Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Fellowship Of The Ring Book 2 Chapter 7 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 2, Chapter 7) : The Mirror of Galadriel | Summary

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Summary

As night falls, they arrive at Caras Galadhon, the city of the Galadhrim—the Elves who live in Lothlórien. Entering the great gates of the city, they come presently to a large tree and climb a ladder to a large platform, "like the deck of a great ship," on which a great house stands. In a chamber of the house, Galadriel and her husband Celeborn, the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien, greet them each by name. Celeborn and Galadriel ask why Gandalf is not with them and the Company shares the bad news of Gandalf's fall. The Lord and Lady say they will help Frodo in his quest, of which they are aware.

The Fellowship remains in Lothlórien for many days but eventually realizes they must leave and continue the quest. Both Frodo and Sam feel strongly that they must be on their way. As the two hobbits discuss this, Galadriel approaches and leads them to a spring next to which sits a silver basin on a pedestal. Filling the basin with water, she invites them to look into "the Mirror of Galadriel," which shows "things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be."

Sam sees "Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff ... [and] himself going along a dim passage, and climbing an endless winding stair." Then he sees trouble happening in the Shire.

Frodo sees a "figure ... clothed not in grey but in white ... and in its hand there was a white staff." Then he sees Bilbo, back in Rivendell, and then flashes of scenes from the Ring's history—the "great history in which he had become involved." Finally, he sees a great Eye—the Eye of Sauron, which he knows is searching for him.

Galadriel reveals to Frodo she is the bearer of one of the Elven rings, and so the destruction of the One Ring will mean the destruction of all the good she has done with her ring's power. She tells Frodo, "if you fail, then we are laid bare to the Enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away."

Frodo offers her the One Ring, but she resists the temptation to take it.

Analysis

In this chapter, Tolkien introduces the Lady Galadriel. She plays an important role in this story, but she is also a figure with a rich history outside of The Lord of The Rings. In The Silmarillion, she is descended from both Noldor and Teleri Elves—two of the Elvish clans that once lived in peace in Valinor (the Undying Lands), home of the Valar, or angels. She participated in the rebellion of the Noldor against the Valar by leaving Middle-earth in pursuit of Melkor (also known as Morgoth) to take from him the silmarils he stole. Galadriel, along with the other Noldor who rebelled, were not allowed to return to Valinor, but lived in exile in Middle-earth. When Galadriel resists the temptation to accept the One Ring—choosing instead to allow all she has created and sustained with her own ring of power fade away—her action is redemptive. Because of it, she is allowed to return to Valinor on the Elven ship.

What Sam and Frodo see in the mirror reflects their individual roles in the quest, and in the story of the One Ring. Frodo sees scenes from the history of the Ring—the greater story of which he, as Ring-bearer, has become a part. He is the one who has the charge laid on him by Elrond. He is the one Sauron's eye is seeking.

Sam, by contrast, goes with Frodo out of loyalty, duty, and friendship. He consistently chooses to stay with Frodo, even when other avenues present themselves. In his vision, then, he is given a choice—go back to the Shire and protect it, or go on with Frodo and face some terrible fate. Yet he chooses to stay with Frodo, as he did outside of Moria.

The theme of fighting the good fight is explicitly stated in this chapter as Galadriel echoes the wisdom of Gandalf in telling Frodo, "For the fate of Lothlórien you are not answerable, but only for the doing of your own task." Like Gandalf's words in Chapter 2, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us," the point is made that each person has a responsibility, and the ethical path is to try and complete it.

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