The LOTR Movie Site
March 7, 2000

Arwen 2: Electric Boogaloo
Chris Skinner

Perhaps it is inappropriate for me to respond in this forum, but I feel that Mr. Bell has made several assertions that misrepresent what I wrote.  

While I realize that Mr. Bell is writing from a deconstructionist's perspective (there's more of Foucault than Tolkien in his post), no where in my post do I asseverate that Arwen must stay at home sewing and cooking. I am responding to rumors posted on this and other websites about particular types of changes to Arwen' character (and elvish behavior in general) that I think go beyond matters of interpretation and into matters of Tolkien's mythology. Without the core of this mythology, the trilogy as such no longer exists.

First, I did not say that Arwen should have no expanded role. What I quite clearly stated was that writing Arwen as "a rebellious, barely post-teen warrior princess goes far beyond stretching credibility." To back up this assertion, I used several textual references that Mr. Bell saw fit to dismiss as "interpretation". Mr. Bell must quarrel with Tolkien's text if he disagrees with my discussion of elves. Mr. Bell does not directly address my unhappiness with this particular portrayal of Arwen; rather, he makes generalizations about interpretation that are not relevant to this question. Would Mr. Bell actually argue that Aragorn does not see his betrothal to Arwen and his ascension to the Kingship of Gondor as Destiny (with a capital D, thank you)? I hardly think that this point counts as my "interpretation."  But, should Mr. Bell feel the need to support only post-structural readings, everything is interpretive; there ARE no facts to the text, only interactions.

If Mr. Bell feels that he will enjoy the films of the trilogy if Arwen is presented as an aggressive young warrior with knowable human motivations, so be it. No where did I say that elves were resigned to inaction; they would not, however, act against their natures or their sense of their required roles. If the rumors are true, (that Arwen disguises herself, and runs off to battle, against Elrond's wishes, all to impress Viggo), then she is not acting in accordance with her nature as explicated by the trilogy.

Galadriel, were she mortal, might seize the Ring as Boromir attempted. She explicitly states she will play out the part assigned to her, and fade and pass away into the West. And to understand Arwen's view of mortals, one must needs extrapolate from the behavior of other elves, such as Galadriel, Legolas, Lindar, and Glorfindel. In the main, while Elrond does care deeply for all individuals, Elrond is something of an exception, as is Gandalf, in directly concerning himself with mortal individuals. One could argue that Arwen might be such a character, but that does not lead her into a "warrior-maiden" role, the role I object to. I specifically stated that to make Arwen rebellious "in the same way as Eowyn" would be problematic. Mr. Bell seems to have no sense of that portrayal as problematic. Again, so be it. It is not something he speaks to in his rather soi-distant and insouciant response to me.

Mr. Bell seems to take the position that all interpretations are equally valid, and that we should, therefore, be content with whatever Peter Jackson decides to serve up. My assessment of Arwen withstands any reading of the trilogy one cares to do. To re-write her role in the ways that have been rumored would be to fundamentally reinterpret and misunderstand Tolkien's portrait of elves and their relationship to Middle Earth.