Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Cats of Queen Berúthiel

One cool side-story that we didn't get a chance to talk about in class is "The Cats of Queen Berúthiel".  Christopher Tolkien put it in note 7 of the Istari chapter on page 419.  I don't know about you guys, but I was really excited to see this note.  Tolkien mentions the story somewhere (of course now I can't remember where) in The Lord of the Rings, but not a whole lot of information is given about it.  Anyway, I found it interesting because Tolkien hardly ever talks about cats.  There are a few dogs (Huan and Garm) and plenty of horses but no cats.  Queen Berúthiel is portrayed negatively in the story and her cats are basically spies for her.  I wonder if this suggests that Tolkien hated cats.  He probably wasn't a cat person (and neither am I).  What sort of attributes do cats have that make them unlikable in Tolkien's world?  The only thing I can think of is that dogs are very loyal (which is a good trait to have) whereas cats are more aloof.  What do you guys think?

2 comments:

S. M. said...

Another trait of cats that Tolkien draws attention to in the story of Queen Beruthiel is their ability to move about almost soundlessly. Whenever I see a cat jump down from a fence, the cat hardly makes noise when it lands. Perhaps the tendency for cats to travel virtually undetected made them less likeable/trustworthy in Tolkien’s world.

Julie Lautenschleger said...

Yes, Tolkien definitely does not mention cats as much as some other animals! The cats in Queen Beruthiel's story act a lot like spies. I don't care much for cats and how sneaky they can be (perfect example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzzjgBAaWZw&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1). I think cats have a much more independent character, which is why they can't be written as a friend in Tolkien's works.