“What renown is there in that?” (The Two Towers, 2002)


Screenwriter Peter Jackson barely touched upon J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Éowyn and her desire for renown. Searching through several blog resources revealed much more information on Éowyn and her quests for glory. Information which I shall discuss in more detail when I come across the underlying story in The Lord of the Rings book series. Until then, allow me to tell you what I’ve found.

What Some Christians First Think When Someone Seeks Renown

Watching the theatrical edition of The Two Towers glosses over Éowyn’s desire for renown. Possibly because of the negative connotation associated with the word. My favorite online dictionary defines renown as fame, glory, distinction, and so forth. Everything that man’s sinful nature desires.

For that is exactly what Christians fight against in their own personal walk with Christ: The desire to make themselves great. One phrase that a New Testament writer described this desire as was Selfish Ambition. Believers need to focus on giving all glory to God, not to themselves. To do God’s will ensures God will guide our steps in life.

Consequently, when a Christian hears this line in the extended edition of The Two Towers (yes, I speak of myself), she balks at her own Selfish Ambition existing in a Tolkien character. Yet, there exists something more astonishing within this beloved series: Éowyn found her renown. And it was considered good.

How Shieldmaiden Éowyn Found Her Renown in Life

The theatrical cuts for The Lord of the Rings leaves out all references to Éowyn’s search for glory. All references other than those connected to Aragorn II, son of Arathorn. But according to Tolkien Gateway , and I must assume to the books which I have forgotten, Éowyn did eventually find her renown. Simply in a different form than she first imagined.

Disgusted at the mere thought of caring for Rohan’s women and children, Éowyn revealed more than was proper to Aragorn, the man whom she loved. However, he knew she would never find satisfaction in a life with him. And he told her so in Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King (2003). Though heartbroken at Aragorn’s refusal to be with her, she still pursued her need for glory.

Thus, when the time came to fight against the evil forces, Éowyn disguised herself and went out with the Rohan men to fight against Mordor. Here she nearly met her death. But, here, she also fought the Witch-king, defending King Théoden from more harm, and earning her title as Lady of the Shield-arm. Then she was at peace, which resulted in her falling in love with Faramir and becoming Lady of Ithilien.

What J.R.R. Tolkien Revealed on His Thoughts of Renown

When J.R.R. Tolkien’s father died, and his mother married a man who practiced Catholicism, J.R.R. Tolkien grew up with the Catholic faith. Therefore, he knew about man’s will to pursue Selfish Ambition. He simply didn’t condemn it. Recognizing the sinful nature as something within every man, he merely told the tale on how it can bring a person to fight when she need not fight.

Aragorn made a point in The Return of the King which resounded with me strongly: The point about how valor often exists without renown. Aragorn said this to Éowyn, telling her, gently and discreetly,  how she would regret joining in union with him. He said this mere minutes before appearing to desert Rohan’s men on the eve of battle. He couldn’t have been more right in what he saw in Rohan’s shieldmaiden. For she rejected him for his misconstrued departure.

And, now, I bid my readers good day. Asking them to conclude their own judgments on whether mankind should pursue personal renown in today’s fallen world. If J.R.R. Tolkien found a way for this human trait to coincide with the good fight, then surely my thoughts on its evil ways must be wrong. Only the Lord knows for certain.