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'My friend,' said Gandalf, 'you had horses, and deeds of arms, and the free fields; but she, born in the body of a maid, had a spirit and courage at least the match of yours. Yet she was doomed to wait upon an old man, whom she loved as a father, and watch him falling into a mean dishonoured dotage; and her part seemed to her more ignoble than that of the staff he leaned on.

(from ROTK)

owyn was as brave and as fierce as her brother, and perhaps as skilled with a blade as her brother also : her father omund, who had to deal with Orcish invaders each day, probably learnt both his children how to wield a blade and how to ride a horse as soon as they had outgrown their diapers ; furthermore, after their father had died and Thoden took them in his household, owyn was probably further educated in the art of combat together with her brother, possibly by Thoden or Thodred themselves, as they probably noticed how their young niece loved to fight and was almost as skilled as her brother. Not to mention, it probably was custom that every man and every woman in Rohan would at least learn the basics of swordfighting and horseback riding, as both Mordor and Isengard were rearing their ugly heads in those days.

Yet, as Gandalf points out in the above quote, omer could have the time of his life in Rohan, whilst owyn could not, because she was a woman and therefor it was expected that she stayed in her bower in Meduseld all day, sewing and gossiping with the other ladies needless to say, this was not the life owyn wanted, she wanted a life of action like her brother, she wanted to do great deeds in the spirit of her great forefathers. Hence, the life she led didnt satisfy her, to say the least, and she was restless and unhappy because of this, and felt like she was trapped in a cage, all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in, like Gandalf put it.

When Thoden became completely overcome by Grmas poisonous words, owyn was forced to take care of her debilitated uncle, a task she undoubtedly found embarassing and inferior (even though she loved her uncle like a father), and completely the opposite of the great deeds she imagined herself to do one day.

But then suddenly Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas came to Meduseld and awoke Thoden from his lethargy, after which the latter then continued to restore the glory of Rohan and when owyn first met Aragorn, she was greatly impressed by his barely concealed greatness and glory, and felt that he was a man who had done great deeds, and who was about to do even greater deeds, and felt attracted to him as she felt she could finally know glory if she was on his side.

As she stood before Aragorn she paused suddenly and looked upon him, and her eyes were shining. And he looked down upon her fair face and smiled; but as he took the cup, his hand met hers, and he knew that she trembled at the touch. 'Hail Aragorn son of Arathorn!' she said. 'Hail Lady of Rohan!' he answered, but his face now was troubled and he did not smile.

(from TTT)

No, at this point she did not love Aragorn, she only loved the glory he could lead her to, she loved the vision she had of him she was attracted to Aragorn, but not more.
Only later in the end, she loved Aragorn, but not like one loves a lover, she loved him like the people of Minas Tirith loved their King.

After the events described above, and after the battle of Helms Deep, owyn was obviously very proud that the glory of Rohan was restored, and that her people were finally making war on Sauron and Saruman, even though she didnt take part in it. At this point, Thoden had made her responsible for the people of Rohan in his absence, and she would have taken up this responsibility upto the end, she even found peace, if something dramatic hadnt happened : the Passing of the Grey Company.

When she saw Aragorn again for the first time since he came to Meduseld, she probably thought that he was going to ask her to join him in battle (the folly of youth), but when it turned out he was taking the Paths of the Dead, which sounded like mere suicide in her ears, all confidence and peace she had known immediately went down the drain : the man she felt attracted to, who she imagined she loved, who she thought would lead her and others to glory, had chosen to throw away his life and she was completely unable to deal with this. In complete desperation she offered to join him, which he of course refused as she had a responsibility to her people. After he had left her, she thought he had died and after that she decided for herself that shed die in battle as well, as she felt her life was again empty the only beacon that had come to lend some of its light in the darkness which was her life, Aragorn, was gone, and perhaps she also felt that Aragorn was the only hope to save Rohan, and now that he was gone everything was lost anyway and she wanted to die a warriors death, instead of waiting to be struck down with the rest of the Rohirrim women, elderly and children that stayed behind.

The course of events after that is well known to everyone : owyn made it to the Pelennor Fields as Dernhelm, together with Meriadoc she defeated a powerful enemy, and was afterwards healed by Aragorn. When she woke up after her disease and thought about the course of events, she was both proud and embarrassed : proud as Thoden had died a glorious death and the orlingas had fought bravely and valiantly, yet embarassed that now everybody would know that Aragorn refused her pleas at Dunharrow, after which she tried to run into certain death like a lemming off a cliff. Yet, she was wrong in thinking this, as everybody in Minas Tirith saw her as a brave woman and everybody in Rohan regarded her as a true herone, and gave her the title "Lady of the Shield Arm.

Yes, Aragorn had cured her body, but it took Faramir to heal her spirit, to finally release her from her gloom and restlessness. Or maybe when she met Faramir her restlessness ended as she finally found what she had been looking for her entire life : something that would give her life meaning and give her happiness ; she had always thought this something would be glory in battle, but in the end it turned out it was love.
I'm guessing you've had a quiet day, Mir Smile Smilie You trying to earn a living from the mithril that POW's earn?

I'm just rambling really, because you've just about said it all above. Nice post.
wow, a really good post. you have the makings of a chief biographer of middle earth. how often have you read tolkien's works? you look like a real insider in every topic.
... after which she tried to run into certain death like a lemming off a cliff.

what a comparison... Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
Yes, great post, Mir. I'll add that it is Faramir who sees owyn most clearly.
He recognizes her love for Aragorn as the masculine admiration a young soldier usually has for his captain. Once this is pointed out to her, she is able to realize what she really wants in life, and its no more to be a soldier, a shieldmaiden, an admirer of captains, or a queen -- which directly relates to Aragorn as king; she wants to be a woman -- and I think she realizes that there is nothing weak or insignificant about that!
Aragorn had seen everything that Faramir saw, both in Meduseld and Dunharrow, but he just had no time to deal with her and give her any psychological support, as he was quite busy elsewhere : the Paths of the Dead, getting to the Pelennor Fields in time, etc.

But Aragorn said: 'I saw also what you saw, omer. Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned. Sorrow and pity have followed me ever since I left her desperate in Dunharrow and rode to the Paths of the Dead; and no fear upon that way was so present as the fear for what might befall her. And yet, omer, I say to you that she loves you more truly than me; for you she loves and knows; but in me she loves only a shadow and a thought: a hope of glory and great deeds, and lands far from the fields of Rohan.

(from ROTK, the Houses of Healing)

Who knows, maybe Aragorn whispered "court Lady owyn and put an end to her obsession for me..." into Faramir's ear when he was healing him. Smooth.
In fact, i have overlooked something in trying to determine the underlying cause of owyn's actions : the influence of the poisonous words of Grma Wormtongue. What a truly gross oversight on my part.

'Think you that Wormtongue had poison only for Thoden's ears? "Dotard! What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among their dogs?" Have you not heard those words before? Saruman spoke them, the teacher of Wormtongue. Though I do not doubt that Wormtongue at home wrapped their meaning in terms more cunning. My lord, if your sister's love for you, and her will still bent to her duty, had not restrained her lips; you might have heard even such things as these escape them.

It is indeed certain that owyn was poisoned by Grma's words, along with her uncle, as unlike her brother omer who kept himself busy with riding in the fields of Rohan and hunting some Uruk, she was by her uncle's side the entire time - and hence subjected to Grma's intrigues and oratory skills.

But unlike her uncle, Gandalf did not heal her spirit like he did with Thoden - Grma's influence remained, and must surely have contributed to some of her later actions.

The influence of Grma's on owyn may not have been what he expected; instead of attracting her to him, his words only made the disgust she was feeling for him grow. Furthermore, it seems his words only aggravated her feeling of discontentment in her life, and her feeling of shame about the state the House of orl had fallen into.
That's why she set all her hopes and longings on Aragorn when she met him; she saw him as someone who could lead her away from the life she thought she didn't want to the life she thought she wanted.

In the end, it was Faramir who managed to cure her spirit by leading her to realize what she really wanted.
In the end, it was Faramir who managed to cure her spirit by leading her to realize what she really wanted.

A warm palacial bedroom in Minas Tirith, rather than the drafty barn she had at Edoras.
A warm palacial bedroom in Minas Tirith, rather than the drafty barn she had at Edoras.

Or a well-shaven, perfumed, gentlemanly Gondoran, rather than a beardy, smelly, illiterate Rohirrim.

That said, one must wonder why she ever felt attracted to Aragorn then, the most rugged and rough of the Rangers. Looks like she didn't go for looks, at least.

Or maybe this is what Aragorn meant with "in me she only loves a vision" - maybe owyn had the vision of Finrod Felagund when she looked upon Aragorn.

Looks like she was drugged by Grma.
Me thinks she was only grasping at the first available straw that might lead to her rescue from the reek of the thatched barns of the Rohirrim.
Or to an escape from Wormtongue...
She could've easily escaped Wormtongue by putting a sword between his ribs, something that owyn surely was capable of.

The fact that she never did this, speaks for Grma's oratory prowess and the efficiency of Saruman's training.

But the fact that Grma was still never able to talk her into marrying him, or other unsavoury affairs, speaks for owyn's steel will and stamina.

The question raises if owyn's actions were an attempt to raise herself to glory, or nohing more than a cry for attention. It is certain that together with so many women in those days, she was sometimes completely ignored (and we all know how much women like that..):

'Behold! I go forth, and it seems like to be my last riding,' said Thoden. 'I have no child. Thodred my son is slain. I name omer my sister-son to be my heir. If neither of us return, then choose a new lord as you will. But to some one I must now entrust my people that I leave behind, to rule them in my place. Which of you will stay?'
No man spoke.
'Is there none whom you would name? In whom do my people trust?'
'In the House of Eorl,' answered Hma.
'But omer I cannot spare, nor would he stay,' said the king; 'and he is the last of that House.'
'I said not omer,' answered Hma. 'And he is not the last. There is owyn, daughter of omund, his sister. She is fearless and high-hearted. All love her. Let her be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone.'

(from TTT)

Imo, this lack of attention was not the major reason for owyn's actions, but yet another contributing factor, along with the arrival of Aragorn in Meduseld, and Aragorn taking the Paths of the Dead.

To me, the major reason for her actions, or at least the primordial factor, is still the sturm und drang inside her.