Study Guide

Elves in The Fellowship of the Ring

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Amroth was an Elven-king, "a lord of tree and glen" (2.6.61), in the days of spring in Lothlórien. When a ship carried him away from his beloved Nimrodel, he leaped into the Sea and rode the waves like a swan. But no one on either the Western shore or the Eastern (the Middle-earth side) has ever heard news of what has become of Amroth.

While Amroth may have disappeared, he has left behind his home in the heart of Lothlórien: a mound where, "in happier days his high house was built" (2.6.145). On this mound still bloom winter flowers in unfading grass, the yellow elanor and the white niphredil.

Arwen Undómiel

Arwen is Elrond's daughter and Galadriel's granddaughter (by Galadriel's daughter, Celebrían). She is beautiful and queenly, with dark hair and a flawless face. The Elves say that she is the likeness of Lúthien Tinúviel returned to Middle-earth again, which makes sense, since she is a descendant of Tinúviel.

And like Tinúviel, Arwen loves a mortal man: Aragorn. When Frodo sees her on his first (conscious) night in Rivendell, he thinks that she is the most beautiful person he has ever seen: "the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart" (2.1.158).

We don't see much of Arwen in The Fellowship of the Ring, but we get hints of what she means to Aragorn periodically. As Aragorn leaves Lothlórien, Galadriel gives him a brooch with a green stone that was left for him. Galadriel gave the stone to Celebrían, her daughter, who gave it to her daughter, Arwen. So Arwen has given Aragorn a token reflecting one of his Elvish names: Elessar, the Elfstone. Clearly, there is a grand romance brewing between Arwen and Aragorn, but it will take them a long time to get there.


Celeborn is the Lord of Lothlórien; he is tall and fair, with an ageless face and long silver hair. When Frodo first comes to Caras Caladhorn, to the mallorn tree at the heart of Lothlórien, Celeborn greets him and invites Frodo to sit next to him. Celeborn comes off as slightly less all-knowing and brilliant than his wife, who knows at once that Gandalf has not passed the boundaries of Lothlórien. Celeborn can only add, "These are evil tidings" (2.7.19).

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When Aragorn tells of the Balrog that apparently killed Gandalf, Celeborn immediately blames the Dwarves: "had I known that the Dwarves had stirred up this evil in Moria again, I would have forbidden you to pass the northern borders" (2.7.26). Galadriel scolds him for blaming the Dwarves, and for assuming that Gandalf had no purpose in choosing to go through Moria. As smart as he may be, Celeborn provides a foil for the wisdom and brilliance of Galadriel. Even among High Elves like Celeborn, Galadriel is something special.

Of course, we may not be too impressed by Celeborn's wisdom, since he has to apologize to Gimli for speaking "in the trouble of [his] heart" (2.7.30). But Galadriel, loyal partner that she is, assures the Company that Celeborn "is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth, and a giver of gifts beyond the power of kings" (2.7.31). Given that Galadrial and Celeborn have been living together for countless years, we suppose that Galadriel would know if Celeborn is wise or not – we'll trust her judgment. We also know that he has been living in the West "since the days of dawn" (2.7.31); we suppose he must have learned some things in his time.


Daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn and mother of Arwen Undómiel; consort of Elrond. For more about her tragic fate (which drives Elladan and Elrohir to ride out regularly with the Rangers hunting Orcs), check out The Return of the King.


Celebrimbor was an Elven-smith in the Second Age who forged the three Elvish Rings of Power. He hid them away from Sauron before he could steal or corrupt them with his One Ring of Power. Celebrimbor was also the one who carved the emblems of Durin, the Tree of the High Elves, and the Star of the House of Fëanor in the western door of the Mines of Moria. Celebrimbor was an Elf of Hollin; now, the only trace of Elves in Hollin is the lament of the stones: "deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they built us; but they are gone" (2.3.103).

Elladan and Elrohir

Elrond's sons and Arwen's brothers; these two like to ride out to fight evil. They often travel with the Rangers of the North, "forgetting never their mother's torment in the dens of the Orcs" (2.1.86). They are close friends with Aragorn, and they play a much larger role in The Return of the King, when Aragorn is rising to power in Gondor.

Elwing the White

Descendant of Lúthien Tinúviel and wife of Eärendil, the first King of Númenor.


Erestor is the chief counselor of Elrond's household. He is present at the Council of Elrond, and he is the one who suggests that perhaps Tom Bombadil could guard the Ring for them, since it has no power over him. Gandalf nixes that idea, since Tom Bombadil would not understand the importance of the task, and anyway, who is to say he could stand against Sauron?


Galdor is an Elf visiting from the Grey Havens (in the West beyond the Shire; the departure place for Elvenhome across the Sea). He is in Rivendell on an errand from Círdan the Shipwright; he attends the Council of Elrond.

Gildor Inglorion

The leader of the small group of High Elves passing through the Shire as Frodo, Sam, and Pippin walk from Hobbiton to Buckland. He tells Frodo that the Elves have frequently seen Frodo walking with Bilbo, and they know him well. Gildor invites Sam, Frodo, and Pippin to Woodhall to eat and drink. After Sam and Pippin fall asleep, he and Frodo discuss Frodo's quest. Gildor will not tell Frodo more about the Black Riders, "lest terror should keep [Frodo] from [his] journey" (1.3.159). But Gildor also warns Frodo that the Shire is no longer safe, and Frodo has to hurry on to Rivendell. Gildor comforts Frodo: "I name you Elf-friend; and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" (1.3.171).

(Gildor is apparently in touch with Aragorn, since it's from Gildor and his company that Aragorn learns that Gandalf never came to the Shire to meet Frodo before Frodo departed for Rivendell. News travels fast in Middle-earth!)


Gil-galad is the Elven King who leads the Elves, allied with the Men of Westernesse, to overthrow Sauron during his first rise. Gil-galad's spear, Aiglos, is as famous as Narsil, the Sword of Elendil. Gil-galad is killed in battle against Sauron, on the slopes of Orodruin (a.k.a. Mount Doom). Elrond remembers these events personally: he was Gil-galad's herald (someone who makes official announcements and proclamations) during the Second Age.

On the march from Bree to Rivendell, the Hobbits and Aragorn are all amazed when Sam begins to recite: "Gil-galad was an Elven king./ Of him the harpers sadly sing:/ the last whose realm was fair and free/ Between the Mountains and the Sea" (1.11.77). It's part of an Elvish song, The Fall of Gil-galad, which Bilbo translated and taught to Sam. Gil-galad was the last of the great Elf-kings of Middle-earth, and his name means Starlight. As Frodo starts to explain all this to Merry while they're camping on Weathertop, Aragorn stops him. Aragorn doesn't think it is good luck to sing of the first battle against Sauron while he and the Hobbits are just waiting to face down the Ringwraiths.


Poor Glorfindel gets totally replaced in the Lord of the Rings movies by Liv Tyler (*ahem* Arwen) on horseback. But in the books, the guy who saves Frodo from the Ringwraiths at the Fords of Bruinen is an Elf lord named Glorfindel. When Elrond receives bad news from the Elves of Gildor's company that the Nine Ringwraiths are out and about, he worries that Frodo has gotten lost in the wilderness or fallen into trouble. So Elrond sends several Elves, including Glorfindel, to comb the wilderness looking for Frodo. And luckily, Glorfindel finds him.

By the time Glorfindel catches up to Frodo and his party, he has already seen five riders behind them. Frodo has been wounded by the Ringwraiths and is not looking so hot. Glorfindel can't help Frodo's wound, but he can put Frodo on the back of his horse to help them move more quickly towards Rivendell. Glorfindel is an anxious guide: he pushes them to cover ground throughout the day and night, until Frodo is dropping with exhaustion.

Despite all of Glorfindel's speed, five of the Black Riders catch up with Frodo just before the Ford of Bruinen. Glorfindel tells his horse Asfaloth to carry Frodo onward. Sadly, the other four Riders soon join the first five – all nine are abroad. Glorfindel's horse carries Frodo safely across the Ford of Bruinen, despite Frodo's growing terror at the Ringwraiths.

As Frodo is about to lose consciousness, he sees Glorfindel as a shining figure of white light fighting off the Nine on the other side of the River Bruinen. When Frodo wakes in Rivendell, Gandalf confirms that Glorfindel is "an Elf-lord of a house of princes" and "one of the mighty of the Firstborn" (2.1.48). Later, Frodo observes that Glorfindel's face is "fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and keen, and his voice like music; on his brow sat wisdom, and in his hand was strength" (2.1.84). Basically, he is hot stuff.

Hador, Húrin, and Túrin

These are all men whom Elrond names as famous Elf-friends. If Frodo succeeds in destroying the Ring, his name will be among them, Elrond promises.


Haldir is an Elf of Lothlórien. When the Company crosses the Nimrodel and sets up camp, Haldir comes to greet them. He welcomes Frodo and the seven remaining non-Dwarf members of the Company, but he remains clearly suspicious of Gimli. He also tells Legolas that he "must answer to [the Elves of Lothlórien] for [his friends] [...] [a]nd have an eye on that Dwarf!" (2.6.89). Haldir is the one who will not budge on the issue of Gimli being blindfolded in order to enter Lothlórien. Legolas curses Gimli's stubbornness in refusing the blindfold, but Haldir is at least as much at fault for insisting on it in the first place.

Haldir knows that it may seem unjust for him to persecute one of their allies in the fight against Sauron, but he justifies his own actions: "Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlórien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger out land. We live now upon an island amid many perils" (2.6.132). In other words, we are good people, but we aren't stupid: we know we are under threat, and we have to take precautions.

Haldir is the first character in The Fellowship of the Ring to corroborate Frodo's suspicion that the Company is being followed by something that is not an Orc, but instead vaguely Hobbit-like (Gollum!). Haldir also helps out the Fellowship by acting as a decoy with two other Elves to trick a large Orc company that is looking for Frodo and his friends. Haldir leads the Orcs deep into the forest by "[speaking] with feigned voices" (2.6.106).

Haldir's greatest contribution to the The Fellowship of the Ring (in our opinion) is his melancholy thoughts on the certain death of Lothlórien in Book 2, Chapter 6. The Elves know that their time in Middle-earth is growing short; already, the woods of Lothlórien have reached autumn. While the Elves seem mostly resigned to losing Middle-earth, we are still glad to hear that they love their homes and are sorry to see them fade. It makes the Elves seem more human, somehow, that they can regret the same way that we do.


Lindir is an Elf who teases Bilbo after his chant of Eärendil in Rivendell, the night of the feast celebrating the arrival of Frodo, the Ring-bearer. Lindir tells him, "You know you never tire of reciting your own verses" (2.1.144). And when Lindir does not know which verses were Bilbo's and which were Aragorn's, he laughs: "To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different [...] Or to shepherds. But Mortals have not been our study" (2.1.150). Despite Lindir's teasing, he clearly enjoys Bilbo's song: he requests a repeat performance.

Lúthien Tinúviel

We only get a taste of the tale of Lúthien Tinúviel in The Fellowship of the Ring. If you like this part of the book, you’ll love Tolkien’s later collection of stories, the Silmarillion: the songs and tales that Aragorn and the Hobbits tell are only a preview of the main events in that work. Here’s what we can piece together from Aragorn's and the Hobbits' songs about this Elf ancestor of Arwen.

Lúthien Tinúviel was the daughter of Thingol, a King of the Elves many long years ago. She was the most beautiful woman who has ever walked in Middle-Earth. She was dancing in a glade when a man, Beren, son of Barahir, caught sight of her near the enchanted river Esgalduin.

It was Beren who gave her the name Tinúviel, which means "nightingale" in Beren's language. They were then parted for many years. In an early war against Sauron (who was then a servant of the Great Enemy, Morgoth), Beren was captured and Tinúviel rescued him from Sauron's dungeons.

Together, they managed to defeat the Great Enemy. They stole from his crown one of the three Silmarils, which Beren gave to Thingol as a bride price for Tinúviel. Tinúviel chose mortality so that she could follow her lover into death; that makes her the only Elf who ever actually died of old age and left Middle-earth.

Elrond of Rivendell is Lúthien Tinúviel's great-grandson, since Tinúviel's son Dior followed Thingol as King of the Elves. His daughter, Elwing the White, married Eärendil. Eärendil is Elrond's father and the ancestor of the Kings of Númenor, a.k.a. the Men of Westernesse. Enough genealogy for you? Aragorn tells the Hobbits the story of Lúthien Tinúviel as they sit at Weathertop. The Hobbits notice that his face is "strange" and "eager," and "his eyes shone" (1.11.132). As the series progresses, it becomes fairly clear why the story of Tinúviel is so important to him: after all, Elrond's daughter Arwen – herself a descendant of Tinúviel – also makes the choice to have a mortal life so that she can marry Aragorn and be content with a human span of years.


In addition to being a stream that flows along the edge of the Golden Wood Lothlórien, Nimrodel is also an elven maid. She strayed into the White Mountains far to the South and did not arrive in time to sail to the West with the rest of her people. The gray elven ship waiting to take her across the Sea to Elvenhome waited for many a day, but a wind from the north rose up and drove the ship away from the shore. Her lover, Amroth, was on that ship; he "cursed the faithless ship that bore/ Him far from Nimrodel" (2.6.61), and leaped into the Sea. Supposedly, it was Nimrodel who first built her house in the branches of a tree, a practice that the people of Lothlórien follow to this day. This is why the people of Lothlórien are called the Galadhrim, the Tree-people.


Orophin is a member of Haldir's company of Elves on the borders of Lothlórien; he runs to warn his people of the Orcs in the forest so that the Elves can destroy them.


Thranduil is King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood and father of Legolas. He sends Legolas as a messenger to Elrond. Thranduil has a much larger role in The Hobbit, in which he puts Bilbo's Dwarf companions in a dungeon to punish them for not telling him where they are going. In The Hobbit, he appears as a very different kind of Elf from, say, Elrond: he is decent and smart, but he's not as toweringly wise and beautiful as Elves like Glorfindel or Gildor. He has weaknesses: he loves gold and silver and gems, and he's a bit greedy. Of course, he doesn't come into the Lord of the Rings series much, but his son Legolas – a Prince of Mirkwood – does.


Father of Lúthien Tinúviel and King of the Elves when the world was young. His Kingdom lay hidden in the enchanted forest of Neldoreth. Thingol's grandson, Tinúviel's son with Beren, went on to become the heir to Thingol's throne.

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