Goblins die if the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings have anything to show for it. Not only did countless elves die in the Battle of Helms Deep, but also Arwen’s slow decline, and in the expanded version of The fellowship of the ring, Aragorn (known only as Strider at the time in the film) sings the song identified as Lay of Leithian. Indeed, when asked by Frodo what happened to the Elvish maiden in the song, Aragorn replied with two words; “She died.” But, if goblins can die like Men, what will happen to them after death? Also, what killed an elf, to begin with? Aren’t they supposed to be immortal?
Fortunately, there are a few books that help readers learn about the complexities of the Elvish afterlife. First is Silmarillion, which details what killed (and didn’t) an Elf along with an explanation of Mandos, where all the elves would go after their deaths. Monday is Beren and Lúthien, which one shows? a rare exception to the rule about what happens to the Elves after they die.
But first, let’s talk more about Elves. Elves in Middle-earth are immortal. This means they cannot age or die from disease. However, because their bodies are “made of the Earth”, they can be killed by other, often more violent means. However, if an Elf managed not to die violently or wastefully in grief, they would last as long as the world is. If they die before the apocalypse, they will go to the Hall of Mandos in Valinor.
However, the Elves don’t have to die violently to get to the Mandos Hall. If they become weary of the world, Elves can follow the “straight path”, a ship route reserved only for the immortals, to the True West (also known as Valinor, the residence of the Hall of Mandos). But what is the Mandos Hall? Also, who is Mandos?
Mandos (also known by his real name Námo) was one of the Fëanturi, masters of the spirit. The other Fëanturi is Lórien (also known by his real name Irmo). Mandos is the eldest brother of the Fëanturi and the Keeper of the House of the Dead. His powers include the ability to summon the souls of those who have been slain, remember things, and talk about the future. However, he cannot keep the souls of the Man on Arda after they die or change anyone’s fate.
The Dwarves also believe that they come to the Hall of Mandos (or at least near it) after they die to be with the creator of Aulë, with whom they will help rebuild the world. No one can escape the Hall of Mandos, not even Melkor (a god whose power is on par with the strongest Valars), except a single nymph who defies all the rules and tries to leave the Hall of Mandos to back to Middle-earth.
This exception to the rules about what happens to Elves after they die happens in Beren and Lúthien; A story of love, adventure and ultimately death. It tells the story of how Beren, a Man and thus mortal, falls in love with an Elf nymph, Lúthien, daughter of Thingol, a Firstborn, and Melian, a Maiar. Thingol wasn’t too passionate about his demigod daughter falling in love with a mortal man, no matter how noble of blood and deed. Unfortunately (in Thingol’s eyes anyway) he swore to Lúthien not to harm or kill Beren, so instead he sends him on an impossible mission: claim for him one of the Silmarils in Melkor’s crown.
Of course, Beren assumed he understood and departed with all the confidence of an ordinary white man. He was then quickly captured and nearly died at the hands of Sauron. Luckily, Lúthien was a total badass who rescued him without even trying. The form of Beren leaving confidently and Lúthien bailing him continued until Beren lost an arm, they obtained Silmaril, and Beren was dying from his wounds.
At this point, Lúthien continued to marvel. As she holds a dying Beren in her arms, she kisses him and tells him to wait for her (makes sense, given the terrible luck she’s been chasing him) outside of the Sea. West. Then, Lúthien follows Beren’s spirit to the Mandos Hall, sings the saddest but best song ever sung, and causes Mandos to summon Beren and make a choice. Either leave Beren and go to Valinor, where she will live forever in peace, or send Beren back to Middle-earth as a mortal and die with him. She, of course, chooses love and lived the rest of his days with the incredibly devoted (but fragile) Beren.
Regardless of whether the Elves experience death while traveling to the Hall of Mandos or by becoming mortal as Lúthien has chosen, facing the mysterious death of a Mortal, the question of what will happen to the Elves after they have Death is not an easy question to answer. Like anything, what happens to an Elves after they perish is filled with stories and myths, with exceptions and exclusions, depending on the individual’s bravery.
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