Gimli (Middle-earth)

Gimli (Middle-earth)

Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in "The Lord of the Rings".

Character overview

Gimli was a Dwarf of Durin's Folk who volunteered to accompany Frodo Baggins as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring on the quest to destroy the One Ring. He was an honourable, wise, and stalwart warrior, favouring the axe as his weapon.

Gimli became deeply enamoured upon meeting the Elf-lady Galadriel, and forged a friendship with the Elf Legolas; these relationships aided greatly in the rehabilitation of the long-weak relationship between the Eldar and the Dwarves of Middle-earth.



Gimli was the son of Glóin, one of the former companions of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Tolkien's chief hero in his first fantasy novel, "The Hobbit").

He was a remote descendant of Durin the Deathless, chief of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves and ancestor to the Dwarven people to which Gimli belonged, the Longbeards. Gimli was of the royal line, but not close to the succession; he was the third cousin once removed of Dáin II Ironfoot, king of Durin's Folk, and the first cousin once removed of Balin, also one of Bilbo's former companions, and later Lord of Moria for a short time.

Gimli was introduced in the first volume of "The Lord of the Rings", "The Fellowship of the Ring", at the Council of Elrond Half-elven, which he attended together with his father to bring news of his home, Erebor (the Lonely Mountain). There they learned that Bilbo's kinsman Frodo now owned the One Ring, a Ring of Power forged and then lost by the Dark Lord Sauron. The Council decided to have it destroyed by casting it into the volcanic Mount Doom in Sauron's domain of Mordor. Frodo volunteered for the task, and Elrond chose eight people of varying races to aid him in his task — including Gimli. Thus, the Fellowship of the Ring was formed.

Within the Fellowship there was initially friction between Gimli and the Elf Legolas, for various reasons: their races bore an old grudge against each other over the ancient matter of the Necklace of the Dwarves and the destruction of Doriath, and more recently Thranduil, Legolas' father, once imprisoned Gimli's father Glóin (as described in "The Hobbit").

When the company was forced to enter an ancient underground Dwarf-realm, the Mines of Moria, Gimli was at first enthusiastic and hoped to find a recently established colony of his people there, led by Balin. However, Moria was still inhabited by a huge number of Orcs and several Cave Trolls, as well as a Balrog, and Balin and his folk were all dead. The Fellowship found his tomb in the chamber of Records, together with a chronicle of events, but Orcs had discovered their presence and they had to fight their way out.

After their leader Gandalf the Wizard fell into a chasm during a heated battle with the Balrog, the Fellowship finally escaped the Mines. Aragorn, a Man and a Ranger, then led them to the forest of Lothlórien, populated by Elves who were not friendly to Dwarves. Gimli was told he had to be blindfolded if he was to enter the forest, and his refusal nearly led to a violent situation, which was defused only when Aragorn proposed that the entire Fellowship be blindfolded, which was done.

Gimli's opinion of Elves drastically changed when he met Galadriel, co-ruler of Lothlórien: her beauty, kindness, and understanding impressed Gimli so much that, when given the opportunity to ask for whatever he wished, he asked not for treasures or magical items, but rather for one of Galadriel's silver-gold hairs. He was given three, which he would treasure forever. Gimli was subsequently given the nickname "Lockbearer" by Galadriel as a result. [According to "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in "Unfinished Tales", this same request was made, thousands of years previously, by Galadriel's uncle Fëanor, greatest of the Noldorin Elves (whose creation of the Silmarils may have been inspired by that same silver-gold hair). Galadriel refused Fëanor's request, but she granted Gimli's, perhaps because of his humility.] By the end of the sojourn in Lothlórien, Gimli had formed his unlikely friendship with Legolas.

At Amon Hen, the company was sundered, for the Man Boromir, son of the lord of Gondor, tried to take the Ring from Frodo and use it for Gondor and his own gain in their ongoing war against Sauron. Frodo fled at this and went ahead, accompanied only by his servant Samwise Gamgee.

In the second volume, "The Two Towers", the other members of the Fellowship were scattered while looking for Frodo, and by ill-chance the two other hobbits of the party, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, were captured by Orcs who were stalking them. Boromir was mortally wounded defending them, and it fell to Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas to set him on a funeral boat. They decided to go after Merry and Pippin, for Frodo was out of their hands.

After running a great distance in a few days and thus entering the land of Rohan, they met the Marshal Éomer and his riders, who had slain the Orc-band. When Éomer spoke ill of the name Galadriel, having been told false rumours about her, Gimli responded with overtly harsh words, leading to a hostile situation that again had to be defused by Aragorn. Continuing their search for the hobbits, they came across a resurrected Gandalf in Fangorn forest, who assured them that the hobbits were now safe. Gandalf led them to Rohan's capital, Edoras, where he roused King Théoden, Éomer's uncle, out of inaction and exposed his counsellor Gríma as a spy.

Gimli proved his valour in combat in the ensuing Battle of the Hornburg against the forces of the evil Wizard Saruman. In that battle, he and Legolas engaged in an Orc-slaying contest (Gimli won by one; he killed 42 to Legolas' 41), although he received a minor head injury and his axe was notched on the iron collar of the forty-second orc or Uruk. Later, Gimli's vivid description of the Glittering Caves of Aglarond moved the Elf to promise to come back and visit when the War was over. (They eventually fulfilled this promise, with Gimli also consenting to visit Fangorn forest.) Their friendship was a model for overcoming prejudice; they even rode together on the same horse. After their victory, Gimli and the others went to Saruman's stronghold of Isengard, where Gandalf cast Saruman out of the Order of Wizards and broke his staff.

In the third volume, "The Return of the King", Gimli accompanied Aragorn, Legolas, a company of Rangers of the North, and Elrond's sons on the Paths of the Dead, where at the stone of Erech Aragorn summoned the Dead Men of Dunharrow, shades bound to fight for the king of Gondor, which Aragorn rightfully was. Gimli witnessed the Dead Men rout enemy invaders at Pelargir in south Gondor by the power of fear alone. After Aragorn dismissed the shades, the menfolk of south Gondor gathered to his banner, and they all sailed in the enemy's abandoned ships to Gondor's capital Minas Tirith, which was then under siege. Their arrival eventually led to victory in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Gimli alone represented the Dwarves in the final battle against Sauron at the Black Gate of Mordor. He also recognized Peregrin Took's feet underneath a troll and saved the young hobbit's life. Before the host of Gondor could be overwhelmed, the Ring was destroyed, and Sauron was defeated.

After the War, Gimli led a large number of Durin's folk south to establish a new Dwarf-realm at Aglarond, and he became the first Lord of the Glittering Caves. The Dwarves of the Glittering Caves, led by their lord, repaired much of the physical damage incurred during the War. Most notably, they replaced the ruined Great Gate of Minas Tirith with a new one made of "mithril" and steel, as well as improving upon the existing layout of the entire city.

According to the Red Book of Westmarch, after Aragorn's death as King of the Reunited Kingdom in Fourth Age 120 Gimli (then very old) travelled with Legolas into the West, becoming the first Dwarf to visit the Undying Lands. This stemmed from his love for both Legolas and Lady Galadriel.



Gimli was voiced by David Buck in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of "The Lord of the Rings". Here he is drawn as being almost as tall as the rest of the non-hobbit members of the Fellowship.

Gimli does not appear in the the 1980 animated version of "The Return of the King".

In Peter Jackson's movie trilogy (20012003) Gimli is played by John Rhys-Davies, who happened to be taller than the actors playing the Hobbits, who were only 1.67 m (5'6") and 1.70 (5'7") while Rhys-Davies is 1.85 m (6'1"). Thus in scenes where Gimli and the Hobbits appear together, their respective sizes remain in proportion, whereas in scenes where they have to interact with human-sized characters, tricks of scale had to be employed, especially since John Rhys-Davies is also taller than Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom (who played Aragorn and Legolas respectively), both of whom are 1.80 m (5'11").

Also, Gimli is given a heavy helmet and many axes of different shapes and uses. In the 3 movies, Gimli wields 4 axes:
*One standard utility axe
*A Throwing axe (which he uses to hurt the cave-troll in Moria, an Uruk-kai at Amon-Hen, and attempts to hurt Gandalf the White when he is initially believed to be Saruman)
*A Walking axe (which he uses during the battle between the Rohirrim and Wargs)
*And a battle axe, taken from the tomb of Balin and used in several battle sequences, especially in the battle of Helm's Deep, though Gimli doesn't use this axe at all in the "Return of the King" and it simply remains tied to his back throughout the film.In the book, he bears only one axe and a "short corslet of steel rings" of superlative quality, being made by Dwarves. Gimli uses this axe both one and two-handed during various affrays, his martial prowess creating a profound impression on those fighting by his side, especially during the siege of the Hornburg. Tolkien's Gimli also wears a hood, following the custom of his folk; he only replaces his hood with a helm (and a green shield) from the armoury of Meduseld before setting off to the Hornburg. This helm is later lost during the battle, where he is wounded in the head; the green shield is not mentioned again.

In the movies, Gimli's more prosaic and blunt style compared to Aragorn and Legolas is somewhat exaggerated, and he sometimes provides the defusing comic relief, which some readers found distasteful due to it being untrue to the source material and unfair to the character.Croft, Janet B. [ The Mines of Moria: "Anticipation" and "Flattening" in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring] . From [] , last retrieved on 21 August 2006] [Chance, Jane. [ Is there a text in this Hobbit? Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring] . Originally for "Literature Film Quarterly", 2002. Last retrieved on 25 August 2006] Kirst, Sean. "Tolkien Scholar Stings "Rings" Films." Review of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers". First published in the Syracuse "Post-Standard", 4 February 2003. May be accessed [ here] in full, last retrieved 15 September 2006] It is also inconsistent with the nature of the Dwarvish race, described in just about every print source as "grim and plain-speaking", or variations thereof.Fact|date=September 2007 A cinematic defence to this is that Merry and Pippin provide the comic relief initially, but as the saga unfolds the War forces them to mature, so Gimli becomes the sole source of comic relief in order to pace dramatic tension.


In the United States, Gimli was portrayed by Elizabeth Harris in the Cincinnati stage productions of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), "The Two Towers" (2002), and "The Return of the King" (2003) for Clear Stage Cincinnati. At Chicago's Lifeline Theatre, Gimli was played on-stage by Brooks Darrah in "The Two Towers" (1999).

In Canada, Gimli was portrayed by Ross Williams in the 3-hour Toronto stage production of "The Lord of the Rings", which opened in 2006.


Gimli was voiced by Douglas Livingstone in the 1981 BBC Radio adaptation.

Concept and creation

The name "Gimli" first appeared in Tolkien's works in "The Tale of Tinúviel", the earliest version of the story of Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel, found in the second volume of "The Book of Lost Tales". Here, the name belongs to an aged Elf, a prisoner along with Beren in the kitchens of Tevildo, Prince of Cats (forerunner of Sauron).During the writing of "The Lord of the Rings", as told in "The Return of the Shadow", Gimli's character was first named "Frar", then "Burin", and he was the son of Balin. Later, Tolkien may have considered having Gimli die in Moria, but changed his mind.


External links

* [ Gimli] at The Thain's Book

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