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The significance of Galadriel's gift to Gimli.

Arvedui

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Lord of the Rings, Farewell to Lórien:
`And what gift would a Dwarf ask of the Elves? ' said Galadriel turning to Gimli.
`None, Lady,' answered Gimli. `It is enough for me to have seen the Lady of the Galadhrim, and to have heard her gentle words.'
`Hear all ye Elves! ' she cried to those about her. `Let none say again that Dwarves are grasping and ungracious! Yet surely, Gimli son of Glóin, you desire something that I could give? Name it, I bid you! You shall not be the only guest without a gift.'
`There is nothing, Lady Galadriel,' said Gimli, bowing low and stammering. `Nothing, unless it might be – unless it is permitted to ask, nay, to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine. I do not ask for such a gift. But you commanded me to name my desire.'
The Elves stirred and murmured with astonishment, and Celeborn gazed at the Dwarf in wonder, but the Lady smiled. 'It is said that the skill of the Dwarves is in their hands rather than in their tongues ' she said; `yet that is not true of Gimli. For none have ever made to me a request so bold and yet so courteous. And how shall I refuse, since I commanded him to speak? But tell me, what would you do with such a gift? '
`Treasure it, Lady,' he answered, `in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if ever I return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.'
Then the Lady unbraided one of her long tresses, and cut off three golden hairs, and laid them in Gimli's hand. `These words shall go with the gift,' she said. `I do not foretell, for all foretelling is now vain: on the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Glóin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.
HoME XII, Morgoth's Ring, The Shibboleth of Fëanor:
Her [Galadriel's] mother-name was Nerwen 'man-maiden', and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Ñoldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth. Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the star-like silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses. Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight. He begged three times for a tress, but Galadriel would not give him even one hair. These two kinsfolk, the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor, were unfriends for ever.
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.
 

Gildor

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Arvedui said:
"For none have ever made to me a request so bold and yet so courteous. And how shall I refuse, since I commanded him to speak?"
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.
 

Arvegil

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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.
 

Valandil

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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.
 

Eledhwen

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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
 
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Arvedui

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Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils.
`Treasure it, Lady,' he answered, `in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if ever I return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.'
Then the Lady unbraided one of her long tresses, and cut off three golden hairs,
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.
 

Eledhwen

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Élhendi said:
Is there any significance in the fact that Gimli was given three hairs ... compared as we all know to the fact that Fëanor created three Silmarils?
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.
Valandil said:
... just trying to imagine what Feanor would be doing if he could somehow see Galadriel giving some hair to Gimli!
A hidden wrath of jealousy equalled only by that of Melkor, would be my guess!
 

Alcuin

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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:
From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her goodwill from none save only Fëanor. In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own.
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
‘Treasure it… in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. … it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.’
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:
Pride still moved her when, at the end of the Elder Days after the final overthrow of Morgoth, she refused the pardon of the Valar for all who had fought against him, and remained in Middle-earth. It was not until two long ages more had passed, when at last all that she had desired in her youth came to her hand, the Ring of Power and the dominion of Middle-earth which she had dreamed, that her wisdom was full grown and she rejected it, and passing the last test departed from Middle-earth for ever.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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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
 

Urambo Tauro

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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.
 

Snaga

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Arvegil said:
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.
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:
From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her goodwill from none save only Fëanor. In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own.
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.

Elgee said:
Feanor wanted it because he felt he should own everything beautiful.
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
a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.
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.
 

Rhiannon

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Urambo Tauro said:
...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.
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.
 

Mizuka

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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.
 

The Old Eregionan

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With a unique crystalline substance, Fëanor created three Silmarils which were then stolen by Morgoth. Then imagine what he could have created with these 3 strands of hair which then also might well have been stolen by the Dark Enemy of the World. Galadriel may have foresaw the direction the world was going by having some unique insight into the author of that age (Tolkien) and therefore refused to deign the gift of so personal an item destined to fall into the hands of so dread an enemy.
 

Galin

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It's interesting to me that Feanor begs three times for a tress, and Gimli asks once and gets three golden hairs.

In 1968 (ish), when writing this "Feanor begged Galadriel" element, did Tolkien open up his chapter Farewell to Lorien to remind himself of the exchange written many years before? Galadriel says: "For none have ever made to me a request so bold and yet so courteous."

So now we think, even though Feanor begged three times, each asking was discourteous in some way. In the published chapter Galadriel cuts off three golden hairs, adding that gold will have no dominion over Gimli...

... interesting, as I think the silver in Galadriel's hair came much later in any event.

Again in the 1968-ish text, we have Galadriel's hair said to have ensnared the light of both trees, and that many thought this saying gave Feanor the idea of imprisoning and blending the light of the Two Trees.

In the author-published account Galadriel's hair was gold ("deep gold" as described in the text), and to my mind Celeborn's silver hair then provided a silver and gold "analogy" of sorts, and as I say, only later (in my opinion so far) JRRT added a touch of silver to Galadriel's hair, also bringing in this Feanor element seen in The Shibboleth of Feanor.

Not that it matters much, if one can blend the already published account with later ideas. And I'm not saying it can't be done here... but anyway, if the later tale was going to make it to print (from the author's perspective), surely Feanor would have wanted some silver in his tress...

... as opposed to Gimli's gift ;)
 
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