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Ring of Love by Choice: Understanding the Female presence in Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings Chandralekha K. R.

Research ssistant !ahithya kademi

n a way poets are creators, they assume the role of the ultimate entity and create a parallel universe where reality and dreams co-exist. Through them the readers share the boon of thinking ability in an aesthetic way. Imagination is not a rare device, but developing that

innate imaginative tendency into a faculty identified through the five senses is a rare device of creativity. Fantasy fiction falls into such a module which is content within its own world of imagination. The real fantasy fiction started its run with the myths of different civilizations. ral

myths are credited with the creation of the first fantasy fiction, starting from the epics like !ahabharata, "amayana, Iliad, dyssey etc. The adventures of #$eroes%, who refuses their first

call and then ventures on a &ourney to rescue a damsel in distress, to be the next king or may be to find an ultimate answer became a stereotypical entity by the beginning of the twentieth century. 'ut the exposure to two perilous wars distanced the modern man from dreaming and imagining himself as a #hero%. Thus the twentieth century saw the creation of heroes like #(tephen )edalus% and #$olden *aulfield%. T. ( +liot%s The Wasteland became the mirror of the modern man, living in a libido, unable to choose and proceed. The post- war +urope mostly

+ngland suffered from casualties, not &ust on terms of material and human resources but in a very abstract sense too. , sort of sterility spread through the genre of fiction, from which the #Inklings% escaped by assuming the shape of $obbits and -arnians. Tolkien and *. (. .ewis became one of the most revered *hildren%s authors ever since.

The #Inklings% helped the modern man to dream again, to restore the individual values that were long lost to them. /hile .ewis resorted to allegory and 'ible, Tolkien created !iddle +arth, a place where every marginalized ones becomes the hero. The shortest saves the day, when the rest struggles for and against power and pride. That which is considered deviant from the norm is highlighted, thus making the $obbits, +nts, +lves, )warves, /izards and even a withered and wretched creature like 0ollum, normal. !odern man identified each of these characters with himself, resulting in the huge popularity and love for the Tolkienian oeuvre. Tolkien advertised the importance of individual parts to be played in our society and fore grounded it to such a level that the concept of #heroism% became invisible but real.

The Lord of the Rings still writhes under the critical lens of gender struggle. Tolkien has been always criticized for creating only few female characters and making them stereo typically feminine and submissive. ,ccording to *andice Frederick and (am !acbride 1/omen among the Inklings2 0ender, *. (. .ewis, 3. ". Tolkien, and *harles /illiams4 in the works of the Inklings, 5males operate within a system that is overtly patriarchal. !en are the doers, workers, thinkers, and leaders. /omen are homemakers, nurses, and distant love interests6 17894. 3es 'attis claims, 5: women are not given easy identities to inhabit within The Lord of the Rings, and many are stereotyped to the point of excess6 197;4. <

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien%s depiction of wielding power is different in each character. ,ragorn refutes it, 0andalf resists it, The $obbits 1except (am4 curiously fears and likes it, 'oromir wants it and (auron claims it. It is apparently a patriarchal society where men wage war for power, a parallel to our modern world. /here does then the woman stand= Tolkien cleverly inverted the roles of female characters in The lord of the Rings that they seem distant and sometimes invisible. 'ut, a careful analysis shows that through these meager appearances of female characters Tolkien was pronouncing the term of real power- .ove. The human female characters reach the maturity and understanding of real power way before the men, so and so that they choose love over power 1which was the message behind the novel4. Thus by creating minor and less female characters Tolkien was centralizing the women folk, surpassing all the traditional gender identities.

In The .ord of the "ings, Tolkien has mentioned or portrayed six female types that a man might encounter in his life. /hen the travelling $obbits sans 0andalf fall in danger because of the old man /illow, Tom 'ombadill comes to their rescue. They go to his home, where they meet his lady 0oldberry. n the way Tom sings songs about 0oldberry. (he is in a sense nature

incarnated, and Tom is said to be the master of all that grows. 5The trees and the grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves:. Tom 'ombadil is the master 17<;4,6 she says when >uestioned about who Tom really is. The $obbits do not have any kind of >uestion regarding 0oldberry though she is more mysterious than Tom 'ombadill. They acknowledge her presence as an authoritative woman, one e>ual to nature. (he acts as a usual

wife but she is more an unusual woman. Though she declares Tom to be the master, Tom considers and respects her to be his e>ual.

The $obbits after meeting with (trider a.k.a ,ragorn goes to +lrond%s $ouse where they meets ,ragorn%s love interest ,rwen- the evening star to her people. (he is referred to as beauty incarnated. Though ,rwen%s presence in The .ord of the "ings is of meager type, she is a constant presence in ,ragon%s mind and deeds. (he acts as the motivation behind the choices he makes. $e memorizes her in the critical situations of his adventure. For him the perilous road in front of him may lead to doom, but if it%s a success it will lead to her. ,rwen and ,ragorn are not 'inary opposites? instead her power over him makes them one. In The .ord of the "ings only three persons has the capability to refuse the lure of the "ing of power. /hile 0aladriel refuses to be a terrible >ueen, (am%s simple mind cannot understand the clamber made for this ring. The third person who is offered the ring is ,ragorn, who refuses it and walks towards the raging rcs, choosing the valiant and straight way. For him choosing the ring of power cannot bring him closer to his ,rwen. (he has already met ,ragorn way before he became (trider. $er beauty is not &ust physical, but her intellectual and spiritual pith is a thing for thought. $er influence on ,ragorn is such that this same intellectual, emotional and spiritual essence is seen in ,ragorn too. .ynnette ". @orter calls her a #hero% for influencing the apparent protagonist as such. (he chooses him over her own people and her own safety in the dawn of doom and shadow that she renounces her +lven immortality and choose to suffer along with him. , *hrist figure she is. (he is called #Andomiel% which means evening star B thus the name itself alludes to the significant part played by her presence in ,ragorn. (he is the -orth (tar who helps the wandering sailor, who gives him company at the loneliest hour. C

The Fellowship of the "ing consisting of nine members travels toward .othlorien where 0imli the dwarf warns the $obbits about the +lf Dueen who enchants those who comes to that part of the woods. 0aladreil is called .ady of .Erien, the .ady of the 0aladhrim, the .ady of .ight, or the .ady of the 0olden /ood, which reminds the reader of her stature as a >ueen. Tolkien has described 0aladriel as Fthe mightiest and fairest of all the +lves that remained in !iddle-earth.F 0aladriel has the power to peer into the minds of others and can &udge them rightly. (he tests the resolve of each member of the fellowship, but later to be tested in turn by Frodo by offering her the ring. (he understands the power of the ring over the people and what it would make her. (he says it would make her #great and terrible% and people will #love and loath% her at the same time. (he too like her granddaughter ,rwen chooses love over pride and power thus. (he acts as the symbol of hope and faith for Frodo at times of darkness and ill. (he represents the +arth-!other or a mentor e>ual to 0andalf. !any critics have alluded her to 3esus *hrist%s mother !ary. f all the women or men presented or referred to in the book, she is most

capable of wielding the power of ring.

,fter .othlorien, the fellowship breaks and two $obbits get kidnapped by

rcs. They

escape and ends up in the ancient forest were no one dares to enter. There they meet with the +nts 1tree like beings capable of walking and talking4. They mention the +nt wives who has been estranged from them. They haven%t heard or seen an +nt /ife in the recent past. In fact Tree 'eard 1an +nt4 says that he has forgotten about how they look. $ere the absence of female presence is actually disturbing to these enormous tree like beings that they are agitated by the news of destruction of trees. In the end of the second book they ravish Isengaurd, the tower of G

(aruman, who was responsible for the destruction of the forest. /hile the presence of ,rwen makes ,ragorn choose the right path, the absence of +nt /ives makes the +nts dangerous.

,ragorn, 0imli, .egolas and 0andalf the /hite travels to "ohan where they meet Theoden%s niece +owyn. (he is a fierce warrior who wants to &oin the cause of war and fight against the evil called (auron. (he is called the (hield-maiden of "ohan. ,pparently, she is the only one woman character who fights or rebels against discrimination. In the war against (auron%s army she stands between the Hing of "ing- /raiths and her .ord and kills the -azgul king. This is actually a significant element in the book. ,s (auron is a shadow, and his evil is manifested in the "ing- /raiths and other such beings, the second in command or the leader of (auron%s army is actually the Hing of -azguls and Tolkien makes +owyn kill this being. Iowyn removes her helmet and declares2 F'ut no living man am IJ Kou look upon a woman. Iowyn I am, Iomund%s daughter. Kou stand between me and my lord and kin. 'egone, if you be not deathlessJ For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him 1L;94."

(he becomes the unexpected hero here. 'ut during her recovery time she undergoes a great change, she meets Faramir and falls in love with him. (he gains a kind of emotional maturity that 0aladriel, ,rwen and 0oldberry attained, changing her outlook on life2 FThen the heart of Iowyn changed, or else at last she understood it... ...MI will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great "iders, nor take &oy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren 1 9GN4.MF

Frodo and (am who has chosen 0ollum as their path finder encounters a greater peril on their way, named (helob- a spider. (helob has been in that cavern for centuries. 0ollum admires her. 0ollum is referred to as her #sneak%. 0ollum lead the $obbits into her lair so that he could get the ne "ing after she consumed them, which she had of no use. Frodo uses the @hial of 0aladrielMs light to drive her off and later (am kills (helob to rescue his master. (he is in&ured to death and Tolkien gives no more on what might have happened to her. (he represents the archetypal ld $ag. ,lthough she resided in !ordor and was unrepentantly evil, she was

independent of (auron and his influence. (he doesn%t dream of power or anything else, all she need is to survive.

,ll these five women representations in The .ord of the "ings is e>ual to the infinite number of male representations present and referred to in the text. Tolkien has made it possible by placing their physical appearances in the background. 'y doing so he has fore grounded the eternal and ineludible influence a woman has in our life, almost like the rays of moon falling on the dark earth.

"orks Cited 3. ". Tolkien. The .ord of the "ings. .ondon.$oughton !ifflin $arcourt. 7999. *andice Frederick and (am !ac'ride, /omen ,mong the Inklings2 0ender, *. (. .ewis, 3. ". ". Tolkien, and *harles /illiams. /estport, *T2 0reenwood @ress, <887.

-ancy +nright. TolkienMs Females and the )efining of @ower In The .ord of the "ings. The .ord of the "ings2 -ew +dition 1!odern *ritical "eviews, +d by $arold 'loom4. *helsea. *helsea $ouse. 7999.