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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Maybe Dwarf women hid themselves?

Dis15
Bree

May 6 2013, 10:00pm

Post #1 of 24 (441 views)
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Maybe Dwarf women hid themselves? Can't Post

I read somewhere (the Appendices?) that Dwarfs became sick and tired of being made fun of because of their appearance and preferred to stay pretty much to themselves.

What if, early in their history, they would travel with their undisguised women and would run into bands of Elves or Men, who not only registered shock at the appearance of the men, but when they realized this Dwarf man was not a man but a woman, also at the appearance of the woman? Many of these looks of shock or disgust were probably not even intentional, this is just a natural reaction when seeing someone differrent from us, with a disability, etc. When the initial shock is over, I think most of us can begin not to see this shocking thing but to delve deeper and try and see what kind of person this is. But Dwarfs would not see it this way. An insult must be dealt with swiftly, and is never forgotton. This is just part of who they are.

Maybe both the men and women decided that when women have to travel, they should always appear as men. This would prevent so much strife on the road. And probably would have prevented more than one poor sap from getting the thromping of his life at the hands of male Dwarf who perceived an insult directed toward his wife whom he just happened to love very much. And this poor guy may have not even done anything intentional, it was just a natural reaction, which he soon regretted, and was probably much more careful about that kind of thing from that day forth.

And, if Dwarf women never took "common languageish" names and only went by their secret names from birth, this would account for the fact that we only have one name of a Dwarf women in the entire cannon.

Can't prove any of this, of course. Just food for thought . . . . .

Dis, Aule's child


dik-dik
Lorien


May 7 2013, 9:08am

Post #2 of 24 (284 views)
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Good theory Dis... [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally rather think that the Dwarven women rather stayed behind by choice or by their families' wish, though. It is true that Dwarves are said to be quick to take offence, and bear grudges for long; and that they dearly love their children and ancestors, which by extension could include their wives. They apparently resent harm or offence to their families to the extreme, or any offence in general (Dwarves and Fram come to my mind here).
But I rather think the infrequency of attested Dwarf women was because of their low number. We are told that the ears and eyes of other nations cannot distinguish males from females with Dwarves - if it was a matter of simple disguise, I doubt the Elven eyesight would be fooled. ;) I believe I've read the Dwarves travelled because they needed to trade, otherwise they kept to themselves and didn't seek out other races. As travelling seems to be something that they didn't particularly enjoy and that was rather dangerous most of the time, it would make sense to me if Dwarves insisted that their precious (literally) women stay at home, either pursuing crafts or being with their families. Given how slowly they multiply, this would not be unreasonable if they don't want to risk their clans dying out.
I imagine the Dwarven situation not unlike that of Gondolin in HoME, where the women stayed -or were kept- hidden, and jealously guarded. Which, namely in the case of Erebor, would have proven just as tragic as the female casaulties in the fall of Gondolin.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


Dis15
Bree

May 7 2013, 2:27pm

Post #3 of 24 (252 views)
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All very excellent points -- and your response helps me to [In reply to] Can't Post

understand the history and psychology of the Dwarves. I do remember reading that Dwarves multiply slowly, if at all, when they are on the road and not settled down in any one place. And that both sexes are very jealous of their mates, and many Dwarf women set their eyes on a specific mate, and if he is not available for whatever reason, they will stay single for their entire lives and have no one else. And only about 1 / 3 of all Dwarf women take mates.

And your right, those Elvish eyes would be difficult to deceive. And the losses at Erebor would have very high for the women and it would have taken the Dwarves quite some time to recover.

Thank you! This is interesting.

... Aule made the Dwarves strong to endure ... They are stone-hard, stubborn, fast in friendship and in enmity ... suffer toil, hunger and hurt of body more hardily than all other speaking peoples; and they live long, far beyond the span of Men, yet not for ever. ...
... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work."
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 7 2013, 2:33pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


May 7 2013, 9:07pm

Post #4 of 24 (240 views)
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Insects [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not at all a flattering comparison, but Dwarves remind of insects like bees and ants that have to protect their reproductive queens in the nest (i.e., keep their women at home) because without them, they wouldn't have any population growth, which is slow even in the best of times.

I'd never thought of it, but Dik-Dik makes a great point about Erebor. If all the women were in the halls at the time of the dragon attack, that would have dealt a super-severe blow to the Durin Dwarves' ability to increase their numbers again. And help explain why the 13 Dwarves were mostly bachelors.


dik-dik
Lorien


May 7 2013, 9:50pm

Post #5 of 24 (234 views)
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Thank you! I like reading other people's views on this fascinating subject. [In reply to] Can't Post

Helps broaden one's horizons so to speak. Cool

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 10:57pm

Post #6 of 24 (224 views)
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There are some very insightful posts here. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that Dis15 and dik-dik are both probably right. The other races' initial reactions to Dwarf-woman may be one of the reasons for female Dwarves to disguise themselves with their fewer numbers and low birth-rates being more important factors.

Most warrior cultures tend to protect their women. This is a major reason why few such cultures allow females to become fighters. Elves additonally believe that killing harms one's ability to nurture life, which is why there are not many elvish warrior-maidens despite less of a difference in the physical abilities of male and female Elves.

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 7 2013, 11:06pm

Post #7 of 24 (230 views)
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it's hard for me to think of female dwarves.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... without thinking of the author-hand of tolkien.

with other races, i can get caught up in their "realities," but when i think of female dwarves, i think, "tolkien -- great author, bad biologist."

not the direct quote, but he sad something along the lines of this, re female dwarves...

one-third of the population. of that third many do not marry because they choose not to, or cannot have the dwarf they want and will have no other.

so less than a third of the dwarven population is available for matchmaking. fewer than that would be of child-bearing age (bell curve... some too young, some too old).

even granting increased span of child-bearing years and increased broods, this does +not+ make sense to me at all, biologically. this seems very much author contrivance, and (excuse me) silly.

also, the small numbers, inclination to have them sequestered (could be by choice, might not)... societies in our world which are like this tend to not place equal value on females.

i think tolkien made a blunder re female dwarves. there. i said it.


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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 7 2013, 11:09pm

Post #8 of 24 (219 views)
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maybe i should say aule is a bad biologist. [In reply to] Can't Post

 
yavanna was right. he +should+ have consulted her.


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


CuriousG
Valinor


May 7 2013, 11:18pm

Post #9 of 24 (211 views)
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She could loaned him some rabbit DNA for them to breed like rabbits. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


squire
Valinor


May 7 2013, 11:58pm

Post #10 of 24 (280 views)
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"I do not care" [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien famously answered the criticism of "good author, bad biologist" when a correspondent objected that near-immortal elves mating successfully with mortal men seemed to go against every rule of organic life that we know. But his answer, I think, also addresses your objections about Dwarf sex-ratios (although I suspect you will not be surprised to read this):

I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological—which worry me just as much as the theological and metaphysical ... I might answer that this ‘biology’ is only a theory, ... But I should actually answer: I do not care. This is a biological dictum in my imaginary world. It is only (as yet) an incompletely imagined world, a rudimentary ‘secondary’; but if it pleased the Creator to give it (in a corrected form) Reality on any plane, then you would just have to enter it and begin studying its different biology, that is all.(J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter 153)

So, the author wins; but you knew that. What I find interesting is that you said "with other races, i can get caught up in their 'realities,'". I personally find Ents far more disturbing as sentient humanoid creatures than I do the Dwarves; although I too am open to the absurdity of cross-breeding between Elves and Men. Over all, I suppose the reason that the question of Dwarven sex ratios has never upset me nearly as much as those I've just mentioned, is that none of it really comes up in the story. The Appendices are fun, but they contain a host of contradictions and troublesome ideas that Tolkien really didn't worry about, compared to the mighty effort he put into making the main narrative "real" and consistent within the confines of his fictional world. If we readers had ever met a Dwarf-woman in LotR itself, or even if any of the characters had expressed the slightest interest in the existence of Dwarf-women, I suppose that Tolkien would have put more time into making this particular construct believable.

I'm sorry you missed the heyday on this board of poster Beren IV, who was a biologist-turned-paleontologist. He made lovely work of issues like this. I can't find his classic series on the ecology of Arda, since it lives on the unsearchable Old Boards; but here is a later sample of the kind of thing he excelled at. Enjoy!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


sador
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 6:19am

Post #11 of 24 (202 views)
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Ah, Beren IV... [In reply to] Can't Post

Another long-absent-but-not-forgotten name!

Regarding the letter you've quoted, it should be seen in context, such as the HoME series enables us to. It appears that from the 40s (at the latest!) Tolkien was actually very interested in integrating the primary world's science with his secondary world, and was ever trying to - running against an unsurmountable contradiction - giving it up - trying again.
When Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay assembled the published Silmarillion, they have skirted the issue, making Beleriand believable on its own terms; but once Myths Transformed was published in Morgoth's Ring, the "astronomically absurd" quote has become famous, and some people tend to forget that this whole trying to reconcile the two is just a vast game.
I don't have the books in front of me, but this letter would best be understood once we find out at what point in his reconciliation-attempt cycles Tolkien was.


squire
Valinor


May 8 2013, 10:03am

Post #12 of 24 (212 views)
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Yes, mythologies don't make sense for super-intelligent immortals who've talked with the gods [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's attempts to correlate his myths with the scientific facts always fill me with dismay. He wrote the letter about imaginary biology in an imaginary world in 1954, several years before he began screwing around with the origins of the sun and the moon and the stars. I don't know why he couldn't accept imaginary astronomy as easily as he shrugs off the questions about the Elves' genetic makeup or the caloric content of lembas.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Dis15
Bree

May 8 2013, 10:18pm

Post #13 of 24 (179 views)
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Oh no, not rabbits! LOL [In reply to] Can't Post

Blush

Dis, Aule's Child

... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power [the Ents] in the [my] forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 8 2013, 10:21pm)


Dis15
Bree

May 8 2013, 10:40pm

Post #14 of 24 (189 views)
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Looks like I have some homework [In reply to] Can't Post

to do tonight! Squire always seems to throw me for a loop, which is good for me! I'm not exactly a Tolkien newbie, but there is still much I do know or understand.

Dis, Aule's Child

... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power [the Ents] in the [my] forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 8 2013, 10:46pm)


Kaede
Rivendell


May 9 2013, 4:13am

Post #15 of 24 (171 views)
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I hope dwarf women defy the rules [In reply to] Can't Post

On a completely different note, I find myself uncomfortable with canon on this topic because all the "rules" come to us from one side only. It's the guys version of their culture--and from a group of guys with a penchant for a good contract. What if Dis (and every other dwarf woman) just rolls her eyes at said rules? Rules are meant to be broken, after all. I imagine Thorin's sister might possibly be just as cantankerous as he is and don't see dwarf women standing for being kept locked up, either. Unfortunately, we don't have anything that gives voice to their side. We might be surprised!

And I imagine they travel as guys by their own preference. It makes sense that it's easier.


Dis15
Bree

May 9 2013, 3:11pm

Post #16 of 24 (158 views)
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I agree! I think that Dis [In reply to] Can't Post

and all other Dwarf woman are just as stubborn and cantankerous as their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. If they were hidden away, it makes sense to me that it would have had to be by their own design, or at least by mutual decision. I do not think you could have forceably hidden away Dwarf women, and do not see that working out very well for the Dwarf men, at all. I believe they were determined to control their own destiny. After all, they are Dwarves!

Dis, Aule's Child

... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power [the Ents] in the [my] forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 9 2013, 3:14pm)


Dis15
Bree

May 9 2013, 3:36pm

Post #17 of 24 (154 views)
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Maciliel, I look at the strange and bizarre human mating rituals on this one planet, alone, [In reply to] Can't Post

and nothing would shock me. Even a culture where less than one-third of the female population choose to mate and the rest do not, for whatever reason. The only problem I see with that is care must be taken to not gradually die out as race or culture. Actually, this sounds rather benign and not shocking at all, in comparison to the mating rituals of many human cultures. Some are strange and bizarre, some are sweet and loving, some are absolutely terrifying.

Dis, Aule's Child

... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power [the Ents] in the [my] forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 9 2013, 3:38pm)


Dis15
Bree

May 9 2013, 4:10pm

Post #18 of 24 (138 views)
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This is way off topic, but I actually lost sleep over this last night: The Appendices [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the Appendices should be taken seriously. There may be inconsistencies throughout, but there are inconsistencies throughout the entire canon!.

Without the Appendices, we would not be having these conversations about Dwarf women, or Dwarf men for that matter, because there would be very little to talk about; no family or race geneologies; no knowing of the true nature of Aragorn's death or his and Arwen's relationship; very little about the rings of power and where they were and who had them and why, except for Galadriel, Frodo and Bilbo; no extensive language explanation; no calendars; and I could go on and on and on!

The Appendices have always fasinated me, I have read them more than The Hobbit and The Trilogy. They are a wealth of information. I have found that in this website, whenever I refer to the Appendices as the source of my information, no one has been rude at all, but the information is generally ignored and it puzzled me. I think I killed more than one thread by mentioning the Appendices in the last post. Are the Appendices one of those either love it or hate it things. It could be.

Perhaps Tolkien felt guilty for not including Dwarf women in Middle Earth, and this is why he constructed The Appendices in the first place. He felt he needed to give explanations for things he did not include, but knew were there!?

Dis, Aule's Child

... Yavanna said "Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power [the Ents] in the [my] forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood," said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.
The Silmarillion, Chapter 2

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 9 2013, 4:17pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 5:09pm

Post #19 of 24 (128 views)
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I greatly appreciate the Appendices [In reply to] Can't Post

for all the reasons you list. They make a valuable contribution to understanding Tolkien, and LOTR would be much weaker without them.


sam90
Lorien

May 10 2013, 11:03pm

Post #20 of 24 (109 views)
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Appendices! [In reply to] Can't Post

The appendices are of great values because they make the tale of The Lord of The Rings and Middle Earth so real. It's conceived in a way as if it was history which one can study at need. This is huge. No one came close to achieve such a work of fiction with this wealth of informations available to the reader. And that's why we're discussing it more than 50 years after it's release.

As for Dwarves women, I think that Tolkien wasn't able to find a role for them in his tale. I have no doubt he wanted to put much more in his story (like the tale of Aragorn and Arwen which ended up in the appendices) but it was becoming to big and would stray away from the main plot in a way which the editor might not have liked.

Anyway, he managed to give a credible explanation and put it the the Appendices. It works well.


(This post was edited by sam90 on May 10 2013, 11:06pm)


Dis15
Bree

May 14 2013, 3:46pm

Post #21 of 24 (64 views)
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The Appendices [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Sam 90, I heartily agree with every single, kind and positive word you have written! Without the additional historical information in the Appendices, I do not believe the books would have had as much impact as they have had. The Appendices and their extensive histories have set them apart, and give us a real "feel" for Middle Earth and its inhabitants.


Dis15
Bree

May 14 2013, 5:12pm

Post #22 of 24 (58 views)
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A note on the Appendices in "Unfinished Tales" [In reply to] Can't Post

I have just checked out "Unfinished Tales" from our local library, and found this interesting note on the Appendices:

"Writing about the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien said in 1955: "Those who enjoy the book as a 'heroic romance' only, and find 'unexplained vistas' part of the literary effect, will neglect the Appendices, very properly." Unfinished Tales is avowedly for those who, on the contrary, have not yet sufficiently explored Middle-earth, its languages, its legends, its politics, and its kings." [As are the Appendices!]

"Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives .... and comprising .... Gandalf's lively account of how he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End ... the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor ... Numenor's downfall ... and tells all that is known of such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantiri, and the legend of Amroth."

Sounds like my kind of book!

P.S. Are "Unfinished Tales", "The Book of Lost Tales, P.1 and P.2", his letters, etc., all considered part of the "Canon?". and, thus, the information contained in them are to be taken as factual even if it may contradict something written in the books at a later date?

(This post was edited by Dis15 on May 14 2013, 5:21pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


May 14 2013, 6:42pm

Post #23 of 24 (57 views)
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Oh, there are lots of contradictions [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what keeps us Reading Room groupies employed. Cool

I'm not sure what's truly Canon, but I would think anything in print is fair game, and people need to accept multiple versions of ideas and not just a single one. For example, an ongoing debate is the origin of orcs. Tolkien changed his mind repeatedly on the subject, so at some points they come from Elves, and in other notes they don't. Canon could mean whatever he wrote most recently, but it would be possible he'd revert back to his original ideas if still alive, which he did very often (though I know we can't predict that), so I don't think what's most recent should necessarily trump previous versions, though of course there are ideas that he clearly discarded too. And he could have parallel versions of stories going on at the same time, so choosing the authoritative one from them isn't possible based on date.

All that makes it fun to try to figure out what's most probable and most consistent. It takes an Agatha Christie to figure out Tolkien's clues.


Dis15
Bree

May 14 2013, 7:09pm

Post #24 of 24 (65 views)
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Thanks CuriousG. Your response helps. [In reply to] Can't Post

But it is still confusing, and, there is so much that cannot be definitely answered. Ever. I appears that these discussions and debates will be going on for a very, very long time! Thanks!

 
 

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