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Isabeau's Journal

 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.

OK my work is really starting to suffer here as a result of my lengthy essays on What's Right for Isabeau's Characters but I can't seem to stop myself!

In my mind I see her gaining much of her skillset as a warrior - perhaps a little command experience - and maintaining it while her children grow, but continuing to develop the more ambiguous skills of diplomacy, negotiation, cultural adaptation, etc. (Which I do think is better facilitated as Imrahil’s wife.)

Here we will just have to disagree, as I don't see her as someone whose career will focus on diplomacy, etc. She will need those skills, to be sure, but I see them developing as secondary to her warrior skills.

Otherwise she ultimately just becomes another Nimrien (or Arwen or possibly Eowyn depending on whether E. plays an active role as adviser to Faramir). Second fiddle to a man who rules in his hereditary role. What's the point of being a kick-ass female who's the head of her house if she's going to be a junior diplomat? And she *would* be at most a junior diplomat -- to pretend that she could "train up" to become adept at things that Nimrien, for example, could do with relative ease because she'd been educated for decades in those realms would be to either disregard those skills as easily acquired, or to make Hethlin some sort of superhuman woman: she can kick ass on the battlefield AND hold forth eloquently in three tongues at dinner parties or council meetings? That just doesn't sound at all like Hethlin. She would become someone else entirely.

Plus, actually, I guess I don’t really see her spending all that much of her warrior career in the Swan Knights after winning her white belt, but doing more to support Aragorn instead…

But if she's not actively keeping up her martial skills, how will she remain a warrior? Remember how sore Eowyn and Hethlin were on first days of the journey to Edoras, since they'd both been recovering from injuries in the weeks/months prior? These are use-em or lose-em skills.

Covert ops? I’m pretty ambiguous on this point, and thinking of some of the visions from Galadriel’s mirror. Heth’s skill set will be truly impressive once her training is over, and maybe in some ways I see being purely a heavy-horse cavalrywoman in the Knights as actually a bit stifling, commander or no.

Yeah, that's why I don't see her staying in Dol Amroth at all. Her gifts do not lie in academic domains -- which is not to disparage her intellect, but it's not what she likes to do given the chance. She's an active tom-boy. She's not bookish like Faramir, or Nimrien, or even Imrahil who can quote poems in Haradric when appropriate. I do not see a career in diplomacy for Hethlin. I think she'd be bored silly by glacial negotiations and diplomatic protocol. She's also a painfully honest girl -- and involuntary forthrightness is not a good thing for a diplomat. She'd have to really really change to have any chance of success in that world. She'd really have to become a different person entirely.

I think my reluctance to embrace Elrohir as Heth’s potential mate has less to do with the various drawbacks to marrying him (which are pretty minor and can be easily resolved) as much as that Heth seems to have pretty firmly set her heart against it. She’s determined not to fall in love with our favorite elf, at least so far. Time will tell how that resolve holds out.

Just like she wasn't in love with Faramir? ;) I think Hethlin is very good at convincing herself that she doesn't want something if she thinks it's impossible to have it. She even belatedly realized that herself -- as I recall she told someone (Mablung? I forget right now) that if she'd known sooner about her heritage and that she could have her infertility treated she would have almost certainly openly pursued Faramir.

I see Hethlin's growth coming in realizing her own worth for her own qualities, and recognizing that she *is* worth it. I've argued, for example, that if Elrohir did decide to stay, and did allow himself to openly fall in love with Hethlin, the staying would still be a decision made in its own right, so Hethlin shouldn't feel responsible for that. But at the same time she is slowly coming to understand that she is: desirable physically, a valuable confidant, a thoughtful friend whose gestures and gifts to others are touching and valued. That she's a worthwhile person, as she is. She'd only get better with more polish and more experience and more skills, but she's already great.

And actually, I think it is possible to have more than one great love in your lifetime, so I don’t think Heth would be shortchanged with Imrahil on that account. I don’t think Hethlin would be second in Imrahil’s heart to anyone. Co-equal maybe. And as he gets closer to the end, he might dwell more on meeting up with Nimrien and Andrahar again (ala In All But Blood).

I agree with you there, Denise.

As for Imrahil being affected adversely by having a younger wife and children, I don’t know… I think it would in fact help him to feel alive and young again. And I don’t think he’d have many, if any regrets as he aged and Heth stayed young. He’s got a pretty good opinion of himself; he’s already stated that he thinks he has a lot to offer Heth, despite the differences in their ages; May-December romance is not that uncommon among men of wealth and power; and he has already committed himself to trying to live the remainder of his life as fully as possible.

Yes but how many May-December romances occur wherein Ms. May is uncommonly adept at performing in masculine domains, just as Mr. December's strength in those domains is waning and his focus in life turns naturally towards more quiet and home-bound activities? Mind you, I think Imrahil's got another good ten years of active soldiering in him, but we know from "In All But Blood" that in another 10 - 15 years he's going to hang up his warrior's helm for good.

Certainly the prospect of more children doesn’t seem to daunt him when he proposes to Heth, although the reality of it would be tiring. I still think he’d manage it as gracefully as he does everything else. The biggest problem could be differentiating in treatment of children and grandchildren – you can’t spoil your own kids!

Yeah, that's the rub. And young children *are* tiring -- physically and emotionally. They're rejuvenating too, but it's at best (from my experience anyway) a 50-50 exchange. That's what's so great about being a grandparent (or in my case, godmother): spend lots of small spurts of joyful time and then pass them off to Mom or Dad when the tiresome stuff kicks in!

Good assessment on Litharel! He really irked me, too. I think I excused his actions after the Ring War sooner than I should have, on the basis that he was so eager to get to know Heth and take her North. I could see his actions growing out of a serious anger issue with Halaran, and Heth does look just like her father. But not being in some sort of contact with his daughter over the years...

The hypocrisy that I see is that his reason for being angry with Halaran was supposedly his deep love for his daughter. But that love was nowhere in evidence in the twenty-odd years following his daughter's marriage.

or maybe they were, sporadically, and even if he was concerned about the four-year absence, there might have been little he could do to address it with the conflict with Sauron heating up in the North, and Saruman causing problems in the Gap.

I don't think that can answer it: Litharel seemed surprised to know he even had a granddaughter. If he'd had any correspondence with his daughter after her departure, he'd surely know about Hethlin's existence.

Also Saruman was very subtle in his dealings up until the last moment. Gandalf never would have gone to consult with him otherwise. So it's unlikely that he was interfering with basic lines of communication between north and south for the years preceding the time of The Fellowship.

But how much did he stick up for his daughter’s decision to marry Halaran? Hmmm.

Looks like not much.

And I wondered, too, at Tell’s ignorance of who Heth was. Of course, he’s so self-centered that the information about her could have been available – even if she was preoccupied with North business for a couple of decades – and he just didn’t pay any attention to it. (In favor of learning about more important things, such as which are the best imported beers. Heh.)

I wondered about that too. He strikes me as more of an imported brandy sort -- too much of a snob to quaff ale! ;)

As far as Tolkien’s emphasis on the non-changing quality of the elves, I wonder how much of it was an outgrowth of the tumultuous changes going on in his life: two world wars, the rapid mechanization and industrialization of Europe, etc. I think he romanticized the elves’ wish to maintain the status quo because that’s what he often wished for in his own life. For certain there’s overtones of that in “Letters by JRRT.” He was not very impressed with most of the modern conveniences becoming popular at the time, and thought (if I remember correctly) that the mechanization of the world was “soulless.”

I think you're absolutely right there. His reasons for taking that stance I don't question; it's just a problem in his constructs.

Good grief, it’s a good thing Isabeau doesn’t mind these long esoteric dissertations, as I certainly seem to have trouble letting go of all this and just waiting patiently for her to resolve it for us...

I know, thank goodness she's so welcoming of others' opinions!

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