Another major character... and a delightful one. No wonder, she WAS real, she was young
Edith Bratt, Tolkien's youthful love and then wife.
She is delightful. She is beautiful and charming. Do you rememeber her dancing among
"hemlock umbels, tall and fair"? I was so much marked by that scene when reading
the FOTR (it is described the Lay of Leithian which was sung by Aragorn to hobbits...)
that then each time when I saw hemlock umbels in the real world s I felt a thrill and
an "uplifting of heart" - I felt that Elves are close at hand!
And this particular scene was NOT imagined by Tolkien - it was one of his most beautiful
real life memories! If I remember well, hiis wife Edith was dancing among the hemlocks
when staying with him while he was on his sick leave in England during the first world
war... They used to walk together in the woodlands in the evening... and she was dancing
for him on small starlight glades!
And Luthien is so adventurous! She and Beren are not only lovers, but also pefect companions.
They are true, real partners in everything, in a "unisex" fashion which we think so "modern".
And it's she who is the leader. In traditional fairy stories & romances it's the heroin who
is a "damsel in distress" and the hero rescues her. It's just the opposite in the case of Beren
Edith Bratt was three years older than Tolkien and she had to become a Catholic in order
to marry him. She was thus sundered from her own kindred... like Luthien and then
Arwen. The motif of true love between a man and an Elf maiden - beautiful and yet much older
and wiser - and her necessity to choose between love and his own kindred) is very
frequent in Tolkien's books: he and Edith had that problem in their real life...
Yet this question is so moving for us because it also represents an eternal human problem
related to the necessity of exogamy (marrying someone from outside of the tribe).
The situation of a man who comes alone and has to be accepted by his new tribe
(like Beren coming to Doriath) - and the situation of a girl who must leave her family and
join her man's tribe (like Luthien & Aarwen)... this kept to happen all the time during
the long history of mankind...
I wish we had hemlock umbels here. Do they grow wild in other countries? (besides Middle Earth I mean) I would love to experience the thrill of elves close by!