Leaving home is a torturous ordeal. Leaving behind everything known for an unknown residence, if only temporary, imprints heavily on a person`s heart. An uncertain fate. However, there not being any other alternative, one must do what one can to go on.
Despair and uncertainty give rise to the imagination as a way of escape. This makes a tortuous journey to safely bearable, even unfelt. If the mind is occupied with survival and ignoring negative feelings, then the body moves on auto-pilot, knowing the outlined course and following it.
Sometimes, to avoid feeling fear of unknown fate, humor becomes a coping mechanism. The mind shuts down all the worrying and concentrates on an unbelievable story. Anything to avoid feeling anything negative.
It is in these moments that Gimli`s sense of humor shines through, for it brings about lightness to a dim and dangerous journey.
Gimli: “It`s true you don`t see many Dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance that they´re often mistaken for Dwarf men.”
Aragorn: “It`s the beards.”
Gimli: “This, in turn, has given rise to the belief that there are no Dwarf women and that Dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground, which is, of course, ridiculous.”
Éowyn pays close attention to Gimli`s story, if only for its ridiculous content. Nevertheless, this short interaction brings a lighthearted wind into a serious situation. And it makes Éowyn laugh, something we haven`t heard until now.
Gimli´s tellings amuse her, even though they might all be just myth and stereotype, but under these tough circumstances, it is the most entertaining story she could hear.
Gimli, on the other hand, is not being fictitious at all. He carefully explains what other races think of his. And since they are a secretive race, it is no wonder that stories like these reach the far sides of Middle-Earth. However improbable the thematic might be, the birth of the Dwarven race does leave a sense of wonder.
The story that Gimli tells is a widely accepted one since they look incredibly similar to their male counterparts. A trait not seen in other races.
Maybe if Éowyn were a Dwarf woman, she wouldn`t have trouble blending into any battle scenario. She could have been easily mistaken for a male. Sadly, in the world of Men, a woman`s place is determined by sex.
Gimli falling off his horse perfectly concludes the funny telling of his race`s myths. The fact that he is unable to pull himself up from the ground, is, of course, the perfect punch line. His pride is bruised but he saves face stating that it was a deliberate act. This, in turn, gives Éowyn a chance to smile.
Guilt and resentment
I haven`t seen my niece smile for a long time. She was a girl when they brought her father back dead. Cut down by Orcs. She watched her mother succumb to grief. Then she was left alone, to tend her king in growing fear. Doomed to wait upon an old man, who should have loved her as a father.Théoden
There are resentment and guilt in Théoden`s words and expression. He is angry at himself for letting this poor girl suffer through things she shouldn`t have even known. Her own story is a sad one, but she persevered through troubles with king Théoden, as it fits her role as a caregiver.
She probably doesn`t have the same perspective on this as the King does, which in turn reflects her self-sacrificial and hopeful side as well. He couldn`t have done anything differently but he regrets it all the same and sees it as his fault for not looking after her.
Éowyn`s early life
To lose both her parents at a young age, is, of course, another truly terrible experience any being can have. The fact that her father was killed in battle, is something probable, as that can be a consequence of entering a battle. However, losing her mother to grief is something altogether different.
Losing a loved one inflicts pain on our souls, and everyone copes in different ways. The grieving process is different for everyone as well. Some might go through it and come out the other side, and some may find themselves grieving forever.
Éowyn`s mother was one of those who couldn`t cope with pain. She let the grief rule her inner world until it brought her death. Éowyn, on the other hand, has coped remarkably well with the loss of both her parents and even King Théoden`s demise.
Éowyn`s inner world
The control she has over her inner world is astounding. She doesn`t crumble or succumb, she powers through. The emotions of loss and grief she does feel, but she doesn`t let them overtake her. Instead, she fights even harder for what she believes in and can express her fears in a way that is truly amazing. A true inspiration.
She, through her loss and grief, became a strong female character who is more than willing to stand up a fight for those she loves and for that in which she believes.
Théoden might be seeing her as a woman in need of a man`s protection but she is well beyond that point now. She has proven that she can take care of herself and those around her, all she asks in return is the chance to stand alongside men and be the brave warrior she really is at heart.
As she turns around still smiling at Gimli`s mishap, she catches a glimpse of Aragorn. The look in her eyes is one of the eagerness of understanding and knowing this person, as well as that of longing. Her interest in Aragorn awakened as he talked to Brego in Elvish.
She was amazed at his ability, seeing as she didn`t know he was brought up in Rivendell. He intrigued her afterward, asking about her personal fears and consoling them at the same time. She senses something mysterious and possibly something extraordinary about him.
Éowyn approaches Aragorn with the offering of her stew, she comes off embarrassed, like a girl who has a crush on a boy but doesn`t know how to approach him correctly. Aragorn is somewhat disgusted with her cooking but eats it in front of her out of respect.
It takes him a second to decide to swallow, and in that second her face drops seeing him hesitate. However, he powers through and nods in appreciation, saying that the stew is good, no matter how painful it must have been for him to eat it. This lightens her spirit again.
Although Aragorn burns his fingers spilling the stew as she turns away from him, he clenches his teeth, as Éowyn tries to find out more about this mystery man.
Éowyn: “My uncle told me a strange thing. He said that you rode to war with Thengel, my grandfather. But he must be mistaken.”
Aragorn: “King Théoden has a good memory. He was only a small child at the time.”
Éowyn: “Then you must be at least sixty. Seventy? You cannot be eighty?”
Éowyn: “You are one of the Dunedain. A descendant of Númenor, blessed with long life. It was said that your race had passed into legend.”
Aragorn: “There are few of us left. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed long ago.” Éowyn: “I`m sorry. Please, eat.”
Éowyn stands beside Aragorn with a wide smile on her face. She has uncovered the mystery of the man that intrigues her. And to her surprise, his existence is a legend, a story once told.
She seems to be a bit awestruck. It may be unbelievable for her to meet someone who looks this young and is as old as he claims. Moreover, facing a legend rouses astonishment.
He, on the other hand, seems embarrassed about his discovery. Aragorn does not favor attention, as we can see from his answers. He only provides her with facts, without a single insight more.
His bloodline as it is does not bring him any sense of pride or joy. Which is why he kept this part of himself hidden. Although Éowyn doesn`t see any flaw in him or his ancestors, he shies away from any further conversation on the subject.
Éowyn sees him as a great man, a legend brought to life. He is quickly becoming something very precious to her, someone she is now in awe of and who stirs emotions in her she might never have felt before.
As night falls and all are asleep, Aragorn reminisces on his times passed with Arwen in Rivendell. What these flashback scenes show us you can read in my next post.
Featured photo by Josh Howard on Unsplash.