Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Master of Rivendell

There are probably hundreds or thousands of blog posts out there about the characters of Lord of the Rings. Mainly they are written about the bravery of Hobbits, the awesomeness of Aragorn, or the sweetness of the Shire, but this post is going to be dedicated to a sort of side mentor character.  Over the past--oh, I don't know, year or so--I have come to realize that there is more depth to this character than first meets the eye, and I want to bring that to light.  So here goes. Here is our character of the day:
He has had many names over the past 6000 years of his life, but most people just call him Elrond now. It got too hard to keep track of all those other names.

So, yeah. Elrond. Of course he's not an Aragorn character, he doesn't go on the quest, and he really isn't seen fighting much, but we all know he's got the skill. He's got all Legolas' skill most likely multiplied by six. Plus, he's like the manliest elf alive (ahem) at least in the movies, and just really a nice guy. I'll go better into detail below. First, let's start with his family: 

Okay. So, Elrond's parents were Eärendil and Elwing, who were both of mixed human/elvish blood if I am correct. I have the Silmarillion sitting next to me and the Tolkien Gateway website open in another tab, so I'd BETTER be. They had two children, Elrond and Elros, who were given the choice, due to their mixed blood, of remaining as an elf or as a human. Elros chose to become a human (interestingly enough, it's from HIS line that Aragorn came) and Elrond remained an elf for thousands and thousands of years. He married Celebrían, who was the daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn of Lothlorien. 
I mean, imagine having her as your mother-in-law!
He and Celebrían had twin sons, named Elladan and Elrohir, who are REALLY COOL in the books. They come with their ranger friends to help Aragorn and co. through the paths of the dead. That is one thing I really, really wish had been in the movie. They would constantly shoot Aragorn looks like, "You better be good to my sister!" I would have loved that. Anyway, I digress. Arwen was the youngest of Elrond's children, and she lived with Galadriel (her grandmother) for a great time, while Elrond was helping to raise the young man named "Estel" (aka Aragorn) in Rivendell. 

500 or 600 years before LOTR (obviously before Aragorn was in Rivendell or even born), Rivendell was attacked by Orcs and Celebrían was captured. Elladan and Elrohir managed to rescue her, but she was injured beyond cure and Elrond had to send her into the west in order to save her life. He would rather send her away and let her live than keep her in Rivendell with him for a short time while she died. Awwwww........isn't that so sweeeeeeet???!!!

It makes more sense after that why he would be so protective of his only daughter and be so eager to sail into the west as well. He doesn't want her to end up hurt like her mother was, and wants to send her somewhere where she will be safe. And he wants to see his wife again. Sniff, sniff. 

In The Hobbit, Elrond is described thus: "He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer." In The Fellowship of the Ring: "The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were as grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fulness of his strength. He was the Lord of Rivendell and mighty among both Elves and Men."

I mean, wow. I personally think Hugo Weaving did a very good job portraying him in the movies. Your thoughts? 

Now, on to some other things. In the very beginning, we see Elrond trying to get Isildur to throw the ring into the fire, get rid of it for good, and save the land. He knows what's going on and how to fix it, but nobody ever listens to his very wise advice! Come on, Isildur! Get it together man! If you had listened to Elrond, then maybe poor Frodo wouldn't have had such a bad time of it! 

Throughout the years until the ring is re-discovered, Elrond continues to keep an eye on Middle-earth, helping all kinds of folk with their various things. He helps the company of Thorin Oakenshield decipher their map to the Lonely Mountain, is generous and lets Bilbo keep one of his silk pocket-handkerchiefs (in the book), and is a father figure to Aragorn throughout the years. He is also part of the White Council (along with Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel...), and a bearer of one of the three elven rings of power, though never corrupted by it. 

Vilya, the Ring of Air, arguably the most powerful ring of the three given to elves

During the Lord of the Rings, Elrond is considerably helpful. He hosts the Council to determine what is to be done with the Ring (the real Ring, the One Ring), heals, or at least mostly heals, Frodo from his terrible wound inflicted by the Ringwraiths, and gives Aragorn the reforged sword of Isildur. In the books, Aragorn has the sword right after they leave Rivendell, but in the movies, Elrond rides all the way to Rohan from Rivendell just to give Aragorn the sword (see? Legolas x 6 = Elrond's skill) and then back again. Of course, Peter Jackson and I agree that was a very good plot twist and appeals to the audience's emotion, but Tolkien and I agree that the way it was written is the way it was supposed to be. But that's more a criticism on Jackson's depiction of Aragorn's character, and I will have to talk about that later.

Now, the last topic is the relationship between Elrond and his daughter, Arwen. It is never really talked about much in the books of LOTR, but that's one thing I actually liked that Peter Jackson added in the movies. Like, he's not changing anything between father and daughter, just adding what he imagined Tolkien would have written (maybe), and I am kind of a sucker for father/daughter relationships. 

It's so sweet. She wants to marry Aragorn but Elrond doesn't want her leaving him, he wants her to sail away with him, where they may be reunited with Arwen's mother someday and live happily ever after. He knows that Arwen will have to face the difficulty of losing a spouse (in her case, Aragorn) someday and doesn't want her to have to go through that. Maybe it's because right now I'm working on writing a book where a big part of the story is a father/daughter relationship and how he doesn't want to let her go, but it just gets me every time. Elrond has a really strong love for his daughter and never wants to let her go. He doesn't want to give her over to another man, to let another man become her protection, her comfort, her help in everything. 

THIS SCENE! You guys! I had to make it big enough for you to see it all.
So, he finally comes to realize that, "Whether by his will or not," Arwen loves Aragorn, and he is what will fulfill her and make her life complete. She is meant to be with him, and Elrond understands that. It hurts, but he understands. (In the movie, he reforges the sword and comes to give Aragorn a little pep talk, but, all that aside...) And he decides to let her go to her Aragorn, to leave the shores of Middle-earth and sail into the west with the other ring-bearers, marking the end of the Third Age. Near the end of The Return of the King, we see him with his daughter in Gondor at Aragorn's coronation, still guiding her and finally giving her over to another man. 

You can see it in his face: love, joy, pride, sorrow. He's terribly sad to have his daughter leave him, to see her all grown up and married, but at the same time so proud of her, so glad to see her happy, with the man she loves, and knowing that Aragorn will take good care of her. And he's half-crying, half-smiling. He knows this is what's right to do for Arwen. But he's still going to miss her.

I know for my part that whenever my dad cries, it makes me cry, probably more than when anyone else is crying. And as I've been getting older, actually paying attention at weddings, I've realized how much it must ache for a father to let his daughter go to another man, and the mixture of joy and sadness he would most likely be feeling. She wouldn't be able to cry into his shoulder anymore, to come to her "Ada/Daddy" for help, and I can never say that I truly understand the feeling or ever will, because I won't, except a very hypothetical-someday-but-probably-not MAYBE from Arwen's point of view. But I can sympathize. 

(Wow, that got more personal than I intended. Ahem, oh well.) 

The story of Elrond ends with him sailing away into the west, helping Bilbo aboard the ship and being quite ready to leave. He's ready to go and see his wife again, leaving Rivendell and the world of Middle-earth behind. The departure of him and the other ringbearers (Gandalf, Galadriel, Bilbo, and Frodo) marks the end of the Third Age in Middle-earth and the beginning of the Fourth Age, the Age of Men, in which his daughter will still play a part.

In closing, I think that Elrond is one of the best father characters I can think of. Until recently, I never realized the depth of his character, and I don't know if it's intended to be quite so deep, but the thing about Tolkien is that he always put a whole lot of thought into each and every character he made up, even somewhat less important characters. Elrond is one of those characters, who is the wise, great elf-lord at the same time as being a soft-hearted, loving father. 

If anyone read this whole post, then good job you and thank you for being very patient! I hope you learned something out of it or at least were interested. Thanks for reading! 

Hey, I'm Elrond! (Rankin-Bass version of "The Hobbit")

No, I'm Elrond! (Ralph Bakshi version of "The Lord of the Rings")
I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: Hugo Weaving did the best job.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Quick Announcement for all you book lovers out there....

I'm not going to talk much in this post. It is just to announce that I have become a Goodreads author (finally). That's really it. So, if you care to, please check it out! Thanks y'all! Please enjoy!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

"[Don't] Read the Last Page First"

My graduation open house was several weeks ago. Part of a very kind gift from an aunt was a bag of Dove dark chocolates (my mouth waters just thinking about them) which I, being stuffed from the other open house leftovers, put away in my Aragorn lunchbox (yes, I have an Aragorn lunchbox) to save for later. I remembered them today and ate several. Upon removing the first wrapper, these words of wisdom from Dove chocolates greeted my eyes:

I shook my head, laughing inwardly, because I have accidentally read the last pages of books first, and it always ruined the experience for me. I would know who married whom, who died and who didn't, and all that stuff. Then I opened another (hey, the serving size was 5 chocolates, okay?!) and saw the same message, "Read the last page first," again. I don't know why, but that message has been on my mind all day since then. 

I have always liked to know the plan. I like to have all my ducks in a row, my shelves organized, and purse filled with useful things that I may need for where I'm going. I would like to read the "last page" of my own story first, so that I'll know where I'm going and how to get there, planning ahead. But the thing is, life isn't like that. It throws things in your face that you would never expect, things so unlike what you want that you wish you COULD see into the future, read your last page and say, "Oh, I see! That's where I'm going. I will now plan accordingly." 

The characters in a book can never see where they're going until they get there and look back, until the author is finished writing their story and allows them to "live happily ever after"(or not--I mean, they don't HAVE to live happily ever after). All of us have a story, just as much as Frodo Baggins, Lucy Pevensie, or Elizabeth Bennet have stories.  Some of us have stories more stressful, more tragic, or harder than others, just like those made-up characters, and all of our stories share the same Author; an Author who is not just making up pretend characters in a pretend world, who created us as real characters in a very real world. And the cool thing? He loves us more than I (or any human author) love my characters. One way or another, He'll get us through our mortal lives, over hill and under hill, to our "happily ever after," when we finally get to MEET our author, join the great story that never ends, and finally understand why He wrote what He wrote about us. We can look back and say, "Oh, I see why this character had to die," or "I understand now why I had to endure that trial," because then we'll be at the very end of this story, just before the words "Happily ever after" are written. 

You know, I'm rambling, but I just kept thinking about this and wanted to write it down somehow so that I don't forget my musings. And I don't know if my writing makes any sense whatsoever to anyone, but I hope so. We weren't made to read the last page first. We are ink in the pen of the greatest Author in the history of everything, and it's fair enough that that the Author decides what to do with us. After all, He created us.