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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
*** Favorite Chapters - The Steward and the King (LotR)
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ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 18 2019, 6:50am

Post #1 of 34 (1277 views)
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*** Favorite Chapters - The Steward and the King (LotR) Can't Post

"Great Elephants!" said noWizardme. "You haven't posted your favorite chapter yet!" "But I had an unexpected journey," ElanorTx replied, "for handkerchiefs and healing cough drops."

So I'll be posting in sections. I like this chapter because it pulls many people and events together, most of them positive.However, very little is told from the hobbits' viewpoints and even less from their words.
Many ideas here should be credited to other JRRT fans; a few are my own.

1. The original title for this chapter was 'Faramir and Eowyn'. Why do you think JRRT changed it? I will discuss them later.

2.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



(This post was edited by ElanorTX on Dec 18 2019, 6:52am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 18 2019, 4:23pm

Post #2 of 34 (1135 views)
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Actually, I would have stayed with that original title [In reply to] Can't Post

and I think of this as "the Faramir & Eowyn" chapter. So I'm not sure why Tolkien felt the need to change it, unless he thought there needed to be more story development for why Gondor was willing to accept Aragorn as King after having refused the throne to his ancestors when they were much more kingly.

As for POV, I wish we heard more from Merry's perspective about how this romance played out, just because I like a hobbit's perspective, especially from Merry, who's more perceptive than most. But it works as is and gives us a lot more insight into both F&E.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 18 2019, 4:47pm

Post #3 of 34 (1129 views)
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Glad you made it, and hope the cold is better soon! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 18 2019, 4:54pm

Post #4 of 34 (1135 views)
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I wonder.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well of course, it should have been "Eowyn and Faramir" Smile
(I'm very fond of Eowyn as a character, and might or might not be willing to fetch my axe, Gimli-style, about that. Anyway, I do like this chapter because she gets what you could argue is that rare thing - an uncomplicatedly fairytale happy ending for a major Tolkien character.
I am sometimes a very soppy old non-wizard....).

But in any case, the chapter does take in a lot of other stuff - Aragorn's coronation and his wedding, Beregond's judgement/promotion, and the finding of the new white tree. So "F&E" or "E&F" would seem to title only some of it. Maybe that is why Tolkien wanted a new title that covered more of what was in the chapater? Did the chapter have a narrower scope originally I wonder (I suppose our HoME experts could say)?

The tone is very remote after the Eowyn and Faramir part, almost as if we've zoomed out to a more distant narrator. Isn't there some idea about the Red Book Of Westmarch involving content written by one of E&F's descendents? So maybe they are our narrator for this bit?

But dropping the 'framing device' ideas and thinking about LOTR as a 20th Century book, It strikes me that another author could have finished the book here. A few extra paragraphs to have the hobbits ride off into the sunset, and everyeone is living happily ever after. After all, we've done the weddings and promotions; what else would there be to say (some other author might think)? But this is Tolkien, who seems to like his 'happy endings' to be more complicated, with some dark in with the light.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 18 2019, 5:44pm

Post #5 of 34 (1126 views)
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Story formulas were certainly known to Tolkien and his publisher, [In reply to] Can't Post

so it is remarkable that he decided, and was allowed, to continue the story after this chapter when, as you say, it was a pretty clear place to wrap up the whole story. I can only guess from my crystal ball that he felt that revisiting the Shire and giving Frodo a bittersweet ending were important enough to keep the narrative churning along well past conventional mile markers.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 18 2019, 6:13pm

Post #6 of 34 (1121 views)
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Not just Frodo of course [In reply to] Can't Post

Aragorn and Arwen live happily ever after - right down to the Appendices, where Tolkien wants us to take the 'until death do us part' bit right on the chin. Possibly that's a very Catholic point of view?

Other LOTR characters -
Merry and Pippin 'had a good war' as they used to say in Tolkien's time. Gimli too, I suppose (so I begin to disagree with myself when I said earlier that uncomplicated happy endings were rare who was that idiot posting earlier, anyway Wink). But aside from Frodo and Arwen:

Legolas - now feels a longing for the Sea (gull-able fellow that he is).

Galadriel and Celeborn - separate. She goes West, he's torn (or at least that's how I read it).

Sam - marries sweetheart, gets Bag End, becomes Mayor, has loads of kids. But I think it's arguable that part of him wishes he'd been given a berth sailing West with Frodo (or at least that's how I read it).

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


Solicitr
Rohan


Dec 18 2019, 6:20pm

Post #7 of 34 (1122 views)
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Initially [In reply to] Can't Post

Eowyn was going to be Aragorn's honey. Tolkien then changed his mind and decided she would be killed by the witch-king, and grief-stricken Aragorn would never wed thereafter. Then changed again to the story we have (Finduilas > Arwen being a last-minute addition, created during this very chapter). Kinda hard to found a house if you're childless.

It is interesting how things work out: all the way back to the early drafts of Book I, Trotter told the hobbits about Beren and Luthien at Weathertop.... but only at the very end of the writing of the book did his own life paralleling that tale come into Tolkien's mind, and a suitable Luthien-analog created
________________
"Having a good war"- originally, Pippin was supposed to die at the Morannon, but Toklien just couldn't do it


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Dec 18 2019, 6:24pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 19 2019, 6:36pm

Post #8 of 34 (1048 views)
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That writing sure did evolve [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is interesting how things work out: all the way back to the early drafts of Book I, Trotter told the hobbits about Beren and Luthien at Weathertop.... but only at the very end of the writing of the book did his own life paralleling that tale come into Tolkien's mind, and a suitable Luthien-analog created


Without reading HOME, it's just always seemed very natural to me that Aragorn was, in effect, telling the hobbits on Weathertop about his life trajectory. Quite a surprise to me that Tolkien didn't plan that from the beginning since it's woven so well together.


squire
Half-elven


Dec 20 2019, 2:18am

Post #9 of 34 (1012 views)
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Trotter was singing about his 'fairy wife' [In reply to] Can't Post

Since Trotter was conceived of as a hobbit of the Took clan who had run off to have adventures, I've always thought his singing of the Beren and Luthien tale to the other hobbits at Weathertop was going to introduce a subplot of his romance with an Elf. That would cleverly pick up on the joke in The Hobbit (for which this was then just a straight sequel) that some gossips said the Tooks had some 'fairy' (i.e., Elvish) (not the slanderous goblin) ancestry.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 22 2019, 12:23am

Post #10 of 34 (915 views)
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The History of the White Tree (backstory) [In reply to] Can't Post

(an amalgamation of other sources, some plagiarism, sorry I cannot give individual credit)
The White Tree was descended from Galathilion, made by Yavanna in the image of Telperion, one of the Two Trees of Valinor. From it came a seedling (Celeborn) planted in Tol Eressea, and in turn another seedling called Nimloth given to Men and planted in Numenor.
Sauron advised Ar-Pharazon to cut it down, so Isildur stole a fruit and planted it in secret. Isidur was seriously wounded doing so, but when the fruit sprouted and unfurled its first leaf, his wounds were healed. Isildur saved that seedling from the Downfall of Numenor (SA 3319) and planted it in his new stronghold of Minas Ithil (yes, Ithil) where it became the first White Tree of Gondor. Scarcely a century later (SA 3429) Sauron captured Minas Ithil and burned the White Tree, and the Second Age ended in 3441.
Isildur, however, had escaped yet again with another seedling. He planted this one in Minas Anor in TA 2 in memory of his brother Anarion. It flourished for many years in the Court of the Fountain on the seventh level of the city. Unfortunately, when the Great Plague came (TA 1636) both King Telemnar and the White Tree died. Telemnar's nephew Tarondor replanted a seedling of the Tree in 1640. When the line of Kings finally failed (TA 2050), the Tree bore fewer fruits and flowers and began to age.
In 2852/2872, the Steward of Gondor, Belechthor II, died and the White Tree as well. This time no seedling was discovered and the Withered Tree was left standing in the Court of the Fountain. It was still there in 3019 when Pippin arrives in Minas Tirith
drooping over the pool stood a dead tree, and the falling drops dripped sadly from its barren and broken branches back into the clear water ... It looked mournful, and [Pippin] wondered why the dead tree was left in this place where everything else was well tended.


"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



sador
Half-elven


Dec 22 2019, 7:26am

Post #11 of 34 (875 views)
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I'm not sure that was ever the intended title for this chapter [In reply to] Can't Post

In HoME, Christopher Tolkien describes two drafts/copies, both of which originally had no titles. "Faramir and Eowyn" was added in pencil to the first draft, but was not carried on to the second at all - which suggests to me that JRRT never really intended this to be the chapter's title, he just jotted something to keep his papers in order.
Indeed, while the Faramir and Eowyn romance is probably the part I like best in this chapter (as a matter of fact, one of my favourites in the whole trilogy) - this would not serve well as a title. It describes only the beginning of the chapter, and is not an overarching theme to the whole.


The first (or second) title was The Watchers on the Wall, which I like a lot - it carries the connotation of both Faramir and Eowyn, and of the people of Minas Tirith as a whole. It also has a very Biblical flavour (for just one example, see Jer. 31:5), which fits in well with the Eagles' message, and even with Gandalf and Aragorn finding the high hallow and in it the sapling of the White Tree, and Aragorn and Arwen's "tale of their long waiting and labours was come to fulfillment".
It also fits well with this chapter being a eucatastrophe - a second one; after the eucatastrophe for Frodo and Sam in The Field of Cormallen, this is one for the world of Men. And both deserve their own (I think the movies spoiled much by combining the two, even if I can understand why they did it).
It also shows the double theme of the whole book: It begins as Frodo's journey, his own private quest (which incidentally is saving the world, but begins as a sequel to Bilbo's), his personal struggle, failure and triumph - and culminates in the exaltation of the humble in the Field of Cormallen. The second theme, which is only introduced later (to Tolkien's mind as well - it only began sometime after Trotter became Aragorn), is the long fight against darkness, of which these events are the climax and denouement (compare Of the Rings and Power and the Third Age - but that is from the perspective of the Elves, while The Lord of the Rings is from the mortals'). The second theme is personified by the quest of Aragorn, but Faramir is the example and the symbol of the pure of heart, who stand steadfastly in the forefront of the long defeat - and at the bitter end are suddenly redeemed and rewarded by the Return of the King.
Those faithful are indeed the Watchers on the Wall; and the significance of the beginning of the chapter is Eowyn's leaving the heroic and fatalistic world of Glory in Death, and joining the watchers - being ennobled in the process, but enriching and rejuvenating them in turn.


I suspect the change of the title to The Steward and the King is not just because Tolkien realized that much of this chapter is Aragorn's - but also because he shied away from the too obvious religious overtones of The Watchers on the Wall. I suspect The Steward and the King alludes to Catholic imagery, too; but not being a Christian myself, I can only speculate about this; and secular readers will never suspect it.


And there is also the possible title suggested by the late a.s..


As a side-note: When you've led a discussion of this chapter eleven years ago, I pointed out that Aragorn receives here the authority of three stewards: Faramir of course, but also Elrond and Gandalf.

Thinking about things I don't understand


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 22 2019, 4:05pm

Post #12 of 34 (823 views)
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Ooh, those awful Orcs! [In reply to] Can't Post

I had written a long post about the White Tree in our chapter, and when I hit the Post Reply button, the screen informed me that I had timed out! MadSo I will do a repost after Mass (I'm on duty) and dinner. Thag you bery much.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 22 2019, 4:07pm

Post #13 of 34 (818 views)
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I too like The Watchers on the Wall, and appreciate your cogent comments. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



sador
Half-elven


Dec 22 2019, 6:33pm

Post #14 of 34 (802 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

And get well soon!

Two of my daughters have caught some kind of cold, and they are thoroughly miserable. I hope you feel better than they do - and that they too will, as soon as possible.

Thinking about things I don't understand


Solicitr
Rohan


Dec 22 2019, 6:38pm

Post #15 of 34 (808 views)
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Any thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

On a major segment of this chapter, the flashback narration of the Grey Company and its ride from Erech to Pelargir? And was Tolkien right to tell it this way?


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 23 2019, 2:09pm

Post #16 of 34 (666 views)
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Isn't that in "The Last Debate"? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Solicitr
Rohan


Dec 23 2019, 2:12pm

Post #17 of 34 (669 views)
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One more thing [In reply to] Can't Post

Aragorn here finds and plants a seedling of the White tree, symbolizing the renewal of the Kingdom. A few chapters later, Sam plants a golden mallorn in the Shire, symbolizing its renewal post-Saruman.

So, as the Age of Elves, the "Elder Days" as later ages would come to term them, pass away in Middle-earth, the enduring symbols, for a little while, are trees of silver and gold....


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Dec 23 2019, 2:12pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 23 2019, 2:24pm

Post #18 of 34 (660 views)
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Nice connection! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Solicitr
Rohan


Dec 23 2019, 3:18pm

Post #19 of 34 (658 views)
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whoops [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To



uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Dec 23 2019, 4:13pm

Post #20 of 34 (649 views)
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Perfect. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Aragorn here finds and plants a seedling of the White tree, symbolizing the renewal of the Kingdom. A few chapters later, Sam plants a golden mallorn in the Shire, symbolizing its renewal post-Saruman.

So, as the Age of Elves, the "Elder Days" as later ages would come to term them, pass away in Middle-earth, the enduring symbols, for a little while, are trees of silver and gold....


Outstanding. I never remotely noticed this and yet it really can't be accidental. I love suddenly discovering these little Easter eggs.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 23 2019, 6:16pm

Post #21 of 34 (642 views)
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Tolkien, I suppose, also had to decide where to put Eowyn and Faramir bit.... [In reply to] Can't Post

We've already been disucussing how LOTR zig-zags between the doings of different characters. It's important for the overall effect - controlling what the reader knows at any point, and also what the different characters know.

Best not to start discussing 'The Last Debate' too much here (surely it's someone's favoutite chapter, and they are just about to volunteer to discuss it? Smile). But I suppose that Tolkien doesn't let us follow Aragorn's adventure through the Paths of the Dead because that would reduce the reader's surprise when Aragorn arrives at Minas Tirith. But having jumped to the end fo Aragorn's adventure, Tolkien then has to find a convenient point to backfill.

Tolkien, I suppose, also had to decide where to put Eowyn and Faramir bit of our current chapter. The solution we end up with is:

Book 5
I Minas Tirith
II The Passing of the Grey Company
III The Muster of Rohan
IV The Siege of Gondor
V The Ride of the Rohirrim
VI The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
VII The Pyre of Denethor
VIII The Houses of Healing
IX The Last Debate
X The Black Gate Opens


Book 6

I The Tower of Cirith Ungol
II The Land of Shadow
III Mount Doom
IV The Field of Cormallen
V The Steward and the King
etc.

So E&F wait on the walls wondering whether it's all gone horribly wrong. But we readers don't have to worry with them - we already know that it's all OK. The effect would be different if E&F were in an earlier chapter. For example imagine we got them to the point where it feels that the world is about to end somewhere earlier in Book 6, when we don't yet know how Frodo's mission to Mordor worked out. Or even if we had E&F at the very end of Book 5, where the battle outside the Black Gate still hangs in the balance. (The rest of 'Steward and the King' would of course still need to appear roughly were it actually does.)

I'm not saying wether of those would have been better, just that it's sometimes interesting to think about how changing something would affect the story. It's a way of thinking about how the story works, I suppose.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 23 2019, 6:38pm

Post #22 of 34 (646 views)
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Aragorn the master of herblore [In reply to] Can't Post

or botany -- do you suppose he was also skilled in zoology? We have seen him using athelas in the Houses of Healing.
Since Aragorn never saw a living White Tree, how plausible is it that he immediately recognizes a juvenile specimen, and that Gandalf (who may have seen one) pipes right up with its genealogy and care? The Tree is described as having long leaves dark green on top and silver underneath, with white flowers. I do not know what the bark or fruit looked like.

I am struck by how hardy the Tree line is. So often its survival depends on a single sapling or fruit being saved in emergency conditions, and on long dormancy periods. When the last Tree died in the time of the Stewards, had the fruit that Aragorn finds later been planted in the time of the Kings? There is a suggestion that only royalty could go to Mount Mindolluin.
There also (see backstory) seems to be a strong correlation between the health of the Kings, beginning with Isildur, and the health of the Tree. When a King dies of the Plague, so does the Tree, and when the Kings are replaced by the Stewards, the Tree begins to age and eventually dies.

I'll post this before losing it and follow with another.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



(This post was edited by ElanorTX on Dec 23 2019, 6:46pm)


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Dec 23 2019, 7:01pm

Post #23 of 34 (647 views)
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What to do with a Dead White Tree? [In reply to] Can't Post

The one present in Aragorn's time was reverently moved to Rath Dinen. That action meant taking a fragile but full-size tree down a level of the city through a quarter-circuit. I imagine the job must have been painstakingly slow. The backstory does not say what happened to the earlier Tree that died in the Plague -- was it accorded the same treatment? Again, keeping the Kings and the Trees both in Rath Dinen underscores the link in health and respect between the two.

I may be thick-headed because of the cold (If not for other reasons Unsure), but I am a little puzzled as to how finding a sapling of the Tree reassured Aragorn of his qualification to win Arwen's hand. The Tree clearly symbolizes and is stated to represent *Gondor*. It is the Seven Stars and Crown, as embroidered by Arwen on Aragorn's banner, that stands for the High King of Arnor and the Reunited Kingdom. Can someone shed some light here? As soon as the transplanted sapling thrives, Aragorn confidently says "The sign has been given," and posts watchers on the walls of Minas Tirith to look for an entourage from the North. He doesn't receive the Sceptre of Annuminas from Elrond until several weeks later.
The next post concerns sorting out dates between the chapter and the Tale of Years.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



(This post was edited by ElanorTX on Dec 23 2019, 7:07pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 23 2019, 7:26pm

Post #24 of 34 (640 views)
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ow finding a sapling of the Tree reassured Aragorn of his qualification to win Arwen's hand [In reply to] Can't Post

I liked this post by Silverlode in our last (2016) LOTR read-through:


Quote
The White Tree is one of the items Aragorn must have in order to fulfill his quest, and not an optional one.

I don't think it's Aragorn who would be calling off the wedding without it, but Elrond, if his conditions were not met. In the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, Elrond tells him that he must either "rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil or fall into darkness" and that Arwen will not be the bride of any Man less than the king of both Gondor and Arnor. So he's basically got three people to live up to: Elendil, Isildur, and Anarion, and all their tokens of kingship to earn before Elrond will give up his daughter to mortality and a permanent severance from himself and all her people.

First, Aragorn has to have the heirlooms of the House of Isildur: the ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil reforged into Anduril, and the sceptre of Annuminas. He has all of those but the last when he enters Minas Tirith. He also calls the Oathbreakers, who were cursed by Isildur, and releases them when their oath is fulfilled.

In order to claim the throne of Anarion, he also needs to check some boxes. He is acknowledged by the Steward and chosen by his people. He has the hands of a healer. His people have given him the name Elfstone, which was foretold for him at birth. He gains the crown of Gondor.

Then he has to have the full rights of Elendil and the Numenorian kings.

Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.

He wears the Elendilmir (Star of Elendil). He has taken possession and wrested control of a Palantir from Sauron. He has got the crown of Gondor; the "emblem of kings who came over the Sea" and spoken the words of Elendil. That's the stars and stones and Gondor represented. Now he needs the White Tree, which was a gift from the Eldar to the Numenorian kings, and always grew at their door while their line endured. It's the very symbol of the City, it's on the royal livery, and it's on the flag that Arwen made for him. I think that the White Tree not only symbolizes the fruitfulness of Aragorn's line, but also the blessing of the Eldar who gave the tree in the first place. So it's fitting that Elrond should require it before giving his daughter in marriage. The fact that Aragorn doesn't find it until after Elrond and Arwen have set out doesn't bother me, as I assume that Elrond, like Gandalf, had sufficient foresight to know that it would be found, even if Aragorn did not.

I also note that Elrond brings with him the last item, the sceptre of Annuminas, bestowing on Aragorn the symbol of kingship of Arnor, as he has already been given the crown of Gondor. With that, Aragorn is High King of both Arnor and Gondor, as Elendil was. Mission (and marriage) accomplished at last.

Silverlode http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=915243#915243

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Dec 23 2019, 9:30pm

Post #25 of 34 (628 views)
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very nice [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
the significance of the beginning of the chapter is Eowyn's leaving the heroic and fatalistic world of Glory in Death, and joining the watchers - being ennobled in the process, but enriching and rejuvenating them in turn.


That's a great insight. It finds a parallel in the author's ruminations on Beowulf, which he reads as sort of a final love letter to the mythos of that bleak and savage world by the hand of someone approaching the event horizon of Christianity, "if indeed he had not already passed within."

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