Women in LotR?

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Women in LotR?

Post by Arwen_Evenstar on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:32 pm

(I'm sorry if there's already a topic on this, I couldn't find it. If there is, just send me the link, please. Smile )

I have a few topics I'd like to address in this thread:
1) Who is your favorite/least favorite female character in LotR and why?
2) Did you agree with (or at least accept in the context) the changes made about Arwen and the elves?
And lastly,
3) I've heard that Tolkien was extremely sexist, but can't really find anything on it. (Granted, I haven't done any hard core digging yet.) I was wondering if anybody knew anything about that?

Thanks! Smile
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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:42 pm

Tolkien was in no way sexist, in fact Eowyn is probably unusual in the time he was writing (ie the early 20th century) for being portrayed as a female warrior and not merely passive wife or mother figure. Galadriel is another strong female figure with entirely her own agency and in no way passive or under patriarchal dominance. She is seen as even superior to her mate Celeborn.
so no he was not a sexist in my opinion. I dont get why anyone would think that he was.
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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Arwen_Evenstar on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:44 pm

Yes, I was thinking along those same lines when I read that. Eowyn is one of my favorite characters and a true role model. Good to know that one isn't true Very Happy

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Tinuviel on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:46 pm

Since it's an older story, people see it as sexist today, but not so much yesterday, if that makes sense. Arguably, Hobbits are very feminine in a gender wise, so he made characters that are relateable to both sexes which I think is really cool  Cool 

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:47 pm

Hi Arwen,

1) If we include TH then Tauriel! I don't understand what purpose she is serving that justifies her inclusion. She is woman apparently there to provide 'feminine energy' yet she is in a clichéd love triangle and entirely defined by the males around her. So I don't get her at all.

If its just LotR's then I would say to say Galadriel.

I hate the slow dream like way she has of talking, the unexplained way she stops mid-sentence every so often to switch to telepathy. I hate the overblown effect PJ puts over the top of one of my favourite character speeches in the book, when Frodo offers her the Ring- he has one of the best actors working playing her, a great speech and a dramtic moment, and he has her doing a Frankenstein impression and covers her in special effects!? What?! Why would you do that?! The drama should be in the words and performance here.  Mad 

2) Not sure exactly what you mean- I assume its the decision to have her leave and take ship with her people. If so then I don't like it, though I can see why they did it at least.
For me I would rather have seen Elrond lay down to Aragorn in the graveside scene the conditions of marriage from the book- it gives Aragorn an obvious motivation of love that is not merely ambition or a desire to right a past wrong of his line as it is in PJ's.
I also dislike the connection made between her fate and the Rings as it doesn't make sense and feels like a last minute idea to try to tie the two of them together in some dramatic way in the final film.

3) I have never read anything to suggest he was any more sexist than a man of his time in his social class. I have read the accusation he puts women on a pedestal as untouchables.
I don't personally believe this as he clearly associated the tale of Beren of Luthien with his own love for his wife. It is the names he had put on their graves.
And as she was his wife he certainly did not think such a women, or such love, to be unattainable, he married his.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by halfwise on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:55 pm

Lessee, for female characters who have speaking parts in LotR, we have (in order of appearance):

1. Arwen
2. Galadriel
3. Eowyn
4. Ioreth, the good lady of Minas Tirith who knows about hands of healing are the hands of the King.

Lessee, is that everyone?  (counts fingers), um, yes, I think so.  I think we can possibly discount Ioreth as any except a passing comic character.  Arwen is only a remote character (in the books), Galadriel is an ineffably powerful Elf Queen (though delightfully approachable when she feels like it), and the only woman left who a young full blooded hobbit may have a chance for a cup of coffee with (or would want to) leaves us with....EOWYN! (applause).

As for whether or not Tolkien was sexist, I just think his adventure story didn't have much of a place for women, given his medieval frame of reference.  When he did put them in, they were treated with reverence.  Arwen is a major driving force behind Aragorn, Galadriel is all but untouchable until tempted by the ring, and Eowyn is one of the strongest characters in the book.  This reflects the reverence Tolkien had for his wife.

Dig into the Silmarillion you'll find many other female characters, not a one of weak fiber.  If anything he didn't have many female characters because he couldn't bring himself to give them enough flaws to make them interesting.

I was okay with the role they finally settled on for Arwen in the movies.  Bringing her in as a stronger presence if anything worked better than having her buried in the appendices as in the books.  Fortunately they backed off from the full Xena Warrior treatment.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Arwen_Evenstar on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:02 pm

Petty,

I agree with you on many aspects, especially the Galadriel part. That was neither necessary nor proved the point in the best way. But that was one of the only things I had to complain about in TFoTR.

I'm sorry. I didn't clarify. I meant PJ's decision to include her more in the movies than in the books, such as the way she comes to Aragorn in dreams, and basically influences everything he does. Quite possibly it is like that in the books, I just didn't pick up on it like I did in the movie.

And thanks. That's a relief. I can't even remember what website I got it off of, but I hope it never trust it with anything important again. Rolling Eyes 

Thanks! Smile 

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:15 pm

I liked Arwen in the films a lot. Liv Tyler was perfect.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by malickfan on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:36 pm

1)Favorite-Galadriel-fascinating, wise, powerful, striking in her brief appearance, huge effect of the history and lore of M.E, lots of interesting essays written on her (google Galadriel as The Virgin Mary), great interaction with the characters, noble and a bit fukll of herself at the same time, though I still find myself at a loss what she saw in Celeborn the 'Wise'

2) I'm split on me feelings on Arwen and Aragorn, whilst I didn't mind them dropping Glorfindel, and It was defintely a good idea to beef up her role (the actors had a very convincing chemistry), like Petty I felt some of the chnages to her storyline didn't work, even before reading the books I found the whole tying he lifesforce to the Ring a bit confusing and overly dramatic, the whole Arwen the Warrior at Helms Deep thing was thankfully abandoned, that would have been just silly.

It's interesting you point out that she 'basically influences everything Aragorn does' I hadn't thought of that before, but it is sorta true I guess, Aragorn did arguably come across as a little weak willed ( or more 'relatable depending on you POV) in the film (from what I remember haven't watched them in years)

3) I can't add anything on this point, other than to say it isn't true IMO, and often a case of his writing being misinterpreted with a modern viewpoint. Though Letter *43 in The Letters of JRR Tolkien is certainly thought provoking in this regard.

This article might be of interest:

http://middle-earth.xenite.org/2013/09/16/why-does-tolkiens-world-lack-women/

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by halfwise on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:54 pm

I rather like some of the points in that link, Malick. It's in fact quite true that women do a much better job of writing about men then men do about women, but I don't think that's the fault of the sexes so much as the limited cultural roles women are forced into.

Men do in fact write quite well about women when their story gives them a chance - I think George R.R. Martin exemplifies that. But the traditional story arcs rarely give them a chance. Martin rather heroically broke the mold in my opinion, all the while given his females plenty of time to chafe at the roles forced on them even while rising above them.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by azriel on Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:08 pm

My fav lady in LOTRs is Eowyn, purely because she's trying to establish herself in what she sees as a Man's World. She's feisty & gutsy & willing to prove herself & have a go. My least fav is Galadriel, she's to unattached, has a 'what ever' feel about her, a sort of "you made your bed now lay on it" attitude. But thats down to Peejers miss handling.
I dont agree with Arwens or rather PJs changes of her, I prefer 'book' Arwen.
I dont feel Tolkien was sexist about women. Praps because I enjoy the book so much ? There's more about women in the Sil, less so in LOTRs I feel because its centered on winning a fight over an evil & thats the hope we hinge on Men to win.
on a 2nd note, I do like Lobelia Sackville Baggins ! she takes no buck, she's obviously savvy & happy to get her own way & quite ready to win her way over whatever takes her fancy even if it is nicking silver spoons from Bilbo  Very Happy

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:31 pm

Ahh Lobelia- yes!

I like her too. She is I think the only minor background character to get a full story arc.

When we first meet her she seems quite mean of spirit, she covets Bag End, and she steals spoons!
But whilst she did have a mean streak she was trying to do the best by her son before she died.
But at the end, her son has died before her, and not well. And we learn she didn't go down without a fight.
All her seeming meanness ect could in fact be turned to a good cause.
And when all was over she dedicated her life to helping those who lost people, or goods, or homes, and the poor until she died.
She is a sort of Scrooge character, but typical of Tolkien, more tragic and painful in getting from one state of mind to realisation and redemption.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:43 pm

halfwise wrote:
Men do in fact write quite well about women when their story gives them a chance - I think George R.R. Martin exemplifies that.  But the traditional story arcs rarely give them a chance.  Martin rather heroically broke the mold in my opinion, all the while given his females plenty of time to chafe at the roles forced on them even while rising above them.

thats what I love most about Martin, his female characters are all fully rounded real people with flaws and agency of their own, no matter what their age, whether little girl or old lady, they are mostly all indipendent tough cookies with their own path to follow, maybe Martin wanted Brienne of Tarth to be a souped up Eowyn only Jaime isnt the pure noble Aragorn, which makes it a lot more interesting in a way. Only Martin could invent characters as ambiguous and fascinating as Arya and Lady Olenna, Kat Tully not to mention Dany.
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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Tinuviel on Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:13 am

There's a beautiful part in ROTK (the book) where Eowyn is pleading with Aragorn to let her come with and he basically says she belongs in Edoras where she can lead her people, and she responds with her cage quote. The entire conversation is brilliant because neither one of them is wrong, and it's a kind of brilliant little hoorah for women sticking up for themselves. Yes, she'd could do a great job in the big chair in Edoras, but that's not what she wants. She wants glory, just like any young soldier would, but she is refused it because she's a woman. She has Eomer's spirit trapped in a woman's body. And when she does ride off to battle, she never loses site of what she wants or who she is. She's a fighting woman, not a man. That's the reason only she can defeat the Witch King. She fights him out of love for her King who is her family. It's kind of a maternal thing, but Eowyn doesn't think about that. She wants to kill the bastard then die herself. Only after several garden discussions with Faramir does she snap out of her glory-seeking and realize she's already found it, and there are more important things in life than a good death on the battlefield.
I almost wonder if it's some sort of survivor's guilt of Tolkien's that comes through. He went to battle, was wounded but didn't die, but the ones he loved did. I'm just fascinated that he chose Eowyn as his catalyst.

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:51 am

Thats one of my favourite scenes with Eowyn Tin, and PJ bloody well went and ruined it, left her and Aragorn's parting scene with nothing left to say to each other  Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Women in LotR?

Post by halfwise on Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:27 am

I'm surprised so many of us forgot about Lobelia for so long. She definitely breaks the Tolkien type casting of putting women on a pedestal.

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