Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Romance of Middle-Earth

One thing that isn’t talked about too often when people are discussing Tolkien is the romance he puts in his books. We praise his wit, his characters, his settings—but his love stories aren’t usually mentioned. This may be because there aren’t a lot of grand romance plot-lines throughout the book. Most of the time, Tolkien usually just says something along the lines of “so-and-so married so-and-so, and they had great affection for each other all their lives.” He doesn’t have many stories in which the hero is courting the damsel in distress or the heroine’s devotion is shown. However, there are two amazing romances in Lord of the Rings: Faramir and Eowyn’s, and Aragorn and Arwen’s.

Our favorite is, of course, the romance between Faramir and Eowyn. Who doesn’t love this wonderful couple? Tolkien does a marvelous job subtly showing their growing affection for each other throughout Return of the King, and while Peter Jackson doesn’t include their story as much, he adds in uses little glimpses of it during RotK that always make us melt. (Here again, we would like to shout from the rooftops, “EXTENDED EDITION!!!!”)

When they first meet each other in the Houses of Healing, neither of them notices the other much. Besides the obvious reasons (seeing as they’re both recovering from serious injuries and illness), Eowyn also takes no notice of Faramir because she loves—or thinks she loves—Aragorn. All she wants now is an honorable death in battle.

Faramir pretty much ignores her at first, as well, because he longs for the approval of his father and has just discovered that Denethor is dead. (Interesting tidbit: In the Commentary for the Extended RotK, David Wenham [who plays Faramir] mentions something about the fact that the only thing Faramir really wants is to get back in the battle. We don't know if we agree with this or not....) Faramir quickly learns the error of his ways as he spends more time with her, and eventually falls in love with the melancholy shieldmaiden.

It takes her awhile to warm up to him; he pays her attentions and she rebuffs him because she doesn’t think that she cares about anything but Aragorn. However, no one can help loving FARAMIR, and when he continues to court her, she realizes the true state of her heart and confesses her love to him in a gorgeous passage in the book:

“Then Faramir came and sought her, and once more they stood on the walls together; and he said to her: 'Eowyn, why do you tarry here, and do not go to the rejoicing in Cormallen beyond Cair Andros, where your brother awaits you?'

And she said: 'Do you not know?'

But he answered: 'Two reasons there may be, but which is true, I do not know.'

And she said: 'I do not wish to play at riddles. Speak plainer!'

'Then if you will have it so, lady,' he said: 'You do not go, because only your brother called for you, and to look on the Lord Aragorn, Elendil's heir, in his triumph would now bring you no joy. Or because I do not go, and you desire still to be near me. And maybe for both these reasons, and you yourself cannot choose between them. Eowyn, do you not love me, or will you not?'

'I wished to be loved by another,' she answered. 'But I desire no man's pity.'

'That I know,' he said. 'You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Eowyn!'

And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: 'Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Eowyn, do you not love me?'

Then the heart of Eowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.

'I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun,' she said; 'and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.' And again she looked at Faramir. 'No longer do I desire to be a queen,' she said.

Then Faramir laughed merrily. 'That is well,' he said; 'for I am not a king. Yet I will wed with the White Lady of Rohan, if it be her will. And if she will, then let us cross the River and in happier days let us dwell in fair Ithilien and there make a garden. All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes.'

'Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?' she said. 'And would you have you proud folk say to you: "There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?" '

'I would,' said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone about them as they came down from the walls and went hand in hand to the Houses of Healing.

And to the Warden of the Houses Faramir said: 'Here is the Lady Eowyn of Rohan, and now she is healed.'”

See? See what we mean about this being absolutely gorgeous? We thought so. ;)

Their engagement announcement and wedding isn’t given too much time, although the little descriptions that Tolkien gives are both amazingly romantic. However, we’ll take what we can get, and I think we can safely say that Eowyn and Faramir had a very happily-ever-after.

Aragorn and Arwen, on the other hand, have a completely different story. It's funny – it's as if Peter Jackson put a magnifying glass to their relationship – told almost exclusively in the Appendices – and expounded on it (sometimes a little too much, in our humble opinions). It's as if he took away from Faramir and Eowyn so that he could give some time for Aragorn and Arwen! Even so, this makes sense. After all, Aragorn is the king and he deserves to have his love story fleshed out and expounded upon.

Aragorn and his mother, Gilraen, lived in Rivendell for quite some time, and we suspect that's when he started noticing Arwen. Some time later, he joins the Rangers and takes on the name Strider so that he can keep watch over his kingdom. He and Arwen are distant for quite a while, but they still think of each other often. During this time, their love for each other grows.

In the book, it's Aragorn who brings Frodo to Rivendell. In the movie, however, Arwen mysteriously shows up and takes him, turning it into this long chase scene with horse-shaped water at the climax.

When various Highly Ranked people are called to Rivendell for The Council of Elrond – Aragorn included – Arwen enjoys having a moment with Aragorn. (In the movie, that is.) At this time, Arwen gives Aragorn her necklace, which basically means that she's giving up her Elven heritage and choosing to be mortal – all for him. (Everybody say, “Awwww....”)

In the book, Arwen isn't heard of much until the veeeery end, when Aragorn mentions to the Fellowship that he and Arwen are going to be wed. In the movie, Arwen is much more involved. We see her almost leave for the Gray Havens, change her mind after seeing a vision of her son – being held by Aragorn, of all people – and head back to her father, telling him that she loves Aragorn and is willing to die if it'll mean that she can love him. In the end of Return, there's a great scene when Arwen comes back and totally blows Aragorn away by her beauty. : )

These two romances aren't the only ones in the book or movie, however. What about Sam and Rosie? It's safe to say that we think every romantic-at-heart cried at their sweet wedding. Also, what about the love of the Ents for their Entwives? It's sad that this didn't make the final cut of the film.

While romance may not be Tolkien's strong suit (it seems he wanted to describe the Buckleberry Ferry more than he wanted to describe how Aragorn and Arwen fell in love!), we can honestly say that, nevertheless, he was a great writer. We love the romance he adds into The Lord of the Rings, how ever little there may be.

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