And then it was Frodo’s turn to look in Galadriel’s Mirror. He and Sam had been walking and were beckoned by Galadriel to come take a look in her Mirror (You should read all about that here, first). To get Sam to look, she dug into his mind (or eavesdropped) and learned that he wanted to see Elf-magic, and used that as incentive.
It also softened Frodo a bit. If Sam could do it, why couldn’t he? But with Frodo, Galadriel played it cool. When he asked her if he should look, she even advised against it, saying that she wouldn’t “counsel you one way or the other.” What he would see, if he saw anything, “may be profitable, and yet it may not. Seeing is both good and perilous.”
But she was not done with the pitch. After playing coy and flippant, she slid toward encouragement: “Yet I think, Frodo, that you have courage and wisdom enough for the venture, or I would not have brought you here. Do as you will!” Under all the layers of nonchalance and indifference, she had brought them to the Mirror specifically so they could look in it. And while she certainly didn’t force either to look, she knew what to say to both in order to convince them to do what she wanted them to do.
Frodo agreed to look, and saw a series of things. First was a wizard in white which gave Frodo doubts – was it Gandalf or Saruman? He then saw Bilbo in his room in Rivendell. The table was littered with papers. The vision then turned to history (maybe the history which was written on those disordered papers), reminding him how he was involved in these great stories.
His vision changed again, now to the sea, in a scene that seems like it could be from Elendil’s escape from Númenor. Still in the past, he saw a city next to a wide river (Osgiliath and the River Anduin), and then a white fortress with seven towers (Minas Tirith).
The vision then turned to the future, though Frodo, of course, couldn’t tell one from the other. He saw Aragorn’s ships arriving at Minas Tirith before the Battle of the Pelannor Fields. He then saw the battle itself, with fire and smoke, which dissolved into a mist where he saw a small ship, “twinkling with lights” passing away – Frodo’s own ship sailing to the West.
And just as Frodo was ready to look away, the Mirror went dark and empty like an abyss. And in it “appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror.” The eye then searched for something, and Frodo knew that it was looking for him (along with many other things). He also knew that the Eye could not see him unless he [Frodo] willed it. The Ring on a chain around his neck grew heavy and weighed him down toward the Mirror, as if it were pulling toward the Eye. The Mirror grew hot and steam came up from it as Frodo drew nearer to it. Galadriel reminded him not to touch the water. The spell was broken, and the vision disappeared.
While Galadriel didn’t address any of the first bits of Frodo’s vision, she had a bit to say about the Eye – “for that is also in my mind.” The Eye wasn’t actually in the Mirror. It wasn’t using the Mirror to look for Frodo. Rather, it was a vision of the Eye looking for Frodo. And since this vision was also in Galadriel’s mind, it’s a safe assumption that she put it there herself after saying she wouldn’t effect the Mirror one way or the other.
She then told Frodo not to be afraid. The Dark Lord, she said, was also looking for her and for Lothlórien, “and he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!”
This would hardly had stamped out Frodo’s fears, of course. And again, where was Galadriel going with this? For Frodo, the Mirror showed him a wizard, Bilbo, a bunch of Silmarillion stuff, and then a battle. That was everything the Mirror was going to do. Galadriel then commanded the Mirror to reveal her mind, in which was the Eye.
And so Galadriel smoothly got Sam and Frodo to look into the Mirror specifically so she could show Frodo the Eye. Sam was incidental and nearly a casualty. No good came from Sam looking in the Mirror. Even after Shelob, he understood what he saw to be true, but it didn’t help him in any way at all.
As for Frodo’s vision, it also seemed pointless, except maybe to remind him that he was part of a larger history – something that Sam later reminds him of anyway. The only thing that might have been of some purpose was the Eye, which Galadriel herself showed him.
Next time, we’ll take a closer look at the Eye and how it effected Galadriel’s next big revelation to Frodo. Also, we’ll get an even scarier look into Galadriel’s nature. Stay tuned!
A Few Notes
- In Tolkien’s early notes about what Frodo would see in the Mirror, he entertained the idea of having him see Gollum, but made no mention of him seeing Sauron/the Eye. Even in the first draft, Frodo had no vision of the Dark Lord at all. And yet, Galadriel still brought him up seemingly out of nowhere.
- Hammond & Scull’s Reader’s Companion was pretty helpful, especially with the Silmarillion portions of Frodo’s vision. Thanks!
- And what would happen if they had touched the water? Sure, it would taint it, but couldn’t she just get more? – it only came from her fountain, which was right over there.
About the Photo
There will be no swimming in the Mirror of Galadriel, please. There’s sure as hell no lifeguard on duty.
- Miles today: 10
- Miles thus far: 994 (80 miles away from Lothlórien)
- 309 miles to the Falls of Rauros
- 779 miles to Mt. Doom
Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 18, 3019 TA. (map)