LotRFI Pt.19–Galadriel’s Mirror

Finally, we come to Galadriel’s mirror and the surrounding scenes. Again, I must admit to a ‘misreading’ of an important scene in LotR. Since I did not trust Galadriel, my interpretation of her speech at the well was closer to Jackson’s than to mainstream Tolkien criticism. I did not like his over-production of the scene because I thought it was a cheap way to build suspense, but I did feel uncertainty in this scene while reading it. (I also started to grow exasperated with Frodo’s tendency to throw the Ring at any strong character nearby.) It was not until I understood the Arwen story from the appendices and started to read Galadriel’s history from S, that I understood the true nature of the interaction.

Image copyright Greg and Tim Hildebrandt

Beyond this observation, there is an element in these scenes that molded the way I interpreted ‘magic’ in Tolkien’s secondary world. The characterization of ‘magic’ throughout the Fellowship’s stay in Lothlórien left a profound impact on me the first time I read Tolkien’s work. It made so much sense to me that magical creatures would not interpret their own actions as magical, but as part of their life. It was a logical perspective, but one I had not considered before. The further characterization of ‘magic’ by Galadriel, wherein she expresses confusion about how it is applied to good and evil intentions was revelatory for me:

‘This is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same words for the deceits of the Enemy’ (FR, II, vii, 362).

This rational approach to magic was so verisimilitudinous with the way that people who understand a concept dispel the mystery of those who do not that I was completely sold on the existence of ‘magic’ in Tolkien’s world.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I want to talk about the breaking of the Fellowship, then move in to the second volume!

What Do You Think?

What do you think of Tolkien’s characterization of magic?
Did you follow the Arwen subplot on your first reading?
​Did I miss something? Let me know!

LotRFI Pt. 18–Lothlórien

FR, II, vi starts with a good bit of character development: Aragorn laments his prescience; Gimli reflects at Kheled-Zâram; Legolas talks about the relations between his kindred and the elves of the Golden Wood; Boromir shares a mistrustful legend of his people; and the hobbits yearn for a return journey.

Image copyright IaValerosa from Iavalerosa.com

Once the company enters the Golden Wood, they encounter sentries from Lothlórien. These guards are mistrustful of the Fellowship and confront them with force. For the first time in my reading of LotR, I did not know if I could trust all of the elves in the story. The tension between the Fellowship and this small group of guards continues word arrives from Lothlórien that the Fellowship is expected and allowed to walk freely. I must admit that I was wary of the elves up until the Fellowship left Lothlórien.

I thought that the depiction of the Cerin Amroth and Caras Galadon were too good to be true. I suppose that this is another example of taking Frodo too seriously when he warns that the agents of the enemy seem fair and feel foul (to paraphrase FR, I, x, 171). Galadriel’s mind tricks when she greets the Fellowship certainly bolster this interpretation. As Boromir reflects:

‘Maybe it was only a test, and she thought to read our thoughts for her own good purpose; but almost I should have said that she was tempting us, and offering what she pretended to have the power to give’ (FR, II, vii, 358).

This made me question Galadriel’s motivation for welcoming the Fellowship. I knew that Aragorn has spoken of Galadriel as a friend, but I did not know if perhaps she had changed allegiances, maybe she was like Saruman. I should admit that I completely missed the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn in my first reading of the text, which means that I did not have this extra connection to reinforce the idea of Galadriel’s commitment to Aragorn.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I want to talk about Galadriel and her mirror a bit more, then on to the final chapter of FotR​.

What Do You Think?

Did you always trust the Lothlorien elves?
How did you interpret Galadriel’s temptations?
​Did I miss anything important? Let me know!