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Unfinished Tales Discussion: The History of Celeborn and Galadriel
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Feb 3 2014, 3:47am

Post #1 of 125 (1949 views)
Unfinished Tales Discussion: The History of Celeborn and Galadriel Can't Post

“There is no part of the History of Middle-Earth more full of problems than the story of Galadriel and Celeborn…” (Christopher Tolkien 228).

Admittedly it had been a while since I read it. I had forgotten how convoluted and often-times confusing the history of these two can be. It does not seem that Tolkien had worked out their relationship to any resolution. The lack of any real decision regarding the pair’s history also effected the history of those that they were affiliated with, mainly Celebrimbor and Amroth. Here we will attempt to weave our way through the labyrinth of this most complex relationship. Here it must be admitted that I do not think I am any closer to understanding it than I was when I began this chapter again. Perhaps together we can make sense of it. Which brings me to my first question; why do you think that Tolkien had such difficulty in regards to their backstory?

In this chapter there appears to me at least four ways in which they met. Here I summarize:

1. They met before the end of the First Age in Celeborn’s own land of Lorien. As C. Tolkien points out this would make Celeborn most probably a Nandorin Elf.
2. A later version of the story suggests that “Galadriel passed over the Mountains of Ered Luin with her husband Celeborn (one of the Sindar) and went to Eregion.”
3. The Silmarillion makes mention of their meeting in Doriath and Celeborn’s kinship with King Thingol.
4. They meet in Alqualonde when Galadriel went to dwell with her mother’s kin. Here Celeborn is grandson of Olwe. Here Galadriel has no part of the rebellion of the Noldor, but departs with Celeborn to Middle-Earth.

I have always found the fourth possibility the least likely because I had always accepted at face value that Galadriel was indeed part of the rebellion. And this meeting would negate many parts of the Silmarillion. What are your thoughts? Which do you find the most likely of the meeting of Galadriel and Celeborn? For those of you who are creative, do you have any idea of their background which is more concise? Possibilities that Tolkien had not considered; which would make their story more cohesive?

The inconsistencies regarding the pair also permeate through the telling of the story of Sauron and the rings of power. Here we have Celebrimbor as a survivor of Gondolin, rather than son of Curufin and Amroth as the son of Celeborn and Galadriel. Also in this version of the story Galadriel is present while Sauron is posing as friend to the blacksmith’s of Eregion. This story tells us that although Galadriel scorned Sauron she allowed him to stay. This makes no sense to me, why would she allow him to stay if she did perceive his true intent? Was she not the wisest of that time in Middle-Earth? Christopher Tolkien states that there is no explanation for this, which brings for me great difficulty in the narrative of the story. What explanations do you have for these inconsistencies and what other incongruities have you found?

One of the questions which bother me the most concerning Galadriel is the kinslaying at Alqualonde. I have read that she did not participate in the kinslaying, but have also read that she fought valiantly on the side of her mother’s kin. Okay, this makes no sense to me either. If she fought valiantly on the side of the Teleri, would that not mean that she fought against her own people of the Noldor? We are told that she fought against Feanor, however we know that Fingolfin’s people also took part in the kinslaying. How was she able to distinguish who she would fight in the confusion of war? Given Feanor’s personality, and in lesser respects Fingolfin’s, I find it difficult to believe that they would be okay with her slaying their people and continue to bring her along. I here assume that war does often involve the slaying of people or in this case, elves. Am I missing something here? Can somebody help me to understand this?

I am also puzzled with respect to the ban of Galadriel returning to the West. Why would she be banned? If either story be true, that she did not participate in the kinslaying or fought in defense of her mother’s people, I do not see how she can be held accountable. Were the Valar really so bitter that she dreamed of a different life for herself in a wider land? If this be true, then I would believe that those living in Valinor were more prisoner than I had originally thought. Any thoughts on the reason for her ban?

There are many other inconsistencies to be found concerning Galadriel and Celeborn. Are there others which perplex you? It appears that I have come away with more questions than answers!

By the way, I hope you all enjoyed the Superbowl, I did not have an opportunity to watch, but must admit that I was very surprised by the score....


Feb 3 2014, 3:58am

Post #2 of 125 (1358 views)
I haven't really looked into this all that closely. [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to brainstorm a few random possible solutions:

  • Reincarnation may have been involved.
  • Families relations may have been ... complex ...
  • Perhaps the power of her ring gave her some capability for affecting time / time travel
  • There could be some kind of branching possibility space as an extra dimension to time and space ... confusing me now ..
  • Political situations could have led to "cleaned up versions" of things etc. etc. (i.e. that dark, terrible queen tantrum may have been less of an anomaly than we may want to think?)

But I don't really know. That isn't a detail I have thought about as much as some others.

Tol Eressea

Feb 3 2014, 4:27pm

Post #3 of 125 (1349 views)
Wow!! [In reply to] Can't Post

This really is a convoluted chapter with so many dead ends and false starts! I applaud you for the effort to make it cohesive!!

Yes, the exact circumstances of the relation of Celeborn and Galadriel are tenuous at best. In comparison to the problem of reconciling the Woodland Elf King of The Hobbit, who still has a part of First Age Thingol and Doriath in his literary DNA (I've seen it suggested that they were once the same in previous drafts), and Thranduil, the father of Legolas, it seems impossible to come to a single conclusion. Very unlike our methodical Professor, Eh?

Personally, I really am not interested in Celeborn. it isn't his, or JRRT's, fault, but there is nothing compelling in his story to interest me. As a kinsman to Thingol, he could have some link to Oropher/Thranduil/Woodland King, but beyond being told that he was a noble Elf Lord, what does he do? Perhaps if we had a bit more backstory on him, I could appreciate him more. (Hey, I came to like Isildur when I read the history of Numenor.) So he was a Nandorin Elf, Silvan, or Sindar. The only thing here that interests me is the possible connexion to Doriath. He seems to have been eclipsed by his mate.

Ah, Galadriel, a real case study, herself. The noble Elf-QUEEN among the squabbling and occasionally heroic Princes. In the published accounts, she is a proud daughter of Finarfin, with a man's ambition and pride. We really see a well developed and strong female here. She leaves Aman, passions stirred by the words of Feanor (Though not convinced by them). Though she swore no oaths, nor followed Feanor, and possibly fought on the Teleri side at Alaquonde, she is banished to Middle-Earth, and later pardoned. What??? Why??

We really see the account of the changing dynamics in her case once we dive into the earlier, and later drafts. Perhaps she did not follow Feanor, maybe she came to Beleriand separately? Perhaps she resided in Doriath with Melian, or with her kinsman, sons of Finarfin? Tolkien confesses that she was a Virgin Mary figure, one that was personally powerful and meaningful to him, the later drafts reflect this, and she becomes more idealised. There never is a solid answer. The Professor never had the time to reconcile the differences. Why was she banned if she did no wrong? Was the very action of leaving Aman, a crime? How does that paint the Valar? So many problems do arise from mucking with the history of such prominent people.

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?


Feb 3 2014, 6:12pm

Post #4 of 125 (1317 views)
That's the burning question [In reply to] Can't Post

Just why did Tolkien struggle so much with these two? (Though everyone knows that Galadriel is by far the more interesting of the two.) Tolkien seems to give her special care and attention throughout the ages. She is certainly one of the best developed characters in the entire legendarium. Some religious significance, perhaps? She does (at least later, in LOTR) take on some of the symbolism of the Blessed Virgin. Perhaps Tolkien thought that, even with her flaws, she represented something significant and good in his sagas.

I'll be back with more once I've read the whole thing. Thanks Mikah!


Feb 3 2014, 8:23pm

Post #5 of 125 (1336 views)
Galadriel was the single biggest alteration that LotR made to the existing Silmarillion [In reply to] Can't Post

She had no existence in the Silmarillion, which was substantially complete, when Tolkien began his work on the 'New Hobbit', or sequel to The Hobbit. She appeared almost out of nowhere during the actual composition of LotR, with no sign of her in the author's preliminary notes on the Fellowship's journey from Rivendell. In fact, as shown in the History of Middle-earth volumes, when the company first arrived in Lothlorien they were received by its ruler who was another regal male Elf along the lines of Elrond and the Elf-King from The Hobbit.

I was quite surprised and impressed when I first read what happened next. Out of nowhere the ruler had a female consort, who by leaps and bounds grew in authority, magic, and character in just the course of a few pages and several rewrites. Boom! Galadriel was born fully-formed from Tolkien's brow, as it were - and dominated her corner of The Lord of the Rings from then until the end of the story.

And then came Tolkien's inevitable and baffled reflection: Oops. Who is this lady? Who was her father and mother? What is her Elven lineage? Why is she an 'exile'? Who is Celeborn, whose power and prestige seem to be less than hers? What is her past history? In particular, what is her relation to the long-established sequence of Elven tales that makes up the Silmarillion?

Tolkien never really decided the answers to these questions, and this section of Unfinished Tales gives us a fascinating glimpse at his tortured attempts to retrofit a supremely talented woman into a thematically complete story-cycle dominated by supremely talented men. I've read this chapter of UT several times with interest, but never with pleasure, and certainly never with any idea that any of the versions of her life is more authentic, 'accurate', or believable than the rest. For me Galadriel exists in LotR, bless her - and nowhere else.

squire online:
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Feb 4 2014, 4:12am

Post #6 of 125 (1300 views)
Brainstorming [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Escapist,

I rather like the brainstorming. The consideration of all possibilities really does motivate me. Family relations are complex in this story indeed. No real resolution of Galadriel or Celeborn's history. No real knowledge as to who Celeborn is...at all.

I am also very intrigued by your notion that political situations could have led to 'cleaned of versions' of things. I too have also wondered about the dark queen tantrum. How out of character was it? I guess that we really do not know. But we do know, that Galadriel, along with all of Tolkien's characters did have her faults. She is definitely a hero of Middle Earth, but not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Your post reminds me of a line of text in this very chapter, Tolkien writes Galadriel's thoughts toward Feanor, "In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own." Interesting sentence. What do you think he meant by that concerning Galadriel?


Feb 4 2014, 4:48am

Post #7 of 125 (1315 views)
Celeborn/Thranduil....confused much? [In reply to] Can't Post

So who are they anyway? Some questions are not meant to be answered....but if there is an answer I have no doubt that someone here will find it! I am in complete agreement with you, when I ponder the complexities of Thranduil, Galadriel, and Celeborn, I find it very unlike Tolkien to have not worked out their histories for us. But to bring the three of them into the same sentence reminds me, what exactly was the Woodland King's rift with them? It is my understanding that Thranduil moved his people North partly to avoid the growing power of Galadriel and Celeborn. Am I incorrect in this? We have a possibility that Celeborn was from Doriath. I believe that Thranduils father Oropher was from Doriath as well. Were there complications in the relationship during this time as well? Or was Thranduil's issues mainly with Galadriel? (Picture me here looking very confused Unsure.

The whole Galadriel banishment completely bewilders me as well. I guess that I am really uncomfortable with her being banished from the West, simply because she chose to go to Middle-Earth. t causes me to see the Valar in a light that I would really rather not see them in. If this be the case it would make the Elves in Valinor prisoners of a sort, wouldn't it? Well cared for prisoners, but prisoners nonetheless. I am hoping that there is another answer.

Tolkien confesses that she was a Virgin Mary figure, one that was personally powerful and meaningful to him, the later drafts reflect this, and she becomes more idealized.

I find this comment very interesting. Brethil had mentioned this to me as well. What do you think Tolkien meant by this? A Virgin Mary figure?


Feb 4 2014, 5:02am

Post #8 of 125 (1286 views)
The Significance of Galdriel... [In reply to] Can't Post

Good to see you Demnation! I believe that you are right when you say that Tolkien perceived Galadriel as a person of great significance and very relevant in his stories. Given that we know how important Tolkien's faith was to him, it would not surprise me at all that there would be religious significance here as well. That is what makes it so interesting that he struggled so much with her backstory. Given his meticulous nature, one would think he would have such an important character worked out in even the most minor of characteristics. As you rightly point out, she is a very developed character. I think I will explore your idea of religious significance a little deeper, perhaps there is more to this than I had originally considered.

Do come back with any more thoughts on this that you may have!


Feb 4 2014, 5:15am

Post #9 of 125 (1286 views)
You summarized my feelings personally... [In reply to] Can't Post

You stated that you had read this chapter many times with interest, but never with pleasure. I could not agree with you more. I guess reading this part of UT confounds what I believed to be true regarding both the Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings. It just is not cohesive. I really struggle with it. I had hoped that in leading this discussion and researching the HoME books I would come to a better understanding. In this case, it was not true. I have come away with more questions than answers.

It is interesting that we see a similar situation with her husband as well. He is a bit of an enigma. It is kind of funny, but I have always kind of thought of Celeborn as just being there to be husband to Galadriel. Although, I am not certain why she needed a husband. Perhaps, the complexities of Galadriel intertwined with her relationship with Celborn.


Feb 4 2014, 5:35am

Post #10 of 125 (1321 views)
The "Virgin Mary" comparison... [In reply to] Can't Post

...was first suggested by Fr. Robert Murray, a close friend, in a letter to Tolkien after he had read some galley proofs of LotR. Tolkien wrote him back (Letter# 142, 2 Dec. 1953), a letter including the much-quoted passage:

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion", to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.

It has often been speculated that Tolkien was motivated to "rehabilitate" his rebellious and adventurous Elf as he continued to ponder Fr. Murray's suggestion. Frankly, aside from being very beautiful, she doesn't really resemble the Blessed Virgin at all. Whether she was allied with the rebels or not, she was at least married and had at least one child, in all the versions, with no suggestion of supernatural intervention.

Frankly, I like the rebellious Noldo the best.


Feb 4 2014, 11:41am

Post #11 of 125 (1282 views)
Mary, Mary... [In reply to] Can't Post

Although you're right that the first written suggestion of a link between Galadriel and the Virgin Mary comes from a correspondent, Tolkien's letter is a bit more positive about the idea than I think you give it credit for.

According to the note preceding the letter, Fr. Murray "wrote that the book left him with a strong sense of 'a positive compatibility with the order of Grace' and compared the image of Galadriel to that of the Virgin Mary." Tolkien's reply to these two points is as follows:
I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded. [my bolding]
Tolkien certainly takes the comparison on board very strongly, although as you say it's mainly as an inspiration for her beauty - a particular kind of beauty "in majesty and simplicity". I think it's only that aspect of Galadriel that relates to Mary, and indeed you could say that it's only one aspect of the Virgin Mary, too, that of "Queen of Heaven", majestic and awe-inspiring while at the same time approachable and kind. As Tolkien mentions in another Letter (213), it's most clearly in the way Gimli and Sam view her that Galadriel resembles the image that Catholics have of Mary. (I think Arwen has many aspects of the earthly Virgin Mary, but that's another post...)

It's interesting that even after he took the Virgin Mary comparisons with Galadriel on board, Tolkien went on to create a rebellious backstory for her. But then he never goes for one-to-one correspondences - a number characters in LotR have aspects of Christ, for example, although none of them is a direct match. In a later letter (Letter 320, written in 1971) Tolkien makes it clear that he finds both parts of Galadriel's character important:
I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary, but actually Galadriel was a penitent: in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar...
Tolkien obviously put a lot of effort into working out her backstory, but as late as 1971 he was quite clear that both aspects of her character - the youthful rebellion and the Marian maturity - go into her makeup. These ambiguities are an essential part of Galadriel, I think, I for one like her better that way!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

Tol Eressea

Feb 4 2014, 2:39pm

Post #12 of 125 (1263 views)
Galadriel and Athena [In reply to] Can't Post

Your chosen descriptor had gotten me to thinking. In 'springing forth, fully formed' she shared similarity with the Greek goddess, Athena.

Both represented the cool and planning side of war, as opposed to Ares/Feanor.

They both served to aid heroes on a quest. Frodo and the Fellowship/ Jason, Odysseus, and the Argonauts.

Both their beginnings were heralded in war and tumult.

Though unintentional, it is an interesting connexion.

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?

Tol Eressea

Feb 4 2014, 4:47pm

Post #13 of 125 (1271 views)
I have this mental image [In reply to] Can't Post

of young elves sitting around drinking Dorwinion and one says, "How do you suppose our queen and our king met?"

"I heard they met in Lorien."

"What I heard is that they met in Doriath."

"The way I heard it is that they've known each other since the kinslaying in Alqualonde."

"Why don't we just ask them?"

"You go up to the royal flet and ask."

"Ummm... No... I guess I'm not that curious!"

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Feb 4 2014, 6:54pm

Post #14 of 125 (1238 views)
*Mods up*// [In reply to] Can't Post



Feb 4 2014, 7:36pm

Post #15 of 125 (1235 views)
Admittedly... [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't yet re-read this chapter, but with regards to the comparison between Galadriel and the Virgin Mary, I wondered if Tolkien was relating both to the concept of the "Eternal Feminine", which is largely seen as a description of Mary as Queen of Heaven, but also encompasses many similar concepts from other cultures. In this, the two might be compared, in terms of their immortality, kindness, strength etc. In many Christian texts, Mary is described as Queen of Bliss- Galadriel merely lived in bliss in her days in Aman, until the rebellion. By the time of LOTR, Galadriel is the only person left in Middle-earth who has experienced the bliss of Aman- maybe this stays with her and others can perceive it, even if they don't understand what they are experiencing. Sorry this is a bit rambling- I'd better go and read the text....

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!


Feb 4 2014, 7:56pm

Post #16 of 125 (1244 views)
Well done! [In reply to] Can't Post

You have summed up clearly Tolkien's different ideas, and raised some of the problems, explaining the difficulties. All in all, a great job.
I won't be able to answer all in one response; I will now address just the problem of retrofitting.

By this I mean the problem Tolkien had found himself after completing The Lord of the Rings (in fact, after Fellowship) - he simply had too many great and noble Elves, who had somehow "slipped out" of the early legends.
As the Silmarillion stood until 1937, after the War of Wrath the Elves were a failing people, doomed to fade; the remnant of them were not even ruled by an elf, but by a half-breed - Elrond, who could admittedly boast that he combined all the Royal bloodlines, being the grandson of the last king of the Noldor (there was none after Turgon) and the great-grandson of the only king of the Sindar, as well as being a heir of the two most important houses of elf-friends. But still, it seems that the Firstborn people have indeed fallen low, never to rise again.
In The Hobbit (which according to the drafts published by Rateliff, was first conceived as taking place in the same world, hardly a couple of generations after the expulsion of Morgoth), Elrond rules a remnant of High-elves, which seem reduced to tra-la-lallying; and in the East there is another enclave of dark-elves, which are still good folk but are xenophobic and dangerous.
However, at the time The Hobbit was published, Tolkien had begun work on a new legend - that of Numenor. In the outlines which Christopher Tolkien had published in The Lost Road (HoME vol. V), it appears that the Necromancer had some history before he taking his abode in sothren Mirkwood - he had fortified a land called Mordor, came out of it to corrupt Numenor and lead to its destruction, before being defeated by the fugitive Elendil and the last Elven-king, Gil-galad (then supposed to be a descendant of Feanor).
But Gil-galad needed a formidable army for that; and once The Lord of the Rings began to sprout and grow, several important Elves had appeared: at first Celebrimbor, maker of the three; then the way-too-noble Gildor Inglorion (whose name meant Gildor son of Finrod son of Finarfin - for sure the heir to the vacant High Kingship); and then Glorfindel, a Gondolin name. Two more names from The Fall of Gondolin were introduced in the Council of Elrond - Galdor, who was with in the Havens with Cirdan, and Legolas; Erestor, Elrond's chief councillor, was at first thought of as another half-elf.
And then, as squire had shown, all of a sudden emerged Amroth with his tragic story, followed by Celeborn and Galadriel - who at first might have served tp show the fearful corrupting power of the desire of the Ring, but the became a penitent, returning to the Grace of the Valar, after which her significance had only grown. She is spoken of with longing and desire by our heroes long after the sojourn in Lorien, and one can only wonder what they would have thought had they only known how near she was to streching her hand and betraying all. Only Faramir had perhaps come near the mark in his estimate of her.

Once The Lord of the Rings was more or less completed, Tolkien revived his hopes to get the Silmarillion published; but now he had several significant characters to somehow add on to it.
The easiest problem to solve was that of Cirdan. He could have simply been a fugitive from Doriath, one who had assisted Elwing in her escape - possibly a relative of Thingol and/or Nimloth. But Tolkien went one step better: he had added another group of elves who had turned away from the Great Journey - to the Unwilling, the Nandor who had forsaken the March before crossing the mountains, and the Sindar who stayed behind looking for Thingol, he added a fourth group - the Falathrim, beloved of Osse, who were persuaded by him to tarry on for a few ages. I think this is one of his most inspired additions in the writings of the 1950s.
Gil-galad was moved around the royal geneology quite a bit. From a descendant of Feanor he became a son of Inglor, then the lost son of Fingon (who was mentioned once in the 1930s Etymologies, but nothing was ever told of him), and finally the son of Orodreth, who became the son rather than the brother of Angrod. The fandom has had several interesting but rather pointless debates which of the last two he "really" was; I think the interesting questions are why did Tolkien feel either of these options was best, and (to those who like me, are interested in editorial problems) why did Christopher prefer one option when preparing The Silmarillion for publishing, and why did he change his mind, with his commentaries on the latter volumes of HoME indicating he now thinks a different one was better?
It was only natural that Celebrimbor was a descendant of Feanor; and unless the idea of Gil-galad as one survived for a long time, this lineage is clearly indicated by the symbol of his grandfather which he drew upon the West-gate of Moria. This idea was cemented by an addition Tolkien made to appendix B in the second edition - which Christopher felt was conclusive, as is indicated by his detailing the different options his father considered in this chapter (as opposed to the issue of Gil-galad, whose parentage was silently changed in Aldarion and Erendis, with nobody the wiser until Christopher "came clean" about it in HoME). However, with the enhancing of Galadriel's stature, and the assumption that she must have been a major opponent of Sauron throughout the Second Age as well (as she says explicitly herself), Tolkien considered "demoting" him to a smith of Gondolin, and even to one of Celeborn's followers in Alqualonde.
Gildor was surely "demoted", and rightly so - it is inconceivable that for such a long time he was the nearest relative of Gil-galad (for a short time his brother!) and Galadriel, and yet has done nothing thoughout the second and third ages but wander about, and scare away the occasional Black Rider. But this was done in a simple, economical, way - once the names of Inglor and Finrod were changed to finrod and Finarfin, his name was left the same, so that he became a lord of the Household of Finrod rather than his direct heir. Still formidable, but that's all.
JRRT never got as far as reiwriting thetale of the Fall of Gondolin, so we have no indication whether Galdor would have been retained as one of the Gondolin leaders who had escaped with Tuor; I guess he would. Legolas and his father Thranduil appear not to have anything to do with the keen-eyed Gondolin scout, although I won't put it beyond Tolkien to have kept this identity somewhere in the back of his mind, never written down only because he never got around to doing so. Erestor seems to have been forgotten. Frown
In a draft of FotR, Tolkien had Glorfindel telling about his childhood in Gondolin. This was discarded, but what did it mean? Did Tolkien consider discarding the story of Glorfindel's sacrifice, or did he consider him to have escaped death miraculously somehow? In one of his very latest writings, he had concluded that Glorfindel was allowed to return from Mandos - but as far as I can see, this fits only to the latest model of the reincarnation of elves, which Tolkien introduced in The Converse of Eru and Manwe, an appendix to the Athrabeth which Rembrethil did not discuss in his recent thread (as did Voronwe in his discussion several years ago). Is this draft regarding Glorfindel an indication that Tolkien was toying with this idea already around 1940? Or was this simply a slip, and "Glorfindel" should read as "Elrond" - indicating that Elrond should tell of his father being born in that city, as indeed he does in the published version of the Council?

That leaves us with the problems of Galadriel, Celeborn and Amroth - the last is a thorny one, because if he was of old the king of Lothlorien until the dwarves fled Moria, then C&G were either latecomers (and therefore not responsible to the magic of Cerin Amroth, for all Haldir's words) or subservient to him in some way. Perhaps this will be addressed in a later thread.
But Galadriel has become too important to Tolkien, for the problem of her history (and of Celeborn's, as her spouse) to be glanced over; so Tolkien worked hard at this, and came up with several ideas, some better than the others (by which I mean more consistent with the rest of the Legendarium). And the more Tolkien struggled with this question, the more important she had become in his eyes.
But of that in a different response. Time's up for now.


Feb 4 2014, 8:32pm

Post #17 of 125 (1248 views)
This is a wonderful chapter lead off Mikah! [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
But to bring the three of them into the same sentence reminds me, what exactly was the Woodland King's rift with them? It is my understanding that Thranduil moved his people North partly to avoid the growing power of Galadriel and Celeborn. Am I incorrect in this? We have a possibility that Celeborn was from Doriath. I believe that Thranduils father Oropher was from Doriath as well. Were there complications in the relationship during this time as well? Or was Thranduil's issues mainly with Galadriel? (Picture me here looking very confused Unsure.

Sorry to be slightly tardy - busy work week (sheesh, I see even Sador beat me! TongueLaugh). I will address the bulk of your post too, but this part has always intrigued me because of how fascinating I find the dynamics of the Elven lines after the Return (that event SO changed Elven history - in ways that the far-sighted Valar seemed blind to, following their own concerns and loss of faith *imo*).

Confused much? Oh yes, that's part of the fun!

I see an bit about the naming of Belfalas in the later part of the chapter, and JRRT discusses these Sindar as '...a remnant of the people of Doriath who harbored still their grudge against the Noldor." So depending on how we see Celeborn (as a Returned or not) Oropher may have been trying to move away from Galadriel as a prominent Noldo. I think that concept of a separation after the Kinslaying appears in several accounts because it was central and, even though accounts differ in ways, that is a constant in the post-return Elven world. I wonder if we can see Thranduil and Thingol as being cut from the same literary cloth, that idea of the rejection of the Noldor because of the Teleri tie carries over into Thranduil's reign and his post-Return Elven split?

So - Thranduil's ideas seem to come from his father, which may to have their genesis in the Kinslaying. That Kinslaying seems to have caused him troubles later on! The point in which JRRT seemed to have so many troubles allotting Galadriel a role that worked in his later years, where he seemed to (as FFH posted above) see her as purer in spirit as time progressed .... and though a penitent (which I think fits theologically for JRRT), it seems to me he wanted to remove the actual stain of murder (and for the cause of Feanor) from her soul. So penitent for pridefully not asking the leave of the Valar, and for desiring her own lands to rule, all of which seem like a realistic and forgivable (with the learning of wisdom) reflection of the human condition that JRRT seemed to be trying to portray in the fantasy motif.

But the further sin, of murder itself, not so much. And as the years pass it seems like he also wanted her also removed from 1. witness without action (by making her defend her kin) and then 2. making another trip altogether with Celeborn.

More later on your main post!

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room in April, 2014. We hope to see you there!

(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 4 2014, 8:43pm)


Feb 4 2014, 9:12pm

Post #18 of 125 (1249 views)
Celeborn, the wisest of the elves... [In reply to] Can't Post

Celeborn, said by his wife to be the wisest of the elves in Middle-earth... defers to his wife in everything Wink

...maybe that's why she considers him so wise?

In LOTR he restricts himself to a few pleasantries (and one rather unwise hasty outburst about not allowing that Balrog-disturbing Fellowship in). But he's pretty uninteresting & inessential - I do agree he seems just to be the husband that JRRT felt was needed. If Galadriel had all his lines and was imagined as a consortless queen, we'd be no worse off. Perhaps it's that she needs to have descendents leading to Arwen, so there would have to have been a marriage in Tolkien's eyes.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Feb 4 2014, 9:13pm)


Feb 4 2014, 9:24pm

Post #19 of 125 (1268 views)
Tolkien's "dark lady"? [In reply to] Can't Post

(Well Shakespeare had one, so why not?)

Did Tolkien paint himself into the following corner?:

Galadriel is banned from going West so either:

She did something bad enough to deserve it - but he likes her too much to make her bad enough for this, or;

The Valar are unjust (theologically tricky) or;

The ban is self-imposed - a little hard to maintain convincingly after so many other proud, kinslaying veterans have elected to go back West.

The only other option would seem to be that it doesn't suit her to go West just yet - perhaps that's not too out of character: no geopolitical scheming to be done over there, presumably.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

Grey Havens

Feb 5 2014, 12:50am

Post #20 of 125 (1209 views)
And wisdom [In reply to] Can't Post

Athena Pallada is the goddess of wisdom and not a stranger to the science and art. A woman of knowledge and courage. So, the comparison holds much value, to me.

Middle earth recipes archive

I believe

nandorin elf

Feb 5 2014, 2:27am

Post #21 of 125 (1199 views)
Celeborn [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Celeborn, said by his wife to be the wisest of the elves in Middle-earth... defers to his wife in everything Wink

...maybe that's why she considers him so wise?

In LOTR he restricts himself to a few pleasantries (and one rather unwise hasty outburst about not allowing that Balrog-disturbing Fellowship in). But he's pretty uninteresting & inessential - I do agree he seems just to be the husband that JRRT felt was needed. If Galadriel had all his lines and was imagined as a consortless queen, we'd be no worse off. Perhaps it's that she needs to have descendents leading to Arwen, so there would have to have been a marriage in Tolkien's eyes.
Yes, for someone who's so wise, he doesn't say anything particularly inspired. Angelic I always laugh when Galadriel corrects him for getting upset at the Fellowship.Celeborn does seem like something of a placeholder. He's of reasonably high lineage (depending on the version: Sindar, Nandor, Teleri, etc.), but Galadriel outshines him at every turn. In one version he helps defend Eregion against Sauron's forces. But even when he's heroic, he loses. Poor guy can't get a break. But he does give nice presents.

Tol Eressea

Feb 5 2014, 2:59am

Post #22 of 125 (1218 views)
Go West, Elven Lady!(?) [In reply to] Can't Post

I think of the whole situation as something similar to this: (Personal opinions follow)

Galadriel was not really banned from returning, kept by pride, ignorance, or any other reason, from returning with the others. She could have, but erroneously conceived the notion that she was under interdict. I think her personal pride and sense of being wronged allowed her to assume she was still under judgement. Pride kept her from asking and since she thought herself wrongly accused or forbidden to leave Valinor, and she did not care. At the time, she was full of ambition and desire for order and power, and did not want to return anyway. Now this pride was a flaw, but hardly a fatal one, however, as time passed and the Glory of the Elves diminished, then she began to feel the longing for home. She was eventually allowed to return, as we know, and I like to think of her sojourn in Middle-Earth as purgatorial, and one that let her learn wisdom and humility. Perhaps it was an opportunity to 'sow her wild oats'? I believe she could have returned earlier, but let us consider the implications.

I think that the pride that was in her, without wisdom or a level of humility, would have festered and she could have become a second Feanor. I think of the passage that says a shadow fell upon Feanor's heart, and those around him, even Galadriel, though she did not know it. She was fully capable of evil, and falling into the folly of Feanor, and it is also stated that she could have taken the Ring (Something I think within the realm of possibility), but with time and learning comes wisdom. She made the right choices, using the sobering wisdom she had gained in the 'long defeat'. She learned who she was, and her limitations, imposed by Eru for her happiness. I think it important to not that when she talks of taking the Ring, she does not say that 'Galadriel' would become powerful, but that a 'Queen' would rise. She would then become someone else, and no longer follow the intent of Eru, forsaking who she was meant to be. (Melkor became Morgoth) By returning earlier, she could very well have taken the path of seeking power in Valinor, and become as corrupted as Melkor and Saruman did. I think of the passage in the Narn i Chîn Húrin where it is said that Turin almost escaped the Curse of Morgoth. Galadriel only succeeded where he failed, in escaping her shadow. By remaining in Middle-Earth and learning wisdom, she rooted out the seeds of evil that came to fruition in the Sons of Feanor, and Feanor himself. In not swearing an oath, I think she avoided the added difficulty that conquered the SOF. Don't get me started on the mechanics of the Oath, I could go on at painful length!! Humbled and wisened, not embittered, by the years, she returned to Valinor, a little sadder, but still Galadriel.

The whole aspect of the Valar's involvement complicates this issue, but I think of the Valar as more distant than they were previously. How did they communicate that she was 'banned' or 'un-banned'? How did she know she could return? What were they doing during the Second and Third Ages? Was she allowed to return, only when she had been sanitised and rendered benign to the rule of the Valar? Those are just a few questions that arise, and I cannot reconcile them in a grand unified construct. I simply must accept that it is the case, that the Valar are not proactively involved with Middle-Earth, beyond their emissary. (Hey, Gandalf had connexions!Wink)

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?


Feb 5 2014, 3:50am

Post #23 of 125 (1186 views)
Of Galadriel and ... who? [In reply to] Can't Post

Great chapter discussion, Mikah!

It's disappointing for me to read that in any draft or scrap of paper, poor Celeborn has less personality than Bill the Pony. Why do you suppose Tolkien left him so woefully undeveloped? Was he afraid he would attract from Galadriel? Or did he just never get around to working on him?

One way that Celeborn's nebbishness hurts the story is that it's hard to see any attraction between them. It makes me wonder what kind of judgment or emotional temperament Galadriel had to be attracted to the equivalent of a pet that followed her about dutifully.

I think this chapter allows us to choose our own favorite version of the Galadriel's path in life since none is worked out satisfactorily. I like the idea of her fighting on the side of the Teleri at Alqualonde. I don't see that as disqualifying her from the march to Beleriand, since Feanor's host remained ahead and apart from the other two and viewed them with disdain/suspicion anyway. And fight or Alqualonde or not, Feanor and Galadriel weren't friends anyway.

Then she goes to Doriath, becomes the pupil of Melian, and meets Celeborn, a prince who was good brave or handsome or good at playing cards or did something worthwhile.

Then it's neat to think of her going to Eregion as ruler, FINALLY getting the kingdom she had left Beleriand for, a desire somehow suppressed during the First Age in Beleriand when she was just a houseguest. I like the intrigue story of Celebrimbor overthrowing her in a coup while influenced by Sauron, then later ruing his actions. Tolkien has lots of prideful and foolish acts followed by ruing, and I like that theme. Galadriel was wronged, but didn't invoke another kinslaying over it, and she had the wits to come out on top in Lorien. Score, girl, score!

What doesn't quite make sense to me is the wandering Tolkien had in store for her: she lingers in Lindon, wanders off to Belfalas, Eregion, Lorien, and who knows where else. Probably picked grapes in southern France and painted sidewalks in Florence, then performed in a subway band in Berlin or worked on a kibbutz in Israel. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) It detracts from her sense of dignity and royalty that she's such a wanderer. It works with Gandalf, but seems odd with her.


Feb 5 2014, 3:59am

Post #24 of 125 (1204 views)
Banned [In reply to] Can't Post

I struggle with the whole "banned" thing, but the most sense I can make of it is this:

1. She was a leader of the Noldor who left Valinor.
2. Unlike her father, she refused to seek the forgiveness of the Valar after the Alqualonde slaying (no matter whose side she fought on), and she thus willingly fell under the curse of Mandos. And again, she did so while in a leadership role.

So rank and file Noldor could be allowed to return to Valinor after the First Age, but leaders (and she was the only one left), were under an extra penalty. Which isn't too much of a stretch in legal terms in the real world, since rank & file mobsters often get leniency while mob bosses are the real targets of the police.

Though having said that, it's a weak argument.

What I do like is the version where she is penitent and not perfect. It makes her temptation by the Ring in LOTR a much more dramatic moment when you realize how much was riding on that decision.


Feb 5 2014, 4:31am

Post #25 of 125 (1221 views)
"In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, [In reply to] Can't Post

though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own." Interesting sentence. What do you think he meant by that concerning Galadriel?

Very interesting indeed! I'm so glad you brought this up, Mikah, because one thing I find satisfying about Galadriel's backstory (whatever the version) is that she was as great as Feanor in her own way. Her own special gift was that penetrating telepathy that she ruthlessly unleashed on the Fellowship as soon as she met them, which bothers me in a way. Couldn't she have done the 21st century thing and had one-on-one interviews with them first, or maybe a cocktail mixer where everyone could loosen up first and get to know each other, and maybe she could learn through skilled listening what she would have learned from a mental hijacking? Noooooooooooooo. She goes straight for the "I'm going to invade your mind and tempt you with something false but seductive to test your loyalty." I almost never side with Boromir, but I do in this instance where he says it was an unfair and deceitful thing to do.

But it shows that that was her nature, to see inside people, and she'd been doing that for thousands of years, and she'd seen some pretty awful things. She'd looked into "the greatest of the Noldor," Uncle Feanor, and saw the worst of the Noldor there. Tolkien credits her with having Feanor's pride, ambition, and strength of character, but having the advantage of growing with wisdom over time. I think it took her three Ages (more or less) to see that Melkor's shadow had fallen on her also in Valinor, something that wasn't supposed to be possible. Discerning that darkness in herself had to make her more wary about seeking it in others--everyone. She clearly saw something amiss in Saruman to want to have Gandalf head the White Council instead. And most amazing of all, she can see inside Sauron's mind, "or all of his mind that concerns the Elves." What effect did it have on her to see all the evil in others? Did it make her more resolute to be a good guy, or more suspicious of others, or more objective and philosophical about good vs evil in everyone?

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