From Academic Kids

In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, Glorfindel is an Elf, a character that appears on a couple of occasions in the tales of Middle-earth.

Glorfindel first comes in as a —oldo in the account of the escape of Tuor, Idril, Ešrendil and many others from the fall of Gondolin in the First Age. When a Balrog waylays the escapees in the Encircling Mountains above Gondolin, Glorfindel battles him on top of a rocky pinnacle. Both fall to their deaths.

Glorfindel reappears during the Third Age at the end of the Battle of Fornost; and then later as an Elf-lord sent by Elrond to help Frodo reach Rivendell, as told in The Fellowship of the Ring. In the Peter Jackson film version of the same name, Arwen does the honors instead, a somewhat controversial move (to fans) to bolster the few active female roles (and to reduce the number of characters). It's hinted that an Elf with a nonspeaking role that appears during Aragorn's coronation in the movie was meant to be Glorfindel. In the Ralph Bakshi animated version, Glorfindel is also written out, substituted by Legolas.

It is highly unusual (though not impossible) for an Elf to return from the Halls of Mandos to Middle-earth, and in the case of Glorfindel it seems simply to have been an accident. In The Return of the Shadow (a volume in The History of Middle-earth), Christopher Tolkien states that some time after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, his father "gave a great deal of thought to the matter of Glorfindel" (p. 214), and decided that it was a "somewhat random use" of a name from The Silmarillion that would probably have been changed, had it been noticed sooner. Tolkien had a well-documented (and confusing) habit of inventing and changing character names while writing drafts, so this is not too surprising. On the other hand, early notes for the Council of Elrond state "Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin", indicating that the character was early on already intended to be the same Elf. Nevertheless, seeing that the reintroduction of the name had been made, and that it would require some explanation, Tolkien devised a rather complex story to explain Glorfindel's return, in which Glorfindel was sent back to Middle-earth by the Valar during the Second Age as a kind of predecessor to the Istari.

Glorfindel was the one who prophesied about the Witch-king, that "not by the hand of Man will he fall." This prophesy was fulfilled when …owyn, a woman, slew the Witch-king.

Glorfindel is one of the oldest names in the legendarium, going back to the original version of the Fall of Gondolin. Conceivably the problem of Glorfindel's resurrection could easily have been resolved by changing the name of Glorfindel of Gondolin to another name, but Tolkien was unwilling to do this, as he now associated the name with the


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