- "Only Gimli lifted up his head; a smouldering fire was in his eyes. . ."
- ― Gimli's response to the mention of the Mines of Moria
|Other names||Elf-friend, Lockbearer, Lord of the Glittering Caves|
Gimli was a dwarf of Durin's Folk, a direct descendant of Durin the Deathless through Náin II's younger son Borin, and in turn Farin's younger son Gróin, and his younger son Glóin. Despite being too young at the time of the Quest of Erebor (only 62), he became famous as the only Dwarven member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Gimli was born in the Blue Mountains nine years after the tragic destruction of Dale and the wasting of Erebor by Smaug the Golden. Little is known about his early life (or the lives of young dwarves in general, as a matter of fact), but he was forbidden to join Thorin and Company because of his age: only 62 at the time, according to The Quest of Erebor. Gimli was the only surviving member of Durin’s Folk not to go on the quest, save for his fairly distant relative Dís, who was female.
Years later, in 3017, Gimli witnessed the tempting offers of the messenger of Sauron (presumed to be a Nazgûl) concerning the Ring of Power, and accompanied his troubled father to Rivendell for the dual purpose of warning retired burglar (and old acquaintance) Bilbo Baggins and seeking the counsel of Elrond on such weighty matters. His purpose in going was unknown – he neither knew Bilbo, nor liked the Elves any more than any other Dwarf at that time. It is possible his father merely took him for the experience of being in Rivendell. Whatever the reason, he attended the Council of Elrond as a representative of the Dwarves of Erebor.
The Fellowship of the Ring
Gimli, as the only young dwarf (so far as we know) at the council of Elrond, was appointed as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. He alone of the company wore a mail-shirt, and carried a broad-bladed axe. He quickly distinguished himself in the company by declaring that he "needed no map" and naming the Misty Mountains individually by their Khuzdul names, inspiring the comment from Sam: "A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be!"
Gimli, surprisingly, stood more than all the others with Gandalf on the matter of passing through Moria. This may be influenced by his curiosity about the fate of his second cousin Balin, who went thither to refound the ancient kingdom of the Longbeards, and also his vengeful nature. His first clash with Legolas occurred before the Doors of Durin, in a brief dispute over whose fault it was (the Elves’ or the Dwarves’) that the friendship between them waned. Gandalf quickly intervened, though it was not until Lothlórien that they would truly become friends.
Gimli reacted most indignantly to Sam’s suggestion that Moria was but “holes”, going so far as to chant for him the ancient song The World was Young, the Mountains Green. Gimli continued to be helpful to Gandalf on the rest of the dark passage, and boldly aided in the Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul, protecting Balin’s tomb. After Gandalf remained behind to halt the Balrog, Gimli led the others across the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.
He again shows great emotion when they near Kheled-zâram, taking Frodo alone out of all the company with him to see it (though Sam follows as well). This hints at a degree of affection for Frodo, though it may merely be because he was the most important of the company. Despite his helpfulness, at Lothlórien he became the greatest hindrance to the Company, when he alone was required to be blindfolded and of all of them liked the idea the least (save for perhaps Legolas). The compromise was made that the entire company would go through the Golden Wood in this manner, that Gimli would not suffer alone.
Despite this early struggle, it is Gimli of all the company that is most remembered for his deeds in Lothlórien. For his heart softened towards Galadriel and as a result toward Elves in general when that great lady sympathized with his sorrows, using the traditional Khuzdul names. In return he attempted to compliment her, as he saw her love and understanding. Though slightly clumsy in his first attempt, he distinguished himself when, as Galadriel gave the Company gifts, he asked only for a single strand of her hair. This Galadriel graciously gave with a blessing, probably remembering when Fëanor had requested a similar gift several millennia ago. Henceforth Gimli was known as "Lockbearer". He wept openly at the departure from Lothlórien, calling the light more dangerous than the darkness he had feared.
After the departure from Lothlórien Gimli is relegated a fairly minor role. He had, however, become a fast friend of Legolas the Elf, a result of Galadriel’s kindness. This, too, made him famous among all the Dwarves of the Third Age.
The Three HuntersBreaking of the Fellowship, during which he and Legolas slew many orcs, Gimli listened in silence as his only remaining comrades, Aragorn and Legolas, sang a lament for Boromir in the character of three of the Winds. Only the East Wind was left, and Gimli would not sing it, which Aragorn declared to be appropriate.
For most of the chase he served as a commentator, usually leaving the decisions to Aragorn. His reaction was quite hostile to the suspicious Rohirrim, especially after Éomer’s rash comments about Galadriel. Little did either know that they would become close friends in the times to come as fiery words passed between them. After the Three Hunters were lent horses, Gimli and Éomer parted in peace, with promises to one another of reconciliation.
Of the Three Hunters, Gimli seemed the most shaken by Fangorn while they searched for traces of Merry and Pippin. Gimli felt no reluctance to shoot the “unarmed” old man whom they thought was Saruman, unlike Aragorn and Legolas. After Gandalf was revealed to them, Gimli fell to his knees. Gandalf put his hand on Gimli’s head, and the dwarf laughed for the first time recorded during the Quest of the Ring.
Gimli’s ire was raised again in King Théoden’s courts against Wormtongue, who spoke slanderously of the Lady of the Golden Wood. Gandalf quickly calmed him. Gimli was delighted by the White Mountains and Helm’s Deep, declaring “This country has tough bones”. He declared that if he had a hundred of his kin he could make the fortress invincible.
War of the RingBattle of the Hornburg, Gimli saved Éomer’s life outside the gates. He came in, boasting of his first two orc-kills to his friend Legolas. Legolas estimated his slaughter to amount to twenty, starting the good-hearted orc-killing game that continued through the rest of the battle. Gimli was the first to the culvert when the orcs crept through, leaping heroically into their midst from the walls. He then proceeded to lead the blocking up of the culvert. During the course of the battle Gimli was one of those forced into the Glittering Caves. He was astonished to see the magnificence of these caverns, moving even Legolas with his glowing description of them. This one sight would change his life.
His final kill score number was forty-two in that battle, surpassing his friend the elf by one. Gimli shows a hint of humor and affection when he greets the two Hobbits Merry and Pippin comfortably situated among flotsam and jetsam in the ruin of Isengard. He declared himself deep in Pippin’s debt when the hobbit lent him his spare pipe.
As the fellowship of friends again began to break up – Gandalf and Pippin heading for Minas Tirith, Théoden and his riders for Dunharrow – Gimli out of love and respect for Aragorn went with him, Legolas, the sons of Elrond, and the Dúnedain Rangers on the Paths of the Dead. He showed great reluctance before the Dark Door, the final thought that drove him downward was the thought of being bested by an Elf underground.Battle of Pelennor Fields, returning with Aragorn and his other companions on the Black Ships, and later recounted their journey to the fascinated Hobbits. He began to fear for Legolas, who seemed entranced by the Sea. His position on Elves completely changed, he remarked "If all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay". He was much more skeptical as to the overall end of Men than his comrade.
Gimli fought in the Battle of the Morannon, passing through unscathed, and finding the alive but bruised Pippin among the dead lying on the hill. He returned to the Field of Cormallen to be reunited to his friends, and there displayed open affection for all of them, even his frequent rival Pippin ("If only because of the pains you have cost me, which I shall never forget").
After the War of the Ring
After the coronation of Aragorn, Gimli said farewell to his old friend Éomer, who begged for pardon as to his words on Galadriel, though he slyly added that he didn’t think she was the fairest in the world: adding that Arwen was only when Gimli began to threaten him. Gimli was content with that.
During the return journey he visited many places with Legolas, including Fangorn Forest and Aglarond. Eventually he returned to Erebor, to find it nearly devastated by war. Dáin II Ironfoot had died, and Thorin III Stonehelm was now King. Eventually, though, he returned to the Glittering Caves with a contingent of dwarves, becoming the “Lord of the Glittering Caves”. He rebuilt the gates of Minas Tirith with mithril and steel, and in both Gondor and Rohan accomplished great works. In Aglarond, it is assumed, he lived on until he was old, and in Fourth Age 120 it is believed that he sailed with Legolas his friend across Belegaer to Valinor. There he presumably died in peace.
Gimli throughout The Lord of the Rings showed perhaps the greatest open contempt for Sauron and his minions, save for perhaps Boromir. He was a grim character, for the most part, laughing only occasionally and, though in a few rare situations inspiring amusement, never joking. Due to his comments especially in the chapter The Ring goes South, he may be called more superstitious than the others, acting very much as if Caradhras was an actual living being.
Gimli also carries the characteristic of smoldering vengeance against enemies found in many dwarves, such as when speaking of Moria. It may be that Gimli’s strongest show of sentiment was when speaking of Balin and Moria. He also is shown to have a steadfast nature to match, noticeable, for instance, when he plunges heedlessly across a stagnant creek in his eagerness to get to Moria. He also seems to have a love (or an interest, at least) in food, complementing the lembas of the Elves most highly.
Portrayal in AdaptationsPeter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, he was played by John Rhys-Davies, who also provided the voice for Treebeard. His character has been criticized by Tolkien fans because he acted as the Comedian for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, whereas in the books he was a solid, serious character.
Farin | -------|------- | | | | Fundin Gróin | | ---|--- ---|--- | | | | | | | | Balin Dwalin Óin Glóin | | GIMLI ELF-FRIEND
|Lord of the Glittering Caves
|Members of the Fellowship of the Ring|
|Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir|