In the Lord of the Rings movies, Elrond came across as a bit of a jerk, but that wasn’t the case in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. This has a lot to do with changes in the story and characters surrounding Elrond, such as Aragorn and Arwen. However, it has a lasting impact on the impression of the powerful elf character, which contradicts the more canonical version of Elrond (at least regarding demeanor) in the Prime Video series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Elrond had the traditional over-protective-father personality. He did not want to see his daughter Arwen married to Aragorn, a mortal, and did his best to stop her from following her heart. Not only did he treat Aragorn– and the race of men in general– with contempt, but he went as far as lying to Arwen about what he saw of her future. He did all this with love, but it still left him to be a sort of antagonist in the subplot of Aragorn and Arwen’s romance— which was certainly not his role in the Lord of the Rings books.
Elrond Never Had An Issue With Arwen’s Marriage In The LOTR Books
Elrond was terrified to see Arwen married to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings movies, and it is implied that this is because they are of two different races. He argued with Arwen and pointed out to her that as an immortal elf in the Lord of the Rings universe, she would live forever and be forced to watch her husband and children grow old and die, all while she stayed young and unchanging. Additionally, Elrond seemed to be prejudiced against Men since it had been Isildur who had refused to destroy the One Ring after claiming it from Sauron, as seen in the Fellowship of the Ring prologue. However, none of this was true for his book counterpart.
In the Lord of the Rings books, the fact that Arwen was an elf and Aragorn a man gave him no pause because it wasn’t entirely unheard of. In fact, Elrond’s grandparents, Tuor and Idril, had been in an elf-human relationship. He himself goes by the moniker “Elrond Half-elven“. Instead, Elrond stated in the books that he would withhold his blessing until after Aragorn had fulfilled his destiny of being king (distractions of love would only slow things down). Making Arwen and Aragorn’s romance forbidden in the movies made their story more exciting, but it didn’t show Elrond of Rivendell in the best light.
Elrond Thought Of Aragorn Like A Son
Just like Elrond didn’t mind if Aragorn and Arwen were of different Middle-earth races, he also didn’t resent Aragorn for the mistakes of his ancestors. This was not the case in the Lord of the Rings movies, where Elrond seemed to doubt Aragorn’s ability to be king because of the weakness of Men. It wasn’t until the end that Arwen convinced him to have faith, and Elrond dramatically reforged the sword of Elendil as a symbol of his acceptance. This sentiment wasn’t necessary for the books since Elrond himself had been the one to teach Aragorn about his destiny.
In Lord of the Rings canon, Aragorn was brought to Rivendell when he was only two years old to live protected from those who would target him. Elrond himself raised the boy and loved him like his own son. Aragorn, who was named Estel at this point, had no idea who he was until he was 20 when Elrond determined that it was time for him to set out for his destiny. This was when the future king first met Arwen and fell in love, and Elrond had nothing to say against it— except that their time had not yet come.
Arwen Wasn’t The First Of Elrond’s Family to Choose Mortality
The Lord of the Rings movies were slightly inconsistent with Elrond’s reasons for not wanting Aragorn and Arwen to be together. At first, he argued that Arwen would be forced to live forever while watching her loved ones die. Later, he stated that the Light of the Eldar was fading and that Arwen must leave Middle-earth or else fade away. These two concerns seem to contradict each other– but neither ended up mattering since Arwen miraculously decided to be mortal in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The Light of the Eldar was indeed fading from Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings books, so Arwen’s need to make a decision is canon (though it was significantly less dramatic on the page). However, her ultimate decision to be mortal was not a shock to Elrond since he had seen it done several times. His family had been blessed with a gift from the Valar (god-like beings) that allowed them to choose between living as an immortal elf or a mortal human. Elrond’s own brother, Elros, had made this very choice (and is Aragorn’s ancestor). So, though Arwen’s decision was likely bittersweet, Elrond’s book character understood the reasoning.
Why The Lord Of The Rings Movies Changed Elrond’s Character
In the books, Elrond was a kind and gentle father to both Arwen and Elrond. Although he wasn’t spiteful in the Lord of the Rings movies, his overprotectiveness made him seem like a bit of a jerk. He lied to Arwen about her future, made it seem like she had no choice about being mortal or immortal, and treated Aragorn with contempt. However, these changes might have been necessary to make Aragorn and Arwen’s relationship more interesting.
J.R.R. Tolkien gave little attention to Elrond’s daughter. She had very few scenes in the Lord of the Rings books, and the details of her romance with Aragorn were only filled in after the fact in the book’s appendices. Additionally, the way Aragorn’s character was written, he was eager to be king, but the movies made him fearful and hesitant to take on the responsibility, creating a stronger arc. By making Elrond a contrarian, the Lord of the Rings movies established a strong conflict for Aragorn and Arwen’s romance, thus making their arc more defined and satisfying.
MORE: Why Elves Have No High King During Lord Of The Rings