Lover and Lord

Gendered Displays of Fealty in “The Wife’s Lament” and The Lord of the Rings

  • Shelby Jay University of Montevallo
  • Stephanie Batkie, Mentor University of Montevallo

Abstract

As one of the few Anglo Saxon poems with a female voice, “The Wife’s Lamentâ€offers an alternative presentation of how to properly demonstrate loyalty to one’s lord. The notably obscure language in the poem lends itself to be interpreted in multiple ways, particularly in terms of the gendered language surrounding the idea of loyalty. Other Anglo Saxon works convey winning renown in battle as a specifically masculine form of displaying platonic love or fealty. These same works also reinforce a feminine form of fealty through the idea of remaining/waiting in the home, which functions to display feminine romantic rather than platonic love. However, “The Wife’s Lament†essentially presents this static form of feminine romantic fealty through masculine terms of platonic loyalty—which the reader may interpret a romantic desire for her lord or an underlying desire to shirk the expectation that the feminine form of fealty has placed upon her. Tolkien also draws on this gendered display of fealty along with the obfuscated love language of “The Wife’s Lament†through Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings, specifically in how she initially mistakes her feelings for Aragorn as romantic rather than platonic. Her very deliberate confusion between lover and lord functions to highlight the problematic nature of framing romance with masculine language of loyalty. When Eowyn discovers the true nature of her feelings to be decidedly platonic, she proceeds to go into battle rather than remain in the hall—effectively presenting a challenge to gendered roles of fealty.

Published
May 1, 2016
How to Cite
JAY, Shelby; BATKIE, MENTOR, Stephanie. Lover and Lord. Metamorphosis, [S.l.], may 2016. Available at: <https://metamorphosis.coplac.org/index.php/metamorphosis/article/view/26>. Date accessed: 20 june 2024.
Section
Humanities