Tolkien Gateway

Letter 244

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 244
RecipientDraft of an unsent letter to a reader of The Lord of the Rings
Datec. 1963
Subject(s)Comments concerning criticism of Faramir and Éowyn

Letter 244 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Regarding Éowyn, Tolkien said that it was possible to love more than one person of the other sex at a time, in a different mode and intensity. Her feelings for Aragorn probably stayed the same even after he was revealed as a lofty figure. Tolkien emphasized that Aragorn was old, which when not a physical quality (he had not decayed in any way) could be alarming or awe-inspiring. Éowyn was not ambitious in a political sense; she was not truly as soldier or "amazon" but was a brave woman capable of gallantry in a crisis.

Tolkien said his unnamed reader misunderstood Faramir. Faramir was daunted by his father, who not only had a stern proud forceful character but was also the chief of the only surviving Númenórean state. He was motherless, sisterless, and had a "bossy" brother. He was accustomed to giving way and withholding opinions, yet retained a power of command over men, derived from his qualities: Personally courageous, decisive, modest, fair-minded, scrupulously just, and very merciful. Tolkien felt that Faramir understood Éowyn very well.

Faramir's new position under the reign was no "market-garden job" as his correspondent had termed it. The Prince of Ithilien would be the greatest noble after Dol Amroth in the revived Númenórean state of Gondor, soon to be an imperial power. Faramir faced many great tasks: Rehabilitating Ithilien, removing outlaws and orc-remnants, and cleaning the dreadful vale of Minas Morgul. Also, Faramir would be one of Aragorn's chief commanders in necessary expeditions against enemies in the east, or as the military commander at home in the King's absence. Aragorn re-established the Great Council of Gondor and Faramir, still by inheritance the Steward, would be the chief counselor.

Regarding the speed of Faramir and Éowyn's love, Tolkien said that in his experience such feeling ripen very quickly in periods of stress, especially in the face of death. No lengthy petty fencing occurred; this was not a period of "Courtly Love" with its pretenses but a time with a more primitive (less corrupt and nobler) culture.