“Aldarion and Erendis” (Unfinished Tales) is a rare example in Tolkien’s work of a marriage gone severely awry. Many readings of the tale apportion blame to Aldarion, who is seen as “unwilling” to make the marriage work (Fitzsimmons, 2015), cruel and unfeeling towards Erendis, who herself is characterised as resentful and unaccepting (Rosenthal, 2004). However, these readings rely on an assumption of a cisheteronormative and, more importantly, allosexual relationship between the couple.

This paper proposes an alternate view of Aldarion and his role in the story, suggesting the possibility that he is asexual and/or aromantic (i.e., he does not experience sexual and/or romantic attraction in ways considered societally normative), and is therefore constrained by a system of marriage and duty that is anathema to him and to which he does not connect in any personal way.

By queering Aldarion’s (a)sexuality, this paper seeks a reading more compassionate towards both him and Erendis, understanding them as people wronged by societal expectation and ‘normality’ as characterised by the couple’s “failure” to reach a balance between their gendered characteristics (Rawls, 2014). While Aldarion may not be exonerated from the harm his decisions have caused, this view shifts the blame from him personally to an amatonormative system that makes a villain of him, as well as Erendis and those around them.


Presented at the Mythopoeic Society's Online Midwinter Seminar 2024, "Something Mighty Queer"

Included in

Queer Studies Commons



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