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In both the Fellowship of the Ring novel and movie, when the fellowship lose Gandalf and travel to Lothlórien, they are greeted by Haldir and his Elven comrades. When the elves realise Gimli is with them, Haldir says:

"A dwarf!" said Haldir. "That is not well. We have not had dealings with the Dwarves since the Dark Days. They are not permitted in our land. I cannot allow him to pass."

Fellowship of the Ring - Chapter 6: Lothlórien

But in the climax of The Hobbit, Men, Elves and Dwarves all fight together (which was around 60 years before). So it seems the Elves did have dealings with the dwarves many, many years after the Dark Days.

So what did Haldir mean by this?

My only reasoning is he meant the Elves of Lothlórien had no dealings with the dwarves, whereas the Elves of Mirkwood (led by Thranduil in The Hobbit) did.

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    My only reasoning is he meant the Elves of Lothlórien had no dealings with the dwarves, whereas the Elves of Mirkwood (led by Thranduil in The Hobbit) did. Sounds about right to me. – Daft May 15 '15 at 13:03
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    Not to mention that a dwarven army and an elven army can fight on the same battlefield, against the same foe, without really 'dealing' with each other. It might complicate the situation, but the Human armies could easily have acted as intermediary. Besides, it's been a while since I read The Hobbit, but didn't all of the Five Armies fight against each other? – Jeff May 15 '15 at 13:06
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    yeah, the elves were there to steal the dwarves money, not fight a war, that was more of an accidental alliance then anything. – Himarm May 15 '15 at 13:10
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    The Elves of Lothlorien barely have dealings with other elves, much less anyone else. – BBlake May 15 '15 at 17:50
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    @Jeff Initially, it looked like the Elves and Men of Laketown would come to blows with the Dwarves of the Iron Hills led by Dain. However, the arrival of the Goblins/Orcs with the wargs and bats allied with them changed that. Therefore the Battle of Five Armies was not a five-way battle, but rather the combined forces of Elves, Men and Dwarves against the Goblins/Orcs and other evil creatures. – maguirenumber6 Dec 27 '15 at 10:31
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Part of the issue, I think, is that the subtle meaning of the word "dealings" has changed over the century-ish since Tolkien wrote the novel.

These days when you read that line, you probably interpret that as "had to deal with the Dwarves", or "interacted with the Dwarves", or something else. Most likely, Tolkien meant it in a more specific case, of "had business dealings" with the Dwarves. In other words, trade and diplomacy.

Prior to the Dark Days, the Elves and Dwarves (while not exactly friendly) had an economic relationship, primarily trading Dwarven metal for food they couldn't grow themselves. Presumably, that required Dwarves to frequently visit the Elven economic and political centers, like Lothlorien, so seeing a Dwarf wandering around Celeborn's home on occasion wouldn't be that odd.

However, since the Dark Days, the Elves, and particularly the elves of Lorien, have had no further "dealings" with the Dwarves. Obviously they know the Dwarves still exist, and when the elves to happen to venture out into the world, they probably encounter them on occasion. In The Hobbit they even end up being allies in the Battle of the Five Armies. But that's not the same as "having dealings" with the Dwarves, and it's especially not the same as opening their home up to a Dwarf willingly.

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    I would be a little more general with this answer. Rather than limiting it to business dealings, I would say any sort of formal or informal agreement between the two (such as a peace treaty or unwritten understanding about respecting borders etc.). Other than that I think this answer is spot on, the dwarves & elves simply had a mutual enemy on the battlefield. +1 – Mike.C.Ford May 15 '15 at 13:36
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    I think this answer suffers from the same problem the question itself suffers: thinking of elves and dwarves as monolithic. In truth only a select group of elves and a select group of dwarves were said to have dealings and traffic. There are no "the elves" and "the dwarves." – Yorik May 15 '15 at 14:11
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    I don't think my answer make any assumptions one way or the other about the divisions between elves and dwarves. The meaning of Haldir's comment is the same, whether he's talking about all of the Eldar, or just the elves of Lorien. – KutuluMike May 15 '15 at 23:27
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    The Elves of Mirkwood had a 'friendship' with the Dwarves of Erebor as of the end of the Hobbit, and trade had previously gone on - sounds like dealings to me. – Shamshiel May 16 '15 at 13:11
  • +1, brilliant answer, thank you. Particularly from a business perspective! – user35594 May 16 '15 at 14:05
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Your reasoning is correct.

My only reasoning is he meant the Elves of Lothlórien had no dealings with the dwarves, whereas the Elves of Mirkwood (led by Thranduil in The Hobbit) did.

Haldir was referring specifically to Lothlorien, which certainly isolated itself from Dwarves and Men and even from other Elves, to an extent.

Consider what he said in the book:

‘Welcome!’ the Elf then said again in the Common Language, speaking slowly. ‘We seldom use any tongue but our own; for we dwell now in the heart of the forest, and do not willingly have dealings with any other folk. Even our own kindred in the North are sundered from us. But there are some of us still who go abroad for the gathering of news and the watching of our enemies, and they speak the languages of other lands. I am one. Haldir is my name.

Or:

Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlórien , unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land.

Boromir had heard only rumors:

‘A plain road, though it led through a hedge of swords,’ said Boromir. ‘By strange paths has this Company been led, and so far to evil fortune. Against my will we passed under the shades of Moria, to our loss. And now we must enter the Golden Wood, you say. But of that perilous land we have heard in Gondor, and it is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed.’

Legolas only knew old tales of Lothlorien:

When all the Company had crossed, they sat and rested, and ate a little food; and Legolas told them tales of Lothlórien that the Elves of Mirkwood still kept in their hearts, of sunlight and starlight upon the meadows by the Great River before the world was grey.

Legolas himself didn't actually know what the Elves of Lothlorien were like anymore:

‘It is told that she had a house built in the branches of a tree that grew near the falls: for that was the custom of the Elves of Lórien, to dwell in the trees, and maybe it is so still.

And he'd never been there either, in his long life:

‘I will climb up,’ said Legolas. ‘I am at home among trees, by root or bough, though these trees are of a kind strange to me, save as a name in song.

The Elves of Mirkwood, meanwhile, commonly traded and allied themselves with both Dwarves and Men, at least until Smaug drove the Dwarves out of Erebor. Lothlorien too used to have extensive dealings with the Dwarves (particularly, one imagines, when Eregion prospered), thus why Haldir framed his statement as he did.

Strangers were not generally allowed in Lothlorien at all:

We allow no strangers to spy out the secrets of the Naith. Few indeed are permitted even to set foot there.

The Elves of Lorien were apparently so isolated the location of the Havens was not even common knowledge:

‘Happy folk are Hobbits to dwell near the shores of the sea!’ said Haldir. ‘It is long indeed since any of my folk have looked on it, yet still we remember it in song.

So, as other commenters noted, there's Elves, and there's Elves. The Elves of Lorien are not representative of the Elves of Rivendell, Mirkwood, or the Havens, and Haldir was not speaking for them.

  • Indeed, the elves of Lothlorien don't even seem to have had all that much to do with the Wood Elves. – jamesqf May 15 '15 at 18:00
  • +1, this is great! Many thanks for also including the quotes. – user35594 May 16 '15 at 14:06

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