Thankful for Tauriel in Hobbit Tale

HOBBITSPOILERS ALERT ….

Though The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is, in the main, a dwarf and orc sausagefest—with key male wizards, hobbits, elves and dragons at the center—there is, thankfully, Tauriel, a female elf.

While many feminist-minded lovers of J.R.R. Tolkien have made worthy arguments regarding the importance of female characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (as here), there is no disputing that The Hobbit has not one female character. New Zealand film director Peter Jackson infamously upped the female quotient in the LOTR films by expanding the roles of the women characters Arwen and Eowyn, and even depicted Eowyn as beating the male protagonist Aragorn in a sword match.  Jackson continued this trend in the first hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, giving the royal female elf Galadriel more screen time.

This time around, Jackson and fellow  screenwriters Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have taken this trend much further: Not only do they embellish and expand existing female characters, they create one—the fabulous, complex and brave elf Tauriel, who is captain of the guard, an important role in Tolkien-world. She is played with kick-butt aplomb by Evangeline Lilly, who played Kate in the very popular TV series Lost. Like Kate, Tauriel is intelligent, capable and fearless.

Not all Tolkien fans approve of this female addition to the story. But for me, Tauriel was the best part of a very good film—a film much better, in fact, than the first Hobbit film.

Lilly, an admitted Tolkien fan, confesses that she worried about the inclusion of a new character in a beloved series. However, she noted that another belief trumped this worry:  the belief that films should include central female characters. She said,

I keep repeatedly telling people that in this day and age, to put nine hours of cinema entertainment in the theaters for young girls to go and watch, and not have one female character, is subliminally telling them, ‘You don’t count, you’re not important, and you’re not pivotal to story.’

Here, Lilly voices what so many feminist critics and filmgoers want to hear—an insistence that females, and how they are depicted in films, matters. Or, as Lilly puts it,

It’s time we stop making stories that are only about men, especially only about heroic men. I love that they made Tauriel a hero.

Lilly had one condition before agreeing to the role: that her character not be involved in a love triangle. Alas, this condition was ultimately not met. Screenwriter Boyens justifies this change, arguing that the triangle that results between Kili, (a dwarf), Legolas (an elf) and Tauriel “aids a storyline in The Lord of the Rings,” making it clear that Legolas’ animosity toward dwarves springs from Tauriel’s fondness for Kili. Thankfully, the film does not spend much time on this love triangle, nor does it become the defining part of Tauriel’s role. Instead, she is featured as a fearless warrior who saves many a male character, and who has amazing life-saving healing powers to boot.

Though elves and dwarves distrust one another, Tauriel does not buy into this attitude. Further, though her fighting skills match those of Legolas, she does not see killing as primary. This is made particularly clear in a scene where Kili is dying and Tauriel stays behind to help save him, despite Legolas ordering her to leave  and join him in battle.

Earlier in the film, Thranduil (Legolas’ father, an elvenking) confronts Tauriel, telling her that, as a common woodland elf, she is not worthy of the son of a king and should thus not give him false hope. Though it is unclear whether she has romantic feelings for Legolas, one thing is clear: She does not hesitate to disobey the king.

As Sandra Miesel argues, Tolkien’s females “routinely ‘see farther’ than men … They bring inspiration and instill hope. They listen to the woes of the world, encourage resistance and shed tears of pity.” Hence, that Tauriel views the ‘bigger picture’ and questions the hierarchical mindset of her world fits Tolkien’s characterization of females. As Michael Skeparnides argues, characters such as Eowyn represent “the potential of rebellion against the male value system that characterizes Tolkien’s world.” Referring to the “unsuspected portrayal of women as social revolutionaries who rebel against the harsh bindings of a male patriarchal system,” Skeparnides offers a feminist reading of Tolkien that makes it clear one need not have a multitude of female characters in order to critique patriarchy—a point that sometimes seems forgotten in the tendency to count female-to-male ratio rather than to also analyze whether these characters count.

Tauriel, like other Tolkien females (of which there are admittedly few), is kind and nurturing, but she is also clever and rebellious. Her first interactions with Kili show her quick-wittedness, as the two joke about a talisman he has with him.

While a review from The Telegraph refers to Kili as “a captured dwarf leering at a female elf,” the scene does not come off as lecherous on either Kili or Tauriel’s part. Kili admittedly jokes, “Aren’t you going to search me? I could have anything down my trousers,” but he does so in a flirtatious manner, not a lewd one. Tauriel’s responds with mirth rather than anger, offering the comeback, “Or you could have nothing down there.”

This interaction pokes fun at the obsession with the mighty phallus, long a symbol of patriarchy, suggesting that at the “seat” of maleness there may be anything—or nothing. Far from being leering, I found it to be a rare moment of levity that satirizes not only the male ego but also the notion that what is housed down male trousers is some sort of prize or trophy all women seek (or lack, as Freud would put it). That the female dwarfs the male (pun intended) is a nice touch, as is the fact that size does not seem of concern to Tauriel.

Seemingly willing to fall for a much shorter man who is, in the terms of her world, lower in social stature, Tauriel refuses to buy into the normative dictates of her world, be they about gender or race. I contend that The Telegraph review, which claims Tauriel’s “main purpose is to be the third leg in an inter-species love triangle” has it wrong.  Given that the writer does not even mention her character until his final paragraph, one can presume he failed to recognize her pivotal role, one which makes the dwarves and the hobbit Bilbo Baggins‘ safe journey to the lonely mountain possible.

 
While most of the male characters battle their egos and greed, Tauriel is empathetic and humane, a bright spot in a film with much darkness. Indeed, Tauriel is arguably the most heroic character in the second installment of the trilogy. Sadly, she is not included in the final scenes at the lonely mountain, where Bilbo and the dwarves have a smackdown battle with the dragon Smaug. Such a drastic change to a key part of the book surely would have had purist fans up in arms.
 
Before the film even came out, the addition of Tauriel created much controversy. A post from Ask Middle Earth cited some of the most common criticisms: She is a woman, a warrior and an unusual elf. As to her being a warrior, this is not common in the Tolkien universe, but there are various instances where females take up the sword or do battle, as with Eowyn and Galadriel. In terms of her being an unusual elf, it is true Tauriel doesn’t obey orders, and that she does not hold a grudge against dwarves, instead supporting them in their quest. But this “unusualness” of female characters does have precedent in the Tolkien world, which, some argue, actually depicts women as superior to men.
I disagree that Tolkien’s work suggests that any gender or race is superior (for more on race, watch for my forthcoming post at Girl with Pen). I am more inclined to think that Tolkien tends to fall more in line with the woman-as-angel camp, putting her on a pedestal rather than allowing her to live in the muck and excitement of the world. Thankfully, in bringing Tauriel to life, Peter Jackson and Co. give us a woman that is more human than angel.
 

As Evangeline Lilly points out, Tauriel is a “sort of working class, gritty, tough female elf.” She’s street-smart, quick at dispensing orcs and determined to help “the little guy” (the dwarves). Like a Middle-Earth Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games) she is strong-willed and a dab-hand with the bow and arrow. She is also feminine without being feminized, proving that being strong, driven and able to do what it takes to survive need not be depicted as masculine.

This second hobbit installment continues a trend from the first film, suggesting that gender’s not the problem, but that greed, domination, hunger for power and a taste for vengeance—characteristics often associated with being “real” men are. Tolkien’s work focuses on these destructive tendencies in many a male character, but he also gives us empathetic, heroic and kind-hearted males in Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and Gimli. Sure, Bilbo and Frodo succumb to the powerful allure of the ring– but can’t this in itself be read as a critique of patriarchy and power-over thinking?

And if Smaug is not a symbol of patriarchal vileness at its worst, I don’t know what is. As Tolkien describes him,  Smaug is “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm.” Smaug embodies death and destruction, with impenetrable armor and enough flame-power to destroy entire villages. Sounds kind of like the embodiment of a certain other empire—one intent on amassing wealth and power while dropping fire from the sky.

In contrast to Smaug—a phallic, Middle-Earth version of military drones—Tauriel represents hope in a war-torn world. She hungers for light, peace and love. Sure, she kills many orcs, but they, like Smaug, are intent on destruction. She does not kill for the sake of killing or hate because it is a tradition to do so.

 

Alas, for some, as cited here, “Tauriel is just too much. She’s a woman and a warrior? And she has a romantic interest?…And she’s friends with Legolas? And she’s rebellious? All at the same time?”

Would the same questions be asked of a male character?

Seething under much of those who decry Tauriel’s inclusion is an undercurrent of anti-female sentiment—one that suggests many fans don’t want to include a female in a “boys’ tale”—a tale that one critic jokingly describes as being “about 15 hairy men going on a road trip and encountering many more hairy men along the way.”

Thankfully, in this version of the tale, a great woman is encountered along the way as well—one who, as Lilly puts it, is one “kickass elf.”

NATALIENatalie Wilson teaches women’s studies and literature at California State University, San Marcos. She is the author of Seduced by Twilight and blogs for Ms., Girl with Pen and Bitch Flicks.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much. I’m so tired of the hate and vitriol being spewed towards this character without anyone having seen the film. I saw it, and I enjoyed her spirited but brief screen time.
    As far as a romance between her and Kili, it amounts to little but a few awkward but cute moments in the whole story.
    I like seeing strong females in prominent roles in the movies, and as much as I love Tolkien, there are painfully few females in his work, strong or otherwise.
    As much as I’d like to pretend society has moved past this non-sense. the sheer amount of hate piled onto this character proves that we still have a long, long, long ways to go yet.

    • christelle says:

      Melian, Luthien, Galadriel, Aeredhel, Elwing, Arwen, Eowyn, Morwen………..(so many others ! ) I am sorry but tolkien’s work is full of strong women !
      It is true that the hobbit has no women in it, but in the lord of the rings, Galadriel is the strongest, the fairest and the wisest of all elves, and by extension of all races on middle earth and Eowyn just went to war and killed the witch king of angmar. they may be only two, but damn, what bad asses they are !

      • Christelle, you found Arwen to be a strong female? Wow. All she did in both the books and movies (in which they had to expand her role)was pine after Aragorn.

    • I agree. I loved to addition of Tauriel, not unlike Eowyn in LOTR. tough, capable, but also intelligent and kind. Purists seem to always forget that, just prior to his death, Tolkein had written a lot of notes and ideas, intending to rewrite The Hobbit, and all these were given to Peter Jackson by his family. Since writing the Hobbit in the 1930′s, he had really developed Middle Earth and fleshed the races and the characters. I truly believe that, had he had time to rewrite The Hobbit, he WOULD have featured some prominent, strong female chracters!

  2. Thank you. You just put my jumbled thoughts down all clear and coherent on the interwebs. I once took a college lit course on Tolkien’s works and was the only female so we ended up talking a good deal about gender in Middle Earth.

  3. Well said! As a female Tolkien fan myself, I was happy with the inclusion of her character and the role she played within the story. What better than a kickass female elf to empower young women and girls who go to see this movie?

  4. I disliked the inclusion of Tauriel, and not because I’m a purist. It’s true I’m often apprehensive when directors decide to create characters for a movie based on a book because there’s a good chance the new character will stand out too much – it has, after all, been created by somebody else than the author and is therefore usually glaringly different from all the ‘original characters’. It’s seldom done well, but when it is done well I have no problem with it. So I went to see the second installment with an open mind. I was hoping Tauriel would be done well, because a female character could really bring something extra to this. Sadly, I felt the movie with no Tauriel inserts (or at least no love story between her and Kili) would have been much better.

    Tauriel is, simply put, not done well. She is *not* a great woman, she’s a mary-sue. She’s beautiful, one of the best fighters we see, she’s the most compassionate and in a way the wisest character – what are her faults? Bilbo has faults, Thorin has faults, Gandalf has faults, Legolas and Thranduil have faults… what about her? She’s rebellious? That’s not a fault, even the author of this article sees it as a virtue.

    As for her value to young girls and women – what value is she?! Does she shows girls that women can be fighters just as well as men? OK, but what’s the use of her being a mary-sue and a love interest than? What does it contribute to the story? Or to her character? What’s more, does the movie pass the Bechdel test? No, it doesn’t. There’s one single significant woman in this affair; she doesn’t (can’t) interact with another woman (as there are none), and even if there were another woman for her to have a conversation with, the conversation would be about a man. Tauriel is a love-interest for Legolas and Kili, that is to say the *object* of their admiration and has no agency at all. All she does is save Kili in situations which have been created just so she could save Kili. What great message to young girls is there in that?

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hi Dorme,

      I see what you’re saying and in a way I agree, she does seem to shine as an exemplar in a film surrounded by characters full of strengths and weaknesses.

      However, I still welcome her inclusion and in many ways feel it to be the master stroke the made the film stand out for me. I disagree strongly that she is just a Mary-Sue or a love interest and particularly I felt she *was* a great woman. It appeared to me that in every aspect Tauriel had her own agency. I would go as far as to say that the love triangle well represented this. In the case of the unwanted affections from Legolas, it was clear that she would not be pressured into any course of action – by either Legolas or the King. She made it clear how she felt. And when she felt something for Kili it was she that persued it, whilst Kili suffered an almost complete role reversal against the norm playing the love interest himself. (I am undecided on Kili’s role – I enjoyed the refreshing change but wonder if it’s a step too far. I would prefer to see a more equal partnership but wonder if that might have been too subtle).

      Anyway, for me The Desolation of Smaug is a superb in almost ever respect and a great iteration on the previous film. Tauriel’s inclusion was an excellent move – I feel the film would be worse off without it.

    • You just explained my thoughts perfectly. I too, find her to be a mary-sue in certain ways :P I truly hope there is no ‘love story’ between Legolas and Tauriel mostly b/c of the fact that I’d have to be reminded of the ‘past love interest’ that Legolas had in the hobbit when watching LOTR, or possible reading any of the books (which i have not done so, yet). Since this is based off an event in the past, I truly hope that PJ doesn’t include that. I just don’t want her to intefere too much with the story. Adding Legolas would have been OK, and I didn’t mind too much due to the fact that b/c of his age, there was a possibility that he was residing in Mirkwood, and likely the Peter J wanted to involve him. However the fact that Peter Jackson wanted to make Tauriel ‘stand out’ be being the ‘ultimate female’ is really mary-sue like behavior, and she does stand out, but not in the way that I think she should. If he added female characters that broke up her role, then that would have been a better in terms that she supposedly takes on a lot. I just don’t want Peter J to give people a reason to why future characters interfered with events in the future of LOTR b/c it just breaks things up by giving us of ‘what if she did exist, what would have really happened?’ using Tolkiens perspective.

    • Thank you for putting my thoughts into words so perfectly! I am also a female Tolkien fan, and do not especially like the character and have not found her inclusion particularly beneficial to the adaptation. She feels entirely too much like a Mary Sue and that, to me, seems like far more of a large step backward.

      For the record, I have no use for Legolas in the film either. I found them both superfluous an distracting.

    • Caitlin, her faults are obvious ones. She’s reckless and disobedient. That alone means she’s not a Mary Sue. And even if she was one, being a Mary Sue has only recently been considered a bad thing. Some of the most iconic female characters ever have been Mary Sues.

      • The “Mary Sue” concept can have some different aspects – it’s not entirely that one is wholly obedient and cautious, infinitely omniscient. It’s also about being idealized and having those “flaws” be innocuous to the character’s overall existence. Tauriel may be reckless and disobedient, but it clearly hasn’t held her back in any form. In fact, it’s endeared her to an impressed Legolas, a watchful, protective Thranduil, and an infatuated Kili. Flaws without consequence are without teeth. Should the consequences be made plain and obvious in the third film, then all the better. I certainly hope they are.

        As a creative writer myself and a reader, I tend to find adaptation characters created to satisfy plot devices that didn’t even exist in the source material to be problematic. If she had been created without her (sadly predictable) role as a love interest, she would likely be less objectionable to many, myself included. But her inclusion comes at the cost of a contrived plot device not present and unnecessary to the overall story. Honestly, I felt they spent too much time on the elves already. I don’t like feeling like the focus is being so shifted. But stylistic preferences shall abound.

        A female character need not be a “Mary Sue” to be viable. And I personally would find the notion that so many “iconic” female characters have been, a very distressing notion indeed.

      • As previously stated, being rebellious – depending on the context – can still be a defining trait of a Mary Sue. In short, I disliked Tauriel (as a female Tolkien fan) because she represents everything a woman should not be. Society’s standards has painted women into the frame of being the object of mens affections. If you don’t believe me, go look at all of those photo-manipulated magazine covers, various sitcom characters, or even a woman you know in real life. Implementing Tauriel’s story (which focuses on her kind of redundant and entirely non-canon love life) is ridiculous. You say she is not a Mary Sue, but she is the only woman in the film, and she is being pined after by not one, but TWO men. Furthermore, as it has been stated, she has no flaws equal to her “good” traits.

        I wanted to thank the original poster for placing his thoughts here, as I agree 300 percent. Overall, the story would have been better without Tauriel’s love story.

  5. I think she’s awesome! From a -Tolkien- perspective the relationship between Tauriel and Legolas beautifully and very simply illustrates the huge caste difference between the Silvan and Grey Elves. But if you’re not so sure about her, you might enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z7oZB7onK4&feature=youtu.be

  6. SamClemensRIGL says:

    I greatly appreciated Tauriel’s inclusion to the film. She added an aspect of world-building to Middle-Earth, showing the contrast of the loftier elves to their more common Silvan/Sylvan counterparts. She’s 600 years young and the captain of the guard. Young for an elf, sure, but 600 years of killing beasties still is 600 years of killing beasties. To claim that makes a character a Mary Sue (as the poster above me claims) is absurd as decrying the impossibility of living 600 years, let alone the thousands or so of Thranduil. Rebelliousness can indeed be a fault, especially for someone of her position. In all likelihood, if she were to have returned to Thranduil at the lakefront with Legolas, she may have very well be stripped from her title. A headstrong nature can end in capture and death. She’s again, also very young and idealistic, which can lead to a harsh fall of reality should the worst come crashing down.

    Let’s not forget that Kili is the youngest dwarf, far younger than Tauriel, and is idealistic as well. He is also the only archer and in Rivendell shows an obvious fondness for elves–much to his kin’s mockery. They’re set beside themselves when they find in each other a kindred spirit. For all of Legolas’ fondness, he still has grown a world away from Tauriel and never bothered to know her outside the field of battle. As character elements and storytelling aspects across an epic, these reflections of each other and how they shape attitudes within these personal microcosms speaks to the larger macrocosm of the Middle-Earth universe. Even in regards to Legolas, we see the growth that has happened here that affects the character in the LotR films. Dorme may not have clued into it, but Phillippa, PJ, Evangeline and countless fans certainly have.

    Honestly, the Bechdel test, while helpful, remains somewhat shallow. For example, does “Death Proof” pass the Bechdel test? Sure does. Is it horribly sexist, misogynistic and overall a bad movie? Absolutely. Then again, it’s an exploitation film so that was partially what it was going for. You can have a bevy of female characters that are horrid characatures of what those involved seem to think constitutes a female character. Tauriel, instead, is an effective character that infuses the type of world building we saw in LotR that simply wasn’t a part of the equation in what amounts to a transcribed children’s bedtime story that was the Hobbit–and without the unfortunate Angel in the House tropes that is more a product of the times in which the novels were written than necessarily Tolkien’s intentions. Within the context of the love triangle, Legolas essentially does see her as an object for his affection and to do his bidding to retain the separation of class between them while retaining her as essentially his conscience. Kili, however, sees someone who saved his hide in the midst of battle, an individual whose fighting skills surpass his own, and later a friend with which to share their mutual admiration of the greater world–building into a fondness burnished by the compassion and idealism of youth. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both easy on the eyes (Legolas’ harsh stares and cold tendency to look down his nose at all save his father does hamper his beauty just a bit). Tauriel is not, I would argue, a love interest. She is, however, still young enough to not be jaded and has an interest in love, which makes her very human and all the more compelling.

  7. Just a Person says:

    Honestly, I just don’t like her. And this article didn’t make me like her anymore than I guess you were trying to.

    Lily said she didn’t want any triangles to go on….and then they flipped the script on her and she ended up in one.

    And if anyone cannot see that she has every characteristic of a Mary-Sue then you need to step back and think for a moment

    How in the word can she be a badass elf warrior, and a captain, and leader, and is reckless, and is loved by her king and prince, and she has two of the most Handsome beings in his film going after her, AND knows how to heal the wounded…and she is only 600 years old.

    That is really young for and elf and there is no way that she could be both a devoted and beloved Captain to her King, yet go against his wishes at every turn…

    I have to say, I am glad they added a woman and someone for girls to look up to. But she was treated like a main character in the film…when the film is mainly about Bilbo and HIS journey.

    And yes, he additions of other characters has me a little apprehensive and scratching my head too, I am not going to leave them out.

    And why is Thranduil against Tauriel being with Legolas…if she had been deemed a Silvan elf for her story….Thranduil is a Silvan elf himself, right? And she is high in ranks…she is Captain after all….that should be more than a good enough match for his son.

    • christelle says:

      Thranduil is sindar, but he embrassed the silvan civilization so in the end, it is the same. I am very much agree with you ! they wasted a good character by giving her everything. Seriously, maybe in the third movie she will master magic and go to kick sauron’s ass herself !

    • Gotta laugh at women who say Tauriel was too perfect, and yet don’t have any complaints about Legolas and Aragorn.

  8. Did we see the same movie? And/or read the same book? Tauriel is a beautiful female warrior (a very popular choice these days for movie heroines), reddish of hair (Like Merida in Brave), very young compared to most of the elven men she serves with (only 600 years old guys! She’s a puppy by elf years) and completely special (like a princess! Doesn’t every girl want to be a princess??). But wait…is she a warrior AND a skilled healer? She seemed to be one of those I do everything characters that skips over the confines of reality, vocational priorities and her duties to the king, but but we are expected to swallow the cool aid and believe her character. Oy. Tell me, what’s so feminist and forward as trying to ‘equal the playing field’ with a conglomeration of today’s most popular cliches?
    Of course it’s cool to see a kick ass female warrior. I’m a fan of many of those types in films.
    It’s not so cool when the inclusion of said female warrior only serves to change the plot of the book, rob focus from other important inter character relationships, and introduce a romantic sub plot that doesn’t really fit. The Hobbit was an engaging read without needing a romantic subplot as I recall.
    Unfortunately I cannot shake the feeling that Tauriel, for all her beauty, fierce moves and flowing mane, is simply an attempt to keep the seats in the theaters full by pandering to the lowest common denominator. And what a sad shame. She could have been a fantastic, more back up character (heck they could have included LOTS more elven women in the guard). Instead she’s trotted out like it’s a dog and pony show – look everyone! We have a female here! Come see the movie cause now we have female action characters!
    Arwen was better. Even if she was book lore turned to life for the movie – she at least had a real story on her side. She was far, far better.

  9. christelle says:

    The problem of tauriel is not that the character is good or bad, it is that they didn’t give her enough credibility. her age is an aberration (600 hundred years old and captain of the guards ? come on ! elves of this age are considered as teenagers) and they gave her characteristics of high elves, (high healing power, the fact that kili sees her “shining”) when she is just a sylvan elf, not even a sindar. This is a shame in my opinion, because they did this to give her strenght an credit, and in the end, it did the contrary, giving to the skeptics material to hate her.
    Honestly, I was higly skeptical about her, her love story, her rebellion against her king…but in the end, the love story is very light and cute, she didn’t really betrayed thranduil, her fight scenes are awesome…. but this one minute long healing scene ….no, no no !

    • lakeshore gal says:

      Elves are considered adults after 50 (see Laws and Customs among the Eldar)… and she can have high-elven heritage from her mother’s side.

      • Just A Person says:

        But she is not from the eldar is she?
        We don’t know anything about her, except for what Peter J and Co. seemed to have made up about her and her sue qualities.

  10. I really like Tauriel, though, yes, those Mary Sue elements are rather annoying. That said, I’m not a rabid Tolkien purist, but I am a Tolkien geek. So I have a major problem with that red hair, guys.

    Red hair comes from Mahtan, whose daughter Nerdanel married Silmaril-creator Feanor, resulting in those seven infamous Sons of Feanor, and of them only Curuthin the Crafty had kid(s)– Celebrimbor (aka, he who forged the Rings of Power). But Curuthin’s wife is never mentioned, and Tolkien had that annoying habit of not naming, sometimes not even mentioning girl children, so hey, it’s possible Curuthin’s wife took another kid back to Aman, right? Now *that* red-haired she-elf would have a really interesting story (the only blood descendant of Feanor = OUCH). She’d also be the one and only elf with red hair, and would be about SIX-THOUSAND years old. And rather royal (House of Finwe, hello?).

    PJ et al, they did not do their Middle-earth history homework.

    …and I’ll just carry on writing that story.

  11. Expected more says:

    I disagree. I was not entirely opposed to the inclusion of a new elf in this film, someone has to occupy the kingdom of Mirkwood and make up the elf army. But the very reason for Tauriel’s inclusion in the film is the very reason her character is a failure. Sure she can fight, shoot, and kill orcs by the dozens. But every move she makes is determined/motivated by the desire of a man. The king calls her for an audience, telling her of his son’s feelings for her (she gives a coy possible hopeful smile here) but saying he doesn’t approve and orders her not to further this situation (angry face). Five minutes later she is flirting with the only attractive dwarf in the company and seemingly melting from his words about his mother. Soon after she witnesses her “new love” getting hurt (a new invention written for the express purpose of the love story) and defies the kings orders, dragging a man she knows has feelings for her (and possibly she still for him) along with her to hunt the orcs that attacked their kingdom (but really just an excuse to pursue her new crush). Upon finding him she promptly abandons Legolas, leaving him alone to battle the orcs she convinced him to pursue in the first place so she can make goo goo eyes at “boy band” dwarf and blatently copy the Frodo healing scene from Fellowship.

    All in all it was a poorly written and incredibly shallow recreation of the Aragorn/ Arwen/Eowyn story from LOTR. It wasn’t necessary or particularly well executed. And most importantly sends the message that a girl only ever does anything because of feelings for a boy. Sure she advocated going after the orcs and reaching beyond the forest because it was the right thing to do and they have a responsibility to the world, but her words were undermined by the fact that the audience all knew it was really because she wanted to go after her dwarf. And what does she do? She abandons her quest and her companion she convinced to follow her the first chance she gets to stay with her guy. Yes he needed to be healed you may say. But they had the Athelas, that would have held him untill she and Legolas took care of the orcs, isn’t that why she came after all? That what she told Legolas wasnt it? But like most female characters all those pesky ideals go out the window when a guy is around.

    Because little girls, doing what’s right is all well and good, but what does all that really matter that when a boy likes likes you.

    • Did you see the movie or not? Tauriel never drags Legolas anywhere and she has not defied the king directly. When the king insults her by saying he does not approve of her a relationship with his son she keeps her mouth shut even though she is furious. And when she takes of and goes after the dwarfs the king has not ordered the closing of the borders yet. If you look closely his last order to her is to leave so she has not defied him. Yes she does not agree with his policy and she speaks her mind about it but she remains respectful. As for Legolas she does not drag him and then abandons him. He followed her and she stayed back to save Kili while he had been taken over by his bloodlust (see his battle with the leader of the orks, he gets a nosebleed the ork gets away and he is furious. He has never been bested before and that wounds his pride). Athelas alone doesn’t work, the magic of the elves is needed for that poison. In LOTR Aragorn gets Athelas for Frodo to slow the poison down but it is not enough. He almost died in Arwens arms. And as for the comment how can she fight and heal and do so many things, think about it. She is not an elvish princess like Arwen and even she could heal and fight too. She is an orphan and she has learned to take care of herself from a very young age. And most of the elves know how to heal and how to fight. Ok she may not be perfect but she is great and I like her. And I like the romance in the movie. The book was originaly written as a bedtime story for Tolkien’s little sons. 10 year old boys may not want women and romance in their stories but teenagers and adults( the main audience for these movies) do. It is not over the top, it is beautifuly written and open to many possible outcomes. Most people who claim they do not like this new character do it because they are pissed with the director for taking too many liberties with the book. Yes he has made changes but he did it because it works better this way on screen. And if anyone says that he has destroyed the book then my answer to them is to read “Eragon” by Paolini and then watch the movie. That is a book that was mutated on screen so much that they could never film the following books as many basic facts and characters who had important roles in the 2d 3d and 4th book where totaly destroyed in the first movie. Jackson does great work and yes he has to sell the movie too but he remains loyal to the original matterial. People who like the books better and don’t want to see any changes in the film just don’t go to the movies in the first place.

      • Elena Gellepis says:

        I agree with all you said. I’ve read and re-read all available Tolkein Middle-Earth stories too many times to count in the past 40+ years, and am in constant awe of what a fabulous job Peter Jackson and company have done in bringing these stories to life on the screen. I typically find myself disappointed when comparing beloved books to the movie versions, but have found all three LOTR movies to be wonderful, and both Hobbit I and II equally so. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the addition of Tauriel, and really enjoyed Evangeline Lilly in the role.

      • Just A Person says:

        Okay first of all…..
        it is Atheros.

        And the ONLY elf who could fight and heal was Elrond.
        He was a trained military fighter and if you read any of the book you wiuld know that,
        Elves do not like to kill, they are actually compassionate and strive for peace. Unlike Tauriel, whi Evey has said that she is a quote “Killing Machine”.

        If she has been fighting all her life, any healing powers she may have had, are diminished. Because with every kill, your ability to heal is lowered.And she could not have possibly healed Kili at all….in theory.

        Elrond was able to keep his abilty, because he is Half Elf and half Man. In fact part of his name means Half-Elven.

  12. I think both sides of the discussion have merit here. Yes, the’res the purist angle and the ‘but is it actually good writing?’ angle, and the ‘is she feminist enough?’ angle, all of whom are worthy of counteracting the ‘it’s great to have at least one female character’ side. And I haven’t seen the film, so it’s perfectly possible that I’ll hate her as a character, or hate the way they changed the plot. But I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll still give them points for trying (even if they do fail to make her an empowered, believable, multilayered character).

    Because I remember what it meant, as a proto-geek girl, to have even one female character when I was first exposed to many of the things I enjoy. Would LOTR have been equally interesting to my 14 year-old girl self if it, like the books, marginalised female characters to mere post-scripts? (yes, I know there are plenty of women in the Silmarillion, and I know the folk tale template Tolkien was emulating, but I’m talking about the main narrative as introduced into the films). Yes, she’s imperfect, most female characters are far from a feminist ideal, I realised that then, and our girls will realise it now. But if at least one 14-year-old budding geek girl feels more involved in the story because it’s not purely an all-out sausage fest, if she is brought into this kind of world, and learns to critique the far from perfect characters that once inspired her (and Mary Sues, silly as they are, serve a purpose for men and women), then her inclusion may just have been worth it.

    And note how we’re (or rather, Geekdom in general) are not arguing as much about how pointless it was that they extended Radagast’s Legolas’ or Kili’s role far beyond the remit of the books, or indeed, expanded all the male characters quite considerably to adapt a short children’s book to a trilogy spanning at least 9 hours. Yes, she’s a new character, but I think adding one female character in a relatively plot-unintrusive way to balance it out is as valid as grossly extending the roles and plot in general.

    • Expected more says:

      I have issues with that as well, as do others. All of those characters expanded roles smack of filler they needed when they decided to expand a 300 page book into 9 hours of movie. The only exception was the inclusion of Legolas, though not to the extent they did. I could understand him being in the film since it was his kingdom it took place in and a warrior of his standing would no doubt have taken part in the battle of five armies. But this thread was specifically about Tauriel. I thought her creation was a fine idea but the reasons given for her inclusion were negated by her story arc. She was created to be a strong female presence, yet everything she does is motivated by her feeling for a boy. Her whole speech to Legolas makes her a hypocrite because her motivation wasn’t doing what’s right, it was an excuse to chase a boy.

      She could have been included without the shallow and completely superfluous love story.

  13. I saw the movie yesterday (not having read the books) and I didn’t have any particularly love nor hate feelings towards her per se but I have to admit that knowing she’s not really in the books irritate me. It irritate me because I hate when people and movies tries to force feminist views on me. The same happened to ‘Elementary’ (american Sherlock Holmes series). It’s like them trying to convince me ‘look women are as strong as men’. The truth is though that women are not as strong (generally) as men (physically at least) – that’s why we have divided tournaments in sports… I don’t mind strong women if they are there for a reason other than just being there because someone feels like they have to prove women are strong. I love Alice in the series ‘Luther’ because she does not come off as forced on me – she’s a strong woman. We already have a lot of movies with strong women so I don’t understand the need to have it in every movie – especially forced…. It’s not like ‘chick flicks’ or whatever you want to call it (movies directed towards women) forcefully put strong men in those movies just to show that men are also strong… If they have to force feminist views on people then at least do it in original movies and not change other peoples work just to fit their own agendas….

  14. I think we’re all analyzing it too much. Tauriel and her sweet romance with Kili were elements that were SORELY needed. I’ve read the books and watched all the movies, and I’m not a fan, partly because of the lack of major female characters and the lack of romance. Yes, I said it! I’m all for women’s rights and strong female characters, but I want to see some romance (and not the blah romance in LOTR). And Tauriel wasn’t just chasing a boy; she was going after the dwarves because she saw the big picture and wanted to do the right thing. Frankly, these movies are mostly one fight or flight scene after the next, and to me that’s boring. I want to see meaningful connections between characters. In LOTR we got a meaningful connection between Frodo and Sam, but those movies were still bogged down by many battle scenes that were waaaay too long. The Hobbit follows the same pattern of being mostly one fight or flight from one monster after the next. Are we watching a movie or a video game? How many times do we need to see an orc’s head get chopped off? How about more character development and worthwhile interactions between characters? These are basically violent action-adventure/horror movies, and I don’t care for those genres. But even action-adventure movies usually have a romantic subplot, don’t they? By the end of this movie when it was alternating between the drawn-out struggle with Smaug and the touching scenes between Tauriel and Kili, I was wanting more Tauriel and Kili, but of course what I got was more of the drawn-out struggle with Smaug. Please don’t mistake me for a Twilight fan because I hate Twilight. I’m just saying these movies are almost 100% fight/flight scenes, and good God, can’t we have a little romance to break up the monotony?

    • Just A Person says:

      You said you’ve read the books but you’re not a fan?

      They why are you even watching these movies?
      How could you even get through a single movie, that of which is based on the books?

      And if you want a strong femal or male character, go look in a history book. There are plently of strong people who are better to look up to than fictional elves….

  15. Frederico says:

    You have a good view point. Females and hobbits, men and women, all can be victims of greed and other vices. That being said, I would put your little essay on a larger frame and combine it with some progressive ideas in order to take the best out of it. Some arguments were filled with pre conceived ideas, but I really see greatness in your words.

  16. Flannigan says:

    As a female, I just have to say Turiel is the worst female character I have ever seen in film. Hands down worst. And I’ve only just seen her (it- the sexist monstrosity.) last night, so I’m so blind angry this might come out a bit ranty:
    I only just went to see TDoS, and I have to say, I nearly walked out
    of the theater. And I was looking /forward/ to her. The problem is
    that since Black Widow, people seem to have mistaken ‘being able to
    fight’ with ‘personality’. The romance is one of the most grating I
    have ever, ever seen, and went on for far too long. It was so
    shoe-horned in as to be almost plot breaking, and made Legolas’
    character almost irrelevant. I am so angry right now. This was a
    terrible, terrible waste of an opportunity to show people that there can
    be good female character development, even in a Tolkien book. I mostly
    get pissed at bad female writing in books, and have to stop reading.
    But I have never, ever had it happen before in a film. Dear God. Was
    she bad. May as well have made Legolas a girl and given him zero backstory. He was pushed to the side for a Twilight love triangle. Not to mention bad, bad writing.

    Jar-Jar of the female variety.

    • Absurd. Tauriel is too well liked by critics and most moviegoers to be Jar Jar. And what’s with the dig at Black widow. Stan Lee and Joss Wheedon are two masters of their craft.

  17. Look, LOTR and the Hobbit are nonsensical anyway. I mean every guy in these books have the same personality, except for gimli. They are all solemn, honourful and brave, OR very evil and selfish.
    There is not depth in the characters. This girl has more depth then any character in LOTR and the Hobbit, LOL. Its very pot driven. A party of guys with the same personality goes on a trip and has alot of adventures, the end.

    • I don’t want to speak for the books, as Tauriel is a character who appears in the movie only, and I’m all for keeping the two media separate, but in the movie not all characters have the same personality, IMO. Thorin is solemn, honourable and brave, yes, but also selfish and tortured. How are Bofur, Bombur and Kili solemn? And yet they are brave and, when necessary, honourable. Nori is brave but not very honourable since he steals form their hosts at Rivendell. Bilbo is lazyish, bumbling, a bit clumsy, a bit sarcastic, and then the Ring makes him even more multi-faceted. Thranduil is selfish, in a way, but evil? And that’s only the Hobbit, let’s not even get started on LOTR (Boromir, Faramir, Theoden, Grima, even Gollum come to mind).

    • Exactly, Jon. So many people refuse to admit that about Tolkien’s work.

  18. I was very apprehensive of Tauriel’s inclusion in the movie. But as I came to see it, she’s a rather important character. Another thing I was apprehensive about was the love story between her and Kili considering – up until this point anyway – the only one really there was Aragorn and Arwen…. and I was choking on that one at moments. Where as this one, this one was almost a drink of cool water. Not only was I sold from first contact, but it continued building up in a rather budding friendship/fondness kind of way. The flirting between the two in the beginning had me chuckling. And I like how it allowed you to know more about Kili as an individual rather than just another dwarf in a company of others. By the time we get to Lake-town, where she had to convince Legolas to go – dude, what a prick – it’s pretty clear where her heart was at. When Kili used his dying energy to kill an orc and then collapsed, screaming in pain, Tauriel looked horrified. I don’t think she realized just how bad it was. And when Legolas commanded her to follow him, she hesitated but I think she ultimately stayed because she had developed a fondness for Kili and she wouldn’t live with herself if she had walked away and left him to die. You noticed how Oin was looking up at her when he was checking Kili, and his eyes were almost pleading? People gripe about Tauriel glowing but by that point, Kili was half dead and his body was starting to relax as if he was drifting into a very calm-like state… ya know, the calm before the storm.

    When reading the Mirkwood sequence in the book, it states the dwarves were there a number of weeks before escaping. Granted, Jackson is not going to do this in the movie so he condenses it but I believe it’s implied, which means Kili and Tauriel would have spent more time getting to know one another so by the time we get to Lake-town, he’s pretty much declaring his love for her – though I believe he thinks himself to be talking to himself, or a dream, that maybe she’s not really there and he wants her to be. So when he reaches for her hand, he’s wondering if she really is there and he’s not just dreaming. But maybe he does know she’s there and at that point, he knows he’s falling for her.

    The sad part of all this is knowing what happens to Kili :( I imagine Tauriel left in her grief at his passing. I’m wondering if anyone will know. I suspect Fili likely would, Bofur and perhaps Oin too. Or at least have an idea. Either way, it’ll be sad.

    I can see and understand why people don’t like her, or the subplot with Kili, but I do it adds a rather interesting element to the story. The only thing I don’t like about the whole thing is building up Kili’s character in this way fully knowing what happens. Either way, I quite enjoy it. And as a Tolkien lover myself, I don’t see the problem. Tauriel isn’t watered down by a love story at all.

  19. Hi my name is Chrissy and I just want to say I am huge fan Tolkien fan and I am actually very happy Peter Jackson created the character of Tolkien. I think Tauriel is awesome and I consider myself to be her biggest fan! I just love the idea of a strong female character who is a warrior. I can’t stand all the criticism and hate towards Tauriel. You are right she is a very compassionate and strong character. Tauriel is my favorite female character. As a 21 year old woman, I think out of all the females in Tolkien’s work I relate to her the most, she has a such a real personality and she is so just and has a kind heart and follows her own path. :)

Speak Your Mind

*