Reviews for Tolkien and the Problem of Characterisation
She-Elf4 chapter 1 . 9/23/2014
This is an interesting essay, but I generally disagree with it. I think the lack of character realization is in part due to this story being from the hobbits' point of view, for the most part. The other characters were dealt with more fully elsewhere. Further, he was in the middle of revising and expanding his larger works when he died. So, we are essentially dealing with an incomplete work. I would argue that the most fully realized female character is not Eowyn, but rather Galadriel. Her full life story was, for the most part, written, and we only see the very last few years of it in LOTR.
SakiXX1 chapter 1 . 9/10/2014
I find your essay to be enlightening! I had never thought much of the characterizations of Arwen and Eowyn but as I read this that, I reflect back that they did not have much screen time due to majority of the story is focused on the adventure and story plots. I like how you compare and talk about other works. Thank you for the interesting read.
SkItZoFrEaK chapter 1 . 3/13/2009
I don't care that this isn't a story - it's thoughtful, well-written, and provoking. I really like your references, particularly to the origins of both Eowyn and Arwen as characters. It's always rankled me, a little, the way both women are treated not only in fandom but by Tolkien himself. I get the impression that he wasn't terribly interested in what either of them thought about the things that happened to them. All their emotional or psychological moments are directly caused by something a male character says or does. But I never thought about it in terms of Tolkien's goals when writing these books. He really wasn't trying to create memorable characters, just memorable stories. So I guess that's alright then.

Thanks for the insight, and the good writing. Hard to find here, sometimes.
Mae chapter 1 . 1/21/2009
This is a very well written essay. The prose was clear and readable. You stated your thesis and supported it succinctly and clearly, and without wandering onto irrelevant side topics. (The only issue I saw regarding the technicalities of writing were that you repeated "sometimes" twice in the same phrase, in the second-to-last paragraph.)

That said, I have a few clarifications/disagreements I would like to make.

First, 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' is not a poem in the amour courtois (sp?) tradition. Gawain is not acting to win Guinevere's love. (She's his aunt!) He is also not acting to win the love of Bertilak's (the Green Knight's) wife. (He tries to turn down her advances.) He takes up the quest in order to protect King Arthur, because Gawain (as well as the rest of Arthur's court) fully expected the man who accepted the challenge to end up dead. Thus, when Arthur was goaded into accepting the challenge himself, Gawain intervened, because the people could not afford to lose their king. As a result, I thought that it was a poorly chosen example that really didn't fit the point you were trying to make with it.

Second, from my reading of 'The History of Middle Earth' series, my understanding is that Tolkien wanted to write 'The Lord of the Rings' as a (medieval) romance, not as an epic. (They are actually two different genres.) However, I think you were actually thinking of the right thing, as the tradition of amour courtois goes with medieval romance, not epic. Regardless, most of the points you made as regards the characterization required for an epic also apply to a medieval romance.

Please forgive me if I sound overly nit-picky, and accept this as an honest response from an admirer of Tolkien and from someone who greatly enjoys a good literary debate.

And finally, thank you for providing us with a well-written, well-thought-out, and well-argued piece of literary criticism.
the lycans chapter 1 . 11/26/2007
Impressive! I whole-heartedly agree with you. Arwen's story should break the readers heart and yet it does not. Aragorn's motivation is Arwen. His goal is to become the King so that he can marry his beloved. It is a achingly sweet story and it was meant a lot to the author as well, yet Tolkien does not spend much time on it at all. As far as Ewoyn is concerned, I think she "fell in love" wiht Aragorn because he was an image of a King. She was in love with the idea of Aragorn and freedom. Ultimately she grows up, and realizes that her love for the Aragorn is not love at all. But her falling in love with Faramir is a bit eye-brow raising. You can not just truly fall in love with someone in a week, atleast not in her case. Aragorn loving Arwen since the moment he met her is classic. It is the "love at first sight" scenario. Faramir falling in love with Ewoyn over a period of a week is believable too, but the reader does become a bit skeptical when she declares her love for him. I suppose Tolkien just did not have the time to do it "properly." Anyway, a wonderful read.
The Tornado Chaser chapter 1 . 9/16/2006
This was EXTREMELY well thought out, and far from enjoying it (are you really supposed to enjoy informative pieces?) I however thought it was well written, conceived, and researched. Your insight is to be commended and praised, no charity involved. This should be sent to Tolkien experts at Oxford to be examined, praised, and published among the school libraries. I have to note that I have never in my life thought of this as clearly as you have said it, but like all Tolkien fans, I felt it in such a way that even with the greatest conviction (i.e. your paper) it would have taken little more than a wry smile and well-thought notation.

Well done.
hwena chapter 1 . 8/6/2004
i love tolkien as much as the next person, but i always did have some problems believing that eowyn would just fall in love with faramir because he said "i love you".

having said that, eowyn is still my favorite character,
Lady-Willowish chapter 1 . 6/22/2004
Wow! That explains a lot,very interesting. It would havce been nice if Tolkien had developed thier characters a bit more. Though it did make me enjoy the development they put into the characters in the movies. Very interesting piece of writing. :)
Alice chapter 1 . 6/19/2004
Excellent. Eowyn and Arwen do suffer from lack of characterization, which is kind of why I have no complaint with the changes Jackson made giving them more time on screen than a religious following of the books would have. Also, one of the things you have to remember about Tolkien is that he has an incredible amount of characters to deal with and middle earth to save. He couldn't devote to much time to development. But that's okay because that leaves quite a bit of material (or lack of it) for fanfiction writers to work with. Well done essay. However, I feel like I should give you a heads up that forbids essays, so you might want to take it down before they send you a nasty e-mail.
Evenstar Elanor chapter 1 . 6/19/2004
very enlightening and very truthful, with facts and quotes to back it up. the thing about Arwen's character, is that Tolkien likened her to Luthien, the exact quote I do not have at this moment, but something like, "it was said that she walked in likeness of Luthien" and since she made the same choice as Luthien, and Luthien is developed considerably well, compared to the other female characters, many seem to take on Luthien's character/psychological thoughts and put them onto Arwen.

as u might know, my favorite character is Faramir, and I could never quite understand his relationship with Eowyn. Granted, I realize that he fell in love with her, but I still do not believe that she could, "as she looked upon him, her heart was changed". the only explanation i offer to myself was that she did not truly love Aragorn, but loved what he represented, all that is good and noble in this world.

The Lord of the Rings was not first written as a commercial novel, but as Tolkien's way of recreating a world that had long gone, and to explain some of the flaws and sorrows of the world to himself. like u said, it can be compared to the Aeneid and the Iliad, with more development in character and psychology than them, and not, in verse form.

i know i'm forgetting something... you are so well read! u've given me something to think about today, and i'll probably want 2 add another review.. pity i can't.
RivendellWriter chapter 1 . 6/19/2004
Wow. That was great! You know, I think you're right. "The Lord of the Rings" IS more of an epic story than a novel. But it's still great anyway!

You're very persuasive... :)
Voldie on Varsity Track chapter 1 . 6/19/2004
That was bloody brilliant! Erm, excuse the language. Yes, tolkien **does** have a problem wih characterisation, and I'm glad someone wrote an essay about it! This was well-written and organised. Keep have potential and you rock my socks!

Amy Earls chapter 1 . 6/19/2004
Good reasoning for why Tolkien is such a rich source for storytellers "filling in the gaps" in his history.

But I thought Tolkien (in his letters)specifically denied courtly love as an inspiration for Aragorn/Arwen? The story still may be compared, of course, but other sources should be considered.

Love your Eowyn fics, by the way!

Lady Norbert chapter 1 . 6/18/2004
Brilliant! I really liked this. It's well thought-out, well researched, and well written. Excellent job!