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Princes of Dol Amroth
February, 25 2006
Questions about the life and times of Imrahil and his family can be asked here, including questions about Ultimatums, Kin-Strife and the shorter stories. Discussions about Brand can go either here or in the Best-Loved Son thread, since his stories sort of overlap both cycles.
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 Nargil wrote: He killed one on the Pellanor, though I wonder what happened to his cousin from Kin-strife?
I haven't decided yet. He wasn't a soldier, so he could very well still be lurking about. I've thought about having Andra's legitimate relatives plot against him, particularly after the Pelennor thing, but I've not come up with anything definite yet.
Intresting question though, he could suspect somthing but at the time there was nothing he could do and then he left Harad before he grew old enough to make a serious challenge.
There's that, and there are other factors at work as well. Andra may have some reticence about seeking vengeance, since he was born a slave. And he may also be harboring some deep-seated anger against his father, even though I've written that he loves the man. Isfandhijar didn't handle things very well. He openly favored Ariye and her son enough to cause fear among his other two wives and their sons that he intended to throw them over for their latest rival, but he didn't wed Ariye and legitimate Andra, which would have given them some status, because he was trying to avoid antagonizing the others. In the end, he brought about the very situation he was trying to avoid.
Another question, if Fin was Imri's older sister how come she was not the heir I know it says in the appendixes that the kingship passed to the oldest child wether male or female or is it different in Dol-Amroth?
Denethor has older sisters too, I believe. So you have to infer that Gondor's either given up on that particular custom in favor of male inheritence, or that it only applies to the kingship. Another way in which I think they've diminished from their Numenorean forbears...
Posted:Mar 4, 2006 10:50 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Isabeau wrote: Now there's this little grey-clad nuzgul dancing around my ankles. Thanks ever so much....;-)
You know, it's hard for me to feel guilty about that when there's potential for a new story involved!
Posted:Mar 4, 2006 10:52 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Is Ultimatums going to continue on through Finduilas' stay in Dol Amroth and Imrahil & Nimrien's wedding? I'm very curious as to whether Nimrien, perceptive as she is, ever notices anything worrisome in Finduilas' behavior (per Nimrien's conversation with Imrahil about it when on the road to Pelargir). I mean, Finduilas is dead in less than two years.
I'm pondering that one right now. I think that Nimrien is already worried about Finduilas' behavior, but she is going to spend a few months in Dol Amroth, and during that time will make what seems to be a definite recovery. This seeming recovery seems to me to be essential to explain why her father and brother didn't see her death coming.
Posted:Mar 4, 2006 10:57 GMT Reply to this Comment
 I think that Nimrien is already worried about Finduilas' behavior, but she is going to spend a few months in Dol Amroth, and during that time will make what seems to be a definite recovery. This seeming recovery seems to me to be essential to explain why her father and brother didn't see her death coming.
Planning a wedding would certainly distract even someone as tenacious as Nimrien. And Denethor would not be there, and Finduilas would be back by the sea that she loves... Yes, I could easily see her depression from Denethor's abuse temporarily lifting. Isn't it also common for people to have an even stronger relapse when returning to the unchanged situation which caused their depression in the first place? It would be ironic if a happy time in Dol Amroth actually made her see how bleak her life in Minas Tirith had become, and ended up hastening her death...
The better you let us know Nimrien, the more clearly I can see how she is a women where "the blood of Numenor runs deep and true" (despite her height!). It makes it very believable that Imrahil could end up loving two such opposite-seeming women, as the differences are in the end mostly superficial.
Posted:Mar 4, 2006 11:12 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Questions from Ultimatums chpter 12:
Do we ever meet / here more about Andra's other lovers?
Pepper sauce as in chillie peppers or as in black pepper?
Did Adrahil know about the menue as well as wanting to proove the decision from earlier or was it just happy chance?
Is the Haradrim food bassed on a particular culture or is it a mix?
I did also wonder if Nimrien was thinking along those lines but not so imediatley, I also thought Andra was serious at first, had he and Nimrien planned it he seemed to have it all worked out or is he just fast on his feet?
Posted:Mar 4, 2006 18:09 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Denise wrote: Isn't it also common for people to have an even stronger relapse when returning to the unchanged situation which caused their depression in the first place? It would be ironic if a happy time in Dol Amroth actually made her see how bleak her life in Minas Tirith had become, and ended up hastening her death...
Gosh, that makes me sad, but it does seem very plausible.
Posted:Mar 5, 2006 06:12 GMT Reply to this Comment
 I think Denise's point about lapsing into depression upon returning to an unchanged problematic situation is very insightful. Especially if, hitherto, Finduillas had been processing Denethor's behavior as temporary and anomalous, or rationalizing it away as a consequence of immediate (but not permanent) context, and/or refusing to see it as the very dark thing it was. She might also have over-estimated her ability to enact change in Minas Tirith, mistakenly thinking that the relative strength and energy she felt in Dol Amroth would continue in Minas Tirith, when in fact her position of weakness vis a vis Denethor hadn't changed a bit. Moreover, he might have noted her improved spirits and health after her respite in Dol Amroth, and resented her for it...
Posted:Mar 5, 2006 14:57 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Thanks, Rebecca. I think about Finduilas quite a bit even though she is a minor character in most of the Unabeauverse writings, because I struggle to understand her. I don't really know much about the psychology of abusers and their abused. She comes from a kind and loving family, and what we see of her in Kin-Strife shows someone who is not reserved or thinks little of herself. If Soledad's version is carried over, she had the courage to blackmail Aragorn, who even as a young man must have been imposing and had her father-in-law's favor. From this she decends into despair strong enough to commit suicide, and struggles even to protect her children. I know part of it is probably related to being so close to the Shadow of Mordor. And the day-by-day worsening of hers and Denethor's relationship was likely gradual enough that she didn't realize for some time just how badly it had gotten. And surely she felt it was her duty to stand by Denethor during such dark times. But still!!
As a total sideline to this, I do like that Faramir gave Hethlin one of Finduilas' books. I enjoy that connection between Imrahil's beloved sister and the woman he loves now. I think it's another irony that the book's first owner gave in to despair, while the last owner has undergone such horrific trials and has never given in yet. I'd like to see the scene where Imrahil learns that Heth has it, in fact.
Posted:Mar 6, 2006 02:09 GMT Reply to this Comment
 From this she decends into despair strong enough to commit suicide, and struggles even to protect her children. I know part of it is probably related to being so close to the Shadow of Mordor. And the day-by-day worsening of hers and Denethor's relationship was likely gradual enough that she didn't realize for some time just how badly it had gotten. And surely she felt it was her duty to stand by Denethor during such dark times.
Well, yes, there's the Shadow. Living under a state of constant fear and helpless waiting would definitely set one up to be anxious and depressed. As Pippin later discovered while waiting in that very city for the long-dreaded moment.
Denise, I also agree with your sense that the deterioration of the relationship between Finduilas and Denethor was probably very gradual. I wonder if, even as an infant, Faramir exhibited qualities that set Denethor on edge? For parents who are actually involved in their children's upbringing (rather than leaving them to the care of others), each addition to the family changes the chemistry of the family. As Altariel has observed, Denethor was very jealous of the love of those he loves. Would things have gone so badly if Faramir had been a girl, I wonder?
Given the close relationship with her father and brother, and their own power and standing relative to Denethor, I think it unlikely that the souring of the relationship between Finduilas and Denethor was sudden or blatant. And it seems likely to me that she was complicit in it, in some ways. For example, if she had been a very sympathetic and active supporter of Denethor in the early years of her marriage, taking on Thorongil and being an active political force in her own right ala Soledad, it would have been very confusing and disorienting to suddenly find herself having to oppose her husband in his dislike of their younger son (assuming the dislike manifested early in Faramir's life). One psychological theory holds that our identities are comprised of the roles we play in different contexts and with different people; I imagine that, for Finduilas, letting go of the idea that she was her husband's right hand and strongest supporter would have been very difficult to do, even if love of their youngest son required it of her. I imagine there would have been much rationalizing on her part, thinking of reasons why she could excuse cruelty from Denethor this time and failing to take into account that this time had happened many times already. Making excuses while living in the Shadow of Mordor was probably pretty easy.
I'm no expert in the psychology of absued women (child development is my specialty) but from what I understand it can in some ways be likened to Stockholm Syndrome, wherein a prisoner or kidnapped person comes to identify with his/her captors.
I do like that Faramir gave Hethlin one of Finduilas' books. I enjoy that connection between Imrahil's beloved sister and the woman he loves now. I think it's another irony that the book's first owner gave in to despair, while the last owner has undergone such horrific trials and has never given in yet.
Isn't it funny, here again you and I see Hethlin very differently, Denise! Finduilas's abuse came from one very close to her, with whom she very closely identified. She was bruised and psychologically tormented by Denethor, but I doubt he ever overtly threatened her life. Did he drive her to it? Quite possibly. But he didn't slaughter anyone, or repeatedly rape her and leave her for dead in a river. Hethlin's torments were much more overt, more intense but of shorter duration. There was no possibility that she would ever come to identify with her orc captors. That's one of the things about orcs as villains -- there are no nuances, there is nothing to sympathize with or rationalize. They are evil through and through and must be killed on sight. Sure, Hethlin was physically and psychologically scarred by the orcs. But, unlike Faramir or Finduilas regarding Denethor, Hethlin didn't have to psychologically disentangle herself from the orcs.
I don't think one can easily compare the trauma of being victimized by violent strangers to being victimized by someone you know and love. Both are awful, and I'm not suggesting that one is worse than the other. But I'd imagine that, if one is strong enough to survive the former, the road to recovery would be much more straightforward.
Another fundamental difference that I see between Hethlin and Finduilas (and Nimrien, for that matter), is that while F&N had to sit on the sidelines and wait for the blow from Mordor to fall, or in Finduilas's case, wait for Denethor to fall into another black mood, Hethlin was in a context where she was constantly and directly acting against her enemy. She could see the immediate effects of her actions, on her own well-being, and on the enemy. Did her arrow hit an orc? Did the Rangers' camouflaging work? Did she run fast enough?
The psychological effect of living in helpless fear and anxiety must be very high. Finduilas's fear had two distinct sources: the Enemy and her husband. Hethlin was fighting orcs. Sure, they were all aware that behind the orcs lay a much greater and more deadly foe, but Hethlin wasn't looking out her window at a growing menace that she could never hope to hold back; she was holding her own in daily engagement with a difficult, but manageable, enemy. She *could* act. She *did* act. And she wasn't contemplating the whole threat every day. She wasn't worried about whether her children would live to have children of their own. The situations that Finduilas and Hethlin faced were very, very different, in my view.
I think Finduilas can be better compared with Eowyn, and I get the sense that this was clear to Faramir. Unlike Hethlin, Eowyn existed and survived as a woman playing a woman's role (most of the time), in a climate of oppression and fear. Whereas Hethlin's survival involved erasing her sex in order to have a small place of security among men. When they were safely hidden within their secret headquarters, the Rangers of Ithilien had the psychological space to relax and feel at ease. (Except their Captain, who could feel his father's shadow even at that distance.) Eowyn was in a position to contemplate and face the threat of evil on a large scale -- eventually Saruman's orc army coming to obliterate her people, but even before that, the growing dread that hung over Edoras as Saruman's influence grew. She managed to navigate through the treachery of Wormtongue's hold on her dear uncle. She endured the loss of her parents at a young age, and an uncertain future for herself. When she was on the verge of succumbing to despair, she figured she'd at least take out the Witch King while she was at it.
I think that part of the reason why Faramir loves Eowyn is that he, correctly, perceives that she would be a staunch partner and ally but would never allow herself to be abused. She is savvy and feminine, but she has a survivor's instinct that Finduilas lacked. When Eowyn chose to risk death on the Pelennor, it was her decision made on her terms -- not something she was driven to. In fact, as brave as Hethlin is (and of course leaving aside the question of Eowyn going AWOL), I think that not even she matched Eowyn's singular bravery in going into battle as she did.
I'd like to see the scene where Imrahil learns that Heth has it, in fact.
Funny, here again we see things differently. I guess because I see Finduilas as being so essentially different from Hethlin, I don't think that there are significant parallels to be drawn between them. I get the sense that Imrahil is still a bit unclear about what went wrong with Finduilas -- he's never going to understand exactly what happened, or why it was allowed to happen. Hethlin's case is much more cut-and-dry; there's nothing for anyone to feel guilty about (except, perhaps, her maternal grandparents, but let's not go there now!).
In fact, the way I see things (which is perhaps not the way most people, and most importantly Isabeau, see them), I imagine that discovering the little treasure from Faramir in Hethlin's possession would be an uneasy reminder for Imrahil of a) how close Hethlin and Faramir are, and b) how and why she loves/loved Faramir. But that's just me!
Posted:Mar 6, 2006 10:00 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Would things have gone so badly if Faramir had been a girl, I wonder?
Now that would be an interesting AU! Thinking on what you said about the family's changing dynamics and the Stockholm Syndrome does help me understand Finduilas' position a little better.
Rebecca, you make very good points about the differences between Finduilas and Hethlin. I had not thought that part through very well, but after reading your comments I agree with you. It is not at all fair to compare them, as the dangers and abuse they underwent were very different. Being forced to fight evil and despair indirectly is psychologically much more difficult than being able to take action, as you pointed out. And I think that your analysis of Eowyn and Faramir's connection is spot on, too. The only thing I disagree with (and of course there has to be something!) is that I think Hethlin did match Eowyn's bravery by not only confronting the Witch King but refusing him, even when she was terrified and knew her life was forfeit in doing so. And I can't help but see a difference too, in that Eowyn's courageous actions took place when she was, in a sense, seeking suicide herself - albeit in a more active fashion than Finduilas. I'm not sure how things would have turned out for any of them if their places had been switched. (Although I have a pretty high opinion of Hethlin, and I'd better not speculate on it with my strong bias!)
On the book thing, even though I agree there are no real parallels between Finduilas and Hethlin, I don't think Imrahil would have the negative reaction you mentioned. He seems so reconciled to her feelings for Faramir - it certainly doesn't stop him from proposing to her! I think Imrahil's sense of self is so strong that he figures that when Hethlin gets over Faramir - and if she falls for him - that he could easily maintain her love, and not worry much over her one-time romantic love of Faramir. For example, if he and Hethlin do end up as a couple I don't really picture him being concerned that Hethlin considers him "second best," and that he would expect her and Faramir to stay good friends and continue to love each other as such. Imrahil believes himself very lovable, IMHO! Because of this, I actually see him being... reassured or comforted in a way, I guess, that part of his family - and therefore a part of himself - is with Hethlin. But I'm putting way too much importance on a mere children's Elvish book!!
Posted:Mar 6, 2006 15:34 GMT Reply to this Comment
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