The problem with the godless worship of fantasy traditions in Game of Thrones

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(Note: this article references sexual assault.)

(Another note: the reference to The Lord of The Rings in this article are about the BOOK, not the films.  The films portray characters radically differently.)

I just read an article about why Game of Thrones is now nearly unwatchable.  I never found the plots or writing terribly compelling.  The show hauled along based on fantastic acting and really great sets and wardrobe.  It’s nihilistic eye-candy masquerading as “smart” television.  Misery is too often substituted for good storytelling.

The thing is, fantasy stories tend to get hauled down into that muck, because they all loop back to a desire to keep replicating J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic dark medievalist fantasy setting in The Lord of the Rings.  The only “innovations” in this template are how many characters get killed, and now that women are involved, how many of them get raped.

The Lord of the Rings is far from a perfect book.  It’s slow, overly reliant on exposition, and a host to flat, wooden characters and a lot of ponderous Christian metaphor… that is to say that Christian metaphor is not inherently ponderous, but Aragorn prattling on about Kingsfoil is unnecessarily long.

The problem is that The Lord of the Rings is revered among fantasy writers, so few dare to disrupt its various core formulas to tell a better story.  Video games are much better at reassembling the component parts of Tolkien, but that’s thanks to Ed Greenwood’s detour through the Forgotten Realms.  Greenwood infused humour, colour, and a pantheon of gods into Tolkien’s staunchly monotheistic fantasy, and it was made more human in the process.

The Forgotten Realms also supported a gamified system that forced narrative cohesion.  In other words, because the entire idea is for a group of players to fight monsters together, it sidestepped the other major narrative pitfall that’s rooted in The Lord of the Rings — The “Shattering of the Fellowship” device.

The Fellowship of the Ring ends up splitting into two main groups: the group that stands with Aragorn to fight the war, and the smaller group that goes with Frodo to destroy the ring.  Tolkien’s status as the child of a Catholic convert is critical to understanding some of the content of The Lord of the Rings, because of the way Catholicism treats femininity as a passive, hidden power which is often treated as a vessel sacrificed to a male deity.

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There are no female members of the Fellowship, and the bearer of the feminine ring symbol is Frodo.  The Lord of the Rings is a story of a war won through the resurrection of a masculine symbol — the sword Narsil/Anduril — and the destruction of the feminine symbol, the One Ring.  The One Ring’s powers mimic the Western monotheistic view of the sacred feminine: a mysterious negative space which gains the ring bearer hidden knowledge at the expense of his rational faculties.  Exposure to the One Ring makes a person more emotional and dependent, which were both qualities associated with femininity in Tolkien’s time.  The One Ring is even associated with a hidden member of the Fellowship — Gollum — Gollum is the one who actually destroys the One Ring, sacrificing himself in the process, because Frodo can’t do it himself.  Frodo is a biblical passive hero in the tradition of Isaac and Moses.  These passive males transfer divinity through them to the people, but they don’t take active steps themselves.  Isaac is bound.  Moses is given the tablets with the Ten Commandments.  But Isaac is such a passive figure that his father’s slave needed to find him a wife, and Moses was such a poor speaker that his brother Aaron did his talking for him.  This is symbolized in The Lord of the Rings by Sam and Gollum doing the heavy lifting for Frodo, who, like Moses and Isaac, were weakened by the burden of inherent divinity, just as mothers are said to be.

The actual women of The Lord of The Rings are similarly passive figures gifted with innate power or wisdom… with the exception of one woman, Eowyn, who assumes the role of a man to fight in the war.  While many of us see Eowyn as pretty badass, Tolkien himself described Eowyn’s transformation as a tragedy.  In fact, he saw it as an inherent tragedy of war that women had to assume male roles.

So how does this impact Game of Thrones, but NOT the Forgotten Realms branch of fantasy that inspired video game RPGs?  While Ed Greenwood took the step of making the sacred feminine of Toril an active voice, George R. R. Martin stuck with the theme of war and the destruction of the feminine.  Accordingly, there’s a lot less rape in Faerun than there is in Westeros.

In both The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire is associated with the masculine — men “run hot”, women are a cooler force.  The other name for Aragorn’s sword “Anduril” is “The Flame of the West”.  This is likely because the Seraphim and the Rider on the White Horse who leads the armies of God in the Bible are flame bearers.

There is no definitive ice queen in The Lord of the Rings, in part because the book is inherently sexless.  But in the Game of Thrones, we of course have the icy Cersei Lannister, who is also sexually dysfunctional and cunning — emotionally more “like a man” than the “purer” female characters.   She is, of course, eventually subject to her own “slut walk of shame” as a form of politicized “atonement theatre” for her sexual misdeeds.

That sort of thing isn’t normalized in Faerun, because Greenwood and Gary Gygax hard wired gender equality into the game system and game world.  Essentially, in Dungeon and Dragons, women are equal participants, not some embodiment of the sacred or profane feminine.  In The Lord of the Rings, there is no profane feminine, and in Game of Thrones, nothing is sacred and no woman is inviolate; women are rendered impure even by their own periods.  Both of these omissions are weaknesses that The Forgotten Realms do not share.

tyrionBecause relegating women to passive or perverse forces in fantasy creates weak points, Game of Thrones has fractured now that its characters are scattered.  Martin and the show’s writers fractured a Fellowship that never existed.  Without the Christian symbolism allowing the narrative to thin out without shattering, Game of Thrones has scattered into a collection of parts with little significance.  The Frodo of the show, Tyrion Lannister, isn’t feminized.  He’s a “half man”, but still a man — bearded, sexual, and capable of violence.  The feminine in Game of Thrones is symbolized by menstruation, manipulations, and rapes, not rings, leaves, light and shadow.

These are legitimate artistic choices on HBO’s part, but it’s left Game of Thrones without symbolism tying the narrative together the way Frodo’s ring and Aragorn’s sword stopped Tolkien’s epic from flying apart.  The lack of a yin and yang in Game of Thrones implies that George Martin borrowed the R. R. from J. R. R. Tolkien without really understanding what pulled the masterpiece out of Tolkien’s flaws.  Game of Thrones lacks the spark of the divine that allowed The Lord of the Rings to become greater than the sum of its parts.

Don’t freak out, atheists, I’m referring to divinity as a narrative device here, not a literal god.  Divinity in fiction is the theme or narrative glue that makes the plot points resonate, and Game of Thrones says little beyond “people, when given power, are terrible to each other”.  It’s fictionalized historical treatise, not an allegory of an idea.

Where The Forgotten Realms took Tolkien and added girls and jokes, A Song of Ice and Fire took Tolkien and removed the mythic and sacred.  Therefore, there’s nothing left when innocence and people die, because Game of Thrones fails its saving throw against fatalism.

(EDIT: I removed the marijuana joke because it offended some people and I determined it was an unnecessary distraction that had nothing to do with the main point.  Typos also corrected.)

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12 thoughts on “The problem with the godless worship of fantasy traditions in Game of Thrones”

  1. what books have you been reading?
    it’s a song of ice and fire the squabbles of man are irrelevant to the changing of the seasons
    the three headed dragon will appear to save us from destruction and to break the wheel of chaos

    also disloyalty/dishonesty gets you killed (king de-hands his friend ned, gets killed by boar – ned purposely misquotes the king, gets decapitated – king of the north breaks his vouw, gets killed – greyjoy betrays his “brother” and fake kills his brothers, gets killed and tortured)

    also john snow is basically jesus

  2. “In both The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire is associated with the masculine — men “run hot”, women are a cooler force. ”

    WHAT!!!!

    Melisandre, the priest to Rh’lor uses fire magic, Daenerys has fire-breathing dragons. Jon Snow who is as above basically Jesus is up at the wall which is super cold. And the Stark males are constantly associated with Winter.

    Aerys is the only male who is remotely associated with fire, and he never even appears except in Jaime’s recollections.

    ….i mean i guess the pyromancers, but they barely appear. GOT and ASOIAF have a variety of rich developed female characters. Melisandre, Sansa, Arya, Cersei, Brienne, and Asha Greyjoy, Arianne Martell and her Snakes….pretty much have nothing in common. Arianne is overtly sexual and violent and mostly terrible at them, using cloak and dagger and spear with equal vigor if not skill.. Asha is a pragmatic shield maiden forcing her own way in a chauvinistic society, Cersei the shrieking she-stalin stand in for the vices of modern feminism, Arya the chaotic avatar of it’s virtues. Melisandre is a ruthless religious fanatic, who is nonetheless consistently and annoyingly correct

    All of that I could shrug off but;

    “Without the Christian symbolism allowing the narrative to thin out without shattering, Game of Thrones has scattered into a collection of parts with little significance. The Frodo of the show, Tyrian Lannister, isn’t feminized. He’s a “half man”, but still a man — bearded, sexual, and capable of violence. ”

    TYRION, is a half-man, because he doesn’t even feel fully human. He is if anything, the closest we have with Daenerys and Jon Snow to a main protagonist (and likely the third head of the dragon). He is convinced until the end of the third book that he is inherently unlovable. That he has his brain and family money, but that is it. He is blind to his own charisma and brilliance, because despite his class privilege, he is despised by those who should love him the most. Except for Jaime (who spoiler alert) has actually betrayed him in a huge way. He is Hyper-sexual as a coping mechanism because he thinks whores are the only people who can at least pretend to love him. He is violent because he has to be. He is bearded because he is a parody of fantasy dwarfs.

    Couldn’t….even….spell…the name right
    🙁

  3. you folks do realize that this series is GRRM’s albatross around his neck right? It has been pretty clear since a feast for crows that he has had no interest in continuing this story. As a matter of fact I daresay he has absolutely no idea how to actually conclude this mess of tangents that he has spun. I will further say that this will NOT be completed before his end, and will be left hanging deliberately.

    At this point there is absolutely zero cohesiveness to the story. There is a mess in the North with Jon’s death and Stannis having to face the frozen ones, Dany is still oacross the sea with no clear plan to come back, Kings Landing is just a complete mess with Cersie gone nuts, and littlefinger doing what littlefinger does best. It is just a mess of a story right now.

  4. I seriously question your claim that in The Lord of the Rings the Ring is somehow feminine and Anduril is somehow masculine. These objects don’t seem to me to be in any way gendered. If you wanted to assign a gender to the Ring, however, I’d make it male as it is presented as a referring to Sauron, or at least his power. Sauron is definitely presented as male.

    As for the gender of the characters, the majority of the characters are soldiers or political figures. In Tolkien’s time (and of course today) the majority of soldiers and political figures are male so it isn’t unusual to see that in the story. There’s certainly no intended meaning or message in the books as the author clearly stated himself. While I agree the story is far from perfect as it can drag at times I feel that your assessment of gender doesn’t match what I’ve read.

    Regarding A Song of Ice and Fire, I tend to agree with Matt’s comment above but I’ll add that the story is far from perfect. The problem that I have with it is that it seems to have started to drag, far more so in the books than in the TV series in my opinion. Martin seems to have become bogged down in the details and I feel as if he’s overused the ‘bad things happen to everyone’ theme.

    I’m not really familiar with the Forgotten Realms, beyond what I’ve seen in the Baldur’s Gate trilogy, but I don’t doubt that there is far less rape there. I’d also expect that there are far fewer penises being cut off. The Song of Ice and Fire not only has ‘Reek’ but also an entire army of men who’ve been chopped not to mention Lord Varys. Bad things happen to just about everyone and singling out the women that have been raped suggests a gendered approach to something that doesn’t seem to be gendered.

    One last comment. You’ve tweated ‘I learned today that some Game of Thrones fans lose their shit at criticism.’

    You’ve stated your opinion on 3 separate fictional words. If you state your opinion others will state theirs, as I’ve done here. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s a natural consequence of someone stating their view. How do you tell the difference between people expressing an opinion that completely disagrees with yours and people who are losing their shit?

    I obviously haven’t seen all of the comments you’ve been receiving but I have seen people who definitely disagree with what you’ve said, but I don’t see how that constitutes ‘losing their shit’.

    1. I don’t understand why is ring feminine either. The difference in interpretation about Eowyn between Tolkien and current fans is that Tolkien was as sexist in his expectation of female role (as was normal at the time) and current fans are less so.

      It is kind of like female professionals in 1950-1960 in USA according to Friedman – we see them as good role models and skilled strong women while contemporaries seen them as “neurotic women aping men” and overall pathetic. The character is the same, no difference in character actions. It is readers who changed.

      I also read Game of Thrones (show) take at gender differently – both males and women use whatever tools are available to them in quest for power or safety. Women cant use swords as well, thus cant fight in armies and that kind of career is closed to them. That is the limitation they have to work around. Men manipulate as much as women, the show does not treat manipulation as something specific to females. Men get raped or molested a lot in that show. Male prostitutes are frequent.

      The main difference is that girls are not taught military skills while boys are and are not as strong. The world is sexist in how it treats the girls, but female characters are not weaker nor stupider nor more passive then male characters. They just have been dealt worst cards when they have been born.

      At least for me, that is the important difference. If your world is not sexist theoretically, but all females happen to be submissive queens who improably rose to power then it is not it.

      Your world can be sexist, but your female characters were like real female resistance members (e.g. doing what they can, taking risks, committing crimes within the limitations such word puts on them) then it is good.

      For me it shows more respect towards real women in the past. They lived in sexist words, but were not like 1950 literature paints them. When you read survivors account of WWI or WWII war time on territories where war actually was, women were not sitting at home bored. They had to struggle to survive, struggle to protect old relatives or children, struggle to protect husbands, work, steal, yell during protests. The 1960 kind of sexism with passivity expectation Friedman writes about is product of rich world – not the one where people struggle to survive.

      I think that appreciating women who lived in sexist struggling word but max out what was possible for them is necessary step toward equality – because we learn to see them as full active humans and not as passive shells.

  5. Couldn’t get past either the first book or first episode of Game of Thrones. So I have little opinion on this.

    It should be remembered that Forgotten Realms is a line with many authors, not just one, and a tight editorial control. It has more in common with superhero comics than typical fantasy.

    (and ironically, I consider Ed Greenwood to be one of FR’s least talented writers.)

    FR also has a nasty habit of unnecessary retcons. I hated the recent undoing of EVERYTHING since the Spellplague. It was clumsy and unnecessary. I believe in moving forward, not back. I hate retcons.

  6. Upon reading this article, I thought it might turn out to be a little bit controversial, and the comments confirmed my suspicion. My parents read The Lord of the Rings to me as a child, and I’ve only watched the Game of Thrones series, not read the books, so I don’t feel qualified to comment on these topics at length. I do feel that the GoT series is incredibly unfocused because it tells too many stories simultaneously and doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

    I believe that it should be mentioned that the association of men with heat and women with cold even predates the bible. Aristotle, and others before him, emphasized this in their works. It must be said that this emphasis on body heat manifested in some pretty funny theories, for example, Aristotle believed that toddlers were innately cold, and had to heat up so that the heat would evaporate the excessive wetness in their heads so that they could learn how to walk.
    Uroscopers (people who diagnosed diseases by looking at urine, pretty important historically) sometimes wrote in their tracts (in the early modern period) that the excessive cold and wetness of women resulted in larger quantities of urine, and that women would try to hide this from the uroscoper by pouring some of it away. The coldness/wetness was thusly seen as shameful.

    I fully expect you, Liana, to know about the historical association of women with cold, but I think it would have been good if you would have mentioned that Tolkien didn’t make this stuff up.

    I want to finish by saying that I generally really love your work, please keep going!

  7. “But in the Game of Thrones, we of course have the icy Cersei Lannister, who is also sexually dysfunctional and cunning — emotionally more “like a man” than the “purer” female characters. She is, of course, eventually subject to her own “slut walk of shame” as a form of politicized “atonement theatre” for her sexual misdeeds.”

    I seen that differently – she was subject to it because she placed uncontrolable authoritarian religious freaks in position of power to destroy her competitor. Subsequently she lost control over them and they did the same thing to her. It had nothing to do with Cersei being bad or good, feminine or masculine, evil or saint and all to do with her doing strategic mistakes in power struggle.

    Just like when Eddard Stark got executed.

    I strongly think that assumption that out of control bad things happening to characters are consequence of who the characters are and whether they have been good is one huge failure of western storytelling and analysis. It is as if we would be believing in karma while pretending we don’t. Bad things don’t happen because you was morally bad, they happen because you was unlucky or made mistake. Morality and happy life are two different things.

    In game of thrones, they happen because the word is in war and effectively an anarchy with zero checks and balances on power. All those people running away from war zones and countries in the middle of revolution are running away from what happens when countries miss those checks and balances. This is the reason why people tend to choose authoritarian rulers over anarchy and chaos.

    I get that many people might not like stories about worlds at such point in history. However, it should not mean that definition “good storytelling” should be limited to less chaotic words. Stories inspired by war of roses, falls of monarchy, boslhevik revolution, great purge, second world war or whatever is going on in Syria right now should not automatically count as “bad storytelling” just because those periods provided no safety nor stability. Good stories based on those periods will be bleak, just as good stories inspired by civil rights victories are going to be happy.

    Stories that does not show armies and packs of noble heroes, but instead as packs of traumatized men conditioned to think nothing of killing are not necessary bad storytelling. On some ideological level, I prefer them, because those happy war stories paint war as something inspiring and great, something that will turn boys into right kind of men and that is wrong. It is wrong because a lot of armies fought here and it was always catastrophic for civilians. It is wrong because war did not turned boys into right kind of men, it took away from them and often made it very hard for them to adjust to peaceful life. That happy message often amounts to whitewashing of what war or revolution does to people.

  8. I think you are, on some level, missing what A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones is trying, and in my opinion succeeding, to accomplish.

    The fact that it reads like a historical treatise is the point. The idea is to shed the fantastical, to create a world that is so detailed, and characters that are so believable and resonate so strongly with our understanding of human nature, that it’s possible for the audience to briefly forget…at least until a dragon or a zombie shows up again…that this is a fictional world they’re immersed in and not a history.

    It’s that blending of the amazing with the “could be real” that makes it such a unique and genius series.

  9. OK, the article mentioned in the beginning is this http://www.grunge.com/2578/game-thrones-become-unwatchable/ I think.

    So I’ll quickly deal with that article, before going into Liana’s more extended criticism.

    The views I express will be my personal views of course, since I’ve not yet learned to read minds, but I will make some cultural assumptions and feel right righteous about them, too.

    Too much death:
    This series is trying to follow the novels faithfully. Game of Thrones teaches us – in the first book – that heroes can die and the typical heroes (the Stark family) are not immune to the War of the Roses setting the series takes place in. (A lot more death during the historical War of the Roses, though…)

    Too much sex:
    OK, the series has boobies and sex in it. To even care about it is – imho – a cultural phenomenon. Most Europeans do not care that there are naked scenes in a movie, while for the US it is a big deal. For a European you could as well say: “Too many swords in GoT”…
    I think it would be beneficial for the nation with the biggest porn industry globally to come to terms with their sexualitity – like their parents or grandparents did in the 70ies. But it is unimportant here.

    Too much bleakness:
    Well, it is a time of war. If you ever have been – like I had the misfortune once – close to a warzone – you will see desperate attempts at normalcy and otherwise not many cheerful events happening. Though life went pretty well for Daenaerys for a long time. Subjugating city after city, out-smarting the locals…

    Confusing Plotlines:
    It is not only the series, it is also the books that get more confusing as Martin chose to write two books that happen in parallel describing the actions – and being written from the POV of several different characters. The show already “merged” several story lines belonging to different characters into existing, well known actors roles. While completely leaving out other major characters.

    It lacks credibility…
    Does it? It is still trying to stay faithful to the story of the books.

    Now to something completely different: Liana’s article. A tale of not two cities, but three Worlds. 😉

    First of all, while Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is the “Father of modern Fantasy” I don’t think that Martin’s Game of Thrones is a rather distant Cousin at most.
    There are some high fantasy elements in pretty low fantasy setting that is more aligned with times of medieval times of high intrigue. Like for example the British War of the Roses and/or Byzantine politics during the end phase of the East Roman Empire.

    I don’t really see the Tolkien replication there, to be honest. Unless anything styled fantasy is LOTR clone by default. Tolkien build his world on Norse & Celtic myths. Tolkien had his “bible” (The Silmarillion), his Lewis Carroll prelude with the Hobbit. And his big Epos with Lord of the Rings. Disclaimer: I loved all of those books and also the side stories like Sons of Turin (hope I got the right from memory).

    The principles of the Tolkien world are very much different from what we get in GoT.
    Not only are there different races, like Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, many different cultures of humans. The political picture is a very simplistic good vs evil. Whereas GoT offers us a spectrum of different views and only in the very beginning of the first book are we lured into the trap of thinking of House Stark as the traditional good guys.

    Now let us take a look at Faerun. A world I spent a lot of time in. (Over 30 years of Pen&Paper Role-play inevitably lead your steps to Faerun at times…)

    Faerun does style a pantheon of gods actually very similar to what Tolkien did. In Tolkien’s world we have the various Valar, which are essentially representations of elements and crafts, just like the Greek pantheon. All united under Iluvatar, who brought the world and the other gods into being. He keeps out of day-to-day (or eon-to-eon) business.

    In Faerun we have the various Gods and Goddesses. All very much shaped after existing pantheons. And we have Lord Ao, who is the Father of the Universe, just like Iluvatar.

    We have the Time of Strife, where mortals actually take over the mantles of godhood from several older Gods. (And forgive me, but I liked Cyric a lot! ;))

    And women and men are equal in many(!) prominent cultures of Faerun, not all. Although traditional AD&D rules had different sets of max stats for males and females. (Book of Drows comes to mind. Females are stronger and larger, which is explained by their culture, but original rules included that e.g. a female human would not be as strong as a male…)

    Saying that females are not products of perverse impulses is also wrong when looking at Faerun, when once again we look at either Thay or the Drow society in Faerun. There is a quite explicit scene in the “Homeland” novel, for example, where the Drow engage in a sexual orgy initiated by the females. There is a drawing of a naked drow woman in one of the older versions of the Book of Drow.

    In other cultures across Faerun, women are not much more than slaves. Mimicking the “Arabian” or “Asian” parts of Faerun.

    OK, enough on Faerun, I think… It is a vast and complex setting. And ultimately it is what the Storyteller and his players make of it. (I prefer the Birthright setting, btw… Or I come up with my own setting.)

    Now I will not comment on the association of the One Ring as a female element and Aragorn’s sword as a male element in Lord of the Rings. I think there are many ways to interprete those symbolic icons, but I personally see their roots more in Norse, Germanic and Celtic legends. (The Ring Sigurd wears comes to mind, coupled with his helmet of invisibility. And there are more magic swords in legends than you could easily shake a pointed stick at – safely.)

    In the Game of Thrones women aren’t helpless victims, but they can become victim to rape or perceived rape. And death. It is a grim world that Martin depicts, but not one so much based on Tolkien. And not one so far away from Faerun.

    There are other things I could repeat, that other commentators already pointed out.

    All in all I think Liana’s article does inspire one to think about and revisit three very prominent and interesting fantasy worlds, but I do not necessarily agree with her conclusions on this one or the root analysis of where the worlds stem from.

    I think it could be the beginning of a rather good discussion on Fantasy worlds, though.

  10. Here’s a comment from a fan of Forgotten Realms, Lord of the Rings (I’ve actually read the Silmarillion), and A Song of Ice and Fire that you might enjoy. (I only mention my preferences here for context)

    1.) I disagree that George R.R. Martin’s universe lacks the divine. Religion is actually a driving force throughout the series. The difference between ASOIF and LOTR/FR is that, for much of the series, the “magical” or “fantastic” elements of the world are deliberately downplayed. Unlike Faerun, which (at least in the books by R.A. Salvatore that I’ve read) makes explicit that gods and magic are known entities, or Middle Earth (in which the debate isn’t whether the theology is correct but whether Sauron is returning), Westeros (and Essos) is a realm of competing, often mutually exclusive religions that compete for influence (similar to how religions act in the real world). In fact, the “fantastic” elements of ASOIF become more pronounced as they become more relevant to the characters, instead of being explained/established primarily through exposition (as is the case in the Forgotten Realms and Lord of the Rings). With the exception possibly of the existence of wargs and White Walkers (though we are pretty unsure of their nature until later), we don’t really know which religious tradition in Westeros is the “correct” one.

    2.) I also disagree with your characterization of women as more or less equal to men in the Forgotten Realms books (at least in the 20 or so I’ve read). While women can achieve status as adventurers or leaders in that universe, they are vastly outnumbered by men. That is also not taking in to account that the narrative focus of those books leans heavily on adventuring parties of heroes–when “common” women are mentioned, they’re more likely to be a wife or homemaker than a warrior or mage (except for the Drow, but you certainly won’t find many women among their warriors or mages, to be sure). This is largely similar to A Song of Ice and Fire, where powerful women (whether through wit, as are Cercei or Margery, or through battle, as are Brienne and Ygrette) exist and are highlighted, but most “commoner” women mentioned are wives, waifs, or whores (You could argue that the extraordinary women in ASOIF are more “impressive” than those in the FR, seeing as how they rebel against explicit, rather than implicit, gender roles). As you’ve mentioned, LOTR has 4 or so named women in it. The only woman of consequence in the Hobbit had to be invented by Peter Jackson, lest the whole trilogy be a sausage fest.

    3.) Your depiction of the One Ring (LOTR) as a “feminine” object doesn’t make sense, in my humble opinion. It wasn’t the Ring’s femininity that made those who used it dangerous and irrational, it was the ring’s raw power. That ring is what gave Sauron his power and what, if reunited with its master, would spell doom for the civilized races of Middle Earth. I sincerely doubt that Tolkien (who was so Catholic he stopped talking to C.S. Lewis when the latter became an Anglican) held the feminine as the ultimate power of evil. (It’s also worth noting that Galadriel didn’t become emotional or irrational when tempted by the ring, she became a calculating tyrant)

    I don’t want to bore you further, but I do hope that you enjoyed my perspective on the matter 🙂

    1. I don’t know if it bores Liana, but I certainly totally agree with all the points you made.
      Nicely done. Nice to know I’m not the only geek left on this world who knows all three worlds. 🙂

      The One Ring as a feminine object…
      All the powers it supposedly confers are more traditionally male, I would think.
      The other rings gave their bearers the power to rule their people. (However that was done is never said explicitly afaik. Although in the case of Galadriel we could see that she more or less held Lorien from decay.)

      The One Ring governs the other rings, so it is the power to rule over all.
      Even then the premise was that your mind was strong enough to handle that power and the character of the rings creator (Sauron) was part of that power.

      As Gandalf says, he would start out trying to do good with the ring. But inevitably he would end up just becoming the next Dark Lord. He would be a power “to great and terrible” with the ring.

      And I loved the part where the Ring tried to seduce Sam and he imagined these huge perfect gardens.

      Anyway… Thanks for your comment from my side!

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