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A frustrating part is where Frodo actually (sort of) offers the Ring to Galadriel. She appears to laugh and find it almost funny, and fight some internal battle against herself, until her "good side" finally wins and she rejects the "offer".

Neither Galadriel herself, nor the book, gives any specifics about why this would be such a bad idea, other than the fact that the Ring "corrupts anyone", which is possibly only implied elsewhere.

Galadriel extremely briefly responds to Sam, who echoes Frodo's wish for her to take it, by saying that she would "start with" doing good, but it "will not stop with that". What exactly does she mean by this?

Would Galadriel the strong-willed, good-natured Elf-queen, who already controls one ring, albeit a lesser one, really turn into an Evil queen, as is implied in so very few words? This appears to almost be brushed over for some reason, whereas a lot of time is spent endlessly describing scenes. I wish Tolkien would've spent many pages reasoning about this, instead of making it such a short scene with almost nothing being said about it.

What exactly would she do that is so evil? How could she be "weaker" than a Hobbit? I almost get the feeling that she would set up massive torture camps all over The Shire and cruelly and slowly murder all Hobbits while laughing sadistically, but this doesn't seem to rhyme with her character.

Is this really what we are supposed to believe that the Ring would do if Galadriel got it? If not, what else?

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  • Related. May 6 at 17:44
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    Note that she says what would happen to her.
    – DavidW
    May 6 at 18:00
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    Galadriel actually states what she thinks would happen: she would become a dictatorial ruler over Middle-earth, bending everyone to her will, only she would be beautiful instead of dreadful like Sauron, and people would obey her in awe of her beauty and terrible power, instead of in fear like in Sauron's case. The ring obviously tempts her to take command and right every wrong, which would lead to her becoming an all-powerful dictator.
    – Andres F.
    May 6 at 19:05
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    @Heyden yes, it would. She would control every aspect of her kingdom, given unbound power. In Tolkien's worldview, bending others to your will with irresistible force is evil. As such, Galadriel would become evil.
    – Andres F.
    May 6 at 19:07
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    @Heyden You are already in her power. May 7 at 0:11

1 Answer 1

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The Ring corrupts according to the nature of the person wearing it. The greater the wearer is, the greater the corruption. And Galadriel is great indeed -- one of the greatest of all the Elves, possibly the equal of Feanor, and certainly the greatest in Middle-earth. Her fall would have been terrible and the fallen Galadriel would have been very powerful.

To illustrate the opposite case, look at Sam:

Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

His temptations were from his nature and his stature, but had he succumbed to them the Ring would still have turned the best parts of his nature against him and through them led him to his destruction.

Galadriel's temptation was different in detail:

In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

Different in detail, but the same in its basis: Her strengths, the best parts of her nature, would have been exaggerated and, ultimately led to her own downfall. (Along with that of all of Middle-earth, probably.) Her fear -- and she was wise enough for that fear to be well-founded -- was that she would lose herself.

Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.

'I pass the test,' she said. 'I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.'

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  • +1 Though I would also add her words hint at a dictatorship by Galadriel, just that she would be a beautiful dictator instead of a horror-inspiring one like Sauron. Of course, what exactly is a dictatorship vs ...er, "free people"?... in Tolkien's aristocracy-based Middle Earth remains to be seen. But at least Tolkien's sentiment is understood.
    – Andres F.
    May 6 at 19:03
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    I think the main difference between Sam and Galadriel is not really the content of their fantasies, but Sam's humility versus Galadriel's pride, and the fact she is already used to command and to rule, where Sam is not. Galadriel could perhaps use the Ring right away and have a fairly easy time of it as a 'instrument of command and domination' since people are already inclined to obey her; Sam is less dangerous really because he'd have to "train his will" (as Galadriel says) and because he has no power now and is much humbler.
    – Shamshiel
    May 7 at 11:40
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    So Galadriel has spent a lot of time thinking *if only I was in charge here - had the power to direct people to do this - I could - " where Sam never has, for example.
    – Shamshiel
    May 7 at 11:41
  • @Shamshiel Good point. Feel free to add that if you can see a way to do it without too much re-writing.
    – Mark Olson
    May 7 at 12:58

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