Jul 4 2008, 8:23pm
Welcome man! You really outdid any forum debut I can remember of. Great topic!
That has to be the best debut ever!
I'll have to rely on Brigand confirming this for me, but somewhere Tolkien wrote that he envisioned Gondor in a similar way to Pharaonic Egypt, this remark comes along with a sketch of the crown of Elendil, which is similar to that of the two kingdoms of Egypt.
That automatically makes it imperial. When you come to think of it, Gondor and Arnor were always imperialistic, making at their highpoint a positively huge empire, that spanned most of Middle Earth, and which contained many different peoples.
To answer your question, I would say yes. However, as others point out, making a moral judgement about it is trickier. It would be fun to know what people in Khand and Harad thought of King Elessar... I have an example of real history to give.
Many consideration aside, Napoleon arrived in Spain, and gave Spaniards a constitution and rights they did not have under the monarchy of Ferdinand VII. The problem is the Spaniards wanted their King and their former life, and didn't care at the point about anything good Napoleon was bringing them. They only saw him and his brother, the illustrous Pepe Botellas (Joseph) as invaders.
Aragorn might have had the best intentions, which could have been received negatively by those who were conquered/defeated.
Making a judgement about the legitimacy or moral value of an empire is hard. Empires like China, Rome, Spain and Britain are credited for a large expansion of knowledge and civilization throughout the world, in the context in which we live nowadays. We would have to ask the Aztec, the Inca, the Gauls, the Carthaginians, Mongols, Mughal, the Iroquois and many others if they wanted that "civilization" with everything it implied (religion, government, etc).
On the other hand, history has satanized other Empires. Call it the French, the Persian, the Mongol... each and everyone inherited many things to humankind, but were ultimately badmouthed because they disappeared to Empires and civilizations with better press: English, Greek, Chinese.
Going on, we have to remember Elessar is a King Arthur figure, a King who brought civilization, peace and prosperity to a kingdom that had not, surrounded by valuable and corageous knights (Éomer, Imrahil), thus starting the rebirth of a kingdom that lead it to unknown and long lasting splendour.
Gondor imperialistic? Yes. But probably one of those Empires that had a positive balance between the things they provided their subjects and those they inevitably took away from them.
Here's to Del Toro becoming the Irvin Kershner of Middle Earth!
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!