May 1 2009 5:58pm

LotR re-read: Fellowship II.7, “The Mirror of Galadriel”

cover of The Fellowship of the Ring And now for chapter 7 of book II of The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Mirror of Galadriel.” Spoilers and comments follow after the cut.

What Happens

The Company comes to the city of Caras Galadhon and are received by Celeborn and Galadriel, who are dismayed to hear of Gandalf’s death in Moria. Galadriel makes Gimli welcome after Celeborn’s initially-harsh words and silently tests each of the Company.

The Company rests and mourns for some days, mostly by themselves. At the end of this period, Frodo and Sam are invited by Galadriel to look in her Mirror. Sam sees trees tossing in the wind, then Frodo asleep under a cliff and himself climbing a stair looking for something, then trees not tossing but being cut down in the Shire, along with a new mill being built and Bagshot Row being dug up. Sam exclaims that he must go home, but Galadriel tells him that he cannot go home alone, and he decides unhappily that he will “go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo, or not at all.”

Frodo ses a white-clad figure who reminds him of Gandalf, walking on a road; Bilbo in a rainy room; a sequence of three ships arriving and departing against sunrises and sunsets; and a fire-rimmed seeking Eye. Galadriel tells him that she also saw the Eye and not to fear, for she perceives the Dark Lord’s mind and he does not see her. Frodo sees her Ring (Nenya, the Ring of Adamant) and says that he will give her the One Ring if she asks. Galadriel admits that she has desired and imagined having it, but refuses (to Sam’s disappointment).


As a child, I was rather poorly educated in Western folklore, I think, to not have recognized Elven lands as Faerie, particularly Lothlórien. There are voices of unseen speakers all about them as they enter the city, time passes in odd ways that are hard to discern, the seasons seem mixed, and it’s fundamentally static, as Sam describes:

It’s wonderfully quiet here. Nothing seems to be going on, and nobody seems to want it to.

Now, I am not the gotta-keep-busy one in my family—a day spent sunbathing on the beach or curled up on the couch sounds just fine to me—but even still, that statement makes all of my muscles just twitch.

Two less abstract comments about the city:

Caras Galadhon is encircled by a fosse (moat) and a wall whose ends overlap and have a gate between. Maybe I just haven’t paid enough attention to descriptions of fortifications in other books, but the overlapping walls struck me as unusual.

Galadriel’s mirror, a silver basin, is echoed by the fountain near the tree where they dwell.

* * *

The introduction of Celeborn and Galadriel:

Celeborn says to Aragorn that it has been 38 years since he was there, which I don’t think actually helps the reader figure out Aragorn’s age, since he doesn’t say anything more.

Apparently Galadriel does not tell all she knows to Celeborn, since she knew that Gandalf set out from Rivendell but he wondered if there’d been a change of plans. But how does she know? She says she can’t see Gandalf unless he comes to Lothlórien, and the messages Celeborn refers to predate the Company’s departure. Psychic Ringbearer-to-Ringbearer message from Elrond that she neglected to pass on? If they can do that, why send messengers?

Once again we see the importance of language, since it’s Galadriel using the Dwarves’ own names that prompts Gimli’s change of heart. (Which in turn seems to prompt Legolas’s.)

Galadriel says that Celeborn “is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth,” which surprised me since I don’t remember him doing anything of note, umm, ever. And this came right after she told him to think twice about being rude to Gimli! Am I being unfair to him?

Galadriel’s testing of the Company: having typed that phrase and spent five minutes staring at it, off and on as I addressed other bits of this post, I think I’m just going to leave it at, well, she tested them. That’s all I got. *shrugs* What about you all?

* * *

This chapter echoes two different episodes from Book I: Gildor, in the repeated steadfast refusal to give counsel, and Tom Bombadil, in the period of respite and the hosts’ strong roots to the land that Sam perceives. The structures of the two Books so far have similiarities but are not strict parallels.

* * *

The Mirror:

As a preliminary note, my e-book edition of the 50th Anniversary Edition has footnotes that link the mention of the evening star to the story of Eärendil in the Appendices, which is not something I’d had in any prior edition. It’d be the equivalent of hazing to think that if Tolkien wanted people to be able to figure what was going on so easily he’d have put the footnotes in his own darn self, huh? (Well, once all three volumes had been printed.)

Sam and Frodo’s visions: what’s important to Sam is Frodo and/versus the Shire. To Frodo, it’s Gandalf (and I think from our perspective as re-readers we can say it is Gandalf), Bilbo, and then the big picture: the history of the Númenóreans and the War of the Ring in the form of three ships, plus Sauron. (I specifically remember trying to figure the ships vision out as a kid and being unable to. But since two of the three ships are ones we haven’t seen yet (Aragorn’s arrival at the Pelennor Fields and the Ring-bearers’ departure), and I believe the third was only mentioned in passing at the Council, well, I think that wasn’t so unreasonable.)

What do you suppose would have happened if Frodo had touched the water?

Galadriel says, “I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves.” And somehow I don’t believe her—I don’t think she’s lying, that is, but I don’t feel like it fits my conception of Middle-earth and the story. On the other hand, I can’t think of how things might be different in the story if it were true, so maybe it doesn’t matter. But it feels wrong.

But the big question I have about this section is prompted by Michael Swanwick’s description of Frodo as

travel(ing) through Middle-earth like some kind of God-sent integrity test. The Wise, if they were truly so, upon seeing that he had come to visit, would shriek, “Oh, no! It’s that fucking hobbit! I’m not in!” and slam the door in his face.

(More discussion of his essay “A Changeling Returns” over at my LiveJournal.)

So: is Frodo deliberately testing Galadriel? The narrative pulls back from his thoughts at this point, and I don’t think we ever get his POV on the question again. I lean against it, because I don’t think he sees himself as someone who could or should do so, but I’m not sure.

Finally, a silly thing. We have a little rhyme we sing to SteelyKid (our almost-nine-months daughter), modifying the words as appropriate, and one particularly trying day early in her life I found myself thinking of the line “All shall love (her) and despair”—which, you guessed it, fits the rhyme. So now my default association with that line is “colicky baby” rather than “beautiful and terrible.” Chalk it up as number 31,845 in the list of “unexpected things about parenthood.”

« Fellowship II.6 | Index | Fellowship II.8 »

rick gregory
1. rickg
I don't think Frodo's testing Galadriel. I think what we're seeing is his desire to be rid of the Ring and have an easy solution to all of the troubles its discovery has caused. Remember, he took on the burden of destroying the Ring reluctantly and is smart enough to have some inkling of the danger ahead. Handing it off to a wise, good, powerful elf must seem tempting and I don't think he really has understood that no one in Middle Earth can wield the Ring without it corrupting them, not even someone as powerful as Galadriel. This is also a message to the reader - there IS no easy way out, all of those options are foreclosed. I can easily see readers asking "why didn't Frodo leave the Ring with Galadriel?" had this not happened. This is an echo of the idea proposed at Elrond's council to have Bombadil take the Ring - there is no stalling, we're coming to the end of an Age. The Ring will either be reclaimed by Sauron and usher in a long, dark age of evil and corruption or it will be destroyed.

Swanwick's comment seems thickheaded (though context might make it less so). The Wise have an understanding of their reality that's deeper than the reader at this point - they know of Valinor and likely something of the nature of how the world was created. They may dread some of the possible futures, but any being who knows of Valinor and who has seen as much as Galadriel knows that events are not simply random but have an underlying reason though that reason may be obscure and hard to see.
Tudza White
2. tudzax1
So is this where the movie guys got the notion that Sauron had no body and was just a flaming eye?
rick gregory
3. rickg
@2 - Sauron is described as bodiless earlier by Gandalf (in The Hobbit perhaps?). The eye might have been from here and the scene later with the palantir and Pippin likely reinforced that one.
Agnes Kormendi
4. tapsi
I agree that Celeborn doesn't come across as particularly wise here, but he and Círdan are the only elves of high lineage who never left Middle-Earth from the early First Age. It is true that he doesn't get mentioned very often, and that Galadriel outshines him, but he is tied to this land even more than his wife. (Also, re: his knee-jerk reaction to the Company's tale, remember that his king and kin, Thingol was killed in his own halls by Dwarves.)

Galadriel learned a number of things from Melian the Maia, so I credit her when she says she knows Sauron's thoughts concerning the Elves. Also, Sauron and Galadriel have been at war for the last seven housand or so years, and she could get to know his mind quite well in such a long time.

I think Frodo didn't mean to test Galadriel, but offered her the Ring honestly. His willingness to part with it is one of the reasons the Wise trust him with the Ring, I suppose.
5. DBratman
Galadriel says she has passed a test, but Frodo is not deliberately testing her. His offer is sincere. The test is that of the Valar. Galadriel, Aragorn, Gandalf, and later Faramir all have moments when (as Aragorn actually points out at the time) if they wanted the Ring, they could have it. But they all refuse, and thereby show wisdom. They don't have to slam the door in his face to do that; to that extent, Swanwick's comment is rather stupid, and probably intentionally evokes the final scene of Bored of the Rings.

I have read one thoroughly wacko interpretation of this scene which didn't realize that Galadriel's diminishment was her decision to cast off the robes of power that should never be worn; instead, this person thought Frodo had done it, by zapping her with mighty Ring-power or something. Good grief.

Backstory is that this is Galadriel's moment to show repentance for the rashness of her youth, but the reader doesn't need to know that.

The printed 50th anniversary edition I have bears no footnote about the Evening Star.

My favorite comment about Celeborn was made by Robert Foster, the normally impartial and judicious author of A Guide to Middle-earth. He says, "Although Celeborn was an Elven-lord of great fame and was called Celeborn the Wise, in LotR he does not seem especially bright."

(You probably know this, but let me just stick in here that it's pronounced Keleborn. A lot of people say Seleborn, or used to.)

The significance of Galadriel's testing of the company lies partially in its demonstration of the power she does have, and partially in their reactions. Most are embarrassed. Boromir, however, is suspicious. Tricksy Elvses, we doesn't like them, no gollum.

To my mind, the single most important line in the chapter is Galadriel to Sam: "This is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy." It is clear from here and elsewhere that the Elves don't mentally separate their activities into the "magical" and the "non-magical." "Magic" is a category used by people who don't, or normally don't, have it. To the Elves it's all part of a whole, and the true separating line is between their purposes of healing and understanding, and the Enemy's of controlling and destroying. They think differently than we do, and it's a good illustration.
Paul Howard
6. DrakBibliophile
On Sauron just being a flaming eye, I don't think there is any comment in the books that he lacks a physical body. However, we never see him in person in the books. All we 'see' of him are in visions as the flaming eye. This may be both how he sees his own 'spirit self' and all that most of his subjects see of him.

The flaming eye may also be symbolic of the de-humanization that evil causes in a being. Sauron has a physical body and was able to fool humans into thinking him as attractive.

The flaming eye is closer to his true self now.
7. sps49
I thought the 3 ships arriving were one of the contingents of Exiles from Numenor. I later ID'd one as the former Corsair ship, but never really worked them out.
Kurt Lorey
8. Shimrod
Somewhere there are seveal notations that Sauron's evil is coalescing again. I think his body was destroyed (way back when), but not the essence of his evil. I think he needed the Ring to finish returning.
9. Confutus
Couldn't Galadriel have seen the Company in her Mirror, before they entered Moria? After all, the coming of the Ringbearer, like the approaching tramp of doom, along with his escorts seems to be the very kind of thing it would give cryptic hints about. It's not exactly two-way communication.

Then after the Company left, she must have immediately begun seeking to know the fate of Gandalf and knew where to send Gwaihir looking for him.

She also had the means, later, to know that Aragorn was or would be in Rohan and enough of his situation to send to Rivendell for the Dunedain, Elrond's sons, and the standard Arwen had been making, along with a few words of advice for Aragorn and even a message to Gimli.

As far as not touching the water, my guess is that ripples would have made the Mirror unusable for an inconveniently lengthy time.
Andrew Foss
10. alfoss1540
One of my favorite chapters of all - partially because it was the first place in all my life that I saw my name in literature (fosse) - though most actual fosses are natural occurance that happen to make strategic defenses, rather than man/elf-made - but I forgive this.

ET&T (Elven Telephone and Telegraph) is exposed in all its flaws here. I have often wondered about the odd inconsistencies here - between the rings and the mirrors and all. By the time they get there,I would think that they would have been expected. Think about when the Dwarves decended into Rivendell in the Hobbit - silly as they may have acted, they seemed to know more than they should. But in Lorien - with the wise are wise - they remain dense to the outside world.

Until the first movie - my view of Galadriel was much as a much deeper, happier elf - truly at peace in her environment. Her tests were her way of playing - and protecting her realm. I would expect nothing less from the leader of the secret land.

Will finish later- after I get the kids to sleep.
Andrew Foss
11. alfoss1540
Kids asleep finally - The first watching of the movie version of Lorien really bothered me. While it captured one aspect of Galadriel better than I had noted it - the taste of the all powerful Queen - it missed her heart - as well as the heart and beauty of the land itself. I would never want to visit that land from the movie. But I still imagine myself walking in the land from the book - if that makes sense.

I could never quite figure the references to Celeborn as the lord of Lorien - and giver of gifts beyond compare. The land, from the source of its power to its heart, is Galadriel. Celeborn always seems like the impotent titled master (like Phillip Mountbatten).

Let's not lose sight of the fact this this also is the first open, first person view of another ring of Power. The first time I read this, it was the first point I put together the obscure references to the 3 elven rings - any vieled references to Elrond's power was completely lost on my brick of a brain - Gandalf having the third was complete shock at the end of ROTK.
12. Iain Coleman
Galadriel accounts Celeborn the wisest of all the Elves of Middle-Earth because he always does what she says.
Kelly McCullough
13. KellyMcCullough
On the notion of Sauron as bodiless: I'm pretty sure I remember Gollum commenting on having seen the black hand with the missing finger where Isildur cut the ring free, which pretty thoroughly suggests a body to me. I want to say the line comes when Gollum is guiding Frodo and Sam and goes something like "yes, only four fingers on the black hand, but they are enough."
14. DBratman
Kelly @13 is correct. The Eye of Sauron is a synecdoche, a part standing for the whole. As is the Black Hand, a term Gollum uses at least twice. It's in Chapter 3 of Book 4 that we get the exchange Kelly is remembering:

Frodo: It was Isildur who cut off the finger of the Enemy.
Gollum: Yes. He has only four on the Black Hand, but they are enough.

On the lines by which Jackson turned Sauron into a ridiculous, helpless protoplasmic eyeball, this evidence would be enough to justify envisaging Sauron as Thing from the Addams Family movies. Which is ridiculous, and so is the giant eyeball. Sauron lost his body in the fall of Numenor, but he built another one by the time of the Last Alliance, and he's had no reason to lose it since.
Tim May
15. ngogam
Appendix A:
"Sauron was indeed caught in the wreck of Númenor, so that the bodily form in which he long had walked perished; but he fled back to Middle-earth, a spirit of hatred borne upon the dark wind. He was unable ever again to assume a form that seemed fair to men, but became black and hideous, and his power thereafter was through terror alone."

Book 1, Chapter 2:
"It was Gil-galad, Elven-king and Elendil of Westernesse who overthrow Sauron, though they themselves perished in the deed; and Isildur Elendil's son cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and took it for his own. Then Sauron was vanquished and his spirit fled and was hidden for long years, until his shadow took shape again in Mirkwood."

So it sounds to me as though Sauron was disembodied a second time at the end of the Second Age. I don't think Tolkien is ever explicit about what kind of body, if any, he has now.
16. DemetriosX
Agreeing with everybody that Frodo was not deliberately testing Galadriel. Part of was undoubtedly a desire to be rid of the burden and reflects the trust which she engenders in him. OTOH, there could be some influence from the ring here, too, seeing Galadriel as more corruptible than Frodo.

It is interesting that Sam's visions are much more prophetic than Frodo's. The trees in the wind are probably the ents, then the events at Cirith Ungol, and then the corruption of the Shire (you have to wonder if the last is actually happening already). Frodo also has a vision which is probably happening as he sees it, Gandalf in white walking a road. I think the timing is right. (And maybe Galadriel is unable to scry Gandalf. That might explain her comment.)

I have always imagined Sauron as a 3D shadow or hole in space. Sort of like dressing someone up in a blue body suit and filming through a blue filter so that he is invisible but blocks out what is behind him. The eye could be thought of as his astral projection perhaps, since that is how he is always seen in visions and in the palantir.

Finally, the song the hobbits come up with to mourn Gandalf in this chapter still gets to me every time. After all this time, I know he's coming back, but I still choke up some. It is one of JRRT's more effective poems.
17. legionseagle
I like the idea of the eye as Sauron's projection - it ties in with him refusing to let his name be spoken or written. Also, it's as a projection that it is used in the films; there's no actual suggestion that this is all Sauron is, just how he wishes to be seen. I'm unsure whether Gollum has actually seen Sauron's hand or simply heard it spoken of - while Sauron might reasonably want to see a prisoner who had held the Ring for so long it's odd that Gollum isn't more scarred by the experience - though possibly the evil of the Ring has created a sort of antibody to the presence of its Maker, so that the horror and pain that Pippin feels even to have the Enemy focussed on him through the palantir is blunted.

The scene in which Galadriel rejects the Ring has always been one of my favourites in the books, enhanced by Sam's getting to the heart of the problem - the way the Ring works on the desire to put things right - and Galadriel's explanation of why it may not be used that way.

Incidentally, to pick up on an earlier debate "I will diminish and go into the West and remain Galadriel" is support for the proposition that she is not an exile at this point, though the songs she sings in the next chapter ("What ship could come for me?") suggests that she is, so I think the jury may still be out on this one.
18. DBratman
ngogam @15 is correct and the last sentence of my previous post was mistaken.

"Sauron ... was always de-bodied when vanquished. ... When this shape was 'real', that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor." (Letter no. 200)

Tolkien also connects this with the metaphor of bodies being to the Ainur like clothing is to humans, a metaphor he uses in the Silmarillion: something assumed of choice, and which may be donned or cast off (though obviously, at least under Sauron's difficulties, only with some effort).

But it is also clear that Sauron had built a new body long before LOTR begins, and was not the fracking disembodied eyeball: that in fact his creation of a body was somehow necessary for his exercise of power. See also Gandalf at the Council of Elrond:

"Some here will remember that many years ago I myself dared to pass the doors of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur, and secretly explored his ways, and found thus that our fears were true: he was none other than Sauron, our Enemy of old, at length taking shape and power again."

Which does raise the question: If Sauron's body is not the same as the one Isildur cut the finger off of, why does Gollum say his hand has only four fingers? Has he seen that hand personally? (He may well have.) Does the extent to which Sauron "was unable ever again to assume a form that seemed fair to men" after the Fall of Numenor extend to being cursed with the physical harms done to earlier bodies?
Kelly McCullough
19. KellyMcCullough
I think Gollum definitely was in the presence of Sauron for two reason.

1) It's pretty clear that the suffering of his enemies is high on his list of pleasures, and more importantly that he really trusts no one. If there was any chance at all that Gollum had knowledge of the ring that might slip to Sauron's advantage or, perhaps more important, disadvantage, he'd have been sitting in from the first moment of torture to the very last.

2) The fact that Gandalf mentions that someone had put a greater fear into Gollum than Gandalf could suggests it as well. I can't find the phrasing right now, but it goes something like "I finally had to put the fear of fire in him" and then a bridging piece, to "but someone had put a greater fear than mine" in a way that suggests not just greater fear, but also greater power.
Kelly McCullough
20. KellyMcCullough
DBratman @ 18, I would suggest the finger could not be rebuilt after the violent loss of the ring which it was tied to and much of his power in the same way that after the destruction of his charismatic body on the fall of Numenor he could no longer make himself pleasing to the eyes. So, the destruction of his body may be something he can recover from but never without costs.
21. UnderHill
As for the number of fingers, Sauron may have recreated himself with a missing finger as a bitter reminder to himself to hate and to revenge.
22. DBratman
I think it's my job to locate quotes that Kelly remembers. Gandalf in "The Shadow of the Past":

"I endured him as long as I could, but the truth was desperately important, and in the end I had to be harsh. I put the fear of fire on him, and wrung the true story out of him, bit by bit, together with much sniveling and snarling. He thought he was misunderstood and ill-used. But when he had at last told me his history, as far as the end of the Riddle-game and Bilbo's escape, he would not say any more, except in dark hints. Some other fear was on him greater than mine. He muttered that he was going to get his own back. People would see if he would stand being kicked, and driven into a hole and then robbed. Gollum had good friends now, good friends and very strong."

Later: "What he had been doing he would not say. He only wept and called us cruel, with many a gollum in his throat; and when we pressed him he whined and cringed, and rubbed his long hands, licking his fingers as if they pained him, as if he remembered some old torture. But I am afraid there is no possible doubt: he had made his slow, sneaking way, step by step, mile by mile, south, down at last to the Land of Mordor. ... Alas! Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons. And all folk were whispering then of the new Shadow in the South, and its hatred of the West. There were his fine new friends, who would help him in his revenge!"
23. Mighty Marc
Forgive me for being daft, but I thought the three ships were foreshadowing the end, and how Bilbo and Frodo would sail West with the Elves.
24. R. Emrys
A rhyme for collicky babies based on Galadriel's speech (one of my favorite scenes in the book) would fill me with delight. Would you be willing to share?
Kate Nepveu
25. katenepveu
Hi, all.

General comments: thanks for tracking down the issue of Sauron's embodiment. My mental conception of the missing finger is a scar, basically, made worse by losing the Ring at the same time.

As for the ships, here's how I break them down:

The mist cleared and he saw a sight which he had never seen before but knew at once: the Sea. Darkness fell. The sea rose and raged in a great storm. Then he saw against the Sun, sinking blood-red into a wrack of clouds, the black outline of a tall ship with torn sails riding up out of the West.

Destruction of Numenor. Arrival of Elendil and co.

Then a wide river flowing through a populous city. Then a white fortress with seven towers. And then again a ship with black sails, but now it was morning again, and the water rippled with light, and a banner bearing the emblem of a white tree shone in the sun.

Osgiliath, Minas Tirith. Arrival of Aragorn at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

A smoke as of fire and battle arose, and again the sun went down in a burning red that faded into a grey mist; and into the mist a small ship passed away, twinkling with lights.

War of the Ring, its end, passage of the Ringbearers.

rickg @ #1, DBratman @ #5: Swanwick's comment was deliberately over-the-top for humorous effect, as I read it, but I think it makes the point that no matter how Wise and deep one's understanding, it's still a test and it's always possible to fail, no matter how unlikely. (I've never read _Bored of the Rings_.)

DBratman @ #5, as for footnotes, ah, I see: the hyperlink leads to a footnote to Appendix A.I.i (number 5), which references pages within the main text, including these.

And Elves don't mentally separate their activities into the "magical" and the "non-magical." -- Good point, thanks.

Confutus @ #9, I'd presumed that when Galadriel said she couldn't see Gandalf, that included through the Mirror, but I suppose it's not necessarily the case. Seems a little nit-picky for her, though.

alfoss1540 @ #11, I loathe and despise the movie's handling of the Mirror scene. More on that later--I am definitely planning to rewatch each movie after each volume and make a separate post.

Iain Coleman @ #12: Galadriel accounts Celeborn the wisest of all the Elves of Middle-Earth because he always does what she says. -- Snrk! I hope not, that is altogether too Mars-Venus a role of gender relations for me. =>

legionseagle @ #17, I've already read through the next chapter once and I was struck by how *full* it is of "the world is a place of irreparable loss," so perhaps the song is poetic exaggeration on a theme, rather than expression of exile? Will ponder more on that as I think about the next chapter.
26. Nancy Lebovitz
Sam exclaims that he must go home, but Galadriel tells him that he cannot go home alone, and he decides unhappily that he will “go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo, or not at all.”

What would happen if Sam tried to go home alone? Killed on the road, perhaps by Nazgul?
27. EmmaPease
If Sam tried to go home immediately he would die in the Wilderness of exposure (it is still winter) or wolves. His only option is to wait in Lorien for some group going West. However if Sam fails to go on, the mission would fail and the Shire would face even worst than he saw in the mirror (Sauron taking his revenge).
28. Confutus
My thought was that Galadriel must have lost sight of Gandalf when when the Company entered Moria, or perhaps even later when the Balrog rose. (Was it dozing until Pippin's foolish rock woke it up?) If its influence somehow interfered with what the mirror could show her, she would not have seen Gandalf's fall, nor any of the battle going on mostly deep under the earth, and after that, evidently she didn't need to be privy to the consultations his spirit was having with the Valar in the West.

Gandalf mentioned later, upon his reunion with Aragorn and the rest of the Fellowship, that he could see many things afar off, but there were others closer at hand that he could not see. This limitation seems to be shared by all the kinds of foresight of Valinorean origin; Galadriel's Mirror, the Palantiri, and even the foresight of Aragorn's line.

I would consider such limited far-sight all the more effective a plot device because it's limited and has obscure limits, and I'll refrain from going into exhaustive detail about why.
29. legionseagle
It's interested that we get to see Sam's temptation - and that in essence it's not dissimilar to Boromir's, being the desire to subsume all other purposes to protect the beloved homeland. Galadriel actually talks him out of it fairly quickly by showing him the reality of the situation and recalling him to his duty. It may be being rather fanciful but I do see this as an example of Tolkien's faith and specifically his Catholicism working through - because Sam effectively "confesses" he is given both the strength and resolution to go on. Boromir tries to rely entirely on his personal skill and courage without opening himself to external help, and falls further into sin.

With regard to Galadriel's express warning that the Mirror is dangerous as a guide to action, that also is a theme worked out with the palantiri, with both Denethor and Sauron (twice) basing their actions on incomplete and misinterpreted information gleaned as a result. Perhaps all scrying devices in Middle Earth (and elsewhere; it's a common trope of folklore and fantasy) should be fitted with an official warning in the Feanorian characters: "Objects in the Mirror may be less two-dimenisional than they appear".
30. Jon Meltzer
It's interesting how changing just a few lines of text could produce the impression of Celeborn as not too bright. In the original manuscript (reprinted in the "History of Middle Earth" series) Galadriel refers to the "_Lords_ of the Galadhrim", including herself, as "wisest", not just Celeborn; and the put down of Celeborn as being "rash" isn't there.

It's also interesting that there's no mention of Celeborn being tempted by the Ring, even though with it he'd no longer be sitting at the White Council's kids table ...
Michael Ikeda
31. mikeda

One possibility is that either Elrond or Gandalf sent a very brief mental message before leaving Rivendell. And that messages of any detail would have to be sent physically.

(Apparently one of the essays somewhere in the History of Middle Earth series discusses "telepathy".)
32. Tony Zbaraschuk
Celeborn has never made much sense to me either, but this is also a reminder that there's parts of the history we've never seen, like Galadriel's private life.

Galadriel's temptation is a very cool scene, and almost totally wrecked in the movie. (I keep thinking that Alfred Hitchcock could have done it much much better); in keeping with the Faerie theme, we should note that what Galadriel is being offered here is a chance to become the Queen of Air and Darkness.

It's a testing of Galadriel, but it's also a further testing of Sam and Frodo. Some knowledge, some indication of what's important to them... and an opportunity for conversation. I wonder if any of the others of the Fellowship were taken to the Mirror?
rick gregory
33. rickg
The Mirror scene is one of the missteps in the movies as was the Council of Elrond scene earlier in the movie. I chalked it up to Jackson not knowing how to handle quieter exposition scenes, but I didn't like how Elrond was portrayed in the movies so it might just be different readings of the scenes.

@kate - Yeah, I assumed Swanwick was going for humor. The comment just strikes me as silly even in that light. Again, not sure if he was doing some light commentary or actual analysis though.
34. Doug M.
Does anyone know what Galadriel's position was on the creation of the Three, back when? For some reason I assumed she was very much in favor of it (and therefore of trusting Sauron), but is there any textevd to that effect?

Doug M.
Michael Ikeda
35. mikeda
About Galadriel knowing that Gandalf had set out with the Company...

Something else just occurred to me.

Remember back in "The Ring Goes South" when Gandalf lights the fire during the blizzard?

He says "I have written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the Mouths of Anduin."

Even if Galadriel couldn't usually see Gandalf from "afar", she might be able to detect something unusual like that. And that would give at least a strong suggestion that Gandalf was with the Company.
36. KStoddardHayes
First time I've had a chance to dip into this blog.What an amazing,thought-provoking discussion you folks are creating!
On the issues with Galadriel and Celeborn, I'd just like to remind everyone of the Galadriel section in Unfinished Tales. She and by association Celeborn were Tolkien's most problematic characters. Some of the issues you've all brought up that appear inconsistent or unclear,may well have been questions that he was still trying to sort out as he wrote and revised.
(If I'm repeating someone's comment to one of the earlier Lorien chapters, sorry for the duplication, I haven't read those discussions yet)
37. Jon Meltzer
#34: According to one text in "Unfinished Tales" Galadriel distrusted "Annatar" (Sauron) in Eregion, but did nothing to stop the forging of the Rings of Power.

But the history of Galadriel is a mess; Tolkien had to retcon her into the Silmarillion and could not finally decide what role she played in the First and Second Ages.
Kate Nepveu
38. katenepveu
Tony Zbaraschuk @ #32, I feel like the Mirror is significant enough that if anyone else were taken to it, it should be on-screen.

mikeda @ #35, ooh, good call that the fire-lighting is how she knew! I decree it to be so.

KStoddardHayes, welcome!
39. Tony Zbaraschuk
Kate @38: yeah, from a storyteller's point of view you're probably right, but would Aragorn or Legolas have told the hobbits (our purported storytellers) if they had been to the Mirror?

(And Legolas? It's only a month's journey or so from upper Mirkwood for him: how many times has he been to Lorien before?)
Soon Lee
41. SoonLee
Tony Zbaraschuk @39:
The text implies that Legolas had never been to Lothlorien, "... it is long since any of my own folk journeyed hither... but we hear that Lorien is not yet deserted." -- II.6: Lothlorien

Also in this chapter Celeborn welcomes Legolas, 'Welcome son of Thranduil! Too seldom do my kindred journey hither from the north.' To me, it's another indication of the insular nature of the Third Age elves.

He's very much just a sketch, more scenery than character. Like Galadriel (as Jon Meltzer @38 mentions), Celeborn's role in the histories of Middle Earth is a mess. Though there are a few intriguing tidbits to be gleaned from the end, and the appendices. Celeborn does not depart Middle Earth with Galadriel at the end of LotR. It is yet another story of loss & separation to add to the others. Loss & separation surely is one of the major themes of LotR.
Kate Nepveu
42. katenepveu
Tony @ #39: oh no, not the "Kate doesn't believe in the frame story" discussion again! =>
43. PHSchmidt
Re: diminishing, I greatly admire Larry Niven's answer from ''The Magic Goes Away'' and related stories. If you're not familiar, he posited that the parts of the world were initially infused to a greater or lesser degree with ''manna'', which was a substance that powered magic in its vicinity. Unfortunately, it is depleted through use.

In ''The Hobbit'', there were many more magical creatures than we encounter in LoTR: stone giants, the Beornings, the thrush of the Lake that helps Bard. We know the trees used to be more awake. And the wolves that evaporated after the night in the trees. It seems magic is going out of Middle Earth. Could Niven's answer apply?
Michael Ikeda
44. mikeda
One additional note on the "How did Galadriel know?" question.

Assuming that Elrond has the capability of sending a brief mental message to Galadriel informing her of any important change of plans. And assuming that Galadriel expects him to actually do this if there are important changes.

Then the absence of any such message would suggest to Galadriel that no such important change has been made.

(This is not intended to replace my suggestion at #35 that Galadriel detected Gandalf's fire-lighting. It's simply additional evidence that Galadriel might have used.)
Kate Nepveu
45. katenepveu
PHSchmidt, it seems like a pretty fast timescale as an explanation between _The Hobbit_ & _LotR_ to me, considering the age of Middle-earth. And more generally, I think that power in Middle-earth comes ultimately from people--sometimes through things, but things made by people and infused with their power.
46. Dave Menendez
I never noticed before that Galadriel refers to her mirror as "the Mirror of Galadriel". It seems off somehow, like if Elrond started referring to himself in the third person.
47. sunjah
Here's a thought: maybe she calls it that because its an externalization of something she does with her own mind, for example when testing the members of the Fellowship. And when she wants to show someone else what she perceives, she uses the Mirror. If so, it is in fact a mirror of her-- but "mirror of me" sounds even more off than "Mirror of Galadriel."
48. Viviannn
I always thought the firey eye of Sauron in the movies looked more like a flaming vulva than an eye or anything else. Seriously--I saw it several times before I figured out what it was supposed to be. Just another reason to dislike the movies.
Chris Meadows
49. Robotech_Master
How I regret missing the discussion when this thread was new!

I find myself wondering if it was really necessary for the ring to have a taint of evil about it. Remember what Lord Acton said about how power corrupts. What if just the power embedded in it was enough, and the "corruption" came from the human (so to speak) nature of the wearer? It simply magnified their imperfections to a grand scale.

Food for thought.
Kate Nepveu
50. katenepveu
Robotech_Master @ #49, Tom Shippey's _The Road to Middle-earth_ has some interesting things to say about the nature of evil in _LotR_. Here's a very brief summary I wrote before I moved the re-read here.

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