Silmarillion Elves vs LotR Elves
I actually really like how there’s such a difference between the view of elves we get in the Lord of the Rings and that which we see in the Silmarillion. Like it’s such a meme, but at the same time I think it says something really interesting about the elves themselves.
Basically, they changed. And for immortal, mostly changeless beings, that says a lot. And the way I read it, they realized their mistakes from the First Age and made an active attempt to do better.
When Galadriel is tempted by the Ring, I wonder if she’s thinking about the how the desire for power, vengeance, and the Silmarils screwed everyone over in the F.A. I wonder if she’s remembering that the ring was made by Sauron - who, if we remember, captured and killed her brother Finrod (and at least indirectly killed her other brothers as well. And I think it gives her comment, “I pass the test” a little more background when you think about it in terms of the Silmarillion.
Elrond yelling “No oaths!” at the Council (over Gimli’s somewhat understandable confusion) makes a lot of sense given the F.A. He saw, firsthand, that oaths get everyone killed and also destroy continents.
And I think it gives more context to the overall cautious nature of the Third Age elves. Frodo mentions an old saying, “go not to the elves for council, for they will say both no and yes,” which is not particularly flattering to them. But it makes a lot of sense if they’re still somewhat traumatized by the Nirnaeth, the Kinslayings, etc, that they would be hesitant to give definite answers or advice.
Look at how badly we messed up in the past, I wonder if they’re saying. Don’t take our word for this. We don’t really know what we’re doing either.
Basically I love the idea that the reason the elves seem so wise and peaceful and generally Good in LotR is because they actively tried to change the way they did things after learning from their prior mistakes. It’s a lot more nuanced than “Elves are just good because they’re elves and all elves are good because they’re magic and special and superior to everyone else.”