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Peace-weavers and shield-maidens: Nordic and Anglo-Saxon influences in Tolkien’s powerful female characters


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Klos, Ariana. (2017). Peace-weavers and shield-maidens: Nordic and Anglo-Saxon influences in Tolkien’s powerful female characters. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Polak, Iva].

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The purpose of this thesis is to describe how Tolkien used both the Nordic and the Anglo-Saxon context as an inspiration for his female characters. It starts off by providing an overview of the position of women in the Anglo-Saxon society, and how this position changed with the appearance of Christianity. Also, it reflects on different ways of representing women in the literature of the time, with a special focus on Beowulf which served as a direct inspiration to Tolkien. What is more, the overview also includes Biblical models, such as Mary and Eve, which proved to be important for the analysis of particular characters. Furthermore, Nordic women and literature have also been dealt with, with the emphasis on the figure of the shield-maiden. The second part of the thesis takes into account Tolkien’s own time and life, and how the patriarchal English society of his time influenced his writing, and, more specifically, his attitude towards creating female characters. This encompasses not only the traditional materials that he used as an inspiration for his writing, and his position regarding gender, but also the way in which he himself establishes gender in his works, primarily in The Silmarillion. The notion of gender, as well as the notion of power, are the two focal points of the subsequent character analysis. Galadriel, Lúthien, Arwen, Haleth and Éowyn are analysed in terms of their reference to the traditional figures of peace-weavers and shield-maidens, as well as Christian figures. Their status in Tolkien’s narrative is also examined through the assembly of characteristics Tolkien attributes to each gender, as well as through the notion of power. This kind of an analysis unavoidably raises questions of whether the women in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion were created as subordinate to men, which is why this thesis provides an in depth analysis of how Tolkien himself saw power, how he connected the nature of power to gender attributes, and which of his characters wield the kind of power that he seemed to prefer.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tolkien, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon, women, power
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Polak, Iva
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 09:26
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2017 09:26

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