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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Battle of the Pelennor Fields part 4

Milady
Rivendell


Oct 11 2008, 4:39am

Post #1 of 22 (1380 views)
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Battle of the Pelennor Fields part 4 Can't Post

Now men raise Theoden, and bear him to the City, while others take Eowyn. Their fallen comrades they bury, and raise a mound and set up their spears. When the battle is over, they’ll bury Snowmane and burn the monster, and grass will never grow in that spot.

Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?

Merry walks with the bearers, exhausted. It starts to rain, putting out all the fires, and “it seemed that all things wept for Theoden and Eowyn.” Imrahil shows up, kneels before Theoden’s bier, and notices Eowyn. He wonders if the women of Rohan have come to their aid as well.

Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?

The men answer that she is the only one, and they didn’t even know she was there. Imrahil reveals that Eowyn is still alive, and sends a rider to the City, while he himself returns to the battle. Which, as we now learn, is extremely chaotic. The horses of Rohan will not go anywhere near the mumakil, and the Haradrim greatly outnumber the Rohirrim. Also, new reinforcements are coming from Osgiliath. Gothmog is next in the chain of command, sending new soldiers right into the battle.

There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?

Now a great wind blows, letting the sun through the cloud. But the sight brings no joy to the defenders, who see the black sails of the Corsairs of Umbar sailing up the river. The City sounds a retreat, and Eomer clearly sees the ships. He rallies his men for a last stand, reciting a verse, the last line of which is as follows: “Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!”

I hate to get into a movie discussion, but do you think that line is more effective at sunrise leading a charge, or at sunset making a last stand?

Eomer looks again towards the ships, and sees something no one expected: the White Tree, and seven stars and a crown, made by Arwen for Aragorn.

Again: who saw this coming? Just curious if the laws of deus ex machina applied for everyone’s reading experience.

Has anyone ever wondered what would have happened if Smaug had ate Bilbo, and therefore the ring? It would be interesting to see Sauron send orcs to go diving for the Ring.


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Oct 11 2008, 7:21am

Post #2 of 22 (1011 views)
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M*A*S*H Middle Earth style [In reply to] Can't Post

Quick observation: the King's knights were not buried at this time, because the battle was still raging and everyone was needed to fight; they just erected spears around their bodies. They did spare some men to carry the King and Éowyn in to the citadel, though. We don't know who these were: possibly elderly folks not eligible to fight, or maybe orderlies from the Houses of Healing?

Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?

Even the plants in Middle Earth know good from evil. Or, perhaps, especially the plants, as some of the Men (Haradrim, etc.) seem to have trouble there.

Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?

No, it would take more than one look. If it were obvious, everyone would know. Imrahil is more perceptive than, say, Éomer. From the text, we must assume that women in battle are extremely uncommon, although if Beren IV shows up here he'll disagree.

There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?

The book is only 1/4 done, it can't be that hopeless. The man just can't resist the opportunity for a eucatastrophe.

I hate to get into a movie discussion, but do you think that line is more effective at sunrise leading a charge, or at sunset making a last stand?

Sunset, of course. The later stages of the battle were seriously botched in the movie, IMO. The mumakil were wonderful, though. Too bad the horses showed no fear of them.

Again: who saw this coming? Just curious if the laws of deus ex machina applied for everyone’s reading experience.

Yep, works every time.





The Rohirrim, by Peter Xavier Price

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Oct 12 2008, 1:03am

Post #3 of 22 (931 views)
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My thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?

Maybe the creature was just plain toxic. After all, Sauron had fed it on fell meats. What does that mean, anyway? Perhaps its ashes poisoned the soil.

Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?

Maybe not assume, but hazard a guess--after all, he phrases it as a question. People think in terms of trends, not isolated incidents. And he might have been closer to the truth than the Rohirrim, judging from the history of battle in general.

There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?

That's just standard literary practice. If you want your guys to win, show them at some point at the brink of losing, but if you want them to lose, show them at some point at the brink of winning. It's the only way to build up tension. You can't make the road from point A to point B too easy.

I hate to get into a movie discussion, but do you think that line is more effective at sunrise leading a charge, or at sunset making a last stand?

More effective at sunset, but who knows what logistics demanded a shift to sunrise?

Again: who saw this coming? Just curious if the laws of deus ex machina applied for everyone’s reading experience. I suspected that the tide would turn, but I had no guarantees. After all I expected Boromir and Theoden to survive, and for that matter Thorin in "The Hobbit" to survive as well, and they didn't. Sometimes sneaky ol' Tolkien was just predictable enough to really throw you for a loop when he wasn't.



Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


batik
Tol Eressea


Oct 12 2008, 1:07am

Post #4 of 22 (930 views)
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PF part 4 [In reply to] Can't Post

Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?
Must change the compostion of the soil? What events happen in RL that change nature's natural ability?
Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?
That might be a logical thought if Imrahil was not familiar with the customs of Rohan. She's a woman, looks to have been in battle--women in the army. However, Imrahil's being a Prince makes me think he may have known at least of Rohan's norms and he seems to be expressing surprise at this situation.
There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?
Well, he wrote it that way...I suppose it was intentional!
I hate to get into a movie discussion, but do you think that line is more effective at sunrise leading a charge, or at sunset making a last stand?
Wow! Is it really about the be sunset/nightfall? The lines do sum up the entire day don't they --began at sunrise and may be ending it here at day's end. Was a great film moment but does fit here in the book.
Again: who saw this coming? Just curious if the laws of deus ex machina applied for everyone’s reading experience.
Not me...a nice surprise.




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 12 2008, 1:15am

Post #5 of 22 (948 views)
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A little bit of Mordor [In reply to] Can't Post

Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?
One might say that the ground around the thing became heavily "tainted" by it, so no living thing will touch that area; it's like having a little bit of Mordor on the Pelennor.

There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?
Elizabeth's got the best explanation: this makes for a great eucatastrophe! I can't recall whether I could see this coming, way back when I first read the book; but given its title, something good had to happen at some point. And the tide is beginning to turn, just before the arrival of Aragorn: Éowyn really is still alive, a rain is beginning to "wash" the battle - good things come in threes!

You first read the book not too long ago; can you recall how you felt, as the black ships arrived? Did you think all was lost?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Milady
Rivendell


Oct 12 2008, 8:56pm

Post #6 of 22 (927 views)
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Not too long ago, but long enough [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't really remember what I thought when I read it, but I get the feeling I was slightly less of a sarastic cynic than I am now, so I must have been wrapped up in the book and though everything was done for.

Has anyone ever wondered what would have happened if Smaug had ate Bilbo, and therefore the ring? It would be interesting to see Sauron send orcs to go diving for the Ring.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 12 2008, 10:21pm

Post #7 of 22 (906 views)
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It would be nice to [In reply to] Can't Post

be able to go back, and re-live the moments of eucatastrophe in the book that we felt during that first reading! Time dulls the memory. Frown

But it's wonderful to get "wrapped up" in a story like this - I still can do that, even after multiple readings; that's the beauty of this book. Smile


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Pukel-man
The Shire


Oct 14 2008, 1:08pm

Post #8 of 22 (899 views)
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The dying words of a Ringwraith: [In reply to] Can't Post

"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever Mordor."


What strikes me here is how Eomer's perspective is best for telling the story of the battle. Eomer leads one of the great dawn charges, feels most keenly the 'deaths' of Theoden and Eowyn, feels most powerfully the surge of emotion that precedes Aragorn's arrival, and is the first to realise that the city is saved. And he's even involved in the mopping-up afterwards.

Which makes me wonder: why was Eomer so sidelined in the movie?



(This post was edited by Pukel-man on Oct 14 2008, 1:09pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Oct 14 2008, 3:52pm

Post #9 of 22 (947 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Why won’t grass grow where something evil was burned?

They need to roto-till it. Drippings from burning bodies form a sealing layer of fat in the soil. They need to break up the layer so plants can grow. Then it will really blossom.

Note there's a bare spot where nothing grows back where the orcs were burned in front of Helm's Deep. There's also a bare spot where nothing grows in The Old Forest where hobbits made a bonfire of hundreds of trees after they attacked the Hedge.


Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?

Someone familiar with the traditional culture of Rohan might assume shieldmaidens would come too.


There’s this long, long description of how hopeless it appears to be—almost the perfect setup for deus ex machina. Do you think Tolkien intended it that way, or did it just happen that way?

The centerpiece battle in Tolkien’s sequel is bigger, better, and even more desperate than Helm’s Deep! (Hmmm… Tolkien thinks like a Hollywood producer???)


Now a great wind blows, letting the sun through the cloud. But the sight brings no joy to the defenders, who see the black sails of the Corsairs of Umbar sailing up the river. The City sounds a retreat, and Eomer clearly sees the ships. He rallies his men for a last stand, reciting a verse, the last line of which is as follows: “Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!”

I hate to get into a movie discussion, but do you think that line is more effective at sunrise leading a charge, or at sunset making a last stand?


In ancient times nightfall usually meant an end to battle. Back then leaders needed to see their units to guide them. When they couldn’t see things the entire situation went to pieces. Units would get lost and wander around looking for the enemy all night. Friendly units would accidentally start fighting each other. Nightfall was usually a time for rest, to eat, to tend to the wounded, to gather up stragglers, to entrench positions, to repair equipment, and, if necessary, to retreat. Not that night engagements didn’t happen, but when they did, it was extremely chaotic. And when dawn came both forces would be scattered hither and yon, and everyone would be dead tired. So they’d use up all the next day resting and reorganizing anyhow. It usually just wasn’t smart to fight at night back then unless there was an overwhelming reason to do so, and even then an intelligent commander would think twice.


Eomer looks again towards the ships, and sees something no one expected: the White Tree, and seven stars and a crown, made by Arwen for Aragorn.

Again: who saw this coming? Just curious if the laws of deus ex machina applied for everyone’s reading experience.


In Tolkien the cavalry always arrives in time! He must have loved westerns!

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Oct 14 2008, 5:02pm

Post #10 of 22 (890 views)
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"Tolkien thinks like a Hollywood producer?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, he did suggest that the battle at Helm's Deep could be cut from a film version of LotR, partly because he felt that it would undermine the fighting on the Pelennor: battles onscreen, he wrote, tend to look too similar.

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We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

Join us Oct. 13-19 for "The Pyre of Denethor".

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Darkstone
Immortal


Oct 14 2008, 5:49pm

Post #11 of 22 (912 views)
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Tolkien as Weinstein? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, he did suggest that the battle at Helm's Deep could be cut from a film version of LotR, partly because he felt that it would undermine the fighting on the Pelennor:

Sounds like he had the same line of thinking of Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinsten told Jackson they''d decided to go to just one film and handed him a screen treatment that composited Rohan/Gondor, Helm's Deep/Pelennor, Faramir/Eomer, Arwen/Eowyn, and also cut Lothlorien and a couple of the "spare hobbits". Jackson of course was horrified. He told Weinstein where to stick it and resigned as director. Weinstein then turned to John Madden (Ethan Frome, Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli's Mandolin) to direct the single 2 hour LOTR movie.

Luckily Jackson's agent Ken Kamins didn't give up and contacted franchise king Robert Shaye who said the immortal words "There's three books, right? So there should be three movies!" New Line bought the rights from Weinstein for $9 million cash, 5% of the profits, and executive producer billing for him and his brother. The rest is history.

battles onscreen, he wrote, tend to look too similar.

Yeah, Jackson said he found battle scenes boring, so he cut them as much as he could. Lots of unused battle footage. Another technique he used to break the boredom was to cut away to other scenes in the middle of battle.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



(This post was edited by Darkstone on Oct 14 2008, 5:54pm)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Oct 14 2008, 6:26pm

Post #12 of 22 (881 views)
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Jackson as Tolkien? [In reply to] Can't Post

When Tolkien suggested cutting the Battle of the Hornburg, he was commenting on the Zimmerman script treatment, which would have adapted LotR as one film. And Tolkien didn't quite tell Zimmerman (and Ackerman) "where to stick it" but as you know he certainly didn't refrain from negative remarks on the treatment.

Thanks for the reminder about Shaye. I wonder if Tolkien would have said, "There's six books, right? So there should be six movies!"


Quote
Yeah, Jackson said he found battle scenes boring, so he cut them as much as he could.... Another technique he used to break the boredom was to cut away to other scenes in the middle of battle.


Other directors might have tried to make the battle scenes interesting rather than cut them, but if Jackson didn't think he could do that, more power to him. Some critics, like Pauline Kael, complained about Kenneth Branagh's Henry V that he added music under the St. Crispin's Day speech: after all, Laurence Olivier hadn't needed to support his delivery of that passage in his film of that play. Other critics, like Stanley Kauffmann, applauded Branagh for knowing his acting limitations and how to use cinema to compensate for them.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

Join us Oct. 13-19 for "The Pyre of Denethor".

+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
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Darkstone
Immortal


Oct 14 2008, 7:14pm

Post #13 of 22 (920 views)
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Jackson as Harry Cohn? [In reply to] Can't Post

When Tolkien suggested cutting the Battle of the Hornburg, he was commenting on the Zimmerman script treatment, which would have adapted LotR as one film.

Kinda my point.


And Tolkien didn't quite tell Zimmerman (and Ackerman) "where to stick it" but as you know he certainly didn't refrain from negative remarks on the treatment.

It’s just Tolkien could say “stick it” so much more elegantly.


Thanks for the reminder about Shaye. I wonder if Tolkien would have said, "There's six books, right? So there should be six movies!"

I’ll definitely wager Shaye would have made six if he had thought of it. He made his fortune on film franchises. He’d probably start kicking himself if you ever mentioned the idea to him.


Other directors might have tried to make the battle scenes interesting rather than cut them,…
Such as the battle scenes directed by the more experienced Wolfgang Petersen (Troy), Oliver Stone (Alexander), and Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven). (Er, wait, those were boring, weren’t they?)


…but if Jackson didn't think he could do that, more power to him.

Yeah, producer Mark Ordesky said he sometimes would realize they’d trusted a $300 million budget to the schlockmeister director of such classics as Bad Taste and Braindead and he’d start getting really nervous.


Some critics, like Pauline Kael, complained about Kenneth Branagh's Henry V that he added music under the St. Crispin's Day speech: after all, Laurence Olivier hadn't needed to support his delivery of that passage in his film of that play. Other critics, like Stanley Kauffmann, applauded Branagh for knowing his acting limitations and how to use cinema to compensate for them.

Jackson, under the continuous urging of producers Ordesky and Osbourne, always seemed to be concerned about the audience getting restless. Like with the Harry Cohn B*** Test. The head of Columbia Pictures always said, “When my b*** begins to hurt, the movie is too long."

(I note Cohn also said “Fantasy films never make money.” When a writer pointed out that one of Columbia’s biggest hits was the fantasy “Lost Horizon” his triumphant reply was “Ah, but think how much more money it would have made if it *wasn’t* a fantasy!”)

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Oct 14 2008, 8:00pm

Post #14 of 22 (879 views)
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I wasn't bored by those movie-battles... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but then I come from a family of sword-fighters, so maybe I watch technique more. I love the way they choreographed Achilles' moves on the theme of water, while not sacrificing believability--on the other hand, they lost their credibility when they showed him putting armor onto bare skin, so I suppose it evens out.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Beren IV
Gondor


Oct 15 2008, 3:18am

Post #15 of 22 (863 views)
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Disagree? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
No, it would take more than one look. If it were obvious, everyone would know. Imrahil is more perceptive than, say, Éomer. From the text, we must assume that women in battle are extremely uncommon, although if Beren IV shows up here he'll disagree.


I'm not sure that disagree is the right word.

I don't think anyone argues that women in combat - at least among Men (except maybe the Edain) - were common in Middle Earth. Elves or Dwarves may have been another matter. The question is whether they were common enough that Amroth should not react in such shock. There are several possibilities.

1. The race of Men in Middle-Earth are more orderly and more predictable than humans in the real world; people who are rare in reality are even rarer in Arda. Since women in combat on Earth historically have been rare (although present), in Middle Earth they are really rare.

2. Prince Amroth is an idiot, and isn't thinking realistically. Despite being an idiot he's obviously no fool, as he notices that Éowyn isn't quite dead yet. The wise fool is a common enough motif in fiction, especially epic sagas (which LotR is heavily inspired by) that this is not an unreasonable suggestion.

3. Tolkien is thinking of warfare in Twentieth-Century terms, similar to the wars he himself actually fought in, and is portraying his own world in a way that he does not intend to.


Of these possibilities, people on this board have seemed to favor #1 in the past - which creates a nasty paradox if you try to extrapolate that into the present world potentially being the distant future of Middle Earth. It's not the only paradox that arises if you do that, though.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Beren IV
Gondor


Oct 15 2008, 3:22am

Post #16 of 22 (885 views)
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Helmet off? [In reply to] Can't Post

Would someone ignorant of normal practices in Rohan take one look at Eowyn wearing armor and assume that the women there are in the army as well?

I think we can take from this statement that Éowyn has a very feminine face that was obscured by her helmet. So, helmet off, anybody could identify her as a woman. Helmet on, obviously nobody can tell. The latter part is pretty realistic; Éowyn would have to have a pretty big chest and have very wide hips for her figure to give her away while wearing chainmail.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Oct 15 2008, 7:17pm

Post #17 of 22 (875 views)
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Age factor [In reply to] Can't Post

Or, her helmet might have concealed the subtle hints of her age. Because of the shortage of combatants at Helm's Deep, many beardless boys joined the military forces of the Rohirrim at this time. Removing her helmet in broad daylight might reveal an adult face with just a line or two, typical for twenty-somethings in medieval conditions, but not for young boys. These lines would not show up after dark by candlelight or campfire, allowing her to doff the helmet when she sleeps. Feminine bone-structure, on the other hand, would show up by firelight if it was that pronounced.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Oct 15 2008, 7:34pm

Post #18 of 22 (857 views)
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I think it's the hair [In reply to] Can't Post

"...But the helm of her secrecy, had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders."

It's a literary convention that women's long hair always gives them away.

Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Bilbo's Last Song



Beren IV
Gondor


Oct 15 2008, 7:56pm

Post #19 of 22 (846 views)
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Literary convention indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post

The problem with Éowyn's sex being distinguished by her hair, however, is that a lot of men in medieval societies also wore their hair long. The feature that would distinguish them would be their beards.

That said, literary convention plays a large role in this entire scene. I think that also is the reason for Imrahil's surprise here: if we were being realistic about it, he wouldn't know for certain that Éowyn was a woman until he got her armor off, at which point her figure would be apparent, but at the same time, Imrahil might be surprised, but he would not be shocked.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Oct 15 2008, 8:50pm

Post #20 of 22 (915 views)
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Very hard to tell by the hair. [In reply to] Can't Post

From the first description of the Riders:

The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxenpale, flowed under their light helms, and streamed in long braids behind them; ...

So, long flowing blonde hair was typical of the Rohirrim. It's possible that Éowyn didn't do the braids, but that seems unlikely since (a) she was trying to fit in, and (b) braids are a practical way to prepare long hair if you're fighting (cf. movie-Legolas' hair).





The Rohirrim, by Peter Xavier Price

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Oct 15 2008, 8:52pm)


Beren IV
Gondor


Oct 16 2008, 2:08am

Post #21 of 22 (867 views)
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So either Tolkien is being inconsistent, [In reply to] Can't Post

or there must be something about Éowyn's facial features that announces that she is a woman.

I am reminded of Reverend's explanation of how Durin's Bane entered the chamber of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm without wings, and left with them! :)

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


FarFromHome
Valinor


Oct 16 2008, 7:05am

Post #22 of 22 (941 views)
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Eowyn didn't do the braids, it seems... [In reply to] Can't Post

...from my earlier quote: "her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders".

It's a long, long literary tradition that women's hair is different from men's, even going back to the time when men did wear their hair long. And it's a long-established convention that merely pulling off the hat or helmet that hides the woman's hair gives the game away completely! The physical/physiological differences between the sexes are never mentioned, and seem to pale in comparison to the visual importance of the hair.

This whole episode is highly "conventional", in the sense that it draws on this kind of traditional literary convention. I think Tolkien often does this, to give his story that sense of being part of a great storytelling tradition, and at such times an attempt to pin the details down to "real life" is really missing the aim of the scene. It's fantasy, heroic romance, not reality that we're dealing with here.

Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Bilbo's Last Song


 
 

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