RÓMENNA MEETING REPORT
Rómenna Meeting Report - April 14, 1984
April 14, 1984
Present||Eileen Campbell Gordon (host)
|David Morgan Greystar
|Patricia Kennealy Morrison
Rómenna is growing so fast these days that a new attendance record seems
hardly a matter worthy of note any more; however, it may be worth a mention
that nearly half of the eleven (my fingers keep wanting to type "elven") people
who attended the April meeting, despite foul weather, were new faces.
After a round of introductions and mulled cider, we started in on our discussion
of Galadriel and Celeborn--"and Amroth," as someone said, "who was either
their son or not their son."
There are indeed many ambiguities in the Unfinished Tales
with Galadriel and Celeborn, and many questions that can arise. One of the
first that arose was: Why did Tolkien want to change Celeborn from an Elf of
Doriath to a Telerin elf? There seem to be two main versions of Galadriel's
story (which we pointed out after a digression on where trolls come from, on
"Amazon lesbian Entwives," and the speculation that the Entwives had eventually
fled to California). The first version, which is the one that appears,
more or less, in The Silmarillion
, Galadriel is ranged along with the other
Noldor; she is proud and ambitious originally, eventually repenting and being
pardoned at the end of The Lord of the Rings
. The second version tries to
"whiten" her as much as possible, going so far as to pit her against the other
Noldor (notably in the battle at Alqualondë).
Reasons for this change were discussed, and it was suggested that Tolkien
had fallen in love with his character. Tolkien has two great female characters,
Lúthien and Galadriel, that seem to represent ideal women for him at different
times in his life. He also had negative female characters, of course; Erendis
was mentioned, and somebody called her a shrew. This was hotly contested by
several members of the group, who pointed out that Erendis had a lot to put up
with and that Aldarion was no prize, either.
Celeborn was seen as something of a nonentity, which is possibly why Tolkien
was able to contemplate changing him so much. There is rarely any indication
that Galadriel really needs him for anything. About the only character
trait ascribed to him is his dislike of Dwarves, for which he has good reason
(as long as he's assumed to be an Elf of Doriath, anyway). It was considered
characteristic of Celeborn that in the version of the story in which his and
Galadriel's rule of Eregion is overthrown by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain under Celebrimbor,
Galadriel escapes through Moria into Lórien with the help of the
Dwarves (whom she gets along with perfectly well), while Celeborn, refusing
such aid, stays behind in Eregion, where he is disregarded by Celebrimbor.
Everybody obviously knows who the important one of the pair is . . . . Celeborn
and Galadriel were compared to Aillil and Maeve of Irish legend, another
royal couple in which the woman is clearly the stronger.
Galadriel's early history was touched on: her birth in Valinor, and her
gold and silver hair which captivated Fëanor and may have given him the idea
for the Silmarils. Despite his admiration for her, the two did not get along.
Tolkien says that Galadriel sensed something wrong in Fëanor, but we agreed
that two such strong personalities would inevitably have clashed anyway.
Galadriel's kinship with Celeborn was also discussed: in the first version,
he is her second cousin (as a grandson of Elmo, the younger brother of Elwë
and Olwë), and in the second version he is her first cousin (as a grandson of
Olwë of Alqualondë, who was also Galadriel's grandfather on her mother's side).
The concern was voiced that the first-cousin relationship seemed a bit close,
in the tale of Maeglin, the marriage of first cousins is considered incestuous
(here followed a digression on incest).
The discussion then turned to Amroth, who was either the son of Galadriel
and Celeborn or of Amdír (also known as Malgalad), king of Lórien. During the
Second Age there seems to have been a kind of "back-to-nature" movement among
the Sindar especially, which led, more or less, to the founding of the realms
of Mirkwood and Lórien. This movement ties in with the story of Amroth because
Nimrodel had similar feelings: that the Noldor were the ones who had stirred
up all the trouble with Morgoth, and if they'd just leave the Silvan elves in
peace, things might be better. The "back-to-nature" theme then led to a digression
on Tom Bombadil: when we got back from that, we touched on the story of
Mithrellas and the origin of the elvish strain in the princes of Dol Amroth.
Parallels were seen between the story of Mithrellas and the many folktales in
which a man takes a faerie wife who stays long enough to bear him children and
Getting back to Galadriel, the question was posed: Why didn't Galadriel
blow the whistle on Sauron when he came to Eregion, since she knew there was
something wrong about him? Various answers were proposed. One was that the
political system was very loose, and based on individual rather than group action.
Galadriel may have considered it none of her business what kind of company
was kept by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. It was noted that Elves rarely acted
together except in the direst of circumstances. Also, Galadriel might not have
had enough concrete evidence to convince even herself that something actually
needed to be done. She might sense that there was something unpleasant about
this "Artano" or "Aulendil" or "Annatar" fellow, without realizing that he
was dangerous. (Somehow a digression got started at this point on Elvish
reincarnation, the two Glorfindels, Finrod Felagund, and the descent of Gildor
Inglorion.) Eventually (in one version of the story at least), the Gwaith-i-
Mírdain took over the rule of Eregion from Galadriel and Celeborn. Randolph
commented that that was "a very Elvish thing to do--let the craft guilds run
The ensuing discussion of the eventual fate of Celeborn, Elladan and Elrohir,
the way the Elves' sex drive seems to disappear when separated from
their chosen spouse (presumably the reason Galadriel and Celeborn were able to
remain apart for such long periods without noticeable discomfort), and related
matters, led eventually (and unexpectedly) to an answer to the initial question
about the change in Celeborn's origin. Tolkien made Celeborn a Telerin prince
in order to give Galadriel a motivation to fight against
Fëanor at Alqualondë.
(Another digression spun off here, probably sparked by the remark about
Elves being "instinctive Catholics," in which someone came up with the notion
of an Elf deducing the existence of Ilúvatar by unaided reason. Fëanor was
suggested for the role, and rejected on the grounds that he was not reasonable.
Though he was an inventor of genius, he had no common sense. Whether
or not common sense was really the necessary factor in such a deduction was
The discussion returned to Amroth. Alexei commented that it must have
been awfully disillusioning for Amroth to come to the Bay of Belfalas expecting
to find the fabled elf-haven and to actually find that pitifully small
group of elves with their one little rickety ship. Nimrodel was seen as another
of Tolkien's negative female characters, refusing to see Amroth's side
of their relationship or to be responsive to his problems. Galadriel as the
positive, ideal female figure was discussed once more. It was pointed out
that she never led armies (Celeborn did that--one of the few things he did do).
Things tend to come to her rather than her going to them: she inspires deeds.
Lúthien, by way of contrast, did things herself. She and Beren inspired each
other. Tolkien's female characters seem to follow a pattern of sorts: at
the one end is the ideal figure of Lúthien, his early ideal woman: this is
followed by a series of negative female characters (such as Erendis and Nimrodel),
who may have coincided with the real-life difficulties in Tolkien's
own marriage: and finally, in Galadriel and the way her story was developing,
he seems to have been creating a new ideal female figure. It was noted that
(like Erendis), Edith Tolkien had difficulties of her own: the life of a
don's wife is not an easy one.
The discussion ended with speculation on the reunion of Elrond and Celebrían in the Undying Lands. ("What have you done with my daughter?" "Well, er, you see. . . .")
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