The Shadow has Departed
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Author:  The Nightingale [ October 7th, 2007, 3:32 am ]
Post subject:  The Shadow has Departed

Like my other recent posts, this has been inspired by the re-reading of The Lord of the Rings, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with y’all.

I was thinking about Éowyn and the life she’d had… how hard it must have been to have her father die when she was 7, then watch her mother succumb to grief and die. Then later see her uncle grow old and helpless, and she was the one to wait upon him. I do not desire the same things as Éowyn, but I know that that would have been one of the hardest lives I could imagine.

And then enter Aragorn. This is why I have been warned many, many times not to give my heart away until I am absolutely positive the man I am giving it to is the one I will marry.

I just imagine Éowyn lying in bed crying herself to sleep with no one there to comfort her… but I also see two people there with her at times, her brother Éomer and then Faramir.

A quote from the movie Ladyhawke comes to mind when I think of her, different context, but same idea: A boy asks a woman “are you flesh or are you spirit?” and she replies, “I am sorrow.”

That is what I find so beautiful about Éowyn and Faramir’s love for each other. Éowyn goes from a woman who “[wishes] to ride to war like [her] brother Éomer, or better like Theoden the king, for he died and has both honor and peace,” to one who “will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying.” She “will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.” No longer does she desire to be a queen and want honor and renown.

“The Shadow has departed,” and Éowyn is ready to live life for reals.

Author:  Ánië Súrion [ October 7th, 2007, 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Shadow has Departed

Wow, The Nightingale, that was beautiful. :blink: *claps* :happy:

Author:  Aerandir [ October 7th, 2007, 2:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Haha. I saw Ladyhawk. :P

I agree that Éowyn probably had one of the hardest lives of Tolkien's LotR characters, definitely, but I'm also going to point out that her life wasn't that uncommon, either. At least, the tragedies that she experienced weren't. I always get the impression when I read The Lord of the Rings that for a lot of people in Gondor and Rohan, having their parents survive wasn't too common. Well, having their parents survive for a long time. I don't think that lifespans were all that long, due to the constant warfare.

Éowyn is a very interesting character, to be sure, but I always found other characters more interesting--I think it might be because, being a male, I have absolutely zero....comprehension...of what she was going through. However, I would say that what makes Éowyn's life so tragic and bittersweet is that being a woman, she was unable to do anything about it until the War of the Ring. That's what makes her life really bittersweet, to me. While Éomer could ride off to battle, Éowyn had to remain in Edoras, or Dunharrow, etc.

Author:  ethelfleda [ October 8th, 2007, 12:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Aerlinniel ó Eressëa wrote:
Aerandir wrote:
Éowyn is a very interesting character, to be sure, but I always found other characters more interesting--I think it might be because, being a male, I have absolutely zero....comprehension...of what she was going through.

Eeeeh....that actually sounds pretty....weird to me. Guys can also fall in love and [s]generally mope a lot more than most girls I know[/s]...errr, I very sad when someone doesn't feel the same about them.

Or did you mean the not-being-able-to-do-anything thing? Well, it still sounds weird to me then. I mean, guys are often not able to do things as well - it used to be a lot worse for women of course, but since that's not the case'd be a bit strange to say you don't understand it because you're a guy.

Eh. Just saying. :P *is probably being irritating* :)

i'm afraid i have to disagree with you, aerlinniel - aerandir's comment doesn't seem strange to me at all.

yeah, a guy can fall in love and get his heart broken too, but that doesn't mean he can understand a woman in love. men and women tend to feel things very differently, so i don't think any male reader could fully understand exactly why eowyn loved aragorn or why she she took so long to realise her feelings for faramir. i reckon empathy is the only way to truly understand a person, but a man could never empathise with eowyn because he couldn't feel the same way, so he could never really understand her.

and while there are things that men can't do, there's nothing that society tells them they're not allowed to do simply because they're male. the frustration eowyn feels with the restrictions imposed on her because she's a woman run deep and greatly affect how she sees the world. however, men can't understand that because society has never imposed such restrictions on them or made them feel inferior because of their gender, so there's another important aspect of eowyn's character that men can't emphasise with and therefore can't understand.

it's always amazed me that tolkien was able to write such a convincing and well-rounded woman. either he was blessed with the androgynous brain that virginia woolf wrote about, and understood women far better than the average male; or he didn't really understand what he was writing, and only managed to get the character of eowyn so right through sheer chance.

Author:  ethelfleda [ October 8th, 2007, 12:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

^ you're right, there aren't the same restrictions on women these days, but restrictions do still exist and women are still made to feel inferior. i would say that the vast majority of women have been made to feel incapable because of their sex at some time or other (it has happened to me on several occasions) and so most women can identify with eowyn's position as they have experienced it themselves, even if only for a moment.

as you say, you can relate to eowyn's struggle against opression on some level simply because you are human, and so of course men should feel some sympathy for her. however, i believe you feel eowyn's frustration more acutely than a man, and therefore understand her better, because you yourself are female and can therefore put yourself more easily in her position.

Author:  ethelfleda [ October 8th, 2007, 1:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

^ i honestly believe that being female does have something to do with, but i guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

and while i think about it, i should probably point out that i'm not just saying men can't understand women - i don't believe women can fully understand men either.

Author:  Aerandir [ October 15th, 2007, 12:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

I was actually meaning both, Aerlinn. I just managed to get it into one sentence that could be taken (at least) two ways. :P

Anyways, I don't think I could ever 'get into her shoes' with the whole love aspect or the gender-aspect. explain that....when I'm talking about the whole gender-aspect, I'm not at all using current real-world standards--I'm going with what it seems like it would be from Tolkien's writing style, and all the information that you can gain from reading in between the lines. Now, some of those views were still in place or whatever when Tolkien wrote LotR, but I think that he backed up a ways to when they were there in force, which would be in the whole Middle Ages or earlier.

As for the romance/love part....for now I'm still clueless even on the guy aspect as to how it would feel, but I don't think I could ever understand how a female in the same position would feel--I mean, I've got four sisters, so I don't think I'm bragging when I say that I would probably be able to empathize with a female in that situation better, but I don't think that there's any way that I could really, fully understand her feelings and emotions. So, as I said--I have approximately zero comprehension of what she'd be going through.

Females have a better understanding of what goes on in other females' minds, and guys have a better understanding of what goes on in other guys' minds. I don't think there's a cross-understanding of any real depth.

Author:  Sinbearer [ November 9th, 2007, 10:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Awesome!

Thank you for that thoughtful and moving picture Nightingale. In several ways, Éowyn and Faramir were both broken people. Physically and emotionally. I think it is so wonderful and touching that they should find healing together. And not only together, but in each other. Aragorn wasn't the right one for Éowyn--Faramir was!

What a beautiful painting of life. Tolkien description here is.....awesome!

Author:  vikingmaiden [ November 26th, 2007, 10:35 am ]
Post subject: 

That's so insightful, Nightengale! Part of Eowyn's desire to ride to war was probably because of the many sorrows in her life. She probably felt purposeless and in her culture honor and purpose in life was derived from being a proud warrior. She saw great glory in that. But she still wasn't fulfilled in it. I think when she was in the House of Healing and met Faramir that she realized that her quest for identity in warfare and glory and status was not going to make her whole. She chose to bring life and be a healer.

I think a lot of women in our society do not learn this in their lives. So many of us women want to push ahead to justify ourselves in something destructive whether it is in response to unjust oppression we've experienced, or just humanly struggles. Is this really the way? There is fulfillment in love and life.

Author:  Sinbearer [ November 28th, 2007, 3:22 am ]
Post subject:  Try to be very good at being yourself....

I am proud to live in a country that has held women up to be all that they are and can be. Women certainly are as capable as any traditional male warrior of great deeds of valor. However, Nightengale and Vikingmaiden, what you wrote has set me to thinking for a while now.

Anyone who has happened to notice the differences between men and women (and there are many!) can see that our strengths and talents in some ways lie in different areas. I think it is very revealing that Éowyn says that she “will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren”. Women certainly have a way of healing hurts that escapes most men. And they can be fruitful and grow in ways that no man can.

Perhaps it is really about being who we really are meant to be. Josh Groban hit it on the head: “Don’t try to be like me. Try to be like yourself. Try to be very good at being yourself.” Sometimes that means a woman might take a man’s traditional role as say a pastor. Or not.

Injuries in life can keep us from becoming all we should be. I have felt their mysterious inhibition in my life. I guess I’m not altogether sure just how that works but I think you hit on it Vikingmaiden when you said Eowyn felt purposeless. I like how you said that at some point we must realize that wholeness in our lives has a lot to do with getting in touch with our unique selves in ways that fulfill our strengths and talents. (Did I read too much into what you said?) How can we be happy and fulfilled until we get to that place?

I love the words of Bryan Davis who wrote the Dragons in our Midst series: “A boy dreams with a sword in his hand. A girl makes those dreams a reality.” Though our talents may not be the same, destiny has designed us to compliment each other. And in that dynamic we can be fulfilled.

Author:  vikingmaiden [ November 29th, 2007, 1:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

I don't think you were reading too much into my words, Sinbearer! :)

A lot of people uphold Eowyn's manly abilities to wield a sword and 'kick orc butt' or whatever...and I'm sure that came across somehow in our age of 'equality' with men. They say that she's a strong woman because of this.

However, even Eowyn in the end, rejected this lifestyle. It is very possible to be a strong woman without having to do 'manly' things.

Was Arwen (a woman who supported her man in warfare without going into battle) any less strong than Eowyn? Unless you are an ardent radical feminist, I doubt anyone would say yes.

As for how we are happy and fulfilled until we find ourselves, I honestly don't know. It is different for everyone. And the heart can be deceptive. Perhaps Eowyn's heart convicted her saying that to ride to battle was 'just the way she was'. Maybe it was an excuse she was using to hide from her feelings? Obviously by the end of the story, she knew what her purpose was.

I have more to say on this that I won't get into because I cannot here, but if you'd like to PM me, Sinbearer, or anyone, please feel free to do so! :)

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