The Fellowship of the Ring

J. R. R. Tolkien
Summary

Book II, Chapter 7

Summary Book II, Chapter 7

The mirror of Galadriel is a powerful image of prophecy—and the limitations of prophecy—that foreshadows the appearance of Sauron’s palantír in The Two Towers, the next volume of The Lord of the Rings. Galadriel’s water-filled basin can provide images of things to come: by the end of Tolkien’s saga, we will recall the ship glimpsed in the water and realize it has foretold the ship that bears the Elves away to the West. Sam’s glimpse of a disfigured Hobbiton foreshadows the trouble that the Shire ultimately faces when the Fellowship returns there after their adventures are over. But while Galadriel’s mirror is undoubtedly powerful and accurate, it is also of limited usefulness. Galadriel herself warns that it is dangerous to try to interpret what one sees in the mirror—yet without an interpretation of what is seen, evaluation and action are not possible. Like the Ring that allows Frodo to see the Riders but not to fight them, the mirror allows seers to glimpse the future but does not empower them to do anything about it. We see again that magic implements may be wondrous, but that ultimately active courage and determination may count for more.