Nonetheless, many ages of Men
unborn may pass ere that purpose is made known; and to you it will be
revealed and not to the Valar."
Purpose of Men:
In The Book of Lost Tales I,
"The Music of the Ainur", Rumil tells the tale of Eru Ilúvatar's
action after many of the Valar left to inhabit the World.
Ilúvatar knows that when the Eldar come, they will be the
fairest and most lovely, deeper in the knowledge of beauty and happier
than Men. Then Ilúvatar tells of the gift to Men defining their
"'But to Men I will
give a new gift, and a greater.' Therefore he devised that Men should
have a free virtue whereby within the limits of the powers and
substances and chances of the world they might fashion and design their
life beyond even the original Music of the Ainur that is as fate to all
things else. This he did that of their operations everything should in
shape and deed be completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and
Since this gift is so drastic and far-reaching, Ilúvatar bounds the time of use:
knew that Men set amid the turmoils of the Ainur would not be ever of a
mind to use that gift in harmony with his intent, but thereto he said:
'These too in their time shall find that all they have done, even the
ugliest of deeds or works, rebounds at the end only to my glory, and is
tributary to the beauty of the world.' Yet the Ainur say that the
thought of Men is at times a grief even to Ilúvatar..." "It is
however of one with this gift of power that the Children of Men dwell
only a short time in the world alive, yet do not perish utterly for
ever, whereas the Eldar dwell til the Great End unless they be slain or
waste in grief..."
"Akallabeth", The Silmarillion. pp. 326, 327, 328 Ballantine Books, division of Random House. Paperback, 1981.
"The Music of the Ainur", The Book of Lost Tales I.
p. 57 Del Rey of Ballantine Publishing Group, division of Random House.
First Ballantine Books edition. Paperback, copyright 1992.