The strong bond between mother and child is one that has been emphasized forever, as well as the child-father bond. In addition, the loving relationship between sisters is a highly prized one, as is the relationship between brothers. However the relationship between sisters and brothers is almost never mentioned, and certainly never advertised like the other relationships mentioned above—both in real life and Middle Earth.
In modern day life as well as Middle Earth, these relationship statements hold true. The bond of brothers, like that between Boromir and Faramir, or even that of the whole fellowship is highly prized and venerated. This is also true in modern day life—look at the army, an institution that is mostly men, especially in the field, who refer to each other as brothers. However, in the whole of The Lord of the Rings series, there are few platonic partnerships between man and woman—let alone one between siblings.
A rare example of such a relationship is that between Éowyn and her brother, Eomer. From a young age, both had the opportunity to bond and grow close because of their parents death. They also both went through trials and tribulations together. Both cared for their sick uncle, Theoden, and both advised, fought for, and protected their king with a strict sense of love and loyalty.
Beyond the shared characteristics, Eomer and Éowyn arguably have one of the purest and strongest relationships and loves in The Lord of the Rings. This is evidenced by their actions to each other. Eomer almost went insane after finding his dead-looking sister on the battlefield after she had killed the Witch King and his beast. After realizing that she was alive, he stayed by her bedside, nursing her to consciousness and health. Eomer also defends Eowyn’s strength of heart and character to Aragorn, who is the King of Gondor. Even Aragorn comments on the love between the brother and sister, saying that Eowyn’s love for Eomer was stronger and purer and therefore a better reason to live and heal than her love for him.
In this relationship, both Eomer and Eowyn benefit and prosper—they are better for it. The bond is a reason for both of them to fight, both of them to win and live. The relationship is all that got them through the premature deaths of their beloved parents, cousin, and uncle. Even when apart, like when Eomer was banished from Rohan by Grima Wormtongue, both continued to fight for each other, and what they believed in.
This relationship is the purest and strongest, especially when in comparison with other relationships between men and women—like Aragorn and Arwen. Though their relationship ends well and strong, the middle is difficult because Arwen begins to fade as evil spreads through Middle Earth.
In general, the love between siblings, or family members, seems to be stronger than that between romantic love. For example the friendship between Gimli and Legolas, which created bonds of friendship and ended the long animosity between dwarves and elves. This relationship, though slow to form, became extremely strong through battle contests and mutual enemies. The friendship grew to such a degree that after Aragorn’s death, Legolas went to the ships sailing for the Undying Lands with Gimli, who became the first dwarf to ever go. This friendship and bond of love caused an ages old hate and argument melt away, forging the path for elves and dwarves to become friendly once more—even though most had left on the Undying Lands boats.
Another friendship that is strong and pure was that between Gandalf and Bilbo. Certainly unlikely, this bond began suddenly, but strongly as Gandalf remained the only one in Thorin’s Company for a long time that Bilbo trusted, liked, and felt comfortable around. This friendship led to the finding of the One Ring, and the eventual saving of Middle Earth.
It is also worth noting that all of these bonds are between equals. Women in Middle Earth are infrequently discriminated against by men. In the case of Éowyn, she also trained as a soldier, but was chosen to stay behind and lead because of her royal blood—not her sex—and the fact that everybody loved her and not Eomer. In the case of elves and dwarves, both looked down upon the other, but Legolas and Gimli saw each other as equals from the beginning because of their respective social statuses and more importantly, their skill and love for battle. The relationship and love between Frodo and Sam has not been mentioned because, while it is extremely important and pure, it is not between equals. Sam is Frodo’s gardener and servant of sorts, going so far as to address him as Mr. Frodo, rather than being less formal with just his first name.
Love comes in many shapes and sizes—The Lord of the Rings being no exception. With all the platonic love between family and romantic love between characters, it is difficult to label which relationship or kind of relationship is the most pure or the strongest. However, it is clear by the strength of the bond between Eomer and Eowyn, as well as the mutual respect between the two and the qualities they bring out in each other that the brother-sister bond is strongest and purest as it is a bond between equals who understand one another while still pushing the other to be better and to get through whatever difficulty lies ahead, to convince them to live for the other. That love, which does not weaken either party or cause problems, but rather strengthens each person and the world, shows that it is the purest and the strongest form of love.