Forum: Sexuality in Middle-earth

Discussing: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

There's a lot of married people in the Arda-verse, from the Valar right down to the hobbits. However, the fanfic universe is full of lovers (het and slash).

What gives? Poor Elrond hardly gets to see Celebrían in most fanfic, let alone do the horizontal mambo. The one couple who does appear to capture people's libidinous attention is Faramir and Éowyn. They are together and getting it on quite often. Sam and Rosie get a cuddle in every so often, but I think he's paired with Frodo more often than with his wife.

In a less flippant tone, what is it about marriage and romance that fanfic writers have a difficult time with?

I have two stories at a steady simmer right now with married couples at the center - one on Denethor and Finduilas, one with Belladonna Took and Bungo Baggins. I don't think I could get to two more opposite ends of the romantic spectrum than the high nobility of Gondor, and a pair of ageing hobbits in the Shire.

One problem I have writing the first relationship is how to introduce drama into the situation without having that drama being a form of abuse. This is a tendancy I have noticed in human and elf stories - dramatic tension based on abuse, violence, infidelity, betrayal.

A different problem I have with the second relationship is how to portray people who have been married a long time and who are happy in their relationship. How to keep it from becoming sort of sappy and snickering at two old people making google eyes at each other?

In both cases, the key to working out my concerns is figuring out how to make the female partner a filled out character. To what degree is the problem of writing marriage a problem of writing the wife? How is this helped (or hindered) by Tolkien's own presentation of these characters?

Ang

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Well, part of it may be the diminished level of drama inherent in a stable, well-working relationship -- "story" tends to be focused on the highs and the lows, by its nature, with cliffhangers and risks to keep the listener hooked, rather than a lower-key setup, which tends too easily to become "boring." This is something Tolkien mentions in the Letters, that romance is easiest to write for the crises, and most authors have a hard time with the "ever-after" parts.

It's a real challenge for an author to write stories (especially a longer one) where the crises are *not* the earth-shattering ones, but the little nitpicky ones like the mouse found in the cat food and trying to get it safely outside, or the kids horsing around on the roof and busting off the tiles so that the next time it rains a romantic moment is made considerably less so, or what to do when the transportation breaks down and the money is tight, or *really* serious ones like family illnesses, that aren't just angst-wallows themselves, or simply boring.

(That may be part of the attraction of James Herriot's autobiographical novels -- they're just far enough out of the ordinary to attract us by their difference, but the overall tone is one of stability and order despite the chaos and risks of the era. James trying to impress his would-be fiancee while dogs, cars, cows and friends conspire with fate to make it go strange, for instance, with it all working out in the end.)

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

I also think that very few of us today easily have any sense of what a pre-modern lady did, and what her fantasy equivalent would do. They did embroidery, right, and dressed up? That's what all the other books tell us...

I'd recommend reading a few things like The Book of the Courtier, where noblemen and noblewomen sit around wittily discussing society and gender roles, and checking out paintings of hunts, with dashing ladies lunging in to be there at the kill, and reading other similar first-hand source materials like the letter exchanges between Isabella d'Este and the famous artists she patronized and haggled over prices with.

Also biographies of people like Eleanor of Aquitaine, who loved and warred with her husbands, in both senses of the word -- jaunting across all of Europe and parts of the Near East, not letting pregnancy slow her down, setting up courts and power junctions of her own, rivalling her spouses', and though she's the most famous, she wasn't the only hard-riding, hard-loving, politicking lady of the Middle-ages by any means.

And then there's the fiction of the time itself, which always has to be taken in context and with some salt, attempting to figure out what's irony and what isn't without the same context.

One of my favorite authentic old fictional characters is the Wife of Bath, who's looking for her next husband at the funeral of the last, and wears red stockings so that the guys will check out her legs when she's riding, and tells bawdy stories with glee and theology. Everyone I knew in high school thought she was totally improbable, especially the part about her still being hot and checking out the crowd at the very funeral. I knew someone rather similar, and believed it completely.

The popularity of the comic "cautionary tales" warning old geezers not to marry trophy wives because they'll never be able to keep up with them should attest to the fact that in Chaucer's day the notion that women either were or ought to be free of sexual desire would have been considered a joke in itself.

(There was a medical school of the time that believed that without an orgasm, a woman was not likely to conceive and warned husbands that if they didn't take care of their wives' pleasure too and not just their own, they might not get an heir.)

Other useful sources for envisioning are *good* historical fiction, which skip the stock tropes and actually delve into things and present a coherent societal vision based on fact. Years ago - make that over a decade - I read one which had a rather remarkable sex scene/power play between a Borgia couple, from all from *her* point of view, and I cannot be sure, but I'm fairly certain it was a Dorothy Dunnett novel.

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

What gives? Poor Elrond hardly gets to see Celebrían in most fanfic, let alone do the horizontal mambo.

Speaking specifically of Celebrian--I have seen stories where she is in Imladris as a motherly, welcoming presence who has a successful marriage with Elrond (Soledad's Innocence, for one), but for every one of those, there are half-a-dozen others that depict her relationship with Elrond as a political union/marriage of convenience--despite the fact that, given the nature of Elven marriage, I'm not sure they can even DO that! Of course, in a lot of those fics, the purpose is to get her out of the way, preferably in as angsty a way as possible, so as to free up Elrond for comfort with the male elf of the author's choice.

Something occured to me about Celebrian a little while ago, as I was helping the kids get ready for school. We always hear that she was "tormented" in the dens of the orcs, and most people infer from that that she was the victim of a gang-shagging. It's not an unreasonable assumption, given that she was still alive and kicking when her sons came to rescue her, as opposed to having already been served up with barbeque sauce on the side.

Then, the story goes, Elrond exerts all his healing powers, but despite his efforts, he cannot save her, and she goes West. And this is usually depicted as a failure, that her love for him and his for her was not strong enough--ergo, the 'political marriage' fanon convention.

BUT--you can look at it in an entirely different way, and be more true to canon, I think. According to Tolkien, an elf who is raped cannot endure it and dies. Period. ( I am not even going to discuss that weird fanon thing where Elf A is raped and will die unless Elf B immediately makes sweet love to him/her. Reasonably sure that's not what the Professor had in mind!) But somehow, despite the fact that Celebrian has endured this deadly trauma, she hangs on for a year, and in the end does not die at all. Rather than a failure, this could just as easily be interpreted as a testament to the strength of her love for Elrond and the incredible power of his healing gifts. Their love for each other keeps her alive when she should not be able to stay, and he basically pulls a miracle out of his back pocket by saving her. It is, in fact, a victory of sorts. (Or, I suppose, you could also say his love for her was so deep, selfish and obsessive that he did everything he could to keep her there when it would have been kindest to let her go....)

They obviously have a deeply affectionate family, when you look at how the Twins go out to kick orc butt for the next five hundred years in her name. But most people like to depict her as this failure as a wife and mother, either cold and disinterested, or a weakling. I confess to a bit of that myself, before this morning's epiphany.

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

. Rather than a failure, this could just as easily be interpreted as a testament to the strength of her love for Elrond and the incredible power of his healing gifts. [...] But most people like to depict her as this failure as a wife and mother, either cold and disinterested, or a weakling.

Good way of rethinking it --

One POV-vignette nuzgul outline I've had lurking around for months is a Celebrian-coming-to-leaving-decision, which takes the tack that she can't deal *because* she's strong, she *knows* it, and in her assessment of herself she *shouldn't* have been broken, and she can't stop fixating on it.

This for me comes from a couple things: the fact that ex-POWs have one of the highest suicide rates of any group, far exceeding that of other veterans and other demographics. These are the toughest of the tough guys, right? The people who were the survivors - and when they come back to Normal Life nothing adds up for them any more, it just isn't enough, as it was when they were living to get back to it.

The other is from UT, where it's stated that it's quite possible that she was around and went on the journey through Khazad-dum with her mother, and certainly she would have been a very different sort of person from what she's usually described as, even if she was born after in Lorien, what with being the daughter of a mighty political leader over many different ethnic groups spread out over a decent sized location, and travelling on horseback on a regular basis back and forth over a significant area to visit her parents after her marriage

(In other words, a lot like Eleanor of Acquitaine, who did so in spite of the risk of being kidnapped and held as a political hostage in the tense factional situations of feudal France.)

The rest of it is her own personal family history: she's like Voronwe, the child of someone who Crossed the Ice, and more, a daughter of kings, whose whole family, men and women, were all courageous heroes, even if some of them were also villains, and *this shouldn't be happening to her*, she should be stronger than that. As well as her awareness from history that disfunctional parents with obsessions - requiscat Erendis - can do a huge amount of damage to their own children, without meaning to.

Not sure when I'll get to PTSD-Celebrian, though.

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

BUT--you can look at it in an entirely different way, and be more true to canon, I think. According to Tolkien, an elf who is raped cannot endure it and dies. Period. ( I am not even going to discuss that weird fanon thing where Elf A is raped and will die unless Elf B immediately makes sweet love to him/her. Reasonably sure that's not what the Professor had in mind!) But somehow, despite the fact that Celebrian has endured this deadly trauma, she hangs on for a year, and in the end does not die at all. Rather than a failure, this could just as easily be interpreted as a testament to the strength of her love for Elrond and the incredible power of his healing gifts. Their love for each other keeps her alive when she should not be able to stay, and he basically pulls a miracle out of his back pocket by saving her. It is, in fact, a victory of sorts.

Great nuzgûl! Let me know if you are going to put it up for adoption. I seem to get bitten by those that are contrary to prevailing fanon images.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Bellatrys wrote:
(There was a medical school of the time that believed that without an orgasm, a woman was not likely to conceive and warned husbands that if they didn't take care of their wives' pleasure too and not just their own, they might not get an heir.)

!! Could you dig up your source for me?

Isabeau: Hear, hear! I love your summation.

Wimpy!Celebrian is among my "top ten silliest fanon assumptions." I've also seen some bizarre "scholarly" speculation about why it took her and Elrond so long to marry. Could it be that her father objected to an alliance with the Peredhil?? It never occured to the writer that she might just have been an independent sort, like her mom.

Stulti

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Great nuzgûl! Let me know if you are going to put it up for adoption. I seem to get bitten by those that are contrary to prevailing fanon images.

Lyllyn


If you've got the yen to be bitten, Lyllyn, then go for it! I'll admit the idea tempted me momentarily, but it's hard physically for me to write right now, and I'd just as soon finish my two unfinished chapters. Besides, I certainly think it's a topic that can be explored by more than one person! There's room for your version of Non-wimp!Celebrian, and Bellatrys' PTSD Celebrian, and lots of others. It's kind of like Child-abuse!Thranduil--unless people see that their fanon is based on only one interpretation of canon, they won't conceive of the possibility of writing their stories any other way.

I might get around to a Celebrian fic someday, but until then, feel free to adopt this Nuzgul. Beware, however--it is sweet yet deceptively strong!

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

The popularity of the comic "cautionary tales" warning old geezers not to marry trophy wives because they'll never be able to keep up with them should attest to the fact that in Chaucer's day the notion that women either were or ought to be free of sexual desire would have been considered a joke in itself.

Not to mention that women were often seen as more libidinous than men, to which countless jokes attest. The opposite is a19th-century fable, just like the chastity belt.

 

 

The problem of the ordinary

Hmm, I *like* this interp. Quite convincing. What will get spawned in Ang's discussion threads, one never knows. Just call me mother of nuzgûl. Oh, Dwim, I think we have a potential challenge here....



OK, back to Joan's first couple posts and the problem of drama in marital relations. I do remember the JRRT comment about "happily ever after" as such to be difficult to write (gotta find the letter), and that's certainly true. Happy families are all the same and all that. That's not quite what I'm getting at, though. My concern is the conceptualization of what is the dramatic point.

I can definitely see a Hobbit version of the Wife of Bath. Thanks for the plot bunny.

How to present a normal or ordinary relationship in a challenging situation? How to make the wife a dramatic actor, rather than being an object acted upon dramatically? I like the idea of an Elanor of Aquitane character (my favorite Renaissance prince is Caterina Sforza, who had a piece of field artillery named after her, so devestating was her passage), but those are perhaps too powerful in the other direction.

A romance (particularly an OC romance) has the potential for a tragic end, and may maintain tension in that way. Looking at the romance of canonically married charaters allows you to dwell on the emotional ups, downs and uncertainties leading up to the "Will you?" question. And the eons long moment between question and answer.

Yes, just what is it that a "wife" *does* in such a setting? Here we touch on the usual complaints about Arwen's passivity and wussiness. I think the slash romance (vs. the slash PWP) has some very strong roots in a conviction (conscious or unconscious) that a nicely reared maiden/female would not be doing much besides singing and sewing, hence the need for a rugged male companion figure to take up the libidinal slack.

So, how are others solving the difficulty of writing marriage? What is your method of developing drama?

Ang

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Not to mention that women were often seen as more libidinous than men, to which countless jokes attest. The opposite is a19th-century fable, just like the chastity belt.


Not even early nineteenth century, either - I once saw a hand-tinted British cartoon from the Napoleonic War, where a group of Jane Austen's contemporaries were out at the local park watching the milita training.

The entire cartoon was nothing but the exchanges between the wives admiringly and loudly commenting on the soldiers' gear and comparing it to their rueful husbands' underequpped status and lack of practice. Since the militiamen were training with firelocks, you can imagine the sorts of jokes, I'm sure...

(I *think* the point of it was to encourage men to enlist, but the message, if it was intended, got totally lost in the medium...)

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Galen (Claudius Galenius of Pergamum), a late Roman Empire (2nd c. ad) physician and anatomist born in what is now Turkey, and his school. People love to mock him for not understanding the circulatory system, and that's all they know - but in fact he *did* figure out the parallels of the reproductive system, averring that the only difference was that the male average body temperature being higher than the female (following Aristotle) was thus too high to allow the parts to remain inside. Which is darn close to the truth: one puzzle for years for researchers was how come dolphins' sperm doesn't get killed by being inside their body-cavities? (Ans: cetaceans have intensely-advanced circulatory systems which serve as highly-complex radiators. That's how they can a) not die of hypothermia; b) not cook their dna or offspring at the same time.)

"Turn outward the woman’s, turn inward, so to speak, and fold double the man’s, and you will find the same in both in every respect."

He doesn't even use separate words: seed is seed, their repositories are the same, so you will find the rather (to us) startling discussions of women's testes, foreskin, and sperm.

(He was however quite a success in his own lifetime, so we needn't feel too bad that he's unappreciated today: he rose from being a gladiatoral physician to being court doctor to the emperor Marcus Aurelius.) He also applied textual analysis to the writings of the "founder of Medicine," Hippocrates himself, and concluded that a number of texts attributed to him were actually reworked by his son, a level of critical scholarship which wasn't terribly common in antiquity.

Here are some quotes I found on a web page which indicate how his advice was professionaly used into the early modern era - which might help with diction inspiration as well:

"The majority of physicians and midwives manuals throughout the 15-16-17 centuries dealing with infertility focussed upon how to excite, and enhance women’s sexual pleasure. To ensure that generation emerges from sexual activity John Sadler in 1636 in a book titled The sicke woman’s private looking glass advised...

handle her secret parts and dugs, that she may
take fire and be inflamed in venery, for so at
length the wombe will strive and waxe fervent
with desire of casting forth its own seed, and
receiving the man’s seed to be mixed together
therein. 9
Indeed the Modern term "clitoris" derives from the Greek verb kleitoriazein meaning to touch or titillate lasciviously, to be inclined to towards pleasure. 10 Galen discusses a case of a widow who he claimed had an excessive build up of "semen" causing back aches and other pains remedied by a midwife who rubbed her genitals. Jane Sharp (1671) a physician & midwife wrote that the vagina "which is the passage for the yard, resembleth it turned inward" adding that the female clitoris "will stand and fall as the yard doth and makes women lustful and take delight in copulation ... were it not for this they would have no desire delight, nor would they conceive".

(These citations in the paper I quote are found by the author from several works by one T. Laqueur.)

 

 

Re: The problem of the ordinary

(my favorite Renaissance prince is Caterina Sforza, who had a piece of field artillery named after her, so devestating was her passage)

That's right, I'd forgotten about that! (The reason I love the business letters with Isabella d'Este is that they disprove so many assumptions - noblewomen not handling money nor hard-headed brokers; artisans not respected, nor able to stand up to "the aristocracy", and the studio's argument that --Yeah, you could get a frame cheaper somewhere else, but if you get it from *us* we'll cut you a package deal -- *and* it will be guaranteed to be superb and individually designed to match your new masterpiece. It's up to you, of course, My Lady...)

but those are perhaps too powerful in the other direction.

Yes, not everyone can be Maria Morevna, my favorite folkloric fictional example of the Stong Military Leader Wife with the Dependent Husband...for most of us it isn't Borgias, dragons, nor Koshkei the Deathless we have to deal with, but the intransigent sales guy or the ninny at FedEx...

I can definitely see a Hobbit version of the Wife of Bath. Thanks for the plot bunny.

You're welcome! Nuzguls-R-Us...

So, how are others solving the difficulty of writing marriage? What is your method of developing drama?

Well, as Julie has noticed, a lot of Act IV is "about relationships" -- good ones, bad ones, and the ones that are mixed. Keeping spoilers low-level here, I've tried to draw Tulkas/Nessa from the happiest couples I've personally known, people who a) weren't afraid to be silly in public, b) cared about each other enough to show it, c) respected each other enough to argue, d) respected each other enough to be able to stop arguing -- all without playing mind games and power games of sulking, threats, etc. The other crucial thing is, valuing your SO's good opinion more than that of "the public" so that one isn't always worried about how it looks and maintaining authority/dignity in others' (oft-imaginary) eyes...

The bits about fighting and to what extent this is indicative of a bad/doomed relationship are also drawn from RL - there are relationships where the partners would not, could not go anywhere else, and consider themselves happy, or at least "normal" (and sometimes assert that they are, in fact, the norm and anyone who claims other lifestyles possible is deluded) -- but at the same time I'd rather be a toad in a ditch (ObRef Napoleon of Notting Hill) than have what they've got. Hence, the Endless Whirlwind. And the arguments made to Luthien that they've got so many problems that they're obviously not meant for eternity together, and Aule's resulting discomfort at his colleague's assertion.

I've tried to draw Beren/Luthien as *in fact* normal, but under such intense pressures that everything has gone awry -- while they might not have had any lenght of time together "married," they've in fact known each other far longer and better than many couples who married during WWII, and not just through deceptively good times either. Although there aren't any hard dates in the chronicles for the actions of the Geste, from the seasonal markers it's certain that they were dating in Neldoreth for about three months, separated for about another three, reunited for an increasingly tense month or so during which they low-impact camp across about a quarter of Beleriand together, culiminating in the invasion of Angband and Beren's subsequent 2-3 months in a coma, followed by an indefinite but not terribly long time during which they fought over what to do next. They've been through some pretty rough times together before heading back to Menegroth.

In other words, they know each other a lot better than many (perhaps most) young couples do, and haven't been putting on phoney acts for the purposes of impressing a prospective spouse (a la 'The Rules' series) at all. However, the fact that they both qualify for memberships in Paranoiacs Anonymous by now makes it look like that it's only opposition by outside forces that's keeping them together, which is another RL thing I've seen happen with badly-matched couples. But in spite of the casualness and sporadic clashes in their interactions, I hope it shows through that there's a baseline acceptance of each other for who the other is.

So this is what's going on with the extant couples, briefly, or what I'm trying to accomplish anyway, to contrast both with each other and with the relationships which *didn't* happen for various reasons.


 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

(There was a medical school of the time that believed that without an orgasm, a woman was not likely to conceive and warned husbands that if they didn't take care of their wives' pleasure too and not just their own, they might not get an heir.)

!! Could you dig up your source for me?


As far as I know, this theorie goes back to Galen (2nd century AD), who greatly influenced Medieval medicine.

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Joan wrote: Galen

Ya don't say. Well, the copy of _MEDICINE: A History of Healing_ that I pilfered from my sister just lost points. Frilly thing anyway.

Thanks for the fascinating info!

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Not even early nineteenth century, either - I once saw a hand-tinted British cartoon from the Napoleonic War, where a group of Jane Austen's contemporaries were out at the local park watching the milita training.

Eureka.

And here's the source page -- just an enormous list o' links, mostly Jane-related, but the text of the above cartoon is in there somewhere, and some of the other jpegs are priceless.

(and now back to your regularly scheduled programming...)

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Hah! Yes! I found that years ago, I think in a book of American Revolution editorial cartoons, which mostly focussed on the pro/anti war ones, and got funny looks from the library staff as I tried to read them w/o coming compleatly unglued.

What I really thought was interesting was the fact that in spite of using the weapons/guns metaphors, it was all about woman-power, not macho male superiority. (The flash-in-the-pan one I think is my favorite.) It has kind of that feeling of Restoration banter about it still, as in She Stoops To Conquer.

Thanks for tracking that down. I guess everything is to be found online these days...

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

I'm not Joan, but you're welcome!

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

There's a lot of married people in the Arda-verse, from the Valar right down to the hobbits. However, the fanfic universe is full of lovers (het and slash).

What gives? Poor Elrond hardly gets to see Celebrían in most fanfic, let alone do the horizontal mambo. The one couple who does appear to capture people's libidinous attention is Faramir and Éowyn. They are together and getting it on quite often. Sam and Rosie get a cuddle in every so often, but I think he's paired with Frodo more often than with his wife.

In a less flippant tone, what is it about marriage and romance that fanfic writers have a difficult time with?


I think it's the image of marriage as "boring". Now, for myself, I prefer the other image which is beloved by fantasy writers, that for the male character, marriage to the girl of his dreams is a well-deserved reward for trials undergone. Certainly I can see this as being appropriate for both Sam and Aragorn, the two most prominent married characters at the end of LOTR. But then, I'm a sad old romantic from way back.

It may be the old mythic/mundane problem which comes in to stop the creation of realistic fic about the married couples (although how this happens with Sam and Rosie I've no idea - 13 kids doesn't really argue very well for a blissfully innocent marriage). It's hard to get down from the "mythic" dimension to deal realistically (ie in a non-comedy setting) with all the daily minutinae of a normal married life. Some of it has been done, but it does tend to head off toward comedy very rapidly, partially because of the "ooh, look at the mighty warriors dealing with dirty nappies" thing, partially because it's very hard *not* to play that sort of thing for laughs.

Certainly I have a lot of trouble getting past the mythic level to the reasonable mundane. Must see whether I can try this with Magda, or possibly with Aragorn and Arwen. I do have a WIP from Arwen's POV about how they fell in love - basically her giving the preliminary interview to Faramir's grandson, from which the tale was crafted.

Hmmm... I have *got* to stop getting myself in so deep with WIPs.

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

Hmmm... I have *got* to stop getting myself in so deep with WIPs.

Oh, please, not on *our* account. You just keep right along with them...

I'm thinking that I didn't phrase the question right.

I read fics with main canon characters who are (or can be presumed to be) married, but the fact of the marriage just does not enter into the story in a major way. The relationship of the two partners *as partners* is a difficult one to write. Mind you, I think it is a difficult one to write in any writing environment, not just JRRT fanfic.

Sam & Rosie and Faramir & Eowyn get the best treatment overall, perhaps because the two women present types that writers feel comfortable projecting themselves into. Except of course when they are turned into shrews who are keeping their men away from their true loves, usually other males.

Heterosexual marriage is a mode of sexuality and emotional connection that doesn't get its due treatment in this fandom, I believe. We prefer the frission of lovers, het or slash, to the subtle complexities of a relationship that must be more and stronger than a wash of hormones. We are also, frankly, jealous of the cononical women who have claimed "our" characters, and with whom we feel no empathy.

Aside from the "pay no attention to the woman behind the genealogical chart" move (pairing the male canonical with an OFC of greater or lesser Mary-Sueish tendencies, or with another canon male of greater or lesser Mary-Sueish tendencies), the two favorite moves are to recast it as some sort of "I Love Lucy" sitcom situation, or else to present the relationship as deeply troubled, if not downright homicidal, and have the resolution of the crisis be the point - curtain drawn as soon as the woman dies or the couple goes all lovey-dovey.

So, I guess I am wondering why we, as writers, do not make more of an effort to write the full texture of these lives? My two current projects - with Finduilas and with several Hobbit women - are showing that it is not a simple task. Most romantic conventions simply won't work with these characters.

Ang

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

I think it's linked to the difficulty of writing a story that doesn't have any kind of great conflict or quest, in any genre, whether fanfiction or no.

Drat it, my set of the Narnia chronicles is halfway across the country. I'll have to paraphrase from memory. Somewhere in The Last Battle, I believe it is, Jill says something about it being too bad that there are always these great crises going on in Narnia. And the person (native Narnian) - I think it's the centaur? - tells her, no no no, there have been hundreds of years of peace and contentment, but they don't make good stories.

What's to tell about the life of a married couple? You can deal with the conflicts, but if they're serious then there's the tendency to go overboard into violence or the threat of it, and if not then they either (a) don't seem important enough to hold the reader's interest, or (b) are perceived as humorous. And if you don't deal with the conflicts, then where can a plot come from? In RL a working marriage has ups and downs but mostly is intended to be long... decades long. Granted divorce is a sadly likely outcome, but people don't go into marriage intending to divorce (usually. I hope).

So it's a hard question to resolve. How can one write a nuanced, textured as Ang puts it, married-couple romance, which has some reasonable and plausible plot and yet descends neither to humor nor to torment in order to get there? You'll notice that I'm not writing this myself - one short fic ("Language Lessons") shows a married couple, but the focus is actually on their kids, not on the marriage, so I'm not sure it qualifies.

Cel

 

 

Re: Marriage in ME, or Just where *is* Celebrían?

I really enjoyed reading this discussion. It inspired me in my Mary Sue challenge answer: an angst-free, quiet, normal romance...
Keep up the interesting thoughts!

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to Sexuality in Middle-earth

Stories linked to the forum