And Eowyn answered: “All your words are but to say: you are a woman, your part is in the house. But when the man have died in battle and honor, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”
“What do you fear, lady?” he asked.
“A cage,” she said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
Excerpt from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – J.R.R Tolkien
Stoic, hopeless, she looked at her reflection ornamented in red, stare back at her with questioning eyes.
The eyes accentuated with kohl, glistening with golden, bedecked with fake eyelashes that fluttered most sensuously had an almost inexplicable inquiring sadness to them – as if they cried shame over the cowardice of their owner, as if they mourned at the betrayal staged by the one who wielded them, as if they entreated the shattered soul to pull together and escape the guillotine that swayed ever so readily above their freedom.
Glittering in the gold that hung from her neck, basking in the ambiance of the gems that clustered her frail frame, bathing in refulgence of the red that was draped around her; she was although a bride, but in truth, happened to be just another caged bird: a bird that had been sheared off its dignity and independence, shamelessly decorated and about to be handed over to a gaoler.
The heavy bangles weighed upon her hands seemed more like wrist irons, the gleaming necklace wrapped about her neck resembled more a noose in the process of being tightened, the red of her dress signified the sacrifice she was making to appease her family – yes, she was sacrificing. Sacrificing that exultant feeling of being free to take flight whenever she wanted to, that adrenaline-gushing sense of having no fetters bound to impede her flight, that moment of exaltation whenever she chose for herself and no choice was made on her behalf.
Moments fled and she, yet gazed, at her reflection most unerringly: apparently under the impression that mere staring could somehow warp her destiny into what she cherished from what she was being forced into.
The sadness in her eyes slowly gave away to revolt; that had remained once recumbent under folds of duty and obedience, surfaced – bringing with it something more desperate then dismay, something more plummeting then despair. It was a rage: a rage distinguished by the helplessness and vulnerability of her unfortunate position.
The upwelling of rage that gushed forth through her senses, was followed by the sickly rise of bile in her throat: her image as a red-garnished bride being nothing but a source of revulsion.
Despairingly, she clutched at the necklace she wore around her neck and tried to wrench it off – such frenzy embraced her that instead of simply unclasping the necklace, she sought to tear it apart: as if it was a rope that threatened to end her life as she had known it.
Glistening tears left dark smudges of kohl as they ran down her face; spluttering, she let go of the necklace and breathing heavily looked at her reflection, from which momentarily her attention had wavered.
Vicious it looked to her, with her hair messed up, her make-up ruined and her eyes wide in distress: but amid all the bestial shades that had crept up her face, an illusion transpired and for a moment she imagined herself in an open glade lined with lush trees; with her hair unfettered, flouncing in the wind and her frame gowned in simplicity – she, with freedom to take root wherever her heart strayed or to sever roots whenever her heart desired.
Enthralled by the illusion, she engrossed farther into it: she felt the soft touch of grass over her sole, the fleeing caress of the autumn leaf over her raised cheek, the sweeping embrace of the wind over her outstretched fingers, the basking warmth of sunbeams over her profound forehead – and she, danced in the wake of joy that possessed her in that moment of illusion.
Even when the illusion began to fade, she kept on dancing.
This was her true identity – one that she had masked behind the stoic facade of a traditional bride.
Although the illusion, had been but an illusion – it gave rise to a euphoria that came only when one encroached upon their true identity; an identity unhampered, untarnished.
She stayed her dance abruptly as the strident knocks shook her from the last vestiges of the illusion.
“Time has come for you to come downstairs now!” a voice echoed from the other side.
All that she had rebelled against in that moment of illusion, once again ran awash her; the much dreaded-words resonating in her ears: duty, obedience, honor, tradition, appeasement trampled on all the feelings that had been raised in that brief tempest of emotion and now, nothing remained but a void of emptiness, drained of all euphoria.
The flames that had been stoked by rage and fueled by revulsion; that had danced in the darting moments when it was eminent in joy; now lay quenched into smoldering ashes.
The illusion was over and reality reared its head again: and so, she settled before the gilt-edged mirror again and began to piece together the shards of the facade that she had dared to break in that fleeting moment of euphoria.