Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Respectful or Condescending, Protective or Using

Is Theoden's refusal to let Merry and Eowyn participate in battle with the other warriors indicative of lack of respect for their abilities, condescension about their value to others, chivalric protectiveness for those who need protection, or something else?

In contrast, does Denethor's willingness to allow Pippin to serve equally with other warriors of Gondor suggest his respect/lack of respect for the hobbit, the low value he places on Pippin's life, his willingness to use people for his own gains, or something else?


Elladan said...

I believe that Theoden's decisions regarding Merry and Eowyn are a combination of several of the factors listed above. Theoden is indeed worried for the safety of his household when he decides to leave Eowyn behind to rule in his stead. However, there is also a distinct clash of gender expectations between the two. Considering the expectations for women at the time, (excluding Galadriel) Theoden is already showing us his wisdom in his choice for an heiress to the throne of Edoras.

Elwing said...

I think Theoden is simply trying to protect the people he loves. Now that his son has died, Eomer and Eowyn are his only living heirs. It would be foolish for him to send both of them into battle. He also cares about Eowyn very deeply and probably understands that she isn't afraid to die and would willingly throw her life away in battle.

As for Merry, I think Theoden is also trying to protect him. It is very likely that Merry will die quickly in a battle. Theoden isn't trying to be condescending, he just doesn't want to send this merry and rather innocent hobbit to his death.