In the sprawling tapestry of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, few figures shine as brightly as the siblings of Rohan, Éomer and Éowyn. Born amidst the rolling plains of the Riddermark, they emerged as pivotal characters during the War of the Ring, embodying the spirit, courage, and heart of their homeland. Their tales of valor, sacrifice, and triumph against insurmountable odds serve as a testament to the enduring strength and resilience of the Rohirrim.
In this article, we delve deep into the intertwined destinies of Éomer and Éowyn, exploring their individual journeys, the challenges they faced, and the legacies they left behind.
Eomer is the stereotypical protective brother who casts a protective shadow over his adventurous and courageous sister. A true prince of Rohan, Eomer eventually became the eighteenth King of Rohan and the first of the Third Line of their kings. He became the third Marshal of the Mark and was a strong leader of man.
Conversely, we have Eowyn, his sister, who is often seen as the embodiment of a powerful female character. She commands admiration and serves as a role model. Her strength was notably showcased when she declared, “No living man am I! You gaze upon a woman!”
History of Eomer and Eowyn
King Theoden of Rohan raised the children of Eomund and Theodwyn, the two siblings, after both their parents died – Eomund died in battle whilst Theodwyn, King Theoden’s sister, died of illness. Raised as if they were his own, Theoden would later refer to Eowyn as “dearer than daughter” and entrusted Eomer with the future of the Kingdom.
Eomer became the Third Marshal of the Mark, honored highly and prized extensively by the King. After all, his Eored hunted down the Uruk Hai that had kidnapped Brandybuck and Peregrin Took despite camping near the Fangorn forest. He then collided with Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas near Rohan, where he lent them two horses, Arod and Hasufel.
As Theoden fell under the influence of Saruman and his kingdom shortly after, it was upon Eomer’s return to Edoras and report on meeting the Ranger’s companions and setting them free that had served as an excuse for Eomer’s imprisonment. Eomer was betrayed, but that didn’t stop him from assembling his own forces to fend off Saruman and the orcs in the name of Rohan.
As the war continues to rage on, Eomer and Theodred, Theoden’s biological son and, therefore, the rightful heir to the throne, set out for Gondor to stop the invading forces of the Uruk Hai. This marked the beginning of a momentous occasion for both the franchise and the storytelling of the plot. Eowyn, considered a shieldmaiden at the time, desired to follow suit and ride along with her uncle and brother. Of course, they forbade it.
Eowyn was forced to stay and care for her declining uncle, whom Saruman and Grima Wormtounge weakened. Upon Theoden’s restoration, he planned to defend Rohan during the War of the Ring as any other king should. Upon Hama’s suggestion, Eowyn, who was loved by many, was recommended and made a leader in Theoden’s absence. Eowyn took this with a grain of salt as, despite this occurrence being a great honor, Eowyn truly wanted to ride off with the other soldiers and fight off in the war.
With great reluctance, Eowyn stayed behind and took great care of Edoras whilst all the men confronted Saruman and his army in the Battle of the Hornburg. Victorious upon return, they had found that Eowyn had kept everything in perfect order in their absence.
Soon after, the men were once again called to battle against Mordor, riding side by side with Aragorn, Theoden, and all the others. Once again, Eowyn was left behind.
Being the classic courageous and rebellious woman that she is, Eowyn disguised herself as a man and rode off with the other soldiers to fight in Gondor to partake in the Battle of Pelennor fields. In this battle, Theodred was stabbed by the Witch-King of Angmar, only to be stopped by Eowyn herself.
She declared in the ultimate power move:
“No living man am I! You look upon a woman! Eowyn, I am Eomund’s daughter, Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or undead, I will smite you if you touch him!”
She then thrusts her blade through the Witch King’s helm, killing him and fulfilling Glorfindel’s ancient prophecy.
When Saruman’s powers are driven away from Theoden, it becomes clear that the responsibility of restoring peace to the kingdom falls into Eomer’s hands.
In the House of Healing, she meets Faramir, and the two eventually fall in love. Eomer, on the other hand, is crowned the Eighteenth King of Rohan. As he grew closer with Aragorn, the newly crowned King Elessar of the Reunited Kingdom, Eomer renewed the Oath of the Eorl, with which he swears his partnership and own loyalty to the kingdoms of Gondor.
Eventually, Eomer became known as Eomer Eadig, or ‘the blessed,’ as it was during his reign that Rohan recovered from the war and became a fruitful nation once again.
Values to be learned
From Eomer, we learn about the value of the fighting spirit. As King Theoden’s nephew and Eowyn’s brother, he reflects the relentless spirit of the Rohirrim, the people of Rohan. A brave and skilled warrior, Eomer represents many of the values that a warrior and king should have: loyalty, compassion, dedication, and integrity.
As a hardened man in his mid-twenties, Eomer has seen tons of war, and as a result, he has always prepared for the worst and relies on rational thoughts rather than wishful thinking. Take, for example, the instance where Eomer was trapped at Pelennor fields as he and what remained of his forces faced hordes of orcs and Easterlings. He did not believe that Aragorn would reinforce him. When Aragorn later teased him about it, Eomer simply said, ‘Hope oft deceives.’
From that simple sentence alone, we see what type of man Eomer is – a man of rational thinking. It’s not that Eomer is a cold and heartless man; it’s just that he believes that the best way to get things done is to do it yourself. Hardened by the realities of war, where losing friends, seeing death, and plans going terribly wrong is a daily occurrence, Eomer has become a man who faces the problems now, not expecting much from other people, and has come out stronger because of it.
However, we also see a more sensitive side of Eomer as the story evolves. We clearly see his devotion and faithfulness to the service of the realm. Eomer is greatly devoted to the Rohirrim, for even amidst the death of Theoden, Eomer quickly finds the strength to forge on and lead his people even after the War of the Ring, where the nation now must rebuild themselves, the buildings, and the land destroyed during the war.
Eowyn, just like her brother, was courageous and headstrong. She always believed in herself and never took no for an answer. In defiance of orders, she ran away with the soldiers and fought alongside them. She showed her courage as she stood against the Witch King and bested him, even after seeing Theoden fall to him.
Perhaps in another life, Eowyn was another warrior like her brother. Surely, if she was a man, she wouldn’t have had to go through so much to gain the same respect that her brother did. For a long time, her life was a cage. She was being withheld by her uncle, even after Gandalf had restored him. For the men, they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. Things were clearly better. For Eowyn, not so much.
However, this has never stopped her from believing in herself. Perhaps in stark contrast to her brother, Eowyn has to deal with her hopes and dreams- she must believe in her abilities to contribute to the war effort. Eowyn may not be the hardened rational thinker that her brother is, but do not confuse her emotions for weakness. Eowyn is just as headstrong as her brother, if not stronger, and she will let no man tell her how to act.