My Women in Film blogathon is ending in a week, and I got to thinking about writing another entry on an interesting character. I've been getting lots of good choices and so I thought this one might be something a bit different from the others, also a bit out of my usual comfort zone as I'm not normally big on fantasy. This is a brave an noble woman, wise and complex, one with a lot of power and influence... and did I mention that she originated from a novel published in 1954.
The Lord of the Rings may have a very predominantly male cast but it certainly makes up for that by making the few female characters especially memorable. Across the original trilogy the girls get their heroic moments: Arwen gets to save the life of Frodo Baggins and Eowyn manages to kill a major antagonist (granted, she did have help from a Hobbit, but she was still the one who delivered the final blow).
I've even defended the addition of Tauriel to The Hobbit. Before that I was willing to defend Itaril (a character who was rumored to be added to the films early in production, supposedly to be played by Saoirse Ronan), if only on the grounds that we knew nothing about her beyond rumors, which were later proven false.
Still, there is one female character in the series who tends to stand out. She doesn't have much screentime but her roles across both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are crucial, and that is Galadriel. If Sauron is the embodiment of all things that are evil in Middle-Earth, than Galadriel is exactly the opposite: she is everything that is noble or good about their world.
Galadriel may not be known to take up arms the same as Eowyn or Tauriel, but she is quite possibly the most powerful figure in Middle-Earth, and yet she also knows how to handle that power. She knows what is right and will stand up, doing everything she deems necessary. Even if she does not herself take the ring to mordor, she is always watching Frodo and even helps him find confidence during some of the more desperate moments of the quest.
That's just the thing. Galadriel might not be a warrior in her own right, but she knows what's good and stands for it at all costs. She knows what needs to be done and is determined to see that it is accomplished.
There is always a sense of genuine compassion whenever she is present. She is kind to everyone, even those she should have reason to hate (she hardly objected to leaving Gimli a lock of her hair, something even he thought she'd never do) and does everything in her power to see that good ultimately triumphs. It may have been Gollum who ultimately destroyed the ring but it might never have gotten that far if she hadn't given Frodo the extra push he needed to get to that point.
With a story as male-dominated as the writings of Tolkien, the fact that we can have a character as strong as Galadriel is an achievement in itself. She is a great character especially because of how she stands out in such a story, being one of the most powerful characters in it and the perfect embodiment for all that is good. It makes her an excellent contrast to Sauron, the embodiment of evil, and a character that is rightfully looked up to by the male heroes.