Character You Pity Most
That would probably be Turin Turambor:
|Cover illustration for "The Children of Hurin" by Alan Lee|
The Children of Hurin is my least favourite of all of Tolkien's stories. It is very bleak, and there is almost nothing hopeful about it at all. I think the original story was written around the time of the Great War, which no doubt influenced the tone of the narrative, but it was a story to which Tolkien returned numerous times throughout his life, so there is obvious something about it that I am missing.
A quick summary of the story runs like this. Turin's father, Hurin, was a great warrior. His life was dedicated to the battle against Morgoth, who eventually captured him, laid a curse upon his family, and chained the poor man to a chair in a high place, where he is forced to watch it unfold. Turin himself grew to be a great warrior and an "Elf-friend" but he had a terribly temper, was very rash and stubborn and proud, and he repeatedly ignores good counsel, even when it comes from one of the Valar. Nothing Turin puts his hand to turns out right. What friends he is able to make, he ends up alienating, or getting killed - indeed, when his one, true friend, Beleg, is attempting to rescue him from captivity, he mistakes the elf for an orc and slays him with his own hand. The city of Nargothrond was destroyed by Morgoth for sheltering Turin, the elf-maid, Finduilas, with whose safety he was charged, was captured and died before he could save her. His whole life is a series of misadventures of this sort - orchestrated by Morgoth's curse, of course, but greatly acerbated by his own prideful temperament. Eventually, as the failures and misfortunes pile up, and every choice he makes turns ill, Turin falls into a madness of rage and despair, and ends up killing himself.
The tragedy of Turin is not so much that a curse was laid upon him, but that he was a flawed and fallen man, who never really responded to the moments of grace that were given to him. His cousin, Tuor, whose story is told in counter-point to Turin's - a reoccurring devise in Tolkien's writing, when he is exploring the themes of sin and grace - similarly suffers misfortune through out his life, but he accepts those moments of grace, so while his life was rather sad, it is not the black hell which Turin endures. Turin had the potential to be one of the greatest of warriors, in the history of Middle Earth, but through his own fault, simply becomes the most tragic.
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