May 31, 2001

The Women of the Lord of the Rings

For those of you keeping up with such things, I am the writer of “Essay of a 16-year-old” as well as several others, although I am now eighteen. This is somewhat in response to Tomas B.’s comments about Liv Tyler as Arwen, as well as addressing a few other problems I have seen so far. First of all, I agree, Miss Tyler is a poor choice. Only a director influenced by America would choose the daughter of a rock star (and for that reason, as far as I can tell, because I am not impressed with her acting) to play Arwen. I think you are definitely right in saying it was done to attract younger audiences. Teenagers make up a large portion of the movie-going audience and without them the film’s profits would suffer. Unfortunately, perhaps because of trying to attract them the overall plot of the movie may suffer.

Next, is anyone else appalled by the fact that Arwen is replacing Glorfindel? It shows a complete lack of understanding (or disregard for) the history of Middle Earth. The sad irony is, that was the reason Tolkien wrote the stories in the first place, as we all know. The first image we are to have of Arwen is in Rivendell, for she represents the peace and beauty of that place that must either pass away or fall to ruin, depending on the outcome of the quest. What does she symbolize strutting about on a horse chased by the Nine? I think she is intended to represent the twisted theme feminism has become: Women can not only do everything men can do, they can do more. At best, this absurd alteration in the plot is only a reckless ploy to allow Miss Tyler more time on camera, even if theme must be altogether forsaken.

Also, I would like to address the notion that there are not enough women characters in the story as I have heard argued by some (not here, but elsewhere). Forgive me for abandoning formality, but excuse me? I must ask anyone who feels the role of women in the story is insignificant or needs to be altered if they read the same books as I did. Not only are there plenty of women vital to the plot, but there are many different portrayals of them. In the Old Forest (which has no relevance to the films since it is being omitted) the hobbits are on truly on their own outside the Shire for the first time. It is a place teeming with danger, and they nearly meet their end when a willow actually takes hold of two of them. Suddenly, the atmosphere is changed by a cheery man singing, of all things, who rescues them. Tom is the hero of this scene, but all he can think about is what is important: getting water-lilies home to Goldberry. Goldberry herself is a comfort to the weary hobbits and her enchantment is lasting, even if her role is brief. Then there is Arwen, as she is in the stories, whose role I have already defined.

Also, Aragorn himself is going on the quest to prove himself worthy of Arwen. She is at the heart of his purpose and is the strength of his drive. Need I mention Galadriel? Why her role should be touched at all is beyond me. She accomplishes so much, changing Gimli’s idea of elves, testing each in the Fellowship, and withstanding the urge to claim the Ring when Frodo innocently offers it to her. I could go on, of course, but let me say only one more thing concerning her. As a child when my father read these stories to me Galadriel was my favorite character and the one I desired to emulate. If a young girl can find a character to admire what needs to be changed? Of course we have Eowyn, whose role will be all but ruined by the changes made to Arwen’s character. If, in the first film, we see Arwen swinging a sword about how is the sacrifice of Eowyn to be maintained? The dialogue of the pitiable scene when Eowyn pleads upon her knees to follow Aragorn will have to be changed, of course: “I beg you!” “Nay, lady, we have already met our quota.” I have only touched upon a few qualities which prove my points, because they have been addressed so well on this website before. I am simply agreeing and adding a little here and there. Please, feel free to comment on anything I wrote.