Rags or riches

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Vebrithien 20/Mar/2006 at 08:35 AM
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I know that the Men of Middle-Earth (Gondor and Rohan), have the lowere class (poor) people and the upper class (rich) people, eg - Faramir, Boromir, and Denethor. But do Dwarves, Elves and Hobbits have the same hierarchy of class and jobs?

Any one got any ideas?

Saruman 20/Mar/2006 at 08:40 AM
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That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure, I would say for the most part they don’t have a "lower class", although certain positions are held in high honour in each society. For example, the Thain and the Master of Buckland in the Shire, and Elf Lord Elrond in Rivendell, and in Lothlorien Celeborn and Galadriel. These titles definitely make them more refined, I would think. I’m eager to see what others know of this matter.
Alcarináro 20/Mar/2006 at 10:24 AM
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There is most certainly a higher and lower class in the Shire. A prime example of one who was in the lower class is Samwise Gamgee. Tolkien gives us the names of the upper-class families in Letter 25
The full list of their wealthier families is: Baggins, Boffer, Bolger, Bracegirdle, Brandybuck, Burrowes, Chubb, Grubb, Hornblower, Proudfoot, Sackville, and Took.
Searogim 20/Mar/2006 at 12:45 PM
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As has already  been said, there was definetely a class system in the Shire, and although it probably isn’t to the quite the same extent, I think that it is likely that it was also that way with the elves.  Although I can’t remember any mention of impoverished elves, personally I think that elves such as Elrond, Galadriel etc were probably considered to be of a higher class than other lesser elves, but thats just my opinion.
Ryu Searcher 20/Mar/2006 at 06:17 PM
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Elves would be more unbased on that sort of thing than men would be. I mean, when everyone lives forever, there really isn’t any point to job specialization.
Hobbits have more of this, but they probably have it in much less extreme amounts, as they are infinately more peaceful than us stupid humans.
Dwarves? Well, they would probably have a strict version of it, just as men, though maybe not is such extremes, more of a royalty or not sort of thing.
lotrbigdog 20/Mar/2006 at 07:21 PM
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Dwarves, according to at least the Hobbit, had a poorer, lower class, judging by the line that states something to the effect of "even the poorest of us had money to lend and spend".   Now, whether Tolkien changed this view, I dont know, but it seems like they had a class system as well.
Lady d`Ecthelion 20/Mar/2006 at 10:14 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Vebrithien on Monday, March 20, 2006

I know that the Men of Middle-Earth (Gondor and Rohan), have the lowere class (poor) people and the upper class (rich) people, eg - Faramir, Boromir, and Denethor. But do Dwarves, Elves and Hobbits have the same hierarchy of class and jobs?

Any one got any ideas?

I guess I shall not be wrong to say that the society we read about in Tolkien’s worlds, is the European pre ~ and Medieval society of ’nobles’ and ’the rest’. And just as it used to be in that RL society, namely - the ’nobility’ being richer, while ’the rest’ being poorer to a different extent, so are the Gondorian and the Rohirrim societies.

In the case of the Hobbits, I would say that heir society was rather divided into strata according to the specific occupation, and we can’t actually speak of ’richer’ or ’poorer’, but rather about more or less ’influential’, and this influence, when Hobbits are concerned, does not rest upon actual ’richies’.

With Dwarves, I think that the stratifying of their societies depended much on genealogy.
josh1200 21/Mar/2006 at 12:53 PM
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The elves and dwarves probobly have an heirarchy of people like (from unimportant to important)peasent,salesman,grcer,scout,soldier,captain,chief captain,general,cheif general,first leitenant and then the royal family.the dwarves probobly were more important if they was jewellers or miners or master smiths .
Ancalimia 21/Mar/2006 at 11:46 PM
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Well, the hobbits appear to have upper and lower class stratifications, and there is talk of poor hobbits who live in little better than a hole in the ground as distinguished from Bilbo, who is well-off at Bag-End and wears colorful waistcoats.  The elves appear to be "above money" although I certainly can’t think of any quotations relating to this.  I believe that th dwarfs might have been more class-conscious, but whether it would be tied more to ancestry or more to individual riches acquired I do not know.
Farmir 22/Mar/2006 at 10:32 AM
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Tolkien does mention the poorer homes of hte shire and how poorer hobbits couldn`t afford a hobbit hole like old rich Bilbo and would live in houses like Sams wife did (forgot her name).


Dwarves deffianetly had poor and rich people because there were of cource Kings and Lords or just famouse dwarves but also really rich merchents and smiths and miners who were exeptionetly well.


I think that elves were all pretty much the same. I have to say that i dont notice much difference between elrond or celeborn and the random elves Frodo, sam, merry, and pippin meet in woody end. Although it does say that in the feast in Rivendell for Frodo arriving with the ring that he sat at the table with all the lords and merry sam and pippin were all at other tables were the servants and lower class sat. So i think that elves did have different classes but weren’t devided by money or riches.

Datu Kampilan 22/Mar/2006 at 03:07 PM
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elves were divided according to what their heart tells them. some heed the call of the undying lands, some wander, some are separated because of the old strife from olden days, they were separated by ideology . if you have read silmarillion, the differences of the elves are stated . there are even what are called"  the black elves"
geordie 22/Mar/2006 at 03:15 PM
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You try telling of elven equality to Galion, the elven king’s butler!
Nieliqui Vaneyar 22/Mar/2006 at 03:41 PM
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The elves certainly did have a societal stratification.  The Noldor were above the rest - well except maybe the Vanyar, but they’re all in the Blessed Realm so they really don’t count, and of course a lot of Noldor thought they were better than anyone anyway (see Feanor and his sons!). 

Among the elves in Middle-earth, tho, the Noldor were considered of a higher sort.  For example, Galadriel (who was Noldor) and Celeborn (who most likely was Teleri being a kinsman of Thingol, but maybe not, too) happened upon Lothlorien and after the disappearance (for whatever reason) of Amroth,  they were pretty much taken in as Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood and became in effect rulers (sort of in the way that Denethor was Steward of Gondor if you think about it, for they felt they were only guardians of that realm). The galadhrim just seemed to naturally accept them as more fit to rule than any of those left.  Of course Amroth was probably Sindarin (as UT suggests) while most the people were Silven (two sub-categories of Teleri), but the fact that Galadriel and Celeborn were ’welcomed’  suggests that the elves of Lorien looked up at them.

Although, I would guess it wasn’t a job stratification.  Whatever each elf wanted to do seemed to be acceptable within the groupings.

(poor Galion, a Silvan elf no doubt, serving a Sindar, and given a basement job. And he doesn’t even do that right! Of course, I doubt the ’chief guard’ was given any merit promotions either! Drunken elves! - like hobbits in the wood at night, I guess - she said foxily. Sort of makes you wonder about Jackson’s Legolas able to imbibe with impunity.)


stevem1 23/Mar/2006 at 06:16 AM
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The class thing among Elves might have been ameliorated to some extent by the notion that all Elves are ’higher’ than other peoples. Perhaps it is not so bad to be a butler under these circumstances, and anyway Kings, if they have earned their title may be served by somebody who feels something like pride in doing this
Tinessael 23/Mar/2006 at 07:59 AM
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I am sure that all races had some kind of classes, but I think that the races themselves were different classes. If compared to the Middle Ages, I think then Elves would be the Nobles, Dwarves the handicrafter, the men the merchants and the hobbits the farmers, while the orcs would be the outcasts.

I am sure that Elves certainly had classes-the cooks, servants and stable boys would be of lower status than healers and soldiers and bards, but in their case, all were granted respect and no disdain existed between different statuses (but I am sure there were exceptions).

Hobbits...well, I see that ohers in this thread have the same opinion as I do and dwarves...I think there was too, and I suspect that dwarves had it more than hobbits and elves, but less than men.

Bearamir 12/Apr/2006 at 12:50 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  This thread has been nominated for move to Ad Lore.  Given that this thread has some excellent potential,  with your kind permission I am going to do so.  

For everyone else who wishes to post, a small reminder is in order:  once this thread moves to Ad Lore, there will be some expectations as to the quality of the posts.  So, moving forward, please remember that Ad Lore is for the in depth discussion of topics pertaining to the Lord of the Rings, and try to avoid extraneous chat.   From this point on, I *will* be deleting posts that do no serve to advance the topic, or add materially to the discussion.

Best of Luck (and congratulations once again).

Lili Brandybuck 12/Apr/2006 at 01:14 PM
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Social class or heirachy is evident in all of Middle Earth.  Whether it is Men, Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, Ents, Orcs or even the horses we do see that there is an accepted social order.  The Men of course had the higher class (Kings, stewards etc) middle class (Butterbur, soldiers) and the poor ( the Ruffians might have fallen into this group).  Hobbits had their wealthy families (Baggins, Brandybucks, Tooks...) and the serving class (the Gamgees).The Elves had their Lords and Ladies (Elrond and Galadreil) but also their soldiers, weavers and others who served them.  Shadowfax was the Lord of the horses, so even they seemed to have distinct classes.  Quickbeam seemed not have been on the same social level as Treebeard (due to his age perhaps). 
Bwbachod 12/Apr/2006 at 02:53 PM
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Pity the butler? Who else had closer contact with the king? In our timeline many of the most menial - often degrading - jobs at court were were highly prized by the wealthiest nobles for the influence that came with them.
Gerontian 12/Apr/2006 at 03:50 PM
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One glimpse I see of Elven social classes is in The Hobbit.  In it we see not only the Forest King and his court, but glimpse the king’s butler, his gaurds, including the chief guard, and even elves assigned to manual labor of pushing the barrels into the river instead of attending the festivities upstairs with everyone else. The book does not say, but somehow I do not get the impression that worker elves were chosen by a democratic process. 

In general, the elves seem to utilize an aristocratic system, as do dwarves and most men, although the Breelanders seem to do fine without a landowning aristocracy.  The hobbits system is akin to landed gentry, I think, rather than a formal aristocracy.  Except for the hobbits, Breelanders, Beornings and the men of Lake Town, ancestry seems to be more important than economic wealth as a measure of status, although the more aristocratic the ancestry (how close in line to the original founding lines one is) the more wealth an individual appears to possess.  I would need to go back and take a look, again, at the folk of Haleth and the Druidan to see how they fit into the picture. 

Morwien 12/Apr/2006 at 11:56 PM
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i agree with gerontian there were different social levels. however i dont really think there are clases dealing with wealth. i think that some elves just have better jobs than others. their rank is probably earned not given due to wealth.
Jedi Ranger 18/Apr/2006 at 11:49 AM
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Well i would have to say that the elves are too high a people to have a heirarchy with poor and rich people.  They have too highly advanced a society for that to happen.  The dwarves on the other hand i am sure that they have some poor dwarves as a class but that would be because they are unskilled at working with iron and that is why they are  poor.  They would be poor through no fault of the society of hte dwarves though.  With orcs i dont hink they have a society advanced enough to have poor and rich, just ranks.  If you are a captain you wuld have control over more things or might have a better share in plunder but they would not have anything like a poor/rich society.  i am glad this was brought up
jrmhaldir 18/Apr/2006 at 08:32 PM
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I don’t know if the hobbits had a "class" for different people, but I think they show a respect for the richer. In the FOTR all the hobbits think that Bilbo has all this treasure hidden in Bag End and I think that that is the only reason they showed him more respect. The Elves were to "angelic" like (if you follow me) to have a social class. There was the lord and the lady and then there were some princes and princess but everybody else fell under one catagory: elves. As for dwarves: they were propably all rich! Sorry but I don’t know anything, really, about dwarves.
Faele 21/Apr/2006 at 02:55 AM
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I think that this question is long overdue!

In the case of Hobbits for example - there is evidence to suggest that the society written about by Tolkien was supposed to reflect English society as he knew it  - and this was not classless! Quite a lot of this aspect has been written out of the film version by PJ and is no longer there.

 A good example of this is Sam Gamgee. In the books, Sam is the servant in Bilbo’s household,and he calls Frodo "Master" - much as a batman would call his middle class employer or an officer he served in the army in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars.  Sam is respectful, doesnt venture to contradict ihis "betters" or to "speak out of turn" - but nevertheless a loal and faithful companion. Frodo and friends  - the "young masters" are Merry, Pippin, Folco, and Fredegar. Sam father , the "Gaffer", passes his position of employment withthe Bagginses to his son - as people did.

In the film we lose Fredegar and Folco, and Sam replaces Fredegar ( "Fatty") as the third friend.

KitsuneInuYasha 21/Apr/2006 at 10:22 AM
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I would presume that there is a "class" system of sorts for all races- be it based upon riches, age, knowledge, title, fame, or other sort of "reputation"

I believe many of the races in LOTR used a system of both wealth and reputation, with the elderly knowing more and thus holding a few of the higher ranks. It would, of course, stand to reason that different races would use different things.

After all, how many Orcs do you know that care at all how "famous" you are?
Laiquallasse 22/Apr/2006 at 07:26 PM
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It would be difficult in any sence to prove or disprove any conclusion on the subject as to referring to Elves.  It would be an exhausting effort to attempt to place the Eldar into a specific "financial class".  Of course we would be apt to suppose the Firstborn were subject to the hardiness of the world, as were the rest of the kindreds of Arda.

As for the Hobbit, we can see where Dwarves were inflicted with the unluckiness of poverty, if not for my own term bankruptcy *spelling?*.  There are several citations of wealthiness of the stunted folk, being endowed with riches beyond count.  That would only leave room for poverish conditions.  If there is a good, an evil/bad  must trail in its steps.  It’s just a view that there must be an opposite.

As for Elves, and for all races included, a wanderer in the least would be a supposed unwealthy person.  If in fact the individual was not counted among thieves or murderers (assassins to collect bounties or what have you), there would be only one assumption to make, that the chances of them being on the poor side is more likely than not. 

What are your thoughts?

Aredhriel 26/Apr/2006 at 11:48 AM
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The only classification I can recall in regards to elves had to do with the separation of the Noldor and the "dark elves" (Morequendi..sp?)  who never saw the light of the two trees in Valinor. They did not build kingdoms such as Gondolin (the only exception being the kindgom of Doriath) and they dealt perhaps a little more with the dwarves than some of the Noldor. Eol, an example of a dark elf, was a swordsmith (which is not a unique occupation to that class) though I’m not sure of any other examples of occupations without referencing some of the books. Hope that helped even if just a little!


Faele 26/Apr/2006 at 01:20 PM
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I noticed that  people are talking more about wealth - as in ’rags to riches’  - than about class: maybe because we do not see as much class division as JRRT did in his daily life? In terms of hierarchy - class seems to figure more in Rohan and in the Shire, and in the kingdoms of the Dwarves and of men than elsewhere  - for example among the elves and the Ents.  The istari seem to have a pecking order - this is about authority. In Gondor and Arnor, it is about lineage, and the families of  kings : Rohan too.  The dwarves certainly have ranking or noble families. The hobbits have groups of families, and it is a long history that seems to matter. Ents adn elves move from place to place, and dwell amoung the  trees - there seems to be a difference only of race.

Gerontian 26/Apr/2006 at 02:14 PM
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I see your point, Faele, about using wealth as a marker of class.  I think in societies that do not have the tradition of an aristocracy, economics play a greater role in determining what is considered upper class versus middle and lower class. In them, you then typically hear the distinction made between new money versus old money, instead of money gained from a family estate and inheritance versus money made in trade.  After all, the modern aristocracy developed out of the earlier feudal system, I believe.  Class during the feudal period was more of a matter of caste.  One could not cross the boundaries from the peasant and villain class to the higher classes, much the same as in a caste system.  One can marry into a higher class, for example, but in a caste system, such marriages are usually forbidden. 

Tolkien did include an aristocratic class in many of his societies, or so I believe from reading his texts. I agree with you that it is about lineage. We see ruling families, certainly, with the right to rule passing by right of birth. Not everywhere, of course, but more often than not.  Hobbits have a linneage system, too, but one that allows for advancement, if the Gamgee family is any indication. The Dwarves have their linneage system, too, arising out of the seven fathers of the dwarves, I would imagine. Can’t say I know enough about the relationship between class and wealth among the dwarves. 

Wolfbeard 26/Apr/2006 at 05:01 PM
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I think Hobbits are the same as men, Bilbo was rich but not very respected, but Hobbits do not have ings and things. Elves don’t even fit into that category they are magic creatures full of wonder and surprise (just like hobbits) but they do have elders and stuff, but i don’t think they are like men. But men are men. In LotR men are just as they were two thousand years ago. Men are put into groups, just as they are in the real world, of rich and poor and then kings and gueens and servants. Menn will always be the same. Just like what Arny said in ’The Terminator’ men are inferior species just prone to destroying themselves and everything around them. I will leave you with that.
Laiquallasse 29/Apr/2006 at 07:11 PM
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I’m compelled to say that the statement you (Wolfbeard) have made is an uneducated one.  From the first word of the writings, Tolkien bestows upon us his ideas of the orderly lines of every exclusive community.

You see him range these ’hierarchies’ from the desolate pinnacles of the windward Eagles (placing in effect the leader as Thorondor and Gwahir) to even the most profound beings within Ea- the Valar and Maiar alike.  All, in Tolkiens mind as a written form, fall into their respective seats.  This is all in accordance with providing leadership, for if there is a king, we are to assume the logic that there will be a demoneyed position as well.  In the event of placing a king, or ruler of sorts, the formation of classes has but already begun.

So, to say that the Elves have no elders as Wb has said in incorrect.  In ME we are to come to a substantial conclusion that Galadriel and her wedded Celeborn are held in high regards as elders, being wise, powerful, and unfortunately OLD (haha).  Even Thranduil, "king" of Mirkwood and the Elves in that region, would in most part be humbled by the presence of these two highly recognized Firstborn. 

It is even seen in the occurance of Elrond, and in the early ages among many of the kings of the Eldar. 

If this is disagreed, please be free to protest, but the texts show evidence enough to enforce this theory.

Duiel 30/Apr/2006 at 04:39 AM
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Although Hobbits did have a class system, or a slight variety between wealthy families and poorer ones, I’d guess it’s a lot weaker than the class systems in other areas.

The Shire seems to be the only democracy in Middle-earth. Throughout the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, most of the characters we hear about are some kind of high royalty, descended from the spectacular people we hear about in Tolkien’s other stories. Then we get the Hobbits. Although Frodo, Merry, and Pippin all come from wealthy familes, Sam did not, and he contributes to the quest no less than his peers. Then, he becomes [U[Mayor of the Shire no less than 7 times, proving that the status of one’s family has little to do with the status which one can acquire there. There also does not seem to be a huge social separation between classes.
Kylar Skyhawk 13/May/2006 at 12:55 PM
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I agree with Duiel. They did indeed have a class system but it was much weaker than that of the larger kingdoms, e.g Gondor or Minas Tirith. I think that Tolkien made them like this to make it seem more realistic because in the country side there is no strict class system.
Astarya Nolatari 26/May/2006 at 07:31 AM
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I think that Hobbits had hierarchies, but Dwarves probably didn’t. Dwarves could mine their own riches, and keep making more. They tend to be selfish and foolish however, so they probably looked down upon certain tasks sa dishonorable. Elves seem to be wise enough to share with those less fortunate. In Elvish culture every job is important and none are looked down upon. they are wise enough to see that.
Bearamir 12/Jun/2006 at 12:11 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Astarya Nolatari on Friday, May 26, 2006
I think that Hobbits had hierarchies, but Dwarves probably didn’t. Dwarves could mine their own riches, and keep making more. They tend to be selfish and foolish however, so they probably looked down upon certain tasks sa dishonorable. Elves seem to be wise enough to share with those less fortunate. In Elvish culture every job is important and none are looked down upon. they are wise enough to see that.
I’m afraid I tend to disagree. If Dwarves didn’t have some kind of heirarchial system, then why would it have been so important for Balin to have been remembered as "Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria?"   The inscription on the headstone seems to imply a reigning/royal distinction, which isn’t really consistent with a pimus inter pares (first among equals) non-heirarchial society.  
Kaulargorn 20/Jun/2006 at 02:12 AM
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Elves seem having a society of justice where the personal wealth doesn’t matter so much as in men’s society but they seem having classes. As for dwarves they love gold and valuable metals more than any other race , so I bekeive that they have such an ierarchy, even in dwarven societies it is more tense. Lastly, the hobbits I beleive have that ierarchy but as having smaller ambitions of men’s that ierarchy shouldn’t be so tense.
Laifana 20/Jun/2006 at 03:39 AM
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Actually it is impossible to think of a society anywhere in RL or in fantasy that does not have different social steps. Even in communist countries like Cuba there is a disinct difference between leaders and party members and the more common people. And there will always be those that are richer than others, ergo they have a higher status. Not meaning that they are better though.
Arvellas 30/Jun/2006 at 12:24 PM
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I believe Hobbits, being so much like, humans, had upper and lower classes very similar to our own, though they don’t seem to have made a huge deal over it, though there was some discrepancy.  I would imagine Dwarves would have a highly structured ranking system based on their royalty and who is related to whom and who has the most wealth, from what I know of their nature.  As for Elves, I do not think they measure wealth the same way we do.  Those who are very wise, strong, and/or talented I believe would be held above the others.  But the Elves also have a sense of fairness or justness, as you might say, and so I think that although they might hold some of their race above the others, they would treat everyone as equally and fairly as they could in most situations.  I will agree with Laifana that all cultures do have some differentiation in their people, because naturally not everyone is exactly the same.  What it really comes down to, I think, is how different classes treat each other, and I cannot envision Elves fussing over how to treat other Elves of different social classes.
gandalf_111 01/Jul/2006 at 12:39 PM
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 the hobbits all are equal except for bilbo and frodo because they went on adventures unlike the nature of hobbits, as for dwarfs it is all based on skill the welth comes from selling the product and weather the creator of it has great skill in making what they do. and elfes it is all based on wisdom, where with men it is rank in power.

Celebrimbor 01/Jul/2006 at 02:24 PM
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One example of a class system among the Elves, albeit the Dark Elves, can be perceived in the chapter Of Maeglin in The Silmarillion where we are introduced to the home of Eol and his servants that dwell therein, "There were his smithy, and his dim halls, and such servants as he had, silent and secret as their master". Clearly there is a division in class or social stature between Eol and his servants who are not only employed by Eol but take him as master and defer to him simply because he does indeed employ them.

Arvellas 04/Jul/2006 at 09:02 AM
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gandalf_111- Welcome to the Plaza!  For the most part, I agree with your statements, though I must disagree with what you have said about Hobbits.  It is true that the Bagginses were thought of as "queer" because of their adventuring, but that does not mean that all the other Hobbits were equals.  On the contrary, the Bagginses were just one of several wealthy families who seem to be more notable in society than the rest, the Proudfoots, Sackvilles, Brandybucks, and Tooks being some of these.  Take into consideration Samwise, who is a gardener, as was his father, Hamfast, before him.  Apparently, this is a family of servants, of a lower class.  It is also mentioned in FOTR that different classes of Hobbits had different housing, depending on what they could afford: the poorer, lower-class Hobbits has small holes or smials in the ground; the middle-class lived in houses; and the wealthy, upper-class Hobbits, like the Bagginses, had large, fancy smials rather like underground mansions, such as Bag End.  If there is such a distinction between housing, I think there must be distinct classes, even if, as I said before, class might not matter as much to Hobbits as it does to some races, but it does matter to some extent.
CirthErebor 04/Jul/2006 at 04:40 PM
Defender of Imladris Points: 715 Posts: 268 Joined: 05/Jan/2006

Definitely, there was social hiearchy in the shire. For example, Sam Gamgee, the gardener, worked for Frodo as Frodo relaxed back in his chair...but I’m not sure the hiearchy would have been dependant on titles such as Duke, King, Baron, etc., etc., it might have been which families were more respectable. Bagginses used to be quite respectable before Bilbo went on his journey...then they became a strange, unrespectable family. I think those families would be of a lower class.

Dwarves...we aren’t exactly given enough information to know if they had a grand scheme of Hiearchy...

Elves...I like to think that elves excluded no one. We don’t really know much about their hiearchy in LoTR either.

Ecthelion Anor 02/Aug/2006 at 07:12 PM
Labourer of Minas Tirith Points: 132 Posts: 73 Joined: 31/Jul/2006
I think for the most the other races have a higher class and middle class but I don’t think they have any poor people. For example, the Dwarves have the lord of Moria and the King under the Mountain. The Elves have the great lords with the Rings like Elrond or Galadriel. For the Hobbits they have the normal people that have fields and live not in towns like Farmer Maggot. Then there are higher ones like Merry and Pippin before the War of the Ring live in towns. Then they have the highest class like the Mayors and the Thains.
Aevy 28/Aug/2006 at 06:35 AM
Warrior of Erebor Points: 2167 Posts: 3688 Joined: 22/Feb/2004
I assume most places in ME has different classes. You mentioned Gondor and Rohan, and that’s true, and I also believe the Shire has some kind of upper and lower class. Like Frodo, he seems to live a healthy and peaceful life, with no extra jobs here and there. While Samwise seems to do a lot of work, like gardening and stuff. Wouldn’t that be some kind of upper and lower class, with people who have to work and people who don’t?  Supposable, the dwarves have some of the same. When it comes to the elves, we’ve mostly heard of Elrond, Galadriel and Arwen, and all of them are clearly what we’ll call high class. When Tolkien created his Middle Earth-world, he must have included some difference in classes among the elves too, but perhaps not as visible as with the men of Gondor and Rohan.
Kalnor Aerandir 29/Aug/2006 at 02:29 PM
Traitor of Mordor Points: 112 Posts: 11 Joined: 28/Aug/2006
I think that pretty much everyone in middle earth had a heirarchy, with the Hobbits having people like the Thain and the Lieutenants, the Dwarves had people like Balin who was a Lord of the Mines, the Elves had a sort of Royal Family, with People like Celeborn and Galdriel as Kings and Queens, with Legolas and his brothers as Princes, but in an other Family.

In any society, there will always be people with more money, better jobs and subsequently more power
*arwenudomiel* 30/Aug/2006 at 04:01 AM
Banned Points: 469 Posts: 135 Joined: 26/Aug/2006

I think the hobbits do have a sort of hierachy, as bilbo and frodo live in quite a nice hobbit hole according to some hobbits in the books, and that before bilbo went away in the hobbit the baggins were held in quite high esteem. There is also the Thain and the Mayor. As for the dwarves, in the Hobbit Thorin Oakenshield was obviously in charge and the dwarves seemed to respect him a lot more than they did each other! Also, in the mines of moria Balin was the only dwarf to be honoured with a tomb that we know of!

Miriame Sárince 02/Sep/2006 at 08:44 PM
Brewer of the Shire Points: 1310 Posts: 569 Joined: 19/Feb/2005
It sounds like all the comments about elves are based on LOTR, the Hobbit, and some romantic wishing, not the Simillarion and other earlier stories. Based on these works, which dealt much more with the actions of elves than did LOTR, you can’t possibly argue that the elves "excluded no one" or had a "society of justice". The elves, in fact, had quite a bit of conflict among different groups and the Noldor (once they got to ME) clearly saw themselves as much more important elves than those who never lived in Valinor. A view that wasn’t necessarily agreed to by the elves of Beleriand. As their leader, King (note--King) Thingol says "Beware therefore how you princes of the west bear yourselves; for I am the Lord of Beleriand, and all who seek to dwell here shall hear my word." But Caranthir rejects Thingol as a "dark elf" and reminds Finarfin’s sons that their father is a lord of the Noldor, even if their mother is of another (and presumably lesser) kindred. Not exactly a democratic or all-loving society.

Among elves status seemed to be based first on whether the elf or the elf’s ancestors had lived in Valinor, had "seen the light of the trees". Those that had come from Valinor had much greater status than those that had remained in ME, hence the term "dark" or "gray" elf. The elves that had come from Valinor were the "high" elves and accorded much greater status than those that refused the offer of the Valar. Second, it mattered greatly who an elf’s ancestors were. Luthien had never been to Valinor but her father was King Thingol and, more importantly, her mother was a Maia, a being of Valinor and of much greater power and status than any elf. So, in addition to her own beauty and strength, Luthien had great status because of who her parents were. Elrond obtained much of his status because of his descent from Luthien/Beren and from Earendil/Elwing. And his marriage to the daughter of Galadriel didn’t hurt his place among the lords of the elves.

Galadriel had great status and could become the "lady of the wood" because she (1) she was the daughter of Finarfin, (2) she was (by the time of LOTR) one of the few remaining elves who had personally seen the Trees, and (3) she had been mentored by Melian and had learned much that only a Maia could have taught. While Tolkien kept changing his mind about the origins of Celeborn, he was a relative of King Thingol and husband of Galadriel, and his status was probably primariy due to those relationships.

None of this is to take away the power, wisdom, and beauty of all the above. Certainly they were lordly people, no matter what their descent. But, still, while the elves might not have a "class" structure based on wealth or jobs, they clearly had strong status differences based on which kin they belong to and which family within that kinship they came from.    And, sadly, the elves did fuss (and fight, sometimes with swords) an awful lot over how to treat their elvish kindred, all of whom were also justifiably proud of their own lineage.