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?


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: I think cats have a much more independent character, which is why they can't be written as a friend in Tolkien's works.