Tolkien and feminism

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Tolkien and feminism

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:19 pm

I thought we could perhaps move the feminism debate over here. Razz

http://www.fandomfollowing.com/women-in-middle-earth/

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by halfwise on Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:28 pm

A very fair and balanced analysis, though I think she contradicted herself by saying ALL the women in LotR were feminist-positive, not at all what she said about Arwen.

I love how she keeps laying into Aragorn as some sort of lunkhead.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Eldorion on Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:58 am

Read this when it was posted but just realized I'd never commented. I found it to be an interesting perspective. Agreed about her criticisms of Aragorn, I hadn't necessarily thought about it that way before, but her points (and especially the ones in the article she links to) are some really good ones. Pretty funny the way they point it out, too.

Edit: er, glancing over the article again, I don't see a link so now I have no clue where I found the other essay, but this is what I'm talking about: http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterview.asp?sid=6263&cid=26811
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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by azriel on Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:12 am

That last bit Eldo, I started reading it & found it really interesting !!! And thats what I enjoy about Tolkiens LOTRs, You can come back to it time & again & see new ideas, new perspectives. See it differently with fresh eyes & a fresh mind. Which can be said for any book but, I dont think I can enough about other books as I do LOTRs Smile Its a world I want & I aint letting go Smile If I was a charater I wonder who Id be & what would be my name ? Because if I knew then what I know now you would get an earfull from me Smile I am NOT a subservient "yes sir, no sir" kinda woman Smile Dont fancy being a baddie tho !

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:54 pm

{{{{Started off thinking 'oh no here we go' but credit where it is due, turned out to a well thought out and reasoned piece. The only real addition I would add is she gives no wait to the fact that Aragorn is a deliberate archetype based on the heroic standard from early sagas, like Beowulf.
But I never considered the possibility that Tolkien included Eowyn and Faramir's marriage as a contrast to that offered by Aragorn to Arwen. That is an interesting thought- and when you consider Faramir's character, and what Tolkien uses him for, which is namely someone who makes his own decisions based on good judgement unprejudiced by personal desire for gain, it does become notable that Aragorn refers to Arwen so offer as a treasure, or precious/rare item and she is a part of the overall plan which is to Aragorn's gain. It does, once you start thinking about it beggar parallels.

But to my knowledge the subject is not discussed in this context by Tolkien anywhere I know of- perhaps a Lore Master can provide more information? Saddle up Elthir!}}}

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Eldorion on Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:34 pm

I think Tolkien's special affinity for Faramir and the serendipitous nature of the character are important things to keep in mind too. He's been my favorite since the first time I read the book, but I don't think it's my biases speaking when I say that he's presented as pretty much the ideal of both a soldier and a man. I've always really loved this essay on the character, though unfortunately the formatting on it got fucked up during a forum software transition.

http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?10312-Faramir-Tolkien%92s-Noblest-Accident
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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by malickfan on Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:34 pm

I don't really have anything to add to this debate, I'll merely say Tolkien was a very religious and conservative man of a very different time, whilst it's true he arguably put women on a pedestal and/or some of his female character work comes across as somewhat...uncomfortable to read at times, his viewpoints were derived from the social class he lived and worked in, and his interests and creations in literature at the time shouldn't necessarily be applied to modern critical analysis of his work i.m.o.

* Edit, There's a scholarly book recently released that explores Women in Tolkien's work in some detail that may interest some of you:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perilous-Fair-Women-Works-Tolkien/dp/1887726012

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:57 pm

'his viewpoints were derived from the social class he lived and worked in, and his interests and creations in literature at the time shouldn't necessarily be applied to modern critical analysis of his work i.m.o.'- Malick

{{{I would say yes and no Malick to that. I am no fan of putting modern views on past events as a way to read them, but I am not sure that's the case with this argument.
Whilst Tolkien's views were derived from his social class and time period, they were not exclusively so, as Aragorn for example is a deliberate archetype in a very old mould indeed- there is nothing modern about him really, not even in Tolkien's day. In that sense Aragorn is out of time by several hundred years already.

And Tolkiens 'times' included the suffragettes movement, women working in factories during the wars, women getting the vote. And there is his own relationship with his mother to consider too.

He certainly does put some women on a pedestal, bit not as many as some accuse him off- and Eowyn is different in that respect- not only that she really calls Aragrn out- who else in all ME when Aragorn gives his advice on what they should do would basically reply with a polite variation on "Your talking shite man!"

Its also at least interesting that whilst Tolkien as a personal affinity with Faramir, he doesn't marry Arwen off to him,- no Eowyn marries Tolkiens personal favourite and reflection of what he would like to be- it has me speculating if his wife Edith was more an inspiration for Eowyn than any other woman.
On her grave he calls her Luthien, not Arwen, and whilst both share the fairness quality, Luthien, like Eowyn is not a stay at home type, like Eowyn she is pretty kick ass whilst still getting her man in the end. This does not strike me as entirely coincidental.

It is for me very hard to read the exchange with Aragorn at the Paths of the Dead parting on not see Tolkien deliberately voicing what is clearly a feminist standpoint, whether he would have thought of it in those terms or not, it clearly is.

'Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?’
‘A time may come soon,’ said he, ‘when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.’
And she answered: ‘All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.’

The question seems valid to me then to ask, why did Tolkien include two marriages using such different types of female? And why does Arwen never get a happy ending? Her parting with Aragorn on his death bed is heartbreaking, her ending sad and melancholy and lonely. Eowyn on the otherhand goes to be the Lady of Ithilien and makes it quite clear she will choose what she want to do with her life within her marriage as a joint enterprise with Faramir- they will make Ithilien the garden of Gondor, together. When you contrast the two women, how they lead their lives, how they are treated by the men in their lives, how they respond to that, who they marry and what their fates are from those choices- Arwen does not come out of it very well, but Eowyn does- that cannot have been accidental on Tolkiens part surely?}}


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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:01 pm

they both chose what to do with their lives.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:06 pm

{{{Did Arwen really choose what she got? In the appendix her and Aragorn pledge together to reject and fight the darkness, but I am not entirely sure that deal could be said to be honoured in its entirety. And this impression is partly because we spend more time getting know Galadriel and Eowyn than we ever do with Arwen- who remains seemingly deliberately, like a distant prize only to be handed over by her father in the event of Aragorn winning her by becoming King, terms struck solely between Elrond and Aragorn with no input at all from Arwen. Whilst the same sort of male manoeuvring and decision making goes on for controlling Eowyn's life and decisions- she has something to say and do about it- Arwen does not- she accepts it.
Tolkien wrote both women- I don't think its a stretch to ponder if he was making a deliberate comparison between them.}}}

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Elthir on Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:28 pm

Éowyn, in spite of her infatuation with him, sees this very clearly: “All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.” (ROTK, The Passing of the Grey Company) This was spoken in bitterness, but it wasn’t far off the mark. Throughout the story, Aragorn indicates that to his mind women are serviceable and decorative objects. Aragorn may be gallant at times, but even in his gallantry it is evident that he thinks of women as things. Let’s consider two key passages:

This was spoken in bitterness, I agree  Very Happy

The context of Eowyn's situation here (to note it): she was chosen by her own lords  -- and she accepted (at first) -- the duty of staying behind. Aragorn has no say in that, nor does he fashion the customs of the Rohirrim for them. In answer Aragorn related that Eowyn may have deeds of valour in the last defence of her people, but it might be deeds of valour without renown, since no one might be left alive to record them (on the good side). See Petty's quote above.

In the appendix A of ROTK we hear of the first meeting between Aragorn and Arwen. What does he have to say? “Often it is seen that in dangerous days men hide their chief treasure. Yet I marvel at Elrond and your brothers; for though I have dwelt in this house from childhood, I have heard no word of you. * How comes it that we have never met before? Surely your father has not kept you locked in his hoard?” While the comparison between Arwen and Elrond’s treasure hoard is intended to be flattering, it shows that Aragorn thinks of her as an object in the possession of her father and, to a lesser extent, her brothers. That she has been locked away is the only reason he can think of for not having met her before; the idea that she might have an independent live doesn’t even occur to him. *

I read it as, since surely Elrond has not locked Arwen in his hoard (like a mere thing or treasure, as the comparison began in general), he is confused. How can someone have been so hidden for twenty years! In other words, couldn't the same passage be interpreted such that, since Aragorn believes that Arwen could, or should, have an independent life, this is part of what's fueling his confusion?

To my mind the reason that doesn't occur to Aragorn is the reason that wouldn't naturally occur to mortals: Arwen has the lifespan of an Elf, and she was just on a visit, in Elf-time. He didn't consider that Arwen is already very very old, and a twenty years (or so) visit to Lothlorien is not that long a venture for Elves. We mortals would arguably think in similar terms. Imagine (if you're a father for example) your daughter going off on a visit for 20 years!

He makes a similar comment, this time about Éowyn, in the chapter Many Partings in ROTK. When Éomer announces the engagement of Éowyn and Faramir, Aragorn says: “No niggard are you, Éomer, to give thus to Gondor the fairest thing in your realm!” He refers to Éowyn as a “thing” that is transferred from the possession of her brother to the possession of her husband.

Well, you can interpret it that way obviously, yet when you add ...

This about the woman who slew the witch king! Note also that the only quality he mentions here is “fair”. Éowyn’s courage and success in battle do not concern him, only her looks. Likewise when Éowyn is in the Houses of Healing, he is distressed by her state of injury “for she is a fair maiden, fairest lady of a house of queens.” (ROTK, The Steward and the King).

... I would point out that Aragorn had already spoken to Eomer about Eowyn being brave, and noted her great deed. This occurs directly after the end of the line quoted in this article, where the next sentence begins: "And yet I know not how I should speak of her. When I first looked on her..." and later in the discourse, Aragorn says: "I also saw what you saw, Eomer. Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned (...) Alas! for her deeds have set her among the queens of great renown."  

So at this point we already know Aragorn's fuller thoughts about Eowyn.

Oh, yes, beauty. When he first meets Arwen, he is captivated by her beauty, and when they say their last farewell, he calls her “fairest in the world.” In one hundred-and-twenty-two years of marriage, he doesn’t seem to have learned to appreciate any other quality in her. Faramir admires Éowyn’s valour and is touched by her vulnerability, Sam’s affection for Rosie appears to be based on a long-standing friendship, but for Aragorn it’s a pretty face all the way.

When Faramir first meets Eowyn he is captivated by her beauty as well, but in any case I see no reason to make such a sweeping, superficial conclusion based on a long marriage that we are never given a close look at.

Other women don’t fare much better, either. In ROTK, The Houses of Healing, Aragorn mocks Ioreth as being a chatterbox (“run as quick as your tongue”), because she has dared to speak five or six consecutive sentences in his presence, most of which were concerned with ascertaining she was thinking of the correct herb. Given Ioreth’s age, it also seems very insensitive to tell her to run.

I disagree it's because Ioreth dared to speak five or six consecutive sentences in Aragorn's presence, but rather that time was of the essence to save lives. Aragorn states that he won't yet rest or eat, as Eomer thinks might help him, and: "Nay, for these three, and most soon for Faramir, time is running out. All speed is needed."

But immediately Ioreth is digressing, and I disagree with: "most of which were concerned with ascertaining she was thinking of the correct herb."

Aragorn's first question is about herbs in general. Ioreth's response is yes we have some, but not enough, I don't know where we can find more, considering these dreadful days, not enough errand lads, roads are blocked, carriers from Lossarnarch haven't come to the market in a long time, but we do our best...

Aragorn next names athelas. Ioreth gets to the point with two sentences here: she doesn't know, she'll go ask the herb-master.

Aragorn calls athelas kingsfoil... and then Ioreth knows what it is! Then she wastes words about her never hearing that it had any great virtue, about what she said to her sisters when they found it in the woods... and so on, about Kingsfoil. Ioreth basically runs on off topic in a time of need! Even Gandalf chimes in when he says if they have no Kingsfoil in the City he will take Ioreth on Shadowfax and he [Shadowfax] "... shall show her the meaning of haste."


In appendix A we hear that on leaving Rivendell, Aragorn “took leave lovingly of Elrond”, but to his mother he only “said farewell” along with “the house of Elrond”. Why is the foster father thus distinguished, but the mother not? Why did Gilraen not get a loving farewell, but was lumped in with all the other folk living at Imladris as if she was of no special significance to Aragorn?

Aragorn has just been in a significant scene with Elrond. The reader is there with them, listening to their conversation, especially noting the matter of the possibility of Aragorn coming between Elrond and his daughter. "Then Aragorn took leave lovingly of Elrond; and the next day he said farewell to his mother, and to the house of Elrond, and to Arwen, and he went out into the wild."

The reader isn't really present for these farewells, but it's important to note that after such words -- as had just passed between Aragorn and Elrond -- that the two still had a loving relationship, despite what Aragorn's desire is now (possibly) going to mean for Elrond.

When Gilraen, feeling the approach of death, says: “I have given hope to the Dunedain, I have kept no hope for myself,” does she maybe indicate that while Aragorn is set to fulfil his destiny, he has failed her personally as a son? He does go away and leaves her to die alone, without making any arrangements to provide for her comfort and company.

Well... does she maybe indicate nothing of the sort?  Wink

For all we know she thinks Aragorn a model son but knows he has a great destiny which she must let him fulfill, even at great cost to her. In any case I don't recall Gilraen saying anywhere that she thinks Aragorn has failed her as a son, nor does Aragorn seem to worry about this. And we have no idea what arrangements Aragorn did, or did not (need to?) make to provide for her comfort and safety. Aragorn tries to comfort his mother here, but she responds with the linnod and he departs with a heavy heart. It seems to me that Gilraen accepted her son's destiny -- she gave of her son fully in the service of his destiny no matter the cost to her... while she returned to her own people in Eriador, it appears by her own choice, and lived alone.

How is Aragorn’s manner towards Galadriel, the most powerful female in Middle-earth and indeed one of the most powerful people full stop?  He speaks to her in a businesslike tone that is at least not condescending, but shows no particular reverence. When Galadriel gifts him with the sheath and asks if she can do anything else for him, his reply is: “Lady, you know all my desire, and long have you held in keeping the only treasure I seek. Yet it is not yours to give me, even if you would.” I note as an aside that once again Arwen is spoken of as an object (“treasure”) and as not being in charge of her own life (“held in keeping”). Most crucially, though, this reply strikes me as rude, because it means as much as You have nothing to give me that I care to have. As if Galadriel hadn’t just provided him and the whole fellowship with shelter, food, clothing, transport and some handy magical gadgets. Then he continues as follows: “O Lady of Lorien of whom were sprung Celebrian and Arwen Evenstar. What praise could I say more?” This to Galadriel! With all she has done and achieved in several millennia, Aragorn thinks the best he can say about her is that she has a very pretty granddaughter.

I never took Aragorn's reply as rude or dismissive... and couldn't one also argue that Galadriel's family (daughter and granddaughter) might be considered very important to her, and that Aragorn had arguably said the best possible thing here, or at least something that Galadriel would be happy to hear? There's no indication that any of the characters took this negatively, especially not Galadriel, who bowed.

In my opinion Celeborn also (essentially) refers to Galadriel as his treasure, in Many Partings: "May your doom be other than mine, and your treasure remain with you to the end." (suggesting that his treasure will not)

This is later picked up by Sam's daughter Elanor (commenting on Celeborn's parting from Galadriel for a while), who refers to Frodo as Sam's treasure (Epilogue, second version, obviously not used... but still).

For me "treasure" is an easy and romantic word to suggest a number of things, mainly good.
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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by David H on Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:26 am

Well rebutted Elthir! I'd just like to add that the original argument seems to rely at several points on equating "fairness" with "beauty". But especially in archaic usage the word "fair" often has as much to do with justice and moral integrity as it does with appearance. It applies to the whole package, and I've always read it that way in Tolkien.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by halfwise on Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:37 am

I'm used to teenagers wailing "but that's not fair!" with regards to anything they don't like, so I tend to think of the modern usage related to morality and the archaic usage referring to physical beauty. But you have a good half generation on me...

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by David H on Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:45 am

That is modern usage, but the echo goes far, far back into the mists, back to a time before laws as we know them, when justice and vendetta were the more or less the same, when an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth was literally enforced, blah blah blah. In those archaic days, words that we take for granted now had much more serious meanings, over which you could lose a pound of flesh, words like fair, even, just. When we say "It's just me" for example, "just" seems like a weak word, but it still carries echos of it's older strong meaning "No more and No less than Me". Even the word "even" implies that despite one thing, another balances it, which is only just. And if we weren't even, we'd be at odds. Or something like that. Is that fair? Shrugging

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by halfwise on Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:04 pm

Oo...even, at odds, just...simple words fraught with meaning I even am only just understanding, on balance.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:39 pm

The context of Eowyn's situation here (to note it): she was chosen by her own lords  -- and she accepted (at first) -- the duty of staying behind.- Elthir

{{{I don't think that's the full picture. The thing most highlighted about Eowyn's life by Tolkien is what is expected of her versus what she desires (and this being Tolkien its more complicated that that as there is the question of is what she desires the same as what she wants, or are her desires born solely out of a need for escape from a sense of entrapment, real or imagined).

And she was not chosen by lords, she was chosen by the people (I get to correct a Lore Master on something!!  cheers )- notably neither Theoden nor Eomer considered her for the job, she didn't even occur to them as an option- it was only at the suggestion of the people. And what do the people choose her based on? What they have seen her do so far- which is care for Theoden and put a brave face on it, whilst remaining true and loyal to the throne and rejecting Wormtongue and by extension Saruman.
In short they are giving a duty of large care- that of the entire populace, as a reward for years of duty of small care, of Theoden.
For Eowyn its more of the same but bigger. Its still about her duty, and as a women that expectation of what her duties are amount to caring for people and putting a brave face on it- 'high-hearted' the people call her, my arse she is, but her public face is (we see this when she accepts the role to lead the people to Dunharrow, showing no signs of her own inner distress that comes out later in private- its also worth noting that her own brother didn't even notice anything was wrong with her until Aragorn came along, a brave face on things yes, not only in public but until Aragorn came along in private too).

Aragorn's reply is a blunder really, instead of his words being noble, or heroic, or even worthy sounding, in Eowyn's ears they are more of the same- you have a duty and what your duties can be are determined by you being a woman and when you've done them you are free die.
When Aragorn points out if a man had been appointed the job he couldn't quit it either if he wanted to, she replies 'must I always be chosen', she never gets to choose the tasks or the duties she gets to perform, which Eomer and Theoden do. They are prescribed to her- first by her brother and the circumstance of Theoden's failing health and then by the people. And her duties are always defined by her gender.

I am not arguing any case for Aragorn being sexist- I don't accept that and as I said before I think she has misunderstood, or not taken account of what Tolkien set out to do with Aragorn, and the confines in which that character must act to remain so. But I do think there is an interesting angle in looking at how Tolkien choose to represent the main marriages in the books- which are Aragorn/Arwen/ Eowyn/Faramir/ and Rose and Sam. And if he was maiking any particular point in how he choose to represent each.}}}}

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Elthir on Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:18 pm

Hmm, but wasn't Eowyn chosen/suggested by Hama, Doorward and Captain of the King's Guard -- because he knew the people loved her and trusted in the House of Eorl -- and Théoden agreed and pronounced that it would be so (he makes it official): "It shall be so," said Théoden. "Let the heralds announce to the folk that the Lady Eowyn will lead them." Granted Theoden asked first, but he's still the one who made it so (why do I suddenly hear Jean-Luc Picard).

And there's more context Petty, as you rightly note, generally speaking, but I gave that much to set up my next sentence, which is that Aragorn is not responsible for Eowyn's predicament, and is in no position to gainsay Théoden's decision (which may be obvious enough admittedly) and to stamp the fact that Eowyn accepted at first -- so from Aragorn's point of view, that arguably makes her bound to her own word, no matter what she really desires.

To my mind Aragorn was pointing out that she had accepted her role, and that she may indeed get her wish for battle in any case. I don't think these words are but to say "you are a woman, and your part is in the house". Tolkien may be saying something to the reader through this conversation, but the essay-writer seems to make the claim that even though this response was given in bitterness, it is actually close to the mark regarding Aragorn the character.

Or something?

Interesting word work David!
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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by halfwise on Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:27 pm

You are both making much the same points, and I agree that Eowyn is feeling sorry for herself and reading things into Aragorn's words that he never intended. There was no hesitation in making her leader (though there was enough sexism around not to think of her immediately); to me it seems the main sexism in Rohan society was that only men go off to fight. This makes physical sense in hand to hand combat situations of course. I credit the movie for bringing to the fore something that Tolkien only hinted at: that in Rohan the women often learn some of the trade of warcraft, even if they don't ride off to battle.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:08 pm

wasn't Eowyn chosen/suggested by Hama, Doorward and Captain of the King's Guard- Elthir


{{{Dont ruin my moment! Bloody Lore Masters. Mad But if my memory serves the decision is made in public- Hama suggests her and the people agree. And I don't think Hama is her Lord in any sense, I doubt Doorward, respectable a position as it is, is equal to or higher in rank or status than Eowyn.}}}


'from Aragorn's point of view, that arguably makes her bound to her own word, no matter what she really desires.'

{{{One of the things I like about this conversation, which has long been one of my favourites in LotR's, is that Aragorn is hearing himself say one thing, and she is hearing a whole different message. Aragorn is arrogant in general and as a matter of course, its normally not a problem for him and usually works in his favour, but here I think his arrogance has led him to think he can placate with words what ails Eowyn, without really understanding her or fully appreciating her position or experiences, and in fact he just makes matters worse.}}}}

'it is actually close to the mark regarding Aragorn the character'

{{{I think its on the mark regards how he sees him at their parting. I think she had pinned all her hopes on Aragorn as her out, and when he not only refuses her, but does so in words so similar to all the other males in her life- going on about her duty- that its the straw that breaks the camels back.}}}

{{{{ps the person most intriguing to me in those whole affair is the bloke in charge of the Eored of the Rohirrim in which Eowyn rides in disguise- he seems to be in on it- but why? Who is he? Why is he more loyal to Eowyn than he is to either Eomer or the King who he must know he should inform of her presence? There's a hidden back-story there somewhere I am sure.}}}

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by Elthir on Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:23 pm

Her own lords as in Rohirric lords, not Aragorn.

Hama does speak in public. What happened was the King went to the doors, where guards, heralds, lords and chiefs were gathered. He asks who will stay... no one spoke... is there none who you would name, in whom do you trust? Hama answers the House of Eorl... Théoden says but not Eomer (basically), Hama says Eowyn (all love her and so on) Théoden says it shall be so... announce it to the folk.

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Re: Tolkien and feminism

Post by halfwise on Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:27 pm

the person most intriguing to me in those whole affair is the bloke in charge of the Eored of the Rohirrim in which Eowyn rides in disguise- he seems to be in on it- but why? Who is he? Why is he more loyal to Eowyn than he is to either Eomer or the King who he must know he should inform of her presence? There's a hidden back-story there somewhere I am sure.

I believe his name was Elfham, and Tolkien states that they "seemed to have an understanding of sorts..." and that was sufficient.   All we need know is she was a determined young woman, and determined young people are often given a bit more latitude and sympathy than those a decade older.  My only wonder is the same thing Aragorn pointed out: who was leading the people in her absence?

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