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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.
I wonder if part of a problem there could not be that she compartmentalizes (is that a word?). She strikes me as someone who would value and appreciate her skills and achievements in her job for what they are worth, but would have trouble extending this same regard for herself as a person.
Yes indeedy -- compartmentalizes is a word. And I agree I think that's exactly what she does.
The girl went through a horrific experience that even now makes her think less of herself (think about how self-conscious she is in the latest chapter of Silver Swan about her scars, grateful to the shadows of the tall grass for hiding them). Then she spent four very formative years making herself as neutered as possible, trying to keep her head low and be as unobtrusive and unobjectionable as possible so that she wouldn't lose her very tenuous place among the Rangers. She does not have a strong sense of her own self worth. That will only come with time, and acceptance for being the person that she is from those she cares about.
Hethlin was raised to value martial skills by her father. That was strongly reinforced by the Rangers. I see it as an integral part of her identity, and the only part she is comfortable judging herself in, and being judged in. She's ridiculously adverse to wearing dresses or anything remotely feminine, because she's afraid she won't measure up. I think that Elrohir's reception of her in a dress was just right: he told her he'd never expected to see her in a dress but that she looked great in one (thus not implying that it was about time and that not wearing one hitherto was a shortcoming on her part). Even something as seemingly benign as, "Oh Hethlin, how nice to see you in a dress at last! See, you look lovely!" while well-intended, could convey to a girl with no self-confidence on that front that when she's not wearing a dress everyone thinks she looks like a freak.
I think Hethlin will only gain self-confidence by a) accomplishing things in the domain in which she is most comfortable, and b) slowly tip-toeing into domains in which she is not comfortable, but without being pushed or made to feel that unless she masters that she won't be a complete woman. Great if she learns new languages and refined manners, but if she's made to feel that she cannot say "aye" instead of "yes," when it suits her, or wear old-but-comfortable leggings & tunics -- in essence be the girl from Anorien that she is -- then she's not going to really to have a strong sense of self worth. She's going to feel like she has to pretend to be someone else in order to be acceptable. I don't ever see her getting excited about a dress. Unless Arwen helps to embroider her wedding dress -- I bet even Hethlin would find delight in such a beautiful thing, especially if she got to actually touch it, no matter her callouses, because it was her dress!
And I totally agree with Imhiriel on the opportunities that would be in the North. I think she could serve Aragorn very well there, and the demands of that environment would be much better aligned with the things that are integral to Hethlin's identity.
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