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The Boy on the Wall (Maeglin and Idril)
By Mellaril   |   Watch
104 22 1K (1 Today)
Published: May 18, 2018
© 2018 - 2019 Mellaril
Idril stumbles across Maeglin sitting on the Northern wall. Do you ever make up dialogue when painting  a scene?

"So you do talk. What are you doing up here?"
"My mother came up here once, to watch the sun rise, alone."
"It's a nice spot, sure. Just don't fall off."
"You look just like her. Like my mother."
"Yes, that's what they always used to say."

Sequel to Father and Idril in honor of the release of The Fall of Gondolin. It's hard to reconcile liking Maeglin so much while being a feminist (and a decent person) but I can't help but feel that the tragedy of his story-- evil borne of idealism and love-- makes him sympathetic as far as villains go. Tolkien did devote an entire chapter to his backstory, and through progressive drafts seemed to give him more thought, more nuance, more streaks of good into the wickedest of all the elves. I like to think that at some point in the two-hundred odd years Maeglin spent in Gondolin, which included participation in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Idril took pity on him and they had some sort of a decent human interaction.
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Comments (19)
Baileyboybee's avatar
Love this piece. Really captures the emotions and feelings of Maeglin.
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much! It’s one of my favorites too. I always found Maeglin to be a surprisingly sympathetic character and it’s a really big inspiration for my art :)
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KAY-painting's avatar
KAY-painting|Hobbyist General Artist
It is not necessary to sympathize with the villain, if you understand his story of "falling into evil." But a good drawing does not show the artist's attitude toward the "model", but tells a true story. I'm not sure that everyone agrees with me, but ... most villains are charming people.)))
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katnor's avatarComment Featured By Owner
Oh, I love this piece! I always feel a certain amount of sympathy for Maeglin, who was, after all, very young when he lost both his parents, and in such a horrible way, too. My headcanon of him is much less blackhearted than the canon one... and this image is so sweet! One must wonder what Gondolin really felt like, to him... his mother had been telling him stories of the beauty and all the great people living there, and then tragedy strikes. No matter how he felt about his father, seeing him summarily executed in front of his eyes must have been a terrible trauma - and I feel he must have, at least to some extent, resented Turgon for it.
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much! :happybounce:  It's always so lovely to meet a fellow Maeglin fan. There are hints of what Maeglin thought of Gondolin: he listened in wonder to his mother's stories, and the yearning to see it all for himself, and to bring her back to her family, was so strong that he flagrantly fled the home of his childhood and flouted his father's wishes. Then to arrive at last, and find it just as beautiful as he had imagined, only to suddenly be trapped there, alone. I absolutely think he resented Turgon for the execution of his father-- not only that, it must have shattered the idealistic view he had of his kinsmen, the Noldor. It's true that Eöl would rather have died than to be a prisoner in Gondolin; yet what must young Maeglin have thought to see people who were supposed to be his family, these noble and perfect elves of Gondolin, perform the barbaric act of throwing a human being to his death? It's undoubtedly where the first seeds of darkness were sown, and in a sense Turgon's own ruthlessness, and his extreme paranoia about keeping Gondolin hidden, ultimately led to the very thing he feared the most. 
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alystraea's avatar
alystraea|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Comment Featured By Owner
I love this! Maeglin looks so young and vulnerable here, and his expression seems both smitten and guarded, which is how I think it would be. Love the perspective, and how you framed it so we only see Idril's sexy legs (the shading on her calves is beautifully done).
Maeglin falling in love with Idril who looks like his mother... a touch of Oedipal complex there, eh? 
Tolkien did evolve the character a lot - from describing Maeglin as repulsively ugly and orc-blooded, to being tall, white-skinned and beautiful like his mother, and having a persuasive tongue. I think Tolkien intended Maeglin's attraction for Idril to remain a perverted lust, but I think most people reading it would be able to understand that this was a young elf just out of his teens, understandably smitten by a dazzlingly beautiful maiden who was not just a remote, unattainable figure but his close kin and someone he had grown up hearing about. And honestly, given that in so many societies first cousins do get married, a lot of people wouldn't see anything wrong in his loving his cousin. 
I don't know whether I'm excited about The Fall of Gondolin or not - I don't think Christopher would have squeezed any new materials out of Dad's notebooks and I've already read it all. The only thing is that it would be great to have all the fragments compiled into one volume. And of course it would give more publicity and love to my favourite part of The Silmarillion!! Looking forward to the fanart that I hope will go into it.
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much!! Vulnerable, guarded and curious/"smitten" in the expression is what I was going for. The idea for this perspective actually popped into my head first, and then the rest of the scene followed. And I am definitely guilty of making Idril's lower legs visible (to us at least) and sexy. Idril strikes me as being someone who would be perfectly comfortable in her own skin; beautiful and proud of it. Oh I absolutely think there's an Oedipal thing going on with Maeglin, in the way his love for his mother was examined and emphasized; in his curious silence at her tragic death. His lust for his cousin is already inherently incestuous (elves "wedded not with kin so near"), and there's other precedent for Oedipal themes in The Silmarillion (ie, Túrin and Nienor). And I think you're spot on with your description: she was someone he'd heard about in his mother's stories, a figure he idealized long before he had met her as he had the city of Gondolin. Tolkien says that his love for her "turned to darkness", and yet that sentence also hints that it may not have started out that way. I really want to read more about it in The Fall of Gondolin... though I'm sure you're right; it may be there's nothing more in any of Prof. Tolkien's notebooks to give us any more answers. All the better for us to imagine for ourselves, I suppose. 
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alystraea's avatar
alystraea|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know right? the whole "cousincest" thing would have made Maeglin look like such a perv to all the other elves. I'm glad he was slowly  evolving into a more complex and potentially sympathetic character in Tolkien's mind. Your Oedipal Maeglin is interesting. In fact, the whole outpouring of sympathy for Maeglin across the fandom has been such a phenomenon, in the wake of revisionist readings of The Silm. In the early years, it was standard to read him as written, which I think usually went along the lines of antisocial personality disorder. His early love for Idril may have been the one good thing in him (as you said, it turned to darkness, which implies it was once light), but that went bad when he was spurned...
I must say I'm happy the Arda Tolkien left to us fanfic writers and fanartists is such a big playground to mess around in. Honestly, it's more fun to have a whole spectrum of Maeglins, from absolute villain to misunderstood, falsely-accused, unsung hero. And to have half a dozen different headcanons for Glorfindel's parentage than having Tolkien tell us definitively that he was Elenwe's bro or Findis' son (which are the most likely options in my mind). Glorfy's my boy!
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Sometimes it's much more fun to speculate!! Glorfindel as an Elenwë relative would make him Vanyarin and definitely connect him more with Idril. As a son of Findis he would be cousin to Turgon. Curious as to the reasoning behind behind that theory? There's a parallel between Maeglin and Boromir in my mind. Traitors who were not cowards, both led astray by desire. Boromir was permitted his redemption. That's the difference between LOTR and the silm... The feeling that everything will be all right, versus not. I like the Maeglin on the unsung hero end of the spectrum whether or not it's the correct interpretation though.
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Anastasiy's avatar
Anastasiy|Professional Digital Artist
This is totally beautiful! I love the colors
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!!! I loved playing with the colors in this one. Thanks for the watch!! ^_^
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Nelyasun's avatar
Nelyasun|Hobbyist Artist
given that he was 190 years old at death and spent 110 years in Gondolin, more than half his life, you can really agree that living in Gondolin must have shaped Maeglin
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed! Nod  Though I imagine he must have felt like a stranger there in many ways. 
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Nelyasun's avatar
Nelyasun|Hobbyist Artist
yes
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Irsanna's avatar
an interesting visual solution! in your picture he really causes sympathy
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! I really enjoyed playing around with camera angle and perspective. 
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FrerinHagsolb's avatar
Very beautiful illustration! Yes, I know the thing with the dialogue...actually, I'm working on a piece at the moment which is based on such a thing, but the dialogue was in this case first, or both at the same time. :D
I really like your depiction of Maeglin, I think he is a very interesting character (and tragic, yes. But this seems kinda normal in Tolkien's stories) Did you plan doing more of 'The Fall of Gondolin', or will you let it by those three works first?
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Mellaril's avatar
Mellaril|Hobbyist General Artist
Ah thanks so much! I can't wait to see your finished piece :) Yeah it's definitely hard to find an uplifting scene to draw from The Silmarillion. Maybe I should try The Hobbit or LOTR next... much more lighthearted. I do want to do more Fall of Gondolin pieces! I love painting architectural backgrounds and keeping everything within a theme :D so there will likely be more drawings to follow this one. 
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FrerinHagsolb's avatar
Nice! :dummy:
Well, even if 'the Hobbit' and 'LotR' are more lighthearted, I'm still not quite sure if I can call them 'good-ending'...:D
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