Although there were only 8 voters, this is the post that won my Twitter poll when I asked what I should write about relating to The Rings of Power. So here they are: some of my rambling thoughts on how Galadriel has been portrayed in The Rings of Power so far. (All RoP content on the blog is tagged with “Rings of Power,” if you want to see more!)
Is the RoP Galadriel “Faithful” to Tolkien’s Work?
If you’re a casual Tolkien fan, the first thing to note is that there is no “definitive” version of Galadriel before her appearance in The Lord of the Rings in the Third Age. Tolkien left several versions of how he envisioned her and her story earlier in her life, and they are sometimes contradictory. So there’s no real way to say what the “canon” version of Galadriel in the Second Age would be.
But Does It Bother You She’s a Warrior in the Show???
There are a couple references to the fact that Galadriel competed in great feats of athletics in her youth, and Tolkien once describes her as “Amazonian,” and fans have pointed to these quotes as justification for the fact Galadriel is a warrior in the show, the Commander of the Northern Armies. To which I say . . . meh. I think her great athleticism would describe why she would be a good warrior if she were a warrior, but one can be athletic, muscular, strong, etc. without being a soldier. Obviously.
I don’t 100% hate this interpretation of her character, however. The showrunners clearly draw on the fact the Elves fought Morgoth for a very long time, and Galadriel would have seen the loss, in addition to the loss of her brother. She would have seen how evil Morgoth and Sauron were, and it is canon she felt obliged to see the eradication of this evil through. So who’s to say she didn’t pick up a sword at one point in her life in order to help hasten the defeat of her enemies?
Tolkien doesn’t specifically describe her as spending the Second Age doing wise Elvish mystical acts either, so really anything the showrunners came up with would have been made up. My reaction to her being a soldier is kind of just to shrug at this point.
What Actually Bothers Me about Galadriel
My real problem so far is that absolutely no other character in the show seems to respect her. Galadriel is supposed to be incredibly wise and powerful, plus she comes from a highly respected Elf family. People should be as impressed with and as in awe with her as they are in The Lord of the Rings.
Instead, the show opens with young Galadriel appearing as some sort of outcast mocked by the Elf children, then moves on to show her troops mutinying and refusing to follow her orders. She next appears in Lindon, where Elrond emphasizes their friendship and obviously likes her as a person but also seems to think she’s delusional that Sauron is still alive and stupid for defying Gil-galad. And Gil-galad also implies she’s a fool. Next, we see her on the boat to Valinor, where the other Elves clearly think she’s crazy for not being excited to go to Valinor and clinging to her knife, and then we see her jump off the boat when she clearly is too far from any land to actually swim anywhere without dying.
Tolkien certainly characterizes Galadriel as rash and proud in her youth, as she chose to leave Valinor in the first place and was interested in ruling a realm of her own, so the hotheadness the show is leaning into makes sense. But at no point do I really feel that Galadriel is majestic and wise; her hunt for Sauron comes across as some crazed personal vendetta rather than something she’s pursuing because she’s farsighted and wise and can see the evil that’s hidden while others cannot.
It’s very probable the writers are aiming for Galadriel to have some sort of character arc where she becomes more like the stately Galadriel we know in The Lord of the Rings, but I’m not really asking for her to act stoic and wise and unperturbed at all times. I’m asking for other characters to respect her instead of clearly believing she’s a fool.
What are you thoughts?
10 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Galadriel in “The Rings of Power” after the First Two Episodes”
I like that she’s a warrior. Maybe she’s still earning her respect.
I don’t know what the writers are doing because in the third episode she goes off in Numenor as if everyone should have heard of her and be impressed by her already!
I agree that athletic feats does not equate with soldiering. I never saw Galadriel as a soldier myself and for some reason imagined during things like the destruction Dol Guldur that Galadriel was wielding some sort of Elvish magic and not a sword. She’s been around a long time, though, so I guess it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that she would have learned to use a sword.
I do agree, though, that the textual evidence all seems to indicate that Galadriel was well respected by other Elves and that Sauron in particular feared her during the Second Age. It makes little sense to depict her as not respected.
Also, I thought she was maybe banned from Valinor/refusing to go back? So it’s bizarre to have Gil-galad send her there on a little holiday?? I know the versions of her history vary on whether or not she was banned, but even if she weren’t, I can’t imagine her willingly going back just for fun.
I would have preferred her doing some sort of Elvish magic, though it’s hard to envision what that would actually look like. I think they’re probably leaning hard into giving her a character arc and having her move away from fighting.
Yes, the whole Ban of the Valar thing apparently is not a thing in the show… And she is reluctant to go back, but they’re basically trying to force her to, which is also weird.
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I don’t have the books on me, but I think the Ban of the Valar may not be explicitly mentioned in the appendices, so perhaps they couldn’t use that. But then I would just say don’t put in the whole thing with Galadriel going there at all, or just have her say she can’t go back and leave it there?
I think the whole thing is awkward because the writers clearly just wanted to get on her on a boat somehow. Both to kind of show what Valinor is, I guess, and then have her show up in Numenor? Her whole plot feels much more contrived than the rest of the show to me.
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Personally, I’m just not overly keen in the series at all, to be honest. I love Peter Jackson’s trilogy and the first Hobbit movie (the last two I didn’t like at all, too many different adaptations for me that strayed from the heart of the story). The series might be for others but it’s just not for me. I’d rather spend my time elsewhere, like more reading 😉
I’ve been having fun watching the series, but it seems like a lot of what people are doing is going, “Ooh, look a reference to the First Age!” Or speculating on things like “Who is the Stranger?” I don’t know how much the show holds up as a actual show, in terms of whether the plot and characters are good and if people would rewatch it to enjoy rather than look for Tolkien Easter eggs.