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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM Day One - "Galadriel, political animal of Middle-earth", by Demosthenes
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Nov 14 2013, 8:37pm

Post #101 of 106 (114 views)
I so agree! [In reply to] Can't Post

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I think it's kind of fun to not have a set story, but rather a few different alternatives. We "know" that she left was born in Valinor and left there during the flight of the Noldor. We also know she dwelt in Doriath for a while, befriended Melian, and visited her brother in Nargothrond. We also "know" that by the end of the Third Age, she was living in Lothlorien and was the keeper of one of the three elven rings. Most everything else in between has been left to legend, and no clear story can be discovered. The mysteriousness adds to the story, I think. Smile

It not only adds mystery but that patina of reality to the story - like in Real Life history there are vents that happened with the last century that we still do not know the truth of. I like the layers, and the sifting, and I am not the first to say that the sort of 'hidden' nature of the tales and tiny indicators seem to delight people (ie; us!) who love JRRT's world.

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!


Nov 14 2013, 8:44pm

Post #102 of 106 (115 views)
I love the way you lay all this out CG [In reply to] Can't Post

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Although, one could maybe argue that her testing of the fellowship is morally ambiguous. There's a discussion in that I reckon.

I will take her side on this one. We only get to see two powerful Elves in action in LOTR, and Elrond is all talk and contemplation. No magic mirrors or phials, and no revealing of his ring to Frodo. I'm not faulting him. Just that he seems rather passive.
Galadriel is the Elf of action, summoning White Councils in the past, exposing Frodo to her ring and mirror, dispensing special gifts to the Fellowship, sending an Eagle to look for Gandalf's body after his Balrog fight, sending prophetic messages to Aragorn and Legolas (and a flirtatious one to Gimli), and attacking Dol Guldur after Sauron's fall. It seems to me that she takes on a great part of the responsibility for success in "the long defeat," so it's only natural for her to interrogate the Fellowship when they arrive in her court. She would seem irresponsible if she let them pass through her realm without looking for any problems in their ranks.
In addition to that, I think her telepathic probing/tempting of them is a reproduction of what the Ring does/would do to them anyway, so she's toughening them up for what may come. Did Sam later pass his own test in Mordor successfully (when tempted to become a giant gardener to heal the land), because Galadriel had already given him a test of her own? That's a stretch, but I wonder about it nevertheless.
Though I think she was justified, I wouldn't personally want her to invade my mind, uninvited, performing interrogation tricks in the name of the greater good. So there is some moral ambiguity there. Couldn't she have tested them another way? I think of her time with Frodo at the Mirror as a test of him. Couldn't she have done that with the others and made it seem less adversarial or suspicious than invading their minds?

And you put your finger on an important part of her character CG: she is active, not passive. So I think it would have been out of that character for her not to take that step, although it may be seen as a bit invasive maybe, considering what was at stake: her whole world. Because at the time when the Fellowship passes through, she is banned from returning to Valinor, as far as she knows, for the age of the Earth. If Sauron won dominion, it left her no where to go - and being a vassal of Sauron I am sure does NOT play into her wheelhouse one little bit. (*for which I giver her a standing ovation*) Angelic

So I see it a consistent and believable (and justified) act, but even MORE so if you know the Sil and UT backstories.

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!

(This post was edited by Brethil on Nov 14 2013, 8:45pm)


Nov 17 2013, 11:08pm

Post #103 of 106 (94 views)
Galadriel [In reply to] Can't Post

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She *had* to leave to find a place were she was above everyone else. Her ambition got her out from under and as Demosthenes says, put her in a place of relative power. But it's all relative, isn't it.

I'm just thinking that it wasn't until she denied the ultimate power that her ban was lifted and she was able to return to the West. I find it to be incredibly ironic that while her pride is ultimately what allowed her to thwart many of Sauron's plans, it was not the Wise that ultimately defeated him, and she ends up returning to Aman to be the equal of everyone, not superior to them. She sets out from a desire to be greater, and ends up being the same as everyone else. I don't know about you, but I really like that. I think she learned to be satisfied with humility.

Well, she was surly not superiour to the Ainur but certainly superiour to most of the other elves and surly not a little frog, like someone else in that thread said.

She is after all of royality, as a princess of the Noldor, if we assume her father is still King of the Noldor, if her grandfather Olwe is still King of the Teleri and her grat uncle Ingwe is surly High King of all the elves, so I would assume she has a certain social status.

Furthermore she is, with Luthien and Feanor, the greatest of all the Eldar, and with both gone, wow, she would be like the Madonna of the elvesTongue

Maybe she would even have more standing in Aman than in ME, for

of the pardon (and indeed honour) that the Valar gave her

It seems they (the Valar and Galadriel) are on good terms with each other.

But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him

This quote seems to back up my thesis.

The Shire

Mar 30 2014, 6:12am

Post #104 of 106 (61 views)
She comes up with the morning sun, and tells me life has just begun... [In reply to] Can't Post

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I remember hearing a song by hippy rockers, Barclay James Harvest, entitled Galadriel. It was mysterious and beautiful in tone, with a slight feeling of uneasiness. To my shame Blush I didn't read LOTR until some years later. Yet on reading the passages in Lothlorien, the same feelings were invoked of this ethereal and mystical being, who was on the side of good and still seemed dangerous.

It is this post that finally convinced me to register on this forum, as it is this song that is responsible for me reading LOTR in the first place :) I am a major BJH fan; one day a friend was reading the track list of my copy of BJH's "Once Again", and his reaction first to the title of the fourth track and then to my bafflement over what he was on about was of such remarkable strength that I felt I had to read the book.

Unlike elaen32, however, I found that there was a disappointing lack of correspondence between the song and Galadriel as portrayed in LOTR. It seemed to me that BJH had more or less just chosen a name they liked for the title and I found myself struggling to get the song to fit with the book. I concluded that if there was any connection more than the name, the song had to be written from Celeborn's point of view when he first met her - as a work purely of John Lees's imagination, since the song was recorded back in the autumn of '70 (using John Lennon's guitar) and nobody "knew" more than is in LOTR at the time.

Anyway, some thoughts more directly related to the thread as a whole (though unfortunately I can't read the headline essay because it is on Google docs :( )

I don't see Galadriel's gift to Gimli as any kind of a political gesture; rather, she was simply moved by his response to her. I think she was more than a little fed up with being viewed with fear and suspicion by outsiders who attributed to her motives and desires that had very little to do with what she knew her true motives to be, an annoyance exacerbated by her awareness that her own presentation of herself was partly responsible. Gimli, it seems to me, had a flash of mental clarity when she spoke to him in Khuzdul, and was able to completely lay aside any prejudice, prior assumptions, or resentment at being blindfolded and at Celeborn's unfairness; he looked at her in that moment with a completely fresh and open mind, and liked her simply for herself - which meant a lot to her, and to be granted such a gift was his reward. Gimli asked with a pure motive, whereas in Feanor she saw only darkness...

The "self-inflicted misperception" thing seems to extend into this world also :) I think the view of her "invading the minds" of the Fellowship is something of a slur. She is more subtle than that. She simply looked them deeply and searchingly in the eye - which is something that can make you feel as if you hadn't got nothing on when an ordinary human does it; how much more so that must be the case when it is done by a high and mysterious Elf-lady who as well as being disconcertingly beautiful is also someone that you are somehow very clear that you do not want to cross. The temptations that they perceived were constructed by their own minds out of their own more-or-less suppressed desires, and their reactions by their own consciences under the discomfort of Galadriel's searching gaze. Boromir got the hump because his conscience was particularly guilty and blaming Galadriel allowed him to avoid confronting his own failings... Galadriel's use of mental powers in this encounter was at no higher a level than simply reading their reactions (by passive reception, being no more "invasive" than a radio) in greater detail than she could have done from what showed in their faces (if indeed that wasn't enough).

(Not that she couldn't have done it; she quite obviously has the ability, as is made clear elsewhere, but the elegant and subtle approach is much more her style than charging at things like a bull at a gate. Compare Kinnison's development over the course of the "Lensman" series and consider that Galadriel has been on the same sort of course for 8000 years odd by now... :) )

As to the exile/ban business... Galadriel's portion of the shadow that fell upon all the Noldor was simply loss of faith and trust in the Valar. And I would say, not without reason... They made war on Melkor for the protection of the Elves, brought him back to Valinor and put him in prison; and they also invited the Elves over, and kept Melkor banged up for three ages looking out through the bars at the guys for whose benefit he has been banged up all happily playing outside; it is almost as if they were trying to wind him up on purpose. But he spins them a line at his parole hearing, and not only does Manwe - with staggering naivety (the bit about him lacking spite himself and so being unable to perceive it in others seems terribly weak to me; surely by now he has had time to learn to perceive it, and surely too it is his duty to do so in order to act effectively as lord of a world in which it exists) - believe him, but also does not listen to those of the Valar who are not deceived, and so sets Melkor free. He then proceeds unhindered to mess with the Noldor's heads; the Valar's reaction to the discontent which they perceive as a result is to go "oh no, what's happening?" and that is all. I mean come on... He destroys the Trees, murders Finwe, raids Formenos; Mandos knows what is happening, but he just sits there making cryptic remarks ("Not the first") which nobody understands instead of telling anyone; when the Valar do find out they chase after him but come back saying "nah, sorry, couldn't see 'im, too dark"... Ungoliant can blind all the Valar but can't defend herself against a couple of Balrogs? Granted that latter hadn't happened yet but I still think it's reasonable for the Noldor to expect a more effective response. Even though they now know that it is Melkor who is behind everything that has gone wrong, the Valar still blame the Noldor. The Noldor go to do something about it; the Valar say "Fine, you go, we won't stop you, we won't help, and we won't let you back either"...

Galadriel is far from alone in thinking "This lot are a right shower: incompetent, inconsistent, unjust, and not to put too fine a point on it, thick as two short planks. Why should I stay here when I can't respect the rulers any more? So they won't protect us in Middle-earth? Pshaw, they can't protect us here..." She hasn't been listening to Feanor's rallies; she's just come to the conclusion off her own bat, because, well, it's kind of hard not to :) I'd probably think much the same sort of thing myself.

She certainly isn't following Feanor; she's going on her own account. One of Tolkien's possible histories even has her going with the aim of thwarting everything Feanor does. This idea does not stand, but the basic anti-Feanor motive does; she wants broad realms of her own to rule not for the sake of ruling per se, but to make the point that she can do a better job of it than the Valar. Her realm will be something in the nature of a refuge, in the way that Aman was supposed to be but turned out not to be; it won't have Melkor in it, and it won't have Feanor either :)

She does not achieve this until she gets Lorien, but when she does, it does turn out to be more or less true :) No shadow falls on Lorien; no Feanor-types appear in it; and Sauron never manages to touch it; instead, Galadriel is instrumental in defeating Sauron - no less so than Frodo or Gandalf, just less obviously. There is a comment from Tolkien somewhere to the effect that Sauron feared Galadriel above all others in Middle-earth.

The Valar were twitchy about her, too, having a similar Ainu-type awareness of her power as Sauron did; they had some notion, if not fully conscious, that if she really cut loose she could make the chaos Feanor created look like chicken feed; they did not understand her - they weren't much cop at understanding Elves in general :) - and feared that which they did not understand. Her rejection of the Ring has the additional significance of putting their minds at rest on this matter :)

I think that's probably enough for the moment! I am losing track of what I'm trying to say anyway...

Tol Eressea

Mar 30 2014, 7:23pm

Post #105 of 106 (61 views)
Welcome, Gimloid! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you on most of your points, especially that Galadriel can use highly experienced powers of observation that seem like mind-reading.

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.

The Shire

Mar 30 2014, 9:36pm

Post #106 of 106 (76 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the welcome, and I am glad that you don't think I'm totally out of the window! I do tend to prefer the "internal" viewpoint, whereas it seems to me that many on here prefer the "external" one, so I wasn't expecting that my views would necessarily correspond :)

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