33 days ’til I turn 42!
Remember back when I used to (try to) write an AEL about almost every art I experienced? I used to start the AEL and add stuff as I went along. But then I wouldn’t finish writing up my thoughts on all those things, and then I’d start another AEL and do the same thing XD So I have all these unfinished entries in my Drafts folder. Since it’s been years on most of them, I’m obviously never going to finish them… so here I’m importing all the thoughts that were in a couple of them, whether they’re finished or not. To reiterate: this was all a long-ass time ago.
So Legolas’ “elf eyes” are mentioned a silly number of times. I’ve always kinda laughed at this, but this time around it’s made me giggle for a different reason than just the repetition. Because what if the other characters are just stroking Legolas’ ego? He’s the only elf in the Company, after all, and a freaking prince whose royalty is never once mentioned. Perhaps the other characters are just trying to placate a minor histrionic tendency or arrogance that doesn’t show itself strongly for the very reason that his elf eyes keep getting mentioned?
Totally disinterested as I am in Tolkien fanfiction, it would be kinda funny to write a story wherein, during some invented previous adventure featuring Legolas and Gandalf and Aragorn, Legolas made conceited references to his own elf eyes so much that the others started teasing him about it; eventually the teasing became a matter of habit, until finally it was simply standard conversation to refer to Legolas’ elf eyes, and nobody thought anything of it.
How was Glamdring preserved? My assumption is that the Valar restored it to Gandalf at some point after his return. It’s a historic artifact, after all, a symbol of the Elder Days, and a meaningful weapon against the Enemy. But it’s way funnier to imagine that not only did Gandalf manage to hold onto it throughout the entire business with the Balrog, from the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, but that he had it with him when Gwaihir carried him to Lorien. Naked Gandalf thousands of feet in the air dangling from an eagle and carrying a sword = win.
So the tale of the entwives is very intriguing, but has always bugged me a bit. The idea that every single one of the female ents believed a certain way and embraced a certain way of life that was in some ways the complete opposite of the belief system and way of life of every single one of the males is not just absurdly illogical, but really disturbing. But this time around, I’ve had a couple of thoughts on the matter that make me feel a bit better about it.
Ents were originally created for a very specific purpose — to guard defenseless nature against the potential wantonness or greed of intelligent beings. Treebeard’s dialogue does not seem to indicate a conscious awareness of that creation and that purpose, but still it seems to be ingrained in their natures to the point where they are fulfilling it whether they know it or not.
The very fact that this race was created for a specific purpose makes essentialism of attitude easier to accept — and if that essentialism is organized by gender, that concept too is made less irritating and more believable than in many other contexts. Perhaps the female ents were specifically designed as guardians of the aspect of nature that is order and productivity, whereas the males were designed as guardians of the wild.
This still, I believe, makes a sad commentary on Tolkien’s attitudes about men and women, but at least it also makes a sort of sense. A second idea, somewhat incompatible with this first, I think I may like even better. After all, Tolkien himself did say, “[quote from early in The Silmarillion about the inherent genders of the Valar],” and it’s possible that we aren’t getting all the real facts of the story.
From the elven song that Treebeard sings on the matter, I get the feeling that there may have been a bit of rivalry, of bitterness, to the clash of ideals between ents and entwives — it’s not just “Come back to me and be with me,” it’s “Come back to me and say my land is best.” Each side of this debate seems to want the other side to bow, to admit that they’ve been wrong. Of course this may be simply an elvish take on something they were observing from the outside, but it does seem to suggest a sort of gender war — quiet, perhaps, but observable — between male and female ents.
As such, the overall battle of divergent attitudes in the societies may have had a polarizing effect on the individuals. It seems entirely possible that many female ents were not as obsessed with order and stability as Treebeard painted them, and many males not nearly such ungovernable roamers… but any individual that wasn’t as whole-heartedly devoted to the subculture to which he or she belonged might have stayed quiet, feeling that to admit sympathy with the other half would be letting the side down.
Speaking of Gandalf and his love for Shadowfax as I was earlier… when Pippin has looked into the Orthanc Palantir and Gandalf is rather upset with him, as soon as they ride off do you notice what Pippin immediately does? He starts praising Shadowfax. Clever, Pippin, clever! You figured out how to dispel any remaining irritation Gandalf might be feeling for you!
The noise of running water was always on their right. Then they were turned around so they lost all sense of direction, and the blindfolds were removed. And the running water is not in any way going to provide a guide that will totally negate the effects of the spinning?