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Topic: The Character and Character changes of Eowyn.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Nov 3, 2009
The Character and Character changes of Eowyn.

In Eowyn,  J.R.R. Tolkien constructed a character of  depth and complexity.
From a exactly feminist viewpoint, Eowyn's story is not essentially a positive one.
With a life spent at the hearth, tending to her warrior kinsmen, Eowyn is left nearly suicidal, hungering for death and glory on the battlefield. Eowyn is able to take up the sword and ride into battle only by abandoning her gender and taking on the identity of the male soldier. Though she defeats the invincible Nazgul Witch King of Angmar whom "no man can kill" specifically because she is a woman, she is struck down in the act.  Eowyn cannot totally heal until she abandons her desire to be Aragorn's queen, and surrenders to the love of Faramir, the steward of Gondor in Aragorn's absence. Claiming that Faramir has "tamed" her, she ultimately gives up her role as shield maiden.

Tolkien's message is an apparent paradox, which has frustrated numerous feminist critics. 
On the one hand, Tolkien affirms Eowyn's right to express her intense frustration with the limitations placed on her because of her gender. In fact she succeeds in defying those limitations and achieves what seemed impossible as a result, earning the respect of the men who had underestimated her.
On the other hand, however, with a few kind words from Faramir, who explains to her the folly of her love for Aragorn, she throws away her chance to achieve anything greater or to win any further respect or independence, in effect choosing to settle down and become a homemaker. Ironically, her choice seems to play right into the conventional wisdom concerning what women's roles were supposed to be.Or it can be seen that she surrenders her warrior persona to become a trophy wife.
Can  we reconcile these different elements on the subject of the importance and meaning of and to women?

I will follow with more about Eowyn and  the implications from Tolkien's work.
But I hope too hear from others and their perspective on the issues surrounding the shield maiden and character and character changes of Eowyn.


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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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Date: Nov 3, 2009

Dear Bear,

I admire your tackling Eowyn, and all the complexities that Tolkien built into her makeup. I do not critizise, I only pose some questions that run through my own mind when I read her story.

I do not see that all men underestimate her. In the eyes of Theoden, she is capable of ruling and leading her people until such time Sauron is defeated or all Men are forced to make a last stand against all hope. He makes her his heir apparent, a queen. Yes, she fell in love with Aragorn a man worth her metal. In Tolkien's first drafts it is they that marry. If Tolkien should then choose to change that so that Aragorn would follow the steps of Beren in falling in love with an Elf maiden, that is no reflection on Eowyn.

Faramir is a made a prince. He too was driven to a "suicidal" state of mind by a father who loved Boromir better and wished that it was Faramir who had died in his brother's place. Together and in each other Eowyn and Faramir find a healing love and peace of mind and spirit.

I think it is less that Eowyn has to trade in her "warrior persona" then she realizes that she is surrounded by men who are stroing, courageous, brave and she can take her place among them as an equal. In my own mind I cannot think that she could relinquish her sense of place and being to become just a "trophy wife". Her warrior spirit could not, would not allow it. If she did it would be a very temporary and unhappy state of affair for all those around her. If she did then all her courage and bravado was a fraud and a sham but there is enough proof to the fact that her warrior spirit was sterling.

I do not understand why it is that people believe that for a woman to take up the warrior path....to ride into battle they have to "abandon her gender" just because she dresses like a man or take on the armor of battle. If a woman has to "take on the costume" of Men, blame rather the men around them. Women have been warriors for thousand of years. Some cultures have realized the strong spirit of their wives and daughters and honored this. If other cultures find strong women threatening and feel the need to suppress this valuble asset, woe be to them. I do not see Eowyn dampening her femininity to don armor and riding with her people. Besides maybe we should be giving thanks to Eru that she did so. And maybe it was that "other power at work" that gave her the inspiration to do so. For she would be greatly needed on that battle field.


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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Don't forget that it was only because of Merry that Eowyn was able to do what she did. She would have died without much of a battle, were it not for that sneaky Hobbit.

Many have argued that it was Merry who killed the WK, and thus the prophecy came true that it was not a man, but a Hobbit, which killed the WK. When you think about it, its kinda like someone pushing someone else out into the road so the murderer in the car can run them over. Both are contributing to the death, even though the killing blow comes from only one of them.

As for the subject of Eowyn, I think its not as complex as all that. Tolkien showed that women can do great things as well, if given the chance, and Eowyn did a great thing. Therefore she has both earned the right to enter into the traditional female role, as well as the respect given to mighty warriors. Eowyn had already proven herself, why would she need to continue down the warrior line?

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Date: Nov 4, 2009
Hey

Eowyn..hmmmm I feel unqualified to offer an opinion on this....she is after all a woman........

Mind you..she is the most fanciable filly in the book.

Galadrial has a god like buety but a bit depressed

Arwen is an ideal bit of crumpet yet you gotta be a king of men to get a crack at her

Eowyn.....she likes a fight...gives you plenty of drink , and she's easy on the eye....lovely jubly.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Nov 5, 2009
I found this article while surfing.
I reprint it here because it is germaine to the topic.
Please give all credit to Kara Gardner and "The One Ring."


Eowyn - Macho Men & Warrior Princesses
By Kara Gardner, The One Ring http://greenbooks.theonering.net/guest

...Articles on TheOneRing.net have focused on Tolkiens women characters. This is a sticky issue, and one that takes some courage to tackle. In their hurry to defend Tolkien, Counterpoint writer Anwyn and a recent Special Guest are both anxious to distance themselves from feminists. In contrast, I would like to announce at the outset that I am a staunch feminist and proud to be one. I have also read LOTR every year since I was nine years old and consider Tolkien my favorite author. Just as I can find Aragorns coronation stirring without wanting to live in a monarchy, I can also enjoy LOTR while recognizing that Tolkiens views on gender are not precisely my own. I would like to go farther than this, however, and suggest that Tolkiens works can actually provide us with a model for masculinity that is strongly pro-feminist. Tolkien reminds us that the most honorable tasks for a man are creating, healing and protecting. These ideals can serve as a desperately needed model in an age when masculinity is increasingly equated with homophobia, bulging muscles and random violence.

Both recent web articles point out the role of women as inspiration for Tolkien. Anwyn writes that "its only natural that Tolkien would paint women into his mythos as he saw them in his own world: to be placed on a pedestal, to be drawn on for support in times of trial, to be looked up to as a cherished ideal." The Guest writes, "[Aragorn is] fighting for the women of Middle-earth and for the things that the women represent." Although I agree that this is an element in Tolkiens work, I dont believe that it should be used in his defense for two reasons: First, the history of our century teaches us the dangers of treating women as ideals in need of protection. In very recent history, Southern lynch mobs murdered black men to "protect" white women from rape. Women were excluded from juries to protect them from the graphic details of trials. During the Vietnam War, women were protected from the draft, but this protection often meant that they were not allowed to actively object to the war, only to support and nurture those who did. Finally, while an artists muse might inspire his work, she is never allowed to be an artist herself. It is important to remember that someone who is protected cannot take risks, and that to treat someone as an ideal is to deny their essential humanity along with their right to fail and make mistakes.

Second, I believe that Tolkien was explicitly aware of the dangers of over-idealizing and over-protecting women. Éowyn, for example, falls into despair because she is trapped in the role of waiting on Théoden and must leave the defense of her principles to men who fall short in their task. Furthermore Arwen, arguably the most idealized of Tolkiens characters, is allowed profound doubts and failings. Her weakness and regret at Aragorns death gives her sacrifice poignancy and courage that it would never have if she were simply an ideal type. Despite my objections to treating women as the object of protection, I find that fighting to protect and preserve rather than to conquer and destroy is one of the strongest messages in Tolkiens work. This is not to imply that Tolkien is reactionary. His characters do not fight to preserve the world unchanged but rather to save what they can "so that those who live after may have clean earth to till." Tolkiens heroes fight because they must and not for glory, honor or abstract ideals. The two exceptions to this rule are Éowyn and Boromir. Boromir is concerned with personal glory, while Éowyn sets out in search of honorable death in battle. I believe that these two characters serve to highlight the two most strongly feminist characters in the LOTR: Éowyn the Healer as opposed to Éowyn the Warrior and Boromirs foil, Faramir.

Treating Éowyns decision to hang up her sword as a pro-feminist decision will no doubt seem misguided. The fact that we treat Éowyn the warrior as the stronger character, however, shows the degree to which our culture equates violence with power. Éowyns decision should remind us that healing can take more skill than fighting and living can take more courage than dying. I do not mean to embrace by analogy the backlash argument that women won their rights in the 1970s and should now exercise their right to be housewives. Éowyn does not give up the freedoms she has won, nor does she decide that she was wrong to fight. Her actions parallel the choices of many male characters. Sam, for example, turns to gardening and raising children when his role in the war is over. For men and women alike building and healing are ultimately as important as wartime courage.

The second strongly feminist character in LOTR is Faramir. Im sure that it will also seem odd to take the man "who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North" as a model for a pro-feminist man. Faramir is important, however, as a contrast to his brother Boromir. Compare what Faramir says about his culture and his brother to the model of masculinity that modern media present: "We now love war and valour as things good in themselves, both a sport and an end; and though we still hold that a warrior should have more skills and knowledge that only the craft of weapons and slaying, we esteem a warrior, nonetheless, about men of other crafts. So even was my brother, Boromir." In contrast to his brother, Faramir says, "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor."

Faramir embodies an ideal of manhood that is centered on protecting and understanding and doing useful and creative work. This ideal is an excellent antidote to the Steven Segal archetype -- a man who is manly because he flexes his muscles, beats up people who disrespect him and slaps womens butts. Consider the fact that the movie tough-guy is almost always fighting for revenge. He is usually out to pay someone back for his murdered partner/buddy/family/wife, but those people are already dead and safely (except for the occasional flashback) out of the way. Faramir, on the other hand, is fighting to protect his home from a present threat. While he is a warrior hero to his people, he is also a soft-spoken scholar-geek with the courage to love a strong woman like Éowyn and win her love with patience and kindness. Faramirs brand of courage makes pop-culture toughness look like little boy posturing by comparison.

Ultimately, I think that it pays to be cautious about much of what Tolkien says about gender but not to reject his core message. If, like Tolkien, we reject the idea that violence and manliness are one and the same, then The Lord of the Rings begins to look like a model for a feminist society. Tolkiens books are filled with warriors, martyrs, scholars, craftspeople, builders, poets, musicians, healers, rulers, gardeners and parents. These are all roles that both men and women can embrace.

Anorlas posting on this subject seems to resonate with my own beliefs echoed through my wife and daughter.
Eowyn is a victim of chauvanistic attitude yet she commands the respect of her king and people as a capable ruler.  Her ride to war, (still seems suicidal to me) is one of the great deeds of the age.  And even if Merry's thrust with the blade from the Barrow Mounds undid the Witch Kings spell, her courage in slaying the foul steed of the Nazgul, her refusal to lay down her sword, indeed driving into the Witch King, is an act of supreme courage and a heroic legacy.


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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Bear wrote:
Her ride to war, (still seems suicidal to me) is one of the great deeds of the age.  And even if Merry's thrust with the blade from the Barrow Mounds undid the Witch Kings spell, her courage in slaying the foul steed of the Nazgul, her refusal to lay down her sword, indeed driving into the Witch King, is an act of supreme courage and a heroic legacy.

I personally wouldn't go that far. The Witch King had, after all, just been stabbed and was bowed before Eowyn in extreme pain. His power had lapsed, she managed to get a fatal blow in while he was down. Brave, certainly, but not one of the mightiest deeds (atleast in the way it was executed, I mean) of the Age. She wasn't even able to dual him. First stroke, he sundered her shield and broke her arm.

She did manage to behead the Witch King's steed though. Those things were huge, and I think that took more effort than her killing blow to the Witch King.

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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Maybe not one of the mightiest deeds of the age, but Eowyn did not break and run before the fear generated by the Fell Beast and the Witch King like so many before her. Until this time only Glorfindel could put the Witch King to flight. Maybe it was that she could only stab him because of Merry's stroke with the Blade of Westerness, but it was she that gave the Witch king pause in the battle. In Tolkien's words the Witch King faced this girl wracked with doubt at her words. She gave Merry time to over come his own fear and wish to flee long enough for the Hobbit to crawl forwards and administer his wounding blow.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Tolkien's development of the warrior character of Eowyn may not be as rare as some believe. Stefan Ingstrand on Strange Horizons earlier this year wrote a very pointed article about how much we owe the female warriors of the Middle Ages.
I post this in honor of lomoduin and Anorlas, our own female warriors.



Éowyn under Siege: Female Warriors During the Middle Ages
By Stefan Ingstrand,   Strange Horizons, 6 April 2009

We all know that female warriors are one of the things that fantasy writers use to spice up their quasi-medieval settings, and not a part of real Middle Ages history. Interestingly enough, we are wrong. Medieval European sources mention a surprising number of martially inclined women during the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, more than sources from earlier or later eras do.

This isn't to say that female warriors were ever common, or that they were anything like their counterparts in much of today's fantasy art. (A brass bikini is rarely a good choice for battle.) Also, quite a few women may have fought only briefly during a time of crisis, standing in for absent men and returning to their normal lives as soon as possible. Still, we find women such as Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, who in the early tenth century commanded troops against Scandinavian forces that had conquered part of England, and Matilda of Tuscany, who defended the papacy nearly two hundred years later. Another Matilda, the daughter and legitimate heir of Henry I of England, led troops against the usurping King Stephen during the twelfth century. Dame Nicola de la Haye was Sheriff of Lincoln, and played an important part during the siege of that city in 1217. Countess Blanche of Champagne fought a long campaign to defend her son's interests around the same time, while the widow of Arnoul II of Guînes fought against her son to defend her widow's portion.

These warlike women, and several others whom I have excluded for the sake of brevity, all belong to royal or noble families. Were there no female warriors from the lower classes? It's difficult to be sure one way or the other, since medieval writers rarely concerned themselves with common people. There are a few examples, however, of what seem to be female, non-noble soldiers. When Charles VI of France marched into Flanders in 1382 (admittedly after the golden age of female warriors discussed here), the Flemings had a woman carrying their banner. She died in the following battle.

Another question is whether warring noblewomen actually fought themselves, or whether they were content to order their troops into battle. This is another area where the sources are less than forthcoming, but as historian Megan McLaughlin has pointed out, the same question can be asked regarding warring noblemen. We are told that they went to war, but seldom whether or not they led the charge, and the chroniclers still call them warriors. Also, the Flemish woman mentioned above isn't the only case of a woman who clearly seems to have entered battle. In 1190, during the Third Crusade, Christian forces attacked the Muslim camp where the chronicler Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani was stationed. He mentions how he rode out to inspect the battlefield after the attack had been repelled, and was shocked to find two women among the dead Christian warriors. He later heard that four women had taken part in the attack.

Crusaders and Vikings

We actually know that the Crusades brought quite a few women into battle. The church presented the war in the East as a kind of pilgrimage, and since pilgrimages were traditionally open to women, they took an interest in the project. When the First Crusade began in the late eleventh century, women could come along to the Holy Land if they had male permission and escort. They weren't really meant to, and they certainly weren't supposed to do any fighting, but the possibility was there. About a hundred years later, when Pope Innocent III wanted to optimize the chances of victory in the East, he increased this possibilityif wealthy women wanted to equip knights and send them into battle, they were welcome to do so. They didn't have to lead the knights all the way to Jerusalem, of course, but in his letter Quod super his from the year 1200, the Pope expressly gave them that option.

Once in the war zone, even the most peaceful woman could easily find herself in the middle of a battle. We have to read the chronicles with a critical mind, since both Christian and Muslim writers thought it dishonorable to have women in the army. (The former can be expected to omit female participants on their own side from their writings, the latter to exaggerate such occurrences.) However, there is little doubt that many women defended themselves when the need arose. The proximity to and participation in battle, taken together with religious fervor and the Church's promise of absolution from sin for crusaders, means that there might very well be some truth to the accounts of female warriors going on the offensive in the Holy Land. Women had a comparatively strong position in these frontier societies, and there was a constant shortage of military manpower. Also, it should be noted that some of the accounts are difficult to explain as propaganda meant to tarnish the enemy's reputation; Imad ad-Din's report above, for example, is nowhere near as exaggerated as it could have been. Imad also tells of a female archer in a green mantle who wounded many Muslims at Acre, and it is hardly effective propaganda to write about a supposedly weak woman shooting your own troops. In addition to this, archaeological excavations in the ruins of Caesarea, once an important crusader city, have uncovered a female skeleton in scale armor.

Speaking of archaeology, another group of female warriors may have been the so-called functional sons of Iron Age Scandinavia (who lived during the first part of the period discussed here; the Scandinavian Iron Age lasts well into the Middle Ages of continental Europe). Few written sources exist that can shed light on the Vikings and their world, but excavations have revealed women buried with weapons. Also, quite a few sources claim that there were female Viking warriors; the Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus names one called Lathgertha and one called Rusila, who may or may not be identical to the Inghen the Red whom Irish sources identify as a Viking leader. Adding to this hazy picture, historians have claimed that Iron Age society sometimes demanded that the family had at least one son. A son was needed to accept heritage and carry out blood feuds, and if there were only daughters, one of them had to become a functional sonshe would wear a man's clothes, carry weapons, and generally act like a man. Icelandic sagas and Norse laws seem to support the existence of functional sons, and the phenomenon is reminiscent of the sworn virgins of present-day Albania (a society which has some of the same characteristics as Iron Age Scandinavia, such as blood feud). Still, the picture remains hazy.

From Unusual to Unnatural

Let us move back to at least partly known times and places and ask how medieval European society reacted to warrior women. Going to war was the most masculine activity imaginable, and men who failed in battle were thought effeminate, so women who entered the fray broke the predominant pattern in a grand way. Art and literature from the period seem to indicate that the phenomenon was on people's minds, however. The margins of certain manuscripts have been decorated with images of armed women, sometimes jousting (and dismounting male opponents) and in at least one case fighting a dragon. A group of narratives from thirteenth-century France called Li Tournoiement as dames ("The Ladies' Tournament") describes an imagined tournament among highly skilled female combatants.
If we look to texts claiming to report real events, we find a rather relaxed attitudefemale warriors are considered unusual, but not unnaturalchange into a more hostile take on the subject. When Countess Richilde of Hainaut's brother-in-law captured her in the battle of Cassel in 1071, the contemporary chroniclers didn't make much fuss about it. About two hundred years later, however, in his Historia comitum Ghisnensium ("History of the Counts of Guînes"), Lambert of Ardres claims that Richilde was on the battlefield to throw a magic powder on the enemy. Times had changed. After about 1100, female warriors ran a greater and greater risk of being accused of black magic or promiscuity, being ridiculed (the thirteenth-century romance Aucassin and Nicolete, for example, mocks the switching of gender roles), or running into laws meant to keep them at bay. Joan of Arc, perhaps the most famous of medieval warrior women, was burned as a witch in 1431.

Still, there seems to have been some debate as to whether or not it was a good idea to allow female warriors. In the thirteenth century, two Italian scholars named Ptolemy of Luca and Giles of Rome both considered the question, and in accordance with the scholastic method they both considered the case for and against warrior women. On one hand, nature seemed to be in favor of the idea. Goshawks and eagles have fierce females, and since birds and humans are both part of the natural order, the same thing should be possible in the human realm. Also, women's physical and psychological health would improve if they practiced the military arts, and there were precedents such as the Amazons of Greek myth. They were seen as historical figures, and Ptolemy considered their society to have been successful.

There were also counter arguments. For one thing, birds don't have to run households, and humans do. According to Ptolemy and Giles, that duty fell to women. In fact, they claimed, women had been created too weak, too stupid, and with the wrong temperament for battle just so that they wouldn't leave their home and family. Finally, the rights of a warrior would neutralize the barriers meant to protect men from temptationthe barriers of women's shame, long clothes, wedding rings, and submissive nature, to be preciseand this would put the male warriors in great peril. In the end, both scholars decided that women should be kept far from the battlefield.

Intersecting Spheres

t seems that we have a mystery on our hands. Why did people, or at least people in power, become more hostile to female warriors as time passed? The general move toward a society with more strictly defined roles almost certainly played in, but can that be the only explanation?

McLaughlin proposes that the golden age of warrior women is also a time when the military sphere and the domestic sphere intersect. War was waged by small bands of warriors connected to their lords by ties of personal loyalty, feudal obligation, or blood. Battles were often no more than skirmishes between groups of this kind, and even the few large battles that were fought involved several small bands temporarily combined into armies. The warriors lived in or near the lord's household, trained there, held celebrations, and listened to poetry that glorified the warrior and his world. Women were also tied to the household, which allowed them to be influenced by this ideology and, in a few cases, acquire the skills to live it. There were good reasons to teach women how to fight; if nothing else, a noblewoman would have to lead the forces if her husband were killed or incapacitated. (It should also be noted that women took part in sieges, since a besieging army needed as many people as possible to watch all entrances to a castle.) A warrior woman from this background also had the advantage of following (or leading) old companions into battle, rather than having to defend her anomalous behavior to strangers.

The form of military organization described above gave way to new ideas around the thirteenth century, at the same time that the comparatively large number of female warriors in the sources dwindles. McLaughlin may have found an important piece of the puzzle, and to return to female warriors in fantasy, it's interesting that we find Tolkien's shield maiden Éowyn in a society where the domestic and military spheres seem to intersect. However, much of the puzzle remains unknown. To quote James M. Powell's foreword to Gendering the Crusades, "in the past, too much emphasis has been put on the limitations that confronted women." It is time that historians began studying those who transcended the limitations.


Bibliography

Blythe, James M., "Women in the Military: Scholastic Arguments and Medieval Images of Female Warriors," History of Political Thought 22 (2001), 242-269.

Clover, Carol J., "Maiden Warriors and Other Sons," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 85 (1986), 35-49.

Contamine, Philippe, La Guerre au moyen âge, English trans., War in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1998).

Edgington, Susan B. and Sarah Lambert (eds.), Gendering the Crusades (Cardiff, 2001).

Holum, Kenneth G. and Robert L. Hohlfelder (eds.), King Herod's Dream: Caesarea on the Sea (New York, 1988).

McLaughlin, Megan, "The Woman Warrior: Gender, Warfare and Society in Medieval Europe," Women's Studies 17 (1990), 193-209.

Nicholson, Helen, "Women on the Third Crusade," Journal of Medieval History 23 (1997), 335-349.

Solterer, Helen, "Figures of Female Militancy in Medieval France," Signs 16 (1991), 522-549.

Verdier, Philippe, "Woman in the Marginalia of Gothic Manuscripts," in Rosemarie T. Morewedge (ed.), The Role of Woman in the Middle Ages (London, 1975), 121-160.

Young, Antonia, Women Who Become Men: Albanian Sworn Virgins (Oxford, 2000).

Now let us look to the character of Eowyn.
Her motivations to be more than a princess of Rohan seem tied to her feelings for Aragorn...or are they...bound? Yes!!!
But there is so much more there...There is the vision left by the insidious Grima Wormtongue that would leave her bound to a bed and little more than a glorifyed maid servant rather than a shieldmaiden.  More to come...




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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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It is interesting to me that the idea that I think Bear is trying to raise, the feminist themes of varying cords in Tolkien's work, is immediately reduced to a commentary on whose sword actually struck the death blow to a mighty adversary of the quest of the ring. Rather than swim the deep waters of gender stereotyping and the dark undercurrents of our minds that sometimes drive us to heroic deed, unintentional though that deed may be, we discuss the physical act of violence.

It is hard to will the body to stand and fight in the face of evil or certain death. It is harder still to tame the mind. Arwen, Galadriel and Eowyn all do this thing. They face tribulation, humilliation and temptation and prevail to the greater good for themselves and others. I think that is a mighty statement on Tolkiens behalf. As an author, which many of us are on some scale, we tend to write about what we know and are comfortable with. Men tend to make the heros of their stories men vise versa for women writers. I have several half finished stories with a woman as warrior and "good" main character. I have yet to create a female villian and have killed off one of my two main "good" male leads. Reciprically, I have an entire army of male villians in mind. I don't mean to be so biased. I just understand the inner workings of a woman's mind and can better relate the entaglement of thought, emotion and motivation they experience. To say that men are motivated strictly on whose bi-ceps are largest is folly. To say they are emotional and easily led is as well. The comfort level just isn't there. My male characters tend to be power hungry and ruthless or great teddy bears with swords, therfore I avoid them as much as possible. That Tolkien could incorperate in his women a believable confusion of motivation, thought, pain and triumph is a token of his mastery and speaks to his understanding of his fellow "man".

The truth is neither side of our species is simply motivated. We do as we know best at any given moment and opperate in that moment to whatever end we desire or need. It is said that neccessity is the mother of invention. It is also the mother of despair and heroics, depression and progress. As individuals we decide how we are inclined to react to the stimuli.

As a child my family was plagued with poverty. We fished in the river and hunted deer to eat. My uncle and grandmother dutifully tended a small garden behind our house for our veggies. I've never had tomatoes as good as theirs. (I think is was the horse poop.) I was taught that the men who had jobs got the best of the food, the biggest portions and the most attention. I remember their clothes being laid out for them while the bathed in warm water my mother or grandmother drew in a tub for them. I'm torn here. I respect the women of my family and could not ever be as good a wife or mother as they were, however, the thought of drawing water for my husband and laying out his clothes, not to mention going hungry so he could have the extra portion, turns my stomach. The women didn't work though, and I do. My husband and I do for each other but I have to say that he probably gives more than he gets. Of this I am not proud.

Instead of cooking and cleaning, I found my forte in ground tracking and marksmanship. I'm active now in surrounding community efforts of finding stray horses, cows and even a person on one occasion. The men who don't know me are usually defensive when I show up to help with a search. The men of my family never blinked an eye, even though am the only woman in our family who hunts. The other women found it tiresome and vulgar. I, on the contrary, find it calms me. I don't gain joy from death but in the providing for my family. It was a lot more rewarding than my 9-5 that I am currently grinding away at but the reward was physical and immediate. No waiting for the paycheck that is electronically deposited and then spirited away by the e-payment gods.

To say that I find a common thread with Eowyn is not saying enough. I battled my way through this life providing for my family, even when I thought some of them didn't deserve it, and then creating a family of my own to provide for, though the method is quite different. I'm better with a blade than a spatula and long for a purpose other than the menial, mundane task of simply surviving. I want to live. I want the glory of leading even in times of peace and plethera. I have sacraficed my wood mongering for the coddeling of young and spouse at times to the point of my own mental undoing. I ache for the cool air on my face, the sun on my back and a clear trail beneath my feet.

I have said too much already but will end with this. At some point we all struggle to survive in this battle of the time clock we dilligently undertake every day when the alarm sounds. Some of us make it. Others we lose somewhere along the way to depression, fatigue or boredom. To accept your situation and survive is a noble thing. To rise above it and excel into the freedom of fullfillment and happiness is damn near impossible but I refuse to relenquish my sword.

Death!! Death!! Death!!

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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I am sure you've given Bear well more information than he could ask for, Lomoduin! Now back to the kitchen!wink.gif

Seriously, a good post.smile.gif

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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lol Glorfindel,

You don't want me in a kitchen. You could mortar a house with my bisquits.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Speaking of feminism, what are some thoughts of Rosie Cotton waiting patiently at home with her mom and dad for big, bad Sam to return, raise the Shire and sweep her off her feet to a life of spitting out babies and cleaning house? Let's go to the nth degree.

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Tom Bombadil
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She is a complex character, but she is being used by the powers that be to fulfill something that only she could. Kill the Nazgûl.

And what is wrong with becoming a Homemaker? Not everybody is cut out to be an entrepreneur. There are lots of women who are happy just to be "homemakers" and "At-Home Moms"

The Book never even mentions the Shield maiden concept. That is something in the movie.

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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There is diffenatly nothing wrong with being a stay-home mom and Homemaker. They certainly don't get their deserved cudos either. The problem comes when that is the only "place" that men think women have any value. I know in the Middle East in the early years of discipleship it was being taught that women could only be redeemed by having children......who started that malicious gossip?

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Looking at the discussion once again we have wandered off.  Suddenly we jump to it being a slam at stay at home moms. 
Where the heck did that come from?
In the Houses of Healing Eowyn tells Faramir she is a sheildmaiden and not to look to her for comfort...are we calling her a liar?


Her is another article that puts Tolkien's creation of Eowyn's character in a historical social context.

At home and abroad: Eowyn's two-fold figuring as war bride in The Lord of the Rings
(Mythlore, Fall-Winter, 2007 by Melissa Smith)

RAISED IN THE COMPANY of great warriors, in a society that has taught her to glorify the battle-arts, Eowyn, Lady of Rohan, seems an unlikely choice as a participant in The Lord of the Rings' single romantic storyline. Noble, cold, and stern, she desires to find death, not to renew life; she searches for glory, not healing. Yet, amid the carnage and hopelessness of combat in The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien develops a courtship centered on Eowyn, one that is ultimately imbued with the same wartime ethos that surrounded the young women of World Wars I and II. (1) Eowyn, shield-maiden of the Rohirrim, and Faramir, a former captain newly succeeded to the title of Steward of Gondor, figure principally in what is popularly termed a "wartime romance"--a relationship characterized by an accelerated intimacy attributed to the pressures and fears of war, including the uncertainty of prolonged separation and death. As Tolkien constructs it, however, Eowyn's attachments are not so simplistically binary: Aragorn, son of Arathorn, has also attracted her affections, creating a system that actually allows for a comprehensive representation of the several incarnations of the World Wars' "war brides." Eowyn's respective relationships with Aragorn and Faramir thus cast her in the dual roles of war bride-left-behind and foreign war bride, and while comparison of her experiences with the courtship, marriage, and assimilation experiences of women in the war-torn twentieth century reveal her to be a negative example of the former, she is clearly, for Tolkien, a positive exemplar of the latter.
Though not usually pinpointed as a social issue in past periods of international warfare, the principles that lie behind the concept of the "war bride" make it a timeless and world-encompassing phenomenon--perhaps every bit as old as the span of human history. (2) Yet the term "war bride" is itself a relatively new one, seeming to rise into prominence in the social and cultural upheavals of the First World War that Tolkien experienced so intimately. Indeed, the first citation of the term's use in the Oxford English Dictionary--a project that famously provided Tolkien with his first post-war job (3) (researching for the W's, no less [Gilliver, Marshall & Weiner 7])--is dated 1918, the year the Great War ended ("War"). OED aside, the term appears often in the literature and even in the pop culture of the time. Writing during the First World War, for example, a woman named Ruth Wolfe Fuller, whose husband was drafted into the United States army two months after their marriage, subtitled her brief reminiscences, "The Experiences of a War Bride." Even earlier, in September of 1914, a short play entitled "War Brides" was written by Marion Craig Wentworth and was staged for the first time in January of 1915 (Wentworth 6). Detailing the choices of women in a war-torn country, Wentworth's drama enjoyed some notable success in the climate of the times. Little different is the climate of the Second World War; the term "war bride" surfaced repeatedly in the media, in movies like I Was a Male War Bride (1949), starring Cary Grant, and in popular radio shows, like "Fibber McGee and Molly." In one episode of "Fibber McGee," aired on 3 March 1941, Fibber receives a letter informing him that he is to report for induction into the army, as he has been drafted into the Armed Services. Although the letter turns out to be a copy of his original World War One draft notice, Fibber is convinced throughout the episode of the letter's contemporary authenticity. Upon hearing of her husband's seeming re-call into the army, his wife Molly cries, "Imagine me! A war bride! Again!" Molly's dismay at the prospect of a repetition of her experiences confirms that the previous war had produced a social figure that was being recognizably reproduced in 1941. War brides from Molly's generation even saw enough common experience between themselves and the new brides to introduce themselves on those terms--one newlywed from London who had made Canada her new home wrote, "I recall that the day after I arrived a friend of my husband's family came to call. She told me that she had been a war bride from the first World War" (Hibbert 147)
Of the two waves of newlyweds, the focus of research generally tends to the war brides of WWII because of the greater scope of the phenomenon during this time--war brides were documented as entering America from over fifty different countries, including nearly 30,000 from Great Britain (Shukert & Scibetta 2), both during and after the war. By accepting the definitions of a war bride as provided by Ruth Fuller and the OED, it can be judged that these war brides generally belonged to one of two categories: the newlywed wife left in the homeland by the soldier, as Ruth Fuller defines herself (Fuller 6), or a bride of foreign origin married after a necessarily hasty engagement to a serviceman of the occupying, usually friendly, country (Shukert & Scibetta 2). The slightly derisive connotation saddled upon the term "war bride" (4) emerged from the widespread popularity of these latter "lightning marriages" (19) during the war--hasty alliances made attractive to native young women by the war-created shortage of marriageable men and to soldiers by the loneliness of being abroad (Glenn 60). While the motive for the marriage may have appeared questionable to an older generation with more traditional courtship ideals (5) (and who, with the character of Hedwig in Wentworth's "War Brides," would probably have said, "You make a mock of marriage!"--lines 270-71), "[t]ime was precious for lovers who made the most of every minute [...] before one or both had to return to ships or planes or stations to fight the war again" (Shukert & Scibetta 18). Tolkien was aware of and understood this trend, explaining in response to a criticism of Faramir and Eowyn's too-speedy courtship: "In my experience feelings and decisions ripen very quickly (as measured by mere 'clock-time', which is actually not justly applicable) in periods of great stress, and especially under the expectation of imminent death" (Letters 324). This summary directly defines the psychology of wartime marriages that produced the war brides of WWI and II.
Eowyn's first figuring as a war bride is as the beloved wife left alone in the soldier's land of origin. Although not Aragorn's wife, (6) the representation of this initial relationship is portrayed through the interactions of the two while Aragorn sojourns at Dunharrow before passing through the Paths of the Dead. (7) The White Lady's reactions at times mirror those of Ruth Fuller, whose husband is called away to training camp, and then France, during WWI. Further comparisons can be drawn with the experiences of Edith Tolkien, whom Tolkien married "shortly before he was posted to France" (Croft 14) on 22 March 1916. (8) Eowyn receives the news of Aragorn's perilous proposed journey in much the same manner that Fuller accepts the news of her husband's recruitment: shock, followed by a frightening internal struggle. Lady Eowyn stares at Aragorn "as one that is stricken" and goes white upon hearing of his plans. Though she confides her fears to no one, she is later observed to be in a "great torment of mind" (LotR V:2 766). Similarly, Fuller recalls an overall feeling of "helplessness" concerning the difficult decision she is forced to make--should she and her husband claim exemption? (9)--in the face of the "mass of conflicting emotions" which beset her (Fuller 4-5). Eowyn's torment is attributed to her fear, not only that Aragorn will never return from his endeavor, but also that the course he is choosing will not bring him honor; she begs him instead to ride boldly to battle (LotR V:2 766). Fuller is also interested in the glory of her husband: she and her husband ultimately choose not to claim exemption because to do so would be a "compromise with honor" (Fuller 5).
The women are also united in their desire to accompany their loved one, and again joined in their grief at being parted from him. Eowyn pleads, "Lord [...] if you must go, then let me ride in your following. For I am weary of skulking in the hills, and wish to face peril in battle." Aragorn refuses her wish, replying, "Your duty is with your people" (LotR V:2 766-67). (10) Indeed, the role of the war bride at home is to set aside grief and "carry on" single-handedly, as Eowyn does in her watch over her people, preserving as closely as possible the status quo. When her king inquires how she fares, Eowyn replies, "All is well. [...] All is now ordered, as you see. And your lodging is prepared for you" (V:3 778). Fuller, too, cannot bear to be parted from her husband, and taking a job in Boston to be near his training camp, she must still bid him a permanent farewell as he crosses the ocean for France. She is determined, however, to "do her bit" (Fuller 31), allowing herself only a minute or two for tears and immediately embarking upon a sort of private mission in her involvement with the Red Cross (42) and enduring in her day-to-day existence (35). Still, however busy they might be, the lonely women hunger for news of the action and their loved ones. Eowyn terms her isolation an exile (LotR V:2 766) and listens eagerly to the descriptions of the battles and of her relatives' deeds as related to her by Aragorn's men (765). Likewise, Fuller plans with her husband for the sending of cablegrams before he even departs (Fuller 25) and comes to rely upon them to make France seem "not so far away" (41). Motivated by a similar sentiment, Tolkien "adopted a code of dots" which allowed him to communicate his location to Edith while she, in her turn, "traced his movements on a large map pinned to the wall" (Garth 144). Eowyn's vigil upon the walls of Minas Tirith, waiting for Aragorn's return, is also a reflection of this war bride characteristic. "Does not the Black Gate lie yonder?" she asks Faramir, demonstrating her faithful watchfulness, "And must he not now be come thither? It is seven days since he rode away" (LotR VI:5 940). This anxiety, as all three women demonstrate, is the fate of the war bride.
Although Eowyn, as we have seen, represents what we might call the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of a modern homebound war bride, she fails to be an exemplary one. Ruth Fuller meant her book as a prescription to women dealing with wartime separation from their spouses: "[T]he women of the Country [have] a very definite and necessary part to play; they [are] to maintain optimism and courage, keeping the Lamp of Inspiration trimmed" (Fuller 14-15), she opines, declaring also the "great need for cheery courage and patriotic loyalty among the women" to buoy up the confidence of the as yet amateur soldiers (18).
"Morale is a woman's business," concurs a smiling face on a WWII advertisement in New Zealand (Montgomerie 24). Thus, while their men waged physical battles, women battled the intangible, spiritual foes of uncertainty: falling spirits, and the strain of helpless anticipation. Eowyn's experiences, (11) temperament, (12) and desires (13) are in direct opposition to compliance with this mode of thinking, and with negative results. She bitterly complains of her lot: "Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?" (LotR V:2 767). Here, she and Edith find in common their reluctance to put up a plucky facade. Edith, shunted from village to village (14) and finally fed up with her circumstances, which now included a new baby, called hers a "miserable wandering homeless sort of life" (qtd. in Garth 246). Eowyn's own powerful expressions of discontent are not beneficial to Aragorn's spirits. Instead, he is greatly troubled--"[H]e kissed her hand and [...] rode away, and did not look back; and only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore" (LotR V:2 768). She also attempts to divert him from his duty, (15) calling his quest to seek the Paths of the Dead "madness" (766). Edith too, seems to find more to be thankful for in Tolkien's convalescence than in his military service--"Every day in bed means another day in England," (16) she reminded him (qtd. in Garth 232). Eowyn later abandons her place with her people, seeking honor of her own on the battlefield, (17) whereas Fuller finds her little duties as an army Hostess exhilarating (Fuller 20) and regards it as her obligation to send her husband away with a smile (9). Perhaps delving into his own wife's discontented experiences for inspiration, Tolkien, who would probably claim along with C.S. Lewis that he had no insider knowledge of "the mysteries of the Bona Dea" or her doings during wartime (Carpenter 153), seems to reflect on the hardships and ill effects of female passivity in his stern Lady of Rohan. Eowyn, in her petulance and reluctance to accept her role, is clearly not the model war bride typified by Ruth Fuller. (18)
Though unsuccessful as the war bride-left-behind, Tolkien offers Eowyn a second chance to distinguish herself, this time as an "international" war bride, through her relationship with Faramir. Unlike the war brides that waved goodbye as their husbands were posted overseas, foreign war brides were not forced to experience to the same degree the demoralizing passivity that caused so much difficulty for Eowyn in her relationship with Aragorn.
Her new role caters instead to her strengths, requiring the intrepid spirit and desire for activity so prominent in her character. A study of Japanese war brides noted that "many of the women had shown a taste for independence before [their] marriage[s]" to Anglo soldiers in Japan (Glenn 61). This is certainly true of Eowyn, whose war deeds and disobedience demonstrate a hunger, rather than a mere taste, for independence. The position of the Japanese girls is, of course, reversed in The Return of the King; Eowyn has entered Faramir's country in the name of war, rather than he hers, but the courtship between the two nevertheless has many similarities to descriptions of courtship as experienced by young soldiers and their lovers in foreign lands. The noble pair's relationship develops quickly, beginning with an almost immediate declaration from Faramir. In but their first interview together, Faramir half-confesses, half-requests, "[I]t would ease my care, if you would speak to me, or walk at whiles with me. [...] Neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful" (LotR VI:5 939). This direct type of approach to a relationship was common amongst the young soldiers on tour. A war bride from Sussex describes her surprising experience with a fast-moving Canadian: "I met my [future] husband at a local hotel where I'd been invited to a party. He introduced himself and, after an hour or so, informed me that I would like living in Canada after we were married" (Hibbert 32). Such forward acknowledgement of interest is uniquely acceptable in wartime romances, when relocation and even death loom large in the future, and relationships must grow quickly if they are to endure separation. "There was a sense of urgency about the whole thing," one bride explains, "You never knew whether you'd be there tomorrow" (19). The love of Faramir and Eowyn transpires rapidly indeed, and mere days (19) after meeting, the two have confessed their love. Her dual roles clash, however, and the idealistic faithfulness of the war-bride-left-behind does battle with the readiness of the foreign war bride, making her remarkably resistant to becoming attached too quickly. She is not immediately overwhelmed by "a man in uniform"--or rather, she has already been impressed by a man in uniform, in the form of the Heir of Isildur. It is Faramir who pursues while Eowyn muses quietly on her love for Aragorn. True to war bride form, however, the uncertainty of both Aragorn's return and reciprocal affection influences her to surrender her heart to Faramir, who so willingly offers the latter. As one girl from Scotland observed, the reason GIs were so attractive to Scottish girls was the fact that "they were there-all young Scottish men were gone into service" (Shukert & Scibetta 7). To most civilian girls, absence--and the pressures of wartime--made the heart willing to accept the more available romantic offerings.
To a participant in the war marriage fervor, the betrothal of Eowyn and Faramir would also have looked familiar. Enlisted men were obliged to complete a very long and sometimes exhaustive application process to their superiors in order to marry while on duty. In other words, it required the approval of fellow men-at-arms in order to make a marriage possible (23). Those present to offer them congratulations upon the exchange of wedding vows were also usually limited to fellow servicemen and -women; soldiers were stationed far from family and were not frequently allowed leaves of absence. Catherine Roberts-Swauger relates, "My bridesmaids were buddies stationed with me at Old Sarum. [...] We were married in the little church of St. Mary's on the grounds of Tidworth House. The uniforms of the United States on one side and the Air Force Blue of the Royal Air Force on the other. A young GI sang Oh, Promise Me and I Love You Truly" (27). In similar fashion, Faramir and Eowyn receive approval for their union from their battle-mates and celebrate their happiness at a feast meant to commemorate the deeds of valor performed on the battlefield, especially those of the deceased Theoden. Eomer announces, "[T]hey shall be trothplighted before you all," and the health of the pair is drunk by all of the company of valiant hearth-companions (LotR VI:6 955). Eowyn continues to figure as a war bride as she is betrothed and toasted in a gathering of soldiers.
A major concern for the war brides of the two World Wars was the process of assimilation. Acceptance by the husband's family and culture was a difficult barrier to overcome, (20) and the prospect was especially intimidating for wives who spoke a foreign tongue (Glenn 64) or had been on the side of the enemy during the war. Parents were sometimes very adamant against their daughter's association with soldiers because they feared the girl would accompany the soldier to his homeland upon the war's termination and never be seen again (Shukert & Scibetta 24). Some of these young girls were even ostracized by their countrymen: "the local papers in Edinburgh did not write articles in favour of the local girls marrying GIs. On the contrary, we were made to feel like traitors!" (25) remembers Beverly Schoonmaker. Colored a turncoat in their homelands, many women faced ill receptions in their husbands' countries as well. "Even middle-aged women seemed resentful that I had 'caught' one of their boys. 'Pity they didn't wait to marry a nice, clean, American girl,' I was told by a professor's wife," (80) Brenda Hasty recalls. The welcome was even more unkind if the new relatives considered the bride to be of inferior stock. Reports one woman: "Mother-in-law was a fine woman. [...] But a shadow had fallen over her life. Her son, in the eyes of the villagers, had degraded himself by an alliance with l'ennemi. He had betrayed them by wedding une Anglaise. She was kind to me, but I was not on a level with une bonne Canadienne" (Hibbert 110). Others were treated with respect, though as oddities: "We had the dubious distinction of being placed on the train (21) ahead of the natives," recounts Gwen Chushcoff, "and [we were] led through a huge crowd [by a woman] calling officiously 'Make way for the War Brides.' [...] Needless to say we felt like freaks" (Shukert & Scibetta 80-81). Whether welcomed with joy, animosity, or indifference into their new families and countries, nearly all felt apprehensive of the drastic change in locale:
es club each week, where we were shown films and
given lectures about our new country, and these were a help. But
the fears still crept in. What had we done? (Hibbert 36-37)

Eowyn, though a foreigner, is able to overcome the problem of language through her learnedness in the Common Speech, but she voices her anxieties about acceptance in her new home and removal from Rohan by saying wistfully to Faramir, "Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor? And would you have your proud folk say of you: 'There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?'" (LotR VI:5 944). Here Eowyn's fears exactly prefigure the experiences of her modern counterparts, in which the dread of resentment, the discomfort of being considered inferior or abnormal, and the anxiety of separation from home are all addressed. Some of these fears are well founded--both Aragorn and Faramir at some point express the sentiment that the Rohirrim are a lesser race (Straubhaar 102). For his part, Faramir describes them as loving war and valor for its own sake--a diminished state, according to him--and while Gondorians are from a High race, the Rohirrim are Middle Peoples, Men of the Twilight (LotR IV:5 663). (22) Interestingly, Eowyn is ultimately successful as a foreign war bride because of her ability to adapt; (23) she renounces the "lower" ways of the Rohirrim, declaring, "I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, [...] nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren" (VI:6 943). Thus changed, she can perform with ease her role as the hand of revitalization to a darkness-inflicted land and as Princess within her new culture, having been well-schooled by her upbringing in a royal house. (24) Figuring so prominently in their society, (25) Faramir and Eowyn's marriage, like many wartime marriages, is viewed as the positive unification of two cultures. "Thus [...] is the friendship of the Mark and of Gondor bound with a new bond, and the more do I rejoice," (VI:6 955) exclaims Eomer upon the couple's betrothal. Similar sentiments were later expressed by those commending the value of the intercultural marriages inspired by wartime activities: "Thomas O. W. Brevner, New Zealand Consul in New York, told a New York Times reporter, 'It's a jolly good thing. It brings us all closer together. There's nothing like a baby or two to break down international barriers'" (Shukert & Scibetta 20).
The analogy or comparison of Eowyn to the war brides of Tolkien's time adds further proof to the influence of the World Wars on Tolkien's works. However, the promotion of the idea that the women men leave behind can only cope by defeminizing themselves and abandoning their traditional roles (and necessitating the introduction of foreigners in order to restabilize society), as supported by Eowyn's failure to fulfill the role of war bride-left-behind, is a very unsettling one to all but the most ardent feminists--unless one reads it as a subtle condemnation, on Tolkien's part, of war as a disturber of a valuable social equilibrium. It certainly reveals, however, his sympathies with the difficulty of the role that war imposes upon women, striking down the theory that Tolkien is simply a narrow-minded misogynist who dooms the women in his work to weakness and failure. Knowing from experience that the war would defeat the women's attempts to maintain the status quo despite their best efforts, he diminishes Eowyn's original role, focusing instead on her potential to rebuild and renew. His heavy focus on Eowyn's success as a foreign war bride thereby magnifies Eowyn's courage in taking up a new life in a new culture, perhaps symbolizing the way in which the women of his time aided the reforging of society after the war, and the bravery with which they and their husbands faced a new post-war culture, determined to look forward and heal the ravages that war had wreaked upon their way of life. It is this same spirit that would make the White Tree flower again.
(Melissa Smith "At home and abroad: Eowyn's two-fold figuring as war bride in The Lord of the Rings". Mythlore. FindArticles.com. 29 Oct, 2009.)

Bringing the character of Eowyn to life before her destruction of the Nazgul Witchking and her transformation in Minas Tirith does have a post war reflection that may have influenced Tolkien's creation...can't she be...What?


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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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I wish to reply to the denial of Eowyn as a major warrior figure and her role in slaying the Witchking.
Claiming Meridoc Brandybuck as the true slayer is conceptual distortion that needs correction.
No one denies that Merry's blade from the Barrow-Downs did un-knit the spell which protected the Witchking from ordinary weapons...but you can't ignore Tolkien's text that the only reason he struck the blow was because he was inspired by Eowyn.
And the fact that with the spell broken the Witchking was not a destroyed...in fact he was still a mighty, cruel, and terrible foe...capable of slaying Eowyn or any other warrior.
EOWYN kills the Witchking...not Merry.



Eventually Eowyn rides as a knight of Rohan, incognito as Dernhelm, attaches herself to King Theodens Company and stands defending the fallen king against desecration by The Witchking of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgûl.(who is possibly Saurons greatest weapon besides the One Ring)
Speaking to the Witchking, she is still disguised as the male Derhelm, Eowyn says;

Be gone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion!  Leave the dead in peace!
A cold voice answered: Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey!  Or he will not slay thee in thy turn.  He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.
A sword rang as it was drawn. Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.
Hinder me?  Thou fool.  No living man may hinder me!
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest.  It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.  But no living man am I!  You look upon a woman.  Eowyn I am. Eomunds daughter.  You stand between me and my lord and kin.  Be gone, if you be not deathless!  For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.
The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, and was silent, as if in sudden doubt.  Very amazement for a moment conquered Merrys fear.  He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them.  There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, and above it loomed the Nazgûl Lord like a shadow of despair.  A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm.  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.  Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yey tears were on her cheek.  A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemys eyes.
Eowyn it was, and Dernhelm also.  For into Merrys mind flashed the memory of the face that he saw at the riding from Dunharrow: the face of one that goes seeking death, having no hope.  Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke.  He clenched his hand.  She should not die, so fair, so desperate!  At least she should not die alone, unaided.
The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he hardly dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on him. Slowly, slowly he began to crawl aside; but the Black Captain, in doubt and malice intent upon the woman before him, heeded him no more than a worm in the mud.
Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul.  Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Eowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.
Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible.  A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly.  The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone.  Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away.  A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.
Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her.  With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace.  Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees.  He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.
But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground.  Merrys sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.
Eowyn!  Eowyn!   cried Merry.  Then tottering, struggling up, with her last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her.  The sword broke sparkling into many shards.  The crown rolled away with a clang.  Eowyn fell forward upon her fallen foe.  But lo! The mantle and hauberk were empty.  Shapeless they lay now on the ground, torn and tumbled; and a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of this world.
And there stood Meriadoc the hobbit in the midst of the slain, blinking like an owl in the daylight, for tears blinded him; and through a mist he looked on Eowyns fair head, as she lay and did not move;
(The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King,, Book Five, Chapter VI - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, pgs 841-842)
This is right out of the book...so please give the great warrior her due!


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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Nov 18, 2009
I am very much with you Bear, that the Nazgul-lord was slain by Eowyn (with obvious aid from Merry).


'No one denies that Merry's blade from the Barrow-Downs did un-knit the spell which protected the Witchking from ordinary weapons...'

However I do deny this much smile

I say the spell knit the Wraith's will to his sinews. In my opinion (this point has been debated often enough) Eowyn could have struck without Merry's aid and still 'killed' her foe, if that blow had been a lethal strike.

And therein lies the problem. Generally speaking it's a test of will, or can be. One has to master him or herself against unreasoning fear (instilled by the Nazgul-lord) just to stand up to the guy, never mind defeat him in battle, and one has to make a strike really count. The Witch-king has a huge advantage in personal combat before it even begins!  

I think the reason why the Nazgul-lord feared Boromir is because this Boromir was (Appendix A): '... a man strong in body and in will'

Eowyn did manage to render a lethal strike, which destroyed her sword (Merry did not inflict a lethal blow buy a painful wound, and his blade also perished), but she was able to do so not because a spell of protection had been lifted, but rather because the Wraith could not (at this crucial moment) now will his body to defend himself, due to Merry's enchanted blade -- the connection or 'spell' between will and sinew was broken.

As the description you quoted shows, Eowyn's reaction to Merry's aid was not exactly lightening quick (Merry cries out her name twice, and she 'tottering, struggling up'), yet the Wraith does nothing to avoid her strike.

Of course I know there are many who might disagree with my interpretation, but in any case I agree that Eowyn did the 'deed' (meaning the act of bringing the Witch-king to nothing), despite that she needed Merry's help.

 

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Nov 18, 2009

Galin,
Once again your argument is presented with logic and clarity.
And I will concede that it is possible that Eowyn could have killed the Witchking without Merry's help.  Still there is the point..."
but in any case I agree that Eowyn did the 'deed' (meaning the act of bringing the Witch-king to nothing), despite that she needed Merry's help."

I think we will have to agree to disagree about what the actual result of what Merry's blow actually did.
I do not agree that it made the Witchking defenseless with his muscles and sinews no longer under his control.  What I believe is that Merry's blow made him vulnerable to regular weapons.

But the true premise is the character of Eowyn, and as you point out, Merry or no Merry, she stands and destroys the fowl winged monster as well as it's Rider, and despite a blow from the Witchking, which could have been fatal, she courageously drives home her sword thrust (which you point out her sword is destroyed in the act) and sends the Witchking into oblivion.

Eowyn's character needs to be examined not only from the actual deed but also from her motives...what power in her soul caused her to stand up and endure the power of the Witchking whose power drove men and animals crazy?
And I think this is crucial to the topic...her motive is not renown and glorious death (the original motive for leaving Rohan) but rather her love for her "father figure" and her king; Theoden.

Her story, her part in the tale, is a reworking of the classic shield-maiden myth.

Thank you for your post.  It has provided me with a thought provoking and new perspective...again.
Bear


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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Nov 19, 2009
The problem with Glorfindel's prophecy is this:

"Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall."

Now, if we take this literally, its saying 'not by the hand of man will he fall', rather than 'not by the hand of a man will he fall', meaning that it implies the race of men, not the gender, and thus Eowyn would be discounted from that.

Of course, it could be an oversight, but I think it warrants speculation at the least.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Nov 19, 2009
Please accept my apologies, my dear Bear. I goofed

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Nov 19, 2009
I don't think the wording of the prophecy points to Eowyn or Merry, but rather it's intended to include both in my opinion.

The prophecy includes both Eowyn and Merry according to the characters in the story at least (Appendix A, footnote concerning the prophecy of Glorfindel), and I see no good reason not to follow that lead. Tolkien is having his fun here!

In any case, keep in mind the prophecy was not delivered in English, nor did Glorfindel write it down. Of course JRRT would be quite aware of the ambiguity in English concerning the spoken word 'm(M)an' but he was not at liberty to spell it the way I just did, in an English transcription (obviously no one can tell if Man or man is meant just by hearing the word).

If the characters in the story think the wording is vague enough to include both Eowyn and Merry, I think it's safe enough to assume the original spoken prophecy allowed for this.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Nov 19, 2009
Why not?
It wouldn't matter to anyone but Eowyn and Merry.
And maybe all of Middle Earth if they hadn't done it!


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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Date: Nov 21, 2009
Galin wrote:
If the characters in the story think the wording is vague enough to include both Eowyn and Merry, I think it's safe enough to assume the original spoken prophecy allowed for this.

Is there any mention of Glorfindel's prophecy in LotR (not including the Appendixes)?

Apart from the prophecy itself, are there any other references made to the prophecy by other characters?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 562
Date: Nov 21, 2009
'Is there any mention of Glorfindel's prophecy in LotR (not including the Appendixes)?'

I believe there is a reference to it from Gandalf in the tale proper, in The Siege Of Gondor.

In any event the characters I refer to are some of the Rohirrim: 'For it is said in the songs of the Mark...' that Merry 'also' was not a Man and etc (Appendix A, footnote concerning the Lady of the Shield-arm)




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