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30 June 2009 @ 03:18 pm
The Problem of Ancalimë  
My brother and I have been spending the past few days re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Which is an interesting experience in and of itself, surprisingly lacking in recriminations against Peter Jackson (excepting the elves at HD scene, which was totally unacceptable, especially when the sons of Elrond and the Dunedain could have easily been used for the same role and been far less thematically damaging), constant digressions about how frakking awesome Galadriel was (House of Finwë FTFW), giddy fangirlism of Glorfindel, an impromptu romp through the HoMe series, and finally, sad nostalgia during every battle scene considering how much more epic everything in the First Age must’ve been. And yes, every ridiculous stunt Legolas pulls in the movie just goes to show how much more awe-inspiring Maedhros et al had to have been.

Anyway. This re-watching made me remember just how influential a fandom everything Tolkien related had been to me, and left me rethinking some of the conclusions I had come to concerning it. So what follows is, in short, a look at the gender issues involved in parts of the story (especially where the Eldar are decidedly not consistent), what exactly is going on with the Númenorean Kings (yes, this is me discussing – and perhaps appreciating even above the Noldor – the Edain; shocking, but true), and recasting my opinion of Lúthien Tinúviel in light of some of what is written in the tale of Aldarion and Erendis.

I’ll start with Arwen, because as often is the case, she’s where my feminist digressions begin. For those of you with whom I haven’t discussed Tolkien for about half a dozen years, I’ll explain my problems with her, with the comparison between her and Luthien, and with the discrepancies between book and movieverse!Arwen. The final point is probably where I most differ from other purists. Though I probably don’t even begin to qualify as a purist, shut up.

When I first read the book, I missed Arwen. Literally. When she shows up at the end to marry Aragorn, I’m wondering where the frak this relationship came from, because I sure as hell didn’t see it. Some of that is probably my old high school inattentiveness, but still, her complete passiveness in the book really bothers me.

Thematically, I understand it. The Eldar are leaving Middle-earth; they are intentionally portrayed as no longer having much of any agency outside of giving counsel; Legolas was therefore the least effective of the Walkers, etc. So it follows that Arwen sit out the war – the feminine passive, as opposed to Eówyn’s feminine active like whoa – with the rest of her people, since she herself is still an Elf. Sort of.

Still, I don’t like it. At all. I don’t like it because of the constant favourable comparison between Arwen and Luthien. Arwen is not Luthien. Arwen is nothing like Luthien. Luthien would never have simply stood aside while Beren strove to prove himself to Thingol. Luthien was agency incarnate… she forged her own destiny, challenged every rule, every law, every source of authority, every step of the way. She made Mandos listen to her; she made Morgoth listen to her. She almost single-handedly succeeded where every Eldarin man had failed. (Yes, Beren gets credit as well, but the point is that he here occupies the supportive, secondary role more commonly associated with the heroine. Role reversal FTW.)

It is this, and not her beauty or her ultimate fate, that makes Luthien such a compelling character, I believe.

Arwen is… not Luthien. Not unless we are truly expected to believe that the most important thing about Luthien, the one thing that needs to be reproduced to be able to make that comparison, is the beauty and perhaps a sort of quiet courage.

So for this reason, I actually prefer movie!Arwen (in FotR, at least), who despite all problems in the character, actually has a character, and one that one might begin to compare to Luthien.

So I turn from this character to Galadriel High Queen of the Noldor of Lothlorién, who, in her uncanny, ambitious, and wise beyond words glory, is probably my… fifth? favourite character in the Ardaverse.

And now, looking at this character, I start having serious issues with Tolkien.

Morgoth’s Ring. Laws and Customs of the Eldar. I’m not going to do direct quotes, because all I had with me at the moment is UT, which is where I ultimately want to end up with this post, but. But. The Eldar, male and female, are supposed be roughly equal in all things – granted, males favour some activities, and females other, but they are stressed to be valued equally. Why, therefore, the obvious patriarchy?

House of Finwë.

In versions where Gil-Galad is the son of Fingon, I can accept the way in which the High Kingship is passed down, minus the bit of weirdness of Turgon taking the throne for a bit. However, where Gil-Galad is Orodreth’s son, I cease to understand. Fingon leaves no heir; why does the High Kingship not pass to Idril’s descendents (unless the human blood is a problem), and thus remain within the House of Fingolfin, rather than skipping to the House of Finarfin? In any event, why the hell doesn’t Galadriel get the crown after Gil-Galad’s death, seeing as how she is every bit as much a member of the House of Finwë as any of her uncles, cousins, or brothers, and likely a more capable leader than all but… two? three? of them (Finrod certainly, I'd argue Maedhros, possibly Turgon, and I laugh at just about all of the others).

It bothers me, particularly because Tolkien comes right out and tries to claim that gender equality is a given among the Eldar.

Thinking on this always makes me think more favourably of Númenor, so I went back the other day to check out everything available on the Numenorean Queens – all two and a half of them – and rediscovered a couple characters I’d overlooked.

Tar-Ancalimë FTFW.

Actually, to be honest, she’s kind of scary. She’s kind of incredibly scary, and I still haven’t decided exactly what to make of it. Ancalimë, first Queen of Númenor, is presented as a child of a broken marriage who, through her own contrariness, manages to undo a lot of the work her father had done. I love the touch of feminist critique that Tolkien brings to his own works concerning Erendis and Ancalimë, but there are elements in it that are extremely disturbing.

My biggest criticism of the Silmarillion (wives of the sons of Fëanor, where, much less who, are you?), voiced by Erendis, and thus Tolkien:

“Thus it is, Ancalimë, and we cannot alter it. For men fashioned Númenor: men, those heroes of old that they sing of – of their women, we hear less, save that they wept when their men were slain” (UT 207). She says more, of course, but this is what jumped out at me most, not simply because it’s so true, but because it has made me recast my criticism of Luthien Tinuviel. But more on that later.

Why is this troubling to me? Because right here is as honest, painful a criticism as can be made, and I look at the characters who are making it, and I wonder exactly what is intended to be read from this. Erendis and Ancalimë are both powerful women deeply – fatally, in Erendis’ case, and in more ways than one – wounded by the patriarchal society in which they live. A patriarchy so pervasive that the original rule concerning women inheriting the sceptre was that if they did not marry by a certain time, they would have to step down. And they don’t overcome it. At all. Erendis self-destructs, and Ancalimë, now distrustful of all men because of her mother's influence, strikes out at everyone around her, going so far as to deny her women and then her granddaughters the right to marry. Pursuing her own incredibly dysfunctional marriage, seemingly out of spite.

So there you have it – the old stereotype of the raging misandrist feminist who is more an object of scorn than anything else. Am I supposed to be sympathizing with such a character (I do regardless, obviously, as I do with the House of Fëanor), and in the midst of such rabid hatred, how now might one interpret Erendis’ criticism of the stories of the heroes of old? Is it meant to be just another example, like so much else in the story, of a woman blinded by hatred and rather insane, or… a legitimate criticism?

It is a legitimate criticism, nonetheless; I’m simply not certain that Tolkien himself intended it is much, and it does seem somewhat problematic that it would be brought up in such an ambiguous light.

Oddly enough, I’d never actually taken this criticism into account when I tried to decide how I felt about Lúthien (as it is, I vacillate without warning between adoration and rage). On one hand, all of the old fairytale tropes are shattered in her story. The Princess rescues the Hero from the Monster, first and foremost. The Hero then attempts to dissuade her from his Quest, and fails. Quite miserably. Under her power more than anything else, they then manage to accomplish more than any Elvish male ever has before well, Maedhros managed to get into Angband, but I don’t think that counts, and then the ultimate choice falls to her and her alone: Valinor or mortality.

(To be completely honest, yes, there is a large degree of idealization going on in the character, but this is an epic mythology of a higher age. She is no more idolized than any of the Noldorin Kings, and considering her self-destructive obsessive tendencies, hardly more perfect than some of them.)

On the other hand, here we have the most powerful living weapon the Eldar have, and she sits out of the entirety of the First Age until one mortal man arrives, and then, as if her agency is tied entirely to his being, she becomes active. And then, after he fades from the story, she does as well, as if the only thing that ever mattered with the character was how she related to her spouse.

This is a flaw. This is an enormous flaw, but one of the story, not the character, I’ve come to decide.

From an in story perspective (from an out of story one, the culprit is clearly the gender problems of the time period and the teachings of the Catholic Church), this is… exactly what Erendis says it is. It is story told by men, recounted, possibly orally, over generations by Eldarin and then mortal men, because women are by and large not the tellers of tales. Even among the Noldor, the women love histories, as is told in L&C, but it is the men who are the chief poets, and thus it is their stories that get passed down and then subtly perverted by mortals.

I’m uncertain as to why I never before considered the absence of a voice and inability to tell one’s own tale in Lúthien’s case, since I’ve attributed it to the Fëanorian legacy many times (those who have survived to tell the tale are largely those who would have no incentive to be remotely sympathetic to the circumstances of the House of Fëanor, considering which… his eldest sons come off surprisingly well), and thus wondered just what was left out in the retelling.

In Lúthien’s case, everything apart from her tragedy, I would imagine, which does not necessarily mean that she was sitting idly in Doriath, awaiting her Destiny, but that, as Erendis says, “of their women we hear less, save that they wept when their men were slain.”

TL;DR: Lúthien’s hard-core awesome and I’ve finally decided I love her, though the Fëanorions (and Finarfinions and Finarfiniel) still come first.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Cygna-hime: Lonely Dreamers--hiragizawacygna_hime on June 30th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
You make many very good points, here. I haven't read all (or even most) of the Tolkien miscellany, but I have always been by turns annoyed and interested by the women who do appear. Especially Galadriel, because she is made of win. And should completely be High Queen of the Noldor, considering that, whoever's son Gil-galad was, she is the only surviving member of her generation, and the only pure-Eldarin member of the House of Finwe still on the Hither Shores. I find it interesting that her daughter marries Elrond. It looks very like the old tying-the-lines-of-succession-together gambit. Maybe the Eldar are too long-lived to think that way, but...

Interesting discussion of Luthien. I never found the absence of the rest of her story very annoying, since the genre is such that the only character in the Silm whose whole story and whole life we really get is Turin, of all people. Literally everyone else is patched together from mentions here and there, of battles they fought in or children they had, as though that was all their lives. So Luthien not coming onstage until the suitably epic-romantic bits of her story picked up does not bother me particularly. Besides, she is, as you say, agency incarnate.

She is also the classic hero: the semi-divine, the demigod who has by nature power enough to challenge the gods and fragility enough to die. Beautiful though she is, she's no Helen, a prize to be fought for and over. She knows what she wants and goes to get him, and no father, husband, or god is going to stop her. ♥

I'm inclined to think that Tolkien meant Erendis's words to be a valid criticism, but I'm not sure how much of that is rational and how much is the fact that it *is* a valid criticism, and I *like* Tolkien, and thus I *want* him to have seen that, so that I can respect him. So: I will consider rationally. Tolkien gives a character this statement. Where would it have occurred to him that this statement could be made? Well, from the epics he had read, for one. And in my opinion and experience of feminist critique, the fact that he noticed something missing suggests that he meant Erendis to be speaking the truth.

In my opinion, the biggest single problem feminism, particularly literary feminism, has ever faced is people not noticing the problem. (I am informed by several conversations with my father, who simply does not notice that the numbers of men and women in fiction are way off, that women are viewed primarily or only in relation to men, that I am not exaggerating.) I think that for the idea to have occurred to him, Tolkien must have then accepted it as valid criticism. It's an argument that, in my experience, once it occurs to people at all, tends to carry the day. The only real opposing position is not to have noticed (because it is objectively, obviously true, and Mr. Serious Historical and Literary Scholar could not have failed to discover this once he addressed himself to it).

So, I conclude that Tolkien's treatment of women was deeply flawed, but not because he wasn't trying to think about it; rather, because only the last decades have given us the tools to make any kind of acceptable resolution. (Not that we have done so, but now it's possible.)
Rhaella: Julia - Cowboy Beboprhaella on June 30th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
I've been see-sawing with Luthien for a long time... love to hate to love to confusion, and I've had some serious arguments concerning female idolization and the character, and just how powerful (or harmful) of a feminist statement she actually makes. Hence my serious problems with the character. The fact that Fëanorion partisanship seems to have made me racist against Sindar doesn't help, oh my God, what.

I too... would definitely love the think that Tolkien meant it legitimately. But then... well, I made the mistake to check out "women" in the back of the Letters of JRR Tolkien, and... um, well. He came off as a bit of a raging misogynist. My favourite parts were that women don't actually find sexual humour funny, and that women are ultimately receptive; with some rare exceptions, an intelligent woman can understand anything her male teacher imparts to her, but can go no further. And I'll admit that yes, this is quite a step up from a lot of what was being said at the time, but there's so much there that's still problematic, and his angry Catholicism didn't help.

Galadriel FTFW, yes yes. <3 Seeing characters like her, like Eowyn to a lesser extent, and like Luthien... it's a bit of a two-sided sword, because the ways in which Tolkien succeeded along gender lines just makes his failings that much more obvious and hard to accept. For me, at least.
ovirginsaint: Inara  Retrospectovirginsaint on June 30th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
What you raise about GaladrielArtanis brought up something I was thinking about earlier, one that has a lot to do with what you're talking about now. She very much wanted her own country, to have power, to rule, to put to use all those things about governance that she'd been taught in Aman.

And then she throws it all away for some Thinda with shiney hair and does a complete about-face. That always puzzled me for the longest time. She was always one of his foremost female characters, one with a good head on her shoulders, a good deal of pride and ambition. Why would the act of marrying diminish her so completely? Especially since it took two whole Ages for her to actually *have* a child (which, in comparison with Feanor's family makes me doubt that 'great love' comment).

And while we're skipping female contenders for the crown, what about Finwe's daughter? (and I'm going to have to stop here and come back because work just ended loool)
falathrimfalathrim on July 1st, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
You don't need to have a kid to love someone. :P

Also, Teler. Celeborn was Telerin. :P

It's likely that Finwë's daughter died during the Bragollach. Of course, that makes one wonder why we're left to infer that instead of being told like we were about any minor male member of House Finwë, to which I say: Tolkien was a misogynist. But we already knew that.
ovirginsaint: High!King Peterovirginsaint on July 1st, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
There was something about Feanor's marriage being a very happy one, thus a metric fuckton of kids. That might've been the Shibboleth or Laws and Customs. You have more time on your hands (recently) to look that up, though I will try to remember after work to see. I would say that her not having children during the First Age makes a bit of sense because of the constant warring, but there were great long stretches of peace in the Second Age, so it leaves me puzzled that she would wait until the Third Age. Perhaps the Professor forgot, because it certainly didn't take very long for Celebrian to have children herself.

I agree with the sentiment that children doesn't necessary equal love, but from a very catholic mindset (which Tolkien was) the correlation is frequently made.

I want to comment that misogyny was the norm, but by the time LotR was published, that was being challenged, and for all of that he still managed to get a rather large hippy fanbase. So were they just too high to see it, or did they just ignore it all together, and I hate to make the comparison, like in Twilight's case?
falathrimfalathrim on July 1st, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine Galadriel and Celeborn's marriage being anything but love. As you will be quick to point out, Galadriel is on a social and power level ten times higher than Celeborn's, whether he's a Teler or a Sinda. What does she have to gain by marrying him other than joy? I can honestly think of nothing. It doesn't move her any closer to the crown, whether it be Finwë's, Olwë's or Elwë's; he's too distant a relative to the latter two to make it worth the agony of marrying someone she didn't love. And although Celeborn is wise, she is wiser still, and if it were wisdom she

I speak to the hippies, but in my case I can say that in my case I was neither high nor did I ignore it. It was a story set in the "old days" and the people in the "old days" were misogynistic pigs I merely took it as a part of their culture; but I have always considered it a failing of the Eldar (and yes, the Númenoreans who were trying to emulate Eldarin culture) and not something I condone. I've had arguments about this with people, actually, who don't like my viewpoint that the Eldar DO suck at gender issues.
falathrimfalathrim on July 1st, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
CAN'T speak to the hippies.

Comments need an edit button. >.>
Rhaella: Castiel/Anna - SPNrhaella on July 2nd, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Well, I don't necessarily think that she threw everything away for Celeborn... especially if part of what she valued in Doriath was Melian's</s> company. No better way to wisdom, understanding, and the power that comes from it than hanging out with a Maia and learning from her. Then they go and leave Doriath to wander out Eastward to have power in their (and by their, I mean Galadriel's) own right. That it wasn't a Noldorin kingdom doesn't necessarily mean anything, I think.

Honestly, in Galadriel and Celeborn's case, I can see them waiting for children simply because Galadriel's too busy doing this and that to settle down long enough to put the energy into bearing and then raising them. XD

Finwe's daughters, m'dear. Especially Lalwen, who's said to have come with Fingolfin. Yeah, that definitely bothers me as well. I forgot to mention it, I guess. XD
falathrim: Rinkfalathrim on July 2nd, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
If in daughters you're referring to Findis, then I regret to inform you that she was later written out of the mythos. All of the later references to the children of Finwë refer to Fëanor, Fingolfin, Lalwen, and Finarfin only.
Rhaella: Four/Romanarhaella on July 2nd, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
Oy, when did this happen? I'm like... three years behind. XD

See, the thing is: I was looking through the Letters (getting annoyed at the batshittery), and towards the end, he forgets that Celebrimbor is a member of the house of Feanor, when it's written in LotR and thus he'd feel bound by it if he remembered his own mythology. *whistles*
falathrimfalathrim on July 2nd, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
It's not so much that he felt bound to it because it was already a part of his mythology; he felt bound to it because it was published. He changed the mythos around a lot, but if it were in published form and it couldn't be corrected in a later edition he kept it that way.

This is the reason the Problem of Ros was mostly rejected, while he felt it acceptable to change Gil-galad's ancestry around.
Rhaella: Baltar/Sixrhaella on July 2nd, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
What I meant was that he feels bound to something because it's published, but then forget about it, and in his later years start writing that Celebrimbor was descended from Daeron instead of Feanor, as had been previously published.

So he is not paying attention. >:[

No, but seriously. Love the guys works; none too impressed by the guy himself. But I'm an American feminist atheist and former Protestant, which probably makes me Satan.

I know! I know! Curufin somehow married someone related to Daeron without Thingol noticing!
Half a Beedirtygreen on June 30th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
Yo this is Kate I got your email and I couldn't resist.

Your final conclusion on Luthien is the opposite of what I thought you would say! You bring up good points about her being powerful and awesome, but how can you ignore the reason she does all these things? It's all for a dude. She's just acting on his behalf, not on her own. I think she *was* sitting idly in Doriath waiting for her destiny. Isn't that the whole point of Doriath? Being boring and trying to keep any troublemakers out? Anyway, you have thus convinced me that she's therefore not so cool. Hah.

Ancalime, on the other hand, is amazing. I need to reread that story though.
Rhaella: Inara - Fireflyrhaella on July 2nd, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
Hello!!! /adds

Yeah, I know. I definitely don't ignore the fact that she does it all for a man. That is... very much what bothers me about the whole thing (I guess I didn't come out and say it above, because I'd already rambled on for 2000 words and didn't want to write a full essay on Luthien): that everything is for a guy, and then afterwards... well, that's it. The extent of her character. But on the other hand... is it really acceptable to say that a woman is not allowed to do whatever she wishes for whatever reason? To deny her the right to do anything in her power to achieve what she desires, simply because that desire involves love and marriage and traditional feminine values, when she is willing to defy everyone, including her father and then her husband's wishes, to achieve her ends? So I don't particularly care for the motivation, but to turn around and say that if you're in love like that, you can't make your own choices if they conflict with a feminist agenda is troublesome as well.

So she may do everything for a man, but she does everything that she wants to do because of him, and... in the end, love is probably a better motivator than the greed and lust for jewels that consumes just about everyone else. XD

I guess when it comes down to it... feminism opens all choices to women, and in the end, that includes the housewife who has in full awareness chosen that life.

So I try not to be too bothered by Luthien's motivations (which is to say, I'm bothered by the story itself, but the author's statement that men do great deeds for glory and women because of their men, men fight with swords - or sorcery, lol Finrod - women with enchantment, but to hold that against the character herself does not seem fair to me, especially when in every other way, she's determined, powerful, and not afraid to speak her mind to anybody at all), and then just need to deal with the fact that she is completely absent from the Silmarillion except for during this one love story. Not even any discussions with Melian or Galadriel in Doriath, which had to have happened and wouldn't have been an interesting pointer to what she was like away from Beren. That sort of strength of character doesn't come out of nowhere, so even though she had no reason to wander off to Angband, I imagine she must have been (hopefully) doing something productive in Doriath.

So she keeps on sending off seriously mixed signals for me.

Ancalime is awesome. Scary, but awesome... What's interesting about the Queens of Numenor (all three or so of them) is that you've got the two who don't want to marry (Ancalime finally does out of spite), then one who let's her husband rule for her, and the one who's basically married by force (Miriel). So... what's this supposed to mean? A queen has to stand alone to avoid being overpowered by a man? =/
falathrim: Wrathfalathrim on July 1st, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
Eventually, I'm probably going to respond to every single point you've made here, because I love your post a lot. However, there is ONE thing I can comment on immediately. Galadriel was not High Queen of the Ñoldor for two reasons:

1) Fingon, Turgon, and arguably Gil-galad were never High Kings. After the death of Fingolfin in the Dagor Bragollach, that title was abandoned and henceforth the remaining princes of the Ñoldor simply ruled their realms as (Not-high) kings, for however many years their kingdoms endured. Unfortunately, this is one of those details that the published Silmarillion frakked up. That said, it can be argued that Gil-galad deserves the title anyway -- he was the only king left at a certain point -- but I don't think he ever used it.

2) Even if we imagine that the need for a High King did endure past Fingolfin, Galadriel still could not have been given the title if for the simple fact that she was not in Beleriand at the time. Galadriel and Celeborn, alone amongst the Eldar, realized the futility of the War of the Jewels. For that reason, shortly after the delving of Nargothrond, they packed their bags and established their own kingdom of Nandor in Eriador, refusing to involve themselves with the problem of Morgoth and the silmarili.

3 (I lied)) Oh also Law and Customs is a sham that Tolkien wrote while high on pipe-weed or something because I've never seen anything that suggests equality amongst the genders.

That is all for now. Peace out.

P.S. Númenórë is the shit.

P.P.S. Please do not confuse "the shit" with "shit."
Rhaellarhaella on July 2nd, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
Hah, well... considering everything is published posthumously, I'm a bit looser with my terms. (Though I'll say that even if Fingon was High King, he was a puppet king and the power in the realm was really in Himring. Because I imagine Maedhros could have guilted him into doing anything he wanted - yo Nirnaeth - and after Thangorodrim, was probably ruthless enough to do it too.)

Wasn't Gil-Galad considered something of a great, unified Noldorin king? Because I don't understand why then afterwards, Galadriel is just sitting around with a bunch of Sindar.

3. Hmmm. Yeah, simply the fact that Galadriel is named Man-maid indicates that Tolkien's claim that women are freely able to do whatever men would is false -- that some of her feminitity is sacrificed by her more stereotypically masculine traits. On the other hand, that she isn't villified at all for it, so gender roles really can't be strictly enforced.

But yes, gender equality is not quite there. *glances askance at the story of Aredhel*

Numenor is the shit. I am beginning to become interested in it now. Be happy! XD
falathrimfalathrim on July 2nd, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Ruthless enough to guilt his cousin into doing anything after Thangorodrim? What?

FINGON: Hey cuz, what's up?
MAEDRON: Jump into the lake! DO IT!
FINGON: ...why?
MAEDRON: Because you chopped off my hand!
FINGON: To save your life!

Well, if anyone would be enough of a manipulative asshole to do that, it'd be a Fëanorion, so you may be right.

Gil-galad WAS a great, unifying king, yes, so that's why the argument can be made that he was the last true High King of the Noldor; but the title would never have been used. Or, at least, not by Gil-galad himself.

Randomly, because it's been a while since I talked about this with you, I'll just share that Gil-galad is my second favorite Elda.

Also, your becoming interested in Númenórë is seriously the best news I've received all week. I dunno if that's a good thing or actually a sad statement of how boring it is at home, though. Maybe both?
Rhaella: Six - BSGrhaella on July 2nd, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
Ruthless enough to guilt his cousin into doing anything after Thangorodrim? What?

Yup. Well, not like in your scenario, no, because I don't think it's something that he'd have just done like that arbitrarily. Or perhaps even knowingly. But I think Fingon would've experienced more than a bit of guilt, intentions and alternatives notwithstanding, and that's definitely something that can be drawn upon at need. I do, at least, think it was probably involved in Fingon going along so strongly with Maedhros' plans for the Fifth Battle, though... yeah, whether intentionally on Maedhros' part or not, who frakking knows?

Your favourite Elda is Galadriel, right? I... have actually been reviving my over-powering love of Finrod Felagund. I don't know whether I again prefer him to the Fëanorions, but I've figured out part of why I'd liked him so much.

I've become interested in the Númenorean Queens at least, which is definitely better than nothing. XD And actually, with Queen Beruthiel (wtf was her problem? XD) as well. So... yay for an interest in Edain? :3

Kazkazaera on August 5th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Part I...
Hi, I'm late. :)

I agree with pretty much everything you say. I'm a hardcore Tolkien fan myself (I really know what you mean about Tolkien shaping your fandoms) and, yeah, I have so noticed this stuff.

(Brief digression: SO MUCH AGREEMENT on the Elves at Helm's Deep. Was rewatching TTT a week or two back, and although a lot of my criticisms - I /hated/ the movie the first time I watched it - have mellowed with age, I still despised that bit because it goes entirely against the whole theme Tolkien's set up in favour of shiny shiny Elves.)

Arwen - yes, yes, yes. Although I admit I dislike movie!Arwen even more than book!Arwen, for reasons that are somewhat hard to explain. Um.

When they replaced Glorfindel with her in FotR, I was really afraid this would be yet another instance of "Gender Equality" in fiction... I find that very often these days, you get women who are kick-ass in one or two isolated, relatively unimportant circumstances but fall back into passive-female or female-who-needs-to-be-rescued as soon as things get properly going. It's as if the people making the (film/series/anime/book/etc.) have decided to make a Strong Woman (TM) but they still have far too many unconscious misogynistic beliefs and it therefore winds up being entirely superficial - or, worse, as if they're intentionally giving them a brief moment of kick-assness in order to hide the fact that their female characters are actually just as badly portrayed as ever.

I despise this trope, and movie!Arwen is such a perfect example - because we get to see her being a warrior once (once!) and after that her treatment winds up becoming, IMO, even worse than it was in the books. At least in the damned books Arwen didn't "have her fate tied to Sauron's" or whatever that shite was, meaning that all of a sudden it was all up to the Menz of the Fellowship whether she lived or died. In that, Arwen became even more of a trophy than it was in the books, because although I can see her fading from sorrow in bookverse if Aragorn didn't succeed at least it would have been her damned choice. (One could argue that in the argument with her father she showed a lot of agency, but a) too angry at mangling of Elrond's character sry and b) she very nearly left and only changed her mind because of seeing her son - because clearly that is the only possible important thing for her *rolls eyes* At least book!Arwen was very clear on her choice, k.)

Sorry; I just watched RotK for the first time and these things were very much on their mind.

Speaking of choices, and agency... it's true what you say about the Elves needing a certain bit of passivity because of their role, but given that fact Arwen should be the most active of all the Elves we see - because, after all, she is choosing mortality. As the character straddling the boundaries, we should be seeing increased agency from her. Instead, who's the most active Elf in the thing? Legolas.

Argh. I still like Arwen quite a bit, but the whole thing is nothing short of terrible.
Kazkazaera on August 5th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
And Part II
So, yeah. Tolkien and gender, Tolkien and gender. I think one of the reasons I do lean towards Gil-galad son of Fingon is because that way, one can believe that Noldor had inheritance patterns that ignored gender, and that after Gil-galad fell Elrond (who would have been next in line in that case) and Galadriel decided together that the Noldor were sufficiently diminished in Middle-earth that there should be no more King or Queen (which I can easily see happening, and damnit, I like Elrond as Gil-galad's heir). Gil-galad son of Orodreth makes it very clear that Tolkien didn't intend it this way and that not only only men but only the male line were to be considered. (Well, either that or Elrond was disqualified because of human blood or because he was actually closer in descent from Thingol than Finwe and should technically be King of the Sindar - but then again, the rules of inheritance were created when humans didn't even *exist yet* and we don't see a sign that being descended from Olwe might have been in a problem and ARGH.) Gender equality among the Eldar? Are you kidding me?

And, you know, let's not forget Aredhel among the problematic characters. Or poor Idril, who gets to be the Helen-type character where Maeglin betrays Gondolin because he loves her so much!!! Or the fact that Fingolfin and Finarfin may or may not have had sisters but Tolkien never really decided and you never hear about them because after all they weren't important. Or, well, *bangs head against wall*

You did give me something to chew on, pointing out that the Silm is written from a very male pov (I'd thought of the Noldor and anti-Feanorian bias before, but not so much the male vs. female). It makes me wonder what Galadriel's Silm would look like; it also reminds me of this :).
Rhaellarhaella on August 5th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: And Part II
I'll write you out a more detailed response once I get back home to an environment where carpal tunnel/tendinitis problems aren't an issue, but I wanted to say that hell, yes on the problem of Aredhel. I'm not sure why I wasn't thinking about her when I wrote this, since she's one of the most problematic as well, especially when that whole "married forever" nonsense comes into play.

I'm not sure on Idril, however. There's a lot in that story that's weird, but I'm not sure I'd cast her as a Helen. Will expand upon it later.
Rhaella: Artanis Nerwen Arafinwielrhaella on August 10th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: And Part II
Your problems with Arwen make a lot of sense, actually. I can see it better than the normal rant I see about movie!Arwen, i.e., she stole Glorfindel’s role, which annoys me, because as much as I like Glorfindel I don’t see it as a problem per se. But yeah, that whole tied in with the Ring’s fate, etc. etc., made no sense at all and I try to ignore it. But really, the RotK movie bothers me in general, because there’s so much in it that makes no sense or is blatantly inaccurate, and the Extended Edition is even worse. Gandalf – the bloody favourite of Varda and Nienna – being overcome by the Witch-king? No, that’s never going to happen. And then putting in Aragorn’s Palantír scene just so we can see him fail? Yeah, you’re missing the point there too.

As far as agency goes, I really don’t remember Legolas being overly effective in the books. I think Elladan and Elrohir might have been more so, actually, which fits in with the whole Peredhil thing. I mean, Glorfindel’s much more effective as well when he shows up, but I think born-again Balrog slayers have the right to whatever agency they want to show, fading be damned.

The weird thing about considering the male line the only one that counts, I’d say, is Maeglin’s reaction to Idril, because I get the impression that he saw her as, among other things, Turgon’s heir. Not that she could rule herself, because I think we’re led to believe that Eärendil did afterwards for the people of Sirion, just like Dior did in Doriath (though Lúthien had an excuse not to be around, of course). I actually wouldn’t fully discount the possibility that Elrond was disqualified because of human blood, because it’s possible that the Noldor in exile would have reworked some of the rules of inheritance. Actually, it’s also slightly possible that away from the peace, stability, and enlightenment of Aman, they would have become more chauvinistic in their ways, because I think what little we know of someone like Nerdanel is actually kind of encouraging.

Idril… well, I think she shows a good deal more agency than poor Helen ever did, because she was concerned, capable, and foresighted enough to actually make an escape route in complete secrecy and help with the evacuation of Gondolin, which puts her head and shoulders above Helen. The Tuor/Idril thing weirds me out a bit, because I don’t remember it ever coming right out and saying that she loved him back, so she does feel a little bit like a trophy to me all the same, though I doubt she’d have agreed if she didn’t really want to (but then there was Aredhel, so who can say). As far as Maeglin goes, that’s one of those cases where I do not trust the story at all, because who can say what Morgoth may or may not have done to him in Angband, and the whole thing just feels like more propaganda.

Oh, Aredhel. It’s interesting, because she shows so much agency – leaving Gondolin, snapping at her brother when he tells her whom she can and cannot visit, wandering around by herself through fairly dangerous terrain, and being friendly with the Fëanorions says quite a bit in and of itself, because you can’t exactly be a pushover and get along with them. And then… completely dominated by Eöl. As much as I’m troubled by the fact that she married him, since when it comes to willingness, this is another case where I don’t quite trust the text, what bothers me most is how much he dictated her life afterwards, because… what? You can tell your brother off for commanding you, but your husband has that right?

Galadriel’s Silmarillion would be v. interesting, I am sure.