Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


FOTR: Bk 2, Ch 6

"'Folly it may seem,' said Haldir. 'Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlorien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land.'"
The death of Gandalf is seldom a surprise to those who read The Lord of the Rings because it's one of the most well-known spoilers in the whole story. To those who have lived their lives in a bomb shelter, having no contact with the outside world, it is a tremendous punch in the gut. If you were to tell an unexpecting reader that one of the members of the Fellowship would fall in Moria, Gandalf would probably be their last guess because it flies in the face of logic, he is such an important character. It is clear from Tolkien's early writings, however, that he had no doubt that the Wizard had not really perished. It is noted in "The History of Middle-Earth, Vol VI":
"Of course Gandalf must reappear later - probably fall is not as deep as it seemed. Gandalf thrusts Balrog under him and so... ...and eventually following the subterranean stream in the gulf he found a way out - but he does not turn up until they have had many adventures: not indeed until they are on [?borders] of Mordor and the King of Ond is being beaten in battle."
Though the manner of his reappearance had yet to be worked out, obviously Tolkien planned for Gandalf to return to the story.

The Fellowship collapse at the realization that the wizard has (apparently) fallen and they each grieve as the light of the outside world strikes them out on the hills of the Dimrill Dale. Now Aragorn must lead the company. And the danger grows in the reader's mind because he now knows that no character is untouchable. Gimli shakes his fist at Caradhras, for it was their failure to cross that path that caused them to take this evil route under the mountains. Aragorn warns the Fellowship that the Orcs will be pursuing them after nightfall, for it is only their fear of the sunlight that keeps them within the confines of Moria.

In the film, Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn is able to put aside his grief and concern quickly to move the company along. In the context of his character development, I like the way Jackson handled this scene. There are those who criticize the theatrical version of Aragorn as being too wishy-washy and unsure of himself. But in this case, the Aragorn of the film shows uncommon strength and leadership qualities. I found it a nice touch when even Boromir chides him for not letting them take a moment to grieve. But Aragorn must put aside his emotion and gets them out of their quickly.

They follow the Silverlode River that runs out of the mountains and down the valley toward the Great River, Anduin. Many miles beyond is the land of Lothlorien, the dwelling of the Noldor Elves in the realm of Galadriel. She is the daughter of Finarfin who was the brother of Feanor. Feanor was the Elf who wrought the Silmarils that caused such a great brouhaha in the Elder Days. Galadriel is also Elrond's mother-in-law as he wed her daughter, Celebrian. This, of course, also makes her Arwen's grandmother. Arwen spent many years living in the Golden Wood among her mother's kin. The next three chapters all take place in Lothlorien, much as the first three chapters focused on Rivendell. The second half of Fellowship of the Ring is the most Elf-centric of the story. So the two blocks of chapters One through Five and Six through Ten each follow a pattern: three chapters of safety followed by two chapters of danger and, ultimately, the death of a character.

When Aragorn treats the wound that Frodo received from the Orc-Chieftain in Moria, he discovers the mithril coat. He encourages Frodo to wear it always as he can use all the protection he can get. Ironically, the next time Aragorn sees this coat (without its owner) it will be a huge blow to him. As they move on, Frodo thinks he sees two tiny gleams of light - like eyes - behind him. This little figure is continuing to follow them on their journey. After a time, they find themselves within sight of Lothlorien. Legolas is inspired to sing a song of legend about an Elf-princess named Nimrodel. Her story is a sad one. While living in Lothlorien, she despairs of the growing danger to the East at Dol Guldur, in Mirkwood, and the new threat to the West in Moria, the Balrog having been released by the Dwarves. She and her lover, Amroth, decide to flee and make for the sea-coast. Traveling separately, however, she perishes in the White Mountains to the South. Ever after it is said that the waters of the Silverlode, or Celebrant in the Elvish tongue, carries the voice of the maiden who once dwelt beside it.

As they approach the huge Mallorn trees at the edge of Lothlorien, they encounter Elves of that land. They are allowed to climb up to the wooden platforms, or flets, among the higher branches. The Lorien Elf who does all the talking is Haldir, a character that Peter Jackson further develops in the film. He is very suspicious of the company, though he is aware of their quest. He allows them to enter but he is none too pleased about the idea of a Dwarf passing their borders.

Many people wonder: why all this animosity between Elves and Dwarves, anyway? Well, in a nutshell it goes back to the First Age when the two races at first got along well living in the lands of Beleriand, that were now covered over by the sea. The Dwarves offered their services to build two underground realms for the Elves, Nargothrond and Menegroth - both extensive underground caverns. There was a long period of peace and cooperation between them. One day one of the Elven kings contracted some Dwarves to craft for them a necklace, called the Nauglamir and set into it a Silmaril that was recovered from Morgoth, who had stolen them. The light and beauty of the Silmaril, however, was so tempting that the Dwarves who made the Nauglamir necklace greatly desired it and a dispute arose in which Thingol, the Elf-king of Menegroth, was killed by the Dwarves. There was a relatively brief truce at the end of the Second Age through the beginning of the Third between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Moria but this ended with the release of the Balrog. The Elves, who had already viewed their love of gold and jewels with disdain, always blamed the greed of the Dwarves for this unfortunate event.

As they rested on the flets up in the trees, Orcs passed beneath them searching for the company. This scene was dreamed about by Frodo as he slept in his bed at Crickhollow back in Chapter Five of Book One - the sounds of creatures crawling and snuffling under a dark sea of tangled trees. Looking down, Frodo once again sees Gollum's pale eyes looking up at him before disappearing among the trees.

The next morning they cross the Celebrant by means of an enchanted Elvish rope - such a rope is later given to Sam who will find it handy when crossing the Emyn Muil with Frodo. In order to enter Lothlorien, the Elves insist that Gimli be blindfolded according to their laws. Aragorn tells them that if Gimli is to be blindfolded then they all must be so, even Legolas who is not at all happy about it. The relationship between Legolas and Gimli gets off to a rocky start but through their experiences together, their friendship will grow strong. Later, as they get closer, Haldir receives word that Galadriel herself has commanded that all of the guests may walk freely, without blindfolds.

They arrive at the city of Caras Galadhon and approach a great mound covered in the yellow flower called elanor. At the top of the mound was Cerin Amroth, which housed the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien, Celeborn (pronounced KEH-leborn) and Galadriel. Aragorn is familiar with this site for it is where he and Arwen first pledged their love to each other. He turns to Frodo:

"Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth," he said, "and there my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me!"

Tolkien then writes that Aragorn came there never again as living man. While the passage is cryptic, it emphasizes that even Aragorn's fate is uncertain.

Next: The Mirror Of Galadriel

[Chronology: January 15th through January 17th 3019 T.A.]

(revised 9/4/06)


At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that Aragorn first saw Arwen in Rivendell, shortly after Elrond told him about his heritage. I know that Arwen and Aragorn met each other again in Lothlorien, but that was some years later. I like the idea of Galadriel sprucing Aragorn up before his meeting with Arwen so she'll fall for him! Galadriel must have had fewer reservations than Elrond about her granddaughter marrying a mortal. :)

At the end of this chapter, Aragorn says something like: "Arwen vanimelda, namarie!" (I don't have the text in front of me). I know who Arwen is, and I have namarie figured out- what does "vanimelda" mean?

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, good call. Aragorn did first see Arwen in Rivendell. It was in Lothlorien - at Cerin Amroth - that they first pledged themselves to each other. From Appendix A:
"And there upon the hill they looked east to the Shadow and west to the Twilight, and they plighted their troth and were glad."
I amended the post accordingly.

Let me check on the Elvish translation.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to this website:
"vanimelda" means Lady Beloved, dear.

This site:
scroll down to common adjectives - vanima means "beautiful, fair", so I would take the first translation as pretty much right on.

At 4:52 AM, Blogger Dreamspinner said...

I don't live in a bomb shelter but I have a remarkably lousy memory at times. So even though I've read the books, more than once (I think)...
When the Balrog killed Gandalf in the movie, I was so taken aback, I started crying! lol


Post a Comment

<< Home