The Éowyn we first meet in 'The Two Towers' is a woman who has been traumatised by the loss of her parents at a young age, the recent loss of her cousin Théodred, the apparent weakening of her uncle Théoden, and her inability to escape the lascivious gaze of Wormtongue. Marginalised by her gender and by social expectation, her desire to find purpose in her life as a shieldmaiden is repeatedly thwarted. Seeking to reclaim control over her life and to make her own choices, she rides out with the Rohirrim not as Éowyn, but as Dernhelm.

Past scholars have usually read this as Éowyn taking on the guise of a man to achieve her desire to fight; viewed through a queer lens, however, something different is revealed. Reading her character through scholars such as Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam, I propose that Dernhelm is not a disguise at all but an intrinsic part of Éowyn: an outward projection of her masculine femininity in a non-normative expression of gender.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.