Thursday, December 17, 2009

Donaldson Does Nothing to Help Female Stereotypes

In Stephen Donaldson's "Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever" series, the reader is presented with a plethora of characters found in either the "real" world or in the mysterious world of "The Land." The main character, Thomas Covenant, is allegedly a being who holds a form of magic, and despite his inability to use it, the people of the Land still hold him up on a pedestal.

Only seven chapters into the first book, "Lord Foul's Bane," Covenant is overcome by the hurtloam given to him by Lena, a seemingly innocent youth who does nothing but help him upon his arrival to the Land. Unable to control himself, Covenant rapes Lena.

Atiaran, Lena's mother, has little choice in the matter of helping Covenant further, and is for all intents and purposes forced to assist Covenant for the good of the Land. And, upon his second arrival to the Land in "The Illearth War," Covenant discovers that much time has passed, and that Lena has had his daughter, Elena. Covenant eventually forms a friendship with her, but nothing of a relationship beyond that.

Elena's interaction with Covenant is rather self-explanatory; she holds no ill feeling towards him, yet he chooses not to be a father figure. And Atiaran is simply doing what she believes is best for the Land. But Lena's existance in this series serves virtually no purpose, other than for her to be raped. Covenant, the mysterious, seemingly omnipotent male overpowers the weak, innocent and beautiful Lena. A character, and perhaps even an innocent one at that, was required to lead Covenant upon his arrival to the Land, but it could easily have been a male character. Lena is only a woman because she needed to be overpowered by Covenant. Even Elena didn't have to be Covenant's daughter, but perhaps Donaldson thought this was bringing some interest to his story.

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