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  • Updated 17 November 2021
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The Unhappy

A title of Gorlim of Dorthonion

A title or byname used of Gorlim, one of the Men who dwelt in the land of Ladros in Dorthonion while it was under the rule of the House of Bëor. He lived happily there with his wife Eilinel during the peace of the Siege of Angband, but that Siege was broken in the Dagor Bragollach, and Gorlim went to aid in the defence of his homeland against the invading armies of Morgoth. The defence failed, and he returned to his home to find it ransacked and empty, and his wife Eilinel gone. In desperation he joined with his lord Barahir and a handful of other warriors to fight as outlaws in their now occupied homeland.

The loss of Eilinel filled Gorlim with a fierce anger against the invaders, but also a sense of doubt, as he had no way to know whether or not his wife still survived. He wandered at times to watch for her at his old deserted home, and during such an expedition he was captured and interrogated by Sauron. Sauron offered Gorlim the chance to rejoin Eilinel if he would betray his outlaw companions. Gorlim did so, but his hope was dashed; Eilinel had already died, and Sauron kept his word by taking Gorlim's life. The betrayed outlaws were discovered and slain, leaving Barahir's son Beren as the only survivor.

Gorlim's death did not, it seems, mark the end of his misery. His spirit lingered in Middle-earth, and revealed itself to Beren, who was away from his father's camp when Sauron's hunters descended upon it. Within a dream, the ghostly form of Gorlim revealed his treachery and urged Beren to warn his father of the coming atteck. Though Beren rushed to do so, he arrived too late.

The sad tale of Gorlim's life would be sufficient in itself to explain his being known as 'the Unhappy', but there is also a deeper meaning at work. The word 'unhappy' did not originally just carry its modern meaning of 'miserable' or 'unfortunate', but described a person who brought down misfortune on themselves, or onto others. Gorlim was, then, indeed 'unhappy', especially in the older, more tragic sense of the word.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 17 November 2021
  • Updates planned: 2

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