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Katelyn Dudash

23 January 2019
AP Literature and Composition
Music in Literature Prose Essay (Prompt A)

In this excerpt of J.R.R Tolkien’s Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur Tolkien uses the

devices of allegory, diction, and narrative pacing to create a convincing and authoritative version

of the origins of his cosmos.

Tolkien’s story of Ainulindalë is a creation story that bears many similarities to other

creation stories. It most closely resembles the creation story of the Christian religion. For

example, the character of Iluvatar acts as God, the Ainur resemble angels, and Melkor is

symbolic of Satan. By using this literary device of allegory, Tolkien develops a story that is

easier for readers to comprehend and relate to. He incorporates a musical element into his story,

highlighting the “harmony” that existed among the Ainur before the “discord” of Melkor

interrupted it. The use of more material objects and ideas helps to convey a more complicated

moral concept, which is related to the Christian creation story. Through his story, Tolkien offers

a musical comparison to highlight the forces which contributed to creation.

The musical nature of Tolkien’s creation story is emphasized with the diction that he

uses. His beginning paragraphs describe harmonious music, as the Ainur sing with “endless

interchanging melodies woven in harmony”. He writes that “the music and the echo of the music

went out into the Void, and it was not void.” The harmony that he describes is abruptly disturbed

by Melkor as “the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it.” Tolkien uses words

such as ”attune”, “wove”, “discord” and “unison” to describe the “interchanging melodies” and
“harmony” of the song. Tolkien also utilizes a type of Old English in his writing, offering more

authority to his story. For example, when Iluvatar speaks he uses words such as “thou”, “seest”,

and “thy”. His use of older language is similar to the language that is used in the Bible,

especially the book of Genesis. The old and musical diction that Tolkien uses creates an

appropriate tone for the creation story that he chronicles.

The narrative pacing of the story is another literary device that contributes to Tolkien’s

creation story. The musical diction of the passage has an especially effective influence on the

pacing of the story. The story begins with Iluvatar, who creates the Ainur and instructs them to

sing a theme of music. At first, they sing a song with “endless interchanging melodies woven in

harmony”. This gives the story a slow, calm beginning, with plenty of ddetail. However, Melkor,

the most gifted of the Ainur, sings a much more “violent” song. With this, the story begins to

pick up the pace. Iluvatar creates another theme which Melkor responds to, but eventually, all of

the Ainur fall into a harmony despite the different sound of Melkor. Then Tolkien goes on to

describe Arda, or Earth. He tells of the Elves and Men as well as Ulmo, Manwë, and Aulë. The

narrative continues to pick up the pace as it is revealed the Melkor desires more power and glory,

and reaches its height as Melkor battles the Valar for the dominion of Earth. He describes the

results of the war in a paragraph that is far shorter and faster paced than his beginning. These

elements of his writing create an increasing narrative pace that causes suspense and a sense of

awe for the created world.