Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie trilogies Galadriel is always shown walking barefoot. Does it say in the books that she walks around barefoot or did Peter Jackson just want to show off Cate Blanchett's feet?

A couple of examples:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring:
    When the Fellowship is asleep she walks barefoot to the mirror.

  • The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies:
    In the scene where Gandalf is being tortured by the original Bolg, Lady Galadriel enters walking barefoot on the black stone fortress ground and rescues him then fights Sauron along with Saruman and Elrond.

share|improve this question
Obligatory: "Fairies don't wear boots". Ozzie Osbourne – Deer Hunter Jan 18 at 8:36
hippie.......... – John McNamara Jan 18 at 16:54
Maybe she always wished she was a hobbit. – Vince Scalia Jan 18 at 17:13
Shh! Her doctor is treating her for a nasty case of toenail fungus. Pretend not to notice. – Tom Zych Jan 18 at 20:20
Just noting that walking barefoot is not painful if you are used to it and creatures as gracile as elves would have even less of a problem with it than humans. Also fungi like warm and humid environments. Your feet tend to be neither warm nor humid when walking barefoot. Source: I walk and run barefoot a lot. – Nobody Jan 18 at 22:47

In the books, Galadriel's feet are never mentioned, so the question is moot.

She doesn't appear in The Hobbit (book) at all, and in Lord of the Rings she appears only in The Fellowship of the Ring and briefly in The Return of the King. About all we know about her footwear is that if she does wear shoes, they must be white.

  • The Fellowship's first meeting with here:

    On two chairs beneath the bole of the tree and canopied by a living bough there sat, side by side, Celeborn and Galadriel. They stood up to greet their guests, after the manner of Elves, even those who were accounted mighty kings. Very tall they were, and the Lady no less tall than the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white, and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depth of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the sunlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory.

    -- The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel

  • When she comes to lead Frodo and Sam to the Mirror:

    Even as he spoke, they saw, as if she came in answer to their words, the Lady Galadriel approaching. Tall and white and fair she walked beneath the trees. She spoke no word, but beckoned to them.

    -- The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel

  • When the Fellowship meet her again for their last farewell to her and Lothlorien:

    In the midst of the vessel sat Celeborn, and behind him stood Galadriel, tall and white; a circlet of golden flowers was in her hair, andin her hand she held a harp, and she sang.

    -- The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien

  • When she comes to Minas Tirith after the end of the War of the Ring:

    First rode Elrohir and Elladan with a banner of silver, and after them came the Lady Galadriel and Celeborn, Lord of Lothlorien, riding upon white steeds and with them many fair folk of their land, grey-cloaked with white gems in their hair; and last came Master Elrond, mighty among Elves and Men, bearing the sceptre of Annuminas, and beside him upon a grey palfrey rode Arwen his daughter, Evenstar of her people.

    -- The Return of the King, book 6, chpater 5: The Steward and the King

(all emphasis mine)

So it could well be, as you say, just Peter Jackson wanting to show off Cate Blanchett's feet. However, as others have said, going barefoot fits with her nature-goddess image and with what we can surmise from the footwear of Legolas about the toughness of elves' feet.

share|improve this answer

Because she doesn't need to.

Elves don't feel the cold as we do. For example, Legolas climbs a mountain in light shoes.

With that he sprang forth nimbly, and then Frodo noticed as if for the first time, though he had long known it, that the Elf had no boots, but wore only light shoes, as he always did, and his feet made little imprint in the snow. ‘Farewell!’ he said to Gandalf. ‘I go to find the Sun!’ Then swift as a runner over firm sand he shot away, and quickly overtaking the toiling men, with a wave of his hand he passed them, and sped into the distance, and vanished round the rocky turn.

The Lord of the Rings | The Ring Goes South

I would suspect this is an extension of that.

share|improve this answer
Sure, but he still wears shoes. As does Galadriel's husband. – Misha Rosnach Jan 18 at 11:43
@MishaRosnach They don't look as cool without shoes, though. – Cees Timmerman Jan 18 at 14:47
Shoes offer protection as well as warmth, so not feeling cold can't be the whole reason. – David Richerby Jan 18 at 21:39
@DavidRicherby he climbed a mountain in light shoes. They would have offered no protection there to human feet. – ATB Jan 18 at 21:40

I can't give you a direct quote since I returned the book to the library, but I just finished reading "The Hobbit Party" and the authors claim that Galadriel has some of the same characteristics found in popular renaissance and modern depictions of The Virgin Mary. As well as more modern accounts of seers (like at Lourdes where Mary appeared barefoot)

Our Lady of Lourdes

Even given the fact that the Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, it's not out of the way for characters to appear in books as "Types" of other characters from history or literature. Eru being a "Type" of the Creator God and the Istari being types of angels and Melkor being a type of fallen angel.

The key to understanding Galadriel and her affect on Gimli is in the Lady of the Galadhrim’s Marian roots. Tolkien clearly meant her as a figure of the Virgin Mary. Galadriel is beautiful and majestic. She reflects the light of the stars. She is perceptive and gracious. She gives gifts and help and comfort. Many of these qualities don’t quite reflect Mary as the poor and lowly handmaid of the Lord. So, without a Catholic perspective, the allusions could be easy to miss. But Tolkien possessed not just a devotion to his Catholic faith but a devotion to Our Lady as well. So he surely viewed Mary as she truly is, Queen of Heaven and source of perpetual help.

Word on Fire - Gimili Galadriel and Guadalupe

So, given this, it's no altogether unlikely that Jackson, Dickson, Taylor, et al. from WETA would attempt to make the queen appearing in the book with the most abundant intercessory power as much as possible (in little details) like the one in the imagination of millions of people.

As to her rebellion and banishment; Mary is a type of Eve from the Old Testament too (one being the Mother of all the Living, the other the Spiritual Mother of all the Living), and that just rounds out the character of Galadriel as being both the original Eve and the "new Eve" as Mary is often called.

Still, the blog post I linked to said that Tolkien had a semi-confused character developed out of Galadriel who was possibly unfinished at his death.

Interestingly, the character of Galadriel changed over the course of the years as Tolkien developed his world’s history. At first, he wrote that she, along with many of the other elves of her kind, was culpable in the rebellion in Valinor (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Just nerd stuff). But, later, he changed his mind on this and wrote that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Actually, the word he used was “unstained,” clearly an allusion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Apparently, Tolkien’s vision of Galadriel became clearer even to himself. In a letter to a priest friend, Robert Murray, Tolkien wrote:

“I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded. The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. ” Letter to Robert Murray, S.J., 2 December 1953

That quote is often used to justify quite a bit of Catholic speculation about the characters in LOTR, but like most people are apt to point out, there aren't a lot of ladies in the books and if one embodies "majesty and simplicity", it's probably Galadriel.

share|improve this answer
I'm having trouble finding any connection between Galadriel and Mary. – isanae Jan 18 at 21:08
Galadriel rebelled against the Valar, came under the ban of the Noldor, refused the pardon, was notoriously prideful and ambitious, and married and had a daughter. But yes, she was pretty. – isanae Jan 18 at 22:11
@isanae: I think you have to be Catholic to see Mary in Galadriel. But then, if you're Catholic, you see Mary in every female who (a) isn't evil, and (b) has/had enough power that history remembers her name. Or so it appears to this Protestant. – Martha Jan 18 at 23:11
@Martha While, as a non-Catholic, I agree with you, it's probably worth pointing out that Tolkien actually was Catholic, so maybe there being some influence is not so farfetched, even if perhaps it was only subconscious. – reirab Jan 18 at 23:33
I would think of Elbereth rather than Galadriel as a Mary reference, if either, in that she is often called upon (prayed to) for aid in time of need. – Dan Barron Jan 19 at 0:20

Galadriel is not always barefoot in the LOTR movies.

She is not barefoot in the "Galadriel and Celeborn" scene, where the two descend the stairs to welcome the Fellowship. She appears to be wearing a kind of silver-white ballerinas or similar (there is only a glimpse of her shoe though). As befits her role at that moment.

As for Galadriel trotting barefoot to the Mirror by night, although I cannot claim anything, I always took that scene to be hinting stealth. This is not a queen walking regally through the halls of her abode in full view; this is a woman seeking private, important conversation with a guest, walking barefoot in her own house by night.

[And as for Hobbit, her very appearance there is just totally off the hook.]

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.