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Wed Jan 28, 2015, 12:00 PM

 

“I am No Man” Doesn’t Cut It: The Story of Eowyn (Lord of the Rings/popular culture-related)

Thought this was an interesting article. Whether or not you're a Tolkien fan, I think there are some valuable insights in ths article regardless.

snip:
It says something to me that a WWI vet from a devout Catholic background wrote about a warrior woman in a book published in 1954 that was more feminist than her modern interpretation ended up being.


snip:
Eowyn in the books is a very cold, very unhappy, character. She’s been relegated to nurse maid to a sick uncle while her brother gets to go out and fight and do all the things she wants to do. Like have a life of any kind. While her brother loves her he kind of doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on with her at all. It never even occurs to him that maybe she’s not super psyched about watching over her sickly uncle all the time. He just assumes she’s cool with it because that’s what ladies do. It’s Gandalf who points out to Eomer, later, that maybe he should have thought about what it was like for her to be cooped up in Meduseld, watching her family disintegrate and the world fall apart. That she had no less of a fierce spirit than he does, just because she’s female. In the book, Eomer has a major realization after that, that he might not really have ever known his sister. This is a bit of a running theme when it comes to Eowyn.

Beyond being undervalued, Eowyn is also being stalked by a gross little man who is slowly poisoning her uncle’s mind and clearly expects to get her as a “reward” later. Eowyn isn’t stupid, she’s well aware of the danger she’s in and that she has basically no one to turn to if things go majorly south, especially once Eomer is banished. Her life is exactly what she most fears: a cage. She has a lot of very good reasons to feel trapped and bitter.


snip:
My issue is with the way they had Eowyn moon over Aragorn in the films. And it hinges on a key scene from the book that they left out completely. In it, Aragorn tells Eowyn that she can’t come with him on The Paths of the Dead because her people need her and that renown isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. He’s not wrong, exactly, but he basically tells her it’s her duty to stay behind, something he would never say to her uncle or brother.

And she calls him on it. Flat out. She tells him, “All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”

Think about that for a moment. Not only is she calling him out for sexism, she lays out why it’s sexist and does a pretty damn fine job of distilling down the lot of women in this culture. To whit: if there aren’t men around, you don’t really matter, and you definitely don’t get to decide for yourself how you live OR die if you’re a lady. That’s very powerful, especially in a series that deals a lot with the trappings of war and glory from a distinctly masculine point of view.


snip:
This matters because A. Aragorn is one of the good guys and he’s still being a complete ass B. it shows that though Eowyn may have fuzzy feelings about him she is not some spineless, weepy, floormat begging for scraps of love. She’s not going to put up with crap from anyone. This seems incredibly central to her character to me and yet…it’s not even touched on in the film. The closest we get is the line about women in that country knowing that those without swords can still die upon them and fearing neither death nor pain…but it lacks the context and direct confrontation of sexism that the book provides.


Full article: http://www.themarysue.com/the-story-of-eowyn/

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Reply “I am No Man” Doesn’t Cut It: The Story of Eowyn (Lord of the Rings/popular culture-related) (Original post)
YoungDemCA Jan 2015 OP
Agnosticsherbet Jan 2015 #1
NeoGreen Jan 2015 #2
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #3
geek tragedy Jan 2015 #5
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #6
geek tragedy Jan 2015 #4

Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 12:07 PM

1. Thanks for recalling this part of the book.

My memories form decades ago had forgotten this.

It occurs to me that they should, perhaps have expanded her role a bit rather than Arwen's.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 01:01 PM

2. Wow...

...visit a forum for the first time and learn something new...

Does this suggest that Tolkien was expressing something akin to: even while Eowyn has the ability and desire to be a strong fighter, she does not lose her ability and capacity to be a women?

"Strong" does not negate "Feminine"

Cool

Leads me to appreciate Tolkien all the more...

(please flog me at the capstan if I have expressed myself poorly, or in bad taste. I intend no offense.)



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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 01:20 PM

3. Oh I know!

Last edited Wed Jan 28, 2015, 02:11 PM - Edit history (1)

I refused to watch the movies half past "The Two Towers". Eowyn appears in bright armor in the book, Begging to throw down. She ends up with a damaged warrior-- they BOTH find love in the midst of the wreckage, a far more powerful romance than the one the book merely alludes too; of Aragorn and Arwyn. (Until the end anyway)

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 03:16 PM

5. You should check out the extended version of Return of the King.

 

(but fastforward through the extended pirates scenes which are awful).

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 03:35 PM

6. Maybe I will

I own it but I never watched it.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 03:15 PM

4. In fairness to the directors/producers/writers, there was a lot of good stuff from the books that

 

had to be left of the film just due to time constraints.

They did work some of those themes in via her uncle and brother.

They did get the "I do not fear either pain or death" line in Two Towers.

Maybe it was better that Aragorn not be a sexist jerk.

Interesting discussion.

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