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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:51 pm 
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I mentioned in another thread that I have been playing around in my head with a thought about Galadriel, and I said that I would try to write it up once I thought it through more. Well, I haven't really thought it through any more, but I figured I would throw what I have out there and see if any of it sticks to the wall.

In his impassioned description of the Glittering Caves to Legolas, Gimli refers to "Queen Galadriel". However, that is of course a misnomer; Galadriel is simply the Lady of Lothlórien, not its Queen. In the material published in the History of Galadriel and Celeborn section of Unfinished Tales, Tolkien goes to great lengths to make it clear that she is not a Queen. Of course her and Celeborn's history -- and that of Amroth King of Lórien -- is very muddled, but Tolkien seems pretty clear on this point. He writes:

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After the disaster in Moria [in the year 1980] and the sorrows of Lórien, which was now left without a ruler (for Amroth was drowned in the sea in the Bay of Belfalas and left no heir), Celeborn and Galadriel returned to Lórien, and were welcomed by the people. There they dwelt while the Third Age lasted, but they took no title of King or Queen; for they said that they were only guardians of this small but fair realm, the last eastward outpost of the Elves.


And again in another text:

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In her wisdom Galadriel saw that Lórien would be a stronghold and point of power to prevent the Shadow from crossing the Anduin in the war that must inevitably come before it was again defeated (if that were possible); but that it needed a rule of greater strength and wisdom than the Silvan folk possessed. Nevertheless, it was not until the disaster in Moria, when by means is beyond the foresight of Galadriel Sauron's power actually crossed the Anduin and Lórien was in great peril, its king lost, its people fleeing and likely to leave it deserted to likely occupied by Orcs, that Galadriel and Celeborn took up their permanent abode in Lórien, and its government. But they took no title of King or Queen, and were the guardians that in the event brought it unviolated through the War of the Ring.


So the question is, why did they not take the title of King or Queen? More specifically, why did Galadriel (clearly the more powerful of the two) not take the title of Queen?

She certainly comes from a royal family. Her paternal grandfather was King of all the Noldor, before his murder by Morgoth. Her maternal grandfather was King of the Teleri in Valinor. Her father was King of the Noldor that remained in Valinor. Her brother Finrod was King of Nargothrond, and he was followed by (depending on which version you choose) her other brother or her nephew, Orodreth. Her uncle Fingolfin and her cousin Finrod were Kings of the Noldor in Middle-earth, and her other cousin Turgon was King of Gondolin. Thingol, King of Doriath and of Beleriand was her great-uncle. And Gil-galad the High-King was either her cousin or her grand-nephew. And, of course, her granddaughter Arwen became Queen Arwen of Gondor and Arnor.

And she certainly had the skills and wisdom to be a Queen. She is, in fact, accounted to be, along with Fëanor, the greatest of all of the Eldar of Valinor. She was, as Tolkien says in the Shibboleth of Fëanor, "the greatest of the Noldor, except Fëanor maybe, though she was wiser than he, and her wisdom increased with the long years." So why not Queen Galadriel?

I think we see a glimpse of the answer in her words to Frodo when he offers her the Ring:

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In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!


I think that these words show that Galadriel has thought about this alot, and that she recognized the danger of her being called Queen. Even without the One Ring, I think she recognizes the danger of her taking on the mantle of royalty. Tolkien is of course a big proponent of monarchy as a mode of government, as is seen in Aragorn's example. But it is interesting to see that the greatest of all of the children of Eru, Galadriel, Fëanor, and Lúthien, never become monarchs. Fëanor is overcome by his own pride, and need for revenge, before he can ever take up the mantle left by his father. Lúthien, I suppose, gives up the right to be her father's heir for love of Beren, leaving Dior as Thingol's Heir. And, perhaps, Galadriel is wise enough to realize that she is too powerful to become a Queen without the danger of the power inherent in such a title combining with her own inherent power to become too much of a corrupting force.

Maybe. What do you think?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:20 pm 
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And, perhaps, Galadriel is wise enough to realize that she is too powerful to become a Queen without the danger of the power inherent in such a title combining with her own inherent power to become too much of a corrupting force.


Or perhaps she realizes her weaknesses and knows that the temptation would be too great for her to resist? Or a combination of the two?

She desired her own land to govern, hence part of her decision to leave Valinor. She participated in contests of physical prowess and she accepted a ring of power.

I think she had the yearnings for the power, but realized from the Kin Slaying and the whole Fëanor mess that the desire for power, even to do good, corrupts ultimately. I think she was wise enough to know her own heart and realize what the power would do to her and ME.

So in a sense it was her recognized weaknesses that helped make her decision to hold no title of ultimate authority.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:21 am 
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What's the difference between your hypothesis and V's, Holby?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:18 am 
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Not really much of anything to be honest.
I think that the word power in this instance could easily be exchanged for weakness, but other than that the two are pretty much the same.

I guess you could argue that her fearing too much power and thus shunning the title queen is virtually the same as recognizing her weaknesses.

More semantic than anything really.

The contrast would lie in the differences between Sam, Frodo or Bilbo and Galadriel, and why they had more chances of succeeding than she did.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:13 am 
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I would subscribe to that theory in either form -- too powerful and too open to temptation.

Could it also have to do with being the bearer of a Ring? I'm not sure where in the timeline that happened, but I wonder if the power of the Rings trumps having any sort of royal power. Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel, three of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth, are all sans title. The type of power that the rings seem to confer is of the sort of stewardship that Gandalf practices and, to me, is reflected in the statement that "they said that they were only guardians of this small but fair realm, the last eastward outpost of the Elves." Especially since the Rings seem to be tied into the broader fate of Middle-earth and the passing of Lórien comes with the passing of the Rings, her authority is greater and in some ways more subtle than simply being a queen. I suppose that ties in with your original theory as well -- too have both would almost certainly seem to be too much power.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:31 am 
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I like the way Holby put it.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:38 pm 
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Could it also have to do with being the bearer of a Ring? I'm not sure where in the timeline that happened,...


A text in Unfinished Tales relates that when Celebrimbor discovered the existence of the One Ring he took counsel with Galadriel, and she received Nenya. Compare to Appendix B, where c. 1600 Celebrimbor perceives the designs of Sauron, and in 1693 The Three are said to be hidden.

One can base a guess from this I guess, but in any event Sauron now had the One, and the bearers of the Three did not know it would be taken from him -- although when it was, they could then use their rings in the Third Age.


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