- "Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?"
Éowyn was a noblewoman/shieldmaiden of Rohan, daughter of Éomund and Theodwyn, younger sister of Éomer and niece of King Théoden. Forced to spend most of her youth caring for Théoden in his declining years, she yearned for an opportunity to prove herself in battle. She was driven to despair by her unrequited love for Aragorn. When she was rebuffed by the men she longed to accompany into battle, she disguised herself as a man and accompanied the Rohirrim army to Minas Tirith, where she won great renown in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields by slaying the Witch-King of Angmar, with the help of Meriadoc Brandybuck, whom she had carried with her. Severely wounded by the Ring Wraith, she nearly died, but recovered with Aragorn's help in the Houses of Healing. There she met Faramir, the Steward of Gondor, and fell in love with him. The two married in TA 3020 and settled in Ithilien after the War of the Ring.
She first appeared in King Théoden's palace in Meduseld, where she had been forced to wait on her uncle for several years, as he was weakened by the influence of Saruman and Gríma Wormtongue. When Gandalf restored the King, he prepared to defend Rohan against Isengard. Since the King planned to ride to battle himself, he asked his doorwarden Háma, to suggest a leader for the people in his absence. Háma recommended Éowyn, who, though a woman, was "fearless" and "all love[d] her."
Éowyn reluctantly obeyed the King's orders to stay behind in Edoras while Aragorn, Théoden, and the rest of the men confronted Saruman's army at the Battle of the Hornburg. When they returned, victorious to Edoras, Éowyn had kept everything in perfect order for their return.
In bitterness, she disguised herself as a man, under the alias Dernhelm, and rode to Minas Tirith on her horse Windfola. She took Meriadoc Brandybuck along because he likewise wanted to follow his friends to battle, but had been refused by Théoden. Because Éowyn weighed less than a man of similar height, Windfola was able to bear Merry as well as her.
During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, she fought in Théoden's escort; when he and his company were attacked by the Witch-king of Angmar, lord of the Nazgûl, she and Merry were the only riders who did not flee. As Théoden lay mortally wounded, she challenged the Witch-King, who boasted that "no living man may hinder me." In answer, she removed her helmet, exposing her long blond hair, and declared, "No living man am I! You look upon a woman! Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. Begone if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him!"In a rage, the Witch-King attacked her, but she cleaved the head off his Fell Beast. The Witch-King shattered her shield with a blow of his mace, breaking her arm, but stumbled when Merry stabbed his leg from behind with a Barrow-blade of Westernesse make. Éowyn stabbed her sword through the Witch-King's head, killing him, and thus fulfilling Glorfindel's prophecy a thousand years earlier at the Battle of Fornost that "not by the hand of man" would the Witch-King fall.
Her constitution already severely weakened by her loneliness and despair, combined with her physical injuries, Éowyn succumbed to a severe case of the Black Breath. Théoden, not knowing that she was nearby, told Merry with his dying words that she had been "dearer than daughter" to him.
Seeing her lying apparently dead on the battlefield caused her brother Éomer to go temporarily mad, and charge in fury at the enemy. But during the battle she was found by Prince Imrahil, who noticed that she was still alive, though barely, and ordered her taken to the Houses of Healing. There she was healed by Aragorn, the plant Athelas, and the entreaties of her distraught brother.
Éowyn remained behind in Minas Tirith while the Army of the West marched toward Morannon, the Black Gate, to challenge Sauron. She met and fell in love with Faramir, who had likewise been injured before the battle. After the War of the Ring had ended, she decided to give up dreams of glory in battle and devote her life to peace and a happy marriage.
At Éowyn's insistence, Merry was made a Knight of the Riddermark. Merry attended Théoden's funeral and Éomer's coronation as King of Rohan, where Éowyn presented Merry with a parting gift: the Horn of Rohan, a small silver horn taken from the hoard of Scatha the dragon.
Faramir and Éowyn settled in Ithilien, where they had at least one son (likely Elboron), and their grandson was Barahir, who wrote The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the Fourth Age. The date of Éowyn's death is nowhere recorded.
Names and TitlesEdit
Éowyn's title was the Lady of Rohan and was also known as "The White Lady of Rohan" due to her pale complexion. She also used the alias "Dernhelm" while riding with Rohan's army, and after her wounding by the Witch-king in the Pelennor Fields as "Lady of the Shield-arm". After her marriage to Faramir she was called the Lady of Ithilien (in contrast to Faramir, who was styled Prince of Ithilien), and Lady of Emyn Arnen.
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the title character believes he is invincible because the three Witch Sisters have prophesied that "no man of woman born" will defeat him. Macduff, however, finds a loophole in this prophecy by declaring that he was not "of woman born" (which is usually interpreted to mean that he was delivered by Caesarean section).
Éowyn and Merry, likewise, exploit a loophole in Glorfindel's prophecy, since she is a woman and Merry is a hobbit. Similar to MacBeth, the Witch-king was likely made overconfident by the prophecy, and unsettled by Éowyn's announcement that it did not apply to her.
Etymology and PronunciationEdit
The name Éowyn comes from an old Welsh name, Øwyn. It has been slightly altered to sound like A-O-win. Contrary to what others may believe, J. R. R. Tolkien pronounces Éowyn properly in the recent Peter Jackson adaptation of the Books. Many names in The Lord of the Rings and other related works are adapted from ancient names in ancient mythology. The name means "Horse friend", with the prefix Éo- meaning 'horse' and the suffix -wyn meaning 'friend.'
The first syllable of Éowyn's name is pronounced "eh-ah," with the "ah" just barely pronounced. The second syllable pronounced is slightly different than it looks, however, being in Welsh it is pronounced "een;" the sound it makes together in an "Eh-awe-een," having the "w" barely pronounced at all, instead the word creates its own soft "w" without the voluntary sound, as in Welsh "w" is considered to be a vowel. As in Scandinavian, the "y" in the second syllable is the same sound as the German letter "ü" or the French "u".
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
Éowyn does appear in the 1978 animated film The Lord of the Rings, which incorporates The Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of The Two Towers (ending with the charge of the Rohirrim out of Helm's Deep), but does not have any spoken lines.
In the 1980 animated film The Return of the King, Éowyn was voiced by Nellie Bellflower. Because the film was produced in isolation (without accompanying versions of The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers), and hastily compresses the plot of the book, Éowyn does not appear in the film at all until the climactic moment on the Pelennor Fields when she reveals her identity to the Witch-king and attacks him.
In Peter Jackson's film versions of The Two Towers and The Return of the King, Éowyn is portrayed by Australian actress Miranda Otto. The role was originally offered to actress Alison Doody, but Doody had to withdraw from the project due to pregnancy.
The theatrical version of The Two Towers makes several changes and additions to Éowyn's role:
- Wormtongue approaches her over Theodred's deathbed, trying to win her affection, but she rebuffs him;
- Éowyn accompanies Theoden as he leads Edoras's people to Helm's Deep; when the column was attacked by Warg-riders, she asks to fight, but Theoden orders her to lead the people on to the fortress. Along the way, she attempts to show her affection for Aragorn by serving him lunch and he gives an amusing reaction to her bad cooking.
- Eowyn watches over the women and children hiding in Aglarond while the battle rages outside;
- Éowyn embraces Aragorn after the battle, thrilled to see him alive.
Several additional scenes are added in the extended version:
- While Edoras is being evacuated, Aragorn notices the Riders trying to restrain Brego, and Éowyn "introduces" them to each other.
- While Aragorn and the other men are preparing to defend Helm's Deep, Éowyn protests that she has been assigned to wait in the caves instead of being allowed to fight on the walls; when Aragorn tries to comfort her, she blurts that the others who "love" him are being allowed to fight at his side (this reproduces dialogue from The Return of the King, when she is pleading with him to let her ride with the Grey Company on the Paths of the Dead).
- In a short clip which appeared in the trailer, though not in either version of the finished film, Éowyn has a sword ready when a stray Uruk-hai enters the caves beneath Helm's Deep.
In the original theatrical release of The Return of the King, Éowyn's injuries after fighting the Witch-king are less severe than in the novel; her arm is broken but she maintains consciousness after the Witch-king dies, and next appears at Aragorn's coronation in Minas Tirith, side by side with Faramir.
Several additional scenes are added in the extended edition:
- on the night after the Battle of Helm's Deep, she wakes up on her bed in Meduseld and tells Aragorn that she had a dream about the fall of Numenor;
- at Dunharrow, after she rebukes Éomer for making fun of Merry's desire to join in the fighting, he lectures her that war should be left to men;
- before the army reaches Minas Tirith, she tells Merry to have courage, but Merry counsels her not to wish too much for death, as she has so much to live for;
- after the toppling Mumak unhorses Éowyn and Merry, they both fight on foot to defend Theoden from several attacking Orcs and Haradrim. Éowyn personally duels Gothmog, and inflicts a crippling leg wound on him.
- after the Witch-king dies, Éowyn crawls around looking for Merry, but is spotted by an enraged Gothmog, who crawls after her but is killed by Aragorn and Gimli before he can reach her;
- in the aftermath of the battle, Éomer finds her on the battlefield, unconscious and apparently dead, and grieves, but she recovers in the Houses of Healing and catches sight of Faramir for the first time;
- as the Army of the West marches out of Minas Tirith, Éowyn and Faramir watch them go, and he comforts her.
- In the The Lord of the Rings (1956 radio series) broadcast on BBC3, Olive Gregg does the voice for Éowyn.
- In the The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series), Karen Hurley does the voice for Éowyn.
- In the The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series) broadcast on BBC4, Elin Jenkins does the voice for Éowyn.
Eorl the Young | Brego _____|_______________________________ | | | Baldor Aldor Éofor | : Fréa : | : Fréawine : | : Goldwine : | : Déor : | : Gram : ___________|__ : | | : Helm Hammerhand Hild : | : Fréaláf Hildeson : | : Brytta Léofa : | : Walda : | : Folca : | : Folcwine : __________|__________ : | | | : Folcred Fastred Fengel : | : Thengel === Morwen : ______________________|__ Steelsheen : Ecthelion II | | : | Théoden = Elfhild Théodwyn ====== Éomund Finduilas = Denethor II | _____|_______ __________|___ Théodred | | | | Lothíriel = Éomer Éowyn = Faramir Boromir | | Elfwine Elboron | Barahir
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth