Aragorn’s fate

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Phil Lewis, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Phil Lewis

    Phil Lewis New Member

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    I find Aragorn’s fate both sad, and intriguing.

    As the returning king, he might be expected to be more of an obvious hero? Throughout LoTR, he does some great stuff, but nothing really greatly heroic.

    He has no great battles showing great prowess, for example. Such as Beowulf despatched Grendel and his mother. He shows some leadership qualities, but never gives a rousing speech like Henry IV.

    He displays humility almost to the point of being really quite a normal guy. Not much like a returning king at all.

    Then in the Appendix, we learn that he was a good king, but again, he seems to have faced no great challenges in his rule. At least nothing worth a mention.

    And then, he simply grows old and dies. At least Beowulf went out fighting a great dragon. Aragorn just ages, then choses his own time to slip quietly into death. He does indeed go gently into that dark night. He doesn’t rage against the dying of the light, as so many mythical heroes do.

    I find this sad.

    I like to see my heroes go out in a blaze of glory, with the Viking concept of an honourable death. It feels like, even though he was around at the turning point in world history - the final overthrow of the last great dark power - and though he undeniably had some significant part to play...somehow, he missed out on any opportunity for great individual heroism.

    I can imagine, in later ages, people would remember how Theoden rode to war in his old age. How Eowyn struck down the Witch King. How Gandalf destroyed the last known Balrog. Certainly they will remember Sam and Frodo. Even how Boromir, though he wavered, fought off many foes, allowing the ring-bearer to escape.

    Aragorn has no equivalent. And then he slips into death in sadness.

    It’s one of the saddest stories I can think of.

    And I think it’s perfect.

    It’s the perfect expression of the aching sadness underlying the whole legenarium, the sadness and near despair of the decline of the world. Aragorn’s forefathers were better than he. Great as he is, he’ll never match Elendil. Even though the sword is reforged, it’s just a symbol. It has no great new tale to tell, as it did in its breaking.

    The world is diminished. And the last king of the line of Númenor is just a shadow of those earlier kings. And with no great personal victory, he slips away, taking the great line of that history with him, leaving the world darker and colder.
     
  2. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    I'd call the raid on the fleet at Umbar pretty heroic!

    But you're certainly correct that in the body of LOTR itself, he could be said not to display a traditional style of heroics.

    There are two reasons for this: one is that the phase of Romance heroism, "errantry" as Tolkien pointedly put it, was, for Aragorn, over by the time of the final Quest. The heroic leader Thorongil was replaced by the solitary wanderer Strider; we have only glimpses of this: references to his journeys into the East and South; his capture of Gollum; and hints of lonely days in Eriador. We might think of a parallel with Biblical typology: the Hebrews wandering the wilderness for forty years, prior to coming into the Promised Land, or Jesus living in the desert for forty days, preparatory to fulfilling the Law. Aragorn goes through a series of trials of different kinds, as his character metamorphoses from the Romantic, through the withdrawing Ironic, to the ultimate High Mimetic phase. At which point his story ends where it should, in the fulfilment of Law and Destiny, the righting of the balance, the Return of the King.

    It's Tolkien the realist, or some might say, the "bitter pessimist" who follows the story to its end in the "Tale".

    The other reason, of course, is that Aragorn is not the "hero" of LOTR, as he would be in a traditional romance; the Hobbits, the "little people" are. Part of the author's genius is the way in which, by making the common, low mimetic characters the protagonists, he allowed a modern audience entry into the almost forgotten genre of romance, and at the same time created a sometimes admiring, sometimes ironic, running counterpoint and commentary on it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

  3. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Him single-handedly talking down the mass of Uruk-Hai in the pouring, drenching rain, Anduril blazing, all by his lonesome isn't heroic??


    That part was Bad@$$!




    *ahem*


    CL




    *applauds*


    CL
     
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  4. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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  5. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    You explained it better than I could, good Sir.



    CL
     
  6. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Does the fact that Aragorn was 87 at the time of the forming of the Fellowship (though he did live to the age of 210!) affect this issue? Was his period of youthful heroics behind him in his "mere" Ranger days?
     
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  7. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Yes, that's a consideration, though I'd put it that it was a consideration for the author, when developing Aragorn's "back story". LOTR, like many epics, begins in media res, at a nadir of action: the first attacks on Gondor are at a pause, the lands are in a kind of restless limbo, as Sauron and Saruman build their forces, disquieting rumors float, lonely messengers wend their ways, one of them Aragorn, whose day is nearly at hand, awaiting the sign.
     
  8. Phil Lewis

    Phil Lewis New Member

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    No, that wasn’t heroic in the same was as defeating g a balrog, or the witch king.

    I clearly failed to make my point.

    Never mind.
     
  9. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Don't stop -- It's an interesting subject. I usually fail to make my points on the first try -- and often the second and third. Just check some of my old posts! :)
     
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  10. Halasían

    Halasían Dunedain Ranger

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    Hmm.... I think Aragorn likely enjoyed the time after the war to his death... banging one of the hottest elves around and making babies.

    Of course little is said of the battles that Aragorn and Eomer rode together to after the war of the Ring...
     
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  11. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I politely disagree.

    Not all heroics are waving a sword and or killing something. Tolkien understood this tastefully and masterfully.


    CL
     
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