Arwen: why i hate her

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

  1. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active 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!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2018
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  2. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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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 Skulking near Archet

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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 Skulking near Archet

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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
  7. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    I came across this post looking for references to the Auden letter. They are great clips aren't they. We see that Ilsa realises that, though she still loves Rick, under the circumstances of the war she's made the right choice - and later we see that Rick comes to understand this as well.

    And there's delicious comedy, courtesy of Claude Rains, with the lines about having to arrest himself if he broke his own curfew and receiving his winnings from "illegal" gambling.

    Another example comes to mind: the recently deceased Charles Aznavour in Truffaut's Shoot the Pianist. It's the sequence at the end of the film focussing on his facial expression when he has returned to his piano playing. We can see Aznavour turning over what has happened in his own mind through the stillness of his expression.

    It comes in the last few seconds of:
     
  8. Nameless Thing

    Nameless Thing Member

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    I found this thread only now, even though it's 16 years old. I want to add something that might make you hate me, but I hope you don't take it the wrong way.
    So the OP argued that Eowyn is much more accomplished and therefore much more worthy to marry Aragorn than Arwen. But the thing is that it's not the woman who has to show her quality. It's the man. The woman is worthy by default. She is the one who is pursued. The prince is the one who goes on a quest to show his worth to the princess.
    It's like this all over the animal kingdom, it's biology. The male guppy shows off his colors and pursues the female guppy, who is just boring gray. The bulls fight for the cow. The male dog takes a huge risk when he escapes his owner's home to track down the bitch in heat.
    And the more a woman shows how much she knows her worth, the more attractive she becomes in the eyes of men. Arwen totally knew this and that's why she is so attractive. It has very little to do with physical beauty. The woman who has this confidence is the winner. I'm not talking about playing hard to get. That's just playing stupid games while not having this confidence at all. That's just a power trip over the guys that's actually coming from insecurity.
    What I'm talking about is believing with her whole heart that she is awesome and the guy better treats her well, love her, cherish her and adore her because she can easily find somebody else. She doesn't have to say it. She just have to believe it and guys will feel it.
    A very good example is a story that happened to my grandmother several decades ago. One day a well-meaning coworker informed her that my grandfather, who was a manager at their company is being pursued by some blond beauty. My grandmother just smiled and said: it's OK, we can share. What she meant is that she isn't afraid of competition, she is the most awesome. She didn't start spying after him, question him, or forbid him from being around her. She just continued her life normally. Needless to say, my grandfather never started an affair with that lady.
    Where Eowyn totally blew it is that she tried to prove that she is as good as a man. While we can't blame her for that after the systematic abuse by Saruman through Wormtongue, the fact is that at that point she wasn't her most attractive self. She reversed that dynamic I mentioned above and therefore she lost her feminine power. And that's what happens every time a woman tries to prove that she is worth as much as a man or pursues the man.
    Feminists nowadays try to "empower" women by telling them they don't have to sit around and wait for the guy, they can tell the guy how they feel. Little do they understand that they are basically encouraging women to give up their feminine power by becoming the pursuer. They become the princesses going on quests to prove the prince how much they are worth and while doing this they lose their princessness. Those relationships almost always break down sooner or later.
    Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for women doing their dream jobs even if it's on a masculine field like being a soldier. But bad things happen when they do it to show that they are worth as much as a guy.
    Another thing is that we don't actually know if Arwen contributed to the war or not. She might have done some stuff in the background like healing the sick, but still probably didn't accomplish as much as Eowyn did. But the point is that it doesn't matter because it's not the woman who has to show off her resume to get the best guys.
    Others mentioned that she sounds very boring, just sits at home and does arts and crafts, while Eowyn is doing some super interesting super cool stuff. This is a bit ridiculous, because most of us aren't very interesting people by this standard. We go to college, get a job, get married, have kids and eventually retire. Nothing cool to show off, but I don't think we are boring people just because we aren't war heroes.
     
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  9. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Thanks for contributing Nameless Thing. This is a welcoming inclusive forum so I doubt that people will hate you. I do wonder whether Eowyn did what she did in LOTR because of who she was (a lady of Rohan) rather than to make herself attractive to Aragorn,
     
  10. Nameless Thing

    Nameless Thing Member

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    Not necessarily to Aragorn (although that was I think part or that), but I feel like she did want to prove her worth. She was witnessing Theoden going crazy and Wormtongue basically abusing the whole family, so her self esteem was quite low at that point and that's why she wanted to fight. Saruman told Theoden 'Dotard! What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs?' while Eowyn wasn't there at particular event, this was probably not the first time Theoden heard these kind of insults and probably Eowyn heard them too and eventually started to believe them.