|Titles||Lady of Lothlórien, Lady of Lórien, Lady of the Galadhrim, Lady of Light, Lady of the Wood|
|Birth||Y.T. 1364, Tirion |
|Death||Passed West TA 3021 (aged 8300+)|
|Parentage||Finarfin and Eärwen|
|Hair color||Radiant gold-silver|
- "Very tall [Galadriel and Celeborn] were, and the Lady no less tall than the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold… but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory."
- ― The Lord of the Rings, The Mirror of Galadriel
Galadriel was a Noldo, one of the Calaquendi, and arguably the most famous and powerful elf of the Third Age. She was one of the bearers of the Three Rings, of Nenya, and with it kept her realm of Lothlórien free of stain.
Fostering and Life in Aman
When a fourth child was born to Finarfin, prince of the Noldor, and Eärwen, princess of the Teleri, her father named her Artanis, which is "noble woman". She was unusually tall and strong as she grew, and so Eärwen’s name for her was Nerwen, "man-maiden". But the most distinctive thing about her was her hair, which was of a rare silver-gold color, and dazzlingly bright. Her hair reflected her unusually diverse heritage, being half Telerin (typified by silver hair), a quarter Noldorin (typified by dark hair), and a quarter Vanyarin (typified by golden hair). Despite her mixed blood, she was identified as a princess of the Noldor, as her father was the third son of Finwë, High King of the Noldor. Yet according to Tolkien’s later accounts she lived with her Telerin relatives in Alqualondë.
It was in Alqualondë that she met Teleporno, a young Telerin prince probably the son or grandson of Olwë (which would make him Artanis’s uncle or cousin)*. They eventually fell in love, and he called her in his own Telerin tongue Alatáriel (later Sindarinized as Galadriel). She had another admirer as well: her half-uncle, Fëanor. Fëanor, being a lover of beauty and brilliance, noted her shining hair. He may have been inspired by her tresses to make the Silmarils, both being said to capture the light of the Two Trees. He begged her to spare him some of her hair, but she refused him a single hair three times and he gave up. She had unusually strong powers of mental perception, and when she looked into his mind, she saw only darkness.
During the Darkening of Valinor, she was just as fiery and visionary as Fëanor, although she despised him. During the troubles that followed she took no part in the atrocities against the Teleri during the Kinslaying of Alqualondë, but urged Teleporno her beloved to sail across the Sea to Middle-earth by her side. He agreed for her sake, and so they both came under the Ban of the Valar.
Once in Beleriand they were welcomed by King Thingol of Doriath, as both were Telerin in origin. Thingol knew nothing of what had happened to his brother Olwë and the Calaquendi, and they brought news. But they said nothing about the Kinslaying. Teleporno was Sindarinized as Celeborn, and Artanis adopted Teleporno’s pet name for her, Alatáriel, in its Sindarin form: Galadriel.
After the rest of the Noldor arrived in Beleriand and the great Dagor-nuin-Giliath was fought, Galadriel re-established contact with her brothers, though her hate for the orphaned sons of Fëanor was still strong. She learned much from Melian during her days in Doriath, and occasionally spent time in Nargothrond with her eldest brother Finrod Felagund. She and Melian became friends, speaking often to one another about Valinor. Melian was eager to learn of the happenings of the Exile, but Galadriel would tell her nothing of what occurred after the death of the Trees. Eventually, however, as Melian’s guesses became more shrewd and accurate, Galadriel told her more, except for that of the death of Finwë, the Kinslaying, and the burning of the Ships at Losgar. Melian was able to discern some, and the rest came in rumors to Thingol’s ears. At last, egged on by the accusing words of Thingol, Angrod told all. Galadriel escaped being removed from Doriath by Thingol’s sympathy to the houses of Finarfin and Fingolfin for the wrongs they had suffered. All the same, she moved for a time to Nargothrond to live with Finrod. By 300, however, she had gone back to live in Doriath. Presumably, her husband lived with her there in peace.
Precisely where the twain were during the destruction of Nargothrond in 495 and Doriath in 503/506 is unknown; perhaps they were there during the sacks and escaped one or both. It is not unlikely that after the destruction of the latter they went either to the Havens of Sirion or with their Telerin kin to the Isle of Balar with Círdan. If the former, they escaped the Third Kinslaying there, and either went into hiding in Beleriand or, more probably, went to the Isle of Balar. During the War of Wrath, given the choice whether to stay in Middle-earth or not, they surprisingly decided to remain. Galadriel was still very proud, even arrogant, and refused to accept the pardon of the Valar. Either Celeborn felt the same way, or stayed for the sake of his wife.
Galadriel and her husband stayed in Lindon, the kingdom of Galadriel’s grandnephew Gil-galad. There they stayed for a while, ruling over a fiefdom of Noldor. Eventually they established or moved to Eregion. Celebrimbor lived there, and gradually grew in importance among the smiths. Perhaps because of Galadriel’s detestation (Celebrimbor being the last of the House of Fëanor), Celeborn and Galadriel made contact with the Nandor of Amdír, who dwelt in a forest realm called Lórinand. They eventually crossed the Hithaeglir through Moria and relocated to there, becoming great among the Wood-elves.
Though Galadriel urged Celebrimbor against it, the Noldo collaborated with Annatar on the great process of making Rings of Power. By Annatar’s help, the Elves of Eregion created many rings, but both Celebrimbor and Annatar created greater rings of their own in secret. Celebrimbor wrought the Three Rings of the Elves, which were far more powerful than the lesser rings. Annatar, however, wrought the One Ring. When he placed it on his finger, the Elves were aware of his treachery, and took off their rings. Celebrimbor, afraid for his life but even more for the safety of the Three Rings, sent them to three of the Wise: Narya for Círdan, Vilya for Gil-galad, and Nenya for Galadriel. Very few even of the Eldar knew who hid each of these Rings. Celebrimbor was slain by Sauron not long after, and Eregion was laid waste. But the Three Rings were safe.Battle of Dagorlad during the War of the Last Alliance. Celeborn may have participated in the war, but the greatest effect it had on the twain (and Lórinand) was the destruction of Sauron and the loss of the One Ring. Galadriel was now free to use her ring. With Nenya, the Ring of Water, Galadriel made the realm of Lórinand even greater. With the power of her ring, she protected it from the intrusion of evils throughout the Third Age.
When Amroth son of Amdír perished, Celeborn and Galadriel ruled Lórinand (now known as Lothlórien or Lórien) jointly, and were called the Lord and Lady. Lothlórien blossomed, and Galadriel planted the mallorn seeds brought with her from Lindon, the only mallorns east of the Sea. They established Caras Galadhon, and the realm of Lothlórien was one of light and life. It was during their days of power and glory in Lothlórien (either before or after the deaths of Amdír and Amroth) that Galadriel bore her first and only child: a daughter exceedingly fair named Celebrían. She married Elrond, a close friend of Galadriel’s and bearer of Vilya after the death of Gil-galad during the Alliance. Celeborn and Galadriel had three grandchildren by her, one of whom, Arwen, they were especially close to. But Celebrían was waylaid and tortured by Orcs in 2509, and passed West over the sea.
In 2463 the White Council was formed. Galadriel, being one of the Wise and the greatest threat to Sauron alive, was one of the members. Celeborn may have been as well, but this is not known for sure. She was a good friend of Gandalf the Grey, and recommended that he be made head of the Council. But this distinction fell instead to Saruman, whom she distrusted.War of the Ring, Galadriel met the Fellowship of the Ring in 3019. She especially was attentive to the Hobbit Frodo Baggins, who was the bearer of the One Ring. She showed him Nenya, and let him gaze into her mirror of seeing. He offered her the One Ring, and despite the extreme temptation, she resisted it successfully. She sent the Fellowship off on their quest furnished with gifts. The two most important gifts she gave were to Aragorn, whom she knew well and liked, and a dwarf named Gimli. To Aragorn she gave the Elfstone, which she had worn, and Celebrían her daughter. She was unsure as to what to give Gimli, and asked what he wanted. After complimenting her beauty, he requested a single strand of her hair. Galadriel remembered the posing of a similar question by Fëanor, but had searched Gimli’s heart and knew that his intentions were pure. She rewarded him with three strands, which he was later to put into an imperishable crystal in memory of her.
Not long after the departure of the Fellowship she received the resurrected Gandalf. She reclothed and refurnished him, giving him a new staff. After Gandalf left, Lothlórien was subjected to three successive attacks by armies coming out of Dol Guldur. By the power of her Ring they were thrice repulsed. Celeborn then led an attack on Dol Guldur itself. Once the dark fortress was in the hands of the Galadhrim, Galadriel came, threw down its walls, and purified it of its evil. It was her last act of power, for the One Ring was destroyed, and the strength of Nenya waned and eventually vanished almost completely.
Return to Valinor
Galadriel attended the wedding of Aragorn with Arwen, then returned to Lothlórien. But in 3021, two years later, she bade farewell to Celeborn her husband and went West to Valinor. With her went the other two bearers of the Rings, Gandalf and Elrond, and Frodo and Bilbo Baggins who had borne the One Ring. They passed West, and came never again to Middle-earth. There in Valinor Galadriel must have tried to heal Frodo of his spiritual wounds. Whether she was successful or not is unknown. But sometime later during the Fourth Age she received Celeborn, her husband. And in Fourth Age 120, it is said, she received Gimli her admirer, who died in Valinor.
Galadriel was very beautiful, her hair being the most notable feature about her. It reminded the Eldar of the light of the Two Trees. Galadriel, at least in her earlier years, was of a somewhat proud and rebellious nature. She was free-spirited, and during her time in Aman had many dreams of wide unexplored lands. Her favorite brother was Finrod, for he, too, shared this vision. She could explore the minds and hearts of others, and her gaze was seeing. It may be because of her unusual beauty and power that she became proud.
But by the Third Age she is also seen to act with wisdom and gentleness. In The Lord of the Rings, she appears very gentle, firm, and wise. She was revered even more than Celeborn by the Galadhrim and all who met her.
Other Versions of the Legendarium
There is a bit of befuddlement and confusion in the story of Galadriel, which Tolkien revised multiple times. Originally, and in the published Silmarillion, Galadriel supported Fëanor and even fought at Alqualondë. Then she met Celeborn in Doriath, for Celeborn was one of the Sindar. This earlier account explains the difficulty of Celeborn and Galadriel being so closely related (the Eldar did not marry that close). Though it’s possible that Galadriel and Celeborn rebelliously defied the customs and laws, it is primarily because of this difficulty that some Tolkienists take the earlier account as canon.
The later account is the one used here, being considered more canon by most (being written and used later than other accounts). It is found in The Peoples of Middle-earth.
Finarfin = Eärwen | -------------------|------------------- | | | | | | | | Finrod Angrod = Eldalôtë Aegnor GALADRIEL = Celeborn | | | | Orodreth Celebrían = Elrond | | ------|------ | | | | | | | Gil-galad Finduilas | Arwen = Aragorn Elessar
Portrayal in Adaptations
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Galadriel is played by Cate Blanchett. In the movie adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel narrates the Prologue, explaining the creation of the Rings of Power and the War of the Last Alliance. Earlier plans considered were to have either Frodo or Gandalf narrate the Prologue, but this was dropped: Frodo wasn't alive until thousands of years after these events happened, and although Gandalf was alive, he was not present in Middle-earth at the time; the Wizards came some one thousand years after the Prologue ends. Thus Galadriel narrates the Prologue, because she had first-hand accounts of this history and actively participated in its events.
Later in the films, Galadriel frequently seems to be consulting telepathically with Elrond; there is some indication from the books that the two were able to communicate in some way, but the specific instances in the movies (particularly the discussion with Elrond in Peter Jackson's The Two Towers) have no direct counterparts in the books. She does at one point send messages to Aragorn and certain members of the Fellowship, which do not make it into the movie. Further, the notion that Galadriel would send her warriors to assist at Helm's Deep is practically unthinkable in the context of the books, where Lórien is itself under threat of attack at the time.
In Popular Culture
The name Galadriel has moved outside of Tolkien's work and into the wider world; parents occasionally give it to their daughters, and a number of rock bands and at least one high-end shop have adopted it as their own.