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Discussing: Elves and Rape

Elves and Rape

I'm working on a story in one of the Nuzgul hutches (OW! Dwim: get this creature OFF me!) I don't own any of the HoME books, so by osmosis I've been able to glean only two bits of info which may or may not be right:

1. Elves do not understand the concept of rape
2. Elves who are victims of said trauma will immediately fade and go to Mandos.

However, with regard to Celebrian (and it is hotly debated whether she actually suffered this treatment; many seem to think she did), she does not immediately die but fades later. Is there a delayed effect?

Also, how would Elves regard of their own, male or female, who was a victim of rape? Would they be sympathetic as the person fades, or filled with disgust or outrage? Would they be able to offer comfort, or simply dismiss the victim as he/she fades? Would they even comprehend the act enough (emotionally, not just intellectually) to have a reaction other than confusion?



Re: Elves and Rape

Hello and howdy ~

I'm no expert on this subject but I've a wee thought or two which can be ignored. ;)

One, I was not aware that elves don't understand the concept of rape, but rather that it is simply foreign to their nature. It's almost like they'd be happy to kill you if you really ticked 'em off, but they do not have any interest in the sheer, animalistic brute domination/power thing that rape is. Plus that may tie into Tolkien's possible views of elven sexuality, which more or less seems to suggest that elves take the act of making love far more seriously than humans, and do not number it as high on their priority list as humans. (One, they aren't driven by the need to procreat as mortal beings are!) Anywho, point being, if they don't understand it, it's simply because it's so utterly foreign to them ~ rather like the way I'd view the concept of sitting down to dinner with cannibals.

As for the fading and dying from rape, somewhere - I think it's in his letters - Tolkien says that elves would simply and pretty much on the spot abandon their bodies and their souls would flee. I have no sense that there would be any delay at all, because the whole thing would be simply too horrific for an elf to even want to endure, since they do have the ability to will death to escape.

Now, I have an idea on why an elf would seize death rather than survive rape - and that is that since elves are depicted as such spiritual creatures, able to perceive and do things that mortals cannot, perhaps the act of rape goes beyond the physical. Perhaps for an elven victim of rape it is not only a horrific physical invasion, but also a psychic one. Maybe the rage and brutality and beastiality of a rapist is literally felt - in a psychic sense - by the elven victim and is as much a part of the assault as the physical aspect. So not only would they be left with their own emotional mess, but they would also bear a crystal-clear memory of their attacker's side of the whole thing - which is, perhaps, what Tolkien thought would be too much for an elf to bear and remain in the living world.

Celebrian is indeed a puzzle, because Tolkien never says "rape" when speaking of her captivity among the orcs. He says "torment," which could mean anything from beatings, whippings and broken bones, to making her listen to Barney the Dinosaur singing played backwards. The only actual injury he names is a *poisoned wound*, and contrary to his assertions on rape, she does not die, then or ever. She simply becomes weary of life there - "lost all delight" in Middle Earth - and sails away. It is we the reader who makes the assumption that she had to have been raped, and it's nearly impossible for us to imagine that creatures as evil as Orcs would not use rape against a female of their most hated foe. But ... it is an assumption, because we can't know for certain that Celebrain is indeed an example of an elf who had been raped. If she was, she evidently was an extraordinary case, as Tolkien's reference (which I can't find right now, dangit) was pretty emphatic that rape = death, and that almost immediately.

As for how elves would react to a rape victim ... again, that would be assuming that any elf but Celebrian's debated case would survive rape, which is contrary to Tolkien's statement. If Celebrian was indeed raped, it appears she was welcomed back into the arms of her family, treated with great care and tenderness, and was mourned when she chose to sail into the West. Furthermore, her sons devoted their lives to punishing the enemy who tormented her mother and who ultimately drove her from Middle Earth.

So ... if that's any indication of behaviors, if an elf could or would truly survive rape, going by Celebrian's example I would say the victim would be treated with great loving kindness, and those who loved them would most likely be seeking revenge on the purpetrator(s). Thus I would prefer to think that they would NOT in any way turn from their afflicted loved one, or be incapable of offering every comfort and kindness possible. Nor do I think they would suffer the very human misconception of thinking the victim somehow brought it on themselves and therefore must be weak or unclean. Death is a tragedy among elves; an elf fading because of rape would thus be, IMHO, an object of great pity and grief.

Anywho, them's my tuppence on the matter, and of course it's only my thoughts and opinions. If someone can find the darned citation wherein Tolkien speaks of elves and rape, I'd be obliged ... I'm almost certain, however, that he made it sound like an elf would die pretty much on the spot, Celebrian notwithstanding.
Cheers ~




Re: Elves and Rape

It sent me scrambling, but I found it -the citation is in Morgoth's Ring, Laws and Customs among the Eldar, and says:

But among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another's spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible (even if it could be thought that any Elf would purpose to use it); for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed.

However in an early version of the story of Eol and Aredhel in War of the Jewels Aredhel was taken by force. "...and he took her to wife by force: a very wicked deed in the eyes of the Eldar.”

Tyellas has some great information at:

What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex




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