Arwen: why i hate her

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Saucy, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Member

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    There are three such unions recorded between the Edain and the Eldar. It is why there are half-elven. They are,

    Idril and Tuor
    Lúthien and Beren
    Arwen and Aragorn

    So well said!
     
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  2. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Currently in hiding

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    Thanks, Rana, for the kind words.

    Yes, the treatment of Bag End is similar in both books, but where in The Hobbit Bilbo's return halts a symbolic "rape" of the bride-figure, in LOTR it takes on greater significance: it is more in line with a "ritual of desecration" as the Encyclopedia of Fantasy has it, perpetrated as a deliberate and senseless act of petty revenge by Saruman, emblem and centerpiece, both of the larger desecration of the Shire, and the destruction and ruin of many beautiful things and peoples in the War. And, I would guess, the "real" world, affected by Tolkien's own experiences.

    And of course, in LOTR, when the heroes return, the desecration has, significantly, already happened; Bilbo has only the inconvenience of buying back some of his belongings; the hobbits of LOTR, symbolized by Sam, must turn to the low mimetic world of hard labor and restoration, however eased by Sam's box of "magic dust".

    As to your other point, yes indeed-- there are many important female characters in the larger cycle. I think of the bravery of Luthien especially, but also of Queen Tar-Miriel, "fairer than silver or ivory or pearls", drowned in the final moments of Numenor while attempting to climb to the holy place on Meneltarma.

    And who could not have sympathy for Erendis, the Mariner's Wife, doomed to wait in loneliness, while her husband is off on yet another "sausage-fest", as you so colorfully put it?

    Or even Queen Beruthiel, though admittedly her reaction took some extreme forms.

    Indeed, the theme appears often enough that I have to wonder if it had to do with some guilt Tolkien may have felt toward Edith; by all accounts, she felt isolated and unhappy in Oxford.
     
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  3. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Wow. Never thought of it that way...:(:(:(:eek:

    CL
     
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  4. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Currently in hiding

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    As I say, it's mere speculation on my part. But still. . .
     
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  5. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I have heard of it before in my research, though. So, there's that...

    CL
     
  6. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Currently in hiding

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    This thread, one resurrected by Ithilethiel, and another older one make me want to add something perhaps a bit more "practical".

    Some of the older posts here stem from the fact that the character of Arwen seems undeveloped, compared to Eowyn, and the reasons for that have been explored, one of course being that she was a late addition to the story. Another is that LOTR is hobbit-centric; as we know from the famous letter to Auden, when Aragorn entered the story, Tolkien himself had no idea who he was.

    He tried to fill in the "back-story" with the Tale, but the fact remains that in the body of the text,despite her introduction in Rivendell, and her interactions with Frodo in Minas Tirith, she remains something of a cipher, especially as contrasted with Eowyn.

    I'm going to say something here that, from a Tolkien lover, may sound heretical: that given his powers of description, sometimes even the Master himself comes up a little short, especially with characters. I'll limit myself to Arwen here, though, and just say that his picture of her fails, in my opinion, to render her in a way that reaches his conception. Or I should say, what I believe was his conception.

    Thinking about it, I feel this judgement, though I make it myself, is unfair; what is really required to do justice to such a character is poetry, for poetry unleashes powers of metaphor and imagery unavailable in the more linear medium of prose; there's a reason, after all, that prose is the root of "prosaic". Tolkien certainly recognized this, and used poetry where he could, sometimes in very vivid ways. Think of Gimli breaking into chant in Moria, for instance. Unfortunately, it would have been awkward to suddenly insert poetry into the feast scene at Rivendell.

    And here I'm going to commit another offense or two, and go a little off-topic and somewhat heretical: there is another medium in which the picture of Arwen could be "improved", or perhaps I should say rather, realized: the medium of film.

    I can hear howls of outrage, and believe me, I share them, as far as her portrayal in the PJ version goes. In fact, it was reading the thread I mentioned above which started me thinking along these lines. It began shortly before FOTR premiered, and was in reaction to the trailer featuring the infamous "If you want him, come and claim him!" Xena sequence. PJ and cronies wanted to flesh out Arwen, and that is what they came up with. Only to be expected, considering some of their other choices.

    But there is another way, if you'll indulge me. The introduction of Arwen could have happened as it did in the book very effectively, potentially overwhelmingly effectively, in film. Who, for instance, has not had the experience of being struck dumb by a single glance from someone? We usually think of this in the context of romantic encounters, but it happens in other kinds also. A single instant of eye-contact between Arwen and Frodo could convey a great deal, particularly if it is carefully prepared.

    A good actor can produce this effect on demand. Combine it with competent direction, makeup, lighting, music, and the other elements that go into filmmaking, and the results can be, as I said, overwhelming.

    I want to give an example that always comes to mind, when I think of this effect. The context is different, of course, but displays the sort of thing I'm talking about. You've no doubt seen this many times before, but I invite you to watch very closely the closeups of Ingrid Bergman in this clip, and also the looks exchanged:



    You can see how, almost without moving a muscle, what a world of feeling she conveys, as the camera lingers on her face. Contrast this with the very different emotions she shows in this other famous scene from the same movie, again while remaining nearly motionless (I leave aside the other characters, although I will, as an example of the male side, draw your attention to the level of simmering anger Bogart is able to convey with only a slight contraction of the lips):



    I admit I'm a softy, and that scene never fails to bring me to tears, but only the most cynical viewer could remain unmoved. And that is my point, such as it is: film, as a medium, can express some things better, or at least more fully, in a short space, than can prose.

    At least sometimes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018

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