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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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Galadriel's fate, and the fate of Lothlorien, are in Frodo's
hands. If Frodo should fail, Lothlorien will be laid bare to
Sauron. If Frodo succeeds and the One Ring is destroyed,
Galadriel's power will diminish and Lorien will fade. Either
way, it seems that Lothlorien is doomed. Frodo offers the
Ring to Galadriel, but she refuses it, saying that if she used
it against Sauron, she would become as terrible as him.
Galadriel seems to swell in size, showing Frodo what she
would be like if she possessed the Ring. Then she again
becomes a simply clad elf-woman. "I pass the test," she
tells him. "I will diminish and go into the West and remain
Galadriel."



The travelers now must decide whether they will travel
along the east side of the river toward Mordor or take the
western bank and go from there to Minas Tirith, Boromir's
city. Boromir reveals that he still believes that the Ring
should be used against Sauron, and that it's folly to take it
into Mordor. The decision is postponed when Celeborn
offers to give them boats, so that they can travel down the
river many miles before having to choose their course. The
elves also provide lembas-thin, nourishing cakes-and
cloaks that have the power of invisibility. Lembas and the
waterlike drink of the elves that has appeared throughout
the book are interpreted as communion wafers and holy
water by some. But behind the specifically Christian
symbolism of bread and water is a recognition of the power
in such basic necessities of life, a recognition shared by
many other people and religions. Tolkien himself said that
he wanted to present things in a new light, to give people a
sense of wonder at the ordinary. This may be the
inspiration behind lembas and the miraculous drink of the
elves, rather than a deliberate allusion to Christianity.

NOTE: ELVES IN LORE AND LITERATURE
The word elf seems to have originated in Norse mythology
and to have been carried over into English as another
name for fairy. Many people think of elves as fairies such
as Tinkerbell in Peter Pan or those in Shakespeare's play A
Midsummer Night's Dream. Tolkien often expressed his
dislike for these diminutive fairies, who ride insects and
live in flowers. His elves present a different picture. While
they are given to joyous feasting, they are also a race of
stern warriors. This change represents a step backward in
time, from modern-day fairy tales and the literary fancies
of Shakespeare's day to the medieval romances that
Tolkien's works are often compared to. In these romances
fairies are beautiful and powerful creatures who are equal
in size to humans, who can be hostile toward mortals, and
who engage in hunts and warfare, as Tolkien's elves do.

These fairies, in turn, represent the dwindled gods of pagan
mythologies. The Irish fairies, the Daoine Sidhe, are the
last of the old gods, the Tuatha Da Danaan, who left
Ireland for their homeland across the sea, Tir Nan Og or
The Land of the Young. In The Lord of the Rings, the most
powerful elves, such as Galadriel, take on this godlike
stature. Like the Tuatha Da Danaan, the Tolkien elves are
slowly leaving Middle-earth, passing over the sea to their
homeland in the Blessed Realm.

Many characteristics of the elves in The Lord of the Rings
are shared by fairies of lore and legend. Like Tolkien's
elves, fairies are immortal. They're associated with
weaving and with the bestowing of gifts, such as Galadriel
gives to the company. But the Tolkien elves differ in one
important way.

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