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***Favourite Chapters - The Mirror of Galadriel (LOTR)
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noWizardme
Asgardian


Dec 1 2019, 10:50am

Post #26 of 38 (1298 views)
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Mirrors - some reflections [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel's mirror scene is such a memorable one! Thanks for getting the 'Favourite Chapters Project' off to such a good start with it, CG, for all you claim you don't understand it!

I'm not sure I understand it either. At least I think that I can say what the two hobbits see at each point (as I suppose most readers can by the time they've finished the book, with some question-marks over which wizard and whose ship is arriving). But if I was asked to do a quiz where I had to say why the hobbits see those things - turning each vision into a specific plot point, character insight, symbol or theme - I could only do some of them.

But maybe that's not the point. Fodo's visions here, like his dreams elsewhere, don't seem to me to be timely advice or reassurance. They don't seem to be much practical use! Maybe we are seeing simply how things were, are now or might be, and the Mirror is best approached without too much egotism? (Galadriel does say something remarkably like that.)

I also notice that Galadriel is up front about not knowing what the hobbits will see, or whether it will be useful. Of course she could be bluffing, but I like to think not. Maybe that's a contrast between Galadriel and Denethor. Denethor (and, probably, other palantir users) demand information relevant to themselves and are thereby decieved.

I've been thinking a bit this week about mirrors as a traditional symbol of vanity. Vanity of course doesn't have to be about physical appearance - someone can be vain about any aspect of themeselves. Maybe Galadriel's mirror is a sort of anti-vanity mirror: it shows things as they are (or were, or might be - it doesn't seem too interested in time). And the viewer needs the wisdom to cope.

My examples are that Sam sees he cannot keep everyone he loves safe. Frodo sees that he is part of a far greater story then himself (and interestingly, he sees scenes connected with Numenor and Gondor, rather than the history or future of the Ring itself directly). Although Galadriel doesn't look in the mirror she 'sees' (as in 'appreciates') that Lorien is doomed and her time in the West is ending. (That again puts her in contrast with Denethor, who if he can't have what he wants will 'have naught' - and give that to everyone else too).

Does that make any sense? Or am I worse of that you say you are, CG, unable to understand my own idea? Laugh

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Asgardian


Dec 1 2019, 2:52pm

Post #27 of 38 (1281 views)
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"You're so vain/ you probably think this Mirror is about you" :) [In reply to] Can't Post

And serves Frodo right for walking into the Mordor party like he was walking onto a yacht.

But seriously, I like your anti-vanity idea. It even made me wonder if Galadriel keeps this Mirror handy for personal use, not to see things the way you'd use a palantir, but to keep her pride in check. Both Gandalf and Galadriel say that the One Ring gives power to its user according to the user's measure. I feel like the Mirror does this too, with Sam being given more personal visions, while Frodo--more educated and more worldly--gets more grandiose visions, so I assume Galadriel would have visions like Frodo's, though even more grandiose. Some might be useful ("Look, forces from Dol Guldur are coming to attack Lorien") and others might go all the way back to the earliest struggles of the Valar against Melkor, reminding Galadriel of the bigger picture she's in as she fights "the long defeat."

I am extrapolating here, so I'm not going to say this like it's gospel, but what if Galadriel looked in the Mirror and saw herself in possession of the One Ring? She might have seen herself starting out doing good things and then winding up as Dark Lady. Maybe in her "nuclear Galadriel" moment she was re-enacting for Frodo something she had already seen for herself but couldn't quite accept: she wanted to believe she'd stick to good things and wouldn't spiral down into an evil being. It took the reality of the Ring being offered to her for her to actually confront her own limitations. I'm not sure Tolkien drafted this backstory, but it does seem pretty consistent with the scene, and also with what you're saying about it serving an anti-vanity role. I don't think that was its purpose--a Humbling Machine--but it could play that role among others.

I do really like your contrast here:

Quote
Denethor (and, probably, other palantir users) demand information relevant to themselves and are thereby deceived.

I think that was an important point for Tolkien, especially the way that Galadriel explains that the visions the Mirror gives under its own free will are more profitable than the things she can command it to show. The importance of free will resurrects itself repeatedly in LOTR as a foundational element. I think one of Tolkien's (and Galadriel's) reasons for bringing the hobbits to the Mirror was to show them they had free will to decide their directions in life, given the constraints that life imposes upon us all, and they're not automated pawns. If I think about it, Frodo may later complain about the pain of the burden he bears, and complain about the quest seeming almost impossible to achieve, but he never complains that he's a pawn being manipulated. He understands, at least, that he's following the path he's chosen, however grim and gloomy.


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Dec 1 2019, 2:54pm)


CuriousG
Asgardian


Dec 1 2019, 3:20pm

Post #28 of 38 (1272 views)
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A remarkable lack of grudges [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you all for your responses to my chapter posting! May your beards grow ever longer (well, OK, I realize that doesn't work for everyone).

I wanted to close out the week with an observation of something I really appreciate in this chapter, which is Galadriel's ethically mature remark to Frodo:


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"For the fate of Lothlórien you are not answerable, but only for the doing of your own task."

There are plenty of grudges in LOTR, from Elves vs. Dwarves, to Dunlendings vs the Eorlingas because the latter were given Rohan by Gondor, and even Denethor's grudges against his helpers, Gandalf and Aragorn. Then I think of how common it is in movies and TV for someone to have a grudge against a hero who does the right thing but has collateral damage along the way ("I, the hero, just saved 700 trillion lives and saved the universe from ruin." "Yes, but you killed my dog in the process, so I will hunt you down and hate you forever.")

So given the context of grudges, it would be easy for Galadriel to be bitter and petty towards Frodo and say that it's all somehow his fault that Lorien is doomed either way. But she explicitly doesn't, which is a moral takeaway from this chapter that I like a lot.


sador
Asgardian


Dec 1 2019, 3:58pm

Post #29 of 38 (1278 views)
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And now for the questions. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What do you like/dislike about this chapter?
You mean, other than the mirror scene? You seem to ask only about it.



Here are some other highlights:
1. The description of Caras Galadhon, "a hill of many mighty trees, or a city of green towers" (from Lothlorien), when the company approaches it at nightfall.
2. Celeborn questioning Haldir in the Silvan tongue, and Legolas answering him in (presumably) the Common Language. However, later Legolas will refuse to translate the Galadhrim's Lament for Gandalf.
3. Galadriel's probing the Company, and their reactions to it. This would warrant a full new post.
4. Sam's and Frodo's visions. I like especially the vision of Bilbo - what does that mean? For one thing, is this the second appearance of the rain curtain?
Anything I don't like? Well, I do find the treetop culture quite too fantastic - and not just because of the issue of Cirashala's recent thread.
However, it reminds that a friend once shared with me an article, with a recent speculation about evolution - that once humans developed the ability to digest alcohol, they no longer had a need to stay atop trees, and could roam the earth, nibbling rotten and fermented roots.
My response was: "I think they have it backwards. Once humans developed the ability to digest alcohol, they could no longer stay atop the trees.




2. Do you wish the Mirror was a true mirror (reflective glass) and not a basin of water? Or that it had some other kinds of power, maybe even a portal back to Bag End?
Not really. Why should I?
After all - we've had the Mirrormere on the previous chapter.
But at least, a proper polished mirror would be better than a strawberry coloured surface.


3. Should Tolkien have amped up the action here, maybe with a Nazgul or a big claw coming out of the water and clutching at Frodo?
Goodness, no. More than this?

Quote

But suddenly the Mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness. In the black abyss there appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror. So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.
Then the Eye began to rove, searching this way and that; and Frodo knew with certainty and horror that among the many things that it sought he himself was one. But he also knew that it could not see him—not yet, not unless he willed it. The Ring that hung upon its chain about his neck grew heavy, heavier than a great stone, and his head was dragged downwards. The Mirror seemed to be growing hot and curls of steam were rising from the water. He was slipping forward.


I think this is as terrifying and dramatic as could get, and definitely as should. It is also psychic rather than physical.
Do not touch the image!



4. I personally like Galadriel’s formal speech pattern making her loftier than the hobbits. Does this work for you, or do you wish she were more formal or more plainspoken?
Yes. Although Elrond has already cued us into noticing this.


5. This is in intimate setting of only 3 people. Do you think others should have been included, particularly Aragorn? Why do Merry and Pippin get left behind? Where’s Celeborn?
I am more surprised that Sam is there.
Does this mean the Lady considers him to be of no consequence, or that she uses him to leverage Frodo for the preferred outcome?


6. How would you compare the Mirror’s clairvoyant abilities to the palantiri’s? Are they basically the same device, or do you see differences between them?
Gandalf seems to indicate that one could use a palantir to gaze backward in time; however, I think there is no suggestion that they could show potential future images, or that they somehow react with the viewer's inner thoughts.


7. Galadriel says “The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.” So, what do you think was her ultimate purpose in bringing the hobbits to look in it, especially since she denies being a counselor?
According to the suggestion I made (or more correctly, linked to) in my previous response - to frighten Frodo, and force his hand.
However, she didn't expect him turning the tables on her - which actually was a good thing, enabling her to redeem herself.


Thinking about things I don't understand

(This post was edited by sador on Dec 1 2019, 3:59pm)


Solicitr
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dec 1 2019, 8:52pm

Post #30 of 38 (1242 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
5. This is in intimate setting of only 3 people. Do you think others should have been included, particularly Aragorn? Why do Merry and Pippin get left behind? Where’s Celeborn?
I am more surprised that Sam is there.
Does this mean the Lady considers him to be of no consequence, or that she uses him to leverage Frodo for the preferred outcome?


Or is it that, somehow, Galadriel senses either that a) Sam will be Frodo'd one companion right to the end; or 2) even that Sam will (briefly) be a Ringbearer also? After all, Gandalf's intuition told him that Gollum would have a part to play, and that Bilbo's mercy would rule the fate of many.

It could well be that, when she probed the members of the Company, Sam's response to her implied offer of an ejection seat and his own bit of garden was "No, I promised to follow Mr Frodo and help him to the end-" - an attitude of personal loyalty not (I think) like what any of the others, even the younger hobbits or Gimli, would have invoked.


CuriousG
Asgardian


Dec 1 2019, 9:31pm

Post #31 of 38 (1234 views)
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I think I'm with you on this one [In reply to] Can't Post

The Elves sense that Sam is bound to Frodo's side, so Elrond lets him "sneak" into his Council (everyone knew he was there), and Galadriel sees it as natural to include him with Frodo in the visions of the Mirror. I don't think she'd single out Sam for a solo visit since her focus was on Frodo, but maybe she guessed with people sense that Sam would stick by Frodo to the bitter end, or maybe she had some premonition that he would. Either way, I think she wanted him there for a reason and not by accident.


demnation
Defender

Dec 2 2019, 4:49am

Post #32 of 38 (1204 views)
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Strangely Moving [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What do you like/dislike about this chapter?

I love this line right before Frodo recites his poem/song for Gandalf :

"Yet when he tried to repeat it to Sam only snatches remained,faded as a handful of withered leaves"

I felt it represents a strong suit of Tolkien's writing : the feeling that all things will fade, and the sadness that comes with that.


3. Should Tolkien have amped up the action here, maybe with a Nazgul or a big claw coming out of the water and clutching at Frodo?

I feel like this scene works a lot better as a quiet and contemplative interlude, especially after the mess of Moria.

6. How would you compare the Mirror’s clairvoyant abilities to the palantiri’s? Are they basically the same device, or do you see differences between them?
7. Galadriel says “The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.” So, what do you think was her ultimate purpose in bringing the hobbits to look in it, especially since she denies being a counsellor?

Interesting questions. They're similar in almost every way except the fact that people DO use the palantir as a guide of deeds, to their own folly. I think she brought them here to look inside themselves, not to the world around them

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


CuriousG
Asgardian


Dec 2 2019, 5:00am

Post #33 of 38 (1198 views)
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Wow--what a wonderful quote [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks!

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I think she brought them here to look inside themselves, not to the world around them.



sador
Asgardian


Dec 2 2019, 7:15am

Post #34 of 38 (1193 views)
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But in that case, [In reply to] Can't Post

Didn't Sam fail the test? After all, he wanted to return home, and was only held back by the Lady telling him he cannot (I wonder how this compares to the choice she gave him at first?).

And I'm not sure how Galadriel's clairvoyance compares to Gandalf's. In a later text (The Quest of Erebor, IIRC) - Gandalf hints that his intuition has to do with some subconcious recollection of the Music of the Ainur. Galadriel has no such thing.
On the other hand, she does have the Mirror - and in the next chapter she seeme to be usually able to foretell the future. However, the messages she send in The White Rider are not necessarily clairvoyance - they might be just common sense, based on experience and her knowledge of the Company.

On a last note - I find it fascinating that there is no mention of Rosie Cotton in this chapter. Of course, she was not yet thought of when the chapter was written - but she could have been inserted when the drafts were assembled for publishing. As it is - we might guess that was the reason for Sam's blush, but I would expect something about her, rather than just the Gaffer, motivating Sam's sudden urge to go back.

Thinking about things I don't understand


noWizardme
Asgardian


Dec 2 2019, 5:01pm

Post #35 of 38 (1154 views)
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Sam's - pass or fail? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Didn't Sam fail the test? After all, he wanted to return home, and was only held back by the Lady telling him he cannot ...


I think Sam's wild idea of returning home is him speaking in shock - my guess is that it wasn't a firm intention, and he would quickly realise the impossibility of this plan, and that he has to choose who to try and help. Galadriel just speeds that up, I think (and also provides the mind-bending information that some mirror visions "never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them".

Poor Sam! I think he was expecting elvish magic to be a fun tourist experience - like Gandalf's fireworks, perhaps. Instead he gets a full on moral dilemma.


In Reply To
(I wonder how this compares to the choice she gave him at first?).


It's an interesting question! The first 'test' seems to be carrot - could you be distracted from the Quest by something nice instead of your current course of suffering? This is more stick - could you be distracted from the Quest by something nasty (and a problem that you'd have to rely upon something miraculus for you to solve)?

Likening it to 1 and 2 of the 3 temptations of Christ https://en.wikipedia.org/...Temptation_of_Christ (with Sam completing the third challenge when he has the Ring) is moderately attractive, but a bit stretchy even for me, perhaps. But I'll just lob it in anyway to tempt people Wink

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Asgardian


Dec 8 2019, 2:52pm

Post #36 of 38 (941 views)
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Late post (sorry!): Speculation, bewilderment, and Looking To Your Front [In reply to] Can't Post

I looked the following up again meaning to see if it fitted with our current discussion of Window On the West. But having re-read it, I think it goes better here:


Quote
Speculation is another word with two meanings. You know what speculation means in normal use. It's what they do at the Stock Market or the Casino as we call it. But speculation also comes from speculum. Which is the Latin word for mirror and it's really looking in the glass. Yeah, right. Looking the the mirror of Galadriel, that's speculation. It's not a good idea. You see things all right, but you don't know whether they're true or not. You don't know what to do if they are true. ...

The moral of all this is quite clear I think. If you speculate, you will draw the wrong conclusion. Why does Tolkien do this? And why does he have this complex net of criss-crossings and bewilderments and speculations? [Shippey has been talking about how the Fellowship characters separate, criss-cross each others' paths, and as a result are usually bewildered about what anyone else might be doing.] Well I'd say the answer to that, is fairly clear. What he's saying is, and I can sum it up in four words, which is the old motto of the British Red Coat. Which is, "Look to your front." You don't look to the sides, don't look to see what your mates are doing. You don't need to know that, cause if you're looking to see what they're doing. They'll be looking to see what you're doing. And you will have frightened each other in no time. Certainly don't look behind you, look to your front. ...

Once you start making your decisions on the basis of what you think other peoples decisions will be, you are speculating. And when you start speculating, you will inevitably get it wrong. You will actually frighten yourself, and drive yourself to wrong conclusions. Like Denethor and indeed like Sauron. Well, I think actually in the book all that's quite clear. It's a statement about the way events are in the real world. It's telling you what is the right procedure in the real world. But in the movies, it's quite different....

Prof Tom Shippey, leading Tolkien scholar and consultant for the PJ movies - transcript of a talk given at Swathmore
https://www.swarthmore.edu/...t-medium-and-message


~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule of you can lead a chapter.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Dec 8 2019, 2:52pm)


Solicitr
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dec 8 2019, 4:05pm

Post #37 of 38 (930 views)
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Which [In reply to] Can't Post

raises another question: Why did Tolkien include the Mirror? Why did he introduce this odd bit of goetia into his story, and what is he trying to convey to the reader? The chapter serves a purpose beyond the let's-tempt-Galadriel aspect, which he could have orchestrated without any scrying at all.


noWizardme
Asgardian


Dec 8 2019, 5:29pm

Post #38 of 38 (923 views)
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Yes, it just opens more possibilities [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Why did Tolkien include the Mirror? Why did he introduce this odd bit of goetia* into his story, and what is he trying to convey to the reader? The chapter serves a purpose beyond the let's-tempt-Galadriel aspect, which he could have orchestrated without any scrying at all.


Well, we've already had several good suggestions that:

=>The hobbits are shown the mirror to learn something (useful 'military intelligence', or to learn from the experience of using the mirror, rather than directly from things seen)
=>Galadriel shows the hobbits the mirror to learn something about them (that is, it's a test of some kind)
=>Galadriel shows Frodo the Mirror in order to frighten him ("Which might explain why he offered Galadriel the Ring - he might have been simply overwhelmed (could this have been her plan all along?)" - sador)

...and clearly, Galadriel learned something about herself, whether or not she intended it.

Of course several of those could be right all at once. And, perhaps at the same time we readers are intended to get a clue about the 'Look To Your Front' theme? If so then it is us readers, as much as Frodo or Sam, who get a subtle lesson on wisdom in Middle-earth.

--
*goetia (or goeteia), for anyone who is not familiar with the term in Tolkien, comes up in a partial explanation of magic in Tolkein's Letter #155. It's the magic of illusions, rather than physical effects, such as Gandalf magically setting light to wood.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.

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