Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nice Hole!

Part Six in the series "J.R.R.Tolkien--Smut Peddler!"

Now our heroic Young Man has penetrated The Bush, along with his seven would-be-merry men. The seven buddies aren't in the script--the classic fairy-tale script, that is--but then, Tolkien isn't quite the "traditionalist" many would like to believe. Every so often he is wont to take fairy-tale tradition and mess with it. You could say that the whole of the Lord of the Rings is such a "messing": whereas in the typical fairy-tale the hero is trying to find the Magic Dingus, in Tolkien's tale the hero is trying to lose it. Such modifications of tradition--even reversals--come thick and fast when we get to the scenes featuring females. And no one in Tolkien's work is more female than Galadriel.

Ah: there she is! A vision of loveliness--if we so chose, and we do. But hold (as they say in Middle-earth)! The Mysterious Maiden we find in Lorien isn't your typical young virgin living in an enchanted forest with no visible means of support. For one thing, Galadriel isn't exactly young--unless the yonder side of 6,360 years old is considered "young." (I imagine immortals have a different standard for when a woman enters "cougar" territory.) And she's no virgin: she's married, and has been for literally ages. There's a vague implication that the lost elven-prince Amroth is Celeborn and Galadriel's son . . . and a quick check of Appendix B reveals that they also have a daughter named Celebrian--the wife of Elrond, and thus the mother of Arwen. And so . . . Galadriel, our supposed Mysterious Maiden of the Deep, Dark Wood, is a grandmother. Oops! So much for her maidenhood, and maidenhead.

It seems our fairy-tale expectations have been dashed on both sides of the gender wall: our Young Man is no gawky stripling, our Lady no blushing maiden. Yet at least part of the classic script IS adhered to: from the moment we meet Galadriel the sexual tension is there. How do we know this? Check out the fine gentlemen of the Fellowship for the classic symptoms: staring, stammering, blushing, head-hanging, general bashfulness, inuendo . . . and temptation.

One of the traditional functions of the Mysterious Lady is to serve as a temptress. Particularly in stories from Christian countries, the Lady acts to divert the hero from some appointed task such as finding the Holy Grail. And she does this, delicate and defenseless as she may appear, by wielding her sexuality as a weapon. The hero has his Pointy Thing, and she has hers. In LotR we see Galadriel perform exactly the function of temptress, using her telepathic powers to try to talk her guests into abandoning the Quest of Mount Doom. And the nature of the temptation is quite explicit. How "explict"? How do we usually use that word nowadays?
If you want to know [says Sam], I felt as if I hadn't got nothing on, and I didn't like it. She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance of flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole with--with a bit of garden of my own.
Let's get this straight (and we are being quite hetero here): Galadriel gets Sam naked, and then she offers him a nice . . . little . . . hole.

A hobbit hole! That's what he means! Of course he does! Something to live in . . . I mean with furniture! And bathrooms! And a--oh, a "garden," is it? Yes, a garden. A nice, quiet, secluded garden. A nice fertile garden. A garden chock full of . . . roses. Maybe a particular Rose. Maybe the one who will eventually give her husband thirteen children.

You mean to tell me you've been reading the Lord of the Rings all these years and you didn't notice that "nice little hole"? Get thee to a Viagra factory!

Who'd'a thunk it? Samwise Gamgee, the baby of the bunch, is the only member of the Fellowship to have explict (very explicit!) sexual fantasies. And Aragorn, our Young Man With Pointy Thing, is the one least affected by Galadriel's wiles. But then, this isn't the only ironic twist on traditional themes that Tolkien pitches us. For despite his patriarchal upbringing, Tolkien was a lot more comfortable with strong women than many authors, traditional or modern. Though he was no feminist, the Master of Middle-earth seemed not to be disturbed that his female characters occasionally climbed down off their courtly pedistals and . . . wanted. Eowyn wants Aragorn, Shelob wants to eat up the world, Ioreth wants someone to listen to her, and Galadriel . . . she wants something, alright. She wants it bad. And it ain't the Ring of Power, bucko!

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Ah Jeez, Mike, if I was drinking milk, it would be spurting from my sinuses!

    This is almost alarmingly funny, and as a recovering English grad student, I can verify that your charmingly bawdy argument is supported by the highest standard the Academy recognizes--textual. Good stuff. Keep it coming, dear Michael. Thanks for all you do for us. Best wishes, Sal