Trying to follow in the footsteps of HBO's massive success with "Game of Thrones," Amazon Prime has purchased the rights to the Lord of the Rings world and is creating a new show... with very different values from what fans may be familiar with.
The show will be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Amazon has no plans to stick with Tolkien's vision of a heroic tale between good and evil. Instead, they're hoping for the next Game of Thrones, even if that means adding gore and sex into the world.
Many fans were upset at the idea of Game-of-Thronesing Tolkien's world. The tales of Middle-earth are about the struggle between good and evil, not the sexual exploits of the characters. But of course, that's not the only fundamental change fans will notice about the new series. Critics have accused the early 2000s films of not having enough racial diversity, so now Amazon's series will be much more diverse. (Nevermind that the books are meant as a mythology for the British Isles.)
The showrunners have also announced their intentions to add “a very strong female presence” and more “female heroes” for the sake of diversity. Having already laid out a reported $465 million on the first season alone, they certainly have very misinformed ideas about Tolkien's world, its message, and the nature of its female characters.
The thing is, Middle-earth already has strong, heroic female characters.
Galadriel, the Matriarch
The women of LOTR are not the main focus of the story, but without them, Frodo’s mission would have failed. They, like most women in history throughout war times, have a specific role to play.
Galadriel is one of the most powerful Elves in Middle-earth. She is truly the embodiment of ethereal femininity. With incomparable beauty and knowledge, her wisdom shines through as she guides the Fellowship of the Ring, aiding them in destroying the corruptive jewelry.
When Frodo asks her to keep the Ring, she displays great restraint. Although she’s tempted, she acknowledges that the Ring would turn her into a monster, declaring, “All shall love me and despair!” Her ability to recognize the necessity for Frodo and his band to retain the Ring and send it back where it came from is the height of womanly goodness. Readers and viewers alike hold her in awe.
Arwen the Faithful
What fantasy tale would be complete without true love and loyalty? Arwen is the granddaughter of Galadriel. Her beauty and kindness are at the core of her being. But the main aspect of her character is that she gives up her immortality to be with Aragorn, a human warrior who is the true heir to the throne of Isildur and Anárion.
Arwen understands her nature and the gravity of her choice. Yet, she decides to be with the man she loves instead of living forever because their bond means more to her than fearing the prospect of death.
Throughout his absence she is faithful. She never mistrusts him or concerns herself with pettiness. All that matters is the strength she draws from their love and her faith.
That loyalty is something modern tales have unfortunately left behind. Gone are the days of women who refuse to move on from their one true love. Or at least, stories displaying the unbreakable will of a lady who cannot love anyone but the man she has sworn her life to.
And so Arwen is crucial to Aragorn’s success. He dreams of her often, and she’s the driving force that leads him to accept the throne, where they both rule peacefully – uniting man and elves once The War of the Ring has ended.
Eowyn, Warrior Princess
Galadriel and Arwen may hold mystical powers, but Eowyn has to fight battles relying only on her strength and bravery. Like Joan of Arc, Eowyn is a fearless warrior. She's also a graceful and giving noblewoman. Instead of exuding magic and mysticism, she embodies the courage and femininity of women everywhere.
Her desire to battle alongside her uncle King Theoden and Aragorn is denied, but that doesn’t stop her. She disguises herself as a man to do what she feels is right and to fight for her people. Because of her courage, Eowyn kills the Witch-king of Angmar, the leader of the Nazgul – something no man was able to accomplish.
In addition to displaying true valor, she fully embraces her womanhood. Instead of rejecting it and donning masculine traits – like far too many female characters in recent times – she openly embraces her feelings and acknowledges them. She becomes infatuated with Aragorn and hopes to be with him. When he rejects her (as being betrothed to another), she must learn to cope with the pain in a dignified manner. There are more important things to concern her than just her heartbreak.
She battles internally as she defends her homeland, but her struggle is one of balance. It concerns not just her physical strength, but mental and spiritual as well. She is easily the most relatable woman in The Lord of the Rings and a woman we should all strive to emulate, as we’ve all felt rejected and/or torn between our duties and our intuition, which sometimes leads us to challenge our usual roles.
And, best of all, Eowyn finds love and her own happy ending with Faramir. She’s rewarded for her grace and dignity.
Tolkien’s fictional world can take on modern audiences without being massively altered to accommodate ever-changing tastes because its female characters already carry the story. They live and breathe on the page because they were designed with purpose and integrity and were written with care and style. No one can compete with them.
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