The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Female characters in the Lord of the Rings



wildespace
The Shire

Jun 5 2013, 9:44pm


Views: 1453
Female characters in the Lord of the Rings

It's been often said that LotR is almost devoid of female characters. This puzzles me a bit as I remember coming across quite a few of them, albeit briefly. Has anyone ever compiled a list of all the female characters in LotR (human, elf, hobbit, or any other race)? That would interesting to see. I think Rosie Cotton plays a major behind-the-scenes role in what Sam is motivated by. Even the aged female healer in Minas Tirith provided a pragmatic no-nonsense leverage to the incredible events of Return of the King.

What are your thoughts on the various female characters in LotR?


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:00pm


Views: 899
Do you mean characters who have something to do, or anyone who is mentioned?

I'd count these as the actual female characters of LotR proper, that is, discounting the Appendixes:

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
Goldberry
Arwen
Galadriel
owyn
Ioreth
Rosie Cotton

Not very much, if you compare them to the list of male characters... It's a masculine story in a masculine world, dealing mostly with war which traditionally hasn't been the domain of women. Considering the setting, it's perhaps surprising that there are even this many women, and that they have such an influence on the men.

Galadriel is basically the queen of everything and the secret powerhouse of the Free People; she keeps Frodo on the road. Arwen is Aragorn's motivation. owyn gets to join in the action and take down the enemy leader. Lobelia is a strong willed matriarch and ultimately a sympathetic character. Ioreth is a wise woman who remembers forgotten knowledge. Goldberry is an enigma, and the lady of the land, and of Bombadil. And Rosie is the Shire and everything the Hobbits suffered for.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 5 2013, 10:03pm


Views: 876
We had some fun today with how female the females are in Tolkien at this link

Shortcut

But I still think his female characters, while strong, are not really manly the way I think some women in Game of Thrones often seem.



Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 5 2013, 10:04pm


Views: 864
mae govannen!

 
mae govannen, wildespace. : )

while there are plenty of names of females in the genealogical tables, tolkien (father) and tolkien (christopher) don't give them nearly as much ink as the males.

where they do pop their heads up, they are complex, but they are much fewer and farther between. example: when we spend time with the rohirrim, we only get eowyn as a female character. for males, we get theoden, erkenbrand, eomer, grima, gamling, grimbold, etc. +plenty+ of opportunity to explore female characters, even as secondary or tertiary ones. but no.

i think tolkien was ahead of his time in many ways in his thoughts about women and how he portrayed them (he unequivocally states that elvish males and females were +equal+ in all ways). but he did succumb to a very common practice of his generation and era in that his females, while not tokens, are not given (even remotely) equal representation.


cheers --


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 5 2013, 10:05pm


Views: 862
george rr martin

 
does a great job with gender parity, and i'm thankful for that. and his female characters are as equally capable of nastiness or good deeds as his male characters. another realistic expression.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 5 2013, 10:12pm


Views: 882
i disagree that

 
(love your posts, btw, faenoriel)

i disagree that the stories are intrinsically male or that the world described is male. especially the latter. females are about 50% of the population of all the races (except for dwarves, and that and other author contrivances make no sense). so tolkien's world is equally of both genders.

and war is not a male-only story. even if we set aside the shield maidens (eowyn) and the chess masters (galadriel), there are +tons+ of females feeling the effects of war and having to deal with it. in jackson's two towers, a great example of this is the roherric woman who sends her two children off by themselves on a horse, as their village is burning. as treebeard would say, "war affects us all: tree, root, and twig." it's just that the author's lens is choosing a narrow frame, rather than a broader, more complete one.

i certainly don't see any reason why any females couldn't have been part of the fellowship. a hardy female hobbit (or two), a shield maiden, a female tracker, a female elf, a female medic... and so on.

cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


demnation
Rohan

Jun 5 2013, 10:22pm


Views: 851
On the other hand

His work reeks of misogyny.(perhaps unintentional. or maybe intentional, for shock value.) Martin has many virtues, but for some reason I don't think his portrayal of women is one of them. In Tolkien's case, his portrayal of women is only a virtue when put in the context of his life and times. Like you've said before, ahead of his time in some ways, badly mistaken in others.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:22pm


Views: 858
True, though it does also reflect the social reality of the age/world being described

This is perhaps slightly out of topic, as it's not directly about the amount of female characters, but of their gender roles.

M-E is not some wish fulfillment fantasy, but based on the early medieval, partly even earlier, European societies. Hobbits have 18th Century inspiration in them. The Elves are something of a special case, but they too are ultimately based on past societies. I dislike projecting the reader's time and believes on the society s/he is reading about. If women had smaller politic power in the society described, or even had influence only through their male relatives, then so be it. Tell us of that reality. Turning them into warriors and leaders in a culture where it's not the usual convention pulls me out of the story. It's like they say "history is another land, and has its own culture."

So, the story Tolkien is telling us is about war. And war is the dominion of men. In that light it's only realistic he creates mostly male characters.

Not to mention, I'm not sure he knew the female life well enough to write about feminine life. Jane Austen knew the life of the woman, and wrote books solely about women. Men are always seen through the eyes of women in her books. There doesn't exist a one single scene in her books where a female wouldn't be present. It's the same with Tolkien. You have to write about what you know.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:28pm


Views: 866
The soldiers and war leaders are men

And theirs is the story Tolkien wished to tell. The women do exist and form half of the population, but their story is different one, and not the one Tolkien had in his mind.

It's unfair to demand Tolkien to write a book that would have something for everyone. People try to make LotR be about this and that issue, but at the end of the day it's simply an exciting story Tolkien wrote guided by his idea of what kind of story he himself would have wanted to read. It's clearly inspired by his own experiences, also his own war memories. Those memories are from the trenches, from the mud and the barracks and the midst of battle. Not that many women there, only his male comrades and their shared suffering.

Reading real war stories tell very quickly and very strongly how utterly masculine world war is, dominated by the comradeship between males. In it women are present but mostly in talks and dreams about sex, told to strengthen the bond between the guys.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied

(This post was edited by Faenoriel on Jun 5 2013, 10:30pm)


imin
Valinor


Jun 5 2013, 10:28pm


Views: 854
The effects of war

Are felt by men, women and children. But in the past and now to a great extent - most armies were made up of men, they are the ones who did the fighting. Why? They are simply stronger with greater physical endurance (big majority), i know it's annoying but its true. Females in battle would have been more exception than rule.

As for elves - yeah a female elf could have gone and would have been just as good i think. A female hobbit - yeah why not - the only 'reason' is Frodo's best friends are male.

A female ranger - could have, though like i said above would be more the exception than rule.

For me though i wouldn't really mind if some of the characters were female but then it doesn't bother me that none of the fellowship were either. A lot of them are kinda gender neutral anyway so could be thought of as women, the fact they are male is more just a label.

Overall i think the stories are more male than female as lots of the stories are related to war and wars are fought by men - though the effects are felt by both.

In the lord of the rings - the story is about getting the company from A-B with stuff happening in between - most related to war - the stuff that men deal with, if Tolkien were then to stop and tell a story about some of the women in the area he may have felt it would slow the story down or have nothing to do with it, so whilst not something that is itself worthless but for the story just isn't worth developing.

The dwarves having 1/3 popn being female allows the author to show how slowly their population heals after wars and this can show you how they are a dwindling people. He could have just said there are 50 percent female but only 33 percent have kids but i like the idea - separates them from humans. I would be happy if their were only 33 percent males and 66 percent females.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


demnation
Rohan

Jun 5 2013, 10:31pm


Views: 862
Eowyn, of course!

In consider her to be one of the most important characters in the story.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:35pm


Views: 856
I feel a female member would have been something of a disturbance in the Fellowship

I don't know how many here have done any hiking, and by hiking I mean that you really wander off into the wilderness for days and weeks, carry your own tent and your own food. In such circumstances you need to be okay about each others's naked bodies and bodily functions. In the modern times we live I and my male friends can see each other like that, sleep next to each other like that. But in the culture of LotR, she would have needed to bath alone and far away from the others, to "go to the ladies room" alone and far away from the others.... unpractical and dangerous. Perhaps they would have managed it, but still.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


demnation
Rohan

Jun 5 2013, 10:38pm


Views: 844
You make an excellent point

with the Jane Austen bit. I've often thought that the "problem" with Tolkien's view of women is that he thought too highly of them. (i.e. putting them on pedestals.) I think this probably has to with his views on Our Lady and the sacred feminine. ( which I think Galadriel is supposed to be the manifestation of in his story.)

anyway, drifting off topic

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:44pm


Views: 839
Tolkien had no sisters, and his mother died when he was very young

He and Edith did get to spend some time together in his childhood, but then it was over and he was again surrounded only by other male students, then by other male soldiers. Afterwards he'd be surrounded by other male professors, and I assume most of his students were male too? Not many chances to learn to get intimate with females. Especially in those times, and with his somewhat shy personality. What could he have told us about women, other than love stories, for that he knew from his own experience.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


elaen32
Gondor


Jun 5 2013, 10:45pm


Views: 830
Not to mention, Shelob!/

  
You've missed her off the list- certainly a powerful female character and not exactly conventional.Sly

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


(This post was edited by elaen32 on Jun 5 2013, 10:47pm)


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 5 2013, 10:47pm


Views: 829
Saurons cat? The daughter of Ungoliant, who kicked Morgoth's butt?//

 

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 5 2013, 11:04pm


Views: 828
What about Butterbur's wife?

All right, he didn't officially have one. But I have often thought that a man in his position and an Inn like the Prancing Pony would have had a landlady. And Butterbur have a Mrs Butterbur.


demnation
Rohan

Jun 5 2013, 11:06pm


Views: 836
Of course

You have pointed out another side to what is ultimately a rather complex issue. The answer to the question " Why didn't Tolkien write about very many women in his stories?" is not as simple as saying "Tolkien disliked women, but.." or " Tolkien thought very highly of women. On the other hand..." The truth is, we'll never really know.(and this applies to his thoughts on other things like race, class etc.) All I can say for sure is that it is that it's futile to apply modern sensibilities to a man who wasn't modern anyway. And if I'm honest, rather than focusing my complaints about such issues on a man who has been dead for forty years, I'd rather concentrate my anger on the sad, sad truth that misogyny, sexism , racism, etc. are alive and well in today's society.

(BTW, I'm NOT saying people shouldn't talk about these issues and their relation to Tolkien. I'm just saying that we can never have any satisfactory answers. Or, at least, I can't.)

Lots of discussion about this topic today...

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien

(This post was edited by demnation on Jun 5 2013, 11:08pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 5 2013, 11:24pm


Views: 878
According to Mary Renault...

Tolkien sympathized greatly with his female students, and female students in general at Oxford. He would often invite them over to his home and tutor them. (He felt the other professors neglected females in classrooms and that females had a harder time of it in college.) This activity was something Edith could join in on, and it helped Edith out of her shell and into academic society. (Ms. Renault was a student of Tolkien in the 1920s.)

Ms. Renault also said Tolkien encouraged and supported women students who aspired to become writers, critiquing their manuscripts and writing them reference letters to publishers and agents.

Ms. Renault and Tolkien did have a dispute over the publication of her first novel, "Purposes of Love". It was very racy for its time, and had hints of male and female homosexuality. Anyway, Ms. Renault wanted to use a male pseudonym, but Tolkien strongly objected, urging her to publish under her own name, or at least a female pseudonym. Indeed, she says that Tolkien strongly encouraged all the young aspiring female writers he came into contact with to reject the trend of the time for females to write under male pseudonyms and instead use their own names.

(Ironically, in the fifties many critics were convinced that Renault was a male writer writing under a female pseudonym!)

Finally, from Letter 294:

"There are exceptions. I have read all that E. R. Eddison wrote, in spite of his peculiarly bad nomenclature and personal philosophy. I was greatly taken by the book that was (I believe) the runner-up when The L. R. was given the Fantasy Award, 'Death of Grass'. I enjoy the S.F. of Isaac Azimov. Above these, I was recently deeply engaged in the books of Mary Renault; especially the two about Theseus, The King Must Die, and The Bull from the Sea. A few days ago I actually received a card of appreciation from her; perhaps the piece of Fan-mail that gives me most pleasure."

Note that like most of Renaults novels, The King Must Die and The Bull From the Sea dealt sympathetically with male and female homosexual characters.

Ms. Renault died in 1983, renowned as one of the 20th century's greatest authors of gay literature.

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Vlusp, 13th Century

(This post was edited by dernwyn on Jun 6 2013, 12:12am)


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 5 2013, 11:41pm


Views: 822
thanks for posting this

 
thanks (very much) for posting this. it's wonderful to learn of his support for his female students and female writers.

just to note --- has anyone actually stated on this thread that tolkien was a misogynist? i have not.

if others have, i must have missed it.

i think there's room to note the gender imbalance in tolkien and some of the ways in which he doesn't give females quite the same shake and still say (which i have) that tolkien was ahead of his time, and much of the way he depicted females was admirable.


cheers, and thanks again --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


demnation
Rohan

Jun 5 2013, 11:41pm


Views: 822
Thank You, that was enlightening

 BTW, I didn't mean to imply that Tolkien was a misogynist in any way. There are many authors who make me angry with their foolish nonsense (*cough* GRR Martin *cough*), and Tolkien isn't one of them. Now, I better stop before I say something really foolish. Wink

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 5 2013, 11:57pm


Views: 820
Forgive me.

I wasn't referring to you, merely referring to the general claim of misogyny that others have made in the past.

Again, my sincere apologies if you felt it was directed at you. (Which in re-reading, it does seem unfortunately to be.)

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Vlusp, 13th Century


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 6 2013, 12:03am


Views: 810
ah, no worries....

 
ah, no worries.... (truly, darkstone).

honestly, i was just asking, and trying to ask in a neutral fashion.

and, -- again -- it was really quite wonderful to read what you posted re tolkien and his female students. my heart sang out a bit. : )

i still do wish toklien gave aragorn and arwen's daughters names, 'tho (!).


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 6 2013, 12:14am


Views: 813
Tusen tack, Darkstone!

That was a wonderful read. How great to learn he took the female students under his wing because they were neglected and had it harder in the university. Such a great, kind, noble, good man he was. All haters can go to the left, their idols don't even begin to compare.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 6 2013, 12:19am


Views: 811
Not in this thread, and as far as I know, nowhere in TORn

And generally speaking, he isn't usually blamed for hating women, in the contrary.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 6 2013, 12:19am


Views: 510
Unfortunately...

..I fear I may have hurt demnation's feelings, which I had absolutely no intention of doing.

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Vlusp, 13th Century


demnation
Rohan

Jun 6 2013, 12:38am


Views: 506
I mentioned it, I'm afraid

I meant to use it as a blanket term, as in the general denigration of women by excluding them, not necessarily hatred of them. I didn't mean to accuse Tolkien of it, just used it as a way to describe the way some people feel about him. I should of just used a different word. Unsure

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


demnation
Rohan

Jun 6 2013, 12:41am


Views: 506
Don't worry about it!

It was my own fault for using too strong a word in the first place. I thinks it's easy to forget sometimes that other people can't read your mind and see the intent behind your words. No harm done Smile

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien

(This post was edited by demnation on Jun 6 2013, 12:48am)


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 6 2013, 12:41am


Views: 494
think nothing of it

 
think nothing of it, demnation.... : ) you can see that we are all on the same, lovely page and we are passing around a flask of miruvor (here, have a sip : ) ).

now, let's get to what really matters --- what kind of sauce do you think goes best with balrog wings?


cheers : )

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 6 2013, 12:52am


Views: 488
Thank you.

You are very gracious.

Smile

******************************************
Brother will fight brother and both be his slayer,
Brother and sister will violate all bonds of kinship;
Hard it will be in the world, there will be much failure of honor,
An age of axes, an age of swords, where shields are shattered,
An age of winds, an age of wolves, where the world comes crashing down;
No man will spare another.

-From the Vlusp, 13th Century


wildespace
The Shire

Jun 6 2013, 10:02am


Views: 496
"Tolkien's view of women is that he thought too highly of them."

"(i.e. putting them on pedestals.)" - That's another common view that puzzles me a bit. Yes, there are some powerful, majestic, almost divine females in LotR (Arwen and Galadriel), but there are also many lesser ones, with their feet firmly planted in the common reality, and performing common roles in life in Middle-Earth. For example, the wife of farmer Maggot, who unexpectedly sends the Hobbits a basket full of their beloved mushrooms.

I feel like most readers somehow manage to miss all those little details, or forget about them and let them fade into the background. Next time I'm reading LoTR, I'll be noting down all the female characters and what role they play. I bet there's quite a few of them! Wink



noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 6 2013, 11:05am


Views: 473
Tolkien mostly avoids female stock characters

(Not sure where in this discussion to post this so hope it's OK to start again...)

Welcome to the Fellowship of the Room, wildespace

Its quite surprising, given the circumstances, how readable today Tolkien's female characters are. The period from his birth (1892) to now has co-incided with huge social changes in how women are viewed in western society, and in the fantasy and allied genres of fiction which have become popular during that time (in part because of JRRT's achievements, of course)

I once saw an interesting documentary about women characters in science fiction. It argued that science fiction had more or less co-incided with the rise of feminism, and could, among other things, be viewed as a working out of those social themes. An interesting thought. It suggested that the following female stock roles had always been available:
  • Femme Fatale
  • Damsel in Distress
  • Reward (as in "Half my Kingdom and my daughter's hand in marriage if you rid us of this dragon")

(One could probably add some more stock roles - e.g. "loyal wife", "risible mother in law")

Only later do we get professional characters - the documentary picks out Star Trek's (original show) Lt. Uhura as a character who often is treated as a competent professional officer (who happens to be a darned hot lady in a miniskirt Evil.). And so onwards to hard-nut characters such as Ripley in the Alien movies, or Starbuck in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. Or the now-getting-a -bit-tedious (to me at any rate) "Warrior Princess" stock character (as in Xena, or some early drafts of Arwen in Peter Jackson's films)

It's an interesting exercise to try & pigeonhole Tolkien women characters in this way, because (hurrah!) it mostly doesn't work.

Eowyn is a particularly interesting study I think -neither just a blend of very traditional female stocks (damsel in distress, loyal nurse) nor just a simplistic feminist character ("I wanna fight with a sword and shield like the men").

And at this point my thoughts tun out and I'd like to hear others'...

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 6 2013, 11:14am


Views: 480
And Ioreth

There's a lovely balance there between showing that she drives everyone bonkers with her nattering, and showing that if you actually pay attention to what she's saying, there is wisdom there which others have lost.

As for Tolkien's male characters, I suspect that one reason why a wide range of women and girls find it easy to identify with them and don't feel the (relative) fewness of women characters to be a put-off, is that they aren't forever flinging their masculinity in our faces by talking dirty, and ogling, courting, seducing - or worse - a succession of women they come across in their travels.


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 6 2013, 11:37am


Views: 460
Also worth listening to

Thinking of Ioreth reminded me of Nellas in "The Children of Hurin" - the elf-maiden who befriends Turin in Doriath. It's a similar sort of thing: when she is up in front of the King, at first she is timid and what she says seems silly, but fortunately he has patience with her and she turns out to be the key witness in Turin's defence.

It seems Tolkien recognises that communication between men and women is not always easy, with men often tempted to dismiss the matter of women's speech when the manner of it is not one they respect, but with Ioreth and Nellas he shows that this is a potentially fatal error.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 6 2013, 12:31pm


Views: 461
Very well said on Ioreth

 
"There's a lovely balance there between showing that she drives everyone bonkers with her nattering, and showing that if you actually pay attention to what she's saying, there is wisdom there which others have lost."


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 6 2013, 5:16pm


Views: 443
I think Tolkien's own personal preferences show though, as with all authors

Tolkien's writings include women of all kinds. But he puts emphasis on the wise, strong type, because that's the kind of women he liked, and that's the kind of women he wanted to both write and read about.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 6 2013, 8:24pm


Views: 430
quite right -

- this is something of a hobby-horse for me. As you say, Tolkien wasn't surrounded only by men at Oxford (nor at Leeds, come to that). There were many women students in the English depts. at both universities, many of whom became friends of the Tolkiens. Some became university teachers in their own right, such as Elaine Griffiths and Joan Blomfield. Elaine was Chair of the English Faculty Board at Oxford for some time. I've seen a copy of a page in a book which is signed by eleven members of a group called the 'cave'. This group was a junta set up by Tolkien and Lewis in the 30s, to back Tolkien's proposed changes to the English syllabus at Oxford. All of the members were teachers at Oxford - of the 11 signatories, five were women. So much for the idea that Tolkien only spent his time in pubs with other men.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 6 2013, 9:21pm


Views: 450
I think Butterbur is Ioreth's male counterpart. (and other musings on women in Tolkien)

Butterbur is well-intentioned, but a bit foolish, a rambler and very slow to remember and get to the point. Not all of Tolkien's males are high and puissant. He does give us some glimpses of "everyday" sorts amid all the high adventure and lofty destinies.

And I agree - the fact that women are often absent is less offensive than constant mention in solely sexual contexts would be. But it occurs to me that the real reason women are largely missing is simply that we have a group of travelers and they do not stay long enough to get involved in the life of the cultures they visit. The women they meet are mostly their hostesses in various stops along the way.

We get plenty of mention of female hobbits. In fact, Bilbo is introduced by a description of his mother - which is far more rounded and developed than that of his father. Bilbo himself is a bachelor, leaving him free to wander off on adventures; I imagine Gandalf would be unlikely to send a husband/father of a family away from his family to face dangers he may not return from, though it is mentioned that he has sent off both lads and lasses on adventures in the wild in the past. Then, aside from the other single hobbits who go adventuring, we have another strong hobbit character in Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. We also get mention of several other hobbit ladies - Aunt Dora, who writes such good advice, Melilot who is just a wee bit vain, and then there is gender parity at his Birthday Party, where everyone is invited and both hobbit lads and lasses get up to play instruments and dance together. And of course, we have Sam's beloved Rosie. So in the only home life of any of the cultures we are really privileged to see, we have plenty of women.

Once we leave the Shire, we have:

Bombadil's House - Goldberry is a gracious hostess, definitely loved and honored by her husband

We meet no women in Bree, as they make a single-night stop in an alehouse which is apparently run by a single man and they (as men) are waited on by males. There may or may not have been unmentioned serving wenches in the bar. There were certainly plenty of women in the town, but our characters had no reason or opportunity to meet them.

Rivendell - again, plenty of Elven women presumably about, but none of them interacted in such a way as to require mention except Arwen, who spends time with Aragorn (he is with her when Bilbo points her out to Frodo). Arwen makes the standard which heralds Aragorn's claim to kingship and becomes his banner in battle and, I assume, continues to be displayed in Minas Tirith and is probably carried with him when he goes on royal progresses about his lands.

Moria - We can assume there were orc women, but when our party only sees orcs to fight with them it is impossible for us (or, probably, them) to distinguish if any of the orcs they saw and fought were women, or indeed what the life of an orc woman would be.

Lorien - Again, presumably equal numbers of women living in Caras Galadhon and some of the Elves who saw to the comfort and housing may have been women (though none, male or female, are mentioned), but the Fellowship only had dealings with their hostess, Galadriel. In addition, it is mentioned that she and her ladies wove the material for the cloaks they gave to the Fellowship and it was considered to be an honor to wear it.

Mordor - again, no orc gender issues explored at all, and Sauron is single. We do get our only female villain in Shelob, who is described as being a Black Widow type who devours her mates and spawns many nasty little children.

Rohan - A single king, whose hall is presided over by his niece, Eowyn. She is dissatisfied with the state of her society, and therefore all the more impatient with her assigned role to the point of preferring to be dead than to continue it indefinitely. This is probably the only culture other than the Shire where the position of women is discussed at all. Since Eowyn is called a shieldmaiden, it may be assumed that were her king and her nation in better days, strong and not oppressed by Saruman and Wormtongue, she might have pride in her position (as indeed she later seems to have as Lady of Ithilien) rather than contempt for it. Wormtongue certainly did his best to promote and deepen her alienation and bitterness.

Gondor - We are told that the women and children have been evacuated from the city on the eve of war, so the only women who remain through the siege are those working in some capacity with the garrison, and of these we only meet Ioreth, a hospital worker with a garrulous manner concealing some important information. When the war ends, the women and children return to the city and bring with it light, laughter and flowers. And then of course, the city gains a Queen in Arwen, who grants Frodo an important gift.

In The Hobbit, we have the same situation in the Shire - though since less time is spent there than in LOTR, we do not get the same descriptions of women and what they were up to. Bilbo and his exclusively male party of travelers, passes through Rivendell (where there is tension between his party and their hosts, so not a lot of mingling there), goes through Goblin Town, meets the Eagles (who presumably include females, although the only gender that's really mentioned is their King's), then meets Beorn, who is single. They are then captured by Elves and imprisoned in the dungeons, meaning that they only Elves they see are guards (no gender given) and though Bilbo is not in a cell, he's too preoccupied with hiding and survival to pay attention to Elvish culture. The only figures important for him to record in his tale were the Elvenking, the butler, and his drinking buddy guard. On to Laketown, where again there are presumably equal numbers of women present but only two figures have an impact on the Quest - the corrupt Master and the "grim" Bard, captain at arms.

So I think the absence of women is greatly due to the road trip nature of these stories, and on that point it is as well to observe that travel in such a time and place as Middle-earth was not generally undertaken for pleasure since it was a major undertaking; slow, difficult, the dangers many, and one could not travel unarmed. Travel was either by backpacking, horseback, or pack train. Nobody went sight-seeing. No one traveled unless they had strong reason - even Sam had never been further than a day's walk from home. This is not unusual in non-industrial agrarian cultures: one cannot just leave a farm or shop untended and wander off for a while. If one is going to set a story in such a time and place, one must either take a realistic practical view (which Tolkien does) and assume only lords, warriors, traders, and the displaced would routinely travel, or one takes a fantastical approach and has people behaving in ways which do not follow the laws of practicality. This is where I think people forget the distinction between Tolkien's "feigned history" and the "magic realm" approach often used by other writers of Fantasy. It might be easy to imbue a magic realm with complete gender equality/indifference but it doesn't fit so well in a feigned history. Arwen and Galadriel travel distances at cause and Eowyn rides to war when the men of her people go (all three are in the "lords" category), but the other women (when not being evacuated), like the majority of non-military men who have no reason to go anywhere, stay at home and get on with life.

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 6 2013, 10:44pm


Views: 418
This is wonderful Silverlode!

I like the underlying point you make, that JRRT saw himself as rediscovering a history, not inventing a fantasy.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 7 2013, 12:50am


Views: 432
Eowyn

Eowyn's story is very revealing, especially when you think what it could have been (i.e. woman thinks she can fight, disobeys her King/father figure and goes to war, ends up dead/defeated/running away in terror; men say "I told you so".)

Although she recognises her own fighting capabilities and is frustrated by being refused a chance to exercise them, she is still thinking somewhat conventionally when Aragorn turns up: she hopes it will be the "Tale of Aragorn and Eowyn", where the hero effectively rides in and rescues her from the doldrums she is in - even though she dreams of fighting at his side rather than darning his socks and having his babies, it's still basically the old pattern.

Instead, Tolkien boots her into a new kind of tale - the Tale of Eowyn and Faramir. One of Faenoriel's posts used the term "gender-bender" to describe their relationship, and indeed the way the story plays out is a switch-round from what one might expect. Although Faramir is a brave warrior himself, and loved and respected by his men, at the point of crisis he is (through no fault of his own) passive, and about to be murdered - a cliche feminine role - while Eowyn is the active warrior - out on the battlefield fighting the Witch-King. Her wounding in this encounter is never construed as "punishment" for daring to go and fight, but just seen as the inevitable side-effect of tackling such a formidable opponent.

Having acquitted herself honourably in battle, her change of attitude after she is healed has been seen as an anti-feminist "cop-out" by some, but if it's seen in the full context of LOTR, I don't think her choice is being flagged up as appropriate for a female in particular. Opting for life and healing and "things that grow" over war, despair and death aligns her with the hobbits, especially Sam the gardener and healer of the devastated Shire (who according to a letter of Tolkien's is the real hero of LOTR) - and with Faramir (who has a key speech about the difference between the cultures of Gondor and Rohan - in Gondor, death and renown in battle is not seen as the highest aim in life) - and with other characters like Tom and Goldberry, Treebeard and the Ents. And, I suspect, Tolkien himself. Fighting is something you do when it is necessary (Tolkien was no pacifist), but it's not the best way to spend a life. Eowyn shows that she can fight, then released from the need to prove her mettle, she can step aside, review the values of the culture she grew up in, and freely make a better choice. A woman making her own decisions from a position of experience. Nice one, Tolkien.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 1:53am


Views: 407
Totally wonderful

This is a real keeper, Silverlode. I sometimes think we should have a wiki or hall of fame or some place where we keep definitive essays, and this would be one. Or maybe it's an early entry for the symposium? Cool


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 2:03am


Views: 400
Well, that's wonderful too

Thanks for the carefully nuanced post, Na. I liked your comparison of Faramir and Eowyn: I'd never thought of him as the passive female murder victim needing to be rescued, but he was. Or that can also be a standard role for old frail kings who are about to be murdered/poisoned/etc and need rescuing. Either way, it's a role of weakness for the lover-boy, whereas Eowyn proved herself the ultimate warrior, in my opinion, because she was the only one that didn't run away from the Witch-King. Even if she'd lost that battle, I think she proved her mettle in facing, and it wasn't just her suicidal nature that shielded her from fear. I think it was primarily her love of Theoden that fueled her courage, not her death-wish, but I know not everyone agrees with that.

Another good point about choices to heal. I remember quite clearly in my college course on Tolkien how several feminists in the class criticized Eowyn for exactly that cop-out, going from Amazon to nurse/gardener. As you say, it was her choice, and society didn't force it on her, so people ought to respect a woman's right to choose her role in society, even if it's a non-macho one. Plus you point out that most of the men wanted to heal the world too. Really, the beginning of the Fourth Age was all about healing the calamitous end of the Third Age, and Eowyn was just one individual in that big picture.

Anyway, thanks again--very thought-provoking.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 2:08am


Views: 393
I agree!


In Reply To
This is a real keeper, Silverlode. I sometimes think we should have a wiki or hall of fame or some place where we keep definitive essays, and this would be one. Or maybe it's an early entry for the symposium? Cool




CoolCoolWink

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 7 2013, 2:41am


Views: 387
Symmetry

Thank you!

Have you noticed how symmetrical (without being a dead, mechanical symmetry) the stories of Faramir and Eowyn are?

Both are motherless younger siblings and underestimated by their father-figure - Faramir through his father's favouritism, Eowyn because she is female.

In true fairytale fashion, both do a kindness to a hobbit on the road - Faramir lets Frodo go, Eowyn brings Merry with her - and end up with the hobbit equivalent of a "magical helper", who is there at the crisis point when they need help - Pippin (with Gandalf) for Faramir and Merry (with his sword from the Barrowdowns) for Eowyn.

Both end up wounded in the Houses of Healing, and in both cases their presence there is connected with the father-figure in their lives - Denethor tries to destroy Faramir, Eowyn tries to save Theoden.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 2:47am


Views: 382
Well, my addled brain

only got far enough to see that they were both the underdogs in their families who were rescued by hobbits--I never filled in the rest. You did quite well! Do you suppose this was deliberate on Tolkien's part? It seems sophisticated enough that it was mapped out, but maybe it just happened as he wrote them, knowing that he wanted them to be similar enough to have a plausible love story together.


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 7 2013, 3:03am


Views: 381
Deliberate?

I don't know whether Tolkien planned it to be symmetrical in advance and on purpose, or whether it just came out of how the story developed - maybe people who are more familiar with the "History of Middle Earth" LOTR volumes might be able to throw some light on this?


demnation
Rohan

Jun 7 2013, 3:16am


Views: 372
Very well put

I've always found Eowyn's subplot to be the best and the most fulfilling in the story. You make an excellent point about her relationship with Faramir. As she says, she desires no mans pity.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


demnation
Rohan

Jun 7 2013, 4:53am


Views: 368
Absolutely!

 I've always thought of Tolkien as having been a wonderful and thoroughly decent human being. And because of that, ( and because he wrote great fiction!) he will always be one of the people I admire most. In fact, I recently came to the realization that he has had more of a positive influence in my life than my own father did.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 7 2013, 5:13am


Views: 376
I agree!

You make some points that I have often pondered, especially about the decision to give up dealing out death to embrace dealing out life. Surely that is a far better and healthier life choice, not to mention much more practical in a time of peace! Someday I will get around to writing that essay on Eowyn's inner journey I've had in the back of my mind for years....

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 7:14am


Views: 371
As I recall...

...although it's been a couple of years since I read through the HoME volumes on LotR, as I recall at one point Tolkien planned that Aragorn and Eowyn would marry. In another draft, Eowyn would sacrifice saving Aragorn. Finally Faramir came along and solved the problem. Smile

I still remember in my first read of LotR thinking at one point, "For God's sake won't someone please introduce these two before it's too late?!"








noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 7:46am


Views: 708
Tolkien sees the good in many kinds of people

He doesn't have a small group of young, fit, attractive, talented heroes (male and female) in a world of fools or stick characters. There are several characters who are wise if not conventionally academically clever: Gaffer, Maggot, Butterbur. And ioreth, as has already been discussed! There's probably a message in Gandalf's regard and understanding for these people (I imagine that Saruman would only respect book- learning).

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Maciliel
Valinor


Jun 7 2013, 11:33am


Views: 696
eowyn's choice

 
although on some levels i have issues with the author's choice (rather than eowyn's), tolkien's decision to have eowyn put down the sword and move towards a more peaceful existence is in line with how tolkien saw the power of females, his descriptions of the nature of female elves (nissi) and male elves (neri), and the incompatibility of death and healing.

on the "of maeglin" chapter discussion thread, i excerpted a bit from morgoth's ring that describes this...

tolkien's thoughts on death and healing and males and females

in that context, i can see how the author's choice for eowyn makes sense with his overall view that arms, death, etc. are sometimes necessary, but are intrinsically at odds with life and healing.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 7 2013, 12:18pm


Views: 699
The lost woman (well, female) of 'The Hobbit'

In the early, unpublished version of the chapter "Flies and Spiders", the giant spider that Bilbo slays before naming his sword Sting, is described as a she. Presumably, others among the Mirkwood spiders are also female.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 12:36pm


Views: 700
Tolkien vs. Hollywood

In terms of integrity, Tolkien includes female characters who have their own story to tell and fit naturally into the fabric of the story. I contrast that with many contemporary Hollywood movies which seem to awkwardly insert strong, smart women as an afterthought to balance the gender numbers and deflect feminist criticism, and their roles are usually shallow. You can almost predict in a formula-driven movie when the token female Amazon or scientist will pop up and do something brave or brilliant, then disappear again, or else morph into the sexy object of the hero's attention. Hence Tolkien vs tokenism.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 1:19pm


Views: 683
Yes, there does seem something depressingly checkbox driven..

Yes, there does seem something depressingly "checkbox driven" about a lot of female roles in popular media. A bit depressing if that is what is thought to be necessary to avoid criticism. Even more depressing if it generally succeeds.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 1:34pm


Views: 670
BTW - the discussion thread Silmarilion Discussion: Chapter 16 -- "Of Maeglin" has a lot of relevant stuff to this conversation

BTW - the discussion thread Silmarilion Discussion: Chapter 16 -- "Of Maeglin" has a lot of relevant stuff to this conversation. Many of the people in this conversation are also in that one already, but if not, worth checking it out!

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 1:37pm


Views: 679
I agree!


In Reply To
He doesn't have a small group of young, fit, attractive, talented heroes (male and female) in a world of fools or stick characters. There are several characters who are wise if not conventionally academically clever: Gaffer, Maggot, Butterbur. And ioreth, as has already been discussed! There's probably a message in Gandalf's regard and understanding for these people (I imagine that Saruman would only respect book- learning).




JRRT had a great love of the value in the salt-of-the-earth, daily wisdom of everyday life. I think there is indeed a message in Gandalf's view of the value in such folk: his wisdom in recognizing inner value while disregarding trappings of power, and his own humility that he brought from Valinor. And the most important, I feel, to the larger picture is Gandalf's faith in the ways of Eru - that even the smallest or most mundane individual has value and purpose; he recognizes that he is not the only being to be able to make good happen. He does not have the failing of faith as does Saruman, by turning away from the Song and only relying arrogantly only on one's own motivations or skills to achieve the desired end.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 2:39pm


Views: 668
Personal influence


In Reply To
JRRT had a great love of the value in the salt-of-the-earth, daily wisdom of everyday life. I think there is indeed a message in Gandalf's view of the value in such folk: his wisdom in recognizing inner value while disregarding trappings of power, and his own humility that he brought from Valinor. And the most important, I feel, to the larger picture is Gandalf's faith in the ways of Eru - that even the smallest or most mundane individual has value and purpose; he recognizes that he is not the only being to be able to make good happen. He does not have the failing of faith as does Saruman, by turning away from the Song and only relying arrogantly only on one's own motivations or skills to achieve the desired end.

I can say that this theme running through the book had a profound personal influence on me as a teenager. Gandalf was one of the most powerful and important people in MEarth, yet in place of the scorn of Denethor and Saruman for lesser people, he sought the value in everyone, not just the rich, powerful, glamorous types. He was a great role model for me.



Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 3:05pm


Views: 652
I second that inspiration! //


In Reply To

In Reply To
I can say that this theme running through the book had a profound personal influence on me as a teenager. Gandalf was one of the most powerful and important people in MEarth, yet in place of the scorn of Denethor and Saruman for lesser people, he sought the value in everyone, not just the rich, powerful, glamorous types. He was a great role model for me.


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 3:14pm


Views: 648
Can you "third" something? //

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 3:23pm


Views: 645
Of course you can! //

SmileAngelic

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 7 2013, 3:48pm


Views: 661
Tolkien as an positive influence in life

is something I and probably many others can understand... though the notion that your father was a less positive influence than a dead writer is sad to hear.

Perhaps we could make a thread of its own about this?

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Off to an adventure in Republika e Shqipris. Will be back 16.6.


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 7 2013, 3:49pm


Views: 642
This //

 

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Off to an adventure in Republika e Shqipris. Will be back 16.6.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 4:13pm


Views: 677
Real Life medieval women...

Here's something interesting I was pleased to find again. Terry Jones (yes the Monty Python comedian, but also a keen Medievalist) did a series about Medieval Lives.

Here's his show about the role of women in Britain in the Middle Ages (which included on occasion defending your castle, abducting the young knight you fancied, or running a brewery). There's a bit of Pythonesque fooling about, but unless that is unbearable stay tuned, he knows his stuff. It's an interesting insight for fantasy readers (& indeed, writers)

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 4:19pm


Views: 639
And I will be eager to read your essay... //

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowim I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 7 2013, 4:35pm


Views: 633
Would be a great thread. Should it be in RR or on Main? //

 


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Jun 7 2013, 7:46pm


Views: 620
Main. Feel free to make it.//

 

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Off to an adventure in Republika e Shqipris. Will be back 16.6.


Semper Fi
Rohan

Jun 8 2013, 7:34pm


Views: 599
Great post, no cop out

It`s funny that Eowyn`s choice (of free will) to become a doctor (healer = Mediaval doctor), in times when a princess didn`t need a profession or having one was unheard of, is seen as backwards in comparison to joining the army (aka progress). IMO, both were progressive but motive behind becoming a doctor (for that`s what she becomes) is healthier than the one that drove her into joining the war party (lots of depression and self-hurting tendencies). Eowyn chooses her long-term occupation after she heals mentally and phsycially whereas she went to battle while she was mentally rather unstable (death wish is one of symptoms of depression). Also, the battlefield stint was impulsive since she was told to stay behind (and thus preserve the lineage of kings should both Theoden and Eomer die in war). So when she tells Faramir that she doesn`t want to be the Queen it`s also coming to terms that she didn`t have the right mind frame for a Queen (staying behind to take reigns of the country).

OTOH, although we don`t know much about Arwen save that she was in love with Aragorn so much so she chose a mortal life, it`s possible that she was quite versed in political cunning which is why Aragorn chose her for his Queen. Beauty alone wouldn`t do the trick. The movies showed that fairly well - she did manipulate her father into sending Elven back-up to help Aragorn, she lured the Nazgul into thinking she`s fight them hand-to-hand only to unleash waters upon them, she initiated re-forging of the sword that offically acknowledged Aragorn as the true King. Not all was perfect but it showed there was more to her than looking pretty and pining for her man.

"RadagaStoner deserves no mercy!" Tauriel the Radagast Slayer


Na Vedui
Rohan


Jun 9 2013, 1:52am


Views: 590
Faramir muscling in on the action

"Came along" was about it! There's a lovely bit in one of Tolkien's letters to Christopher Tolkien (6 May 1944):

"A new character has come on the scene (I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien): Faramir, the brother of Boromir - and he is holding up the 'catastrophe' by a lot of stuff about the history of Gondor and Rohan (with some very sound reflections no doubt on martial glory and true glory): but if he goes on much more a lot of him will have to be removed to the Appendices..."


Dirhaval
The Shire

Jun 9 2013, 8:48pm


Views: 575
female

I read the books and noticed so many characters had a wife die young or both parents die or the mother.
Tolkien's parents died by the time he was twelve. He had two great friends die in the Banker War (calling it WWI somehow says that it as justified, since one follows zero and both are natural numbers). The war after was the Eugenics War.
I feel Tolkien thought often of those two friends never marrying. War is an inhuman act. It dehumanizes those fighting. Lord of the Rings had many fighting scenes; a place women should not be if else could be planned. Men bring death, women bring life.

Keep this in mind when you watch television and movies today. When two women are in dialogue, do they talk about a topic other then men? If so, how do you view the women as oppose two that just talk about men? Think about it.

War is not natural. Including women will make war a natural thing, something to plan, not to be prepared to avoid.
Tolkien was alive during the 1930s; he witnessed in England the affects of war on the women and widows. Who will heal a broken man upon victory? Who will heal a broken women?
Tolkien understood women very well. Since he know how to be a man.


(This post was edited by Dirhaval on Jun 9 2013, 8:49pm)


dubulous
Rohan

Jun 16 2013, 8:48am


Views: 532
True

and there are also many characters who are brave and strong even though they don't look that way - hobbits of course being the most obvious example. In fact, while there are the obvious heroes like Aragorn, there's also a great appreciation for characters who are more than what could be assumed from their outward description. Heck, even Aragorn, when first introduced is a scruffy looking man who doesn't inspire much trust in the people around him.

Then there are also those, like Denethor and Saruman, who are supposed to be noble and wise but still succumb to weakness in the end.

To bring this back to the theme of female characters in LotR, I guess one of the reasons why I personally have never seen a problem in the lack of said female characters is that all of the characters are so varied in a very non-gender-specific way that while reading LotR for the first time, as a female reader, it frankly never even occurred to me how few in number the female characters were. I just saw a varierty of characters - not a bunch of male and/or female characters.