Numerous types of elves appear in Germanic mythology , the West Germanic concept appears to have come to differ from the Scandinavian notion in the early Middle Ages, and Anglo-Saxon concept diverged even further, possibly under Celtic influence. By when Tolkien was writing his first elven poems, the words elf , fairy and gnome had many divergent and contradictory associations.
Tolkien had been gently warned against using the term 'fairy', which John Garth supposes may have been due to the word becoming increasingly used to indicate homosexuality , although despite this warning Tolkien continued to use it. By the late 19th century, the term 'fairy' had been taken up as a utopian theme, and was used to critique social and religious values, a tradition which Tolkien along with T.
White are seen to continue. Illustrated posters of Robert Louis Stevenson 's poem Land of Nod had been sent out by a philanthropist to brighten servicemen's quarters, and Faery was used in other contexts as an image of " Old England " to inspire patriotism. According to Marjorie Burns, Tolkien eventually chose the term elf over fairy , but still retained some doubts.
Traditional Victorian dancing fairies and elves appear in much of Tolkien's early poetry,  and have influence upon his later works  in part due to the influence of a production of J. Barrie 's Peter Pan in Birmingham in  and his familiarity with the work of Catholic mystic poet, Francis Thompson  which Tolkien had acquired in As a philologist , Tolkien's interest in languages led him to invent several languages of his own as a pastime. In considering the nature of who might speak these languages, and what stories they might tell, Tolkien again turned to the concept of elves.
In his The Book of Lost Tales , Tolkien develops a theme that the diminutive fairy-like race of Elves had once been a great and mighty people, and that as Men took over the world, these Elves had "diminished"    themselves. The larger Elves are also inspired by Tolkien's personal Catholic theology—as representing the state of Men in Eden who have not yet " fallen ", similar to humans but fairer and wiser, with greater spiritual powers, keener senses, and a closer empathy with nature. Tolkien wrote of them: "They are made by man in his own image and likeness; but freed from those limitations which he feels most to press upon him.
They are immortal, and their will is directly effective for the achievement of imagination and desire. Alongside the idea of the greater Elves, Tolkien also developed the idea of children visiting Valinor, the island-homeland of the Elves in their sleep. Elves would also visit children at night and comfort them if they had been chided or were upset. This theme, linking elves with children's dreams and nocturnal travelling was largely abandoned in Tolkien's later writing.
Along with Book of Lost Tales , Douglas Anderson shows that in The Hobbit , Tolkien again includes both the more serious 'medieval' type of elves, such as Elrond and the Wood-elf king, and frivolous elves, such as those at Rivendell. In , having had his manuscript for The Silmarillion rejected by a publisher who disparaged all the "eye-splitting Celtic names" that Tolkien had given his Elves, Tolkien denied the names had a Celtic origin:. Needless to say they are not Celtic! Neither are the tales. I do know Celtic things many in their original languages Irish and Welsh , and feel for them a certain distaste: largely for their fundamental unreason.
They have bright colour, but are like a broken stained glass window reassembled without design. They are in fact "mad" as your reader says — but I don't believe I am. Dimitra Fimi proposes that these comments are a product of his Anglophilia rather than a commentary on the texts themselves or their actual influence on his writing, and cites evidence to this effect in her essay "'Mad' Elves and 'elusive beauty': some Celtic strands of Tolkien's mythology". According to Tom Shippey, the theme of diminishment from semi-divine Elf to diminutive Fairy resurfaces in The Lord of the Rings in the dialogue of Galadriel.
We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten. Writing in , part way through proofreading The Lord of the Rings , Tolkien claimed the Elvish language Sindarin has a character very like British-Welsh "because it seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers". Tolkien also notes an Elven bloodline was the only real claim to 'nobility' that the Men of Middle-earth can have.
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By or , Tolkien wrote a detailed account of the awakening of the Elves, called Cuivienyarna , part of Quendi and Eldar. This text only saw print in The War of the Jewels , part of the analytical The History of Middle-earth series, in , but a similar version was included in The Silmarillion in They awake under the starlit sky, as the Sun and Moon have yet to be created. Imin, Tata, and Enel and their wives join up and walk through the forests.
They come across six, nine, and twelve pairs of Elves, and each "patriarch" claims the pairs as his folk in order. The now sixty Elves dwell by the rivers, and they invent poetry and music in Middle-earth the continent. Journeying further, they come across eighteen pairs of Elves watching the stars, whom Tata claims as his.
These are tall and dark-haired, the fathers of most of the Noldor. The ninety-six Elves now invented many new words. Continuing their journey, they find twenty-four pairs of Elves, singing without language, and Enel adds them to his people.
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These are the ancestors of most of the Lindar or "singers", later called Teleri. They find no more Elves; Imin's people, the smallest group, are the ancestors of the Vanyar. All in all the Elves number Because all Elves had been found in groups of twelve, twelve becomes their base number and their highest number for a long time , and none of the later Elvish languages have a common name for a greater number. The Silmarillion states that Melkor , the Dark Lord, had already captured some wandering Elves, and twisted and mutilated them until they became the Orcs.
However, Tolkien ultimately became uncomfortable with this Elvish origin, and devised different theories about the origin of Orcs. Not all Elves accepted the summons though, and those who did not became known as the Avari , The Unwilling. On their journey, some of the Teleri feared the Misty Mountains and dared not cross them.
The Vanyar and the Noldor moved onto a floating island that was moved by Ulmo to Valinor. After years, Ulmo returned to Beleriand to seek out the remaining Teleri. All Teleri who stayed in Beleriand later became known as the Sindar. After three ages in the Halls of Mandos , Melkor was released, feigning reform.
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He however spread his evil and started to poison the minds of the Elves against the Valar. The Black Enemy. He became the overlord of Beleriand, naming himself Thingol S. They laid a siege around Morgoth's fortress of Angband , but were eventually defeated. The Elves never regained the upper hand, finally losing the hidden kingdoms Nargothrond , Doriath , and Gondolin near the culmination of the war.
Then the Ban of the Noldor was lifted, and the Valar started the War of Wrath , in which Morgoth was finally overcome. Many complied, but some stayed. During the Second and Third Age , they held some protected realms with the aid of the Rings of Power , but after the War of the Ring they waned further, and most Elves left Middle-earth for Valinor.
Tolkien's published writings give somewhat contradictory hints as to what happened to the Elves of Middle-earth after the One Ring was destroyed at the end of the Third Age. Elves that remained in Middle-earth were doomed to a slow decline until, in the words of Galadriel , they faded and became a "rustic folk of dell and cave," and were greatly diminished from their ancient power and nobility. While the power of the remaining Noldor would be immediately lessened, the "fading" of all Elvenkind was a phenomenon that would play out over hundreds and even thousands of years; until, in fact, our own times, when occasional glimpses of rustic Elves would fuel our folktales and fantasies.
There are many references in The Lord of the Rings to the continued existence of Elves in Middle-earth during the early years of the Fourth Age. Elladan and Elrohir , the sons of Elrond, do not accompany their father when the White Ship bearing the Ring-bearer and the chief Noldorin leaders sails from the Grey Havens to Valinor ; they are said to have remained in Lindon for a time. Tolkien also wrote that Legolas founded an elf colony in Ithilien during King Elessar 's reign in the Fourth Age, and that the elves there assisted in the rebuilding of Gondor.
They primarily resided in southern Ithilien, along the shores of the Anduin.
Elf Realm: The Road's End
After Elessar's death in F. It is also implied that Elves continued to dwell at the Grey Havens, at least for a certain period.
go Tolkien states that Sam Gamgee sailed from the Havens decades after Elrond's departure, implying that some Elves might have remained in Mithlond at that time. The majority of those who remained lived in Mirkwood, while a much smaller population was in Lindon. Aragorn speaks of the empty garden of Elrond in Rivendell. Most of the following information strictly refers only to the Eldar, as found in his essay Laws and Customs among the Eldar , found in Morgoth's Ring. Elves are born about one year from their conception. The day of their conception is celebrated, not the actual birthday itself.
Their minds develop more quickly than their bodies; by their first year, they can speak, walk and even dance, and their quicker onset of mental maturity makes young Elves seem, to Men, older than they really are. Physical puberty comes in around their fiftieth to one hundredth year by age fifty they reach their adult height , and by their first hundred years of life outside the womb all Elves are fully grown. Elven bodies eventually stop aging physically, while human bodies do not. Elves marry freely and for love early in life. Spouses can choose each other even long before they are married, thus becoming betrothed.
The betrothal is subject to parental approval unless the parties are of age and intend to marry soon, at which point the betrothal is announced. They exchange rings and the betrothal lasts at least a year, and is revocable by the return of the rings; however, it is rarely broken. After their formal betrothal, the couple appoint a date, at least a year later, for the wedding. More formally, the couple's families celebrate the marriage with a feast. The parties give back their betrothal rings and receive others worn on their index fingers. The Elves view the sexual act as extremely special and intimate, for it leads to the conception and birth of children.
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Extra-marital and premarital sex are unthinkable, adultery is also unheard of and fidelity between spouses is absolute.