Maedhros

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Character
Name: Maedhros, Nelyafinwë Maitimo, Nelyo, Russandol
Occupation:
Title/Rank: Prince of the Noldorin Elves
Location: Valinor, Formenos, Beleriand, Himring
Status:
Relationships: son of Fëanor and Nerdanel; brother of Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod and Amras; grandson of Finwë
Fandom: ' The Silmarillion
Other:
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Maedhros is the firstborn son of Fëanor of the House of Finwë, a division of the Noldorin Elves in J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Silmarillion.

Maedhros in Fanfiction

Popularity in Silmarillion Fanfiction

Maedhros is one of the favorite characters of authors of Silmarillion-based fanfiction. As of 2 September 2012, the Silmarillion Writers' Guild had 338 archived stories about Maedhros, 24% of the stories on that site. On the Henneth-Annûn Story Archive, there were 209 archived stories about Maedhros. Comparing Maedhros to Maglor and Fëanor--two other popular characters in Silmarillion-based fanfiction--Maglor was listed in 263 stories on the SWG (19%) and 190 stories on HASA. On the SWG, 173 stories feature Fëanor (12%), as do 155 stories on HASA. At this point in time, Maedhros appears to be the most popular character in Silmarillion-based fanfiction.

Commonly Explored Episodes in Canon

Although Maedhros lived during the Years of the Trees and for all of the First Age, Silmarillion fanfiction authors tend to focus on a few points in his life. Stories about his early life in Aman are common, especially showing his relationship with his brothers or Fingon, his cousin. Stories focusing on the Oath of the Fëanorians are common. Authors often write about his refusal to aid his father in burning the ships at Losgar that were intended to carry Fingolfin's people across the sea to Middle-earth.

One of the most commonly explored episodes in Maedhros's life is his imprisonment by Melkor, his torment on Thangorodrim, and the loss of his hand during Fingon's daring rescue of him. Authors often use this episode to explore Maedhros's relationship with his cousin or to consider how Maedhros's identity changed with his imprisonment and the loss of his hand.

Although most of Maedhros's life in Beleriand was spent ruling Himring and guarding the northeast of Beleriand against Melkor, the events of this time period is only rarely explored in fanfiction about Maedhros. More often, this time period is used to explore his character and his relationships, particularly with Fingon. The Battle of Unnumbered Tears-- an obvious turning point in Maedhros's life--receives more attention in fanfiction. The kinslaying at Doriath receives some attention, particularly Maedhros's attempted rescue of Eluréd and Elurín. Likewise, the kinslaying at Sirion receives some attention. Occasionally, Maedhros's suicide is treated, particularly the effect that the burning of his hand by the Silmaril had on his mental state.

J.R.R. Tolkien took considerable care with the naming of his characters and often revised the names continuously throughout multiple drafts of his work. Maedhros is no exception. The names of the sons of Fëanor were also explained in somewhat greater detail in the essay The Shibboleth of Fëanor that appears in volume 12 of the History of Middle-earth series. In this essay, Tolkien provided a mother-name, a father-name, and two nicknames in Quenya for Maedhros, with translations of each. Many writers have used these names as inspiration for fanfiction, describing how Maedhros earned a particular name, perceived that name at various points of his life (e.g., his reaction to the name Maitimo, meaning "well-shaped one," after the loss of his hand), or chose his preferred name of address.

Characterization

Although the House of Fëanor is a controversial group of characters in the Silmarillion fandom, most writers depict Maedhros relatively positively, especially compared to his father and some of his brothers. Maedhros is generally seen as a morally good character tried by difficult circumstances and a family prone to pride and rash violence. His story is often viewed as illustrating the theme of a Fall that Tolkien often employed in his writings: an otherwise good character, corrupted by pride or want of power, makes a decision that initiates his downfall. In Maedhros's case, that fall begins when he joins his father and brothers in their heretical oath to reclaim the Silmarils at any cost. Nonetheless, his behavior at Losgar, his relinquishing of the crown, and his attempted rescue of Eluréd and Elurín show redeeming qualities that many fan writers seem to find makes Maedhros a complex and intriguing character to write.

Maedhros and Fingon

Stories about Maedhros often also feature his cousin Fingon and explore their relationship, either as friends or as lovers. As of 3 September 2012, 175 (52%) of the stories about Maedhros on the SWG also list Fingon as a major character.

One of the most popular pairings in the Silmarillion fandom is Maedhros/Fingon. On the SWG, as of 3 September 2012, 59 (34%) of the stories featuring Maedhros and Fingon also list slash as a genre. Fans of the pairing point to the characters' obvious devotion to each other: Maedhros's particular mention of Fingon when standing up to Fëanor at Losgar, Fingon's daring rescue of Maedhros from Thangorodrim, and the continued allegiance between the two during the Siege of Angband.

The popularity of the Maedhros/Fingon pairing draws its share of disdain as well. Other stories focus on the friendship between Maedhros and Fingon rather than a romantic or sexual relationship.

Maedhros in Fanon

As with all of the characters in The Silmarillion, Maedhros's character requires a good deal of analysis, speculation, and invention on the parts of fanfiction authors who wish to write about him. Maedhros--although a key character in the book--is only mentioned 88 times in the published Silmarillion. The History of Middle-earth series provides some additional details, but not many. As a result, fanon conventions often determine how Maedhros is depicted in Silmarillion-based fanfiction.

Relationships with Other Characters

Maedhros is often depicted as being in opposition to Fëanor or at least more reluctant than his brothers to follow their father's whims. Maedhros did oppose Fëanor at Losgar but little else from the texts supports this idea. Maedhros and Fëanor's relationship is often depicted as rocky. In contrast, his relationship with his mother Nerdanel is usually portrayed positively.

Maedhros often appears in stories alongside his brother Maglor in fanfiction. As of 3 September 2012, 153 (45%) of the stories about Maedhros archived on the SWG also list Maglor as a major character. Maedhros is usually shown as the dominant character who makes the decisions, not Maglor. Contrasted with Maedhros's appearance in stories with his other brothers, the trend becomes even more obvious (from the Silmarillion Writers' Guild, 3 September 2012):

Appearance of Maedhros with His Brothers as Major Characters in Fanfiction
Maglor 153 stories 45%
Celegorm 60 stories 18%
Caranthir 53 stories 16%
Curufin 50 stories 15%
Amrod 40 stories 12%
Amras 38 stories 11%
All Brothers 22 stories 7%

Canonically, Maedhros and Maglor have geographically close realms in Beleriand (and Maglor flees to Maedhros's fortress in Himring when his realm is captured by Melkor), and they survive the longest of the sons of Fëanor. Otherwise, the texts show little to suggest the close friendship that fans often depict in their stories.

In most stories where Maedhros appears with his brothers, he is shown as displaying strong protective instincts toward his brothers. He is often shown as feeling frustrated by his inability to curb their tendencies toward violence.

Mental Illness

Maedhros is often shown as mentally ill or unstable in fanfiction, particularly following his captivity by Melkor. He is frequently depicted as a victim of trauma, often suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms from torture. Fingon's death during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears is also sometimes employed as a traumatic event that causes Maedhros's mental state to deteriorate. Often this is used to explain his participation in the kinslayings at Doriath and Sirion and, eventually, his suicide.

Behavior at Sirion

During the kinslaying at Sirion, Maglor adopted the twins Elrond and Elros. During this scene, Maedhros is often shown as threatening to kill the children prior to Maglor's intervention; this never happened in the texts but is a popular fanon. Research conducted on this fanon by Dawn Felagund revealed that 41% of Tolkien fans surveyed either thought that this was an event from The Silmarillion or weren't sure, attesting to the strength of this particular fanon. [1] MithLuin suggests that the well-known painting And Maglor Took Pity on Them by the Tolkien fan artist Kasiopea may have strengthened this fanon, as Maedhros's drawn sword and the twins' defensive posture suggests that he threatened harm to the children before being stayed by Maglor.[2]

Fan art

Maedhros is a popular subject for fan art. Fan artists include Kasiopea and Jenny Dolfen.

Example Fanfiction

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

References

  1. Dawn Felagund. Take Pity upon Him: Did Maedhros Really Threaten to Kill Elrond and Elros at the Third Kinslaying?, accessed 3 September 2012.
  2. MithLuin. Comment on "A Poll to Humor Your Statistically Inclined Hostess ...", accessed 3 September 2012.