Silence of the iambs: Never Mind Teleporno, We’re Missing a “The”!
We have ourselves a new thirty-second Rings of Power clip, which is getting some pushback for allegedly hinting at a romance between Galadriel and the invented character of Halbrand:
Oh, the handwringing. Poor Teleporno finding himself cuckolded!
I swear, Celeborn has never found himself so popular among the fandom as during his continued absence from The Rings of Power promotional material – it’s almost as though they see Celeborn as a stick to beat the show with, rather than a character in his own right. I am not fussed. Not yet anyway. As per Fellowship of Fans, the look Halbrand gives Galadriel is supposed to be one of smugness, not of lust – a distinction that becomes clearer when the scene is seen in context. And a cited interview of Halbrand’s actor also suggests the character is power-hungry, which to me screams that this guy is a future Ringwraith (maybe even the Witch-King), rather than a love-interest.
Mind you, if the promotions team thought they were trying to churn up some casual interest by hinting at relationship drama, I’m not sure this was a clever choice. Better to give us something from the Romeo and Juliet thing between Pharazôn’s son and Elendil’s daughter, rather than lead us down the garden path.
No, it’s not Teleporno I’m bothering with today. Rather it’s the language, which goes as follows:
TAR-MIRIEL: “Name thyself.”
GALADRIEL: “Galadriel, daughter of the golden house, commander of armies of Gil-galad.”
MALE VOICE: “A Man and an Elf.”
HALBRAND: “Circumstances arose.”
GALADRIEL: “We are companions by chance.”
GALADRIEL: “Fight with me.”
A couple of things have jumped out at me here.
One is Tar-Miriel’s use of “Name thyself.” Recall that “thou” (and its various forms) is actually the familiar version of “you” – its usage either indicates a close relationship or else represents a speaker talking to someone of lesser rank. Tolkien’s Denethor makes quite sure to use it when addressing Gandalf in his final madness (whereupon Gandalf responds with the polite “you”). Here the “thou” form is clearly used by an authority figure – a Queen, no less – speaking down to this strange Elven lady who has washed up on her shores. It’s a deliberate reminder of power imbalance… which brings on Galadriel’s counter, as to her lineage and role within Elven society. It’s quite the political pissing match, a battle for dominance in a mere two lines of dialogue.
(Halbrand, of course, has nothing to bring to this particular fight. No fluff in the world can compete with these two, so he falls back on bathos).
The other is Galadriel using the term “golden house”, rather than “the House of Finarfin” or “the House of Finrod.” The latter expression is used in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, so it is not simply a matter of rights. I suspect it is just a preference for the poetic, while at the same time avoiding the complication of referring to extra expositional characters. Finrod might be a show-character, but he died long ago from the mortal viewpoint, and Galadriel is addressing mortals.
And then there is the meter…
- “NAME thyself.” – I see this as a dactyl.
- “GaLADriel, DAUGHter OF the GOLDen HOUSE, comMANder of ARMies OF Gil-GALad.” – The truly frustrating thing here is that had the line actually been “commander of the armies of Gil-galad” (as the subtitles suggest), the iambic nature of Galadriel’s speech would have been preserved. Cutting “the” screws with things. Oh well. It’s still mostly iambic.
- “HALbrand.” – Trochee.
- “A MAN and an ELF.” – Strictly iamb, anapest. But really two anapests with the first unstressed syllable cut.
- “CIRCumSTANCEs aROSE.” – Trochee, trochee, iamb.
- “We ARE comPANions by CHANCE.” – Iamb, iamb, anapest.
- “FIGHT with me.” – Another dactyl, I think, unless you want to stress “me.”
Alas, those pesky mortals do not seem to have a signature meter – indeed their feet appear all over the place. Galadriel herself still falls back on iambic as her go-to, but even she no longer has quite the commitment we saw in her conversation with Gigwit. I blame the lack of “the”.