The significance of Galadriel's gift to Gimli.

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Arvedui, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. Arvedui

    Arvedui Stargazer

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    Lord of the Rings, Farewell to Lórien:
    HoME XII, Morgoth's Ring, The Shibboleth of Fëanor:
    Is it only me who think that it is rather amazing to imagine how Galadriel willingly gave three hairs to Gimli the Dwarve, who only asked for one hair, while she gave none to Fëanor who asked for three?

    What may have caused her to favour Gimli before Fëanor, her dislike for Fëanor or is this just another piece in the puzzle to show how she has become more mature since her time in Valinor?

    For those who haven't read Morgoth's Ring, or are to lazy to look it up, the last piece is probably written in 1968.
     
  2. Gildor

    Gildor In Exile

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    I think Galadriel's words say it best. From what we know of Fëanor, his requests were likely also bold but with more pride and less courtesy. Fëanor approached Galadriel unbidden and asked for such a gift; Gimli in his humility did not ask such a thing, he only reluctantly named his desire after she told him to do so. Maturity or wisdom may have played a role, but I think that Gimli's good-heartedness was the key.
     

  3. Arvegil

    Arvegil Registered User

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    Perhaps the best way of approaching this issue is not with Gimli, but with Feanor. Why did Feanor want Galadriel's hair? Over and above the frequently mentioned issues that hair is arguably much more sexually charged for Elves than Humans, why was it important to Feanor?

    I suggest that Feanor wanted Galadriel's hair as a symbol of possession and control. For Feanor, the issue would have been not the gift itself, but the fact that Galadriel was willing to give it. Galadriel was either too headstrong or too perceptive (depending on which version of Galadriel you are applying) to provide Feanor with that kind of gratification.

    Gimli, on the other hand, wants a token of remembrance. While very potent in its symbolism, that scenario lacks the power/ control issues that the Feanor/ Galadriel situation is charged with.
     
  4. Valandil

    Valandil High King at Annuminas

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    I noticed this contrast myself not long ago.

    What I think of now is... just trying to imagine what Feanor would be doing if he could somehow see Galadriel giving some hair to Gimli! :p

    And... I think Arvegil and Gildor are both pretty much correct.
     

  5. Eledhwen

    Eledhwen Cumbrian

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    I noticed this the first time I read the account of Feanor's request, as I had the unanswered question in my mind as to why the Elves were so shocked by Gimli's request. In the end, the gift was graciously asked and graciously given. I think Arvegil has hit the nail on the head.

    To give a lock of hair is to give of oneself, and Galadriel despised Feanor, so was ill disposed to grant his request in any form. Also, I would have been surprised if, after imprisoning the light of Galadriel in some way, Feanor would be content to leave it at that.

    Galadriel could see into minds. Gimli's natural dwarvish gold lust could not stand in the light of Galadriel's presence, and she rightly foresaw and blessed that he would handle much gold, and gold would have no dominion over him. I think, however, that possession of a lock of Galadriel's hair (last glimpse of the light of the two trees) would have a lustful hold over Feanor that would have left him greedy for more.

    I also think the comments on this thread are very interesting
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2004
  6. Arvedui

    Arvedui Stargazer

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    Is there any significance in the fact that Gimli was given three hairs after stating his desire to set them in imperishable crystal, compared as we all know to the fact that Fëanor created three Silmarils?
    As Tolkien composed The Shibboleth of Fëanor in 1968, many years after The Lord of the Rings was published, I believe that the reference to Fëanor's inspiration from the hair of Galadriel to make the Silmarils is close to obvious.
     
  7. Eledhwen

    Eledhwen Cumbrian

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    There may have been some story balancing intent on Tolkien's mind, but if so, I doubt that he expected many people to notice; just as when he inserted what he called 'low philological jokes' in other parts of the story for his own amusement.
    A hidden wrath of jealousy equalled only by that of Melkor, would be my guess!
     
  8. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

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    In the broader sense, perhaps these two incidents can be seen as “bookends” on Galadriel’s sojourn in Middle-earth.

    She was not born in Middle-earth, but in Eldamar. From Unfinished Tales, “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”, p. 230:
    That darkness was the malice of Melkor that the evil Vala had worked already against Fëanor and the rest of the Noldor, trying to drive wedges between them and the Valar, and dissention among the Eldar and especially amongst the princes of the Noldor. For though the Silmarillion says that Fëanor “held no converse with [Melkor] and took no counsel from him,” still the malice and hatred of the Enemy lay heavily upon him during the age that Morgoth was free after his unchaining.

    Before she left Valinor, Fëanor, her first cousin, “begged three times for a tress” (much more than a hair), but she saw in him dubious motives and certainly the darkness set there by Melkor, a darkness she must have hated all the more since it lay heavy on her heart, too, though she was not yet aware of it.

    As her days in Middle-earth drew to a close, Gimli requested one hair when she commanded him to ask for a gift. And as Élhendi quoted, when she queries Gimli for his motives, he says he will
    Into crystal goes the hair, despite the passage of three Ages of the world; we must presume that was their Fate. Three hairs to represent the three requests of Fëanor for a tress.

    There is no darkness in Gimli's heart. There is no Dwarvish possessiveness in him: he has overcome it; while Fëanor’s possessiveness drove him and all the Noldor to destruction. And there remains at last no desire in Galadriel to reach for power: “I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.” She has at last overcome the darkness in her own soul. From Unfinished Tales, pp 230-231:
     
  9. HLGStrider

    HLGStrider All Knowing Magic Cat

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    I think it is a contrast of character between Feanor and Gimli, and I think the key word in "boldly and courteously" is courteously. Feanor wanted it because he felt he should own everything beautiful. Gimli wanted it because he loved Galadriel.
     
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  10. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    In the end, Galadriel responded to Gimli's purity of heart, of intention, and of generosity of purpose: not to possess something, but to share with one and all openly; to symbolize everlasting goodwill between one people and another.

    I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed all the contributions made to this thread thus far! TTF at its best! :D

    Barley
     
  11. Urambo Tauro

    Urambo Tauro Registered User

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    ...And to think Gimli was carrying his gift through Rohan and Gondor during the War...!

    It's never mentioned after he receives it, but what a burden! He has three tiny strands, and somehow carries them and keeps track of them through hardship and war, until he can finally give them a proper setting!
    First, he's in a boat, travelling down the Great River, then running across Rohan, then riding horse-back... Soon he's fighting at Helm's Deep in the rain! He's standing who-knows-how-deep in the flotsam and jetsam of Isengard, then going back across Rohan and through a dark mountain... Then he's crossing Lebennin and riding a ship upstream, and fighting again at Minas Tirith. After that, he's journeying again to the Black Gate for more battle... and all this time he's looking after three little strands of golden hair!

    Has anyone seen John Rhys-Davies' comments on the DVD about the hair? I forgot which documentary they are in.
     
  12. Snaga

    Snaga The Usual Suspect

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    I don't see any direct evidence for power/control issues in Feanor's request, nor yet that the request was sexually charged. This seems to me to something read into the text, rather than read from it.

    The quote from UT given earlier by Alcuin seems sufficient explanation:
    She didn't like him, and therefore refused the request.

    I would specifically say that the power/control was more on Galadriel's side: since we are told Feanor 'begged' for the tress.

    Again, I don't think this is correct at all. There is no evidence at all that Feanor was covetous of the possessions of others. No. In fact what we know of Feanor is that he prized his craft above all else, and took his sub-creative drive to extremes. He didn't want Galadriel's hair to control her, or to possess it for its own sake, nor yet for sexual reasons. He wanted it, because he wanted to create something from it. He wanted to create something, for its own sake - art for art's sake - and his willing to abase himself for that purpose. This prefigures his ultimate loss of honour and Fall, as he makes a dreadful oath, slays his kin, and leads his people to ruin for the sake of his later creation - the Silmarils.

    Gimli also wants a strand of her hair, and again seeks to create using it. But in his case he will make
    In his case he wishes to create, but with a purpose. He is not driven to an extreme, but retains his dignity, only naming his request when commanded. His is Art, but for a noble purpose.
     
  13. Rhiannon

    Rhiannon is one hand clapping

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    I've wondered about that. I think I've decided that he bust have tied them to something, or wrapped them around something, or twisted them into loop, and kept them in a twist of paper. Three strands of hair twisted together, especially of very long hair, actually make quite a bundle (as in, you could roll them into something approximately the size of a toothpick or larger). Especially if it's thick, strong hair. We found in a trunk several loops of hair with identifying notes attached to them, all from relatives a couple of generations back.
     
  14. Mizuka

    Mizuka New Member

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    I personally think that when you consider the significance hair has with elves it is important but then you add the significance of hair with dwarves it becomes a whole other ball game. Dwarves prize their hair and it holds meaning for them in ways that no one would understand. It holds a dwarves' history in it with different braids and beads meaning different things. Gimli even with the danger of falling to death didn't want his beard pulled on. The fact that Gimli would ask Galadriel to CUT her HAIR is huge!!! Galadriel probably knows the significance in this and decided to oblige. When you also consider the story behind her hair that's why the elves were so surprised. Mehh i could be wrong tho who knows.
     

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