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This passage:


Dec 14 2020, 1:06am

Post #1 of 13 (1899 views)
This passage: Can't Post

'Do not repent of your welcome to the Dwarf. If our folk had been exiled long and far from Lothlórien, who of the Galadhrim, even Celeborn the Wise, would pass nigh and would not wish to look upon their ancient home, though it had become an abode of dragons?

'Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dum in Elder days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone.' She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and there saw love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.

He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: 'Yet more fair is the living land of Lórien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!' There was silence.

-From "The Mirror of Galadriel", The Fellowship of the Rings, Book II (partially transcribed, partially copied from gramma's January 20, 2019 Book Spoiler (BS) post)

This passage always brings me to the edge of tears. I don't know if it's the way Galadriel powerfully but respectfully challenges Celeborn, while also expressing deep insight and sensitivity to Gimli; or if it's his reaction, followed by (probably stunned) silence.

Thoughts? Or perhaps you can share a passage that moves you?

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Dec 14 2020, 1:10am)


Dec 14 2020, 8:40pm

Post #2 of 13 (1783 views)
Poor Celeborn [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel like Tolkien uses him as the voice of "the ignorant common man" so that he can be corrected by both Galadriel and Gimli, who show that having empathy for an adversary and meeting them halfway is a sign of strength rather than weak capitulation, and that ending feuds is more productive than prolonging them. But I do love that passage since it rather explicitly demonstrates an underlying theme in LOTR about the value of cooperation instead of nursing grudges and being self-righteous, also voiced earlier by Gimli's dad Gloin in The Council of Elrond:

‘Still it might be well for all,’ said Glóin the Dwarf, ‘if all these strengths were joined, and the powers of each were used in league.

Which brings me to my favorite passage, because unlike Frodo, I can nurse a grudge, and I'm not proud of it, so Frodo remains my moral hero. And I like the complexity shown, where Saruman may be mean and petty, but he's still got something left of his noble spirit, which makes him view Frodo with "wonder and respect." And Frodo doesn't just forgive Saruman, he practically blesses him, or makes a public prayer for his salvation--right after Saruman tries to murder him in cold blood.

There really is "a lot to unpack," as people say now, because Frodo also has some insight into Saruman's true nature as a fallen angel that no other hobbit has. And, Frodo is pragmatic amongst his idealism, admitting that they can't cure Saruman's descent into evil, but he hopes he can be cured *somehow.* And not just by accident, because Saruman has to find his own salvation, which still holds him responsible for his spiritual fate. There's also the cool detail that Bilbo's mithril-coat from the end of The Hobbit saves Frodo's life at the end of LOTR, and by saving Frodo's life, the mithril-coat partially offsets the curse that Bilbo's other "gift" (The Ring) had on Frodo.

Lastly, while Frodo's pardon of Saruman is genuine, it has a sort of karmic punch in the face, because Saruman is angered by it. Yes, I can read this passage over and over, clearly have! Smile

Saruman turned to go, and Wormtongue shuffled after him. But even as Saruman passed close to Frodo a knife flashed in his hand, and he stabbed swiftly. The blade turned on the hidden mail-coat and snapped. A dozen hobbits, led by Sam, leaped forward with a cry and flung the villain to the ground. Sam drew his sword.

‘No, Sam!’ said Frodo. ‘Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it.’

Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. ‘You have grown, Halfling,’ he said. ‘Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.’


Dec 15 2020, 1:21am

Post #3 of 13 (1760 views)
Yes, there is a lot to unpack - [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for sharing this, as it hardly registered the last time I was in that end of the tale for some reason.

It puts me in mind of ancient sayings such as, "do not return evil for evil"; or "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." That certainly seems to be the case here, as Saruman candidly admits.

(A scene from Kingdom of Heaven between Saladin and the newly-minted King of Jerusalem (played by the same actor who played Celeborn in the LOTR films, btw) comes to mind as well: After a great battle, Saladin offers a chalice of ice water to his defeated enemy Jerusalem, who refuses the water; his second in command, making light of the gesture, drinks it instead and is slain on the spot! Selective grace? Is there something about being worthy of grace in the passage you shared?)

But yes, as is often the case, Tolkien packs great depth of meaning into only a few lines: enough to show for instance that Saruman was not so lacking in wisdom that he could not recognize how Frodo had grown. It's interesting too how casually our professor infers that Frodo understood Saruman's behaviour and mood, because of the burden he had carried and wrestled with himself.

Similar to your Ring/Mithril coat observation, there is also the continuation of the effect of pity, first shown by Bilbo, then Frodo (here and elsewhere), that probably spared them both from greater, lasting harm from carrying the Ring.

The passage's brilliance carries on even to the last dot as Saruman does not break character: in his final words he demonstrates once more that he, like the devil, is a liar.

Love it, thanks!

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Dec 15 2020, 1:30am)


Dec 15 2020, 2:48am

Post #4 of 13 (1748 views)
Re: Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

This is quite OT, so my apologies. I'm not sure if there's a direct quote for this (not in front of my books to check, unfortunately!), but I get the sense Frodo holds a similar view of the hobbits in town as well. So many of them have been, to some degree, corrupted (either knowingly or unknowingly) by the will of Saruman. It's quite an interesting situation, given that Saruman's presence so *clearly* resulted in the utter destruction of the hobbit way of life, yet we see little glimpses of unimportant characters whose lives--to themselves, at least--feel more important and purposeful under what is essentially a fascist regime. The sequence in which the group of watchmen briefly detain Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin is probably the clearest instance of this. And yet, once the menace has passed, the community appears quite willing to move on and begin to heal (both interpersonally and the land itself). One can of course account for it in part due to the "passing" of Saruman's shadow, but Tolkien seems careful not to suggest the people were merely under some kind of spell.

I do love the quote you shared, so thanks for including it!

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!


Dec 15 2020, 3:23am

Post #5 of 13 (1745 views)
Nay! [In reply to] Can't Post

almost nothing is OT in a thread begun by me... and your words actually fit well within what I was hoping for here.

Thank you :)

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Dec 15 2020, 3:27am)


Dec 15 2020, 4:37am

Post #6 of 13 (1737 views)
I like the moral complexity of "The Scouring of the Shire" [In reply to] Can't Post

and your point is a great one. It's not all about Saruman. The hobbit shirriffs have also "fallen," but their cure is within reach when the dictators are gone, so the dominant culture of the Shire can organically reassert itself. I think one reason Frodo is against the murder of Saruman is because he wants the hobbits to start being hobbits again. Their moral and cultural resilience is brought up early on by Gandalf in Rivendell, because he's certainly not referring to military or magical power:

"Indeed there is a power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire."

It's worth noting that Saruman only succeeded because there was rot to exploit: Bill Ferny in Bree and the Sandymans in Hobbiton, plus his puppet Lotho. They were ill-disposed to begin with, but being surrounded by decent people, their social damage was limited. Along comes the corrupt leader, and they join ranks.

They're the easy ones to spot. There are several passages that show the Shire is no utopia and has a corruption-friendly minority. But once they lose their poster boy, they melt back into society.


"There’s hundreds of Shirriffs all told, and they want more, with all these new rules. Most of them are in it against their will, but not all. Even in the Shire there are some as like minding other folk’s business and talking big."

‘Raise the Shire!’ said Merry. ‘Now! Wake all our people! They hate all this, you can see: all of them except perhaps one or two rascals, and a few fools that want to be important, but don’t at all understand what is really going on. But Shire-folk have been so comfortable so long they don’t know what to do. They just want a match, though, and they’ll go up in fire.

When the Shirriffs came up to the lower one they were dumbfounded; but as soon as they saw how things were, most of them took off their feathers and joined in the revolt. The others slunk away.

It seems like the best healing a society can do is get back to what made them good in the first place and move on from there.


Dec 15 2020, 4:40am

Post #7 of 13 (1733 views)
Saruman's parting shot is always so disturbing. [In reply to] Can't Post

It has the ring of truth to it and leaves me in doubt about how much power he has. And yes, just like the devil. Tolkien really crafted Saruman's character well.


Dec 15 2020, 8:19pm

Post #8 of 13 (1664 views)
Thanks for those quotes [In reply to] Can't Post

Those are all ones I knew existed but didn't have on-hand.

I'll add to your thoughts by mentioning Farmer Cotton, who is a fascinating little character in this episode. He's about the only one to articulate a sustained resistance to Saruman's rule, even if only in private due to fear of retribution.

'Good, good!' cried Farmer Cotton. 'So it's begun at last! I've been itching for trouble all this year, but folks wouldn't help. And I've had the wife and Rosie to think of.'

Even Butterbur suggests some resistance in Bree, though he leaves his own participation a bit vague.

'Why, we had a real set-to, and there were some folk killed, killed dead! If you'll believe me.'

It's clear that, to a degree, Butterbur blows with the wind, so to speak. Yet I don't think there's any doubt that he is in favor of the morally good side, which happens to be better for business too. I also really like his line about them not properly appreciating what the Rangers did for Bree until they were gone. You get the feeling that, through their own tragedy and hardship, both the hobbits and men of Bree have started to see themselves as *part* of the wider world, rather than hidden away from it. How often do we see that in the real world too, wherein folks only begin to appreciate their way of life once its comforts, profits and privileges have disappeared, even if only temporarily?

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!

(This post was edited by cats16 on Dec 15 2020, 8:21pm)


Dec 15 2020, 11:00pm

Post #9 of 13 (1639 views)
Glad to hear that, and thanks back atcha :) // [In reply to] Can't Post


Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!

(This post was edited by cats16 on Dec 15 2020, 11:00pm)


Dec 16 2020, 6:57pm

Post #10 of 13 (1590 views)
Nobody 'glosses' a dwarf like Galadriel does [In reply to] Can't Post

First of all, thanks for sharing that beautiful passage in such a lovely way, SirDennisC.

I think it has something of a partner later on in The Road to Isengard, when Gimli explains what the Caves of Aglarond were like, and then why he'd like to turn them into what is effectively a dwarven national park, rather than mine them for wealth as Legolas assumes. There are two long passages -- too much to quote here, so I'll give just the second:

“‘No, you do not understand,’ said Gimli. ‘No dwarf could be unmoved by such loveliness. None of Durin’s race would mine those caves for stones or ore, not if diamonds and gold could be got there. Do you cut down groves of blossoming trees in the springtime for firewood? We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them. With cautious skill, tap by tap–a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day–so we could work, and as the years went by, we should open up new ways, and display far chambers that are still dark, glimpsed only as a void beyond fissures in the rock. And lights, Legolas! We should make lights, such lamps as once shone in Khazad-dûm; and when we wished we would drive away the night that has lain there since the hills were made; and when we desired rest, we would let the night return.’

‘You move me, Gimli,’ said Legolas. ‘I have never heard you speak like this before. Almost you make me regret that I have not seen these caves.”

I've always read Legolas as being both surprised, and somewhat ashamed at his surprise. Despite all his experience of his friend,he's still surprised that dwarves might be the equal of the elves in matters such as the appreciation of beauty. That's something that Galadriel seems to have understood and can translate back to Gimli at her first meeting with him.

I think Tolkien might set this up, also. Gimli bows 'clumsily' in the passage you quote, SirDC, and later he 'capers' in his delight at Galadriel's message via Gandalf. So I find it easy to see him as a somewhat odd and amusing fellow, with his courtly love of Galadriel played a bit for laughs, perhaps.
Then this.

"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/

Hamfast Gamgee

Dec 19 2020, 10:54pm

Post #11 of 13 (1478 views)
Galadriel has been around during some Elven-Dwarf wars [In reply to] Can't Post

In Doriath and seen it destroyed by Dwarves, and she knows of one or two dubious activities her own people have done, so it is good of her to give succor to a potential enemy. Maybe she has mellowed over the centuries or is it Gandalf's influence.

Fantastic Four

Dec 21 2020, 3:46pm

Post #12 of 13 (1437 views)
Second Age [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think Galadriel needed Gandalf's influence to be on good terms with a Dwarf—at least, not if you take into account one of Tolkien's versions of Galadriel's story in Unfinished Tales:

In any case, Galadriel was more far-sighted in this than Celeborn; and she perceived from the beginning that Middle-earth could not be saved from "the residue of evil" that Morgoth had left behind him save by a union of all the peoples who were in their way and in their measure opposed to him. She looked upon the Dwarves also with the eye of a commander, seeing in them the finest warriors to pit against the Orcs. Moreover Galadriel was a Noldo, and she had a natural sympathy with their minds and their passionate love of crafts of hand, a sympathy much greater than that found among many of the Eldar: the Dwarves were "the Children of Aulë," and Galadriel, like others of the Noldor, had been a pupil of Aulë and Yavanna in Valinor.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Dec 21 2020, 7:45pm

Post #13 of 13 (1422 views)
Great passage; thanks for posting it [In reply to] Can't Post

That one packs a lot of punch in describing that suspicious, no-good "Lady in the Golden Wood." I hope Eomer is lurking here.


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