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The Role of the Mythical Figure Elbereth within "The Lord of the Rings"
"The Lord of the Rings" is a long prose narrative, which exerted a great influence on the development of the fantasy literature during the twentieth century. The novelistic style of the book is reflected in the psychological development of the characters, in their thoughts and emotions, in the use of realistic elements that exist in our routine life. At the same time, this modern fantasy novel contains in itself a variety of genres that come up throughout the story. There are fairy-tale creatures, elves and dwarves, trolls and goblins, which surround the men and hobbits and together participate in the development of epic themes like the shift of power or the cosmic war between the good and the evil. There is, as well, a dose of quest-romance within the novel, which comes up in the Aragorn/Arwen relationship, for the narration of which Tolkien used a more poetic style. Yet there is another genre at a further level in the book, the genre of myth. I will explore the important role of the mythical figure, Elbereth, in shaping the historical events on Middle-earth.
In "The Lord of the Rings", the name of Elbereth comes up at several crucial points of the plot development and she is revealed as one of the mythical figures within the larger environment of Middle-earth. Tolkien has used several genre criteria, demonstrating that Elbereth is a mythical character. In "The Silmarillion", Tolkien introduces the 'creation myth' and the hierarchy of God and the divine powers. The myth tells of Iluvatar, the One who creates the world and shapes all events according to his own will. However, he dwells in the remote Timeless Halls and very rarely intervenes in the destinies of his creatures. Instead, Iluvatar prefers to work through the help of his Valar or Ainur. The Valar are fifteen and were created by his spirit before the creation of anything else. Inarguably, this story is a myth with historical basis, serving to explain the creation of the world and the origin of all the creatures dwelling in Middle-earth. Elbereth, being one of the Valar, is a mythical character since she has existed before the beginning of time itself. The Valar were sent to Middle-earth even before the beginning of the First Age. Furthermore, she is entirely spiritual creation, that exist on a plane beyond the time and space of Middle-earth and therefore she cannot die. Her spirit is in a sense circulating between the world of history, of which Middle-earth is a part, and the world of myth. From the viewpoint of Middle-earth's characters, Elbereth comes from a different world, which they have never seen. Thus, Tolkien created a character that exists on a mythical level beyond that of the historical natural creatures, on a level where time precedes both the history of hobbits, elves and men. Finally, the mythical figure of Elbereth is demonstrated in the fact that Tolkien's characters accept as absolute truth her existence.
Elbereth, the Queen of Stars, manifests herself in the Middle-earth at several very crucial points, which eventually determine the final outcome of the Quest. There is a strong presence of the mythical figure in the unfolding of events and she acts as a kind of providence, being able to shape both Frodo's destiny and the world itself.
The first time when the name of Elbereth is mentioned in "The Lord of the Rings" is at the very beginning of the journey, when Frodo and Sam are still in the Shire. As the hobbits sing a "walking-song" (Tolkien, 76), they hear the sound of hoofs coming from the Black Riders. This is a moment of highest tension in the development of the Quest, because the main character experience weakness of his will. Tolkien describes the strong temptation of Frodo as "so strong that, almost before he realized what he was doing, his hand was groping in his pocket."(Fellowship, 77) The author places his character in a position, where Frodo subdues to the evil power, incapable of resisting the temptation. Immediately after the above sited sentence, Tolkien shifts the attention to the role of providence in the outcome of events. The hobbits and the Quest are saved by a song, in which the elves give praise to their beloved Elbereth. For Frodo himself, "[t]his is indeed a strange chance."(Fellowship, 78) Obviously, Elbereth comes to aid when she is called. The myth enters the historical sequence of events and becomes able to shape the fate of the Middle-earth.
At another moment of the story, the mythical figure Elbereth performs even more pivotal role. Again, Frodo succumb to the power of the Ring, but this time almost at the cost of his life. During the journey to Rivendell, the hobbits are attacked once again by the Black Riders at Weathertop. There is gradation in Frodo's temptation to use the Ring:
The desire to do this laid hold of him, and he could think of nothing else. He did not forget the Barrow, nor the message of Gand
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Elbereth, Frodo, Tolkien, Sam,
Keywords talked about in this research paper
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