Suite101 article for November 11, 2002
- Yes, the delays are getting longer and longer. I'm not sure how I'll
catch up to the monthly schedule again.
Every now and then, someone asks me to speak up for Celeborn. He is,
perhaps, the most maligned and misunderstood of Tolkien's characters.
Many people consider the silver-haired Lord of Lorien to be oafish or
even foolish. Why? Basically because of one sentence uttered by
And now the sabers of rationalization begin to rattle in their
sheathes. "Oh, but he doesn't actually do anything in the book!" his
detractors say. Like, Galadriel gets off her royal duff and does
something? Sorry. That Warg won't howl. Neither character
accomplishes much in the story. They both accomplish a great deal in
the background: Galadriel helps Gandalf and Celeborn helps overthrow
Dol Guldur's forces. Together, they lead the Elves of Lorien.
The chief complaint people seem to raise against Galadriel is to ask
what she is doing with such a loser like Celeborn. Frankly, in my
book, anyone who can marry a Galadriel is a winner, but that's just
my opinion. Call it an interpretation of the text. Say I'm reading
something into the text which isn't there. It's not like no one else
has ever done that.
The real problem with Celeborn is that Tolkien never made up his mind
about the guy. For example, Tolkien called him "Celeborn the Wise".
And people have asked "Why"? Robert Foster's only comment on the
subject in The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is to say that Celeborn
does not seem especially bright in The Lord of the Rings. Well, who
does? Is someone going to argue that Samwise Gamgee (whose first name
means "half-wit") is a paragon of intellectual development? Or how
about Gimli, Dwarf-philosopher that he is, extolling the virtues of
The smartest character in the Fellowship, Gandalf, can't even figure
out that Saruman has betrayed him. When was the last time Celeborn
was captured by agents of the Enemy? Okay, maybe that's not fair to
Gandalf. After all, someone has to be captured, and he is a
convenient prisoner-type. He's all shifty-eyed and secretive -- it's
a wonder Saruman didn't lock him up a thousand years earlier.
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