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Different images of Elves

Merry

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How did you perceive Elves before you read LOTR or the Silmarillion?

For example, Santa's little helpers are depicted as short Elves with long beards who slave away making toys.

Hans Christian Anderson depicted Elves as being tiny secretive helpers who fixed things during the night.

Terry Pratchett depicts Elves as being tall and beautiful but evil and dangerous.

Why so many different interpretations of what Elves are?
 

Legolam

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I can't remember what I thought of elves before LOTR, but here's my image of Legolas:

He's very small, just up to about Aragorn's chin. He's always smiling and bouncing around (well, he's fidgety!). He has long blonde hair down to near his waist and is wearing a sort of Robin Hood green outfit.

I don't know why I think of him like that, it's just the image in my head. It bears no relation to anything that JRR wrote. And, for some reason, all the other elves just looked like humans in my head. I didn't differentiate :confused:

I don't think it's just elves that can look different in every person's eyes. All fantasy creatures have their own image for each individual, and I think that's the joy of fantasy. It lets you create these characters any way that you want.
 

Narya

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Being in a country where we don't have any elves or referrence to beings that might be elves, my idea was that they were angelic. Very beautiful beings that are very eerie to be with, like you know they have strange powers when you come close to them.
 

Khamul

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The Elves in my mind held no special powers for me when I read LOTR. I saw them more as pompous bigots and egotistical jerks. Some of my opinion changed after having read the Sil and parts of HOME, but not all. The Elves were decieved and led to the rise of Sauron in a sense. Not as much as men did, but still a good amount. Elves were weak, they left Middle Earth for peace and safety. They taught Sauron the art of ring-making, and even though this was probably Sauron's biggest mistake, it still gave him power over men.
 

Ithrynluin

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Originally posted by Sting
The Elves in my mind held no special powers for me when I read LOTR. I saw them more as pompous bigots and egotistical jerks. Some of my opinion changed after having read the Sil and parts of HOME, but not all. The Elves were decieved and led to the rise of Sauron in a sense. Not as much as men did, but still a good amount. Elves were weak, they left Middle Earth for peace and safety. They taught Sauron the art of ring-making, and even though this was probably Sauron's biggest mistake, it still gave him power over men.
Actually,I think the elves learned a lot more of Sauron than vice versa.
IMO,they aren't weak for leaving ME,having fought all those terrible wars in the 1st Age (also 2nd but the 1st was much greater in magnitude).
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by Sting
The Elves in my mind held no special powers for me when I read LOTR. I saw them more as pompous bigots and egotistical jerks. Some of my opinion changed after having read the Sil and parts of HOME, but not all. The Elves were decieved and led to the rise of Sauron in a sense. Not as much as men did, but still a good amount. Elves were weak, they left Middle Earth for peace and safety. They taught Sauron the art of ring-making, and even though this was probably Sauron's biggest mistake, it still gave him power over men.
Sauron was originally one of the chief people of Aule, so I doubt if anyone other than Feanor would have been able to teach him much in relation to smith-craft.

But anyhow, I'd be curious to hear more about why you think the elves were pompous bigots and egotistical jerks other than the part about helping the Rise of Sauron? It seems to me that the elves were no better or worse than Men...

As for the Elves being weak for leaving for peace and safety?!?!! Well, I recall that many of the great heroes (and otherwise) among MEN yearned for a chance to go to the Undying Land. Obviously, if they had not been forbidden, they would have gone... so if the elves are weak, than mortal men are doubly so, for weakly wishing they could indulge in a weakness that they cannot. :)
 

Khamul

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But, his specialty was not in the making of crafts. It was in terror.

The Sil.But at length after the fall of Fingolfin, Sauron, greatest and most terrible of the servants of Morgoth, who in the Sindarin tongue was named Gorthaur, came against Orodreth, the warden of the tower upon Tol Sirion. Sauron was become now a sorceror of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.
Ahhh, ok I admit my wrong on the fact that Sauron learned much from the Elves.
It was in Eregion that the counsels of Sauron were most gladly recieved, for in that land the Noldor desired ever to increase the skill and subtlety of their works.........

Therefore they hearkened to Sauron, and they learned of him many things, for his knowledge was great. In those days the smiths of Ost-in-Edhil surpassed all that they had contrived before; and they took thought, and they made Rings of Power. But Sauron guided their labors, and he was aware of all that they did; for his desire was to set a bond upon the Elves and to bring them under his vigilance.

As for the self-righteous factor, that goes back to their hatred of Dwarves. The Dwarves made great works for them and the Elves did nothing worthy of gratitude. They were offended, and sent the Dwarves away with hardly anything worthy of their labor. The Dwarves became unceasingly angry, and fought back for their pride.

As for the Elves being weak for leaving for peace and safety?!?!! Well, I recall that many of the great heroes (and otherwise) among MEN yearned for a chance to go to the Undying Land. Obviously, if they had not been forbidden, they would have gone... so if the elves are weak, than mortal men are doubly so, for weakly wishing they could indulge in a weakness that they cannot.
This was the very essence of the deceit of Sauron. He caused strife among all races, and truthfully men would be considered the weakest of all Middle Earth. They were the ones who were decieved by Sauron, and most of my dislike of Elves is based on their hatred of Dwarves as explained earlier. That also affects my view of them in many ways, so when I go ranting about Elves, its best not to take me too seriously.
:)
 

Lantarion

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I used to see them as little Dwarf, no, Leprachaun-like characters with long, thin beard and red jackets and pointy hats. A popular social legend among young children at least here in Finland is that during the few days before Christmas Santa's 'Elves' sort of spy on kids to make sure they're behaving. It worked for me! :D
Now I almost flinch when I hear somebody talking seriously about 'Santa's Elves'. But it's a pretty good idea, Santa's SWAT-team checking up on kids. teehee
 

Denethor

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the elves

I saw them just like the humans , but with beatiful faces and excellent eyes . I saw them very prepotents and they think tahat they´re the best and that they don´t need anybody else .
 
D

DWilss

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Two words: Peter Pan... although I'm not sure he was an elf, that's the image I had of elves before I read Tolkien.
 

Lantarion

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Yes, I can understand as well as relate with that. His ears do 'give him away', and having magical powers like flying give a fantastic twinge to him. Who knows, perhaps Walt Disney got the idea of PP from Tolkien's Elves. That would be impressive.
 

HelplessModAddi

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Yes, I can understand as well as relate with that. His ears do 'give him away', and having magical powers like flying give a fantastic twinge to him. Who knows, perhaps Walt Disney got the idea of PP from Tolkien's Elves. That would be impressive.
Walt Disney cannot come up with anything original. Creativity is beyond their mental faculties. They were good at first of rendering classic stories, but they've devolved into the soap scum of modern degenerate culture. I mean, come on. Balto 2, Pocahontas 2, give me a break. Oh, and did anyone know that that movie Atlantis is nothing more than a Japanese anime show compressed and Americanized? Its sickening.
 

roguelion

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elves

I saw the Elves like very pale, petite people,with fine features & with pointed ears, a bit shorter than the average human. They are gracefull and have excellent vision and although they resemble adolesent humans they are old and have a great affinity to nature..well thats how I saw them..
 

Gil-Galad

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I think the answer is very simple-because of the different cultures.In Bulgaria we don't have elves and they're typical for north-western countries.People from Scandinavia,Britain,Central Europe have similar origin and that's why they have elves in their tales and legends.But with the years their culture and history has developed in many different ways and some differences can be seen now.
 

Arda's Bane

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My image of elves was of green creatures similar to half-size humans only beautiful and near perfect. I thought that they were extremely friendly amongst their own kind but deceitful amounst others.
Well that’s my two cents.
 

tasar

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Well, in Estonia we have creatures called haldjad (singular being haldjas ). That's the word they used when they translated the word elf in The Lord of the Rings. They ( haldjad )are mostly connected with nature - there can be for example tree-elves, water-elves, stone-elves. Kind of like spirits of the nature, without specific form. But sometimes they appear looking like human or animal. Actually it's all very unclear. Haldjas - it could be almost anything.
 

Lantarion

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OMG, I'm such ian ididot! I completely forgot the Elves of Finnish mythology! Doh!! Thanks for reminding me, Tasar.
I was reminded by the name (haldjad), because in Finnish the same word is haltiat, singular haltia. It's literal meaning is 'ruler, lord', and I'll tell you why. In ancient times, it is said, the Elves ruled the forests, mountains, islands, and all other living monuments of nature. To keep the Elves in their 'homes', the people living nearby donated sacrificial gifts such as food, flowers and other such things onto altars, located deep in the forests. That way everybody was happy; except the Orcs (called maahiset, s. maahinen), who hated the Elves because they foiled their evil plans all the time. Haha.
 

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