OK. Broad, sweeping generalizations and grandiose titling aside, I have this idea. It may sound crazy, but stick with me.
To this day, I recall precisely where in my elementary school library Tolkien’s The Hobbit was shelved. It was, and remains, my all-time favorite book. This is the book that I read no matter the situation. Feeling good? Grab The Hobbit. Had a bad day? Bilbo will make it better. When I found out there was a movie coming, and in that movie the Dwarves sing, I kind of squeed. It’s not something I’m proud of, but there it is. Then I found out ol’ Petey Jackson is creating a character for the movie. A female character.
The character will be a Mirkwood elf captain played by Evangeline Lilly. I understand why Jackson would add the character; The Hobbit was written by Tolkien for his sons, all of whom were under the age of 16 at the time, so it was understandably girl-free. What I don’t fully understand is the nerd rage flying around about the addition. Tolkien has plenty of kick-ass heroines. In fact, he was doing Paranormal Romance tropes before they were tropes. Hell, even before a lot of us were either born or old enough to care. Not only that, I’ll prove it!
First and foremost is the story where we see the heroine’s love redeem the hero and allows him to realize his destiny—think Dark Lover’s Beth and Wrath, for example.
Lady Arwen is the daughter of Lord Elrond Half-Elven, and a noble of what we now call the Fey Court. They typically defend humanity from the forces of shadow, but her father and his allies have grown fickle in their later life. They would prefer to sail away and leave humans to their fate.
Enter the hero of this particular tale. Aragorn son of Arathorn, last of a line of long-lived humans known as the Numenorean. As an outcast of both human and elvish society, he walks the wilderness with his Numenorian brothers-in-arms, fighting the evil that would swallow our world whole. He bears the curse of his ancestors whose desire for power allowed for that evil to survive. Fearing that the same corruption lives in him, Aragorn lives in self-imposed exile, refusing to take up his rightful throne.
Then comes the Shadow, and even though he refuses to admit he is worthy of his crown, he takes up the good fight. He wins the hearts of all those around him, even the loyalty of Arwen’s two brothers, in his fight to free his people. In the end, Arwen and Aragorn marry—she always knew what he was capable of and he only hopes that he can be worthy of her sacrifice of an immortal life.
Of course, then there is the other side of the PNR coin. The more Urban Fantasy type read with the kick-ass heroine who slays evil and finds unexpected love along the way. Think Stacia Kane or Kim Harrison.
Eowyn is the niece of Theoden and sister to Eomer who happens to be a high ranking member of Theoden’s army. Her uncle is captured and corrupted by an evil wizard and her brother is cast out of the house for refusing to bow before the new master. In the meantime, Eowyn must bear the advances of a snivvling lackey and know that her beloved uncle is a shadow of the man he used to be.
The spell over her uncle is finally broken by Aragorn, and seeing in him the greatness he doesn’t realize is there, Eowyn falls in love with the wandering warrior. But Aragorn’s heart belongs to another and Eowyn knows that she cannot compete. When her newly freed uncle is mustering his forces to join Aragorn in battle, Eowyn, realizing a dream to win glory in battle, dresses in the armor and weapons of a man and joins in.
Leading the forces of the enemy is the Witch-King, a powerful warrior-wizard who has already defeated the mighty Gandalf in a battle of sorcery. It is said that “no man can kill him” but as Eowyn points out, she is no man. Along with the help of her sidekick Merry, she manages to defeat the Witch-King, but is critically wounded in the process.
While recuperating from her battle, she meets Faramir, another wounded soldier. In his own way, he is nobler and more dignified than Aragorn. He lives for art and books more than fighting, but don’t let that fool you. Faramir has his own band of hardened warriors that held back the forces of evil in a last-line of defense.
He has always lived in the shadow of his older, stronger brother. But with his brother’s death, it has become imperative that he carry on his father’s legacy. What Faramir did not know is that his father had succumbed to the enemy. Faramir nearly sacrificed himself to win his father’s approval, but Eowyn helped him realize how great he was without it. The two met on equal terms and quickly bonded over a shared troubled past. It also didn’t take too long for them to marry.
Women work in Tolkein.
My main point is that we should stay positive with the new elf being introduced. Peter Jackson has yet to lead us astray (well, except neglecting Tom Bombadil and Glorfindil, but that is a rant for another day). For anyone to get mad over the addition of a female character, and one who can hold her own in a fight at that, is silly. The idea clearly isn’t new to Tolkien or the world he created.