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Minas Tirith Forums » Silmarillion » Female Power (Page 4)
Author Topic: Female Power
Eluchil
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It's quite linguistic, for sure, but it's interesting to see how Tolkien translated some elements. It tells you quite something on the Christian Tolkien. Btw, you can legally download it there.
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Ithuar
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Quite a discussion here. But what's the deal with some of you hammering at each other, in stead of trying to get somewhere?

I still have to say that going through these forums makes me realize I don't know all that much about Tolkien's legendarium. But being a more casual reader, I might be able to shed a different light on this matter.

Reading these posts gives me the impression that some of you, because of your being knowledgeable I guess, read too much into things, or make things more complicated than they are or need to be. I haven't read all there is to read about Tolkien (I haven't read the Letters by Tolkien book either), but even if I had I would still only base my opinions and theories about the legendarium on what's in the stories, and not so much on what kind of person I think Tolkien was.

Personally I believe even Tolkien himself might not have known where he was going with some of his texts. He could have been writing, and thinking 'ah, that would be interesting', and then added that, without there having been an underlying idea to it. I wouldn't be able to enjoy stories like Quenta Silmarillion if I'd worry about the meaning of every word in every sentence and every chapter.

Why Varda was hated and feared by Melkor? I can only think of the phrase that said Melkor coveted light and wanted it for himself but that he couldn't have it, and that light was Varda's province. The idea of Melkor having coveted Varda herself seems to me odd (although when he saw Lúthien he did have an evilly romantic thought, I gathered).
And then why did Melkor fear Varda the most? Maybe because he couldn't control light, or maybe it doesn't matter; I mean, Melkor was the only Vala to know fear, and he did seem to fear a lot of the characters; I don't think it matters if he feared Varda just a little more than say, Manwë, or Elves or Men; or that eagle that kept flying over Thangorodrim, to be silly.
As for other women, I see that there are a lot who were said to be powerful (most of the characters that enter into the stories were, it does make sense), but I've never gotten the idea that women were set above men in the legendarium.

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Belthronding
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Funny reading all this years later ...

But to get back to the questions not directly addressed - some clarification is in order I think.

What I mean (I think - its been a while!) when I use the phrase "over and above" in reference to key female characters is that it seems to be a consistent theme that the stories Tolkien tells in the Legendarium appear to regularly turn on the singular actions of female characters.

For example - if Luthien doesn't directly defy her father and follow Beren, the story no doubt ends differently. If Galadriel, at a seminal moment in LOTR, decides not to forgo the Ring of Power - freely offered by Frodo - the story ends differently. If Eowyn, exhausted from battle, doesn't defend her dying uncle, and the Witch King dispatches him before moving on to take Minas Tirith ...

Over and over, it is a female character and her choice at a key moment, that puts the stories on the track that takes them to their conclusion. Tolkien pivots his plots again and again on backs of women.

The men get all the action and all the heroic words, get to hack and kill and parley and ride into the sunset, get all the critical attention from readers ... but it is the women who propel the tales ultimately.

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Gollum Gollum
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quote:
Over and over, it is a female character and her choice at a key moment, that puts the stories on the track that takes them to their conclusion.
Wait... []
Of course, there are many such moments, you mentioned some of them. But I don't agree with:
quote:
but it is the women who propel the tales ultimately.
We may as well say:
if Frodo doesn't put on the Ring, Boromir takes it and the story ends differently (Sauron wins)
if Faramir takes the Ring from Frodo (after Sam says what Frodo really carries), the stroy ends differently
if Gandalf decides to join Frodo and Sam instead of defending Minas Tirith, the White City falls and t.s.e.d.
if Aragorn decides to follow Frodo and Sam instead of helping Merry and Pippin, he doesn't come to Rohan at all and t.s.e.d.
if Strider doesn't decide to follow the hobbits to Bree, he doesn't warn them, the Nazgul get the Ring and t.s.e.d.

... and so on... [] []

I'm not saying you were totally wrong - on the contrary, there is a point in what you've said - but it's not totally right as well []

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
We wants it...
We needs it...
We mussst get the preciousss...

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Belthronding
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Perhaps.

But don't you find it telling that the theme - important female characters doing important things at critical times - repeats over and over again in the Legendarium?

You could play the if and but game with every decision of every character sure, but can you dismiss out of hand the repetition of a theme over an entire lifetime of creative writing?

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Gollum Gollum
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quote:
but can you dismiss out of hand the repetition of a theme over an entire lifetime of creative writing?
I'm not dismissing it. As I said,
quote:
on the contrary, there is a point in what you've said
The only thing I don't agree with is:
quote:
it is the women who propel the tales ultimately.
For me, it is both men and women.

But you're right that women's role is often underestimated/overlooked/...

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Belthronding
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Indeed.
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Hamfast Gamgee
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In Beren and Luthien, it seems to me that Luthien does more than Beren does.
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Matoro
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Beren was a badass until he met Lúthien. Though it's a bit unfair comparision since Lúthien was a half-maiar and half-teleri while Beren was just a man, though edain.

Both Melian and Galadriel seem to be wiser and more powerful than their husbands. Anyone who claims that Tolkien is some kind of sexist haven't really researched whole world of Tolkien.

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Gollum Gollum
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quote:
In Beren and Luthien, it seems to me that Luthien does more than Beren does.
quote:
Both Melian and Galadriel seem to be wiser and more powerful than their husbands.
Very true. And very logical:
- Luthien&Beren: as you said,
quote:
it's a bit unfair comparision since Lúthien was a half-maiar [...] while Beren was just a man
A similar thing with Idril&Tuor (after replacing "half-maiar" with "Turgon's daughter")
- Galadriel is the granddaughter of Finwë and daughter of Finarfin, she colud be a High King of the Noldor if she were a man, whereas Celeborn is just a Sindar, Thingol's relative. In the Third Age Galadriel is said to be "the most powerful Elf left in ME"
- Melian is a maia, so Elwë (Thingol) couldn't be as wise and powerful as she was, even though he was the leader of the Teleri

I'm trying to decide how much "unequal" Aragorn and Arwen were. Arwen is the daughter of Elrond from one part (and thus descendant of Melian and Luthien), and the granddaughter of Galadriel form the other. Wow, nice ancestors she's had!
Aragorn was, again, "just a man". Yes, I know that he is an heir of Numenorian kings, so also a descendant of Luthien, but there's little of that blood in him, I'm afraid. But he's done a lot of good for Gondor, Rohan and the Shire - he served Thengel and Ecthelion, protected the Shire (with other Rangers of course), and then, after the One Ring was found, he captured Gollum, helped Frodo etc... I don't think I have to go through all his deeds.

So I'd say that Aragorn really deserved Arwen...
...whereas Beren didn't deserve Luthien. Perhaps after he died to protect Thingol, but still: perhaps.

Your thoughts on this?

[ 02-28-2014, 06:59 AM: Message edited by: Gollum Gollum ]

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
We wants it...
We needs it...
We mussst get the preciousss...

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Matoro
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quote:
So I'd say that Aragorn really deserved Arwen...
...whereas Beren didn't deserve Luthien. Perhaps after he died to protect Thingol, but still: perhaps.

Whole point of tale of Beren and Lúthien seems to be that whole relationship was madness. It was a blind love. Nearly every elf probably thought that Beren didn't deserve Lúthien (Did Beren tell about his love to Finrod? I don't remember). But Thingol was ready to give Lúthien to him for a silmaril. So basically it was Thingol's "fault" that their marriage was allowed to happen.

But after their adventure it's hard to say that Beren didn't deserve Lúthien. Even though it was Lúthien who saved Beren many times and finally put the Dark Lord himslef to sleep, they wouldn't ever get to Angband without Beren (and Huan). Celegorm's arrow (Was it poisoned? I'm not sure) was aimed to Lúthien, but Beren took it. In the gates of Angband it was Beren who stood against Carcaroth to protect Lúthien, who was pretty tired in that point. Beren did pretty much everything that could have been expected from a mortal man. Just like Frodo, who ultimately "failed" to destroy the Ring, but he did everything he could do.

And like Thingol, who gave Beren his daughter for a Silmaril, Elrond promised same thing when Aragorn would finally be the king of reunited kingdom. So technically they both deserved their loves because they fulfilled their missions. But it really didn't matter, because both of the couples really loved each other.

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Gollum Gollum
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quote:
Beren did pretty much everything that could have been expected from a mortal man.
True. The task he got was far beyond his abilities.
quote:
But Thingol was ready to give Lúthien to him for a silmaril.
Thingol knows very well that Beren can't succeed by himself - and that's why he gives him such a task. He obviously doesn't want to give him Luthien, so he sends him to his death.
I believe Thingol is aware that with Luthien's help Beren has some chances to get the Silmaril - and that's why he imprisons Luthien.

Beren wins in the end, so Thingol has to be true to his word and give him Luthien.

But the point is that Beren would never succeed without Luthien. She does far more than he does - because her abilities are greater. But Thingol wants a really brave person to win Luthien. In this context, Luthien actually wins herself... []

The difference between Aragorn and Beren is that Aragorn does everything by himself whereas Beren is dependent on Luthien all the time.

quote:
Just like Frodo, who ultimately "failed" to destroy the Ring, but he did everything he could do.
I'd have some doubts about it, but I'm a Frodo-hater in general... [] Anyway, I suppose there's been a thread on that before, so we can discuss it elsewhere, not in the "Female Power" thread [] (though Galadriel's power helps Frodo actually... [] )

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
We wants it...
We needs it...
We mussst get the preciousss...

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Belthronding
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quote:
The difference between Aragorn and Beren is that Aragorn does everything by himself whereas Beren is dependent on Luthien all the time.
Not really true. Beren actually saves Luthien at least once and is largely fearless no matter the situation, as Matoro noted. There is more to the confrontation with Celegorm and Curufin - during which Beren does take an arrow for his love - he also jumps onto the galloping horse of Curufin, who had abducted Luthien and was about to escape and throws him from the saddle (a son of Feanor, bested in combat while enjoying the advantage of horseback!!).

From The Silmarillion -

quote:
Then Beren sprang from before Celegorm full upon the speeding horse of Curufin that had passed himn; and the Leap of Beren is renowned among Men and Elves ...
Clearly, this was a capable and courageous warrior. A man yes, and weak perhaps compared to the company he keeps, but Beren, remember, is a representative of the Valar, driven by a fate forseen, and to some extent, manipulated by them.

None of this changes my earlier take though - that Tolkien imbues many women with great power and responsibility, which is often overlooked by readers.

In Beren we can see perhaps the roots of the hobbits who become so prominent later - it is in the weakest and smallest that the greatest power can be found.

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Snöwdog
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I think the wife and daughters of Ranger #19 were courageous and powerful women....
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Belthronding
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Indeed
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Snöwdog
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... not to mention Halbarad's widow ...
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Hamfast Gamgee
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Maybe it's not fair to say that Tolkien is sexist, but maybe it is fair that he does not at the least give most lines to his women-folk even those that do important things. Supposing all of the company of the Fellowship were women for example?
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Snöwdog
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... or supposing ONE of them was... []
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faithfull
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It's a daunting task for people to find the voice of a character that is cross-gender for them. Perhaps Tolkien simply respected women too much to attempt more dialog for their parts.
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Snöwdog
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quote:
Perhaps Tolkien simply respected women too much to attempt more dialog for their parts.
... or was intimidated by them to try and do so.
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Hamfast Gamgee
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Actually I have sometimes thought that in the early chapters the young Hobbits could have done with some feminine guidance! Also, one character whom was never in the tales, but might have been could be Buttebur's wife. After all, been a landlord, one would have thought that he should have had one.
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faithfull
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Yes, and let's not forget Farmer Maggot! Hilarious! I'm sure his wife would have given some great advice, and perhaps Tolkien made room for that eventuality in the parting words that were implied at farewells. How many of us receive good words just as we are leaving, but don't think to include them in the diary?
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Snöwdog
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How about the case of Lobelia Sakville-Baggins. She did take on Sharkey's men.
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faithfull
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Hee! Proof that even presumptuous bi - ehrmm . . . biddies have value in society and could very well be the ones who have your back, just when you need them. []
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The Flammifer
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How about the case of Lobelia Sakville-Baggins. She did take on Sharkey's men.

She sure did Snowdog
And she turned out to be a person of integrity and intestinal fortitude. She spent about a month in the lockholes, and gave Bag End back to Frodo.

Turns out umbrellas are good for something besides filching spoons! []
quote:
Some of the ruffians were going up with a big cart.
“Where be you a-going?” says she.
“To bag End,” says they.
“What for? Says he.
“To put up some sheds for Shrkey,” says they.
“Who said you could? Says she.
“Sharkey,” says they. “So get out o’ the road, ole haggling!”
“I’ll give you Sharkey, you dirty thieving ruffians!” says she, and ups with her umberella and goes for the leader . . .
-The Scouring of the Shire

Three Cheers for the “ole haggling”! . . . Hip hip . . . [] []

[ 10-19-2015, 04:07 AM: Message edited by: The Flammifer ]

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