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The History of Middle-earth (chibi version) - Part 118: To die, to sleep

22nd April 2014 (13:39)

Yesterday was a bank holiday, that's my excuse. :) Also, I annoyingly managed to save over my file of today's cartoon when I created #119 based off the same artwork as #118, and forgot to change the file name before saving it. So I had to redo the thing...

As a bonus, my comment to this thread talks about the creation process for this particular cartoon, which maybe some of you will find interesting.

Part 118: To die, to sleep

Next time: Part 119: Perchance to dream

Chibis by tektek.org
Original story by and copyright to J R R Tolkien, ed. C Tolkien: Primarily based on the Silmarillion, but incorporating ideas from the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series.
Questions and comments welcome!


Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd April 2014 12:42 (UTC)

Since I realise not everyone has read History of Middle-earth, here's the relevant text for this part:


But when Míriel still languished, Finwë sought the counsel of Manwë, and Manwë delivered her to the care of Irmo in Lorien. At their parting (for a little while as he thought) Finwë was sad, for it seemed an unhappy chance that the mother should depart and miss the beginning at least of the childhood days of her son.

"Unhappy it is indeed", said Míriel, "And I would weep, if I were not so weary. But hold me blameless in this, and in all that may come after. Rest now I must. Farewell, dear lord!"

She spoke no clearer than this at that time, but in her heart she yearned not only for sleep and rest but release from the labour of living. She went then to Lorien and laid her down to sleep beneath a silver tree: but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body (...)


In creating the cartoon, I kept the essential elements - Finwë asking Manwë's advice, Manwë sending Míriel to the gardens of Lórien under Irmo's care, and Míriel lying down to sleep but instead dying. I also kept the cosmetic detail of the silver tree (and a bed of flowers is also mentioned in a different draft) because I think it's a good idea to occasionally have scenery and not just people in the cartoons.

I normally modernise the dialogue instead of keeping Tolkien's original prose, as an element of my own style for these cartoons; but I decided to keep the line "I would weep, if I were not so weary" unchanged because it's not archaic and I think it's just so iconically written.

I also, as a general principle, try to play up the roles of the female characters in the story when I can do so without altering canon, since Tolkien often neglected that to the point of imbalance. Thus, the text doesn't actually say that Míriel was even present when Finwë discussed her health issues with Manwë, but it seemed kind of ridiculous for her not to be there. Likewise, Irmo and Estë are a married couple and Míriel is basically going to stay at their house, so it seemed natural for them both to be involved when she's welcomed there. Also, Estë is the Vala of Sleep & Healing while Irmo is the Vala of Dreams, so Míriel's care falls under Estë's specific area of responsibility.

The final exchange is purely my own invention (and my own attempt at humour). It is, however, intended to convey an overall idea which is present in canon, that the Valar were baffled by Míriel's death, and struggled to understand how it could have happened. Nobody had ever died in the Undying Lands before.

The title is meant to reflect on the parallel between Míriel sleeping and dying. It also means I can keep on quoting Hamlet for future cartoon titles until it stops being relevant. :)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 22nd April 2014 16:11 (UTC)

"Oh no, her eyes have turned into X's... that's a really bad sign."

Poor Miriel.

(What do you do on a "bank holiday" anyway? Dress up as pound notes and exchange chocolate coins?)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 22nd April 2014 17:47 (UTC)

It's called a bank holiday because the banks are on holiday. Essentially, any financial transaction which would normally be due on a bank holiday can, instead, be deferred until the following working day instead.

"No person shall be compellable to make any payment or to do any act on a bank holiday under this Act which he would not be compellable to make or do on Christmas Day or Good Friday; and where a person would, apart from this subsection, be compellable to make any payment or to do any act on a bank holiday under this Act, his obligation to make the payment or to do the act shall be deemed to be complied with if he makes or does it on the next following day on which he is compellable to make or do it."

In effect, a bank holiday is pretty much the same thing as a federal holiday in the US. 26 December (Boxing Day), 1st January, Easter Monday, the first and last Mondays in May and the last Monday in August. Christmas Day and Good Friday are technically not Bank Holidays but Customary Holidays, but follow the same rules.

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