Monday, January 4, 2010
The Elves of Middle Earth
Elves are creatures that have always fascinated me, and I've always detested the fact that in many stories they have been portrayed as "tiny creatures of malice, feeding on saucers of milk, and stealing babies. "
In The Lord of the Rings what I had always more thought of elves to be was very well brought to life, they are " tall, beautiful, high, being of Light, great warriors, immortal and wise.
They were the first of the races in Middle Earth, awoken when only wild beasts and ancient trees inhabited it. Thus their culture is one much longer and deeper than that of men, there were those that loved the forests known as the the Avari or East-elves, and those who knew of their destiny beyond the sea and longed for it, the Eldar or West-elves.
"Elves", tranalated from the Quendi means "Speakers", their role in the affairs of Middle Earth was one of awakening and teaching, as briefly mentioned the The Two Towers, when Legolas explains to Gimli in the forest of Fangorn, how in the beginning the elves woke the trees and taught them to speak.
As in the race of men the different elves have their different cultures and ideas, obviously those that long for their home across the sea and fulfilling their destiny by one day going there have a different perspective than those that love the forests and are content with staying in them.
Legolas is of the latter, his father in King of Mirkwood, which unfortunately we do not get to see at all in the trilogy (The Hobbit should get us a better glimpse of what this race of elves is like).
We do see (more in the books than the movie) his love of the trees and forests and that is only when he reaches the sea that the longing to sail to the Undying Lands awakens in him.
We see even in Rivendell versus Lothlorien the differences in the cultures, in Lothlorien it is almost as though they have become a part of the forest, their homes are almost grown into the trees.
Whereas in Rivendell, you can tell that it was built some time ago and is gradually being emptied as the elves fulfill their desire and destiny of sailing to the Undying Lands, leaving Middle Earth to the men, whom most of them look down upon as being weak.
Their weaponry and armor is such that has been perfected by many generations and the fact that they themselves are thousands of years old. It, like them is based on strength combined with grace. The smooth, flowing lines of everything and watching them using it is almost like watching a dance.
The designers of Middle Earth did an amazing job in the films of giving the elves the depth and detail that a race thousands of years old would have. Tolkien himself in creating their entire history and inventing not one but two languages for them, the Sindarin, and the Quenya(which would be comparable to our Latin). No wonder Lord of the Rings is considered a literary masterpiece!
The elegance and beauty of everything, their clothing, homes, and armor I think is what really intrigues me. They inspired the other races of Middle Earth in their own cultures to seek wisdom and to grow in their understanding that they could live their lives in a fuller, more beautiful way.