Tolkien Gateway

Éowyn

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Ellaine - Eowyn.jpg
Éowyn
Rohir
Biographical Information
Other namesWhite Lady of Rohan, Dernhelm, and Lady of the Shield-arm.
PositionLady of Rohan.
BirthThird Age 2995.
DeathSome time during the early Fourth Age.
Family
ParentageÉomund + Théodwyn.
SpouseFaramir.
ChildrenElboron.
Physical Description
GenderFemale.
"Then, Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back."
Faramir, The Steward and the King

Éowyn (Third Age 2995 – Fourth Age ?), the Lady of Rohan, was also known as the Lady of the Shield-arm, the White Lady of Rohan[1], and Lady of Ithilien. She was a member of the House of Eorl and the niece of King Théoden of Rohan. She was the daughter of Théoden's sister, Théodwyn, and Éomund of Eastfold. Her brother was Éomer Éadig.

Contents

History

Following the Battle of the Hornburg, Éowyn was left to care for Meduseld while Théoden and Éomer led the remaining Rohirrim to save Minas Tirith. King Théoden in fact named her ruler of Rohan in his and Éomer's absence when the Doorward Háma recommended that one of "The House of Eorl" should rule. (As Théoden first only thought of male members, and he and Éomer were the last males of the House, but Háma reminds them of Éowyn, who is "fearless" and that "all love her".) Frustrated by unrequited love for Aragorn and longing for the glory of battle, she disguised herself as a man, and under the alias of Dernhelm, traveled with the Riders of Rohan, carrying with her Merry, who was also ordered to remain.

During the battle of the Pelennor Fields she fought by King Théoden, and when he was injured during combat with the Witch-king of Angmar, she and Merry scrambled to help him. Confronting the Witch-king, who boasted that "no living man may hinder me," she removed her helmet, exposing her long blond hair and declaring,

"No living man am I! You look upon a woman."

Just as MacDuff disconcerted Macbeth by revealing he was not "of woman born", Lady Éowyn found the loophole in the 1,000-year-old prophecy by Glorfindel, fulfilling that the Witch-king would not be slain by a man. However, the Witch-king actually recited the prophecy incorrectly: he said that "no living man may hinder me," though the prophecy actually said that "Not by the hand of Man will he fall." Glorfindel's prophesy, unlike his own version, implies that the Witch-king will eventually fall, and the Witch-king likely overestimated his own power and believed he would never be defeated.

Lady Éowyn slew the Witch-king after Merry stabbed him behind the knee. Strictly speaking, Merry is also "no man," being a Hobbit. However, the stab behind the knee likely wouldn't have been fatal, even if it did break the bonds that "bent his unseen sinews to his will." The consensus seems to be that Merry's stab made the Witch-king vulnerable while Eowyn's slash actually resulted in death. She was granted the title "Lady of the Shield-arm" after the Battle in recognition of her triumph over the Witch-king.

Lady Éowyn was severely injured in this fight, and because of the poisonous effect of the Nazgûl, she faced near-certain death; however, she was treated in time by Aragorn during his brief rest in Minas Tirith. Since she didn't yet recover completely, she couldn't join Aragorn's army on their way to Mordor. However, while recuperating in the Houses of Healing, she met Faramir, with whom she fell in love. After the demise of Sauron, the happily wed couple settled in Ithilien, of which Faramir was made the ruling Prince. Éowyn was not known as the Princess of Ithilien, rather as the Lady of Ithilien. They had at least one son (likely Elboron), and their grandson was Barahir, who wrote The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the Fourth Age. The date of Éowyn's death is nowhere recorded.

Éowyn's role in the stories challenges conventional stereotypes of the role of women. She succeeds where a man would have failed in slaying the Witch King and throughout the books even when recovering from the wounds bought in that conflict rebels against being left behind while the men go off to win glory in war. Her role more than any other female within the mythology challenges accusations of sexism commonly leveled at Tolkien and in many ways (intentionally or not) displays attitudes ahead of his time in regards to social equality.

Etymology

Éowyn means "Horse-joy" in Anglo-Saxon, the language Tolkien used to represent Rohirric.

Pronunciation

The first syllable of Lady Éowyn's name sounds like "eh-ah," with the "ah" just barely pronounced. As in Scandinavian, the y in the second syllable is the same sound as the German letter ü or the French u. The actors in The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy consistently pronounce her name as well as the names of Éomer and Théoden in a manner inconsistent with most reconstructions of Old English pronunciation.

Portrayal in Adaptations

1955-6: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Rings:

Olive Gregg provides the voice of Éowyn.

1978: Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings:

Éowyn is briefly seen, but has no lines.

1979: The Mind's Eye's The Lord of the Rings:

Éowyn is portrayed by Karen Hurley.

1980: Rankin/Bass' The Return of the King:

Éowyn is voiced by actress Nellie Bellflower. She appears unintroduced, but Merry fills Pippin (and so the spectator) in on the details. She is not terribly wounded, and appears healthy besides Faramir at the coronation.

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Rings:

Elin Jenkins plays the part of Éowyn.

2002-3: The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy:

Éowyn is portrayed by Miranda Otto. Jackson's adaptation shows two different explanations for Éowyn's injuries after fighting the Witch-king. In the Theatrical Release, her wounds are less severe than in the book; she is conscious but hurt, as opposed to unconscious. In the extended scenes of the Extended Edition, she is near death: her brother finds her and grieves, and later we see her being healed in the Houses of Healing, where she shares a tender moment with Faramir.

See Also

References

  1. Éowyn was known as "Lady of Rohan" in Rohan, but as "White Lady of Rohan" in Ithilien (due to her pale complexion).