Galadriel Quotes From The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
[Tolkien's comments on the film 'treatment' of The Lord of the Rings.] [...] 21 ff. 'A splendid sight. It is the home of Galadriel. . . an Elvenqueen.' (She is not in fact one.) 'Delicate spires and tiny minarets of Elven-color are cleverly woven into a beautiful[ly] designed castle.' I think this deplorable in itself, and in places impertinent. Will Z please pay my text some respect, at least in descriptions that are obviously central to the general tone and style of the book! I will in no circumstances accept this treatment of Lórien, even if Z personally prefers 'tiny' fairies and the gimcrack of conventional modern fairy-tales.
The disappearance of the temptation of Galadriel is significant. Practically everything having moral import has vanished from the synopsis.
-210, June 1958
[...]I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories), and in fact a Roman Catholic. The latter 'fact' perhaps cannot be deduced; though one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devotion to Mary. Another saw in waybread (lembas)= viaticum and the reference to its feeding the will (vol. III, p. 213) and being more potent when fasting, a derivation from the Eucharist. (That is: far greater things may colour the mind in dealing with the lesser things of a fairy-story.)
-213, 25 October 1958
[Discussing what would happen if the Ring was used against Sauron.] Of the others only Gandalf might be expected to master him - being an emissary of the Powers and a creature of the same order, an immortal spirit taking a visible physical form. In the 'Mirror of Galadriel', 1381, it appears that Galadriel conceived of herself as capable of wielding the Ring and supplanting the Dark Lord. If so, so also were the other guardians of the Three, especially Elrond. But this is another matter. It was part of the essential deceit of the Ring to fill minds with imaginations of supreme power. But this the Great had well considered and had rejected, as is seen in Elrond's words at the Council. Galadriel's rejection of the temptation was founded upon previous thought and resolve. In any case Elrond or Galadriel would have proceeded in the policy now adopted by Sauron: they would have built up an empire with great and absolutely subservient generals and armies and engines of war, until they could challenge Sauron and destroy him by force. Confrontation of Sauron alone, unaided, self to self was not contemplated. One can imagine the scene in which Gandalf, say, was placed in such a position.
-246, September 1963
The Exiles were allowed to return - save for a few chief actors in the rebellion of whom at the time of the L. R. only Galadriel remained. [In footnote:] At the time of her lament in Lórien she believed this to be perennial, as long as Earth endured. Hence she concludes her lament with a wish or prayer that Frodo may as a special grace be granted a purgatorial (but not penal) sojourn in Eressea, the Solitary Isle in sight of Aman, though for her the way is closed. (The Land of Aman after the downfall of Númenor, was no longer in physical existence 'within the circles of the world'.) Her prayer was granted - but also her personal ban was lifted, in reward for her services against Sauron, and above all for her rejection of the temptation to take the Ring when offered to her. So at the end we see her taking ship.
-297, August 1967
I was particularly interested in your remarks about Galadriel. .... I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary, but actually Galadriel was a penitent: in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar (the angelic guardians). At the end of the First Age she proudly refused forgiveness or permission to return. She was pardoned because of her resistance to the final and overwhelming temptation to take the Ring for herself.
-320, 25 January 1971
The 'High-Elves' or exiled Noldor had, for reasons that the legend of their rebellion and exile from Valinor explains, at once adopted Sindarin, and even translated their Q. names into S. or adapted them. Galadriel though beautiful & noble enough in form is not a Q. name, any more than Gil-galad, which contains the S. word galad; and Celeborn is a transl. of the orig. name Telporno; though said to be a kinsman of King Elu Thingol he was so only afar off, for he too came from Valinor.
-347, 17 December 1972
Galadriel, like all the other names of elvish persons in The Lord of the Rings, is an invention of my own. It is in Sindarin form (see Appendices E and F) and means 'Maiden crowned with gleaming hair'. It is a secondary name given to her in her youth in the far past because she had long hair which glistened like gold but was also shot with silver. She was then of Amazon disposition and bound up her hair as a crown when taking part in athletic feats.
-348, 6 March 1973
Galadriel was 'unstained': she had committed no evil deeds. She was an enemy of Fëanor. She did not reach Middle-earth with the other Noldor, but independently. Her reasons for desiring to go to Middle-earth were legitimate, and she would have been permitted to depart, but for the misfortune that before she set out the revolt of Fëanor broke out, and she became involved in the desperate measures of Manwe, and the ban on all emigration.
-353, 4 August 1973