Forgot your password?

Eowyn Of Rohan, One of Tolkien's Strongest Female Characters

By Edited Apr 29, 2016 2 5

Eowyn, Niece of King Theoden

Eowyn, as portrayed by Miranda Otto, in "The Two Towers"
Credit: http://wodumedia.com/lord-of-the-rings-the-two-towers-the-2002/miranda-otto-as-eowyn-in-new-lines-the-lord-of-the-rings-the-two-towers-2002-2/

Women In The Work Of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Peter Jackson's Interpretations

When it comes to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe the biggest complaint, or the complaint that seems most valid concerning his work, is the fact the female characters are somewhat few, and far between.  This is all true, his Middle Earth world is dominated by males, and their wars with one another; and so the pages of the books are too.  Thing is, when Tolkien does elaborate on female characters, he often makes them extremely powerful characters.

As an avid fan of the books by Tolkien, and the films by Peter Jackson, I've observed that when I'm out-gunned in Tolkien knowledge, it is generally by a more avid than I female fan.  So my concerns about Tolkien and female characters seem unfounded.  I only bother bringing it up from some weird sense of guilt.

In the Peter Jackson trilogy, Jackson inflated the role of Arwen Evenstar, and did so seemingly to remedy the single most common and valid complaint about the work of Tolkien.  Of course Liv Tyler did excellent with the role she was given.  No complaints about that on this end.

Concerning Galadriel, that lovely Kate Blanchett Elf Queen in Jackson's films, she's not merely a character in the LOTR saga, she's literally in Tolkien's Middle Earth from nearly the very creation of it all, to the finish of it all.  When it comes to female characters in Tolkien, Galadriel is as important as any other character, of either sex, or non gender, that one can name.  Peter Jackson helped the cause of "being true to Middle Earth" in his first Hobbit film by once again including the beautiful Kate Blanchett portrayal of Galadriel, but in regards to the first Jackson via Tolkien trilogy, no female character is as strong or pivotal as is Eowyn.

Eowyn, Beautiful But Formidible

Credit: http://ship-manifesto.livejournal.com/280727.html

Who Is Eowyn?

Who is Eowyn and why does she matter?

Eowyn is the niece of king Theoden, the king of Rohan, the kingdom of men just North of Gondor.  In the Tolkien world, the world is much more simple than it is for us here in reality.  The reason for this is things are generally either good, or just bad.  Seldom is there a grey area or a character who is somewhere in between.  Eowyn's mother and father had died while she was young, and she was raised in the king's court.  Of course this all sounds like something not to be too upset about, as very few of us ever get much privilege in life.

The people of Rohan are known for two major things, horses, and being great warriors.  There aren't many places in Middle Earth where it is truly safe to be, and Rohan, being so close to Gondor, is certainly not a safe place.  There is the rogue wizard Saruman nearby, and Mordor isn't far away either.  Eowyn's never been married, and more than anything, is interested in being a warrior.  

As the people of Rohan's capital realize Saruman is raising an army of orcs to come against them, and they flee to the fortress of Helm's Deep, Eowyn makes it plain she wants to fight.  Time and time again Theoden, her uncle and king, makes if plain in return that Eowyn is not to fight, but to oversee the elderly, the women, and the children.  This annoys Eowyn, but she obeys her orders.

Time and time again in the Tolkien LOTR saga all hope seems completely lost, and only self-less acts made in faith save the day.  The battle for Helm's Deep is another of many such incidences. After the stunning victory against Saruman's forces, the people of Rohan celebrate, but they know they're only going to have to fight even tougher forces and against worse odds soon enough; and even with their full strength gathered, they know there is only hope, and no surety of any sort of victory.

What does Eowyn have to teach us?

When the beacons of Minas Tirith are lit, it is a sign that Gondor, the Southern kingdom of civilized mankind, has called to Rohan, the Northern kingdom, for aide.  There is assembled in Rohan now the full strength of the kingdom, and Theoden the king, along with Eowyn's brother Eomer, have a lot to attend to.  Lost in all this confusion, mustering of troops, etc, is Eowyn, who is routinely told to stay with the elderly, the women, and the children.  There is so much going on, however, that Eowyn knows she intends to disobey her uncle the king.  As the troops ride South to Gondor and engage in the great battle of Pelennor fields[1], Eowyn is there, dressed in chain mail, and armor, and for all the world appears a soldier of Rohan.

What happens is Eowyn, and with a bit of help from the hobbit Merry, slays the Witch King of Angmar, the chiefest of all Sauron's forces of darkness, his virtual right hand man.  Not only that, Eowyn also just prior single handedly destroys the Witch King's "fell beast," his winged flying dinosaur.  It's a miniature dragon.  It only doesn't breathe fire.

The lesson here ought to be somewhat obvious.  In our world we look at things as threats, and we think only a powerful man can defend or overcome the threat.  This isn't true.  Some things in this world can ONLY be overcome by women.  Ridiculous it is to think otherwise.

The battle of good and evil isn't on any human battlefield, and so it isn't ever truly something a warrior man can overcome.  The battle of good and evil is within us all, but half of us are women.  The human race has some huge battles before it today; and looking to the strong to save us is a sure way to fail.  The battles must be fought within, and one person at a time.  In fact, the strongest forces in the eyes of most in this world, are the most vile, evil things there are.  Cheers to Tolkien for forever showing us how the seemingly weak, the unassuming, and the women can do as much or more towards winning the day than any government, or warrior proper.

Eowyn Kills The Witch King



May 28, 2013 2:36am
Considering the time Tolkien produced his work, gender issues shouldn't have preoccupied him a lot. However, Jacskon in his trilogy obviously was, as you rightly mention in your article, and I think Eowyn was the most appropriate female character to do so. Nice article.
May 28, 2013 6:45am
Thanks very much! I'll be one of the first in line if I can be to see the next creative Jackson elaboration of "The Hobbit."

I might be sort of biased, but I truly think of Tolkien as the greatest of all English authors :)
Nov 1, 2015 1:30pm
Well written. But I would argue that your conclusion about how the seemingly weak, the unassuming, and the women can do the job where warriors fail is not supported by Tolkien. I totally agree about the weak and unassuming, but Eowyn is neither weak nor unassuming: She wants glory and acknowledgement. And she actually has it: When the king is going away to battle, the people ask for Eowyn to stay behind to represent the king in his absence. From how Tolkien describes her, the problem for Eowyn is not being a female in a male-dominated society, but rather that she puts too much value in pride and battle skills, and too little value in the gentler sides of life. In that way she really represents the Rohirrim as opposed to what the men of Gondor once stood for.
Feb 4, 2016 8:43pm
Thanks for your perspective, Skymind!! It has probably been 15 or more years since I read LOTR. I've (re)read The Silmarillion and The Hobbit more recently though. What I mean to say is it has been long enough that I could enjoy reading LOTR again.

....but right now I'm dying, like many another, for "The Winds Of Winter." :D
Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.


  1. "Battle of the Pelennor Fields." Wikipedia. 27/05/2013 <Web >

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Entertainment