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Topic: Tolkien's creation of strong female characters.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Aug 9, 2009
Tolkien's creation of strong female characters.

Welll, here is the thread you asked for Bear.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Aug 9, 2009
Discuss who is the strongest male/female character."
We have a lot of things to consider:
*What makes a character "strong"?
*Race: strengths, weaknesses, specific characteristics
*Gender dynamics.

1. What makes a character "strong"? Should they be strong physically, emotionally, spiritually? Should they be extraordinarily intelligent or wise?
The character's contributions.

2. Race. This would be very dicey territory in real life, but in the world of Tolkien, each race is given different strengths and tendencies. Some races are immortal, meaning that by virtue of living much longer than mortal races, they have had a chance to obtain more knowledge and wisdom about the ways of the world. Is it fair to compare an Elf to a Man in terms of how wise they are?

3. Gender dynamics. Are we looking for males and females that fit Western gender stereotypes and fulfill them well, or are looking for males and females that DON'T fulfill those stereotypes? Eowyn, for example.

4. The character's contributions. What has this character done that impressed us so much? Are great deeds necessarily, or simply small acts of kindness and understanding? How have they shown their mettle? I know that I personally consider a few Tolkien characters to be role models for my own life - I'd love to be as wise as Gandalf, as mentally strong as Galadriel, as brave as Eowyn, and as witty as Bilbo.



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Date: Aug 9, 2009
Hmm well you could say that Feanor and Nerdanel, as Feanor was greatest of all the Children of Iluvatar:

"For Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind, in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and in subtlety alike, of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a bright flame was in him."

But then again, Thingol and Melian might well be 'greater', as Melian was a Maiar and gave also alot of power to Thingol, a mighty Elf unto himself.

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 11, 2009
Hi all

The combined might of the Valar only subdued the Morgoth.

A song by the lady Luthien, toppled the mighty one.

Luthien every time for the girls...mind you..her parentage might of helped.

However Beren was a man and defied death itself...to return, for a while.

So that's it for me,,,,,Beren and Luthien.....not with armies or swords or rings...just love

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Hi all

Just as a casual statement...I truly think that woman are the best part of our species.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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It occurs to me that in order to pick a favorite strong character, either male or female, you have to seperate the races. As has been stated there are different strengths and weaknesses that are given to each race. What one race is considered strong for would be a totally foriegn behavior or personality for another.

Consider Eowyn and Galadriel, for instance. Galadriel's strength was in her wisdom and "magic" (we've had this discussion before) but Eowyn should not be thought less of because of her physical contribution to the war. They each gave what they had and were precious for it.

My point was more that while Celeborn's part in the story was not lauded or made a spectacular occurance, he was still a part of the story. There is no way that he was a wilting wall flower and united with the mighty Galadriel who was ambitious, not afraid of a sword and knew how to use one.

A point that rings true even in the story of Eowyn and Faramir. Eowyn was a warrior at heart, cold, ambitious and strong as spring steel. Her heart was finally unfrozen, defeated, by the gentlness of Faramir and the warmth that was who he was. That is not to say he was a pansy either. He commanded a great army and his soldiers and people loved him as a strong leader. He didn't take any crap and was shrewd and insightful.

Therefore, I'm a bit hesitant to pick a favorite right now and have not decided whether to pick a male and female from each race (though I'm a bit worried about the race of dwarves in this case ; ) ) or a favorite overall. It will be a hard decision to make if the later is forced.


As a side note:  Fili, I tend to favor the male of our "species".  I'd much rather hang out with a room full of guys than a room full of women.  No offense ladies.  It's just less stressfull.


-- Edited by lomoduin on Wednesday 12th of August 2009 01:51:06 AM

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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I agree completely Iomoduin. The reason that I thought race should be considered in the parameters is that the races each embody different personality traits that are equally valuable.

For elves, my favorite strong female character is a little predictably, Galadriel, for the reasons mentioned above by other people. What I especially like about Galadriel is her story of redemption. My favorite male elf is definitely Elrond. When you think about the things that he has seen during his life and the changes that he has lived through in Middle Earth, as well as the loss of his parents (Earendil and Elwing), wife (Celebrian), AND daughter (Arwen), it's hard to not to feel for Elrond.

For humans, I go a little less traditional....Morwen. Morwen maintained incredible inner strength during a life that no one would deny was about as terrible as it could be. Her husband was captured and her family cursed. She lost a child at a young age, sent away her son Turin to the care of Thingol, never to see him again, and later lost her daughter Nienor. She found her childrens graves, but never found out what happened to them. She ran into her husband again at the end of her life and he wouldn't tell her what happened either. You can't get much more of a raw deal than that. I also have to admit that I am slightly biased towards Morwen because I like dark, intelligent, tough women in any form of media. From my selections, you might surmise that I love a good tragic character. I wouldn't deny it. That said, I definitely prefer it when a character overcomes their difficulties and there's a happy ending.


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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Hmm Galadriel is a good contender. It is stated many times that she was the 'Mightiest of Elven Women' and greatest of the Noldor, except Feanor.

So that would be my ideal pairing - Feanor and Galadriel, and they seemed to show a perculier dislike for eachother (or atleast Galadriel to Feanor) than seems common for the Firstborn. Can it be coincidence that the two greatest of the Noldor (and Feanor, as mentioned, being the greatest of all of Eru's Children) were also the two that seemed to have this strange dislike for eachother?

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 12, 2009
Hi

A room full of girls!.......better take my vitamins then.

I  like the way that JRR had female characters that stepped outside of gender stereotypes.

Not all healers and peacemakers...quite progressive for his day.

I suppose nowadays, the book would have been writen differently...perhaps with more racial inclusion or even some same gender love.

Perhaps Frodo would be a skating goth........

It might be said that the female of the works are the primary motivators.
Galadriels hair may have inspired the Sils
Aragorns struggle
Berern's.....and so on.

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 12, 2009
For the Second born, I would have to vote for Eowyn. Her father was failing under Wormtonge's lies. Her beloved brother would die and her cousin would be bannished while Wormtonge hoped to have her for himself. She was swordmaiden to her people and had to remain strong. Her strength would serve her and her people well on the field of battle and she would do the one thing that generations of Man, Elf, and Maia could not do, she fell the Witch King.

For the First Born it is hard to beat Galadriel. She was ambitious, rebelious.....yet in the end she over came all that. She kept constent tabs on Sauron's doings and resisted the One Ring's influence. It was her gifts to the Fellowship that would sustain them....especially Sam and Frodo.... to the very end of the Quest.

No doubt Tolkien was influenced by the strength his mother showed in her raising her two sons after the death of their father in Africa. He may have been more attuned to the contribuions of Edith as well. She had to put up a lot from him. She stuck by him and he mourned her deeply in her passing. He said in a letter that for him there could be no cries that Mandos would heed. No reuniting of two lovers parted by death.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Sometimes I feel trapped in a time warp. Restricted by society, responsibilty and the mundane routine of everyday life from being the great hearted heroine and savage warrior that live in my heart. Old age and complacency creep steadily up from behind and I struggle to retain some little bit of hope and zeal in a sea of coorperate niceties and politically correct red tape. I drive to work and take my kids to thier activities then drive home to spend a bit of time with a few dear friend, here on the forum, and tending to the never ending duties demanded by family life. There is little time for romance and no time for adventure. The boredom is crushing at times and causes the colors of everyday life to be pale and blurred. Yet I must gain some bit of satisfaction from seeing to this regimen and completeing an honest day's work. I haven't run screaming into the hills yet and I love my family dearly. I would do anything I could to the last of my breaths to see that they are happy and I revel in the friendships and dialogs here on this forum.

I choose Eowyn as my strong female character if for no other reason than sympathy.

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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lomoduin

Going for the groceries.......waiting in that traffic jam....watching another soap opera on TV.....the feeling of despair as you open that unexpected bill.....the pressures of work and family......never reaching that potential that you know is there..........inside

Even in a cloudy day......the sun shines, so brightly

You are never alone........

Deep breaths...........and think of the west !

Love is life, so love life !

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: Aug 13, 2009
Iomoduin, I can relate to feeling like that (as can most people, I'm sure), but I really believe it is possible to overcome the mundane and find the beauty and potential in every day. That's the great thing about life. Almost everything is a choice, from how you perceive and react to things that happen in your life, to the choices you made in your past that you're proud of or regret, or whether or not to stay in an unrewarding job or relationship. Some things you can't change, like having children to provide for, or having an illness or a disability, but I always believe it is possible to be happy no matter what the circumstances.

Whenever I am feeling a little overwhelmed by my responsibilities, I usually fantasize about walking away from it all and spending the rest of my days traveling around the world, finding a way to make just enough money to go from place to place.  So I understand...sometimes it is easy to feel like life is passing you by while you are stuck in some boring town paying the bills and worrying about filling out meaningless forms at work. I'm not so sure that people were meant to sit behind a desk or a cash register for 8-12 hours a day staring at a screen or a desk and getting no physical activity. I think humans thrive on running, jumping, working hard physically and finding time for fun. Unfortunately, the way society is today, unless we make these things a priority in our lives, it is very easy to get caught in a rut. I think we have forgotten that the things that make people happiest are the simplest...being outside, working, eating good food, and having people to love and have fun with.

-- Edited by The Secret Fire on Wednesday 12th of August 2009 11:35:04 PM

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Loremaster Elf of Mirkwood - Rank 4
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When ever I find myself getting caught up in the mundan and losing touch with the calm and peace within, I step outside and look up. I walk down a wood road and let my finger tips brush the leaves and grasses around me. I chase sunsets and close my eyes and listen to the bird and insect songs around me.

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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Funny how we connect with the natural world around us more closely durring our less than perfect times.

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Yip

That and beer

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Aug 13, 2009
All,
I love this Forum.
I've been a little under the weather and focused on reviewing topics such as Tolkien and feminism.  After reading approximately 2 dozen articles about the women of Tolkien's works I found people put Tolkien on both sides of the fence.  I'll keep working on it and will post what I found when I finish.  It is definitely an academic piece and yet interesting.
But compared to what has been posted the last two days it will be dry, dry, dry !!!
When we talk about the strength of women in Tolkien perhaps we should talk about the strength of the women on this forum.
The day to day can be the mundane burdens of the roles we play in our lives.  The archetypes of mother, wife, and care-giver can swallow the other archetypes of priestess, shield maiden, temptress, sorceress, and huntress.
But I think most of the folks here see those archetypes as very much alive and active in the postings on this Forum.  Whether we put that in the action packed writings of lomoduin, the depth of Lady Arwen, or the affirming posts of The Secret Fire, they definitely rise FAR above the drudgery of the day to day.

I have been /am a soldier.  I know what it means to stand against enemy fire.  I usually keep that part of my life quiet and private.  My sins and my darkness are my own.  I break that for one reason...to let you ladies know that I stand with you and would be honored if you would stand with me.  I believe your courage and your idealism would stand against hellfire.

We have to go back and be moms and dads.  Cooking, cleaning, running errands, paying bills...all the mundane incidentals of life pull us down.  The hours we spend at work doing what others think should be done pulls us down.  Being Hera and Demeter pulls us down.
But writing and postings also show you as Aphrodite, Diana, and Athena.
And that, my dear friends, lifts us all up.
I love this Forum!
Bear


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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 14, 2009
And we all love you, Bear. You inspire and instruct in such a way that I have never seen in any forum I have ever dealt with. You are also a friend. A true, dyed in the wool friend and make this forum and all of us the richer for knowing you. You have my adoration and respect. I would stand with you or between you and what ever hellfire mght arise.

Fili, no wonder you smell like marmite. lol I find rum to be more of a comfort than beer but I don't complain about either. Thank you for bringing life and passion to this forum and to each of our lives. I would stand with you too, sir.

If you wake every morning and lay down each night with the knowledge that you have done the best you could with what you have and are able to do so with a clear conscience then you are a true warrior, a soldier. To this I cling.

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Hobbit from Hobbiton - Rank 4
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Date: Aug 14, 2009
Blaah!

Here's a wee question...did J.R.R capture women well in the works......I can't have no idea due to having a tinky winky

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Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
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Date: Aug 14, 2009
lomoduin wrote:


If you wake every morning and lay down each night with the knowledge that you have done the best you could with what you have and are able to do so with a clear conscience then you are a true warrior, a soldier. To this I cling.



Absolutely.  There is great honor in the act of living with mindfulness and honesty.  This principle, while I never was able to put it so eloquently, is also one I try to live by.



 

Filli wrote:

 


Here's a wee question...did J.R.R capture women well in the works......I can't have no idea due to having a tinky winky

 


I believe he did.  I really very much appreciate the way Tolkien presented women in his works.  It is rare to see women presented in such a positive and realistic way.  Women in fiction are too often merely props to support a story or are written one-dimensionally.


Tolkien gave us women that are intelligent, ambitious, brave, wise, subtle, elegant, and vulnerable.  Yet they also made mistakes, had regrets, and weren't infallible.


In short, Tolkien presented his female characters as people, in all their imperfect but still admirable glory.  You'd be surprised how rare that is in any form of media.  Women might be typecast as sexy or smart or some other quality, but there is rarely any insight into their thoughts and emotions.


I think Tolkien really understood people and their true nature, and that is why his writings are so well loved.



-- Edited by The Secret Fire on Friday 14th of August 2009 10:32:34 PM

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