Éowyn in Love

by Fan Forever

I have read several comments about how fast Éowyn discarded Aragorn for Faramir. I, too, wondered at the speed it took for her (and him!) to fall in love. But especially Éowyn, since her heart seemed to have been ravished, then broken, by what she felt for the future king. I agree with others that Aragorn might have been ‘only’ an adolescent crush, the love of an image more than anything else. It might have been just a rush of blood at the prospect of entering a life that was to be high and noble, or even perhaps the relief of getting a bit of recognition as a woman and a princess.

But she was welcomed with denial. Let’s be honest, how could she not be jealous and literally crushed to see the others, ALL the others, follow one man they admired and loved into what she knew was a path leading them all to their doom? They were, all of them, the living representation of what she had longed for all her life, and worse, they, who were going with HIM, they were indeed ‘able’ to love him, to live out their love for him, and not she.

We know the rest. Now, she wakes up in the Houses of Healing very depressed, to say the least, quite sure she will never heal from that blow (let's forget about the Witch King for now), on top of everything that she had been denied before in her life, to live her young years being restrained into the life of a docile maiden, and later to look after an ailing uncle, while her desire was to be part of what she felt to be more useful to her land, more honourable, more suited to her royal heritage.

Add to that that Éomer saw nothing of her sister’s plight until Gandalf (yes, Gandalf!) explains to him that her illness and low spirits and her going to war to die was not only because of Aragorn, but because of her feeling unsatisfied in every aspect of her life.

So, what happened with Faramir? Was she fickle after all, underneath the noble look? Of course not. How come she changed her mind so quickly then? I often wondered about that, even though I remember in my many readings not having been displeased at all by their romance :-)

I have thought more about that and what I see now is this:
The first thing I thought was that that romance bloomed in a time of war. Things just go more quickly when you feel your time is counted. Every minute counts and you don’t lose any time wandering here and there.

Then it appeared to me that, sharing a common situation, being confined in a hospital under the care of doctors, they must have found in each other, as they talked long, long hours, day after day, a great source of comfort. Tolkien does not tell of what they talked when they met everyday, but to think of it, they must have shared their worries and their views about the future, or even talked about the past, and their own lives in their own families. Faramir and Éowyn share much, indeed, in their respective situations inside their families.

Faramir was also a deeply respectful man, and talking about the war (and they would, as after all, she was a shieldmaiden and knew about being a warrior, and indeed they both had been wounded while fighting), he would have most certainly brought up his dislike of killing any living thing, even enemies. That alone is bound to have made a young 24 years old Éowyn think further than her own needs and longings.

Day after day, sheltered from the outside world despite themselves, they had for them what was denied to everyone else : time. Time to share what they liked, what they disliked, their dreams, their sorrows, their hopes. Time to communicate and learn about each other. Time to enjoy their mutual presence, slowly recovering as best as they can from both their physical and psychological wounds.

Something Aragorn would not have been able to give her.

Éowyn resisted though, she did hang onto that image of a man greater than nature, a king and a formidable leader revered by both Elves and Men, but who rejected her. At last, in one of their conversations she gets bitter and admits to Faramir that she was after Aragorn, not him – a last attempt at trying to hold on to what she knows is made of clay…

When Faramir openly declares his love to her, that would she be the queen, he would still love her, that he pities her no more, it is the final blow, her resistance is broken and she is able to let go. It is clear that both Faramir and Éowyn grew to know each other and quickly learn who they were through their daily encounters.

When Éowyn lets go of her image of an icy cold shieldmaiden, she calls herself ‘tamed’ with what I remember to be a faint smile, and indeed something has calmed down inside her, she is more at peace when she says that. She seems relieved even, as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Then we learn that she will be a healer from now on, and later we learn that she will stay for a while in the Houses of healing to help.

I admit that it is somewhat strange to see her turn around like that. But I wonder if Faramir’s influence might not have been a trigger; it just did not come from nowhere. But Tolkien is, again, very sparse on details... It must have come from long hours talking, pondering, sharing, knowing that they had only so much time until they knew the fate of the world. It must have been intense, profound and right down to the essential. No idle talk there…

So perhaps this is there we have to find some sort of an explanation to Éowyn’s sudden change of mind. Well, it’s not so much that she ‘changed’ her mind, I think, but that she was ‘forced’ – by destiny, by fate or whatever – to take the time to look into her own heart and see what was truly at stake.

In the few days they spent together, Éowyn would have learned to know what Faramir held, and realised how truly blessed she was after all. For where, in all the world she knew, would she have found both a warrior and a caring man, high born and aware of his duties, but kind and letting love rule his heart, thoughts and actions, willing to live a simple life (yet not a simplistic one), close to nature but not far from the city and his beloved king. Most importantly, already she could trust him, and so she must have known that with Faramir, no limits would be put to her life, both as a wielder of blade and a caring healer.

Yup, Éowyn did fall rather quickly for Faramir, but boy did she have good reasons…. :-)

Thanks for listening!