- "This is Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and I am its keeper."
- —Galadriel to Frodo Baggins
Galadriel was co-ruler of Lothlórien along with Lord Celeborn. Neither she nor Celeborn took royal titles as they saw themselves but guardians of Lothlorien. Galadriel was the only daughter and youngest child of Finarfin, prince of the Ñoldor and of Eärwen, whose cousin was Lúthien. Her elder brothers were Finrod Felagund, Angrod, and Aegnor.
She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. She was referred to as The Lady of Lórien, Lady of Light, The Lady of the Galadhrim, or The Lady of the Wood interchangeably. In the Extended Edition of Peter Jackson's version of The Fellowship of the Ring, Gimli initially referred to Lady Galadriel as an elf-witch. Within the realm of Lothlórien, she was referred to as simply Lady Galadriel or The Lady. When she and Celeborn were being referred to collectively, they were known as The Lord and Lady. Galadriel was undoubtedly one of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-earth, and surpassed nearly all others in beauty, knowledge, and power. She was also the bearer of Nenya, one of the three Elven rings. Tolkien thought of her, along with Gil-Galad the Elven-king, as one of the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves left in Middle-earth. She was highly praised for her beauty- particularly her hair, which, said to have ensnared the light of the two trees, Telperion and Laurelin, was a deep and radiant gold, shot with silver. It has been speculated that her hair inspired the creation of the Silmarils by Fëanor. She was also the tallest of elf-women, standing at around 6 feet 4 inches, or 193 centimeters. Her power and intellect delegated her an imperative role throughout the history of Middle-earth, especially during her time in Eregion and in the midst of the War of the Ring.
The main part of this article relates to the last versions of Middle-earth's history, and as such may controvert parts of The Silmarillion. See Middle-earth canon for a discussion. This subject's portrayal in earlier or alternative versions is discussed in the other versions of the legendarium section.
The First Age
Galadriel was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, before the First Age had even begun. Much of Galadriel's story is confusing, and there are several distinct tales told about her collected in the Unfinished Tales. According to the older account, used in the published Silmarillion, Galadriel is an eager participant and leader in the rebellion of the Ñoldor and their flight from Valinor due to her desire to one day rule over a patch of Middle-earth herself. However, separated from Fëanor and his kin, she and her people do not take part in the Kinslaying at Alqualondë. Once in Beleriand, she lived nominally with one of her brothers, but spent much time at the court of Thingol and Melian in Menegroth where she arrived in FA 52 and where she was welcomed because of her family relationship to Thingol's brother Olwë (Galadriel's maternal grandfather). She met Celeborn, a kinsman of Thingol, in Doriath. She also traveled to visit her brother, Finrod, in his realm of Nargothrond multiple times. All four of her brothers were killed during various battles in the first age. She played a relatively insignificant part in the wars of the First Age, as she thought that defeating Morgoth was beyond the power of the Eldar. However, Morgoth was defeated by the coming of the Valar out of the West; she, for playing no part in the Kinslaying, was offered safe return to her home, although she, being prideful, stayed in Middle-earth.
The Second Age
Celeborn and Galadriel traveled first to Lindon, where they ruled over a group of Elves as a fiefdom under Gil-galad. Later they moved eastward, and established the realm of Eregion, or Hollin, which they ruled under Gil-galad since he was the High King of the Noldor. Eregion, to the west of the Misty Mountains near Moria, was a prosperous kingdom during this time, and had open trade with a civilization of Dwarves. At this time they made contact with a Nandorin settlement in the valley of the Anduin, later to be known as Lothlórien. Later they left Eregion by way of the mines of Khazad-dûm, and became lords of Lothlórien. Celebrimbor now ruled over Eregion. In Lórien Galadriel and Celeborn had a daughter, Celebrían, who later married Elrond, half-elven of Rivendell. They gave Galadriel two grandsons: Elladan and Elrohir, and a granddaughter, Arwen.
During the Second Age, Annatar, the "Giver of Gifts", guided Celebrimbor and the other Ñoldor of Eregion in the creation of the Rings of Power. Galadriel took an immediate distrust to Annatar, and it later turned out that this mistrust was justified, as he was finally revealed to be Sauron. It was she that counseled Celebrimbor in the hiding of the rings, and when Eregion was attacked, Galadriel was entrusted with one of the Three Rings of the Elves. Her ring was Nenya, the Ring of Water. Conscious of Sauron's power, and wishing to thwart it, she did not openly use the powers of her ring as long as the One Ring was in Sauron's hands. However, during the Third Age, when the One Ring was lost, she put it to good use protecting the borders of her realm; the powers of her ring were protection, preservation, and concealment from evil.
The Third AgeFor many centuries in the Third Age, we hear little of Galadriel or of Celeborn; it is not until the formation of the White Council in TA 2463 that she puts forth her might in opposition of Sauron. She played a pivotal role in the formation of this council, and wished for Gandalf to become the head of it. After Sauron was ousted from his fortress of Dol Guldur, Lórien kept vigilance over the region until the time of the War of the Ring.
In The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel hosted the Fellowship of the Ring after their escape from the mines of Moria. Once in Caras Galadhon , Galadriel allowed Frodo and Sam to peer into the Mirror of Galadriel, enabling them to glimpse possible events of the future. She, in turn, was tested when Frodo Baggins later offered to place the One Ring in her keeping- to whom she presents an image of herself corrupted by the ring declaring; "And now it comes to it at last. You will give me the One Ring freely! 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...all shall love me and despair!" Swiftly after showing her terrible form to Frodo, she shrank back to her original form, seemingly smaller and frailer than before. Recalling the ambitions that had once brought her to Middle-earth, she declared, "I pass the test," and refused the Ring, accepting her fate of diminishing (as the time of the dominion of men had come) and returning at last to Valinor. When the Fellowship departed, she gave each member a gift and an Elven cloak as well as outfitted the party with boats and supplies. Gimli, in particular, is touched by Galadriel's lordliness and beauty, and asks for one strand of her golden hair as an heirloom of his house; she so generously gives him three, which he later sets in crystal. Apart from the hairs given to Gimli, she gifts a Mallorn seed and a small box of earth from her garden to Samwise Gamgee, a green stone set in silver to Aragorn, along with a scabbard for his sword, three belts to Boromir, Merry, and Pippin, and to Legolas is given a short, stout bow of the Galadhrim. The most important of her gifts is that which is given to Frodo, specifically the Phial of Galadriel; without this gift, Frodo and Sam would have been unable to pass through Shelob's lair and the quest would have ultimately failed. It is likely that these gifts were planned out through her gazing in the mirror.
After the departure of the Fellowship, she acted so as to ensure the success of the quest; it was she that summoned Gwaihir to rescue Gandalf off the peak of Celebdil and it was she that nursed him back to health, dressing him in the white of his order. Later, she sent word to Aragorn about the Paths of the Dead, and messages to the Rangers of the North, asking for their aid in the war.
As Sauron put forth all his power during the end of the War of the Ring, he was aware of the threat of the Elves and their ancient potency, sending armies to besiege many of their settlements in the North while simultaneously assailing the major cities of Men and Dwarves; Lórien itself was assaulted three times, but the armies of Mordor were driven back due to the courage of the Elves and the power of Galadriel's Ring. It is said that the power of her ring could not be overcome unless Sauron himself would come to do battle. After the fall of Sauron, she, alongside Thranduil of Mirkwood and their elven allies, crossed the Anduin into Dol Guldur wherein she tore down its walls and laid bare its pits.
She traveled to Minas Tirith for the wedding of King Aragorn and Lady Arwen, and continued living in Lórien until TA 3021. It was then that she went north and west, and, with the remaining ring-bearers, took a boat and returned at last to the Undying Lands from whence she had come so long ago.
She was originally named Artanias ("noble woman") which was her Father-name and Nerwen ("man-maiden"), which was her Mother-name referring to her height and strength). Galadriel is the Sindarinized version of Telerin Quenya Alatáriel, the name given her by her lover Celeborn, meaning "maiden crowned with a garland of bright radiance", which referred to her hair. The elves of Tirion said it captured the radiance of the Two Trees Laurelin and Telperion themselves. It was greatly admired by Fëanor and may have inspired him to create the Silmarils.
The name Galadhriel was used outside Lórien by the people who did not know the ancient days and Galadriel's history, confusing with the Elvish word galadh ("tree") and the name of the Galadhrim, the people of Lórien.
Galadriel wielded an incredible amount of magical power. She was a friend of Melian and it is possible that Melian taught her many things. The nature of her magic is much unknown. Her hair is said to have captured the light of the Two Trees, and some said it was her hair that inspired Fëanor to create the Silmarils. She was also able to communicate telepathically and foresee the future. Her mirror could reveal events from the past, present and future. She was the one that destroyed Dol Guldur, a fortress whose power was multiplied by Sauron's magic. Besides her magical powers, Galadriel was very wise and intelligent, for she was able to avoid being fooled by Sauron in the Second Age by suggesting Celebrimbor to hide the Three Rings. She had great physical beauty and charisma, so much that within few seconds they managed to charm the dwarf Gimli, who had a deep grudge against the Elves. Whatever Galadriel's powers, they were such to bring doubt in the minds of the non-elven inhabitants of Middle-earth.
Portrayal in Adaptations
Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy
- "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
- —Galadriel to Frodo Baggins
In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy beginning with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel was played by Cate Blanchett. In the movie adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel narrates the Prologue, explaining the creation of the Rings of Power and the War of the Last Alliance. Earlier plans considered were to have either Frodo or Gandalf narrate the Prologue, but this was dropped: Frodo was not alive until thousands of years after these events happened, and although Gandalf was alive, he was not present in Middle-earth at the time, the Wizards came some one thousand years after the Prologue ends. Thus, Galadriel narrates the Prologue, because she had first-hand accounts of this history and actively participated in its events. Later in the films, Galadriel frequently seems to be consulting telepathically with Elrond; there is some indication from the books that the two were able to communicate in some way, but the specific instances in the movies (particularly the discussion with Elrond in The Two Towers) have no direct counterparts in the books. However, some of the posthumous writings of Tolkien reference the osanwe — the "thought speech". She does at one point send messages to Aragorn and certain members of the Fellowship, which do not make it into the movie. Further, the notion that Galadriel would send her warriors to assist at Helm's Deep is practically unthinkable in the context of the books, where Lórien is itself under threat of attack at the time. By the same token however, as the Films did not show the Elves to be under any threat, this sequence in the film did serve to show that the Elves were still involved in the world and fighting against Sauron. She is seen again in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in a meeting of the White Council. She supports Gandalf's claims that Sauron is becoming a bigger threat and that something must be done with Dol Guldur.
In Video games
Galadriel appears in the The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth as one of the ring heroes, making her one of the two most powerful units in the game. She has the appearance of her corrupted image in Jackson´s films. She fights using magic which can swipe dozens of units in a single hit. Her power was to summon a tornado as the one she used to destroy Dol Guldur.
Galadriel also appears in The Lord of the Rings Online, in Caras Galadhon.
In the books
- The Fellowship of the Ring (novel)
- The Return of the King (novel)
- The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion
- Unfinished Tales: The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
In the movies
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Two Towers
- The Return of the King
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Galadriel in popular culture
The name Galadriel has moved outside of Tolkien's work and into the wider world; parents occasionally give it to their daughters, and at least one high-end shop has adopted it as their own. The Led Zeppelin songs Stairway to Heaven and The Battle of Evermore contain many references to Galadriel. The band Barclay James Harvest also wrote a song named "Galadriel." Galadriel was the given name of the main character in the Katherine Paterson novel The Great Gilly Hopkins. In the novel Panic, there are a group of computer hackers known simply as Galadriel Jones and the elves.
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"The time of the Elves is over."
Merry: "Have you noticed most of the elves in Lothlorien are men, Pip?"
Pippin: "It's no wonder they call her the "lady of the Wood"
- The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion
- Unfinished Tales: The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth