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Meeting the women behind the masks of men

Part 1: Lady Marian of Knighton:


The first time that Marian dresses as a man and gives food and coin to the poor, she doesn't name her alter-ego. She doesn't speak at all, just leaves the food and coins on doorsteps and continues throughout the village until she has no more food or coin to give out. The morning after that when her maid arrives at Knighton Hall and tells Marian about what the villagers are saying about her own activities the previous night, she asks if the responsible party has any name. Her maid tells her that the villagers are calling Marian's alter-ego (although she just says the person who left the gifts of food and coin) 'The Nightwatchman.' The third time she dresses as the Nightwatchman, she smiles beneath her scarf and waves as she rides away. By the time Robin returns, she feels like the Nightwatchman is as much who she is as Lady Marian is, if not more so. And even after her hair is publicly cut to shame her after she disobeys the Sheriff's direct orders regarding Nettlestone, she still feels as though the Nightwatchman is more who she truly is than Lady Marian is, except when she is with Robin and then she feels as though Marian and the Nightwatchman are exactly the same person.








Part 2: Èowyn, White Lady of Rohan




The first time Èowyn dons men's clothes, stolen old clothes of Èomer's if she is honest, it is so that she can follow Èomer and Thedred to ride out on patrol without the restrictions a gown presents her. It is in that moment that Dernhelm is born, although 'he' rarely makes an appearance around Theoden or Grima. Even Hama is unaware of who Dernhelm really is. She follow her brother and cousin for years in this disguise and it is not until one day in their late teenage years that her brother and cousin both realize that Èowyn is never waiting to greet them when they return after their patrols or hunting trips any longer and has not been for several years past. That same night, they question her and her secret life slips out in haltingly slow words to the two members of her kin that she loves best. They tell her to put her secret life to the side and to train as a shield maiden instead of masquerading as a solider and member of the Rohirrim. She tries it for a time and finds a small measure of solace with the shield maidens but there is always a part of her that misses being Dernhelm. So she leaves the shield maidens' ranks and wanders the Golden Hall purposelessly for some time until Lord Aragorn and his unlikely companions-the Wizard Gandalf Greyhame, an Elf prince and a Dwarf- arrive at the Hall. Years after Dernhelm's first appearance, in the moment that Èowyn slips her helmet off of her head and shakes out her long hair and makes her declaration to the Witch-King of Angmar of "I am no *man*," she feels something break deep inside her mind. Later she realizes that it was that part of her that had embraced Dernhelm and forsworn Èowyn. Later still, she finds the strength to take the best of Dernhelm and turn that into a part of Èowyn. And finally she finds a place as the First shield maiden of Gondor and wife of Gondor's Steward. And yet, upon occasion, her husband will find her gone and her dresses left behind while her armor and sword are gone and he will know that Dernhelm, and not Èowyn, has gone for a ride, and he smiles as he thinks of his strong-willed wife's secret side.






Part 3: Saffiyah the Saracen
When Saffiyah first dons boys’ clothing for a serious purpose rather than as a means to assist her father at the battlefield hospitals without being looked at as strange, she has just finished cutting her hair, again. Her twin has just died in her arms with their father’s hands deep in Djaq’s wounds, stained blood red. Her tears have washed his hair clean of dirt and sand and blood and left tear tracks down her face. After Saffiyah has helped her father prepare her brother’s body for burial, she digs though Djaq’s belongings to find some clean clothes and she gathers up two sets of clothes, one for him to wear to the grave and the other for herself. It is safer, in this time of war and death and hatred to be male than to be female. Being female means too many dangers from the Crusaders in some many ways. Being a man brings with it a whole different set of dangers but they’re ones that Saffiyah is willing to risk for the chance to avenge her brother’s death and drive the Crusaders out of her land. She reasons that since Djaq is dead, it is not stealing. It is inheriting his possessions and keeping them within the family. Her father disapproves of her plan but he knows she is headstrong, and stubborn and strong willed and will do as she wishes in this regard. She manages to maintain her disguise as Djaq for over two years before she is captured as a slave and sent to England then rescued once there by a gang of mostly young men. One of them quickly discovers her secret and reveals her true gender to the gang which leads to her revealing her true name but insisting on being called Djaq and inviting herself to stay with them for good. It takes her some time to bring some aspects of Saffiyah into Djaq, once she is sure she is safe among them, but eventually she does. Even once she is dressing more femininely, she maintains much of Djaq within herself.

Date: 2013-06-02 02:22 pm (UTC)
lonespark: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lonespark
Awesome. Made my day.

Date: 2013-07-15 04:39 pm (UTC)
lonespark: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lonespark
Hmmm... I thought I just followed you here from the robin hood bbc community.

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