Login | Register
 
Message Board | Latest Posts | Your Recent Posts | Rules

Thread: How come there are so few females in LotR?

Is this discussion interesting? Share it on Twitter!

Bottom of Page    Message Board > The Lord of the Rings > How come there are so few females in LotR?   
When I was a kid, there was Maggie Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. All the other world leaders were men. You could say that what Thatcher and Gandhi lacked in numbers they made up for in importance. Except there were hundreds more equally important world leaders who were guys.

So that argument doesn't convince me. Again, I'm certainly not surprised this is true in Tolkien's writing, since that was the world he lived in. I'm not going to quibble with him for writing like someone who grew up in the Victorian era, because that's exactly what he was! I just don't see his portrayal of gender roles as very balanced. Eowyn and Galadriel are about the only game in town. Whereas there are many, many wonderful guys in this saga, from Imrahil to Merry, Aragorn to Bilbo, Beregond to Legolas, Theoden to Beorn. They rock.

But I've got my own biases, as is no doubt obvious. Wink Smilie

[Edited on 4/27/03 by sepdet]
Maybe...because the books were about war and turmoil in Middle-Earth, and women didnt necesarily fight in wars back then. There are females in the books, just not THAT much, like as much as males. i DONT think that Tolkien was a sexist, cause he certainly wasnt, he was just....making it fit with time. This was supposed to take place a looooong time ago, was it not? And women weren't in wars or war books/movies...unless it was a sappy yucky downright messed up love story like Titanic or Pearl Harbor. And im betting Tolkien didnt want to make his books seem like that. Yuck, i gagged throughout all of Pearl Harbor and Titanic. Yucky-yucky!

Hey, why do you want to know, you want to be in the movies? Kiss a very handsome elf? LOL, j/k, j/k Big Laugh Smilie Big Laugh Smilie Big Laugh Smilie Big Laugh Smilie Tongue Smilie Big Laugh Smilie Big Laugh Smilie Big Smile Smilie Wink Smilie
Well, this might have something to do with Tolkien's life, read about Tolkien and his friends in "Biography"... Hope I helped...

And I think that Aragorn and Arwen are the perfect couple! Tolkien really got to the point with their love!

[Editado em 17/4/03 por celtavhc]
Seriouly I do not know why and even though some critics call Tolkien a sexist, I do not believe so.
Although I will not want to pretend that there are the same number of female as that of males, I feel that the numbers do not necessarily count for importance in the show. Take Galadriel for example, she is considered the wisest of all the elves in middle-earth, even Elrond is incomparable compared to her. Galadriel was also the Lady of the forest while Celeborn just played a supporting role to her. Another example may be Eowyn. Have you ever wandered why it is the fate of the witch-king to be slain by a woman and not a man. It goes to prove that even though the women are few in LOTR, they played incredibly important roles in it, even comparable to the fellowship of the ring. So, the few females in LOTR are not to show flaws in Tolkien's writings but to show that few women are able to do what hundreds of men couldn't! Wink Smilie
Yes, exactly my point, MadWannabe, the women who were in LotR played very important roles. So why so few of them? It could not have been sexism, I don't even consider that.
This wasn't a question of critisism, I was just wondering. Smile Smilie
Heh...this is going to sound lame...but lets use the theory of proportion here...if there are numerous women with such capabilities, there will be no room for men to play a part! Big Laugh Smilie
It's to do with the time of writing, I've gone into this before (can't remember where though) and because Tolkien was writing back in the 30s, through to the 40s, women were generally just stay at home wives and mothers back in those days, sexism wasn't even a real concept back then. Despite this, I contend that because of the strong nature of Tolkien's female characters, this was feminist writing from a certain angle. There were few female characters, true, but then women didn't really go out and fight back then, and this is a book about a war. It is the same thing as the accusations of Racism levelled at the book, it was just the social norm at the time, you cannot compare Lotr to contemporary writing, as values were very very different when it was written, Germaine Greer was still in nappies for god's sake!
Hope this helps a bit.
Quote:
Seriouly I do not know why and even though some critics call Tolkien a sexist, I do not believe so.
Although I will not want to pretend that there are the same number of female as that of males, I feel that the numbers do not necessarily count for importance in the show. Take Galadriel for example, she is considered the wisest of all the elves in middle-earth, even Elrond is incomparable compared to her. Galadriel was also the Lady of the forest while Celeborn just played a supporting role to her. Another example may be Eowyn. Have you ever wandered why it is the fate of the witch-king to be slain by a woman and not a man. It goes to prove that even though the women are few in LOTR, they played incredibly important roles in it, even comparable to the fellowship of the ring. So, the few females in LOTR are not to show flaws in Tolkien's writings but to show that few women are able to do what hundreds of men couldn't! Wink Smilie


Bravo Mad! Took the words right out of my mouth! That is exactly what I think.
As to why so few women. Tolkien, as was normal for many men in his time, did not have many close women friends except his wife. He did however greatly love and respect his mother, her intelligence and bravery. I think that you can see this in the fact that many women in his stories are very wise.
That is very true Sam, Tolkien does not have a lot of female characters, but the ones he does have are all, very wise, and have strong personalities. I believe that shows Tolkien's respect for women. He does not have any of the "poor helpless pathetic females" that a lot of writers put in their stories. Thank goodness.
Yeah I think I agree fully with Sam and Melliot, I only was thinking over one point. How you want to write over more women? I mean What you think wich jobs this women had to do?? It ist a easy live and normely in every society the women are the mothers and the childcarer

Quote:
and this is a book about a war

In this way I think allways wat I want to read over women in this way?? I think Tolkien did it very good, he showed use a few fantastic women and okay the other women? Isnt it the same today?? We women are normely live not an laudly live or??

Okay I hope you understand ;-) And bey then Nessa
The group of which Tolkien was a member, the Inklings, had a pretty strong no-female policy.

There is not a single female character in The Hobbit.

In the actual story of the LOTR, there are Rosie Cotton, Farmer Maggot's unnamed wife, Goldberry, Arwen, Galadriel, Éowyn, Iorath and her cousin.
Now glance at the index in the back.

The proportion of male to female characters is truly staggering.

Tolkien's idea of strong female characters were the following:

~ Arwen: a trophy bride, a perfect, idealized woman, whom Aragorn wins by becoming king. Her greatest known deed is that she sewed him a flag. So we have Betsy Ross.

~ Goldberry: a literal goddess figure. A water-spirit that sings beautifully and washes her woods with rain.

~ Galadriel: a metaphorical goddess-figure. An archetype that does not exist in the mortal world any more than Arwen or Goldberry.

~ Éowyn: the only flesh-and-blood woman in the story of any importance. She is an emotionally crippled Amazon who is finally "healed" when she bags her man and gives up her sword to go live with him.

I like Faramir a great deal. But that's pretty meager fare as role models, compared to the men. Tolkien is definitely a product of his times, and in his times, women were by and large considered "exceptional" if they were "as good as a man" on anything whatsoever. Being "as good as a man", as we see with Éowyn, is cause for remark, as if she were very different from most women.

And Galadriel's original name means "man-woman", and Aragorn says Éowyn had a man's spirit. That's the only explanation they can give, in Middle-Earth terms, for why those two women had such fortitude.

I submit that Haleth is the only "real", self-sufficient, strong female character ever to come from Tolkien's pen. Smile Smilie

[Edited on 4/20/03 by sepdet]
What I wondered was--Why wasn't there any women included in the Fellowship? But Mad did explain a lot and I liked that explanation. Smile Smilie
I would add Morwen to your list of one. Morwen was married to Hurin and mother to Turin, but her character in the book is not written as the wife/mother. Her part may have been played down a little when compared to how Tolkien described Haleth leading her people, but after the Easterling invasion of Hithlum, she aided her people in a similar manner. The Easterlings dare not take her home or enslave her, for they were afraid of her, and she helped many of her people through the difficult days of occupation.
Quote:
I submit that Haleth is the only "real", self-sufficient, strong female character ever to come from Tolkien's pen.
So what was Lúthien, just a love-crazed camp-follower? Or did she have to rely too much on our favorite pup-dog to be considered self-sufficient? And I suppose running off to free Beren merely showed a strong lack of judgment. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
Not at all. I said "real" for a reason!

I'm making a distinction between three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood characters and the above-mere-mortals archetypes: Goldberry, Galadriel, and to some extent Arwen. It's not just they are immortal, but they are superior beings in other ways too. Lúthien is certainly that!

Perhaps I am drawing too strong a distinction, but just think about all the more down-to-earth characters like the Hobbits, Gamling, Bergil, Beregond, or even Denethor who's got a few eccentricities and mental powers but not (like Galadriel) totally beyond human experience. Think of Barliaman and Bill Ferney and Harry. Think of Hob and Nob. Think of old Maggot, or Freddy Bolger. Think of Erkenbrand, Grima, Forlong, Halbarad and Éomer. There are all types of believable male characters who do things and live their lives without defining themselves by women's roles.

The reverse is not true.

But I must concede I had forgotten somebody, so I take part of my post back.

There actually is one strong, independent female character in LOTR who looks after herself without paying much attention to men's roles or her attachment to a particular man: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. She is real. She happens to be a shrew in places, but by the end we see the ol' girl with a lick of courage to respect.

How could I forget Lobelia? I apologize.

Of course, holding up Lobelia "screen time" and impact on anything, and comparing her to Beregond or Faramir or even Barliaman, shows that her role is fairly limited too. And she's not always a very positive figure. But she is a real person, not an ideal, semi-divine female nothing like anything we'd ever meet.

So we've got Lobelia. You've got Aragorn. Smile Smilie

Valedhelgwath's right about Morwen, though. Her family doesn't do very well, but she weathers the storm as best she can.

But Lúthien falls into that magical, mythical, goddess-like sphere that so many female elves do. There are ordinary male characters that we could imagine meeting and having a conversation with. There are also "beyond our comprehension" male characters like Elrond and to some extent the noble Faramir. But if you're a woman in this world, you almost have to be an Elf, and an exceptional Elf at that, to be worthy of mention, or to be able to achieve much of anything. If you're human on top of that, well: only Éowyn managed it, while suicidal and pining with unrequited love for Aragorn, hoping to win his regard.

But she— problematic though she is— is the exception that proves the rule: if you're female, you're almost certainly not going to get a mention in the Red Book, except as a hero's wife or mother or daughter. There's nothing wrong with any of those things, but men, on the other hand, are more commonly identified by their deeds and position than their relationship to the opposite gender.

I don't wish to belabor the point too much: this is one small aspect of a humongous edifice, a chip in the plaster. To me it's more like getting annoyed at Peter Jackson for making Frodo too passive. But I do see it as a flaw in Tolkien's writing.

[Edited on 4/21/03 by sepdet]
I do believe that it had some to do with the time of writing. There is one little problem with saying they were mostly housewives and such, because during the war while the men were away a lot of women worked in the factories, etc.

I think too that it had to do with mythology. Tolkien was writing a mythology of England and if you look at a lot of Norse mythology and the like, the women are there and important but not in the major roles.

Just some of my thoughts
I think what the women lacked in number, they made up in importance. I totally agree with MadWannabe on that.
Woaw, thank you! I've gotten many really good replies and thoughts here!
And I do agree, I think that the reason they are so few has got to do with the time of the writing, but never the less, the women get to play really important roles.
Tolkien is in no way a sexist.
and as Andrea so eloquently put it: What the women lack in number, they make up in importance.

Quote:
So, the few females in LOTR are not to show flaws in Tolkien's writings but to show that few women are able to do what hundreds of men couldn't!


Haha!! I missed this quote, MadWannabe! I think it's so good, I'll print it out and hang it on the wall!