|"Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"|
The Gift of Men (also called the gift of Iúvatar) was the fate of Men, which Ilúvatar bestowed upon them at their making. While the Elves were bound to the World and its fate, dying only when the World does (unless slain in battle or by ill chance), this Gift granted Men mortality, freeing them from the same destiny and allowing their spirits to leave the physical world. Ilúvatar willed that their spirits would find no contentment in Arda, so that they would seek the world beyond their own.
Following their deaths in Arda, mortal Men went on to the Halls of Mandos, and from there passed into an unknown destiny beyond the Circles of the World. This Gift was given as a blessing, and those with the greatest understanding of it (such as the early Kings of Númenor and Aragorn himself) gladly accepted it when their time had come; but for most Men, who did not look beyond the ending of their lives, the Gift had been tainted by Morgoth, and so they feared it, calling it the Doom of Men. During the later years of Númenor, Men did all they could to escape death; this ultimately led to the destruction of Númenor.
The Gift also granted Men the power of free will: Men were able to shape their lives beyond the Music of the Ainur. Their lives could be in tune with the music, defiant of, or indifferent towards it. Though he knew that Men would stray from the Music, Ilúvatar saw them as important implements in his plans for Arda.