Appendix A of Lord of the Rings says of Arwen's fate:

There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea.

Because elves are immortal, when I read this I pictured her literally laying down and going into some kind of long sleep (I thought "green grave" might mean "green as in alive"), and the forest growing around her--and waking up thousands of years later, when "the world is changed."

However, when I poked around the internet, it seems like no one else shared this interpretation, and most people agreed that Arwen was actually dead.

Is her death corroborated anywhere else?

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    You don't use 'grave' if you are JRR Tolkien and you want to give the impression she's Sleeping Beauty. – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 18:46

Manwe's ordinance at the end of the First Age was that all those who have even a drop of Mortal blood will be Mortal by nature, but to Earendil and Elwing, and their descendents, he gave a choice: to be counted among Elves or be counted among Men.

This is covered in HoME 5 (The Lost Road) in the section dealing with the end of the 1937 Quenta Silmarillion, and the text was never subsequently rejected or revised by JRR Tolkien, although Christopher Tolkien editorially removed it from the published Silmarillion for unknown reasons.

The full reading is:

Now all those who have the blood of mortal Men, in whatever part, great or small, are mortal, unless other doom be granted to them...

Furthermore, in many places Tolkien explicitly states that - aside from issues of Mortality and Immortality - Elves and Men are actually the same species. Here's an extract from the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (published in HoME 10: Morgoth's Ring):

The existence of Elves: that is of a race of beings closely akin to Men, so closely indeed that they must be regarded as physically (or biologically) simply branches of the same race.

The conclusion is that Half-elves in Tolkien aren't actually a separate species at all. Instead, the offspring of Men and Elves are Men (hence the Princes of Dol Amroth), with the exception of the descendents of Earendil and Elwing, who - once they make their choice - become the type they choose to be.

A slight complication is that choosing to be a Man is irrevocable for both you and your descendents (this is nowhere stated, but otherwise the Heirs of Elros would have had a similar choice, whereas they didn't) but choosing to be an Elf confers the ability to choose on your descendents (otherwise Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir would have already had their choice made for them).

So when Elrond choose immortality at the end of the First Age/start of the Second Age, he actually became an Elf, and likewise Arwen became a Man.

So yes, she died.

  • I don't know about Elves and Men being the same. Elves go to the halls when they die, even the Valar don't know the fate of Men when they die. – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 21:12
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    The point is that physically and biologically they're the same. This is Word-of-God so it's not really up for argument. – user8719 Apr 18 '14 at 21:33
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    Interesting point about Arwen becoming a Man. I always thought she was an attractive woman...sigh. – The Fallen Apr 18 '14 at 21:42
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    By choosing a mortal life Arwen didn't simply choose to die - she died of grief (apparently) and elves can die of both grief or violence - what she choose is that her spirit would not go unto the Halls of Mandos to await the End of Days. Instead at death her spirit went to whatever fate befalls the spirits (or souls) of humans. Also, she gave up the right to pass into the West prior to death and await the End of Days there with the Valar in Amon. – user23715 Apr 19 '14 at 1:33
  • @DarthSatan I don't think being branches of the same race is the same as being physically and biologically the same. Elves are shown many other qualities, such as supernatural markmanship, walking in the snow without sinking, or walking while sleeping, to name the few that come to my mind. – Flamma Aug 14 '14 at 9:07

But she wasn't an Elf. She was Half-Elven, and therefore when Elrond departed she had to choose which kindred she belonged to: and for love of Aragorn she chose mortality. So she did die.

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    She chose before Elrond left, but otherwise, a good answer. – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 18:58
  • Which begs the question: how and when exactly did they choose? Was it enough to say "I choose to be mortal" at some, undetermined point in their life? – The Fallen Apr 18 '14 at 23:02
  • I don't think it is directly specified, but there is some moment when you make the decision and that's that. In the movie it was, I suppose, when she turned back after seeing her son in the vision. In the book, I guess the marriage would probably have been the time, since I don't recall the decision having been made before the Fellowship sets out. – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 23:37

Yes and no. She didn't die the way men do. She was an elf and died an elf. What happened was she faded. When elves love a man it is a serious spiritual connection. They are over turning the will of God. Literally their souls become interwined. So when Aragorn died she lived on but the world 'became grey and dull' as Elrond foretold. This means she was missing a part of herself and could not live without Aragorn. Not even her love for her children, who are still alive, can lift her spirit. She moves to Lothlorien and in time her spirt departs from her body. She was in perfect health, like all first born are, but her soul couldn't take the change and woes of the world so it left. Her soul goes to the Halls of Mandros where she can be reborn in Amen. But she will likely stay in the halls till the world is remade to be with her Aragorn.

  • I believe that Luthien, the first Elf/Human pairing, did not come to the halls of Mandros but presumably went where Human souls go in that universe. Presumably Arwen's will do the same. – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 23:33
  • It is never said what happens to Beren and Luthien. And ALL souls go to Mandros. Men just continue on into the Void. – NovaCameron Apr 18 '14 at 23:46
  • Wiki says what I remember from the Silmarillion: "Grieving for Beren, Lúthien also died, and came to the halls of Mandos. There she sang of her ill fate, that she would never again see Beren, who as a mortal Man had passed out of the world. Thereby Mandos was moved to pity. He restored Beren and Lúthien to life and granted mortality to the Elf. Lúthien left her home and her parents and went to Ossiriand with Beren. There they dwelt for the rest of their lives, and both eventually died the death of mortal Men." – Oldcat Apr 18 '14 at 23:58
  • Actually it is said that Luthien "died indeed", which was following her first trip to Mandos after Carcharoth. Also be very careful about saying that "all souls go to Mandos" - the books make it clear that that's just speculation. – user8719 Apr 19 '14 at 14:19

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