The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
In Tolkien's Middle-earth, the dwarves have a language that they keep secret. Thus, Gimli is the public name of our favorite dwarf. In his own language, he has a name that he will never tell to non-dwarves. (Source, pg. 175.)
Joseph Pearce, one of Tolkien's biographers, has claimed that Tolkien's wife Edith was jealous of Tolkien's close friendship with Narnia author C.S. Lewis (source). Maybe this jealousy is one reason why male friendship is so much more important to The Two Towers than romantic love between men and women.
And speaking of women, we think we might know why Tolkien seems so unsympathetic to Éowyn's ambitions as a lady trying to compete in a man's world. It turns out that some of the things he wrote about women as a group are, well, awful. In a letter to his son Michael, written in 1941, Tolkien claims that women often imitate the views of the men to whom they are attracted, a tendency that should be used by men to educate them (yes, ladies, this will be offensive):
The sexual impulse makes women (naturally when unspoiled more unselfish) very sympathetic and understanding, or specially desirous of being so (or seeming so), and very ready to enter into all interests, as far as they can, from ties to religion, of the young man they are attracted to. No intent necessarily to deceive: sheer instinct: the servient, helpmeet instinct, generously warmed by desire and young blood. […] How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp his ideas, see his point—and how (with rare exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest in him. (Source, pg. 49.)
Ugh. Could you be any more condescending there, J.R.R.? No wonder he included so few women characters in his novels. At least Peter Jackson came along to give Arwen and Éowyn more to do in the movies.