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The Many Flaws of Aragorn
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sevilodorf
Tol Eressea

Jun 20, 2:02am

Post #26 of 82 (817 views)
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Regarding Faramir [In reply to] Can't Post

Apologies if this ends up marked as a reply to the wrong person....

But thoughts on Faramir's raging fever..... wasn't that due to the wound inflicted by the Southern arrow or dart? Then add on the psychological effects of Denethor's mood and the seeming futility of their battle against Mordor. Then his repeated exposure to the Black Breath -- which has both phjysical effects (unconsciousness, coldness,) and psychological (sense of dread, despair, evil dreams).

I am impressed/astonished/envious at the depth of the discussion. Slipping back into the shadows.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 20, 2:41am

Post #27 of 82 (817 views)
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Parlour games [In reply to] Can't Post

There is no reason not to trust the explanation that Tolkien gives - through Aragorn -- for Faramir's malady.


Quote
‘Weariness, grief for his father’s mood, a wound, and over all the Black Breath,’ said Aragorn. ‘He is a man of staunch will, for already he had come close under the Shadow before ever he rode to battle on the out-walls. Slowly the dark must have crept on him, even as he fought and strove to hold his outpost.


And there certainly is no reason not to accept that Aragorn has healing powers as a result of his descent from the Peredhil. As he says:


Quote
‘Would that Elrond were here, for he is the eldest of all our race, and has the greater power.’


Of course, one is certainly entitled to disbelieve what Aragorn says. But then one is no longer responding to Tolkien's work.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Morthoron
Gondor


Jun 20, 3:53am

Post #28 of 82 (806 views)
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Agreed.... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Of course, one is certainly entitled to disbelieve what Aragorn says. But then one is no longer responding to Tolkien's work.


Or disregard the reams of background material from Tolkien himself regarding Aragorn. Authorial intent trumps post-modern revisionist conspiracies. Which is why I've found little use for this discussion.





Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 20, 11:40am

Post #29 of 82 (793 views)
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Aragorn, Beregond, and reader favoritism [In reply to] Can't Post

As a king, Aragorn needs to pay attention to how he uses his executive privileges. Broad powers require restraint on behalf of the person who has them.

1. Under normal circumstances Beregond would have done enough for multiple death sentences. Aragorn says that's okay because he did it all for Faramir and is a good soldier. If Aragorn's actual reasoning was based on protecting innocent life, maybe Aragorn should have said it. Now people will make their own inferences and perhaps assume that Aragorn was prioritizing the life of high nobility over that of commoners.
2. When Aragorn commutes Beregond's sentence, he commutes it to... a reward? Beregond receives an effective promotion and gets to live in pleasant Ithilien. That kind of thing can make people wonder if Beregond had in fact committed his crimes on Aragorn's orders.

Our viewpoint as readers is biased because we are familiar with Faramir and his heroism and have become to know Beregond as a likable person and a father, while Beregond's victims are all nameless and without a backstory. Given how Beregond was able to slay two when faced with six and survived unscathed himself, maybe he was the one to attack first, while the others had hoped to resolve everything by talking and were reluctant to fight him for real.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 20, 1:08pm

Post #30 of 82 (790 views)
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saving means slaying [In reply to] Can't Post

Glass, in all seriousness, are you taking the position that the right thing for Beregond to have done was to stand aside and let Denethor burn Faramir alive? Or that Aragorn should have put him to death whether he did right or not?

(There is, of course, zero textual support for the idea that Beregond randomly attacked nonviolent servants, let alone that he was a hit man for Aragorn, offing some ruvals so Aragorn can steal the throne. I understand it can be fun to take an unlikely stance and make a case for it, but this one is simply not coming together.)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 20, 1:14pm

Post #31 of 82 (792 views)
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Come together [In reply to] Can't Post

Here come old flat-top, he come groovin' up slowly
He got ju-ju eyeball, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker, he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together, right now
Over me

He bag production, he got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair, you can feel his disease

Come together, right now
Over me

Right!

Come, come, come, come...

He roller-coaster, he got early warnin'
He got muddy water, he one mojo filter
He say, "One and one and one is three"
Got to be good-lookin' 'cause he's so hard to see

Come together, right now
Over me

Ugh!

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Agh!
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together...

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 20, 2:29pm

Post #32 of 82 (783 views)
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Okay... [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought for a moment that you were going to make that a full-on parody, Voronwë, to make that song a bit more relevant.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 20, 3:23pm

Post #33 of 82 (783 views)
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but I guess that one does [In reply to] Can't Post

It's interesting that you bring this up, because I've long suspected, and hear me out here, that the unnamed man described in Come Together is actually none other than... wait for it... the Marquis de Sade, but still alive, and living on the down low as a surfer in Sri Lanka. I intend to prove...


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 20, 8:06pm

Post #34 of 82 (746 views)
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Actually ... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
the unnamed man described in Come Together is actually none other than... wait for it... the Marquis de Sade


AKA, Aragorn, Elessar Telcontar.

Who is actually (wait for it).

Durin the Deathless!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 20, 9:05pm

Post #35 of 82 (742 views)
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Mostly about things other than Aragorn [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
If we are talking about the movies,

This is the Reading Room, so presumably we're talking about the book.


That was a response to a query that confused me a bit, because the relevant characters are not at all the same between the book and the movies, and the movie characters seemed to fit the tone of the question better.


In Reply To

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For example, The Hobbit can be turned into science fiction relatively painlessly

Sure, and any given Shakespeare play can be set in Las Vegas in the 70s and often is, but everyone realizes this is mostly just to be playful. Or maybe to jar the audience into a sort of fresh and experimental mindset about the play, at least in some cases, but in no event is this sort of caper to be confused with earnest literary analysis.


I mean, The Hobbit can be turned into science fiction without changing any words, instead basing it on Bilbo not being able to understand high technology as such when he sees it. This is incompatible with LotR though, but LotR also retcons Gandalf's character and makes it so that Bilbo couldn't have known about steam locomotives, so maybe they could be seen as just different continuities.

The benefit of trying out various things to see how they work out is that you can find out that unexpected things actually work out, even ones you didn't initially consider. I tried to turn LotR into science fiction (without changing any words), failed, and stumbled on a radical new theory that is currently taking a really long time to write because of how much it changes everything (again without changing any words).


In Reply To

In Reply To
Faramir has different symptoms from others diagnosed with the Black Breath.

All your examples compare his symptoms to the two other patients checked in with the Black Breath on the same day. Faramir's corps has been facing the Nazgûl now and again for something like a year, no? There will have been other cases. We are not in a position to declare that Faramir's presentation is outside the scope of what's usual for this little-known sorcerous affliction.


Let's quote from the book here (from the chapter Houses of Healing):

Quote
But now their art and knowledge were baffled; for there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they called in the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl. And those who were stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then passed to silence and a deadly cold, and so died. And it seemed to the tenders of the sick that on the Halfling and on the Lady of Rohan this malady lay heavily. Still at whiles as the morning wore away they would speak, murmuring in their dreams; and the watchers listened to all that they said, hoping perhaps to learn something to understand their hurts. But soon they began to fall down into the darkness, and as the sun turned west a grey shadow crept over their faces. But Faramir burned with a fever that would not abate.


There were "many" patients showing the same symptoms. Faramir was the only exceptional case.


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Maybe Denethor had even explained his reasons to to his most trusted men, who didn't include Pippin.

He doesn't seem any too trusting, though, does he? We don't need to invent secret reasoning on Denethor's part, his last son is dying and he's howling his reasons at anyone who will listen. We already know from real-world history that when the man in charge barks an order, plenty of servants and soldiers will snap to and execute the order, no matter how morally abominable it may be.


Denethor has been acquainted with those men for (probably a lot) more than a week. It wouldn't be surprising if he trusts them more than he trusts Pippin, and the same for them towards Denethor.


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I think the old saying may have been metaphorical, related to the king's manner of ruling the country.

Naturally you do. But in reading the book we've seen Aragorn perform healing feats repeatedly, apparently by means of some magical power, assisted by some informed herbalism, with strong emphasis on one invented magical herb. So even if people say this for reasons that were originally allegorical—sheer invention on your part, but supposing it—that oral tradition is still in place, and when the people hear that the new king was seen to do feats of healing, they will probably regard that as supportive of his claim, not cause for suspicion.


A lot of people indeed could take Aragorn's healing at face value even if it isn't actually in line with the half-forgotten historical precedent, but some people might be more suspicious.


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The reception goes from cool to just below openly hostile.

No. This change is not in the pages of the book. You're inventing it to match your Saruman story.


I don't think when Denethor allowed Gandalf the access to the archives of Minas Tirith they had battles of wills with their eyes. Denethor even offered to help personally, even if Gandalf didn't accept.


In Reply To
(You never have explained, as to that, why Denethor should see through this charade when nobody else does, or why he doesn't just clap the bastard in irons the second he sets foot in the city. But I suppose I should raise that in the relevant thread rather than here.)


1. Denethor's spiritual power is among the highest tier of all the characters on the side of good in the entire book, allowing him to resist and see through Saruman's mental influence,
2. he has access to much information through the palantír, and
3. he had known the old Gandalf.

(Galadriel wasn't fooled either, for similar reasons.)

As for why Denethor didn't turn openly hostile, there was a war going on, and Saruman's power could be used against the enemy. The situation was desperate enough that even someone as treacherous as Saruman was better as a temporary ally against Mordor rather than an immediate (and dangerous) enemy inside the walls.

Re: Boromir,
I agree he was vulnerable because of his ambition, but that doesn't mean that he would have fallen on his own. He even wanted to go to Minas Tirith even if everyone else continued to Mordor (and that was fine, according to the initial agreement for the journey). That would have given him a limited time window for falling.


In Reply To
But to bring it back for a moment to Galadriel, do we ever have any indication that she stands ready to bar one of the Fellowship from continuing with the others? If indeed Boromir's temptation, or slim loyalty to the quest, is laid bare to her, she still lets him proceed; what worse finding could her test of faith have given?


The idea is that:
1. Galadriel in her Mirror sees Boromir falling in a possible future.
2. Galadriel tests Boromir extra extra hard, because she suspects that he will fall and wants to be absolutely sure that he won't.
3. Boromir passes the test but is left shaken and with lingering memories about the temptation.
4. Boromir can't forget the temptation and consequently falls.
5. Galadriel can blame herself for ignoring her own advice about using the Mirror as a guide for action.

(I actually think the real explanation is likely different, but I don't want to go there in this thread.)


DGHCaretaker
Rivendell

Jun 20, 9:23pm

Post #36 of 82 (739 views)
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The Tolkien Filter [In reply to] Can't Post

I still believe that one must prove it was the designed intent that these things were actually considered in the prose such that it is not extrapolation, not fan fiction, and not projection of one's own imagination or desire for a story to go as you wish rather than how Tolkien _consciously_ intended.


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 20, 9:33pm

Post #37 of 82 (735 views)
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On the Beregond issue [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Glass, in all seriousness, are you taking the position that the right thing for Beregond to have done was to stand aside and let Denethor burn Faramir alive? Or that Aragorn should have put him to death whether he did right or not?


My point is that Aragorn handled the matter badly. He could have declared a general amnesty in honor of his coronation and saved Beregond that way.

(I'm also not so sure that Beregond is entirely innocent here. He uses deadly force when it's not really clear if that was absolutely necessary. The killings take place offscreen, and we don't have a Beregond POV.)


In Reply To
(There is, of course, zero textual support for the idea that Beregond randomly attacked nonviolent servants, let alone that he was a hit man for Aragorn, offing some ruvals so Aragorn can steal the throne. I understand it can be fun to take an unlikely stance and make a case for it, but this one is simply not coming together.)


Important note: I am not saying that Beregond was a hit man for Aragorn. I am saying that Aragorn's actions make it look like Beregond was a hit man for Aragorn.

The appearance of propriety is very important for a king.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 20, 10:44pm

Post #38 of 82 (733 views)
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filling up the corners [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There were "many" patients showing the same symptoms. Faramir was the only exceptional case.

You know what, I think you win this one. Well done.


In Reply To
I don't think when Denethor allowed Gandalf the access to the archives of Minas Tirith they had battles of wills with their eyes. Denethor even offered to help personally, even if Gandalf didn't accept.

When was this? I find no such offer. As to their staredowns in Book V, Gandalf wasn't sitting in on witness examinations when he swung by asking to hang out in the library; there was no particular opposition between them, and yet Denethor was crusty enough for Gandalf to remark on it.


In Reply To
1. Denethor's spiritual power is among the highest tier of all the characters on the side of good in the entire book, allowing him to resist and see through Saruman's mental influence,
2. he has access to much information through the palantír, and
3. he had known the old Gandalf.

Everyone in this book knew the old Gandalf. The palantír is a fair point, a wild card he makes no mention of in this regard, but okay. As for "spiritual power," I don't know if the professor would have used that language, but certainly Denethor has more force of character than most of the humans on the stage. I don't think that amounts to much on a scale of the elves we meet, though, and the idea that Celeborn and Elrond and most of their senior retainers would likely have been hoodwinked more easily than Denethor, let alone unanimously decided to cover up Saruman's caper.


In Reply To
The idea is that:
1. Galadriel in her Mirror sees Boromir falling in a possible future.

That's your idea, yes, I get it. Your steps 3 and 4 don't quite match up, you're suggesting that the idea of just grabbing the Ring was first planted in his head by Galadriel's explicit telepathic scenario, but he already all but named it in Rivendell, it was his very first thought, so any effect Galadriel may have had can't have been a matter of introducing this new idea to his innocent mind.

What I'm finding more interesting is just that I haven't really examined the ins and outs of the trial of faith she subjects the Fellowship to, and it raises questions. For one, to what extent was this a technicolor mind-meld in which she could see every detail of the temptation scenarios of each subject? Did she even create and tailor them? Or did they just take form in each mind, as a private embodiment of her underlying query, which is something like "what if you could run away from this quest?"

And secondly, what does she learn by it? The only thing she ever reports back is that Sam held firm, and that's the easiest case for the reader to guess anyway.


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 21, 9:07am

Post #39 of 82 (703 views)
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Various Issues [In reply to] Can't Post


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In Reply To
I don't think when Denethor allowed Gandalf the access to the archives of Minas Tirith they had battles of wills with their eyes. Denethor even offered to help personally, even if Gandalf didn't accept.

When was this? I find no such offer. As to their staredowns in Book V, Gandalf wasn't sitting in on witness examinations when he swung by asking to hang out in the library; there was no particular opposition between them, and yet Denethor was crusty enough for Gandalf to remark on it.


I looked back at the relevant passage at the Council of Elrond, and it was more ambiguous than I remembered. Gandalf is asking for access to information under somewhat misleading pretenses, and Denethor asserts his expertise: "But unless you have more skill even than Saruman, who has studied here long, you will find naught that is not well known to me, who am the master of the lore of this City." Gandalf believes that Denethor is unable to read the most ancient of the documents, but Denethor's comments in RotK reveal that he had figured out Isildur's bane, which suggests that he had deciphered the same document Gandalf found, either before or after Gandalf, and was most likely telling the truth all along.

If Gandalf hadn't acted so cagey, he could have found his answer much sooner by collaborating with Denethor, and the entire plot would have been different.


In Reply To
As for "spiritual power," I don't know if the professor would have used that language, but certainly Denethor has more force of character than most of the humans on the stage. I don't think that amounts to much on a scale of the elves we meet, though, and the idea that Celeborn and Elrond and most of their senior retainers would likely have been hoodwinked more easily than Denethor, let alone unanimously decided to cover up Saruman's caper.


Saruman never goes to Rivendell or Lórien as Gandalf the White. His story about recovering in Lórien is a lie that takes advantage of Lórien's isolation. Galadriel's appearance at Aragorn's wedding takes Saruman by surprise.

With regard to Elven power levels, Galadriel and Elrond were strong enough to resist being enchanted, but Legolas was completely taken in by the false Gandalf. Someone like Celeborn could have gone either way.


In Reply To
Your steps 3 and 4 don't quite match up, you're suggesting that the idea of just grabbing the Ring was first planted in his head by Galadriel's explicit telepathic scenario, but he already all but named it in Rivendell, it was his very first thought, so any effect Galadriel may have had can't have been a matter of introducing this new idea to his innocent mind.


It's one think to consider theoretically using the Ring for good without really knowing all that much what that would entail in practice, and another to come in touch with a good facsimile of its corruptive power. Galadriel may have been the one to mention the term "Power of Command" to Boromir and suggest that he'd gain it if if he took the Ring while showing him what it would entail.


In Reply To
What I'm finding more interesting is just that I haven't really examined the ins and outs of the trial of faith she subjects the Fellowship to, and it raises questions. For one, to what extent was this a technicolor mind-meld in which she could see every detail of the temptation scenarios of each subject? Did she even create and tailor them? Or did they just take form in each mind, as a private embodiment of her underlying query, which is something like "what if you could run away from this quest?"

And secondly, what does she learn by it? The only thing she ever reports back is that Sam held firm, and that's the easiest case for the reader to guess anyway.


It's hard to say exactly, but I think she was engaging in a form of telepathy that was more intimate and invasive than just a conversation that other people couldn't hear. I think she was peeking into souls and aware of what she sent.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 22, 3:27pm

Post #40 of 82 (670 views)
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Or a 'slowly-revealed' personality (and adopting changing roles)? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that it doesn't seem right to think of Aragorn as going on a Hero's Journey type of adventure in which what he does changes him into the person he needs to become. I think PJ movie-Aragorn was made into something like that, but I don't see it in book-Argorn.

I think we need to note that both Tolkien as author and Strider as character have reasons to conceal and downlplay things. Tolkien is organising is plot twists; Strider has his secrets. Later, as Aragorn moves towards and becomes King, I think it makes sense that he behaves more in role, more like a good king should. I think that is him knowing how to play different roles, keep secrets where necessary, and to handle different kinds of people, rather than the Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft -like mechanical effects of a magic broach.

I do accept that there's probably no way of distinguishing whether Aragorn is much the same personality with new aspects revealed on the one hand, or has changed on the other. It comes down to a reader's perfered inference, and I thought I'd state mine.

~~~~~~
"there is the internet truth that good comments encourage other good comments, and bad comments encourage other bad comments"

David Allen Green QC


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 22, 3:59pm

Post #41 of 82 (667 views)
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on the contrary [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I looked back at the relevant passage at the Council of Elrond, and it was more ambiguous than I remembered...
Denethor's comments in RotK reveal that he had figured out Isildur's bane...
If Gandalf hadn't acted so cagey, he could have found his answer much sooner by collaborating with Denethor, and the entire plot would have been different.

Gandalf didn't learn from the scroll what Isildur's bane was; Isildur wrote the scroll himself and hadn't been baned as yet. It is a little unclear how broadly known the history of the Rings is generally, but the learned seem to know at least something about them; Faramir understands what the Ring is when it's mentioned, even if he's not clear what Isildur's Bane means (what other magically potent heirloom he has in mind as a guess, I never have known). But it's no terrible shock that his father has thought of the possibility, enough to recognize what Gandalf is about, as he seems to do.

But that's by the by. What's really instructive to me here is that you are, in fact, perfectly willing to jump ship when one of your madcap theories is caught unsupported by the text—as long as you can leap to a new madcap theory that is also unflattering to the central protagonists.

Is your impending, as-yet-unrevealed grand unifying theory one that deconstructs the good character of Frodo? You haven't messed with the hobbits so far.


In Reply To
Galadriel's appearance at Aragorn's wedding takes Saruman by surprise.

But Elrond's shouldn't have, since the father of the bride has exactly the same journey to make that Arwen has herself (and is keeping the king's sceptre from the king). Even Galadriel isn't all that surprising given the occasion.


In Reply To
Galadriel may have been the one to mention the term "Power of Command" to Boromir and suggest that he'd gain it if if he took the Ring while showing him what it would entail.
...
I think she was engaging in a form of telepathy that was more intimate and invasive than just a conversation that other people couldn't hear. I think she was peeking into souls and aware of what she sent.

She may have been, and you think so, but all this is being injected into the story without textual support.

I'm starting to feel pretty done here.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 22, 5:00pm

Post #42 of 82 (663 views)
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I quite like 'Broochloard' but... and 'too modern an eye' [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't see a direction of change (e.g. from dithering to recklessness).

A list of 'mistakes of Aragorn' would, I would think, include going to Weathertop. It works out badly. The gamble Strider is taking is that he can find Gandalf, or news of him. To my mind this complicates what I'd expect to be the primary goal - get Frodo to Rivendell as quickly as can be done without getting caught. So I see it as taking a big risk, which backfires badly. But of course (like Aragorn stopping to see if there is any help on Amon Hen) it's easy to criticise plans that don't work. We have no real way --except by each composing our own favourite fan fiction -- to work out what would have happened had Gandalf and Strider/hobbits co-incided at Weathertop, or Aragorn learned something useful on Amon Hen.

(I don't want to distract and confuse myself or anyone else by saying to much about Amoon Hen here. But I don't read Aragorn as going there only to find out what has happened to Frodo in a tracking sense. Aragorn has a dilemma that has come to a head: should he go to Gondor as per the prophetic dream and help it in its crisis; or must he go with/after Frodo? I think he might feel a quick jog up to the top would be worth it for insight into this, not just for Finding Frodo.)

And of course I can see that Strider might have gone to Weathertop because of dithering, or not yet being mature enough to manage the sneaking directly to Rivendell. Interpretations, interpretations.

The place one could easily see Aragorn dithering is just after Lorien (and getting his brooch)- as per GreenHillFox, above:

In Reply To
I am curious what others think of this, but it may explain why Aragorn's doubts, hesitations, and maybe even judgment failures are found mostly in the early parts of LOTR. The chaotic events in Parth Galen are to a good part attributable to him, being the leader after Moria. He did not sense the danger behind Boromir's darkening mood, although it showed repeatedly.


Aragorn certainly has a personal dilemma, as I have said earlier in this post. But I wonder whether Aragorn is a dithering Captain of the Fellowship who should be more decisive, or whether he is acting in a way that is much more rational in Middle-earth (as I understand it Smile) than in the real world (again, as I understand it Smile).

What I mean is that fate or something like it seems to be a thing in Middle-earth. LOTR characters who we are encouraged to regard as wise spend time and effort trying to judge what is 'meant to happen' and go with that current. Assisting what is 'meant to happen' goes well, and resisting what is 'meant to happen' may mean that you accidently help it to happen anyway (Saruman, repeatedly) , or that the 'costs' of it go up, for you or for others.


This is a point of view I've come to after lots of discussions here, and some other reading (including Tolkien criticism and on Norse ideas about fate and honour). To set out why I think this would be a substantial essay, which I won't attempt right now. And in any case someone finishing that essay would be clear that this is an opinion or interpretation, rather than a thesis that proves something. And, as many of you know, I don't believe in One Reading to Rule Them All, or The True Meaning Of Tolkien (even my own reading!)

Also, the idea is easy to attack if presented as a logical argument with an inescapable conclusion. That's because it isn't a logical argument with an inescapable conclusion. Smile But to sketch the main flaw: Clearly, we can't really know what is 'meant to happen' in Middle-earth independently from what Tolkien allows to happen to make an excellent story (or what people in Middle-earth think is 'meant to happen', if one wants to be serious about the feigned-historian approach). And, unlike real historians we can't get at other sources to help us judge what would have happened under different scenarios.

Let me just add that I don't think my ideas on this are original, and in this imaginary-for-now essay I'd have a lot of TORN Reading Room participants to cite and thank, as well as folk like Prof Shippey and Prof Flieger.

Anyway, let me sketch how I think all this affects Aragorn.
As the Fellowship floats grumpily down the Anduin, I'm not nowadays seeing Aragorn as a Captain who ought to take a command decision. I think he's waiting for Frodo to make up his mind, or for some other sign. This would be odd in the Real World, but I think it makes sense in Middle-earth. Let's note that LOTR activist characters who have spend millenia trying to beat Sauron, and absolutely see the potential for Frodo to do so, are extremely reluctant to tell Frodo what to do. Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Aragorn all. Gildor is also loath to give advice and tells us htings about the hazards of advice in Middle-earth, but he can also rightly say he doesn't have the insight or knowledge of the overall situation. It makes sense that he doesn't want to mess up some clever wizardly scheme that he or Frodo hasn't understood, let alone some operation of Powers or Fates or Whatnots.

The sense I make of it is that, left to himself, Frodo is likely to choose the right thing; but he is understandably and dangerously open to advice.

As it is, what eventually happens leads to success, though rather painfully: Aragorn and Frodo find their dilemmas removed, and Saruman and (I presume) Sauron are thrown into confusion about who has the Ring, and so on. All this is tough on poor Boromir, and perhaps things could have gone better if someone had done differently earlier, but that is the sort of thing I meant by things having costs. We're all here because Isildur fluffed his chance of destroying the Ring, anyway (and Elrond didn't reason Utilitarian-ly and push him in: regrettable, but for the greater good).

I think the key to Aragorn leading his entire army to the Black Gate is also trying to judge what is 'meant to happen'. Both Gandalf and Elrond (via his sons) advise Aragorn to do just this - it isn't his own original idea. The mis-named Last Debate chapter goes through this in detail (it should be called Gandalf Tells Everyone What They Must Do, And They All Agree To Be Brave About It). Even setting aside working with what is 'meant to happen' for a moment, I think one can stand up an argument that 'The West' is toast under all circumstances other than Frodo doing the Ring drop. Then add that we've seen the sort of thinking that warriors do: everything reasonable shoudl be done to ensure victory, but if victory is elusive give the gorious death 'worthy of a song'. But (restoring what is 'meant to happen') I think that, in Middle-earth, the chances of this crazy scheme working might be better than one would think looking at it with too modern an eye. It is what is 'meant to happen'. I note that Frodo and Sam get a sudden imperative to hurry it up just at the right moment, so I think Somebody is helping keep the timelines aligned. As Tolkien ponts out in the 2e LOTR Foreword, in the Real World, nobody would agree to send the Ring away to Mordor for destruction, anyway. So forgetting that Middle-earth is an Epic Fantasy place leads to mistakes in analysing character motivations and actions, I think.

To give other examples of this, I wouldn't do what Aragorn does with my army if I were playing as Aragorn in some wargame. But then that approach would get everything wrong! :
  • Playing as Gandalf I'd Bustle Frodo out of Bag End pronto, before the One Ring had even cooled from Frodo's fireplace. I'd take him as quickly as possible to Saruman for advice. That's the logical thing to do.
  • Playing as Strider, I'd not go to Weathertop, and so I'd avoid what is arguably an important moment for Frodo -- when he nearly puts on the One Ring outside Minas Morghul, he doesn't ('not yet', Tolkien adds, brilliantly).
  • (And playing as the Witch King, I'd rip Bree apart to get the Ring, or press the attack at Weathertop heedless of casualties because I only need one wraith left standing to get the One back to Sauron: cruel cat and mouse games are fun, but duty is duty).
  • Playing as Aragorn I'd take the whole Fellowship to Mordor (or to Gondor) from Lorien.
  • Smeagol/Gollum would never survive to Book VI. Tha would spoil things.
  • Playing as Sam and standing over Frodo's 'dead' body, I'd regretfully reason that I'd better take the Ring, roll the Master off one of those handy precipices, and try and get to Mt Doom & the drop off before I was caught (This would be 'logical', but I doubt this would work).
There are probably many more examples, but I think that's more than enough to illustrate that 'rational behaviour' (as I see it anyway) doesn't always work in Middle-earth

~~~~~~
"there is the internet truth that good comments encourage other good comments, and bad comments encourage other bad comments"

David Allen Green QC


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 22, 7:21pm

Post #43 of 82 (651 views)
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In Reply To
Gandalf didn't learn from the scroll what Isildur's bane was; Isildur wrote the scroll himself and hadn't been baned as yet. It is a little unclear how broadly known the history of the Rings is generally, but the learned seem to know at least something about them; Faramir understands what the Ring is when it's mentioned, even if he's not clear what Isildur's Bane means (what other magically potent heirloom he has in mind as a guess, I never have known). But it's no terrible shock that his father has thought of the possibility, enough to recognize what Gandalf is about, as he seems to do.

But that's by the by. What's really instructive to me here is that you are, in fact, perfectly willing to jump ship when one of your madcap theories is caught unsupported by the text—as long as you can leap to a new madcap theory that is also unflattering to the central protagonists.


Are you talking about Denethor offering to help Gandalf? I think that was implied in Denethor's words, but not implied so strongly that someone who disliked Denethor could be forced to admit it.

The story of Isildur taking the Ring was known in Arnor but supposedly not in Gondor, where it was believed that the One Ring had been destroyed. The dream message sent to Boromir and Faramir mentions "Isildur's Bane". For Denethor to have figured out that the message had a reference to the One Ring suggests that he had most likely read the same ancient document Gandalf had. Even if Denethor wasn't familiar with the text beforehand, he could have asked a servant what was it that Gandalf read just before he left.


In Reply To
Is your impending, as-yet-unrevealed grand unifying theory one that deconstructs the good character of Frodo? You haven't messed with the hobbits so far.


The hobbits have POV sections. You get to know the true thoughts of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. In contrast, the parts about Aragorn when no hobbit is nearby maintain a certain distance, not really getting inside anyone's head, and of Gandalf's thoughts very little is shown - and of Gandalf the White's, nothing at all. All passages about Gandalf alone without the other main characters are explicitly narrated by himself after the fact rather than shown.

Denethor is another character without a POV, and I think he's much better and more heroic than he is given credit for.


In Reply To

In Reply To
Galadriel's appearance at Aragorn's wedding takes Saruman by surprise.

But Elrond's shouldn't have, since the father of the bride has exactly the same journey to make that Arwen has herself (and is keeping the king's sceptre from the king). Even Galadriel isn't all that surprising given the occasion.


Saruman may not even have known that Aragorn was going to marry Arwen that day. Aragorn kept that secret even from the hobbits, and Saruman wouldn't have been in the loop for the latest Rivendell and Lórien gossip. Despite his cleverness, Saruman tends to be reckless and has problems with planning ahead and realistic long-term goals, which is how he got into a situation where he had betrayed everyone and had to change identities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/...personality_disorder
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

Back when Saruman made up his story about recovering in Lórien, he was expecting for Galadriel to stay put and not interfere with his actions in the human lands.


In Reply To

In Reply To
Galadriel may have been the one to mention the term "Power of Command" to Boromir and suggest that he'd gain it if if he took the Ring while showing him what it would entail.
...
I think she was engaging in a form of telepathy that was more intimate and invasive than just a conversation that other people couldn't hear. I think she was peeking into souls and aware of what she sent.

She may have been, and you think so, but all this is being injected into the story without textual support.

I'm starting to feel pretty done here.


Well, you asked what I thought. If Galadriel was doing telepathic testing, it wouldn't have made much sense for it to be no more informative than a spoken conversation. (There are also esoteric reasons, as in reasons belonging under the umbrella of esotericism, but I suspect it would be difficult to talk about that.)


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 22, 7:21pm

Post #44 of 82 (656 views)
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player two has entered the game [In reply to] Can't Post

Along those lines, it has often nagged at me in recent years that--playing as Sam--the pragmatic thing to do, once Frodo has abandoned the quest at the last second, declared himself Ringlord and put the thing on is to figure whoops, it realy is impossible for anybody great or small to follow through on this voluntarily while touching the Ring, so--I'm going to have to grab him and jump in. He had already given up hope of surviving. I can't help but feel like if this story were set in the First Age, that's how it would go; tragic, sacrificial, bittersweet.

But as you say, that ignores the role of Providence and the characters' explicit and conscious interactions with it.


By the way, your analysis of Weathertop as a bad move is interesting and I'd never considered it. I can understand trying to rendezvous with Gandalf, being quite a lot safer with him if you can find him; but the hobbits had vastly better luck whenever they stayed way the hell away from the road, and Strider might have done well to learn from their example.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 22, 7:34pm

Post #45 of 82 (650 views)
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The hobbits have POV sections. You get to know the true thoughts of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. In contrast, the parts about Aragorn when no hobbit is nearby maintain a certain distance, not really getting inside anyone's head, and of Gandalf's thoughts very little is shown - and of Gandalf the White's, nothing at all. All passages about Gandalf alone without the other main characters are explicitly narrated by himself after the fact rather than shown.

I believe we do get into his head for a moment or two when he surveys what's going on out on the Pelennor, actually. But more importantly, in checking just now, I note his conversation with Gwaihir as they head into Mordor to retrieve the hobbits: he references Gwaihir's earlier rescue of him from the slopes of the Misties after he fought the Balrog, complete with a callback to Gwaihir's comment about his insubstantial weight at the time, Gwaihir shows every sign of remembering this incident the same way "Saruman" reported it in Rohan.


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 28, 9:29pm

Post #46 of 82 (524 views)
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Re: Saruman and Gwaihir,

This comes really late, but I've talked about this in the other thread. Basically, Saruman had actually been on Zirakzigil (possibly trying in vain to find the Endless Stair to pursue the Ring after the West gate was blocked) and used that fact as an inspiration for his lie. Saruman was lucky that Gwaihir didn't elaborate.

It's interesting that Sam also notices that Frodo weighs much less than expected. I think Saruman and Frodo's low weights are connected, but no more on that now.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 28, 11:03pm

Post #47 of 82 (523 views)
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eh [In reply to] Can't Post

You're saying that Gwaihir carried Saruman from Zirak-zigil back to Isengard cos he happened to see him there? And he just ignored the remark about Saruman's old life burning away?

Or you're saying Saruman was already passing himself off as Gandalf right from Gandalf's death, as Saruman was somehow cruising all around the Misty Mountains at superhuman speeds?

Or he never got an eagle ride at all, and Gwaihir at the Morannon hears him say this weird lie and plays along with it for some reason?

This whole razzmatazz is a deeply strange choice of how to apply your very real and significant Tolkien scholarship. I can see why you would identify with Saruman—particularly your own version of him.


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 29, 4:37am

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I think Gwaihir is a collaborator and an old friend of Saruman's (by which I'm not implying that Saruman is capable of genuine friendship) and doesn't mistake him for Gandalf. You can see the difference in how Gwaihir is much warmer towards Saruman than earlier towards Gandalf the Grey. For Gwaihir's attitude to have changed that much would be very rapid relationship building when Gandalf was supposedly weak and not particularly present in the present.

In the passage Gwaihir doesn't actually address the White Wizard by any personal name or talk about his backstory. It is unclear to what extent Gwaihir is aware of Saruman's plots, but Saruman would presumably told Gwaihir different lies than to everyone else present. Gwaihir would have seen Saruman's changes at Orthanc, but based on the story narrated by Gandalf, Gwaihir doesn't seem to have been particularly bothered by any of that and doesn't raise the issue.

Also, who said that I identify with Saruman? (I don't.) When you become older you start to be able to consider different viewpoints than that of the designated hero. For example, I think the Mouth of Sauron was telling the truth when he had the strange, strong reaction to Aragorn's gaze, and that was a major clue.


ElanorTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 29, 11:16am

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When you become older you start to be able to consider different viewpoints than that of the designated hero.


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



ElanorTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 29, 12:16pm

Post #50 of 82 (477 views)
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My answer didn't post correctly, and I don't have time to retype it now. I'll try to repair it later.



ElanorTX

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


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