I am ready Gamling. Bring my horse.Théoden
A strong confident King, clothing himself in his kingly garment, preparing to take his people out of harm’s way and onto the path to Helm`s Deep. He seems assured in his decision, confident in this course of action.
A King and his guard
Decision-making is the hardest part of a thought-process. However, once it has been done, there is only follow through. And here we see Théoden in that very state of mind. A decision made, a plan to follow, not yielding, not doubting.
Gamling, however, is more than doubtful for both of them. He helps his King prepare, but his own views on the King`s decision show through his facial expressions. As Théoden instructs Gamling to bring his horse, he bows his head, as a sign of fulfilling his duty.
However, his head bow is not of a guard who is strictly following orders. It is a movement conveying much more. He isn`t sure in the King`s decision, to say the least. For he sees this one as a forfeit.
Demeanor of defeat
Sadness and self-pity cover Gamling`s features as his head doesn`t resurface from the bow. His eyes look upon the ground he walks, seeming afraid. As he walks to the door, his body position is one of defeat. He is slow-moving, with his eyes still focused on the ground.
Gamling, and probably most of the guard, see this flight to Helm`s Deep as an overthrow. Gamling seems sure of the fate of the people of Edoras as he is sure in his own, death and destruction.
This is not a defeat, we will return. We will return.Théoden
King Théoden notices his demeanor. He tries to correct the interpretation of Gamling`s behavior by stating the opposite. He sees what Gamling is thinking and wants to reassure him that it will have a positive outcome. However, this reassuring method is not only for Gamling`s sake but for his own as well.
As they look at each other, Théoden`s words leave no sense of security. He himself is unsure of what he says. Superficially, he is trying to rectify the loss of confidence and trust his guard and his people had in him. However, on a deeper level, he is convincing himself of his decision`s positive outcome.
Théoden wants to believe his own words desperately but fails. As Gamling leaves, his eyes show anger and determination to go ahead with the plan, but there is no positivity or confidence in it. He is afraid, as well he should be. As a leader of his people, Théoden only tries to boost their spirit with an insight into what his people are feeling and reassuring them.
If people of Edoras had not their King`s support and understanding in this time of need and confidence in his decision, they would never have followed his command in the first place. The only problem is, the King himself is placating, but with a deep-rooted doubt in his own heart.
It is the hardest emotional battle. To sense that a decision we made may not bring that which we hope, with our rational senses disproving us with every argument possible. Moreover, uttering words of comfort while unsure, make the statement untrue and the decision a farce. However, as a representative of his people, Théoden`s decision needs to be in their best interest.
As people of Edoras leave their home to follow the trail to safety, Éowyn prepares on her own. She takes her sword in her hands, running her hand on the side of its blade, admiring it. It gives her a sense of pride and joy in a way because her eyes and her lips turn into a light smile. The only possible smile in this time of trouble. Her experience with the sword shows as she twists wielding it in graceful movements.
Aragorn blocks her momentum, bringing her face to a stern and anger filled expression. He blocks, but her momentary anger and strength render Aragorn defeated. He lowers his sword, surprised and in awe.
Aragorn: “You have some skill with blade.”
Éowyn: “Women of this country learned long ago: Those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain.”
Having Aragorn see her wielding her sword and blocking her, takes Éowyn by surprise and stirs her spite. She may be self-conscious and doesn`t want to appear incompetent in front of him, which is why her face shows signs of anger. His comment, a compliment, maybe heard as a stereotype in her mind.
Éowyn doesn`t want to be seen as only a maiden, unable to defend herself, in need of a protector. She wants to be independent, fight for and defend herself. Since women are normally thought of as defenseless and weak, it would only be logical for Éowyn to play this role as well.
She doesn`t fit the mold that she supposedly inhabits. Double standards are not something she abides by. She is a warrior and although not being given the chance to prove her valor, her warrior spirit is stronger than ever. Now, that war approaches, her warrior instincts boil to the surface.
The fact that she so readily states not to be afraid of death or pain, paints her as a very direct and confident woman. She knows what it is she wants.
Aragorn: “What do you fear my lady?”
Éowyn: “A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them. And all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”
Aragorn: “You are a daughter of Kings, a shieldmaiden of Rohan. I do not think that would be your fate.”
Éowyn is also aware of her dislikes, and what kind of life she doesn`t want to lead. But what she is most afraid of is what she saw her uncle go through. Théoden was incapacitated, rotting away in the darkness, inhabiting a useless body. He had grown old in a short amount of time, leaving the King a fading memory. As he awoke from the spell, he fled from danger.
This does not seem like something Éowyn would be inclined to do. Her take on the King`s decision has not been introduced as such, but the resentment with which she states her fears is sentiment enough.
She does not want to lose that which makes her who she is. Losing the will and passion to fight for and protect what is hers, would mean losing herself as a person, losing her individuality and independence. She might belong with the women, but she is far from the stereotypical description of one.
To express one`s fear in words and acknowledge it, is not a common notion. Many are afraid of insignificant things, but to name the fear that gnaws at one`s own sense of being, takes courage.
She could have deflected Aragorn`s question by answering it trivially. However, she opted for sincerity. I would imagine, she had never been asked such a question before, although she has been carrying her answer for a while.
Being cast into a stereotype means being looked at with an already fixed image in mind. If you are a woman, that automatically means you are fragile, sensitive, weak, hormonal, and many other colorful things. We tend to place stereotypes to make it easier for us to superficially understand and capture a person`s inner world.
However, to break through the stereotype is much harder and requires much more openness of thought and ideas, in order to truly capture a person`s uniqueness.
Aragorn sees Éowyn for who she really is. His comment on her answer to his question stuns her. She wasn`t prepared to hear anything like that. It would have been a lesser surprise had he said what she expected a man to say. This way he has shown her his quality. He sees her bravery and the fire that rages inside of her. Aragorn is aware of her as a soldier, a willing heart that is ready to stand against evil for what she believes in.
Variety of roles
Having taken care of her uncle while he was incapacitated, was the first role he saw her in when he entered the Golden Hall with his Company. She was the caregiver, loving, loyal and vulnerable. The role she is portraying now in front of Aragorn is somewhat different. It has all the markings of a male role.
Her stature is not as soft as it was, her stern expression is the polar opposite of her lovely maiden face and her movements reflect her inner strength. A role as suited for her as the one of a caregiver.
There isn`t supposed to be only one role for each of us to play. We have so many different ones inside ourselves. They are just hushed away under the coating of how we think we should be to the outside world. However, once we free all our colors, the world will resemble a rainbow.
Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are having an argument over the possibility of rescuing Gollum from his wretched self. Follow me to the forests of Ithilien in my next post.
Featured photo by Valensia Sumardi on Unsplash.