Elves in the Lord of the Rings movies and books are extremely wise and strong. They seem to be uniquely able to resist any evil forces. But is this true of all Elves, or did just the best ones survive? Could elves be capable of evil, even as capable of it as the race of Men is in the Lord of the Rings story?
Elves such as Galadriel and Elrond and his daughter Arwen seem solely noble creatures. Yet is there a darker side to the Elves in Lord of the Rings? Could some of them be capable of evil, just as much as some Men are? To answer this question, it is essential to know the Elves' history as told in The Silmarillion by J.R. R. Tolkien.
According to Tolkien, there were indeed evil elves. Or at the very least, ones who did evil actions. One example of this is Fëanor and his sons. All of them swore an oath that meant they would not let anyone take the Silmarils from them. The Silmarils are gems made by Fëanor with the essence of the Two Trees of Valinor. And he and his sons declared that anyone who tried to take them or stop them from getting them back would be their enemy, no matter whether their motives were good or evil. Even though the Valar tried to persuade Fëanor to give the Silmarils to them to keep them away from Melkor/Morgoth, he refuses. The Silmarils are eventually stolen by Morgoth and Fëanor and his sons pursue him to Middle Earth to get them back.
They steal ships from other Elves known as the Teleri, slaying any of them who attempt to defend their ships. Then, when they and those they've convinced to follow them arrive in Middle Earth, they burn the ships, leaving those who followed Fëanor's half-brothers Fingolfin and Finarfin stranded in Middle Earth. After one of the Silmarils is recovered by Beren and Lúthien, Fëanor's sons lead two different kinslayings in their attempts to recover it. Two of Fëanor's sons at one point capture Lúthien.
So, yes, there are evil elves during the First Age of Middle Earth and before it. Those who survive to see the Third Age during the Lord of the Rings movies and books are simply the wisest and strongest of their kind. So perhaps that accounts for why the main story of Lord of the Rings doesn't include any evil elves. Strangely, though, one good elf does have a connection to Fëanor's half-brother Finarfin. That would be Finarfin's youngest child Galadriel, who becomes a very powerful and wise elf indeed, perhaps the most powerful in Middle Earth at the time of Lord of the Rings. So not all of Fëanor's relatives are bad, his half-brother Finarfin is actually very wise, and some of that wisdom seems to have been passed to his daughter Galadriel.
So are Elves capable of Evil like some Men are? Clearly, the answer to this question is yes. However, the elves that remain in Middle Earth, from Galadriel to Arwen to Legolas, all seem to be solely good. So are there evil elves in the main story of Lord of the Rings? The answer to that question would be no. Still, it makes the Elves we do meet seem even wiser and stronger, to know that some Elves were capable of evil. That makes the goodness of the elves less inherent and more of a choice, therefore more realistic.
The Elves choosing to be good, because they know it is what is right, is an empowering and powerful message to send to Lord of the Rings fans. Tolkien probably knew that, which is possibly why he included some evil elves in their history. That proves that the Elves fans meet in Lord of the Rings are truly good and wise, not because they couldn't be any other way, but because they want to do what is right. Perhaps some of them even want to make up for the evil of their ancestors. In this way, a character like Galadriel could be seen as an antidote to Fëanor. Galadriel is able to resist the power of the Ring, whereas Fëanor grew intensely greedy and suspicious due to the Silmarils.
Galadriel also helps the Fellowship when she gets the chance, therefore helping to defeat Sauron in the end. That could be seen as the opposite of Fëanor listening to Morgoth and becoming greedy. So yes, there are evil Elves. Yet the fact that none of them remain by the Third Age told about in Lord of the Rings is simply proof that evil does not endure. Most likely, Tolkien would be glad to have spread such a message, as the core of the Lord of the Rings books is a battle of good vs. evil. Evil might leave a permanent mark, leave people forever changed, but it does not in the end win. That's what the Lord of the Rings story shows fans.
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