Do Elves ever really do Estel?

Discussing Elrond's hard and unforeseen road, wherein lies their hope (if hope it be) got me wondering. It strikes me that the Elves of Middle Earth, in general, don't seem to be very good with Estel. The low Elves refused the summons to Valinor (didn't quite trust the Valar) and the returning Noldor exiled themselves in an attempt to take matters into their own hands in defiance of the Valar. Most of the history of the first age is that of the Elves trusting (hoping...Amdiring?) to their military might, protective enchantments, and secret fortifications. The few first age instances I can legitimately call Estel usually involve a mortal (usually one running off with an Elven princess). Even the creation of the Elven Rings argues a tendency among the Elves to trust more in their own power to keep things as they should be rather than an Estel that what should be shall be.

When Elrond says that they must take a hard road, there seems to be a sense in which Elrond is pushing the Elves outside of their comfort zone, to surrender Amdir and start to Estel. It seems to be a difficult thing for them to accept, as Erestor will soon after ask, "What strength have we for the finding of the Fire in which it was made? That is the path of despair. Of folly I would say, if the long wisdom of Elrond did not forbid me."

I don't mean to suggest that Estel is a foreign concept to the Elves. The word is Elvish, after all. There are some Elvish characters who are better at it than others. But when I think about Estel and the Elves, it seems like they generally have a more difficult time with it and that maybe mortals do it better. Are there many other examples of Elvish Estel that I am forgetting?
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
It's interesting. It might be that the consequences of... surrendering (?) to estel are smaller for Men? Estel, by definition I think, is the sort of hope that pretty much never works out (or doesn't work out the way you'd like at a personal level). We see the times where it does work out, but not the ones where it doesn't.

For Men, you've got your one shot at life, toss the dice/trust in hope beyond hope that things work out, and if not, well, at least it will be over soon.

For Elves, you've still got an eternity to face. If you rely on estel, you're going to have a really bad time for a really long time.

(Related - I think that Elves would not be interested in lottery tickets.)
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
If I understand the concept correctly, the best example of Estel that I can see is found in The Return of the King.

Frodo sighed and was asleep almost before the words were spoken. Sam struggled with his own weariness, and he took Frodo’s hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

I think Sam sleeping untroubledly is him surrendering to Estel. He realizes that, whatever happens to him and Frodo, there is a plan greater than the darkness. But note, this type of hope doesn't help him figure out what to do or how to do it; it just comforts him so that he can rest without worry. It's the hope of destroying the Ring that actually gives them purpose and helps determine their course, and I believe that hope is Amdir. Estel is good comfort, knowing that there is a light and high beauty beyond the reach of the Shadow; but Amdir is what actually drives action, hoping to accomplish some good.
 

Odola

Active Member
I don't mean to suggest that Estel is a foreign concept to the Elves. The word is Elvish, after all. There are some Elvish characters who are better at it than others. But when I think about Estel and the Elves, it seems like they generally have a more difficult time with it and that maybe mortals do it better. Are there many other examples of Elvish Estel that I am forgetting?
I do concur that elves have a lot more amdir, as they have more resources, skills and time and always the option to sail, when other ways fail. Men have nothing left but estel when facing death.
 
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