The Lord of the Rings is one of those book series which you either like or you love. It has everything an aspiring fantasy fanboy/fangirl needs: it is action packed, it has magic and beautifully written characters, great history and (of course) anything from Orcs to Hobbits. You could read it several times and still find something exciting and new about it.
However, like any book series, you can’t read The Lord of the Rings without developing a fondness for one or another character. Some admire Gandalf, others like Arwen, Aragorn or Legolas.
While all of them are great in their own right, my all time favourite amongst the LOTR characters is Eowyn.
In a world so saturated with magic that the trees talk, where something simple like a ring can bring about the end of all things, where women hide in fear and men do battle we have an interesting character like Eowyn.
At first sight she seems to be nothing special – just the daughter of a king with a crush for the main hero.
However, she doesn’t stay that way.
Unlike Arwen, who is the ‘epitome of awesomeness’ (note sarcasm here) and is as unchanging as a marble statue, Eowyn matures and develops throughout the series.
The first time she drew my attention is with this conversation she had with Aragorn:
‘Too often have I heard of duty,’ she cried. ‘But am I not of the House of Eorl, a shieldmaiden and not a dry-nurse? I have waited on faltering feet long enough. Since they falter no longer, it seems, may I not now spend my life as I will?’
‘Few may do that with honour,’ he answered. ‘But as for you, lady: did you not accept the charge to govern the people until their lord’s return? If you had not been chosen, then some marshal or captain would have been set in the same place, and he could not ride away from his charge, were he weary of it or no.’
‘Shall I always be chosen?’ she said bitterly. ‘Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?’
‘A time may come soon,’ said he, ‘when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.’
And she answered: ‘All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.’
‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’- J. R. R. Tolkien The Return of the King
This piece tells us so much about what kind of person she is. She’s not a fragile maiden waiting for someone to rescue her. No. She’s the type of person who would be the one doing the rescuing.
And in Middle-Earth that is a rare thing. A diamond in a pig trough kind of rare.
In Middle-Earth, most women we see are either hiding, using magic to defeat enemies or give out infinite wisdom *cough*Galadriel*cough*.
All of them are graceful, beautiful and soft in a feminine type of way.
Eowyn is the Middle-Earth version of a tomboy. She desires what is usually availlable for men in Middle-Earth: glory, fame, to not die of old age whilst being left behind to rot far away from battle when she could be out there kicking ass.
She managed to take down a freaking Nazgul when even Gandalf failed. While dressed as a man.
Which other lady of Middle-Earth had the balls (pun fully intended) to do something like that? After all it was said that the Witch King could be defeated by no man.
Women could kick his ass just fine.
And Eowyn did kick his ass. In style.
Oh, and that little banter with the Witch King before she did was absolutely priceless:
‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’- J. R. R. Tolkien The Return of the King
This is why for me Eowyn is such an awesome character even if I wish that she was around more than she was. Tolkien even managed to find her a happy ending with Faramir. She definitely deserved it.