The LOTR Movie Site
February 12, 2001

On Eowyn's Sufficiency
Brian M.

Here's a question that's run throughout my mind during the whole Arwen debate: "If you want an active woman, why isn't Eowyn enough?" At first glance, she seems to fulfill all of the important mantras that the Pro-change faction has been chanting. She's a warrior, in love with Aragorn, gets a decent showing, and does some important things, finally living happily ever after. Maybe this has already occurred to everyone else, but I think there are fundamental, philosophical reasons why the PC crowd ignores her.

On the practical side first. Most people who want to expand Arwen's character want a showcase that can appear in all three films, who is also more directly attached to Aragorn. This sheds more light on Aragorn's character (the "no-appendix-to-a-movie" argument has significant merit), and allows her to be almost constantly present, whether to make a point or to make money. Yet, stickiest part runs deeper than that, and may even be subconscious.

The character of Eowyn, in her actions, attitudes, and ending, conveys a message that is actually hostile to the modern attempt to erase traditional gender differences. Yes, she's a warrior, doing everything the men do, often better, but as a result, she is so unhappy as to be suicidal. Her rage may drive her onward to greater deeds, such as slaying the king of the Nazgul, but it never ultimately fulfilling. Instead, Eowyn is released from this hellish existence only by renouncing her tomboyish life and embracing traditional womanly roles as a healer and wife.

In short, they overlook Eowyn and lock onto Arwen mainly because even though there may not be much on her, at least she does not meet the fate of the lady of Rohan. They can easily work their ideas into Arwen's role by expanding on, rather than revising, her portrayal in the text. If we howl over what they've done so far, imagine what would be said if they had arbitrarily thrown out all that Tolkien had said about Eowyn in order to recreate her in their own image.

As such, we should not be surprised that as we see Arwen grow, we also see Eowyn diminish. Wholistically, she is a reproach to the new Arwen, actually demonstrating a premise diametrically opposed to what New Line wants to communicate. Therefore, Arwen usurps those aspects of Eowyn's character that they agree with, while ignoring the ones that trouble them. She is then passed over with but a cursory glance. Anything more would be counterproductive.