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Isabeau's Journal
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Isabeau's Journal

By:Isabeau
 November, 12 2005

OK, folks-this is the general forum now for questions that don't seem to fit in any of the other threads. I'm going to sort some of the earlier posts into the appropriate forums, but it might take a while, so bear with me. I'll delete the ones that have already been reposted by their authors.


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447 replies


 [41] Another good point, and I fear I might be responding to Tolkien's rather one-dimensional depiction of Arwen when I have Elrohir react in this way and not give his sister any credit for having a mind of her own. Arwen has always been difficult for me, and the one thing I absolutely despise is the way that Tolkien makes her sort of go back on her bargain there at the end. I've read various peoples' justifications for it, but it always seemed to be that he totally robbed her of any dignity.

I agree. I don't think he really understood why Arwen stayed, or at least he lost sight of it when he wrote that part of her story. He seemed to have a rather idealized notion of women's love -- that love was all they were about, and that once in love all other priorities slipped away. Galadriel was the exception, and he had to re-write her so many times (and still didn't resolve all contradictions). But the thing that I always find the most difficult to reconcile is what I perceive to be Tolkien's misgivings about The Gift of Men. Arwen, the wise and learned daughter of a wise and learned Half-Elf, and granddaughter of wise and learned Elves, ought to have a pretty solid faith in the goodness of Eru, no? I thought the whole point of the Valar was to make it easier to know Eru -- they were intercessors. So if you believe in the Valar and through them in Eru, why would you not think that death and transcending beyond the confines of Arda would be anything other than wonderful?

But going back for a minute to what I've always thought was Tolkien's rather stilted and unrealistic understanding of women's emotions, motives, and ambitions, that to me seems to be the reason why he never paired a male Elf with a female Human -- only a female of the Firstborn could condescend to give in to love of a Secondborn, because for females love is everything. Males love is less "perfect," and therefore it seems that male Elves couldn't see past the limitations of mortality in order to love a human woman. And if I haven't made it clear already in my wordy rants, I disagree -- I don't believe that love overrides all else for women, and I don't think that the male sex is less able to love deeply and fully, without getting hung up on minor details like one's beloved aging and dying.

As for Andrahar, that makes sense. Having spent some time in the Middle East I can personally attest to the surprising beliefs about women that some cultures engender.

So with all that said, I think this just makes an even stronger case for Hethlin to not end up with Imrahil. If she goes with him, she might still accomplish things in her own right, but her life will be inextricably caught up in her husband's accomplishments and duties. Another female abandoning her own path in order to follow that of an admirable, worthy, beloved man. Someone's gotta stand up for womankind in Middle Earth. Eowyn did briefly, but she's going to go the traditional route now of wife and mother to a Prince, a part of his household, supporting him as he seeks his goals. Valuable and important work, no doubt. I don't think there's just one good model of female strength and vitality. But Hethlin is the head of her own house. She can kick ass. I hope she becomes a wife and mother sometime, but I also hope she'll have things that are hers and hers alone.

Thanks Isabeau! These exchanges make a nice break from coding data!

Rebecca
Posted:Jan 12, 2006 23:08 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [42] Do you mean that Andrahar has/will pick Faramir's brain about Hethlin? Or just that your muse is considering it? And what is a nuzgul anyway? That was very helpful, the part about him being a misogynist. I was beginning to wonder if it was mostly intense jealousy. ("She's a warrior type, I'm a warrior type - what gives, Imrahil?")

Also, another thought on Imrahil and Hethlin. Even as I think they could have (and hope they do have) a great and satisfying and even legendary love, any relationship of theirs would be in large part a springboard to "the rest of Heth's life." Imrahil dies in F.A. 34 (about 35 years from this point in the story) when Heth is a mere 57ish - or in her late 30's for us non-Dunadans. In fact, in my more mercenary moments I think: Imrahil dies in FA 34, Eowyn dies in FA 65 (ala Late Fragment) but Faramir hangs around until FA 83, and Elrohir has said he wants to stay in M.E. until Arwen dies (>FA 120). Hmmm....

dpetrash
Posted:Jan 13, 2006 00:35 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [43] I finally remembered a question that keeps vanishing every time I come near this site:

Is Imrahil's young grey stallion from Ultimatums Caeriths predecessor or are the Dol-amroth war horses long lived and its Caerith himself, also who is Gull from Dol-Amroth yule, is it the filly from Rohan or a new horse and what happend to Fortune?

Nargil
Posted:Jan 13, 2006 10:19 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [44] I finally remembered a question that keeps vanishing every time I come near this site:

Is Imrahil's young grey stallion from Ultimatums Caeriths predecessor or are the Dol-amroth war horses long lived and its Caerith himself, also who is Gull from Dol-Amroth yule, is it the filly from Rohan or a new horse and what happend to Fortune?


Ah yes, I think you asked me this once before and I forgot to answer. Sorry. Imrahil's unnamed horse in Ultimatums is not Caerith, though he might be Caerith's sire. The Dol Amroth horses don't have mearas blood, so I figure they have a usual lifespan, though I'll give them a Lippizzaner lifespan, since those horses can reach 35 years old. As for Gull, she's a horse that Heth gets assigned out of their pool of spare mounts. All the esquires have two horses to care for. Gull has issues, and has gotten to the point where she dislikes men, so it's just as well Heth showed up. Heth's filly from Rohan is the horse named Mischief in Silver Swan. She apparently has a talent for getting out of stalls, paddocks, etc.. Fortune is still with Heth, stout dependable fellow that he is. It's just that Gull is faster, and speed was of the essence in Dol Amroth Yule, so that's why she was riding Gull instead.


Posted:Jan 13, 2006 19:29 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [45] Here I go again, but this one has been niggling at me for a while - I just keep forgetting to ask it: Does Hethlin's family have a similar rapport with lesser eagles and hawks as they do with the great eagles? That is, can she call them and/or see through their eyes, etc? Seems like it would be an excellent scouting ability, though you'd have to be careful about using the birds too hard - their bigger cousins probably wouldn't approve.

Also, WHEN is Aragorn going to give Hethlin her father's Dunadan star already?

dpetrash
Posted:Jan 15, 2006 16:18 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [46] Here I go again, but this one has been niggling at me for a while - I just keep forgetting to ask it: Does Hethlin's family have a similar rapport with lesser eagles and hawks as they do with the great eagles? That is, can she call them and/or see through their eyes, etc? Seems like it would be an excellent scouting ability, though you'd have to be careful about using the birds too hard - their bigger cousins probably wouldn't approve.

Actually, members of her family have been able to do that in the past, but it's a lot harder to learn. Heth probably won't be doing it anytime soon-she needs to get more experience with her rapport with the big Eagles first. And you're right about treating the little guys carefully-wouldn't want to burn their brains out or anything. There may also be more of a danger in losing oneself while in contact with an animal intelligence-I think the Eagles buffer their human companions in the contact.

Also, WHEN is Aragorn going to give Hethlin her father's Dunadan star already?

Pretty soon now, actually. Her wait is almost over.

Isabeau


Posted:Jan 15, 2006 18:44 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [47] dpetrash wrote:Do you mean that Andrahar has/will pick Faramir's brain about Hethlin? Or just that your muse is considering it? And what is a nuzgul anyway?

I'm trying to decide if he will or not. He's not always at ease with Faramir-bit of a guilt thing happening there, because he thinks Faramir might blame him for Boromir's death.

A nuzgul is a LOTR plot-bunny. It's a term you'll see used on HA a lot. They are generally depicted as fanged bunnies in Ringwraith robes. Pernicious and persistent.

That was very helpful, the part about him being a misogynist. I was beginning to wonder if it was mostly intense jealousy. ("She's a warrior type, I'm a warrior type - what gives, Imrahil?")

E.W. is of the opinion that he would not object to Imrahil fixating upon a "proper" womanly woman, because he still has his manly bonding moments with Imrahil upon the field of war. But Hethlin is a woman who even intrudes upon that; ergo, his disapproval.

Also, another thought on Imrahil and Hethlin. Even as I think they could have (and hope they do have) a great and satisfying and even legendary love, any relationship of theirs would be in large part a springboard to "the rest of Heth's life." Imrahil dies in F.A. 34 (about 35 years from this point in the story) when Heth is a mere 57ish - or in her late 30's for us non-Dunadans. In fact, in my more mercenary moments I think: Imrahil dies in FA 34, Eowyn dies in FA 65 (ala Late Fragment) but Faramir hangs around until FA 83, and Elrohir has said he wants to stay in M.E. until Arwen dies (>FA 120). Hmmm....

Nice to see you're so good at math....;-)


Posted:Jan 15, 2006 18:52 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [48] Isabeau wrote-Another good point, and I fear I might be responding to Tolkien's rather one-dimensional depiction of Arwen when I have Elrohir react in this way and not give his sister any credit for having a mind of her own. Arwen has always been difficult for me, and the one thing I absolutely despise is the way that Tolkien makes her sort of go back on her bargain there at the end. I've read various peoples' justifications for it, but it always seemed to be that he totally robbed her of any dignity.

Rebecca replied-I agree. I don't think he really understood why Arwen stayed, or at least he lost sight of it when he wrote that part of her story. He seemed to have a rather idealized notion of women's love -- that love was all they were about, and that once in love all other priorities slipped away. Galadriel was the exception, and he had to re-write her so many times (and still didn't resolve all contradictions). But the thing that I always find the most difficult to reconcile is what I perceive to be Tolkien's misgivings about The Gift of Men. Arwen, the wise and learned daughter of a wise and learned Half-Elf, and granddaughter of wise and learned Elves, ought to have a pretty solid faith in the goodness of Eru, no? I thought the whole point of the Valar was to make it easier to know Eru -- they were intercessors. So if you believe in the Valar and through them in Eru, why would you not think that death and transcending beyond the confines of Arda would be anything other than wonderful?


Yes, Arwen's behavior doesn't seem to gel with what he claims the Elves feel-that they envy Men and their ability to escape the chains binding the Elder Kindred to Arda.

I've always loved that story (can't remember what part of HoME or Unfinished Tales it is in) about the last battle against Morgoth, where the Men come back to help the Elder Kindred and both races live in Arda Renewed together. It is the most hopeful thing of everything he wrote.

But going back for a minute to what I've always thought was Tolkien's rather stilted and unrealistic understanding of women's emotions, motives, and ambitions, that to me seems to be the reason why he never paired a male Elf with a female Human -- only a female of the Firstborn could condescend to give in to love of a Secondborn, because for females love is everything. Males love is less "perfect," and therefore it seems that male Elves couldn't see past the limitations of mortality in order to love a human woman. And if I haven't made it clear already in my wordy rants, I disagree -- I don't believe that love overrides all else for women, and I don't think that the male sex is less able to love deeply and fully, without getting hung up on minor details like one's beloved aging and dying.

I agree with you, but I think that here we are dealing with the fact that the Professor was a product of his age, and tended to put women on pedestals. I also always found it very annoying that his idea of a happy end for Eowyn was that she found the love of a good man (even if it was Faramir!) and immediately wanted to go off and have babies and knit tea cozies.

As for Andrahar, that makes sense. Having spent some time in the Middle East I can personally attest to the surprising beliefs about women that some cultures engender.

I must say I prefer the Professor's pedestal to the cultures who paint us as mindless instruments of temptation or worse.

So with all that said, I think this just makes an even stronger case for Hethlin to not end up with Imrahil. If she goes with him, she might still accomplish things in her own right, but her life will be inextricably caught up in her husband's accomplishments and duties. Another female abandoning her own path in order to follow that of an admirable, worthy, beloved man.

That is very true. Of course, if she were to contribute to the successful ruling of Dol Amroth in some way, I don't know if she would be abandoning her path, per se. At least not totally.

Someone's gotta stand up for womankind in Middle Earth. Eowyn did briefly, but she's going to go the traditional route now of wife and mother to a Prince, a part of his household, supporting him as he seeks his goals. Valuable and important work, no doubt. I don't think there's just one good model of female strength and vitality. But Hethlin is the head of her own house. She can kick ass. I hope she becomes a wife and mother sometime, but I also hope she'll have things that are hers and hers alone.

I do have to wonder if Eowyn will fret over her confinement from time to time. I generally leave her to Una, and so far, Una has not chosen to depict her as anything but happy with her lot.

Thanks Isabeau! These exchanges make a nice break from coding data!

You're very welcome, Rebecca!

Isabeau


Posted:Jan 15, 2006 19:01 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [49] dpetrash: Imrahil dies in F.A. 34 (about 35 years from this point in the story) when Heth is a mere 57ish - or in her late 30's for us non-Dunadans. In fact, in my more mercenary moments I think: Imrahil dies in FA 34, Eowyn dies in FA 65 (ala Late Fragment) but Faramir hangs around until FA 83, and Elrohir has said he wants to stay in M.E. until Arwen dies (>FA 120). Hmmm....

Isabeau: Nice to see you're so good at math....;-)

Well, I was an engineer in my former life, which also accounts for my obsession with detail (see above) and one reason why I appreciate your stories so much. They are always chock full of details, even for your secondary characters like Felith and Mablung, that are revealing, consistent and entertaining. I discover new stuff every time I reread your work.

And I blame Una/Altariel for starting my speculation in the original comment above, with that kiss she wrote at the end of Late Fragment....

dpetrash
Posted:Jan 15, 2006 20:22 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [50] Yes, Arwen's behavior doesn't seem to gel with what he claims the Elves feel-that they envy Men and their ability to escape the chains binding the Elder Kindred to Arda.

I've always loved that story (can't remember what part of HoME or Unfinished Tales it is in) about the last battle against Morgoth, where the Men come back to help the Elder Kindred and both races live in Arda Renewed together. It is the most hopeful thing of everything he wrote.


All I recall from that (read it what, almost 20 years ago) is that poor old Turin T. is supposed to lead the charge. But yes, I agree the image of the two races living together is definitely the most hopeful thing Tolkien wrote, and it somewhat resolves the dilemma of why there was a universe with two very similar but very different races in the first place. The Elves seem so superior in every aspect at first glance, but obviously Men must be necssary and important too, not just a weaker afterthought. I think it's unfortunate that that is how they usually appear in most of the stories.

I agree with you, but I think that here we are dealing with the fact that the Professor was a product of his age, and tended to put women on pedestals. I also always found it very annoying that his idea of a happy end for Eowyn was that she found the love of a good man (even if it was Faramir!) and immediately wanted to go off and have babies and knit tea cozies.


Very true, I don't blame Tolkien, I simply see his limited insight into the hearts and minds of women to be a shortcoming in what is definitely a masterpiece. Arwen and Eowyn are probably the two best examples of how, in my opinion, he didn't really get women -- elven or human.

I must say I prefer the Professor's pedestal to the cultures who paint us as mindless instruments of temptation or worse.

Yeah, for sure. I was recently propositioned by a highly educated married man (a visitor to my university here in the U.S.) who told me that his grown son thought he should have a girlfriend while over here this year. Meanwhile his wife back in ___ is very much alive and well. And I thought he wanted to meet to have an English-xxxx exchange! Mortifying, but to his credit he quickly grasped that I was totally uninterested and he has never been anything but polite to me since. I chalked it up to an unfortunate cultural misunderstanding: I was being friendly and he interpreted that as a signal that I was available to be his mistress, complete with apartment rent paid and other financial perks. Because where he comes from that's what women want, apparently. Yikes. I'd definitely take that pedestal over la carte blanche.

if she were to contribute to the successful ruling of Dol Amroth in some way, I don't know if she would be abandoning her path, per se. At least not totally.

There are Imrahil, Elphir, Elchirion, Amrothos, Andrahar, and a bevy of Swan Knights to see to the effective rule and protection of Dol Amroth. Sure, Hethlin could help, but there are already so many highly competent folk who belong there, and they will be the ones making the big decisions (as is proper since it's their principality).

I guess the understanding of Hethlin that I have is that she's a tough, bright girl who is capable of learning many things and may well come to comport herself with grace and ease in any ballroom in Gondor, but who will always be happiest riding and hunting and wearing breeches. In order for her to be effective and make a big difference in Dol Amroth, either Hethlin would really have to change, which I think would be a shame, or all those terrific men in the ruling family of Dol Amroth would have to drop the ball so that she could have room to step in and do stuff. I mean, I hope that Hethlin matures and comes to have more confidence in herself. But she would have to make such radical changes in order to be comfortable and contented in the formal, courtly, cultivated world of Dol Amroth... I think she'd ultimately be wasted there. Whereas if she ends up in the north, there would be so much for her to do -- it's relatively unpopulated and probably in need of some people to oversee things, set and protect boundaries, found new settlements, fight remaining pockets of orcs & trolls and who knows, maybe even the odd dragon!

I think it was Elrohir who pointed out to Hethlin that, having gone to all the trouble of establishing herself as the head of her house, it would be a shame for her deny herself any children. Likewise, it seems to me, it would be a shame for her to deny herself the opportunity to be the one calling the shots, toward goals that she herself has set -- naturally in the service of King and country, but not just following orders or a plan devised by someone else.

Plus, as the head of the House of the Eagle, she really ought to develop a working relationship with the Eagles -- and they don't ever come down to Dol Amroth, do they? If she remains in Dol Amroth, she really will be sacrificing a unique part of her heritage. I suppose she could send her children (if she had some with Imrahil) up north to be fostered and to learn about the Eagles... but it would be a shame if she didn't do so herself.

Or so it seems to me!

I like how Una/Altariel handles Eowyn & Faramir. Eowyn's choice to settle down is disappointing in some ways, but not really surprising. Nonethless, I agree that the consequences of that choice might not have been as easy to live with (or up to) as she first imagined... you and Una have done such a great job adding dimension and color to the lives of Tolkien's characters & world!

Rebecca
Posted:Jan 15, 2006 23:23 GMT  Reply to this Comment
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