The Lord of the Rings Being Sexist… Progressively

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Just Shut Up And Be Pretty!

Courtesy: Daniel Bearman

Photo by: Daniel Bearman

Women’s place in Tolkien’s world seems to be symbolic at best. Despite there being small glimmers of progressive thinking, in relation to his time, women in Tolkien’s world don’t get a fair shake.

1) While a woman killed the enemy’s chief: the head of Sauron’s army that even Gandalf could not withstand, the thing was pretty much swept under the rug, and no one ever even comments on it – unlike Gimli’s willingness to face his fear of ghosts for the love of Aragorn, or any other story the elevates other (male) characters’ standings.

Merry’s part in slaying the leader of the Nazgul is praised several times, by Eowyn and then by Aragorn when he soothes Merry’s ego at not going to the final battle – Eowyn deserved no such words as she is meant to stay behind. Unlike the hobbits’ actions, hers did not award her renewed appraisal.

The one time someone mentions her role, it’s Aragorn before he heals her, saying: “Alas for she was pitted against a foe beyond the strength of her mind and body!”
To be fair, the curse of the nasgul was in fact nearly fatal to her, and without Aragorn she would likely have died – but she didn’t, and would probably have had more resilience to it if she didn’t come wanting to die due to all the oppression she hated suffering from all these men around her. But the woe expressed at her condition would likely have aroused less antagonism still if they had also cried over Faramir’s strength of mind and body as well.

He had fallen into shadow because of his (and EVERYONE ELSE’S,) constant proximity to the growing fear. But his will, strength of body or of mind were never questioned or discussed – other than to say he is a great leader and a wonderful man.

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