09-15-2008 02:05 PM
Re Fan's: "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."
Hmmm, so, she is to marry Faramir and take up "Red Cross" activities exclusively? This marriage represents a political alliance between Rohan and Gondor, more firmly cementing the war time union. That children would not be expected is silly, so Eowyn would be taking up house-wifely duties. This does not mean that she can be nothing else. Many females MDs and nurses manage to have children and do their share of household work, kid-rearing etc with no real difficulty. In a regal household, nannies would be used so there would be even less conflict of interest. You do bring up an interesting point for further research, just how sanguine was Eowyn, was she actually more akin to Boromir than Faramir? Did her love of War Songs mean that she was a blood-thirsty type, or did she just like the songs in an abstract sort of way. "The Road to Moscow," battle narrative, is one of my favorite songs, yet I would not rejoice to find myself on the Eastern Front in 1943...
Re Fan's: "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...
See!? So why does JRRT weasel out of this with Eowyn?
This is one of the things that bothers me most about JRRT, he started out fairly "open-minded' and even, gasp 'liberalish' in the treatment he accorded women in his early mythological material. Here, I think he was more under the pagan influence of the Classical Graeco-Roman and Nordic/ Finnish traditions. Even Galadriel is celebrated as an Greek-like athelete in the early tales, though she does no handsprings, and sprints not at all in LOTR. As he aged, Tolkien became ever more interested in re-writing his old material so that it was not merely "non-contradictory" to his conservative brand of RC Christianity, but actually was ever more fully enthused with that faith's dogmas (or his personal interpretation of them). Reducing his females to less adventuresome creatures was just part of that process. In the Silmarillion, numerous females could, did engage in combative adventures -- but by LOTR, we really have only one such example, Eowyn, and she is, at the tale's end, made by Tolkien to give up such adventures.
RE Ardo's "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..."
Absolutely agree with you here, Ardo. While new roles for women were "invented" in the crucible of the two World Wars, the old paradigm was still quite strong, and conservative "back-lash" movements were periodically mounted to try to turn back the hands of time. But they never (at least not yet) fully succeeded. The tide still ebs and flows in this particular battle...
RE Fan's "
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.
I don't think either Ardo or I have "tarred" Tolkien as a real-life anti-feminist," or an old fashioned misogynist, he was simply, in his text narratives, where HE had full control, blatantly antiquated (even for the 1920s - 1950s) in his attitudes towards "proper" female behaviours. As you say: "He did have less than currently politically correct views." I would just add that he also had less than "politically correct" opinions for his own period. He was however, quite in tune with the "politically correct," conservative thought of the 1870s - 1910 -- actually the era before his own majority. Check his attitudes towards the C.S. Lewis marriage.
09-23-2008 06:28 AM
Hello, Fan! ---
I believe you are right in that Faramir was probably not "itching" to go die in battle ( in the same way that Eowyn was ) - he wasn't so "hot to trot" ( on a horse, that is ), but still might have felt that ( if he had not been directed to stay behind and convalesce ) that it still his duty and obligation to ride off with the others...
I don't believe Tolkien was conciously trying to mold female characters in LOTR ( and especially, specifically, Eowyn ) to fit into their more "traditional" roles -
and, especially, not in terms of trying to make his stories "match" his more conservative, Roman Catholic outlooks...
But I still do think that Tolkien's Catholicism influenced him subconciously in some of his "choices" ( in his stories )...
The Church itself, even to this day, undeniably, had a strictly male "executive branch" - decisions, organization, authority, always rested with male priests, bishops, archbishops, Cardinals - the Pope -
the Mass itself was conducted by the priests and altarboys - ( sort of like an all-male "army", in at least the way the Church was organized and operated ) ... Yes, of course there were nuns - and, although they taught in the schools, or did nursing work ( a healing" profession? ) they did not have the same authority as the priests - were not even granted the same "powers" ( to provide the Sacraments - to "preside" over The Mass, Communion, Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, Last Rites ) ---
I'm not trying to say that this gave Tolkien some hopelessly outdated view of women and their place in society -, nor, of course, that this proves some kind of "hard and fast rule" about the correlation of Tolkien's religious beliefs and his treatment of females in LOTR -
But, I think in JRRT's subconcious ( at any rate ), the Church does represent something similar to those "Armies Of The West"
( versus Mordor and the Powers of Darkness and Evil ) -
even if there is no direct allegory ( which JRRT certainly did not intend for it to be ) -
I can't help feeling that JRRT might have felt, deep down, that the Church was something akin to an army
( made up of the forces of "Good" fighting the Devil and the forces of "Evil" ) -
and the warriors, and the knights, and the the kings in this army are all males )....
But besides all that, I just can't help feeling that, ( especially with his Faith being so important to him ) -
growing up with ( and growing old with ) the Catholic religion, and it's own peculiar "culture"
and the way it was organized and administered in that male-centered way ---
this must have had some impact on his psyche and influenced him ( in subtle ways )
when he was writing his stories....
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09-23-2008 06:55 AM
Hello Again ---
I was greatly suprised that I was even able to get in here ( I thought this had all been dead and buried ) -
I believe what happened is that I simply "transferred" ( through a different "thread" in the Fantasy/Science Fiction Pages ) and found myself back at the Tolkien Boards - at which, I was able to select this particular thread ( and respond to it ) - well, they did say before, that we would still be allowed to do this, if we really felt the desire to do so, even though this is now an "inactive" board...---
I have to agree with you - most of the postings to the "Eowyn" Thread really belonged more rightfully in the
"Tolkien And The Female Gender" Thread - even though the discussions ( when they began, and even to a certain extent, as they continued ) revolved around Eowyn ...
But the arguments and comments turned further away from a "character study" of Eowyn, and much more towards "Tolkien's treatment of female characters ( in general ) in his works" -----
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