Suite101: Lonely Wanderers and the Tales That Almost Were – Michael Martinez’ J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth

by Apr 25, 2001Lord of the Rings (Movies)

In last week’s Suite101 article, Michael Martinez observes that story of Earendil changed considerably through the years of Tolkien’s life. In a similar fashion, the history of the Lords of Dol Amroth also underwent changes. The promise of both stories was thus never fully achieved.

Here is an excerpt:

I think I know when Mithrellas left Imrazor the Númenorean. Nothing happens in Tolkien without a reason. Regardless of what elements Tolkien utilized in his story-telling, he always made sure that his characters took action for a reason. And if Mithrellas was going to leave Imrazor before he died, there had to be some compelling reason for her to do so. Elves didn’t marry just on a whim. Mithrellas had to have found a soulmate in Imrazor.

The story of Mithrellas and Imrazor has often been overlooked by Tolkien’s readers. We first learn a piece of that tale when Legolas meets Imrahil in Minas Tirith. Legolas bows before Imrahil and greets him as a descendant of Elves, a fact that Imrahil acknowledges. Imrahil’s ancestry is finally explained in Unfinished Tales, where we are told that a handmaiden of the Elven lady Nimrodel had become separated from her mistress. That handmaiden, Mithrellas, is Imrahil’s foremother. The story is repeated and expanded in The Peoples of Middle-earth.

In the tradition of his house Angelimir was the twentieth in unbroken descent from Galador, first lord of Dol Amroth (c. T.A. 2004-2129). According to the same traditions Galador was the son of Imrazor the Numenorean who dwelt in Belfalas, and the Elven-lady Mithrellas. She was one of the companions of Nimrodel, among many of the Elves of Lorien that fled to the coast about T.A. 1980, when evil arose in Moria; and Nimrodel and her maidens strayed in the wooded hills, and were lost. But in this tale it is said that Imrazor harboured Mithrellas, and took her to wife. But when she had borne him a son, Galador, and a daughter, Gilmith, she slipped away by night, and he saw her no more. But though Mithrellas was of the lesser Silvan race (and not of the High Elves or the Grey) it was ever held that the house and kin of the Lords of Dol Amroth were noble by blood, as they were fair in face and mind.

In so few words, we are told so much. Or, rather, we are given so much to look for. That is, the whole story is summarized there, like a brief plot synopsis for a movie or book being sold on the basis of a writer’s reputation. This note is exemplary of Tolkien’s method of introducing a story or legend as an aside which would, ultimately, take on a life of its own. Of course, people will be quick to point out that we are never told a fuller version of the tale. Well, yes and no. Tolkien was careful to weave his little tales into the greater fabric. He didn’t write a great tragedy about Imrazor and Mithrellas, but most of the pieces were put into place.

Let’s go back and examine another story, the tale of Earendil.

Please click on the link below to read the rest of the article.


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