Arwen

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This article is about the fictional character. There are also Arwen, a finnish power metal band and the ARWEN 37 and ARWEN ACE brands of riot control armaments.

Lady Arwen Undómiel (usually called Arwen Evenstar) (T.A. 241–F.A. 121) is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's universe of Middle-earth, the betrothed of Aragorn in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. She is the daughter of Elrond Peredhil and Celebrían (and therefore grand-daughter of Galadriel). She rejects her Elven immortality (which she had the ability to do, since she was a half-elf, thus having the choice to be counted as an elf or a man) to marry Aragorn and die with him.

Arwen in the films

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Arwen plays a far more substantial role in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy by Peter Jackson, which he defends as cinematically necessary to establish her role in the plot more firmly. (Elladan and Elrohir never appear.) In the first movie, but not in the books, she sneaks up on Aragorn and takes Frodo by herself on horseback where she thwarts the Black Riders at Bruinen with a sudden flood. In the book, it was Glorfindel who put Frodo on horseback and sent him alone to flee the black riders, and Elrond and Gandalf who arranged the flood. In the book, Frodo makes his own stand against the Black Riders; in the movie Arwen defends him. In the movies, during this flight and elsewhere, Arwen wields the sword Hadhafang, stated to have once been wielded by her father. This sword, however, does not appear in the books at all; in fact, in the books, Arwen is never mentioned as armed.

The three mentions described above and a brief mention of her arrival at Aragorn's coronation are her only appearances in the books. In the movie trilogy, howerver, various additional scenes pertaining to Arwen are inserted which deviate from the books. These include a scene in which Aragorn is injured and has a dream about Arwen, a scene where Arwen has a fight with her father about leaving for Valinor, and a scene where she (with Figwit) actually departs for Valinor and then suddenly returns when she sees an image of her future son, Eldarion. In the books, it can hardly have been surprising to Arwen that she and Aragorn might have children together, since she herself is the descendant of two similar unions.

Of all the changes made in the films, the changes to the role of Arwen have been the most controversial, particularly with fans. Arwen's role in the movies was originally planned to be even greater: in earlier copies of the script (when the movies were supposed to be filmed in two parts under a different publisher), she actually fought in the Battle of Helm's Deep, and it was Arwen who brought the sword Narsil to Aragorn. It was after a leaked copy of this script made it online that fan outrage against the much expanded role of Arwen began, along with the comparisons with Xena: Warrior Princess (inspiring the satirical moniker Xenarwen). These scenes were altered, downplaying Arwen's role.

Some argue that the substitution of Arwen for Glorfindel, other changed scenes, and the insertion of additional scenes, is a major departure in the film version of the story, and even less acceptable than the substitution of Legolas for Glorfindel in the Ralph Bakshi version. As with other changes in character and plot, this is a common hazard encountered in the adaptation of a story from a literary to a film format.

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The unorthodox movie portrayal of Arwen defending Frodo.

However, it should be noted that many fans of the film, particularly those who read the books after watching the film, appreciate the expansion of Arwen's role, enjoy her increased screentime, and may even prefer the film's version of her character. The film gives Arwen a voice of her own, whereas Tolkien was forced to relegate her appearance to the Appendix. Arwen is also made into a much stronger female character, and while many would claim that, based by Tolkien's writings, this conflicts with her character in the book, some feel that the movie's plot should be judged independently of the book, and that this interpretation is entirely justified. They also feel the film elegantly employs the principle of "economy of characters", thus making the plot tighter and more comprehensible to the audience; in the book, many characters, such as Glorfindel, appear once to perform one task, then sink into the background, and never to be heard from again. This builds up a mass of confusing, trivial characters.

In the movie trilogy, Arwen is portrayed by Liv Tyler.

Arwen in the books

Arwen means "noble woman" in Sindarin. Her epessë, "Undómiel", means "Evenstar". She was held to be the reappearance in likeness of her ancestress Lúthien Tinúviel, most fair of all the Elves. Arwen's epessë also relates to Lúthien: Tinúviel translated to Quenya would be Tindómiel, which means "Nightingale," and shares the -miel evening/night-time suffix.

The romance between Aragorn and Arwen is reminiscent of that between the Man Beren and the Elf Lúthien, but as with many other tales of the Third Age, theirs is considered to be a pale copy of the deeds of earlier ages. (Lúthien, for example, once defeated Sauron to rescue Beren.) Still, few other marriages between Man and Elf are recorded in the annals of Tolkien.

A very young Aragorn encountered Arwen for the first time at Rivendell, where he had been living; she had been staying with her grandmother in Lórien. He fell in love with her when he first saw her, but it was not until they met many years later in Lórien that she fell in love with him.

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Arwen.gif


Arwen's first appearance in The Lord of the Rings is at Rivendell, when the Hobbits arrive there, and Aragorn is seen with her at one point—the first hint of their relationship. Later, when the Fellowship come to Lothlórien, he remembers their earlier meeting.

She enters the story again when, before taking to the Paths of the Dead, Aragorn is met by a group consisting of Dúnedain, his people, from the North, and Arwen's brothers, Elladan and Elrohir. They bring to him a banner on black cloth: a gift made by the hands of Arwen, and a sign that encourages him to take the difficult path. When it is unfurled at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields to reveal the emblem of Elendil in mithril, gems, and gold, it is the first triumphant announcement of the King's return.

Arwen is mostly a minor character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but she is nevertheless described in detail in the Appendices after the third volume, The Return of the King. She does, however, play a role in the plot which is disproportionate to the number of scenes in which she appears. When Éowyn falls in love with Aragorn it is his fidelity to Arwen that forbids him from reciprocating, thereby motivating Éowyn's subsequent actions during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields which have major repercussions for the defence of Middle-earth. Arwen continually serves as inspiration and motivation for Aragorn, who must become King before he may wed her—not an insignificant task, considering the many long years he devotes to this cause.

Arwen was actually a very distant relative of Aragorn, being his first cousin sixty-three times removed. By their marriages 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 Maiar blood through her Arwen's great-great-great grandmother, Melian.

Arwen gave up her life in 121 of the Fourth Age, at Cerin Amroth in Lórien, after the death of Aragorn. At the time, she was 2,901 years old.

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