It is an acknowledged fact that while Tolkien was a genius, and very detailed when it came to landscapes, however, his character descriptions are rather vague.
“He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the fellowship.”
“Gimli the dwarf alone wore openly a short shirt of steel-rings, for dwarves make light of burdens; and in his belt was a broad-bladed axe.”
“a shaggy head of dark hair flecked with grey, and in a pale stern face a pair of keen grey eyes.”
Some writers show gender dysmorphism in descriptions, meaning they describe men and women in a drastically different way. Tolkien does show some of this.
“Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost, her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring. Above her brow her head was covered with a cap of silver lace netted with small gems, glittering white; but her soft grey raiment had no ornament save a girdle of leaves wrought in silver.”
“…she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth. Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, of its gold was touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees… had been snared in her tresses.”
“Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings. Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Eowyn, lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood.”
I read that last one out to Gordon and he was like, “Do what now?” Morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood is a bit out there.
Update: Hey guys, I’m locking comments on this post. It’s a shame because there are such interesting discussions in the comments. The topic for this was the genius of Tolkien and his descriptions. I didn’t mind Chekhov at all, or other discussions of classics, but we keep getting recommendations for completely unrelated authors. Not to mention that it’s the weekend, and Mod R is supposed to be off.
I have to say I’m honestly a little bit exasperated. Any time we mention books on the blog, we get bombarded with book recommendations that have nothing to do with the subject of the post. Then we pull the comments, and there are hurt feelings.
We have dedicated book recommendation threads. Please respect our blog policy.