It is made obvious many times that they are far more beautiful, skilled, tall, and physically strong than everyone else. Considering this, did they 'look down' upon all the other peoples? In the 'Inheritance Cycle' (a different book series by another author), there is at least one Elf who is intensely aware of his advantages over Humans, and makes remarks to that end.

So during interactions, did common elves as well as the famous ones like Elrond or Galadriel feel pity/disgust about the less powerful and beautiful peoples (and show it?).

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    To the eyes of immortal Elves, above all else Humans must seem extremely young and inexperienced, like children. And children can be irresponsible, cruel and wicked, but adults don't usually hate or pity them, or feel disgust towards them for that. Do they?
    – Junuxx
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 10:02
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    Galadriel may be an exception: she's extremely arrogant (but all the Noldor are anyway), and basically thought the wood elves were unable to govern themselves so became their queen and destroyed their culture.
    – user8252
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 11:47
  • Yes, especially the dwarfs. But then, everyone looks down on the dwarfs except hobbits.
    – BBlake
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 19:28
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    Note that at the "birth" of Men, they were very nearly identical to Elves in stature, strength, and beauty. Galadriel was born in Valinor (IIRC), which is sort of the garden of Eden or Heaven even in the mythology, so her power and majesty comes from that and her long association with the Valar (angels/gods).
    – horatio
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 20:01

4 Answers 4


They don't really 'look down', as both Men and Elves are children of Ilúvatar.

However they think that humanity is corrupt:

Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwë, who knows most of the mind of Ilúvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him.

And they may be right, as it seems that Morgoth's corruption has been particularly severe on humanity, as:

But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope.

Morgoth was the first to find Men and he corrupted them, and according to the legends of Men, he reduced their lifespan and taught them to fear death.

That's their average position, of course you have variations:

The worst: during the Bliss in Valinor, Morgoth spread the lie that Men were going to steal Middle-earth from the Elves. After the Fall of Númenor, general attitude of contempt toward them (except the line of Elendil).

The best: Great friendship during the First Age, the Elves taught much to the first Men, friendship with the Númenóreans.


I think the general attitude was indifference or mild contempt. Arwen sums it up well:

"But I say to you, King of the Númenóreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last."

There were individual exceptions though of course. Finrod and Beren, Túrin and Beleg for example.

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    You might include more of the quote - it's not otherwise clear that Arwen is also an exception. Her pity is based on the fact that she chose to stay with Aragorn and become mortal, and she was at the end of her life, realizing that she was soon to die. She also described mortality as a "bitter gift" to Humans.
    – John C
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 12:09
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    Also note that Arwen's uncle was Elros, brother of Elrond and the first King of Numenor. This complicates the context somewhat.
    – horatio
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 19:56
  • I think the quote is fair as it stands, as it describes her attitude at the time she was not emotionally involved with a Númenorean and is representative of the Elvish people as a whole (noting of course that it is a generalisation).
    – WOPR
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 8:17

I don't think the Elves pitied or looked down on other races, but they did consider them to be less wise, weak minded and easily corrupted. That may be where you feel they looked down on others, but I think the reasons are different. It wasn't because they were physically stronger or more beautiful it was because they were wiser.

A good example are the rings of power that Sauron had made. 7 went to the Dwarves, 9 went to men and only 3 to the Elves. The only 3 rings that were never recovered were the Elven rings because they were smart enough to know not to use them and not to fall under the influence of their power.

The 9 given to men, totally corrupted the 9 and turned them into servants of Sauron. The 7 given to Dwarves merely made them greedy for more gold.

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    The 3 were "never recovered and not used"?? What nonsense, they were used all along, by Galadriel, Elrond and Cirdan, later Gandalf. They could be used because they were made in secret, without Sauron's help. And that may just have been a lucky accident rather than wisdom. Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 9:59
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    The reason the elven rings did not corrupt their wearers was less an innate strength of their race but more a) that these wearers were outstandingly resistant to evil for other reasons (high wisdom rolls, heritage, etc.) and b) that the rings were forged by Celebrimbor alone, thus less corrupted themselves. The initial plan actually was to give the 16 co-produced rings to the elves and it was only changed when the elves got suspicious. They would have corrupted the lesser elves just as easily as men (remember: orcs are corrupted elves, at least in some versions of the work).
    – Annatar
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 12:09

It seems they only have pity in the worst of times, but for most of their history they were very indifferent to the other mortal races at best. During the First Age a lot more cooperation was seen, but after the downfall of Númenor, (needless to mention which also included the poor treatment of Elves prior to the downfall), they did not collaborate with other races until the need was dire. An example is the Last Alliance, the aid given during the Quest to destroy the One Ring, and lastly the battle of the five armies.

At worst the Elves scorned and strongly disliked other races. The Dwarves are a great example; even before their relations deteriorated, Thingol, King of Doriath still looked down at them and insulted them in their faces when they refused to give him the Nauglamir. Granted, by manner of morality the gift was not theirs to claim since it was the King's, but Thingol's insulting arrogance gave them the final means to bring out the worst in themselves and their future generations for many centuries.

Quite frankly I think the Elves are very judgmental of the other races, but I guess it's necessary if you're literally outnumbered from 100:1 on every side and your existence is eternal no matter what.

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