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  1. #1
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    Why Did Legolas 'Do the Least of the Fellowship'?

    I've read several times in several places that Tolkien specifically stated that Legolas did the least out of the Fellowship. I also read that in the movies Legolas was made out to be a god, whereas he wasn't that good in the books. But I've not read the books (which is surprising, considering the amount of books I once read), and only watched the movies very few times.

    So what does he mean by this? Was the least accomplished character in the books? Or was he accomplished, he just didn't have a big role in the Fellowship?

    It makes me wonder what Gimli did in the books, considering he didn't seem as if he did much in the movies.

  2. #2
    Frankly, both Legolas and Gimli are mostly in the books to represent their kinds and, through their initial bickering then becoming friends, provide some insight into the whole Elf vs. Dwarf conflict. Neither one does anything of much significance to the main plot that I can think of. They are just general support cast. In the books, Legolas is just a typical Elf. A fine archer with great eyesight and a calm disposition. He does not surf on shields or take down Imperial Walkers, er, Oliphaunts single-handed. Nor is book Gimli a comic buffoon. He's a solid Dwarf, loves hacking Orcs apart and admiring good stonework. The only humor he provides is from the Elf/Dwarf snarking. As much as I enjoy the movies, I admit I didn't care for the changes to Gimli. I kind of understood the changes to Legolas more, because he really is a rather understated character in the books. Just hanging around, being Elvish and all that.

    I am not sure what Gimli did that makes him any more or less accomplished than Legolas in the books. They stayed together for pretty much the whole trilogy. Both helped out at Helm's Deep, followed Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and on to Gondor.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJByrum View Post
    I've read several times in several places that Tolkien specifically stated that Legolas did the least out of the Fellowship.
    I'm curious as to where you read this, as I have never heard of Tolkien saying this.

    I agree with Lynore in that Legolas and Gimli were mostly supporting characters, but I wouldn't say he wasn't as important to the Fellowship as the others. Like Lynore said, Elrond chose them to represent their individual races in the quest, and I reckon the friendship that developed was perhaps a symbolic mending of fences between the Elves and the Dwarves if you will.

    The movies greatly exaggerate, but Legolas was capable of some amazing feats which was pretty typical of his race. He did one shot that fell beast the Nazgul was riding after all.
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  4. #4
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    Type in "Legolas Least Accomplished" or similar keywords into Google.

    I just found it quite strange Tolkien would say that considering Gimli did just as much, or not near as much - certainly not more than Legolas.

    Legolas was my favorite character when I watched the movies when I was younger (I was about 8-10 years old when they came out). But now that I know more about it, Aragorn, Faramir, and Boromir are my favorites. But I still got that 'childhood hint' in me from when I use to like Legolas, and I don't think it'll ever go away.

    I once thought Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn were all equals when I was younger.

  5. #5
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    I, too, am curious as to the source of Tolkien's alleged statement about Legolas. It is difficult to interpret a statement without knowing the context. Legolas is only mentioned a handful of times in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien; this is not the source.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJByrum View Post
    I also read that in the movies Legolas was made out to be a god, whereas he wasn't that good in the books.
    Ironically, Peter Jackson's movies did not depict Legolas' greatest physical feat, the downing of the winged steed of the Nazgûl out of the night sky. (I was very happy to see this event featured in LOTRO.) I would not say that the movies depicted Legolas as a god, but certainly as a very great hero.
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

  6. #6
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    After some more google fu and some book diggin, I reckon I found the line that most refer to regarding this topic.

    From Unfinished Tales, The Istari-

    In Sauron's final overthrow, Elves were not effectively concerned at the point of action. Legolas probably achieved least of the Nine Walkers.
    There is more about Galadriel's actions after that, and a line or two about Elendil and Gil-galad before. This is part of some notes that Tolkien had written, but I would hesitate to call it a direct quote.

    Just my take on it, but I reckon these are a few examples of the overall role Elves played in the events at the end of the Third Age. By this time there just ain't that many of them left, and their power was fading in Middle-Earth.

    Even so, I don't see this as saying Legolas contributed little to the Fellowship. He was a great boon to the group both as a scout and a warrior.
    Last edited by bambubambubambu; Jan 12 2013 at 03:34 PM.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambubambubambu View Post
    After some more google fu and some book diggin, I reckon I found the line that most refer to regarding this topic.

    From Unfinished Tales, The Istari-



    There is more about Galadriel's actions after that, and a line or two about Elendil and Gil-galad before. This is part of some notes that Tolkien had written, but I would hesitate to call it a direct quote.

    Just my take on it, but I reckon these are a few examples of the overall role Elves played in the events at the end of the Third Age. By this time there just ain't that many of them left, and their power was fading in Middle-Earth.

    Even so, I don't see this as saying Legolas contributed little to the Fellowship. He was a great boon to the group both as a scout and a warrior.

    From the quote provided it would seem as if Tolkien means that the Elves have the least to lose. Either that or that maybe it meant that Legolas accomplished the least as in Elves did less physical fighting "at the point of action". Maybe it was meant in terms of rallying their race. That doesn't seem to make much sense to me either for obvious reasons.

    As to the general use of Gimili and Legolas I agree they seem to be there just to represent their races. I personally feel Legolas was more of a benefit to the fellowship because he is an Elf.

    I also feel that Gimili and Legolas could each be switched out with a different warrior of their race that would have been just as effective for physical combat (not necessarily in the companionship).
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by oldbadgerbrock View Post
    Ironically, Peter Jackson's movies did not depict Legolas' greatest physical feat, the downing of the winged steed of the Nazgûl out of the night sky.

    Indeed, I myself have fired many arrows into one of those beasts atop the tower of Dul Guldur, but have never even come close to one-shotting it

  9. #9
    I don't think anyone is suggesting that Legolas hung back while everyone else went fighting. I believe it's more of a personal growth thing. Gandalf completed his mission. Aragorn re-established his kingdom and gained his Queen. The Hobbits all grew in many ways (not just physically). Gimli achieved little other than putting aside some of the ancient enmity between Dwarves and Elves, Legolas participated in that as well. After the war they did little except wait for the day to sail away. I know Gimli brought other Dwarves to Aglarond and Minas Tirith to do some work and Legolas encouraged Elves to visit Ithilien but that seems more like a farewell tour. I would argue that Boromir achieved the least through his fall, slightly redeemed in the manner of his death. Gimli and Legolas are neck and neck just before that. As for the Hobbits, I would say Pippin achieved the most of the four, Merry second, Sam third and finally Frodo.
    [FONT=Trebuchet MS]"You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81


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  10. #10
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    I can see your reasoning Tuor in ranking the fellowship in terms of "personal growth", Pippin went from being a "fool of a took" to the Thain of the shire, but this was a semi heridtary position as his father was the incumbrant Thain, the same with Meriadoc becoming Master of Buckland. Of the two dilettante hobbits, Merrys later scholarship on pipe weed and Rohan alongside his part in the destruction of the witchking place him above Pippin in my book. Sam however went from being the son of an illeterate spud grower to being Mayor of Michael Delving so he wins the prize for me. I take your point about Legolas, he starts out an elf prince and in effect abdicates this role when he sails into the west at the close of the tale.
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  11. #11
    Good point about Sam. I was thinking more of the growth during the Fellowship and the War itself. Both Merry and Pippin grew up and came back and pretty much organized the whole uprising against Sharkey.
    [FONT=Trebuchet MS]"You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambubambubambu View Post
    From Unfinished Tales, The Istari-

    In Sauron's final overthrow, Elves were not effectively concerned at the point of action. Legolas probably achieved least of the Nine Walkers.
    Thank you for researching that.

    I looked this up in my own copy of Unfinished Tales. The context of the statement appears to be the part of the Elves in the overthrow of Sauron. Oddly, Elrond is not mentioned.

    I agree with tuor66 that Gimli's part was probably no larger than Legolas'. However, I disagree that Legolas' visit to Ithilien was merely part of a farwell tour: he established a colony there:

    Legolas his friend also brought south Elves out of Greenwood, and they dwelt in Ithilien, and it became once again the fairest country in all the westlands.
    Source: 'Appendix A,' The Lord of the Rings
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

  13. #13
    As someone else said, Legolas and Gimli are the representatives of their respective races and cultures. As it turns out, both elves and dwarves are rather secretive, especially among others outside their race. They both appear to me (in the books) to be reserved, thoughtful characters. Which works in a book as you have all the time you need to display their subtleties.

    This doesn't really make for the most exciting 2 and a half hours on the big screen, though. Which is why they maybe Gimli the loud, bumbling Dungeon's and Dragons dwarf and Legolas the dreamy star quarter back.

    I think the argument of "who did more" is kinda silly, by the way. Both Legolas and Gimli would have followed Frodo to the very end. They both journeyed to the far corners of Middle Earth, into hostile territory and among peoples who distrusted and maybe even hated them, always dedicated to battling Sauron's evil and defending the Free Peoples. I'd say that's a lot more that many others did during that time.

  14. #14
    Obviously Gimli winning the orc killing contest over Legolas carried quite a bit of weight with Professor Tolkien.

  15. #15
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    There are many ways to look at it. Could Frodo and Samwise have made it off alone if Boromir had not tried to take the ring? If Frodo had secretly left the company without Boromir trying to take the ring, would the company have panicked when Frodo was found to be missing and scattered looking for him? How would the encounter with the Orcs have gone in that scenario? (if indeed there was a encounter) Who might have died in that possible encounter?

    Gollum might easily be considered to have become a fellowship member after the breakup. He convinced Frodo and Sam not to attempt entry into Mordor through the main gate. (A very dubious plan from the start) If Gollum was not there at the end to wrest the ring away from Frodo, would Sauron have retrieved it? Frodo said he could not have destroyed the ring without Gollum’s ‘help’. Could/would Samwise have attempted to locate the invisible Frodo and cast him or both of them over the edge?

    Not much to do with Legolas, but I am not going to start a new thread just to speculate on these matters.

  16. #16
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    Yeah, it's all the stuff about gimli becoming 'lord of the glittering caves' (tho as already said legolas did similar) and, maybe, striking up a bit of a rapport with Galadriel.

    But the statement about legolas achieving least, IMO, was a minor thing meant to support the theme he was covering about the elves fading away from ME, rather than vice versa. Which was important, and a reason why elves rocking up at HD in TTT film upset so many.
    Last edited by TFP; Jan 23 2013 at 03:23 AM.

  17. #17
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    Gandalf’s contribution to the fellowship has to be weighed up against the damage caused by introducing Saruman to weed. Before taking to weed Saruman was an A grade student, the head of his order, after entering his weed psychosis he scoured the nearby lands for more weed plus cheese and pork products, and fortified his house in the paronoid belief that that the powers were out to get him. Instead of studying lore he took to smoking and spending long hours watching stuff on the palantir with his new companion “Grimey Wormtongue” (a stoner sidekick if ever there was one) the ultimate proof is his tie dyeing of his robes.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuor66 View Post
    As for the Hobbits, I would say Pippin achieved the most of the four, Merry second, Sam third and finally Frodo.
    I would actually say Frodo accomplished the most of all the members of the fellowship save perhaps Aragorn and Gandalf. After all he carried The Ring to very Cracks of Doom, which alone is one of the greatest feats in all of Tolkien's work. I know Tolkien writes that Frodo failed in the final test... but I think we must give Frodo a break here. I personally see the end of The Ring and Gollum's part in it as something that was governed by fate, or Iluvatar, or some such... as a final act of 'kindness' for Frodo's great sacrifice. Indeed Gandalf does foreshadow this early on with his words about Gollum and the part he may yet have to play in The Ring's fate. Frodo standing up to the Nazgul on several occasions while under the spell of The Ring (and at one point wounded with a Morgul Blade) is no mean feat either. The guy must have had a will of iron.

    Regarding the Legolas quote... I think it can be taken with a pinch of salt. As has been mentioned both he and Gimli hold similar positions in the story and are not quite essential to it. Whereas Boromir most certainly is, setting in motion a chain of events which are probably essential to the success of the Quest. I think Boromir's personality and position as heir to the Stewardship of Gondor are the driving force behind his decision to take the ring and in that regard he is irreplacable in the story. But yes... when I first read The Lord of the Rings as a kid... Legolas was by far my favourite character... and that quote still irks me a bit!

 

 

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