The Lord of the Rings – Book 2, Chapter 7: “The Mirror of Galadriel”

The remaining members of the Fellowship is granted audience and greeted personally in turn by Celeborn and Galadriel, the Lord and Lady of the realm.  The otherworldly beauty and majesty of these two are difficult to put into words, but somehow Tolkien does it, best expressed by Gimli.  Having our steadfast Dwarf fall into a kind of chivalric love for Galadriel speaks volumes, not only for the character situation, but to Tolkien’s well-earned status as a medievalist.  Well played, professor.  Well played.  Being honest, it’s one of those nice touches that has always helped me to connect to both Gimli and Galadriel.

The fall of Gandalf has a despairing effect on the Elves.  They have an understanding of who and what Gandalf really is, so such news can only have been devastating.  That’s end of the world type news, when you really think about it.  Evil walks the earth, and an angel has been killed.  Sign of the times.

After the audience, the team discusses the notion that it seemed Galadriel was able to peer into their very souls and offer them that which their hearts seem to want most.  None give in, to their credit, and most are more than a bit freaked out by it, which is understandable.

They spend days in Lothlórien.  The Elves compose songs of grief in Gandalf’s honor, and Frodo is inspired by his own grief to compose one of his own.  If you’re interested, you can hear The Tolkien Ensemble perform “Frodo’s Lament of Gandalf”for yourself.

Galadriel beckons Frodo and Sam to follow her and shows her magic mirror, giving them the option to look.  It’s interesting that when asked if they should look, she says that she advises neither that they should look, nor that they shouldn’t.  They may learn something of themselves, or of the future, and these things may be worth something or not.  “Seeing is both good and perilous.”  And yet, she sees strength in these hobbits, which is why she offers.  Again, so much volume is spoken with such a simple gesture.

The vision Sam is given is pretty straightforward, and in its own way no less complex than the one Frodo sees.  Those who have read this book before will recognize the individual sequences and images, and it’s easy to see how such visions would be frightening even before Frodo comes face-to-eye with Sauron himself.

Galadriel reveals that she knows the mind of Sauron, which is yet another understated comment that’s just mind-blowing when you consider the ramifications.  But this is usually lost to readers because in short order we’re shown that Galadriel is the wearer of Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, one of the three Elven rings.

Frodo offers Galadriel the One Ring, and Sam supports the gesture, but Galadriel reveals that the best the hobbits believe of her intentions would be only the beginning.  Should she take the Ring for herself, she would become as beautiful and terrible a force as has ever walked Middle-Earth.  That Galadriel recognizes this is a testament to her everlasting wisdom.  She resists the temptation, and passes the test that she has clearly considered for herself time and again.

Galadriel also reveals to Frodo when he asks, that with the One Ring, though he has not yet tried — and shouldn’t — he could see into the minds of those who wear the lesser rings.  She reveals that the seven and the nine are all in Sauron’s possession.  We knew about the nine, as that’s where the Ringwraiths come from.  At this point, this may be our first reveal on the seven Dwarven rings, if I’m not very much mistaken.

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