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Fanuidhol
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Eowyn

Indulge me a little since I am not prepared to defend this statement with citations: the Germanic culture in which the Anglo-Saxons came from honored war and the warrior. I know this from reading various things throughout my life.

If Tolkien modelled the Rohirrum after the Anglo-Saxons, let’s believe that the Rohirrim feel the same way. Theoden’s last remarks to Merry on Pelennor Fields may suggest that the warrior is honored. Theoden is now not ashamed to die, because he can hold his head up high among his ancestors.

Moving back in time some, Eowyn, a capable person, is rendered almost invisible by having to wait upon an ineffectual “warrior king” immobilized by fear and despair. The whole country is made impotent by this despair. All Eowyn can do is watch while this happens. At least Theodred can fight and die honorably. Eomer, though “distrusted” can still take action, at least until imprisonment. Even when Theoden awakes from despair, she is left in a state of impotence at Edoras.

What she sees in Aragorn is “a hope of glory and great deeds” (Houses of Healing) physically away from the place of dishonor, away from Edoras. She doesn’t love Aragorn, the man. She loves Aragorn, the General. But, even he denies her hope for glory. She falls into despair over this dishonor, wishes to die (and still despairs even into the “Steward and the King” chapter). Unfortunately she also knows, as the disobedient Dernhelm, she can fight and die, but, she will not receive the glory and honor that she craves. She doesn’t do it for Rohan or romantic love. It is because she cannot have personal glory and honor as a warrior, or as a queen. We cannot judge her for this by our modern values. She is a product of her culture.

She does love her King. As the Rohirrim get close to the battle, she moves forward to fight beside him. And she is willing to die for him, “faithful beyond fear”. (Battle of Pelennor Fields) At this moment, in front of the Witchking she embodies all the best found in the Northern tradition. Loyalty and bravery until death. This is why I love this character. This is why I cry every time I read (or see) the scene.
Thanks,
Fan

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lorien
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Re: Eowyn

Great to see you back Fan! We never even got started on a Return of the King discussions. We had a real summer slowdown here. We did start a good Silm discussion before the powers-that-be decided it was time to can this group and that ended that. I would love to get back to the Silm discussion. It already seemed like a fascinating topic to get into, Far different than LOTR with different things to think and talk about. I would not mind going back and doing both. There we so many important issues and topics in RotK that deserved consideration. And we started a discussion of Tolkien's very important letters as well. Most of our threads are being dumped which makes continuing discussions tricky, especially since we don't know which?

I will have my head back into Tolkien before I can comment on Eowyn but then we don't know what is happening with our threads or board. I think most of our major posters have quit in disgust and frustration of not knowing what is going on. It is hard to get started with something when you don't know if your comments will be there tomorrow. I still haven't figured out why they decided to kill a perfectly good board when there are so many less successful ones they leave on.
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Prunesquallor
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Re: Eowyn

Fanuidhol's "Indulge me a little since I am not prepared to defend this statement with citations: the Germanic culture in which the Anglo-Saxons came from honored war and the warrior. I know this from reading various things throughout my life."

 

1. the shield-maiden tradition, including the Valkyries

 

2. Plutarch's account of the women of the Cimbri and Teutones who fought beside their men in the last battle of their people against the Roman general Caius Marius (ca. 102 BCE).

 

3. The Hervarar Saga, which Tolkien read, and presumably incorporated many features of her tale in his version of the shield-maid, Eowyn. I think Chris Tolkien also worked on translating, redacting this saga.

 

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hervarar_saga#Tolkien

 

4. Tolkien was also an avid fan of William Morris, and Morris enthused his own "Northern Tradition" novels with many examples of the shield-maiden.

 

Oddly enough, I have not yet found an actual Anglo-Saxon example of the shield-maiden, but Tolkien never seems to confine himself strictly to A-S precursors when he developes the Rohirrim, rather he also uses the Norse tradition, and material from Tacitus "Germania," and Plutarch's histories, where women as warriors occur with frequency.

 

_________________ 

 

Fanuidhols' "Unfortunately she also knows, as the disobedient Dernhelm, she can fight and die, but, she will not receive the glory and honor that she craves."

 

Interesting, when we view the final end of this episode, and the accolades are being distributed after the victory of the Morannon, do you think Eowyn got her fair share of "recognition?" I'll probably have to re-read that section of ROTK, but does Tolkien ever show her getting public acclaim for her deeds as Dernhelm, or was her heroic part in the death of the chief Nazgul cancelled out by her original "disobedience?" What do you think of the tale's end --  where Eowyn, if I'm remembering this correctly -- sort of vows to give up her shield-maiden pretenses and take up a more "womanly," housewife role? Yeah, I guess, in the romantic, "ooey-gooey" sense, she is "rewarded" with the "gift" of a handsome prince as a groom -- but should she not have been awarded a knighthood, or at least a medal? How about a new sword to replace the one she broke in the Nazgul's face? (small grin)

 

 

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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Eowyn

Greetings, Fan ( & Everyone ) ---

 

ROTK is full of highly dramatic moments, but two of the most dramatic ( and ones that I used to enjoy

"replaying" many times in my mind's-eye ) were:

(a) The scene where Gandalf faces down the Witch-King at the gates of Minas Tirith ( after the gates had been ruined by "Grond" and the orc-armies of Sauron ) --

& (b) The scene involving Eowyn, Theoden, Pippin, and the Witch-King on the battlefield. ---

 

I am going to have to do some re-reading in order to discover whether or not she ever recieved her proper

recognition for her brave deeds, but could there be something going on here where Eowyn was supposed to be the female counterpart ( of sorts ) to Sam?

From Letter #131:

[ "...I think the simple 'rustic' love (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his ( the chief hero's) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life ( breathing, eating, working and begetting ) and quests, sacrifice, causes..." }

- although shortly afterwards, in the same paragraph, JRRT mentions the:

[ "...mistaken love seen in Eowyn and her first love for Aragorn..." ]

 

I think it is important that Eowyn and Faramir meet in the Houses of Healing, as they have both been wounded, damaged in the execution of their duty - they are "survivors", who would prefer to ride off with the rest of the Armies of the West, and perhaps to die in one last big blaze of glory - but they have no option but to stay behind and convalesce and allow themselves to be healed...

I guess what I'm thinking here is something like:

After all the glorious deeds of bravery on the battlefield - and also all the death and carnage all around -

normal life must still be allowed to continue on ( in this case, everything hinging on the fate of the Ring and the Rinbearers ) - and that Faramir and Eowyn represent this aspect of "ordinary life" going on as it must?

( at least, after the trials and the sacrifice have already been endured? )---

Perhaps I'm just way off base on all this, but it's just a possibility that occurs to me...

 

Ardo 

 

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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Eowyn

CORRECTION!!!

 

I meant to say "Merry" - and not "Pippin", of course! What a blunder! ---

Also, in that quote from Letter #131 - the words "absolutely essential" should have been italicized

[ JRRT's own italics ] ---

 

Ardo

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Fanuidhol
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Re: Eowyn


Prunesquallor wrote:

Fanuidhol's "Indulge me a little since I am not prepared to defend this statement with citations: the Germanic culture in which the Anglo-Saxons came from honored war and the warrior. I know this from reading various things throughout my life."

 

 

 

1. the shield-maiden tradition, including the Valkyries

 

2. Plutarch's account of the women of the Cimbri and Teutones who fought beside their men in the last battle of their people against the Roman general Caius Marius (ca. 102 BCE).

 

3. The Hervarar Saga, which Tolkien read, and presumably incorporated many features of her tale in his version of the shield-maid, Eowyn. I think Chris Tolkien also worked on translating, redacting this saga.

 

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hervarar_saga#Tolkien

 

4. Tolkien was also an avid fan of William Morris, and Morris enthused his own "Northern Tradition" novels with many examples of the shield-maiden.

 

Oddly enough, I have not yet found an actual Anglo-Saxon example of the shield-maiden, but Tolkien never seems to confine himself strictly to A-S precursors when he developes the Rohirrim, rather he also uses the Norse tradition, and material from Tacitus "Germania," and Plutarch's histories, where women as warriors occur with frequency.

 

I appreciate your efforts in finding examples of "shieldmaidens", but, my comment above was meant in general terms.  The Anglo-Saxons valued warriors.  People of the Mark, if of the same stock, would feel the same way.  Eowyn felt she needed to be a warrior to have worth. 

 

Fanuidhols' "Unfortunately she also knows, as the disobedient Dernhelm, she can fight and die, but, she will not receive the glory and honor that she craves."

 

Interesting, when we view the final end of this episode, and the accolades are being distributed after the victory of the Morannon, do you think Eowyn got her fair share of "recognition?" I'll probably have to re-read that section of ROTK, but does Tolkien ever show her getting public acclaim for her deeds as Dernhelm, or was her heroic part in the death of the chief Nazgul cancelled out by her original "disobedience?" What do you think of the tale's end --  where Eowyn, if I'm remembering this correctly -- sort of vows to give up her shield-maiden pretenses and take up a more "womanly," housewife role? Yeah, I guess, in the romantic, "ooey-gooey" sense, she is "rewarded" with the "gift" of a handsome prince as a groom -- but should she not have been awarded a knighthood, or at least a medal? How about a new sword to replace the one she broke in the Nazgul's face? (small grin)

 

Perhaps, she did get a medal or knighthood and put either or both in a chest in the attic.  The sword is probably over the mantle, collecting dust.

Eowyn decides to become a healer "and love all things that grow".  Then, and only then, does Faramir ask her to marry him.  This does not mean that she "gives up" and becomes a housewife.  She just makes the decision that being a healer is better than being a warrior. 

Faramir (if I remember correctly) never wanted to be a "manly" warrior...

Fan

 

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Prunesquallor
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Re: Eowyn

Re Fanuidhol's: "

Perhaps, she did get a medal or knighthood and put either or both in a chest in the attic.  The sword is probably over the mantle, collecting dust.

Eowyn decides to become a healer "and love all things that grow".  Then, and only then, does Faramir ask her to marry him.  This does not mean that she "gives up" and becomes a housewife.  She just makes the decision that being a healer is better than being a warrior. 

Faramir (if I remember correctly) never wanted to be a "manly" warrior...

 

____________________

 

Hmmm, "Perhaps."

 

That bothers me, why "perhaps"? As I recall it, Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo get public shows of ceremony, Merry is made a knight of Rohan, and Pippin a knight of Gondor. Sam and Frodo receive "high praises" on Cormallen Field, etc. Tolkien does not take the time/ effort to show us Eowyn receiving any such recognition. Why not? Sigh, we are left with "perhapses," maybe this in itself tells us something about the values of the author? In the Norse Saga of Hervard, the heroine is allowed to display both Shield-maiden attributes, and the maternal role of wife/ mother, presumably healer as well; so were the 13th century Norse/ Icelanders more "feministically" inclined than JRRT some 900 years later?

 

And I thought Faramir was the "perfect knight" in that he combined the manly vigour of a superlative warrior with the courtly graces, and the true heart of a man who loved peace and justice, but was willing to die securing both. As Prince of Ithilien, faced with future wars (hinted in the conclusion of ROTK even though Sauron has been diminished to the near vanishing point) I don't think he ever gave up his warrior-side. A "true warrior" does not need to love bloodshed and violence for their own sakes. Eowyn herself did not enjoy mayhem in the good old berserker fashion; so here, her warrior spirit was the equal of Faramir's and both were different from Boromir's brash love of battle for its own sake. Yet Tolkien has no trouble in stripping Eowyn of her role as warrior, to return her to a more conformably "Victorian" set of behaviours -- even the medieval Norse saw nothing wrong in a woman who availed herself of both the housewife and the warrior roles, seeing neither as necessarily exclusive of the other. 

 

Hello Ardo!

 

I do agree with you and Fan that the scene of Eowyn and Merry facing the High Nazgul is one of the most stirring and memorable episodes of the book!!! 

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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Eowyn

Greetings, Prunesquallor ( now there's a mouthful of a name )

And Everyone, of course...---

 

I've been thinking that, ( in my previous postings on the "Eowyn matter" ) I may have been guilty of a bit of disjointed thinking, also the juggling of Non Sequitors and those  famous, disimilar "apples and oranges" --

( perhaps the head-cold I have suffering from the last couple of days has clouded my thinking ) ---

But I still do not disavow my pevious opinions completely - I still think there was a grain of truth in there somewhere. ---

 

It does seem like after the tumult and shouting has died down, ( how many cliches can I cram into this  letter? ) Eowyn does sort of just "fade into the background" without too much fanfare...

Aside from the idea of bestowing any kind of medal upon any hero ( male or fermale ) in the Third Age

of Middle-earth seems incongruious ( although the bestowal of weapons, titles and "liveries" are not so ) -

The "Warrior Woman" Eowyn does seem to become transformed into the "Handmaiden" Eowyn

( without a trace of her former persona to be seen ) in a twinkling...

 

I also wonder if Tolkien already felt guilty enough, sending even just one female into "Harm's Way" -

and after Eowyn's "transformation", he hoped to discourage the whole idea of a woman going into combat,

altogether? Perhaps he was thinking about the young girls that might be reading the stories? ---

 

ardo

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Fanuidhol
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Re: Eowyn

Sorry that it has taken me this long to come back to this, Prunesquallor.

 

Tolkien maintained that LotR was basically Hobbit-centered.  This is one reason we have very little in the narrative about the romance between Aragorn and Arwen.  We have to read it in Appendix A.

 

Eowyn was not on the field of Cormallen.  There was no fitting place within the narrative for a ceremony for her.  She had to deal with other things...Theoden's funeral plans, her brother's kingship, Aragorn's coronation, etc.

 

But, Tolkien did not completely forget her.  Look in Appendix A: Section II: The House of Eorl, The Kings of the Mark, Third Line : Eomer Eadig.  "In that day Eowyn also won renown...known...as...Lady of the Shield-arm."   Also, Faramir says to Eowyn "...have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten" in the "Steward and the King" chapter.

 

If you would read again what I wrote about Faramir he never WANTED to be a 'manly' warrior.  I never said that he wasn't a good warrior.  He did not fight for the "glory of it" like his brother, he would rather "make a garden".  Also, found in the "Steward and the King" chapter. 

 

Fan

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Prunesquallor
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Re: Eowyn

Re Fan's : "Eowyn was not on the field of Cormallen.  There was no fitting place within the narrative for a ceremony for her.  She had to deal with other things...Theoden's funeral plans, her brother's kingship, Aragorn's coronation, etc."

 

Hmmm. As the author of a book, I MAKE the narrative. If there is something I consider important, I MAKE room for it. Tolkien did NOT make public room for Eowyn.

 

He apprently felt it important to add a Field of Cormallen chapter to round off the narrative, giving a "special" celebration for Sam and Frodo. So, here's a perfect occasion to bring ALL the heroes together for public recognition -- why did he fail to invite Eowyn (and Faramir)? Yes, they were convalescing, so, as the author, could Tolkien not have moved the ceremony to Minas Tirith and staged it a few days later? I think it simply did not occur to Tolkien that some readers in the future might wonder why Eowyn gets no public party, no fiefdom, or knighthood of her own. Her final status is "husband-dependent," is it not? She'll be the Princess of Ithilien, give up the silly thoughts of war/ "manly" adventure, and take on a maternal* role as a healer. Sounds like the same treatment Belladonna Took received -- a "remarkable" person, in fact a "fabulous" person (one with whom tales and fables are associated). She had adventures of her own, until she married: "Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo Baggins." (Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party" pb ver, p. 16). I get the feeling, however it is soft-pedaled, that Eowyn got the "Belladonna" treatment from Tolkien.

 

Garsh! Did she really get mentioned in an appendix! Not quite the same, being an after thought, as getting a mention in the main text, is it? I've known lots of Tolkien readers who never made it to the appendices. :smileywink: 

 

RE: Fan's "If you would read again what I wrote about Faramir he never WANTED to be a 'manly' warrior."

 

What? Do you mean he wanted to be an "unmanly" warrior? Just what would THAT entail? :smileyhappy:

 

* I do not myself see "healing" as a gender specific role, did Tolkien? 

 

____________

 

I guess, this all comes down to individual interpretation. But, if I were Eowyn, I'd be pissed at not getting my fair share of public accolades, and I certainly would not give up my adventures. I've known too many mothers who manage to serve all the "traditional" womanly functions/ expectations, and still find time to drag the kids out for a day of white-water rafting, or deer hunting, or rock climbing (only rock climbing because the family parachutes need new harnesses). Even the two "girls" in Narnia finish their tale in "The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe," as part of a hunting expedition.**  So what's with Tolkien, why can't he accept an adventuring, possibly even a combat-ready wife? You simply won't convince me Tolkien had a late 20th century/ 21st century understanding of the roles available to women even though his own society provided many such examples. His treatment of females is, however, quite appropriately "mainstream" for a pre-World War I set of mores, but even by 1939 - 45, such gender strictures were largely obsolete. 

 

** Though both were armed for battle, dagger and bow and arrow, I do believe the youngest, Lucy (?) was told to avoid combat if she could. 

 

 

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Prunesquallor
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Re: Eowyn

Fan -- Maybe something more profitable, less tied up as diametric opposites of opinion, might be done with finding out why some published authors (here I'm thinking of Verlyn Fliegher -- spelling?) view Eowyn as a Valkyrie figure. My limited understanding of Valkyries, "Choosers of the Dead," and "psycho-pomps," those who lead the dead to an afterlife situation, does not easily fit Eowyn's function in Tolkien's narrative where she performs as a shield maid, an amazon, does it?

 

Ardo, yeah, Prunesquallor, a jaw-full, but it has some appropriate connotations for this particularly contumacious persona... 

 

RE: Ardo's "It does seem like after the tumult and shouting has died down, ( how many cliches can I cram into this  letter? ) Eowyn does sort of just 'fade into the background' without too much fanfare... Aside from the idea of bestowing any kind of medal upon any hero ( male or fermale ) in the Third Age of Middle-earth seems incongruious ( although the bestowal of weapons, titles and "liveries" are not so ) - The 'Warrior Woman' Eowyn does seem to become transformed into the 'Handmaiden' Eowyn ( without a trace of her former persona to be seen ) in a twinkling..."

 

Ah, I guess I'm not merely a contrary character, as I find myself in agreement with all you have said. Got interested in the origin of medals as well after you pointed out the incongruity -- yep, an arm ring of gold, or a neck torque would have acted as the equivalent for Anglo-Saxon cultures, though I did find out that the Romans handed out "phalere," round medallions of metal, to be placed on the breast plate of legionaries singled out for acts of bravery. 

 

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Fanuidhol
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Re: Eowyn

My view of Eowyn is heavily influenced by Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings by Matthew Dickerson. 

 

I am not familiar with a "character analysis" done by Verlyn Flieger.

 

Sorry, I have to go get ready for work.

Fan

 

 

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Re: Eowyn

Hello, Prunes ( is it O.K. if I call you "Prunes"? If not, please admonish me ) ---

 

I think part of the problem in judging Tolkien's motives in demoting Eowyn's status to one of "a quiet housewife" might  lie in the possibility that Tolkien's mind-set was a truly, whole-heartedly "Old-Fashioned" one - his wistful looking backwards to what he considered to be a more idyllic time ( say, the pre-World War One era you mentioned ) was not just mere nostalgia on his part, but an integral part of his entire outlook on life, and what geared his whole "lifestyle" as well...

 

One of the things I got out of his essay, { "On Fairy Stories" } was a sense that Tolkien felt that many people felt that if something was new or modern, it necessarily had to be better, grander than something that was old or outdated, even if the new thing was ugly, or uprooted and took the place of something fine that had been there before - the unstoppable "March of Progress" and so forth - and that the "harsh reality" of the modern-day world might sometimes be so forbidding and "souless" in its nature, that it was not only the right of someone to "escape" from it, but could be even considered a "sheer necessity for preserving one's sanity and one's soul" ( to do that escaping )...

 

So, I would say that if Tolkien did have a late-twentieth century comprehension of the new, changing roles for women in society ( or even an appreciation for how their roles had changed during the 1939-1945 period ) he would still not feel compelled to "keep up with the changing times", "get with it", and "adapt" his story to give fair and equal treatment to the female characters in his stories...

 

I need to continue my thoughts on this in another letter...   Ardo

 

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Re: Eowyn

A Continuation...

 

So, I would say when Tolkien was writing his stories - he was  not necessarily directing the aim of the stories at "the more modern-day sensibilities" - and at least, he was not "reigning in" Eowyn on account of a stubborn streak of Male-Chauvinist Pig-headedness...

 

Perhaps his interpretations of women's roles were myopic in their scope, but I would also hasten to point out, in both World Wars, the opening up of roles to women were mainly allowed on a "contigency basis"

which was ( for the most part ) dropped as soon as the Wars ended, at which time, the role of "Mother and  Housewife" being the only proper role for a woman was again pushed for vigorously  by the still

male-dominated society - even fictional female characters ( especially in movies ) who were depicted as independent and ambitious or strong-willed, most often wound up fulfilling themselves by finding their "true love" and becoming "Mrs. So and So"...( and I believe this concept was pushed right up through the 1960's - and JRRT died before the "Women's Liberation Movement" was just beginning to get off the ground, even - attitudes have changed tremendously in the last forty years or so )...

 

A little more on Tolkien's "Looking Backward" -

I realize there are some inherent dangers in this "longing for the past" - the period which Tolkien might have looked back with longing to ( that Pre-WW I Era ) certainly had its drawbacks - people dying sooner, children dying young, problems with sanitation, the excesses of the Imperialist system (which provided for the "perks" of being a British subject at that time), Racism, Sexism, Religious Intolerence, the "Class System", poverty, etcetera...

( I'd mention the Slavery of the factories, and the child-labor, but I think Tolkien not only longed for the peace and quiet of those pre-war days, but might have been gazing even further back - to the time before the Industrial Revolution, when England was still more of an agrarian society - and apparently, when he himself was still quite young, had caught a "glimpse" of the way things were before they were overtaken by that Revolution - being in a place that was still mostly "untouched" by its effects )...

 

But I think Tolkien  tried to preserve what he felt were aspects of living that were still too good to be discarded simply because they were too old and outdated - not that I think he had his mind closed off completely to any modern ideas or was totally unaware of what was going on in the world around him,

shut away in an imaginary world, or cut off from reality - ( it was quite the opposite, in fact ) but I think his "retro-lifestyle" influenced his writing and revealed itself in his writing, and this ...

 

I realize this does not excuse his myopic view of Woman's place in society, but as his intention was not to "talk  directly to the modern sensibility" or to write any kind of allegory, or to write any kind of "moral fable for our times" - but something else entirely, I think maybe we should tread a bit lighter as to judging him on his short-sightedness in this matter...

 

Ardo 

 

,

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Prunesquallor
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Re: Eowyn

[ Edited ]

"Prunes," is just fine, Ardo.

 

RE Ardo's -- "I realize this does not excuse his myopic view of Woman's place in society, but as his intention was not to 'talk directly to the modern sensibility' or to write any kind of allegory, or to write any kind of 'moral fable for our times' - but something else entirely, I think maybe we should tread a bit lighter as to judging him on his short-sightedness in this matter..."

 

Hmmm, here I don't think "treading lightly" is relevant, JRRT being dead will surely not have his feelings hurt by us in any case. Secondly, I am in the above post directly comparing and contrasting the generally accepted view of gender roles in our present with those expressed by Tolkien in the first half of the 20th century. Whether Tolkien ever desired to address this issue is again irrelevant -- the instructive point here is that by comparing modern views to Tolkien's views we come to understand how he differs from us (at least some of us, for I am reliably informed that there are many, even in the 21st century, who still hold Tolkien's traditional values regarding females). In one sense, the judgment is merely relative, and he suffered no "short-sightedness" at all -- he merely differed from the point view I expressed, a point shared by many (though not all moderns).

 

This compare/ contrast approach allows us to see how we might differ from JRRT's interpretation, and explains why many readers may feel uncomfortable with his treatment of women. I don't think JRRT was inexcusably chauvinistic in his attitudes towards women, but even in his own day there were many who would find him "old-fashioned," and "stuffy" regarding the roles that should be available to women.

 

RE Ardo's: "Perhaps his interpretations of women's roles were myopic in their scope, but I would also hasten to point out, in both World Wars, the opening up of roles to women were mainly allowed on a 'contigency basis'

which was ( for the most part ) dropped as soon as the Wars ended..."

 

Hmm, this is at odds with the history I know. World War I marks a watershed in the permanent change of Women's roles in western civilization. By 1918 as a direct result of societal changes initiated by the Great War, women could vote in Britain (restricted to women 30 years of age, later amended in 1928 to include all women 21 and over). In the U.S.A, following the slower mechanism of Constitutional Amendment, women were granted the right to vote in 1920. While some women were displaced from "manly" occupations at the end of the war, not ALL were removed from the situations of independence their wartime jobs had given them. Independent women, women not married, nor under paternal control became a significant element of both British and U.S. populations, of course, not yet (if ever) on a base of full equality with men. Women smoking, going out unescourted, or wearing pants (thoroughly "modern Milly" ), after 1918, were no longer an occasion of public remark and ridicule, etc., LOL, they had become commonplace. World War II re-inforced these changes and put the capstone on the creation of the "liberated" woman.

 

Consequently, Tolkien would have been quite aware, by 1920, that the traditional value system with its highly limited roles available to women had been irreparably altered. It is an indication of the conservative nature of his personal belief system, that as late as 1954 with the publication of LOTR, Tolkien was still resisting any signficant alteration in his own views on what was "proper" in female behavior. I think we can make similar arguments concerning Tolkien and the race question. But, as you point out Ardo, in neither case does his antiquated opinion ever represent a vicious anti-feminism, or a pejorative anti-coloured person bias.

 

Re Ardo's: "But I think Tolkien tried to preserve what he felt were aspects of living that were still too good to be discarded simply because they were too old and outdated - not that I think he had his mind closed off completely to any modern ideas or was totally unaware of what was going on in the world around him, shut away in an imaginary world, or cut off from reality - ( it was quite the opposite, in fact ) but I think his 'retro-lifestyle' influenced his writing and revealed itself in his writing..."

 

Agree with you here, completely.

 

 

Message Edited by Prunesquallor on 09-14-2008 04:22 PM
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Re: Eowyn

[ Edited ]

09-09-2008 12:02 AM Prunesquallor Wrote:

Interesting, when we view the final end of this episode, and the accolades are being distributed after the victory of the Morannon, do you think Eowyn got her fair share of "recognition?" I'll probably have to reread that section of ROTK, but does Tolkien ever show her getting public acclaim for her deeds as Dernhelm, or was her heroic part in the death of the chief Nazgul cancelled out by her original "disobedience?" What do you think of the tale's end --  where Eowyn, if I'm remembering this correctly -- sort of vows to give up her shield-maiden pretenses and take up a more "womanly," housewife role? Yeah, I guess, in the romantic, "ooey-gooey" sense, she is "rewarded" with the "gift" of a handsome prince as a groom -- but should she not have been awarded a knighthood, or at least a medal? How about a new sword to replace the one she broke in the Nazgul's face? (small grin)

09-12-2008 09:11 PM Prunesqallor wrote:
He apprently felt it important to add a Field of Cormallen chapter to round off the narrative, giving a "special" celebration for Sam and Frodo. So, here's a perfect occasion to bring ALL the heroes together for public recognition -- why did he fail to invite Eowyn (and Faramir)? Yes, they were convalescing, so, as the author, could Tolkien not have moved the ceremony to Minas Tirith and staged it a few days later? I think it simply did not occur to Tolkien that some readers in the future might wonder why Eowyn gets no public party, no fiefdom, or knighthood of her own. Her final status is "husband-dependent," is it not? She'll be the Princess of Ithilien, give up the silly thoughts of war/ "manly" adventure, and take on a maternal* role as a healer. Sounds like the same treatment Belladonna Took received -- a "remarkable" person, in fact a "fabulous" person (one with whom tales and fables are associated). She had adventures of her own, until she married: "Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo Baggins." (Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party" pb ver, p. 16). I get the feeling, however it is soft-pedaled, that Eowyn got the "Belladonna" treatment from Tolkien.

 

Garsh! Did she really get mentioned in an appendix! Not quite the same, being an after thought, as getting a mention in the main text, is it? I've known lots of Tolkien readers who never made it to the appendices. 

 

RE: Fan's "If you would read again what I wrote about Faramir he never WANTED to be a 'manly' warrior."

 

What? Do you mean he wanted to be an "unmanly" warrior? Just what would THAT entail?

 

* I do not myself see "healing" as a gender specific role, did Tolkien?
 
I have re-read enough of the end chapters that deal with Eowyn.  Eowyn refused to go to the Field of Cormallen, even though Eomer begged her to go.  (Steward and the King chapter) 

Aragorn praises her in the Houses of Healing Chapter, not directly to her, but to those in the room, which included Gandalf and Eomer, but might have also included Pippin and Imrahil  "...her deeds have set her among the queens of great renown."  Faramir tells her she has won renown in the Steward and the King chapter and in Appendix A we learn that the people of the Mark call her The Lady of the Shield-arm. 

I have yet to come up with any evidence to suggest Eowyn was to/wanted to become a housewife.

Again I point out that Eowyn decided to become a healer   And only after she decides to be a healer, does Faramir ask her to marry him.

The Healers I can remember offhand are all men -- Elrond, Aragorn, The healer in the House of Healing....

I used the word 'manly' in sort of a sarcastic way.  But, the fact remains that Faramir can't wait to go to Ithilien to "make a garden".  I can't find anything that says that Faramir went into battle after The War of the Ring.  He remained the "Steward" a regent to rule when the king went off to battle. 


09-09-2008 04:42 AM  Ardo Wrote:

I think it is important that Eowyn and Faramir meet in the Houses of Healing, as they have both been wounded, damaged in the execution of their duty - they are "survivors", who would prefer to ride off with the rest of the Armies of the West, and perhaps to die in one last big blaze of glory - but they have no option but to stay behind and convalesce and allow themselves to be healed...

 

In re-reading these chapters, I did not quite get the feeling that Faramir was itching to go the way Eowyn wanted to rush off and die in battle.  He had to convince her that they both needed to do as they were told by the healer. (Steward and the King Chapter) 

 

Ardo continued: 

After all the glorious deeds of bravery on the battlefield - and also all the death and carnage all around -

normal life must still be allowed to continue on ( in this case, everything hinging on the fate of the Ring and the Rinbearers ) - and that Faramir and Eowyn represent this aspect of "ordinary life" going on as it must?

( at least, after the trials and the sacrifice have already been endured? )---

Perhaps I'm just way off base on all this, but it's just a possibility that occurs to me...

 

I like this, Ardo.  Love doesn't wait for "just the right time". 


09-10-2008 01:05 AM Prunesquallor Wrote:
Eowyn herself did not enjoy mayhem in the good old berserker fashion; so here, her warrior spirit was the equal of Faramir's and both were different from Boromir's brash love of battle for its own sake. Yet Tolkien has no trouble in stripping Eowyn of her role as warrior, to return her to a more conformably "Victorian" set of behaviours -- even the medieval Norse saw nothing wrong in a woman who availed herself of both the housewife and the warrior roles, seeing neither as necessarily exclusive of the other.

 

I believe you are wrong here.  She grew up in a war-honoring culture.  "I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying." (Steward and the King chapter)
Why is it wrong to choose another field, that of a healer, rather than continue to be a warrior?  I reiterate that there is no evidence to suggest that Eowyn will become a housewife.
 


09-10-2008 06:37 AM Ardo wrote:

I also wonder if Tolkien already felt guilty enough, sending even just one female into "Harm's Way" -

and after Eowyn's "transformation", he hoped to discourage the whole idea of a woman going into combat,

altogether?

 

Tolkien had no problem letting females get into the "thick of things" in Silm.
I do believe Tolkien was making a statement with Eowyn, but it had nothing to do with her sex.  It has everything to do with the despair...and the regaining of hope.  If I have time tomorrow, I'll try to come up with specific examples.  If you care to look at the Steward and the King chapter...

 

Fan

Message Edited by Fanuidhol on 09-14-2008 07:41 PM
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Re: Eowyn

Hello, Prunes!

 

I can't argue with you about how the role of women was progressively changing throughout the

20th Century ( and I had given a thought to the "Thoroughly Modern Millies" of the post  - war 1920's -

certainly that  era saw a transformation for women to a situation far different from the way things had been not  too long  before that, during the Victorian Age )...

But I also think the still mainly "Male-Dominated Society" did continue to push their "ideal"

[ or, if you prefer, their propagandistic stereotype ] of the "Woman as Housewife and Mother" ( especially in Popular Culture - where in movies and TV it was [more often than not] the "happy ending" when the female character, no matter how strong-willed and independent, realizes her "destiny" by marrying the "right" man, obstensively to caretake for him, bear and raise his children, etcetera )  as I said before,

right up into the 1960's, even...

I  guess this kind of "Propaganda Campaign" could even be considered a sign of an amount of "Male Backlash" or "Male Panic" [ at least, "Male Insecurity" ] in the aftermath of both World Wars,

when you consider how, at first, when the men were  all returning from war, the women were suddenly almost all ( again, for the most part ) simply expected to give up any jobs they had aquired during wartime,

in order to "give way" to the males, for whom these jobs they considered to be some kind of "birthright"

( and all part of the "natural order of things" ) ---

(  your remarks about how many women were expected to give up those "manly" jobs ) ---

 

I'm sorry, I'm not even sure where I'm going with all this blather -

except, I feel the need to explain, I am not arguing with you at all on your points in your last letter -

except to point out that this "Male Propoganda Campaign" ( to "keep women in their place" ) at least

gave the denial of those  new "situations of independence" ( for women ) in the public's collective psyche a measure of respectability...(  even if, in reality, the place of women in society had been changed so dramatically, already  ) ---

What I  just said doesn't have that much to do with Tolkien, either -

except that I'm sure you are right when you say that even in his own time, many might have found him

"stuffy" and "chauvinistic" in his viewpoints concerning the role of women in modern society.....

 

Ardo

"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
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Re: Eowyn

Ardo and Prunes,

I don't think I can disagree more with your analysis of Tolkien's view of women's role.

Even though this really belongs with the thread "Tolkien and the Female Gender", I am replying to your posts here...

First a few points from Tolkien's "real" life...

Tolkien admred his mother...a single mother, who stood her ground with her family to remain in the Catholic faith, and his first teacher. 

Tolkien also admired his Aunt Jane, who obtained a Bachelor's degree.  "The professional aunt is a fairly recent development, perhaps; but I was fortunate in having an early example : one of the first women to take a science degree." Letter #232

Tolkien tutored many female college students.  His daughter, Priscilla, wrote in an article "Memories of JRR Tolkien in his Centenary Year" that her father believed completely in higher education for women.

 

He did have less than currently politically correct views.  Specifically Letter #43 written to his son, Michael, who was contemplating marriage to someone he knew for a very short time (a father overstating matters to caution a son?).  But, even in that letter, I don't see anything in it that states women should be housewives. It does state, however, that it is natural for women to want to be mothers.

Fan

 

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Re: Eowyn


Prunesquallor wrote:

 Her final status is "husband-dependent," is it not? She'll be the Princess of Ithilien, give up the silly thoughts of war/ "manly" adventure, and take on a maternal* role as a healer. Sounds like the same treatment Belladonna Took received -- a "remarkable" person, in fact a "fabulous" person (one with whom tales and fables are associated). She had adventures of her own, until she married: "Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo Baggins." (Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party" pb ver, p. 16). I get the feeling, however it is soft-pedaled, that Eowyn got the "Belladonna" treatment from Tolkien.


 

Something bothered me about your statements here, Prunesquallor.  It just took awhile to figure out what it was exactly.

How many married people (male or female) in Tolkien's Middle-earth seek adventure?  Bilbo and Frodo are both unmarried.  Sam, Pippin and Merry marry after their adventures.  Aragorn marries after his big adventure...the list goes on.

Married people don't go off having adventures when they have responsibilities/children at home!

Fan

 

 

 

 

 

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Re: Eowyn

[ Edited ]

Hullo Fan!

 

Re Fan's: " Something bothered me about your statements here, Prunesquallor. It just took awhile to figure out what it was exactly. How many married people (male or female) in Tolkien's Middle-earth seek adventure? Bilbo and Frodo are both unmarried. Sam, Pippin and Merry marry after their adventures. Aragorn marries after his big adventure...the list goes on. Married people don't go off having adventures when they have responsibilities/children at home!"

 

Yes they do, remember the book "I Married Adventure"? -- LOL -- For many people in the pre-modern world, life is always an adventure. Nomadic lifestyles, require frequent "There and Back Again" treks, certainly the Stoors, Fallohides, and Haarfoots lived such adventures for an extended period of time crossing the Misty Mountains and parts of Eriador -- did not seem to bother them much, still seem to have been able to sucessfully sustain their population, and I bet the kids had more fun, and learned more useful knowledge concerning how to be independent, bold, and useful members of their societies than city kids would. Its also a more healthy lifestyle, fewer plagues, like that which hit the village settlements in III A. 1636 "Beyond the Baranduin the Periannath survive, but suffer great loss." (App. B., 367) Laziness, not one of the virtues, but dressed up as "sloth," it becomes one of the Seven Deadly Sins -- alas, all those hard-bodied hobbits, foraging/ hunting in their daily movements through the Wilderness became rotund, cholestrol-choked, alcoholics once they settled, once they stopped (in general) having adventures, all because they became greedy of pleasure/ leisure and avoided the healthy stimulus of adventure! Just compare Lobelia Sackville-Baggins with Aragorn, who would you rather consort with? Her temper was soured by GREED, Aragorn, engaging daily in adventures, was a calm, stoic, placid fellow with lots of good stories to tell. Now had Lobelia married Aragorn, and joined him in his rangering treks, how vastly improved her temper would have been, and a few kids tucked up nicely in a gypsy-caravan until they became useful little rangers (age 6) would have produced the absolute best lifestyle imaginable! Hardy, lean-muscled kids, well-balanced tempers... Sigh.

 

But even if you must have a settled existence, until the kids grow up enough to keep up, adventures can still be had -- tuck the tykes into grandma's place and off you and the hubby go! Today we call them vacations, but even a nice, genteel trip to Bree for a week would have provided plenty of adventure back in the Third Age.

 

So, once a year Eowyn grabs her sword and dashes off with Faramir and Company to check the old Orc holds in Mordor, make sure no new, nasty tenants have filtered back in. Especially for Princely households, there should be nannies available to watch the kiddies until little Judy and Hamrod are old enough to trek along. Sigh, too much comfort is simply deadly...

 

Seriously, Tolkien worked on the Hevarar Saga manuscript, he knew Hervod managed to raise kids while acting as a ruling chieftain and the war leader of her people. She finally died in battle, and was avenged by her equally adventuresome kids. SoTolkien had a quite different model available for his treatment of females, and to be historically accurate he could have, should have used it rather than the "Victorian" model. He was simply unable to rise above his own prejudices here...

Message Edited by Prunesquallor on 09-15-2008 12:49 PM
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