The LOTR Movie Site
September 30, 2000

In Response to Max B.
Brian M.

Having read the essay by Max B. on expanding the role of women in the trilogy, I would like to point out that his opponents arguments are less "elitist" (though purist would be accurate) than his are politically correct and post modern.

If you are truly going to interpret Tolkien's work, you must indeed take it in context. What Max advocates is looking briefly at the context and then ripping out the parts some people don't like. In short, this approach takes Tolkien's time and intentions into consideration only to defy them. It does not take them seriously.

It also strikes me a quite arrogant to assume that Tolkien would agree with his positions for the simple reason that he lives in a later time. Newer does not necessarily equal better. Tolkien might well have written it the the same way to defy postmodern stereotypes. My take on Tolkien's view of women is quite different from the one that Max B. tries to brand him (or at least his time) with.

It is only my humble, unlearned opinion, but I think Tolkien was making a more profound statement about the nature of both men and women than many give him credit for (or want to admit). He portrays them as completely equal, yet seperate and distinct. The women, such as Arwen, have no need to act like men in order to feel complete and confident. Nor do the men have to get in touch with their inner child or other such nonsense in order to be whole. Eowyn does try it, but discovers in the end that she is happier being what is she is: a woman.

In the female characters, Arwen and Galadriel in particular, I think Tolkien aspired to make of them the very best that they could be as women. To debase that by insisting that in order to be a "real" woman, they must act like men degrades them (and women in general) by saying that in order to be "real" she must be something other than what she is. To be blunt, it reduces them to nothing more than a pitiful attempt to become man-like wannabes, confining them to his shadow instead of allowing the, to step out of it into actual, yet distinct, equality.

As far as purists go, if anyone thinks they can improve on Tolkien, I suggest they write their own book and see how their popularity fares over the span of 80 years. Don't mess with someone else's work.