I want to know what the books say about this.

In the movie Arwen gives her necklace (Evenstar) to Aragorn, and he says that she cannot give it away (I am not sure if this could also mean her immortality).

Also, when the elves are leaving Middle-earth and Arwen decides to stay, her father Lord Elrond touches her and realizes that she is dying, and she says that she has chosen that life, to be mortal.

Are my arguments correct? Can Arwen decide to be mortal? and if it is that way, Why?

3 Answers 3


For this, we need to go back a lot - ages back - and examine Arwen's parentage, and the Lay of Leithian, the story of Beren and Lúthien. This is a rather long story (the longest in The Silmarillion, I believe, or perhaps the second longest after the Narn i Chîn Húrin, the story of the Children of Húrin), and while I strongly urge you to go read The Silmarillion, I'll summarize it briefly:

Way back, before the time of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, in the First Age of Middle-earth, there was an Elven woman, Lúthien, the daughter of Elu Thingol, King of Doriath, and one of the three great lords of the Elves in the very beginning. She fell in love with the human Beren, and despite much tragedy that would put Romeo and Juliet to shame, Beren dies (since he is human), and Lúthien petitions Mandos, the Valar in charge of the fates of all mortals, and she gives away her immortality so that they could live together, for as long as they have. This is the first turning point.

This is a very tragic tale, of course. The Elves were devastated over it, since Lúthien was the fairest and most beautiful maiden to ever live, etc., and once she became human, she was destined to die, and pass away, and her beauty seen no more, and so forth. It's sung as the greatest sacrifice made for love, etc.

Now, from this tragic romance we have a son of Beren and Lúthien, one Dior Eluchil. He married Nimloth, a Sindarin elf, and had a daughter, Elwing. She married Eärendil, who was also half elven, with his own tragic backstory linked to the Children of Húrin. They had two sons, Elrond and Elros, who were just children when the First Age ended with a great and terrible war. Then, we come to the second turning point. The two children, for the bravery of their parents and the suffering they underwent, were given the choice whether to be counted among the Elves or among Men. Elros chose Mankind, became the King of Númenor, and from him were descended all the Kings of Men, down to Gondor. Elrond, however, chose to be an immortal Elf, founded the haven at Rivendell, and had his daughter, Arwen. (Yes, that does mean Arwen and Aragorn are related, but very distantly).

So how does that relate to the question? Well, Arwen is the descendant of many Elves and Humans (and a bit of Maiar, but that is irrelevant) who have fought bravely against Morgoth and Sauron, and were given the choice, due to their mixed parentage and Lúthien's sacrifice, of where to be counted. Arwen simply inherited that with the rest of her respectable ancestry.

  • 4
    There's no clear cut rule. My guess would be that if Arwen and Aragorn's children would have had some grand dramatic love story with an Elf, they might be faced with the same choice. It's not a genetic trait passed in the blood, but a dramatic one, a gift granted by the Valar. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 19:30
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    Again, the rules that govern this are narrative, not logic. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 21:12
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    Also, just for reference: the story is summarized in The Simarillion, and parts are sung by Aragorn in Fellowship of the Ring (the book and extended version of the movie) . The entire Lay was never finished but what we have was published in The Lays of Beleriand, which is volume 3 of HoME.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 21:14
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    The precedent was already set with Elros' children: Elros had chosen mortality, and that choice was binding on his descendants. I don't think your political rights or duties would restrict your available choice, though.
    – chepner
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 17:45
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    I sort of picture the Valar being faced with all this throwing up their hands and saying, "OK, OK, so our original pronouncement was a bit ambiguous. We'll let Arwen become mortal and the Sons of Elrond stay Elven. But that's it! No more Mr. Nice Mandos! Arwen's kids are mortals and that's final!"
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 17:24

Arwen, like her father, was half-elven, and so she did get to choose between the fates of men and elves.

After the conclusion of the War of Wrath, Manwë determined that the surviving Half-elven would have their choice of fates: to be counted among Elves, and granted eternal life in the Undying Lands; or to be counted among mortals, and granted the ineffable Gift of Men. This choice could be delayed, although not indefinitely.


The children of Elrond and Celebrian were also given free choice of kindred, and therefore Arwen could choose to be counted amongst the Edain even though her father had chosen to be counted as Elven. She exercised this option, marrying Aragorn II Elessar, king of the Reunited Kingdom, and finally dying at the age of 2,901 years. Their son Eldarion and their daughters were not counted as Half-elven, but rather as Dúnedain restored.

Incidentally, Elrond's brother, Elros, chose the Fate of Men and became the first King of Númenor, from whom Aragorn was directly descended.

  • Is this paragraph directly from a book? and if so, which one?
    – eLRuLL
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 19:23
  • It's from the wikia article I linked, not direct from any of the books. But it matches precisely my memories of the situation. The events would be in the Silmarillion, possibly some in the other supplemental books.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 19:33
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    If Elrond's daughter is half-elven enough to be eligible to make the choice, then does that mean that Elros' son, second king of Numenor, is likely eligible enough to become immortal if he so wished? Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 2:37
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    @thegreatjedi from all I recall, no, he didn't. I would say it's likely because the valar are willing to give the gift of men but not take it away; the progeny of immortal half-elves have the choice to receive it or not, but the children of those with the gift are stuck with it.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 2:43

Elrond and his brother Elros were half Elf and half Human. They were given a choice between living as immortal Elves or living as mortal men; Elros became a man, and eventually died, while Elrond became an Elf and lived forever.

But Elves are tragic figures; they love the mortal world, but as centuries, then millennia pass by, they grow weary of the mortal world, burdened with the accumulated sorrow of watching creatures live, suffer, and die. Eventually, the sorrow becomes too much or bear, and they leave Middle-earth forever and sail to the Undying Lands.

The Elves maintain their realms, and their power in Middle-earth, through the Three Rings they possess. These Rings are tied to the One Ring, however. While the One Ring was missing, they could use their Three Rings with impunity. But then the One Ring was found. If Sauron obtains the One Ring, it will no longer be safe to use the Three Rings; if the One Ring is destroyed, the Three Rings will become useless. So no matter what happens to the One Ring, the time of the Elves is over. Elrond has to depart from Middle-earth and go to the Undying Lands.

Now we turn to Appendix A of The Return of the King, in the section titled "The Númenórean Kings":

... To the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained, to become mortal and die in Middle-earth. For Elrond, therefore, all chances of the War of the Ring were fraught with sorrow.

Arwen is Elrond's daughter, and thus must choose between going to the Undying Lands with her father and living forever, or staying in Middle-earth with Aragorn and eventually dying. All Elrond's children must make the same choice; but only Arwen decides to stay in Middle-earth and become a mortal. Although Lúthien, who was obviously not Elrond's daughter, made the same choice, as far as we know, this decision was thereafter limited to Elrond's kids.

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