Tauriel

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Spoiler Warning: This article may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.


Character
Name: Tauriel
Occupation: guard
Title/Rank: Captain of the Guard
Location: Mirkwood, Esgaroth, Dale, Erebor
Status: Alive
Relationships: Subordinate of Thranduil, friend to Legolas, romantically connected to Kíli
Fandom: The Hobbit (film series)
Other: Character does not appear in the books by name and has been gender-changed from the original
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Tauriel is a character from The Hobbit movies directed by Peter Jackson. She first appears in The Desolation of Smaug, where she is Captain of the Guard in Mirkwood who reports to Thranduil. Tauriel is a skilled fighter with both a bow and long knives. She is close to both Legolas, who she has known for many years, and the dwarf Kíli, who she develops an attachment to when the Company of Thorin Oakenshield passes through Mirkwood on their way to reclaim Erebor. She survives the movies, but her future fate is unknown.

Tauriel is played by Evangeline Lilly, who is also known for playing Kate Austin in Lost.

Canon

Tauriel is mostly original to the Hobbit movies, so her only canon information comes from them. In the second movie, she and Legolas are portrayed as close, trusting each other and comfortable fighting side by side. She is shown to be a skilled warrior but a Silvan elf, rather than Sindarin, and Thranduil therefore calls her an unsuitable match for his son. When Tauriel leaves Mirkwood to follow the orcs and save Kíli from poison, Legolas follows and tries to dissuade her. She refuses to turn back, so Legolas joins her. They trail the orcs to Laketown and rescue the dwarves and children in Bard's house from an attack. Against Legolas's orders, Tauriel stays behind to heal Kíli's wound.

After Tauriel rescues everyone in Bard's house from Smaug, she and Kíli have a brief exchange on the shore of the Long Lake, then she goes with Legolas to scout in the north. Together they discover a second approaching army, so she and Legolas rush back to Dale, only to discover that Thranduil is about to leave the battle. Tauriel demands they warn the dwarves on Raven Hill about the trap they're walking into and about the second army, but Thranduil refuses. Tauriel defies him, even to the point of physically threatening each other. Legolas intervenes, and both Tauriel and Legolas rush to Raven Hill.

Once on the hill, Tauriel is attacked by Bolg. Kíli comes to her rescue and, after an intense fight, is mortally stabbed. Legolas sees Tauriel grappling with Bolg by the edge of a cliff and rushes to attack Bolg himself, eventually killing the orc. Thranduil, running to the hill in fear for his son's life, finds the severely injured Tauriel cradling Kíli's dead body in her arms. Thranduil acknowledges that her feelings for the dwarf were real; it's implied that he's remembering his own wife's death in battle.

Tauriel appears to survive the battle, but no other conclusion is given for her in the theatrical release of The Battle of Five Armies.

Fannish Reaction

In mid-2011, more than a year before the first film was released, Tauriel's existence was publicized. There was some negative reaction to her existence as an original female character,[1] though Jackson had introduced other original characters (or dramatically expanded minor character roles) in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and indeed would introduce several other original female characters in the Hobbit trilogy as well, including Sigrid, Tilda, and Hilda

As annathepiper pointed out after the airing of the Desolation of Smaug trailer:

Also, having read the relevant chapter of The Hobbit not terribly long ago, I do note that Thranduil does in fact have a guard captain. Yes, he’s male in the story, but he’s so incidental a character that I have no problems whatsoever with Jackson pulling a genderflip.[2]

Complaints about Tauriel often referred to her as a Mary Sue, even though Peter Jackson is a man and therefore unlikely to have used her as a self-insert. One blogger posted Lilly's own comments about Tauriel's creation:

[Lilly] says, "The Hobbit didn't include female characters at all. I can see why additional characters were needed to round out the story as an adaptation, especially female characters."[3]

In response, an anonymous commenter called Tauriel a "mary-sue" [sic] 6 times. Other commenters declared:

"[H]ere's a newsflash write your own book and leave perfection well enough alone!"

"We don't need female characters in Hobbit, if Tolkien didn't put them there."

"Hell, I'm a feminist and I don't want to see them mess with the story like this. I really don't care if people who are unfamiliar with the story want to see women in it..."[3]

Some other commenters framed Tauriel's addition to the storyline as a cheap attempt to appeal to women moviegoers. Similar comments could be found on many different sites.

However, not all commenters agreed:

"So in the various scenes where there are townspeople, like when they are fleeing Smaug, there should be no women? There were no women characters in the book because Tolkien didn't write about them, doesn't mean they weren't there in his mind, just not important to write about."

"The character isn't fake, she just wasn't created by Tolkien."

"I think it's a perfectly fine idea to add a woman to the storyline however short (and I'm sure it will be short). Considering they are adding more of Legolas' character although he is not in The Hobbit either."

"I quite liked Arwen both in the LOTRs books and movies, so I guess having another female like her wouldn't be too bad. Just as long as her character doesn't take anything away from the core plot and elements."[3]

A blogger at theonering.net compared the reaction to Tauriel after the trailer for Desolation of Smaug to the reaction to Arwen's expanded role in Lord of the Rings.[4] A columnist at dailylife compared it to broader negative reactions in fandom toward particular female characters, such as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones.[5] An article at The Mary Sue explicitly called the negative reactions sexist, but also addressed fears women had about how Tauriel might be portrayed, as the only fighting woman in a boys' club:

From the comments on some of our articles with Tauriel in them alone, you’d think she’d killed the fan community puppy. But to those who questioned how Peter Jackson would dare to throw an original character into the mix, I call sexism. [...]

Character invention seems like a violation of the prime directives of adaptation to many, and not without reason. The only problem with this objection is…Jackson’s already created original characters, and done it approximately twelve times over. [...]

The idea of an original female character brought with it an entire new category of issues for fans, which say as much about how we expect female characters to be treated in media as it does about our own prejudices. Chief among these concerns seemed to be that Tauriel would be shunted into the role of love interest, with her participation in any action sequences serving as a consolation prize for those of us who would ask for more.[1]

Indeed, there were elements of a love triangle in the movies, and this disappointed some fans who were otherwise disposed to like Tauriel as a character. Whatanerdgirl explained:

I really liked Tauriel, and the introduction of her character, especially when I learned why they did it. But when I actually watched the movie, and got her storyline…I felt incredibly cheated. Like “here you go…sort of”. I don’t understand how its possible that the directors, producers, writers, whomever, said they created Tauriel in the hopes of creating a strong female character for the female audience in a story that didn’t have one, and then give her a love story.

Yeah, a love story. Because god forbid a female not have a love story.[6]

Lilly herself fought against the inclusion of a love triangle and was disappointed in the producers for adding one after principal filming.[7] In a response to Whatanerdgirl's post, Chloe described the inclusion of a love story plot as a way to give Tauriel typically feminine qualities as strengths:

I think what we need now are more female characters who use classically feminine qualities and traits as strengths. [...]

Tauriel uses her love – a trait usually presented as female and often as a weakness – to allow her to see and do (what I would consider to be) the right thing. [...]

I would rather argue that Legolas’s love for Taurie and Tauriel’s love for Kili is what allows them both to see what the ‘right’ thing. [...]

This is also explored when Fili and Oin stay behind from their mission to try to help Kili. The love their share makes them forget their pride and their lust for wealth. They will gain nothing by staying behind, but they do because they love Kili.

Are these men’s actions, which are the product of love, weakness? Or is it nobility? Why then is a female allowing romantic love to drive her – as opposed to a male being driven by familial or romantic love – a weakness?

Selfishness is a large theme in this film – selfishness and a lust for wealth. The love-triangle is not an isolated, tacked on addition to the film. I see it as another aspect of the exploration of these themes.[8]

After Desolation of Smaug opened in theaters, Tauriel saw increased acceptance and even a spreading fanbase among younger viewers, especially young girls.[9] Some fans specifically gave Tauriel a closer look due to the backlash against her romantic plotline:

Due in part to the hate surrounding it, I took a close look at the Kili/Tauriel thing every time I saw the movie. Then I found myself on the sinking ship. I REGRET NOTHING.[10]

The Tauriel Test was coined by JennIRL to describe a canon in which at least one woman is competent at her job.[11]

Shipping

After The Desolation of Smaug was released, parts of fandom adopted Tauriel into romantic relationships. By February, 2015, the Kíli/Tauriel ship was the third largest in the Hobbit fandom on AO3, its 864 works there (on February 21, 2015) surpassed all but Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield and Fíli/Kíli. Other romantic/sexual ships involving Tauriel include:

Example Fanworks

Resources

Cosplay

Fanart

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wish She Could Be Part of Your World: On Tauriel-hate and Original Material by Zoe Chevat, posted Dec. 17, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  2. On the Desolation of Smaug trailer, and Tauriel!. Posted June 12, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lilly About Why Tauriel Was Created Posted September 23, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  4. Evangeline Lilly gets personal with TORn about Tauriel and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ by MrCere, posted October 30, 2013. "Back in the day, there was quite a fan uproar when rumors placed Liv Tyler’s Arwen in battle at Helm’s Deep. So are Tolkien enthusiasts now more willing to accept new material?" Accessed February 20, 2015.
  5. The woman who 'ruined the Hobbit', by Clem Bastow. "Lilly is not alone in playing a character arbitrarily loathed by fans. Spare a thought for poor Sophie Turner, whose Game Of Thrones character Sansa seems to have – despite the presence of many far more despicable characters – become a beacon for all that is mean and unpleasant about online fandom." Posted June 13, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  6. A Reaction to The Hobbit’s Tauriel: Strong but Still Not as Strong as a Man Posted December 30, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  7. 'Lost' Survivor Evangeline Lilly Is Not Happy About That 'Hobbit' Love Triangle, by Erik Davis. Posted December 16, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  8. A Defense of Tauriel: Fan Reaction by Chloe. Posted December 31, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  9. Evangeline Lilly on ‘The Hobbit': It ‘changed my mind about acting’ by Noelene Clark. Posted December 10, 2014. Accessed February 21, 2015.
  10. It Was a Dream by animeadie. Posted February 2014. Accessed February 21, 2015.
  11. "the Tauriel test (which i made up in response to The Hobbit 2 [which passes] and Skyfall [which fails]): a) there is a woman, b) WHO IS GOOD AT HER JOB." - the Bechdel test, the Ellen Willis test, ALL THE TESTS: or, a handy guide to feminist critiques of narrative by JennIRL. Accessed July 30, 2015.