Ok, very nice discussion so far. But I have some questions..
The reason why the Westernesse spell worked was because the One Ring wasn't in Sauron hands. Of course, even without the One Ring his Nazgűl were still quite unstoppable, only a few LOTR characters would be able to survive a confrontation with them. So at that point, the Nazgűl are just supported by a part of Sauron's power (absence of the ring). Apparently the Westernesse spell was stronger than part of Sauron's power...
We don't know who made the spell on the blade and how the spell was made, of course. Maybe the spell was similar to the Elvish spell on And˙ril, or the spells on a lot of Elvish swords.
Virumor, I am very curious now. Where have you read about these blades from Westernesse? Did you get your information from the history of Middle Earth series? I am very curious on what kinda spells and who made them, and what made them so special. I know that they ended up at Barrow Downs, but I would like to know more about it besides that Merry's and Pippin's swords came from Westernesse and had special powers... so any valid reference ... I would really appreciate it.
Apparently Westernesse craftsmen had the power to put spells on things too... i never 0really thought about this until now. I thought only Elves were able to put spells because they were the only of the children of Eru who were alike a bit to the Valar.
The N˙menoreans were skilled craftsmen as well. Eonwe educated them. Besides the Noldor and the Dwarves, N˙menoreans were skilled as well. I read that either in the Silmarillion or Sauron Defeated.
Bearing in mind Tolkien's portrayal of women as being quite 'different' to men, is it just possible that it is the power of creation within women that enabled Eowyn to kill old WK? The fact that she had within her the gift of life, spiritual earth-mother thing? Whereas men are the destroyers. So maybe the WK was immune to attack by men and it did need a woman's touch?'
That is an interesting thought Vee. But remember Eowyn was not quite a happy puppy when she killed the Witch King. I thing the gift of life was the last thing on her mind when she trusted that sword. But then Faramir reminded her of her special gift
My memory of the battle is not clear at all, but if a elven sword could kill him, why doesn't Gandalf just wack him with Glamdring? Doesn't he have a little show-down to chase him away, or was that 'just' a Nazgul? (Help me out here Vir!)
Maiar or Istari for that matter are forbidden to interfere in these matters. Gandalfĺs purpose was stated as the following:
"...but not until the time came for him [Mithrandir/Gandalf] to depart was it
known that he had long guarded the Red Ring of Fire. At the first, that Ring
had been entrusted to Cirdan, Lord of the Havens; but he surrendered it to
Mithrandir, for he knew whence he came and whither at last he would return.
'Take now this Ring,' he said; 'for thy labours and thy cares will be
heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this
is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the
valour of old in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the
Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens until the last
ship sails. Then I shall await thee.'"
The Silmarillion - p.304
There is no bravery in doing anything unless you have a choice. There are no loyalty, mercy or kindness unless you have the option of doing the opposite. If Merry and Eowyn are where they are, doing what they are doing only as puppets, there are no reason to admire them or their deeds at all. They didn't do them! It would then only have been done through their bodies, but without any participance of their own wills.
I am still confused by this one. If there is one thing that is just not either Eowyn and Merry... that is puppets controlled by "Eru". Eowyn wants to break free from the Golden Cage and does as she pleases: off to fight for her lord, her country and the good cause. Merry wants to be with his friends and fight for them wherever he can. So where your idea of Puppets come from...
They acted from free will and free will only.
Now yeah a lot has been said already. I think with man/men is meant the Edain. The moment Merry struck as periannath (hobbit), the spell or whatever the Witch king protected was broken. Eowyn finished him off. There are so many ways you can look at it. Eowyn, being a female, adds nicely to the mix. A nice combination I would say.