Tolkien Gateway

Arwen

Revision as of 19:33, 9 April 2010 by Pinkkeith (Talk | contribs)
"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
John Howe - Arwen.jpg
Arwen
Half-elf
Biographical Information
TitlesUndómiel, Evenstar, Queen of Gondor
BirthT.A. 241, Rivendell
DeathF.A. 121 (aged 2,901 years)
Family
HeritageHalf-elven father, Elf mother
ParentageElrond and Celebrían
SpouseAragorn II
ChildrenEldarion and several daughters
Physical Description
GenderFemale
Hair colorDark
"Frodo saw her whom few mortals had yet seen; Arwen, daughter of Elrond, in whom it was said that the likeness of Lúthien had come on earth again; and she was called Undómiel, for she was the Evenstar of her people."
The Fellowship of the Ring, Many Meetings

Arwen Undómiel (Arwen is S, pron. [ˈarwen]; Undómiel is Q, pron. [unˈdoːmi.el]), often called Arwen Evenstar, was the betrothed of Aragorn II. She is the daughter of Elrond and Celebrían (and therefore grand-daughter of Galadriel). She rejects her Elven immortality (which she had the ability to do, since she was a half-elf, thus having the choice to be counted as an elf or a man) to marry Aragorn and die with him.

Contents

History

The romance between Aragorn and Arwen is reminiscent of that between the Man Beren and the Elf Lúthien. Few other marriages between Man and Elf are recorded in the annals.

A very young Aragorn encountered Arwen for the first time at Rivendell, where he had been living; she had been staying with her grandmother in Lórien. He fell in love with her when he first saw her, but it was not until they met many years later in Lórien that she fell in love with him.

When the Hobbits arrived at Rivendell, Frodo saw Aragorn with her at one point—the first hint of their relationship. Later, when the Fellowship come to Lothlórien, he remembers their earlier meeting.

When Éowyn falls in love with Aragorn it is his fidelity to Arwen that forbids him from reciprocating, thereby motivating Éowyn's subsequent actions during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields which have major repercussions for the defence of Middle-earth. Arwen continually serves as inspiration and motivation for Aragorn, who must become King before he may wed her—not an insignificant task, considering the many long years he devotes to this cause.

Before taking to the Paths of the Dead, Aragorn is met by a group consisting of Dúnedain, his people, from the North, and Arwen's brothers, Elladan and Elrohir. They bring to him a banner on black cloth: a gift made by the hands of Arwen, and a sign that encourages him to take the difficult path. When it is unfurled at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields to reveal the emblem of Elendil in mithril, gems, and gold, it is the first triumphant announcement of the King's return.

Arwen was actually a very distant relative of Aragorn, being his first cousin sixty-three times removed. By their marriages the long-sundered lines of the Half-elven were joined. Their union also served to unite and preserve the bloodlines of the Three Kings of the High Elves (Ingwë, Finwë, and brothers Olwë and Elwë) as well as the only line with Maiarin blood through Arwen's great-great-great grandmother, Melian.

Arwen gave up her life in Fourth Age 121, at Cerin Amroth in Lórien, after the death of Aragorn.

Etymology

Arwen means "Noble Maiden" in Sindarin (from ara- = "noble" and gwenn = "maiden"). The Quenya form of her name is not entirely certain, but as just a name, it is grammatically possible to calque Arwen to Quenya as Aranwen (pron. [aˈranwen] using aran- and wendë, stem Aranwend-; compare masculine Aranwë), but Arwen itself is also coincidentally a valid Quenya synthesis (using ar-, stem Arwend-), meaning the possibility that Arwen's name is the same in Sindarin and Quenya. Her epessë, Undómiel, means "Evenstar", from Undómë "evening twilight" and el "star".

Portrayal in Adaptations

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

Arwen does not appear.

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

Arwen is voiced by Sonia Fraser.

2002: Vivendi's The Fellowship of the Ring:

Arwen appears in Rivendell after the Council of Elrond. She has a brief dialogue with Aragorn, and recites several lines from the Riddle of Strider. No voice actress is specified, but it is likely Kath Soucie.

2001-3: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings:

"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality.
Arwen is played by Liv Tyler. Various additional scenes pertaining to Arwen are inserted, some of which deviate from the books and some of which seem inspired by The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.
In the first film, she sneaks up to find Aragorn and single-handedly rescues Frodo Baggins from the Black Riders at Bruinen, thwarting them with a sudden flood, summoned by an incantation. In the book, it was Glorfindel who put Frodo on horseback and sent him alone to flee the Black Riders, and Elrond and Gandalf who arranged the flood. Also, in the book, Frodo makes his own stand against the Black Riders; in the movie Arwen defends him. During this flight, Arwen wields the sword Hadhafang, stated to have once been wielded by her father in film merchandise. This sword, however, does not appear in the books at all; in fact, in the books, Arwen is never mentioned as armed but she could have armed and defended herself as needed; see below.
Following the aforementioned scenes, the deviations include a scene in which Aragorn has a dream about Arwen in which they kiss, a scene where Arwen has an argument with her father about leaving for Valinor, and a scene where she actually departs for Valinor and then suddenly returns when she sees an image of her future son, Eldarion. In the books, it can hardly have been surprising to Arwen that she and Aragorn might have children together, since she herself is the descendant of two similar unions.
Also, and perhaps most importantly, she apparently becomes sick with grief in the film version of The Return of the King — possibly over Aragorn's seemingly hopeless cause and his impending death — soon after she rides back from the road to the Grey Havens. Elrond takes the reforged Narsil, now Andúril, to Aragorn at Dunharrow, and tells him that her fate has become bound with the One Ring, and that she is dying. However, no explanation is ever given for these statements, not even in the Extended Editions. Later, after the Ring is destroyed, Arwen shows up at Aragorn's coronation without any signs of illness.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Arwen is a non-playable character and can be found in the Last Homely House in Rivendell.

Reaction to Jackson's portrayal

"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality.
File:Arwen.jpg
Arwen Evenstar

Arwen had a very small visible role in the books outside of the Appendix (due to Tolkien conceiving the character late in the writing; Aragorn was originally supposed to marry Éowyn, as related in The History of Middle-earth). In addition to making Arwen a more visible character, the change employs the principle of "economy of characters". Characters like Glorfindel (the Elf who helps Frodo by lending him his horse and later aiding his companions in driving the Ringwraiths into the water in the book), who appear once and perform only a few tasks, are often excised from film interpretations.

In earlier copies of the script (when the movies were supposed to be filmed in two parts under a different production company), Arwen actually fought in the Battle of Helm's Deep and brought the sword Andúril to Aragorn. Some attribute the elimination of her character from the sequence to an early script leak. Another story is that Liv Tyler herself felt that the character's involvement in Helm's Deep was inappropriate, and convinced Jackson and his team to leave her out of the sequence, although the team did film at least part of her planned appearance at Helm's Deep.

These changes have met with mixed reactions. Many fans were upset because they seemed to pander to the lowest common denominator — that in order to make Arwen a "worthwhile" or "strong" character, she had to be a warrior — while in the books, her strength stems from her brave choice to forsake immortality and live a mortal life with Aragorn, which did not involve martial skill. Furthermore, there is already a skilled female warrior present in the story — namely Éowyn, but she first appears in the second part of the film trilogy. Some fans felt it odd to make it a point to insert a female warrior into a story which already had a prominent one, because this detracts from Éowyn's bravery in riding to battle. Also, he dominance at the Ford scene detracts from Frodo's bravery in the book (though admittedly the film Frodo is barely conscious - a case of Jackson "upping the ante"). However, in the second and third films in which Éowyn appears, Arwen's martial abilities are not shown at all.

Some criticize The Lord of the Rings for including few named female characters (though of course unnamed women are present, along with unnamed men) and thus accuse Tolkien of sexism. However, in the essay Laws and Customs among the Eldar, which appears in Morgoth's Ring, Tolkien writes that male and female Elves are in fact viewed in Elven society as equals, save for the fact that only the females are capable of childbearing and are thus viewed as literally holding the future of their people in their hands. It is for this reason that they traditionally refrain from going to war (although they are still trained in all the aspects of combat taught to male Elves), usually occupying themselves during wartime as healers. As the text itself states:

In all such things, not concerned with the bringing forth of children, the neri and nissi (that is, the men and women) of the Eldar are equal – unless it be in this (as they themselves say) that for the nissi the making of things new is for the most part shown in the forming of their children, so that invention and change is otherwise mostly brought about by the neri. There are, however, no matters which among the Eldar only a nér can think or do, or others with which only a nís is concerned. There are indeed some differences between the natural inclinations of neri and nissi, and other differences that have been established by custom (varying in place and in time, and in the several races of the Eldar). For instance, the arts of healing, and all that touches on the care of the body, are among the Eldar most practised by the nissi; whereas it was the elven-men who bore arms at need. And the Eldar deemed that the dealing of death, even when lawful or under necessity, diminished the power of healing, and that the virtue of the nissi in this matter was due rather to their abstaining from hunting or war than to any special power that went with their womanhood. Indeed in dire straits or desperate defence, the nissi fought valiantly, and there was less difference in strength in speed between elven-men and elven-women that had not borne child that is seen among mortals. On the other hand many elven-men were great healers and skilled in the lore of living bodies, though such men abstained from hunting, and went not to war until the last need. (Morgoth's Ring, The Second Phase, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar)

Genealogy

     Eärendil = Elwing
              |
              |       Celeborn = Galadriel
          ____|____            |
         |         |           |
         |         |           |
       Elros     Elrond = Celebrían
                        |
                ________|________
               |        |        |
               |        |        |
Aragorn II = Arwen   Elrohir   Elladan

See Also

References