|Created by||J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring|
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
In Tolkien's writings, Galadriel was a royal Elf of both the Noldor and the Teleri, being a grandchild of both King Finwë and King Olwë. She was also close kin of King Ingwë of the Vanyar through her grandmother Indis.
Galadriel was a leader during the rebellion of the Noldor, and present in their flight from Valinor during the First Age. She was the only Noldo to survive and return at the end of the Third Age. Towards the end of her stay in Middle-earth, she was co-ruler of Lothlórien with her husband, Celeborn, when she was known as the Lady of Lórien, the Lady of the Galadhrim, the Lady of Light, or the Lady of the Golden Wood. Her daughter Celebrían was the wife of Elrond and mother of Arwen, Elladan, and Elrohir.
Stories of Galadriel's life prior to The Lord of the Rings appear in both The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. She is the only daughter and youngest child of Finarfin, prince of the Noldor, and of Eärwen, who was cousin to Lúthien. Her elder brothers were Finrod Felagund, Angrod, and Aegnor. She was born in Valinor. She had the ability to peer into the minds of others to judge them fairly. She is a member of the royal house of Finwë. Galadriel is often called the fairest of all Elves, either in Aman or Middle-earth.
According to the older account of her story, sketched by Tolkien in The Road Goes Ever On and used in The Silmarillion, Galadriel is an eager participant and leader in the rebellion of the Noldor and their flight from Valinor; she is the "only female to stand tall in those days". She has, however, long since parted ways with Fëanor and his sons. In Beleriand she lives with her brother Finrod Felagund at Nargothrond and the court of Thingol and Melian in Doriath. In this account, she meets Celeborn, a kinsman of Thingol, in Doriath.
Galadriel and Celeborn travel first to Lindon, where they rule over a group of Elves, as a fiefdom under Gil-galad. According to Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn, they then remove to the shores of Lake Nenuial (Evendim) and are accounted the Lord and Lady of all the Elves of Eriador. Later they move eastward and establish the realm of Eregion, later called Hollin. They make contact with a Nandorin settlement in the valley of the River Anduin, which later becomes Lothlórien. At some point, Celeborn and Galadriel leave Eregion and settle in Lothlórien. According to some accounts, they become rulers of Lothlórien for a time during the Second Age; but in all accounts they return to Lórien to take up its rule after Amroth is lost in the middle of the Third Age.
During the Second Age, when the Rings of Power are forged, Galadriel distrusts Annatar, the loremaster who taught the craft of the Rings to Celebrimbor. According to some accounts, Celebrimbor rebels against her view and seizes power in Eregion. As a result, Galadriel departs to Lórien via the gates of Moria, but Celeborn refuses to enter the dwarves' stronghold and stays behind. Her distrust is justified, for Annatar turns out to be the Dark Lord, Sauron. When Sauron attacks Eregion, Celebrimbor entrusts Galadriel with one of the Three Rings of the Elves. Celeborn joins up with Elrond, whose force is unable to relieve Eregion but manages to escape back to Imladris. Celeborn reunites with Galadriel after the war ends; according to one text, after some years in Imladris (during which Elrond first saw and fell in love with Celebrían) Galadriel's sea-longing became so strong that the couple removes to Belfalas and lives at the place later called Dol Amroth.[T 3]
With the fall of Gil-galad in the War of the Last Alliance, Galadriel, Elrond, and Círdan the shipwright became the most prominent of the rulers among the elves in Middle-earth, and Galadriel the foremost of the remaining Exiles.
Conscious of Sauron's power and wishing to thwart it, Galadriel does not use her Ring so long as the One Ring is in Sauron's hands. However, during the Third Age, when the One Ring is lost, she puts hers to use in making Lothlórien a fair refuge for the Nandor. Galadriel maintains constant vigilance against Sauron and often engages with him in battles of thought. Sauron had a great desire to see into her mind but could not without the One Ring. During the latter part of the Third Age, when Lothlórien was closed to outsiders, Galadriel maintains communication with Imladris but less so with the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood. Galadriel is the original convenor of the White Council.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel welcomes the Fellowship to Lothlórien after their escape from Moria. When she meets the Fellowship in her tree-dwelling she gives each member a searching look, testing their resolve—though Boromir interprets this test as a temptation. She is in turn tested when Frodo Baggins offers to place the Ring in her keeping. Knowing that its corrupting influence would make her "great and terrible", and recalling the ambitions that had once brought her to Middle-earth, she refuses the Ring. She accepts that her own ring's power will fail, that her people will diminish and fade with the One Ring's destruction, and that her only escape from the fading of the Elves and the dominion of Men is to return at last to Valinor. There is the suggestion in the novel, backed up by other writings,[T 4] that in acknowledgement of this renunciation of power her personal ban from Valinor is lifted.
When the Fellowship leaves Lothlórien, she gives each member a gift and an Elven cloak, and furnishes the party with supplies, both as practical support and as a symbol of faith, hope and goodwill. Her husband Celeborn likewise provides the Fellowship with Elven-boats. On the day that the Fellowship leaves Lórien, Gandalf arrives, carried by the eagle Gwaihir. Galadriel heals his wounds and re-cloths him in white, signalling his new status as head of wizard. During the last battles with Sauron Lórien is besieged three times by the armies of Dol Guldur. Lórien resists the attacks due to the bravery of its inhabitants and "the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself."[T 5]
After Sauron perishes, Celeborn leads the host of Lórien across the Anduin and captures Dol Guldur. Galadriel comes forth and "threw down its walls and laid bare its pits", recalling the deeds of Lúthien Tinúviel, who did the same at Tol Sirion. Galadriel passes over the Great Sea with Elrond, Gandalf, and the Ring-bearers Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, marking the end of the Third Age. Celeborn remains behind, and Tolkien writes that "there is no record of the day when at last he sought the Grey Havens".[T 6] Galadriel is the only one of the leaders of the Noldorin exiles to return alive from Middle-earth to Aman (Valinor).
The Dúnedain said that her height was two rangar, or "man-high" – some 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm).[T 7] However, Galadriel's most striking feature was her beautiful long silver-golden hair. The Elves of Tirion said it captured the radiance of the Two Trees Laurelin and Telperion themselves.
Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair is held a marvel unmatched. It is golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold is touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar say that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, has been snared in her tresses.[T 8]
Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight.[T 8]
Nevertheless, Galadriel never repaid Fëanor's admiration. Fëanor "had begged her thrice for a tress and thrice she refused to give him even one hair. It is said that these two kinsfolk, being considered the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor, remain unfriends forever."[T 8]:p. 230
Her character was similarly a blend of characteristics of the Eldar from whom she was descended. She had the pride and ambition of the Noldor, but in her they were tempered by the gentleness and insight of the Vanyar. She shared the latter virtues of character with her father Finarfin and her brother Finrod.
She was proud, strong, and self-willed, as were all the descendants of Finwë save Finarfin; and like her brother Finrod, of all her kin the nearest to her heart, she had dreams of far lands and dominions that might be her own to order as she would without tutelage. Yet deeper still there dwelt in her the noble and generous spirit of the Vanyar, and a reverence for the Valar that she could not forget. From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her goodwill from none save only Fëanor. In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own.[T 8]
Her sympathy for Gimli the Dwarf in Lothlórien, (when she rebuked her husband Celeborn for being tempted to regret his decision to admit the Dwarf to that land), won Gimli's heart forever.[T 9] She was said to be a match for both the loremasters and athletes of the Eldar, and the mightiest of the women of the Eldar.
Reconstructed Old English elf
The critic Tom Shippey notes that in creating Galadriel, Tolkien was attempting to reconstruct the kind of elf hinted at by elf references in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) words. The hints are, he observes, paradoxical: while ælfscyne, "elf-beautiful", suggests a powerful allure, ælfsogoða, "lunacy", implies that getting too close to elves is dangerous. In Shippey's view, Tolkien is telling the literal truth that "beauty is itself dangerous", as Chaucer did in The Wife of Bath's Tale where both elves and friars are sexually rapacious. So when Faramir says to Sam Gamgee in Ithilien that Galadriel must be "perilously fair", Shippey comments that this is a "highly accurate remark"; Sam replies that "folk takes their peril with them into Lorien... But perhaps you could call her perilous, because she's so strong in herself."
Shippey also considers the Christian Middle English attitude of The Early South English Legendary, which he supposes Tolkien must have read, that elves were angels. In Shippey's view, Tolkien's elves are much like fallen angels, above Men but below the angelic Maiar and the godlike Valar. He comments at once that Galadriel is in one way certainly not "fallen", as the elves avoided the war on Melkor in the First Age; but all the same, "Galadriel has been expelled from a kind of Heaven, the Deathless land of Valinor, and has been forbidden to return." Shippey suggests that the Men of Middle-earth might have thought the fall of Melkor and the expulsion of Galadriel added up to a similar fallen status; and he praises Tolkien for taking both sides of the story of elves into account.
The Tolkien scholar Marjorie Burns compares Galadriel to Rider Haggard's heroine Ayesha in his 1887 novel She: A History of Adventure, a book that Tolkien acknowledged as an important influence, and to Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, which recast the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat; she notes that Ayesha was herself an Arthurian figure, transposed to 19th century Africa.
|Attribute||Galadriel||Ayesha (She)||The Lady of Shalott|
|Life||immortal Elf||immortal after entering the flame||"fairy"|
long blonde hair
|men fall to their knees
long raven-black hair
very long dark hair
|see more than any man||as Galadriel||dangerous and strange|
|as Galadriel||weaves continually|
sheltered from change
|as Galadriel||enchanted island|
|Healing||heal and preserve||as Galadriel||enchanted|
(dish of water)
|see past, present,
"things that may yet be"
denies it is magic
|see past and present
denies it is magic
|"the mirror's magic sights"|
|Ending||ring loses power
Elves leave and diminish
|re-enters the flame
shrivels up and dies
Legacy in music
Tolkien wrote a poem "Namárië" that Galadriel sings in farewell to the departing Fellowship, and to Frodo in particular. The song is in Quenya, and "spoke of things little-known in Middle-earth," but Frodo is said to have remembered the words and translated them long afterward. It is a lament in which Galadriel describes her separation from the Blessed Realm and the Valar, her longing to return there, and at the end a wish or hope that even though she herself is forbidden (by the Ban) to return, that Frodo might somehow come in the end to the city of Valimar in Valinor. The poem was set to music by Donald Swann with Tolkien's assistance. The sheet music and an audio recording are part of the song-cycle of The Road Goes Ever On. In a recording, Tolkien sings it in the style of a Gregorian chant.
On their album Once Again, the band Barclay James Harvest featured a song called "Galadriel". It gained notability because guitarist John Lees played John Lennon's Epiphone Casino guitar on this track, an event later recounted in a song on the band's 1990 album Welcome To The Show titled "John Lennon's Guitar".
Terry Britten wrote a song "Galadriel", recorded by Cliff Richard. Sally Oldfield's suite "Songs of the Quendi" on her 1978 album Water Bearer describes Galadriel's return to the Blessed Realm after seven millennia of exile. An Australian band named Galadriel released a self-titled album in 1971 which "became a highly sought-after collectors' item among European progressive rock circles".
In 2003, Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox co-wrote the Oscar-winning song "Into the West" for the closing credits of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Originally sung by Lennox, the song was conceived as Galadriel's bittersweet lament for those who have sailed across the Sundering Seas. The lyrics include phrases from the final chapter of the original novel. The song has since been covered by Yulia Townsend and Will Martin.
Galadriel was voiced by Annette Crosbie in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film of The Lord of the Rings, and by Marian Diamond in BBC Radio's 1981 serialisation. She did not appear in the 1980 animated The Return of the King, but was mentioned by name when Frodo refers to "Galadriel's phial".
In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit prequel trilogy, Galadriel is played by Cate Blanchett. In the movies, in addition to possessing the Ring Nenya, Galadriel displays an ability to communicate with others telepathically and to assume a radiant and terrifying appearance.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel narrates the prologue that explains the creation of the Rings of Power and the War of the Last Alliance, since she was present at the time of these events. When the Fellowship enters the woods of Lórien, Galadriel welcomes them to Lothlórien by contacting Frodo via telepathy, while using her power to tell Boromir that there is still hope despite Gondor's danger. When offered the Ring by Frodo after revealing it would eventually destroy his friends should he remain with them, Galadriel briefly displays the horrific form the ring would give her, before turning down the offer. Galadriel later gives Eärendil's Light to Frodo for his use. At the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Galadriel departs with Celeborn, Elrond, Gandalf, Frodo, and Bilbo.
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Galadriel attends the White Council meeting at Rivendell with Elrond, Gandalf, and Saruman, to discuss the rising threat of the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. While Galadriel identifies the Morgul-blade that Radagast retrieved from Dol Guldur to belong to the Witch-King of Angmar, she also communicates telepathically with Gandalf during the meeting. After the meeting ends, Galadriel agrees with Gandalf's opinion that Smaug and the Necromancer must be dealt with, and she is sympathetic to the wizard's reason for the presence of Bilbo Baggins. She offers her assistance, promising that if he should ever need her help, she will come. In the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, Galadriel telepathically convinces Gandalf to leave the Company to investigate the tomb of the Nazgûl. Gandalf later sends Radagast to Lothlórien to report their findings of Sauron being the Necromancer before he enters Dol Guldur on his own. In the final film, The Battle of the Five Armies, Galadriel rescues Gandalf from captivity in Dol Guldur as he is about to be executed. She is weakened by the sudden appearance of the Nazgûl, but her hidden companions, Elrond and Saruman, engage them in combat. She seemingly uses the last of her strength to secure Gandalf's escape with Radagast. After the Nazgûl are defeated, Sauron himself appears, reviving his servants. Galadriel assumes a terrifying image (similar to her changed appearance when offered the One Ring by Frodo Baggins in Lothlórien) to confront him. Using Eärendil's Light, she banishes Sauron and the Nazgûl to Mordor, though at a great expenditure of power. Afterward, she is taken back to Lothlórien by Elrond to recover.
On stage, Galadriel was portrayed by Rebecca Jackson Mendoza in the three-hour-long Toronto stage musical production of The Lord of the Rings, which opened in 2006 and ran several months. The musical was revised and moved to London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, opening on 21 June 2007. Matthew Warchus directed Laura Michelle Kelly in the role. Abbie Osmon took over from Kelly on 4 February 2008, and played the role through the show's closing on 19 July 2008.
Galadriel appears in the video game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II and others.
- This list identifies each item's location in Tolkien's writings.
- "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in The Silmarillion (1977, Houghton Mifflin), p. 298.
- "Appendix B: The Tale of Years" of The Return of the King, volume 3 of The Lord of the Rings.
- Unfinished Tales p. 240
- "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in The Silmarillion and "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn in Unfinished Tales.
- Appendix A of The Return of the King.
- Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Prologue", Houghton Mifflin, p. 25.
- Unfinished Tales, part 3, ch. 1 "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Appendix (Númenórean Linear Measures)"
- Unfinished Tales, part 2, ch. 4 "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
- The Fellowship of the Ring, book 2 ch. 7 "The Mirror of Galadriel"
- Shippey, Tom (1982). The Road to Middle-Earth. Grafton (HarperCollins). pp. 54–55. ISBN 0261102753.
- Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. pp. 114–116, footnote 33 (page 194). ISBN 978-0-8020-3806-7.
- Shippey, Tom (1982). The Road to Middle-Earth. Grafton (HarperCollins). pp. 212–214. ISBN 0261102753.
- Hargrove, Gene (January 1995). "Music in Middle-Earth". University of North Texas. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- "Galadriel". Barclay James Harvest. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Broderick Smith". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004.
- "Torn Exclusive: Cate Blanchett, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy, Mikael Persbrandt join cast of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit"". 7 December 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
- Kroll, Justin (17 December 2019). "'Lord of the Rings' Series Taps Morfydd Clark as Young Galadriel". Variety. Retrieved 17 December 2019.