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Discussing: Do Elves glow?

Do Elves glow?

I'm sorry if this has been asked or answered elsewhere: there are an awful lot of topics in this forum, but -

Do Elves glow in the books? Or shine, or sparkle, or gleam, or comparable? Inquiring mind seeks to know, ie. I need to check for something I'm writing. Does Tolkien mention anything, literal OR metaphorical, about Elves giving off light?



Re: Do Elves glow?

...I've posted about this elsewhere and someone told me about three examples:

- Glorfindel ("it appeared that a white light was shining through the form and raiment of the rider, as if through a thin veil" - FOTR "Flight to the Ford")

- Galadriel ("she herself seemed to shine with a soft light" - ROTK "The Grey Havens")

- Gildor and his folk ("They bore no lights, yet as they walked a shimmer, like the light of the moon above the rim of the hills before it rises, seemed to fall about their feet." - FOTR "Three is Company")

I'm going to keep researching this but I hope that, if anyone knows other examples or has theories, they will post it here.  My character is a "regular" Elf, not a someone from Aman or whose parents have ever seen Aman...I've always just assumed she had a faint luminescence about her but if it is not in canon or it is actively against canon, I want to know. 

It may not be much of a difference, since in the vague references in my story it could just as easily be other characters imagining things out of awed admiration or fearful superstition about Elves.  Hence my also looking for purely metaphorical references to an Elven glow or a shine.



Re: Do Elves glow?

Hello thelauderdale,

I'm sorry I missed your original post and didn't respond to it, but I'm glad you got some answers.

The only other mention that I've seen of the Elven glow — which you're probably already aware of — is this:

Frodo and Sam halted and sat silent in the soft shadows, until they saw a shimmer as the travellers came towards them.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens

This is strictly a personal opinion, but I believe that the glow is only mentioned in the context of Elves who have come from Aman: Glorfindel (who has even been re-bodied), Galadriel, and Gildor, who describes himself as an Exile (i.e. a Noldo who left Aman).

(Of course, an alternate theory is that the glow only applies to Elves whose name begins with 'G'.... )

I just searched all of The Lord of the Rings, and did not find a single reference to Elven glow applied to Legolas, who is of Sindarin descent, possibly mixed with Silvan. Given that he is a member of the Fellowship, there were plenty of opportunities to mention it if it existed.

Frankly, I don't see any problem with using the concept of Elven glow as you describe in your post, both because the canon is somewhat ambiguous, and also because it sounds like it will be ambiguous in your story.

Hope this helps!
- Barbara

Added: P.S. Forgot to mention, I also searched The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien for the keywords 'glow' and 'light', but didn't find anything relevant.



Re: Do Elves glow?

It does help, and it also agrees with what my other respondent thought: that the glow is always mentioned in the context of the Elves from Aman.  He had also brought up the  part where Gandalf tells Frodo that "you saw [Glorfindel] for a moment as he is upon the other side."

I will carry on in my writing the character as I have, but I will do so now with a better awareness.  Thank you, Elena Tiriel. Smile



Re: Do Elves glow?

I thought that the Glow only was found in the "Light Elves" or "Grey Elves" (Those who had been to Aman)?

This was one of the reason for the choice of the name "Moriquedi" for those was had not.

JRRT used this as a representation of their hallowed status in ME and their greater ability to confront the evils of Morgoth and Sauron (or any other servant of Darkness).

It is possibly the other reason that you don't see Elves in the TA taking on Balrogs, as was so common in the FA. I am sure that had Glorfindel been one of the Fellowship that he would have simply said "Step aside Gandalf, I'll do the honors if you please.", and we would have had a paragraph or two where Glorfindel would have "Put forth his power..." etc. and probably had a much longer fight with it than Gandalf had done, but might not have wound up falling into the pit. Of course, this may have left open the question of whether it may have lived, but... I digress.

I am sure that JRRT meant it literally for those who were Noldor and possibly some of the Sindarin.




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