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.