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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.

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!

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