The Return of the King
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"I stand in Minas Anor, the tower of the Sun," she said; "and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shield-maiden no longer, nor view with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren." And again she looked at Faramir. "No longer do I desire to be a queen," she said. (6.5.60-3)
Wait a second. So all it takes to turn a kick-butt shieldmaiden into a peaceful healer is the love of a good man? We're not sure how we feel about this transformation, but it seems Tolkien has something to say about gender through Éowyn's example. In any case, we'll turn it over to you: which Éowyn do you like better? The warrior woman, or the wife of Faramir?
And Frodo when he saw [Arwen] come glimmering in the evening, with stars on her brow and a sweet fragrance about her, was moved with great wonder, and he said to Gandalf: "At last I understand why we have waited. This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away." (6.5.119).
Aside from Frodo's clever pun on Arwen's name among her people (Arwen Undómiel means Arwen Evenstar), this quote jumps out at us for its description of the lady elf. Based on Frodo's view of her, Arwen's primary virtue appears to be that she is lovely. Her beauty literally lights up the night. Unlike the active Éowyn, Arwen's main contribution to victory in The Return of the King is sewing a banner. Yep. She sews. Maybe that's why Peter Jackson felt the need to give Arwen's actions a bit of a boost in the movie version.
"Alas!" said Éomer. "I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives."
"Then I must go for my axe," said Gimli.
"But first I will plead this excuse," said Éomer. "Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?"
Then Gimli bowed low. "Nay, you are excused for my part, lord," he said. "You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever" (6.6.13-6)
It surprises us that Tolkien so often describes Éowyn as cold and distant, when the two women in this scene, Arwen and Galadriel, seem utterly unreal to the king and dwarf squabbling good-naturedly over them. Gimli is willing to draw his ax against Éomer in The Two Towers when Éomer suggests that Galadriel is a witch. But what does Gimli truly know about her? For that matter, what does Éomer know about Arwen? Gimli describes Galadriel as "the Morning," while Arwen is "the Evening," which makes it seem as if these two female figures are more symbol than character.