Arwen

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Arwen
Tolkien's legendarium character
Race Half-elven
Book(s) The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
The Return of the King (1955)
Unfinished Tales (1980)

Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the half-elven who lived during the Third Age.

Literature[edit]

Arwen was the youngest child of Elrond and Celebrían. Her elder brothers were the twins Elladan and Elrohir. Her name Ar-wen means 'noble maiden'. She bore the sobriquet "Evenstar" (or Evening Star), as the most beautiful of the last generation of High Elves in Middle-earth.

As told in "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen",[1] Aragorn in his twentieth year met Arwen for the first time in Rivendell, where he lived under Elrond's protection. Arwen, then over 2700 years old, had recently returned to her father's home after living for a while with her grandmother Lady Galadriel in Lórien. Aragorn fell in love with Arwen at first sight. Some thirty years later, the two were reunited in Lórien. Arwen reciprocated Aragorn's love, and on the mound of Cerin Amroth they committed themselves to marry each other.

Arwen first appears in the text of The Lord of the Rings in Rivendell shortly after Frodo awoke in the House of Elrond. She sat beside her father Elrond at the celebratory feast. When the Fellowship of the Ring came to Lothlórien, Aragorn remembered their earlier meeting and paused in reverence on Cerin Amroth.

Shortly before Aragorn took the Paths of the Dead, he was joined by a group of Dúnedain from the North, accompanied by Arwen's brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, who brought him as a gift from Arwen a banner of black cloth. The banner was unfurled at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields to reveal the emblem of Elendil figured in mithril, gems, and gold; this became the first triumphant public announcement of the King's return.

After the War of the Ring, Aragorn became king of Arnor and Gondor. Arwen arrived at Minas Tirith, and they were married. She gave Frodo a necklace with a white stone, which would aid him when the darkness of his injuries troubled him.

Her few appearances in the books suggest that Arwen is a minor character in The Lord of the Rings; but she serves as inspiration and motivation for Aragorn, who must become King of both Arnor and Gondor before Elrond would allow her to marry him.

The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen relates that Aragorn and Arwen had a son, Eldarion, and at least two unnamed daughters. In F.A. 121, one year after Aragorn's death, at the age of 2,901 Arwen gave up her life at Cerin Amroth.

Background[edit]

Through her father, Elrond, Arwen was the granddaughter of Eärendil the Mariner (the second of the Half-elven), great-granddaughter of Tuor of Gondolin, and therefore a direct descendant of the ancient House of Hador. Through her great-grandmother, Idril, Arwen was also a descendant of King Turgon of the Noldor. Through her mother, she was the granddaughter of Lady Galadriel and the great-granddaughter of Finarfin. Éomer of Rohan said that the Lady Arwen was more fair than the Lady Galadriel of Lórien, but Gimli son of Glóin thought differently. Through both of her parents Arwen was a direct descendant of the ancient Elven House of Finwë. Furthermore, Arwen was a descendant of Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel, whose story resembled hers. Indeed, Arwen was held to be the reappearance in likeness of her ancestress Lúthien, fairest of all the Elves, who was called Nightingale (Tinúviel).

Arwen was a very distant relative of her husband Aragorn. Aragorn's ancestor, Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first King of Númenor, was her father Elrond's brother, who chose to live as a Man rather than as one of the Eldar. Arwen eventually became Queen of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor when she married Aragorn, who was of the line of the Kings of Arnor. By Arwen and Aragorn's marriage, the long-sundered lines of the Half-elven were joined. Their union also served to unite and preserve the bloodlines of the Three Kings of the High Elves (Ingwë, Finwë, and the brothers Olwë and Elwë) as well as the only line with Maiarin blood through Arwen's great-great-great grandmother, Melian, Queen of Doriath, and also on Aragorn's side, through the line of kings of Arnor and Númenor to Elros, Elrond's brother, whose great-great-grandmother was also Melian.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finwë
of the Noldor
 
Indis
of the Vanyar
 
Olwë
of the Teleri
 
House of Hador
 
House of Haleth
 
House of Bëor
 
Thingol
of the Teleri
 
Melian
the Maia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fingolfin
 
Finarfin
 
Eärwen
 
Galdor
 
Hareth
 
Barahir
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Turgon
 
Elenwë
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Huor
 
 
 
Beren
 
 
 
Lúthien
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Idril
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tuor
 
 
Nimloth
 
Dior
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eärendil
 
 
 
 
 
Elwing
 
Eluréd
 
Elurín
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Galadriel
 
Celeborn
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Elros
 
 
 
Elrond
 
Celebrían
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kings of Númenor
Lords of Andúnië
High Kings of Arnor
Kings of Arthedain
Chieftains of the Dúnedain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aragorn
 
Arwen
 
Elladan
 
Elrohir
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eldarion
 
A number of
unnamed daughters

Colour key:
     Elves
     Men
     Maiar
     Half-elven
     Half-elven who chose the fate of elves
     Half-elven who chose the fate of mortal men

Concept and creation[edit]

As related in The History of Middle-earth, Tolkien conceived the character of "Elrond's daughter" late in the writing.[2][3] Prior to this, he considered having Aragorn marry Éowyn.[4]

Adaptations[edit]

Arwen does not appear in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, nor in the 1980 Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Return of the King.

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Arwen is played by Liv Tyler. The trilogy gives her a more prominent role than her literary counterpart, although some of her invented scenes seem to be inspired by the Tale.

  • In the first film, Arwen searches for Aragorn and single-handedly rescues Frodo Baggins from the Black Riders at Bruinen, thwarting them with a sudden flood, summoned by an incantation. In the book, Glorfindel had been sent by Elrond to look for the Hobbits and finds them with Aragorn. Glorfindel put Frodo on his own horse and sent him alone across the river to flee the Black Riders, for Elrond had pre-arranged for the river to flood when the Nazgûl entered the water. During this flight Arwen wields the sword Hadhafang, which according to film merchandise was once wielded by her father and had belonged to his grandmother Idril Celebrindal.[5]
  • In the film of The Two Towers, the injured Aragorn is revived by a dream of Arwen, who kisses him and asks the Valar to protect him.

Throughout the War of the Ring, Elrond begs her to accompany her kin to the Undying Lands because he does not wish to see another of his family die. Elrond shows her a vision of her long depressing life after Aragorn's death, and tells her that only death awaits her in Middle-earth. Arwen reluctantly departs for Valinor. However, on the road to the Grey Havens she has a vision of her future son, Eldarion, which belies her father's one-sided prophecy. She returns to Rivendell, where Elrond admits that her mortal life will have happiness as well as grief, though he stresses that Sauron's rising power means that future is growing more and more distant.

In the film of The Return of the King, Arwen convinces her father to reforge the sword Narsil for Aragorn so that he can reclaim the throne of the King. Elrond initially refuses, but when Arwen begins to fall ill through her loss of immortality, he reluctantly agrees. Elrond takes Narsil, reforged as Andúril, to Aragorn at Dunharrow, and tells him that her fate has become bound to the One Ring, and that she is dying. The mechanics of this are inconsistent with the source material and are never explained in the film. In the extended version of The Return of the King, Sauron (through a palantír) shows Aragorn a dying Arwen in order to dissuade him from battle, though this fails and a relieved Aragorn reunites with Arwen at his coronation. The movies portray her as becoming human through her love for Aragorn; as in the book, Arwen follows the choice of her ancestor Lúthien to become a mortal woman for the love of a mortal man.

The movies introduce a jewelled pendant called the Evenstar which Arwen gives to Aragorn as a reminder of their love. A similar pendant appears in the Middle-earth based short story The Jewel of Arwen by Marion Zimmer Bradley, although in that story Arwen gives it to "the Ring-Bearer" rather than to Aragorn.[6] In Tolkien's novel, Aragorn and Arwen give a similar necklace to Frodo as a farewell gift before he leaves Minas Tirith.

In earlier versions of the script (when the movies were supposed to be filmed in two parts under another production company), Arwen fought in the Battle of Helm's Deep and brought the sword Andúril to Aragorn. Some scenes of Arwen fighting in Helm's Deep were filmed before both the film's writers (with Liv Tyler's approval) reconsidered the change and deleted her with the sequence.[7]

In the musical theatre adaptation of Lord of the Rings, Arwen sings the Prologue, as well as three musical numbers: "The Song of Hope", "Star of Eärendil" (with the Elven chorus) and "The Song of Hope Duet" (with Aragorn).

In the Mythopoeic Society's Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (Mythopoeic Press, 2005), Cathy Akers-Jordan,[8] Jane Chance,[9] Victoria Gaydosik,[10] and Maureen Thum[11] all contend that the portrayal of Arwen and other women in the Jackson films is overall thematically faithful to (or compatible with) Tolkien's writings despite the differences.

John Howe's rendition of Arwen for the Lord of the Rings board game was inspired by French actress Isabelle Adjani.[12]

Namesakes[edit]

The International Astronomical Union names all colles (small hills) on Saturn's moon Titan after characters in Tolkien's work.[13] In 2012, they named a hilly area "Arwen Colles" after Arwen.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, part I.v.
  2. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1990), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-56008-X 
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1992), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Sauron Defeated, Boston, New York, & London: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-60649-7 
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1989), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Treason of Isengard, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-51562-9 
  5. ^ Derdzinski, Ryszard (ed.). "Language in the Lord of the Rings movie". Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  6. ^ This story appears in all the fantasy trilogies listed here
  7. ^ Peter Jackson. (2005). The Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers - Extended Edition Appendices [DVD].
  8. ^ Akers-Jordan, Cathy (2005-01-01). "Fairy Princess or Tragic Heroine? The Metamorphosis of Arwen Undomiel in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Films". In Croft, Janet Brennan. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Altadena: Mythopoeic Press. ISBN 1-887726-09-8. 
  9. ^ Chance, Jane (2005-01-01). "Tolkien’s Women (and Men): The Films and the Books". In Croft, Janet Brennan. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Altadena: Mythopoeic Press. ISBN 1-887726-09-8. 
  10. ^ Gaydosik, Victoria (2005-01-01). "The Transformation of Tolkien’s Arwen and the Abandonment of the Psyche Archetype: The Lord of the Rings on the Page and on the Screen". In Croft, Janet Brennan. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Altadena: Mythopoeic Press. ISBN 1-887726-09-8. 
  11. ^ Thum, Maureen (2005-01-01). "The “Sub-Subcreation” of Galadriel, Arwen, and Éowyn: Tolkien’s Women and The Lord of the Rings". In Croft, Janet Brennan. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Altadena: Mythopoeic Press. ISBN 1-887726-09-8. 
  12. ^ "Arwen". Illustrator John Howe. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  13. ^ International Astronomical Union. "Categories for Naming Features on Planets and Satellites". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. Accessed Dec 29, 2012.
  14. ^ International Astronomical Union. "Arwen Colles". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. Accessed Nov 14, 2012.

External links[edit]