Eowyn, by Suzanne Helmigh

eowyn1Eowyn, by Suzanne Helmigh

“There she won the greatest fame of any warrior by standing over the mortally wounded King Théoden and fighting the Witch-King, the lord of the Ring-wraiths.” —From Tolkien: a Dictionary, by David Day

Woot! Welcome, folks, to my 100th full writeup for Sartorially Smart Heroines! Thank you all ever so much for your feedback and support over the last hundred writeups, and here is hopping for a hundred more! As my first writeup for SSH was Miranda Otto as the Lady Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings films, it seemed fitting to return to the beloved character for writeup number 100.

Suzanne’s lovely portrait is for the Lord of the Rings Card Game, by Sophisticated Games. What’s most interesting to me about this depiction is that our lovely shield-maiden seems to be wearing armor of Gondor rather than her traditional Rohirrim garb. Traditionally, the Riders of the Mark have been depicted wearing leather and chain mail; here we see her wearing plate mail over chain, an armor favored by the knights and soldiers of Gondor. As such, I like to imagine this as a depiction of Eowyn after the Battle of Pelennor Fields and the War of the Ring.

eowyn1One of the significant plot-points of Eowyn’s bulky chain mail during Return of the King was that it disguised her femininity, allowing her to ride to war beside the men. The trimness and feminine styling of the cuirass tell us that she’s forgone the disguise and fights openly beside her allies. Though not an ideal shape for deflection and absorption, the breastplate isn’t sculpted in a way that will injure her sternum or deflect Easterling arrows toward her heart. Beneath the cuirass she wears a chain hauberk for additional protection in the thick of a cavalry melee against orcish warg-riders. Between these layers, she wears a thin layer of leather to prevent abrasion between the plate and chain. Segmented spaulders protect our heroine’s shoulder joints while allowing a reasonable amount of flexibility. Her arms are further protected by chain mail sleeves and steel vambraces. Lastly, she wears a steel helm to keep her head safe from orc clubs and axes.

If I were to make any recommendations for our heroine’s outfit, I’d suggest a pair of gauntlets or leather gloves to keep her hands safe during cavalry maneuvers and sword play. All in all, it’s an effective outfit for patrolling the Ithilian frontier or leading the charge against the enemies of the West.

Though the films don’t really go into it, according to the Lord of the Rings novels Eowyn falls in love with and eventually marries Faramir, younger brother of Boromir and Steward of Gondor. Rather than settling down, I can imagine our heroine staying on with Gondor’s army, leading the White City’s knights and men-at-arms and training them in Rohirrim cavalry tactics. I feel like Eowyn’s mature visage and Gondorian armor in Suzanne’s portrait are excellent reflections of our Lady’s role as a former shield-maiden and the wife of the Steward of Gondor.

Huge thanks to Suzanne for letting me borrow her art for the blog. Thanks, as always, for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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5 Responses to Eowyn, by Suzanne Helmigh

  1. seraph4377 says:

    Two months late to the party, still thought I’d say somethin’. Glad the comments haven’t closed.

    I seem to remember a line or two from the books where Eowyn said she’d had enough of war, and was retiring to become a healer. Tolkien’s idea of a happy ending for her, I suppose. I think I like the idea of her becoming a captain in the armies of Gondor better. I already liked the fact that he’d had her defeat the black knight/evil sorcerer to win the hand of the handsome prince; it would have been perfect if he’d taken it just that one step further. But then, he was a man of his time.

    The sculpted breastplate makes me wonder if this might not be her parade armor. After all, she’s standing at attention here, not getting ready to fight. On the other hand, given how completely devastated Gondor’s enemies were by the War of the Ring, perhaps they can get away with armor that’s designed more to showcase the Heroine of The Pelennor Fields than protect her.

    • No worries. I love getting comments on anything, so I don’t tend to close them. Comment on anything you like!

      You’re correct about her apparently retiring after the battle. I remember something about Eowyn vowing away her shield-maiden status in Return of the King, though I don’t have a copy handy to verify. And, like you, I prefer the idea of her becoming a Captain of Gondor. As well as being a man of his time, Tolkien was a scholar of Medieval literature. For a warrior woman to cast away her warrior status and become more maidenly (typically for a man) at the end of the story was a common motif throughout Medieval lit. The example that comes to mind is the 13th c. French story Roman de Silence where Silence’s parents disguise her as a boy so she can inherit property. She goes on to become the greatest knight in the kingdom as an adult. At the end of the tale after Merlin reveals she’s a woman, Silence leaves her knightly calling, marries the king, and reverts to being just a regular maiden. I suspect that this was the literary convention that Tolkien was playing upon in his decision to have Eowyn stop fighting and settle down at the end. For good or ill, I think he genuinely intended it as a happy ending for her.

      • seraph4377 says:

        Well, to be fair, I think “retire and take up gardening” was his idea of a happy ending for everyone, even if it’s not the ending that most of them got. Saw too much war himself, I suspect.

        And my comments sections seem to automatically close themselves after a certain period – I’m not sure how long, though it seems to be weeks or even months. Is that a setting somewhere on my dashboard that I can turn off, do you know?

        • Heh. Yeah, good point. ‘Take up gardening and increase their library.’

          So I looked into your inquiry, and on the dashboard, under ‘settings’ there’s a tab marked ‘discussion.’ Click into it and under ‘other comment settings,’ deselect the option to ‘automatically close comments on articles older than X days.’ Apparently mine defaulted to that, since I don’t recall ever deselecting the option.

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