Growing up, reading The Hobbit was one of my favorite activities. My parents would read to me the adventures of the hobbit named Bilbo and his thirteen dwarf companions: Thorin, Fili, Kili, Balin, Dwalin, Oin, Gloin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur. Along the way we met the mysterious Gollum, the passionate Beorn, the wise Gandalf, the elusive Elvenking, the fiery dragon Smaug and the heroic Bard that slew him. If you were like me, you’ll notice that every single one of these characters was male. As a young girl, I was in love with these dynamic heroes, but I also felt conflicted by the lack of female representation. I think that is why, when The Hobbit films were introduced and with it a brand spanking new female character, I was overjoyed! I mean, could you blame me? LOOK AT HER. But, sometimes, dreams must be dashed and joy must crumble.
Since information about the second installment in the three-part Hobbit movie began circulating, devoted fans of Tolkein have been wondering who Tauriel is and what exactly her function would be in the movies. Tauriel, who is neither in The Hobbit, the LOTR trilogy, or the Silmarillion, was originally assumed to attract female viewers since, unlike the LOTR series, The Hobbit has not a single consequential female character. However, upon viewing the second and third Hobbit installments, Tauriel seems to be there purely for the “love triangle” between Kili, Legolas, and herself. All hopes of having an effective, powerful female character were destroyed. Tauriel is certainly represented well at first – captain of the guard, incredibly skilled archer, fighting for and protecting those she cares about, etc. – but her character quickly takes a turn for the worse. In the second Hobbit film, we see that Legolas has deep feelings for Tauriel. She on the other hand, does not feel the same way about him and is scorned by the Elvenking because he doesn’t want her canoodling with his son. So, we see that she is stuck in the “love zone” even when she does not want to be. Then comes the young, dashing and “tall” dwarf Kili. Instantly we see that there are sparks between Tauriel and this dwarf and suddenly everything about her character becomes clear. Kili and Legolas are both interested in Tauriel, creating a love triangle and another way to represent the resentment elves and dwarves share with each other. I mean, we get it! Dwarves and elves have some bad blood between them—why do they have to take it out on our lovely female character? But, of course, it does not stop there.
This disappointment is brought to fruition in the latest, and final, installment of the Hobbit films, The Battle of the Five Armies. While Tauriel, in a fit of obstinate will, rebels against Thranduil, she does so for Kili’s sake. Kili seems to bring out a weakness in this otherwise strong-willed, badass female character, and vice-versa.
By association, Kili rips away Tauriel’s agency because when Thranduil finds out that she supports the dwarves/has feelings for one, he banishes her from Mirkwood. Yes, it is because of Thranduil’s pigheadedness that she looses her power as Captain, but it is also due to the fact that the part she plays in these films is as a love interest and not much else. For instance, her existence in the films allows Leoglas to see the error in his ways—he is able to overcome the prejudice his father has instilled him to hate the dwarves. He rebuffs his father and follows Tauriel to save the dwarves—what a heroic action! You go Legolas! He is seen as a hero and Tauriel slowly fades to the background.
Everything culminated in the last moments of the battle. Fili, Kili, Tauriel and Legolas fight to finish off the orc cheiftan Bolg. To be honest, having Tauriel in the mix seemed to distract viewers from Fili’s death. Kili initially seemed intent on avenging his brother’s death. However, in the end, he dies trying to save Tauriel. Once Kili dies, Tauriel seems to stop fighting altogether. It takes two different male characters to save Tauriel, and if that isn’t a little upsetting, I don’t know what is.
The Hobbit was a great book and it was made into three pretty decent films…but maybe it would have been even better if there were some more independent, multifaceted ladies. If it did, it probably would not have taken two hours for the dwarves and elves to settle their differences because AN INVASION OF ORCS WAS ON THE WAY. But maybe that’s just me.
Just give me some Eowyn yelling “I am no man!” and I’ll feel much better. Ahh yes, thank you.
Written by Caroline Lux and Kim Sehn