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Discussing: What killed Finduilas?

What killed Finduilas?

I have looked through the medical discussions in this forum, and don't see that this topic has been addressed. We know Finduilas didn't die in childbirth. We also know that she was exhibiting some signs of depression, but I'm not sure (having no other resources than the Appendix) how long that had been going on. I know that there are some physical conditions that can be associated with depression; and are examined first, for example, thyroid function. What other physical conditions might be involved? Or diseases such as pernicious anemia, various cancers, tuberculosis ? (though I think that disease, by whatever name, would probably have been recognized, and Finduilas isolated for the protection of the boys.) I'm hoping you medical professionals, or ingenious medical sleuths, can provide some suggestions and possibilities. Ann

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

Perhaps anorexia? That can be a way that depression manifests. Elana

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

There doesn't have to be an underlying medical condition that is the cause of the depression, the depression could have been the underlying medical condition...which might have manifested itself as anorexia or sudden weight gain, insomnia or sleeping too much, an ability to concentrate, malaise, restlessness -- most of those can also be signs of a heart problem or any other number of illnesses. (There has actually been shown to be a cause and effect relationship between heart problems and depression as a contributing factor to them.) Karri

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

My own personal take on it is that Tolkien never wrote his characters' afflictions with any specific medical or psychological diagnoses in mind. From a modern perspective, most of us would say that Finduilas seemed clinically depressed; however, none of Tolkien's descriptions for any of his characters' "mental illnesses" really seem to go beyond "melancholy" or "madness." I think that in Middle-earth, it's quite possible to die of sadness or longing, by themselves. That said, a person experiencing extreme "melancholy" in Middle-earth might also plausibly suffer a loss of energy or appetite, symptoms which are also quite compatible with our modern understanding of depression. Just my $0.02-- YMMV. Cheers, Ali

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

That said, a person experiencing extreme "melancholy" in Middle-earth might also plausibly suffer a loss of energy or appetite, symptoms which are also quite compatible with our modern understanding of depression. Just my $0.02-- YMMV. I agree with you. Depression, possibly accomponied by anorexia/starvation and no sleep would be my best guess. What about stress? Extreme stress can cause heart-attacks, especially in women. If Finduluis was not only homesick, but was also stressed-out by helping to run a country, and caring for two small children, who knows what disastrous results could be caused!

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

I would doubt very much that Finduilas had all the responsibility for caring for her children. She would have had nurses and tutors. Also, I doubt that she would have helped to run Gondor; I see Denethor as very controlling in his leadership, and I don't see Finduilas as being very interested in ruling or administering, except perhaps doing some good works at the Houses of Healing. What killed Finduilas? There are lots of possibilities. I'll list some. 1. Complications from Faramir's birth, say an infection that led to something worse, or weakened her so she was physically vulnerable. This has been used in fanfiction, I think, to help explain why Denethor has "issues" with Faramir. 2. An actual physical illness unrelated to childbirth that wouldn't have that many obvious signs. 3. Emotional problems that caused or coincided with physical problems. This idea lends itself to the supposition of an unhappy marriage. I see Denethor as adoring his wife, but it could be that he didn't understand her very well, or have any time to spend with her. She could have started down the road of depression, missing time with her husband, feeling terribly isolated; and then taken to drinking, and eaten less and less. I know someone who killed herself slowly, not meaning too, like that; but she didn't have a husband or children. 4. Hmm. Now I'm wondering about opium addiction. Say Finduilas had some residual pain or infection from Faramir's birth, and became addicted to some pain-killing substance, and couldn't kick the addiction and it killed her. 5. A mystical problem. What if Finduilas, being a sensitive woman and having a smidgeon of Elven blood, was being besieged by Sauron in her dreams or something like that? Denethor was using the palantir soon after Ecthelion's death, so Sauron might well have divined his love for Finduilas as a 'weakness' and decided to destroy him by driving Finduilas crazy or to her death. Or it could be that the proximity to Mordor had an extremely depressing effect on the poor woman. I personally see Finduilas as an emotionally strong woman, given the character of her sons. But let's not forget Aragorn's mother, Gilraen, who also seemed to suffer from loneliness and depression... RAKSHA

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

My thanks to all of you for your insightful comments! I'm bothered by the five year gap between the births of her children. I would think that, in a society with, shall we say "limited" options for contraception, she would have had at least more child during that period. Also, part of her purpose in life would have been to produce children, an heir and a spare, plus some daughters to be married off usefully. Certainly she would have understood this (I don't see her choice of career field as contributing to her depression). Perhaps a number of miscarriages causing or contributing to a chronic infection? And her predisposition to depression reinforcing the cycle. I don't want to write her (when and if I write her in more depth) too weepy. I want to envision her realizing that she is slipping away, but fighting to maintain a grip on normalcy for her family's sake. I feel like I'm not making too much sense on this. Am I ? Ann

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

Hi Ann, I don't have any answers for you, but I just stumbled upon this quote that might shed a little bit of light on Finduilas' death: The use of the palantíri was a mental strain, especially on men of later days not trained to the task, and no doubt in addition to his anxieties this strain contributed to Denethor's "grimness." It was probably felt earlier by his wife than by others and increased her unhappiness, to the hastening of her death. [Author's note.] Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri: Notes, Note 13 Hope this helps! - Barbara

 

 

Re: What killed Finduilas?

4. Hmm. Now I'm wondering about opium addiction. Say Finduilas had some residual pain or infection from Faramir's birth, and became addicted to some pain-killing substance, and couldn't kick the addiction and it killed her. Altariel's haunting short fic "Lady of Silences" (in HASA General) plays around with possibilities related to these: it ends with an unhappy Finduilas taking a sleeping-draught, and is ambiguous about whether she is going to take too much and - if so - whether it's deliberate or not... As I prepare the draught to make me sleep, I fancy I can hear again the keening of the gulls. I would sleep quiet tonight. I would sleep quiet every night hereafter. (Recommended, incidentally, it's a disturbing but beautifully-written piece.) Cheers, Azalais

 

 

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