Tag Archives: Aragorn

Aragorn: The Reluctant Hero (A Detour Through the Movies)

Our pastor recently mentioned Aragorn in one of his sermons.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.

(listen to it here–the recording is from the first service, not the second, so you can’t hear me whooping the first time he says Aragorn’s name. ūüôā )

His sermon was based on the movies, which ruffled this purist just a tiny bit, but it was still very thought-provoking.  One of the biggest differences between book-Aragorn and movie-Aragorn is his attitude towards inheriting the throne of Gondor:

In the books, he is 100% on board with the idea at the time of The Lord of the Rings–in fact, it’s pretty much his goal in life. ¬†Like I talked about in my post Aragorn: The Servant Leader, he knows he is a king and he knows he can lead. ¬†He isn’t afraid of who he is. ¬†And as far as I’ve seen digging through appendices, he always was on board, since he figured out who he was at the age of 20.

However, in the movies, Aragorn isn’t sure he trusts himself to rule. ¬†After his ancestor, Isildur, failed pretty miserably and left a terrible mess for others to fix, Aragorn doesn’t have faith he can do any better. ¬†It takes nearly half the movies for him to finally embrace his ancestry.

Like I talked about in my last Aragorn post, I’ve always focused on the way the king of Middle Earth represented Jesus–and I believe he does, to a certain extent. ¬†But Aragorn¬†is still human, he isn’t perfect. ¬†Hearing¬†Pastor Matthew’s sermon made me realize he can be an allegory of us as well.

The sermon was part of a series about being heirs of Christ. ¬†I began to realize that we are heirs of the King now. ¬†We are sons and daughters of the world’s Creator, and heirs of the universe.

People focus on salvation being access to heaven, and I get that. ¬†But there’s more. ¬†God isn’t just giving saving us from hell, He’s giving us access to Himself, His power. ¬†His Spirit lives in our hearts.

The power and dignity of kings is in us.  In me.  In you.  Will we take it to war with us?  Will we take it to the pain?

We’ll mess up, yes. ¬†People will misunderstand us, scorn¬†us. ¬†They’ll fight us, hurt us, betray us, fail us.

But God will never, ever, ever fail us.

Middle Earth needed Aragorn to return, the world was in chaos without a king.

Our world needs the King to return and win the war as well, and it needs the¬†heirs of the King¬†to move. ¬†We can’t do it in our own strength, but we are the hands and feet of God.

We are heirs of the King.

The victory is ours.

Aragorn: The Returning King

Tolkien, very explicitly, did not write The Lord of the Rings¬†as an allegory. ¬†He rather described it as “applicable”.

Aragorn is a relate-able human, he doubts himself, he messes up.  But Tolkien chose to give him a very powerful role in Middle Earth.  As a king and a successful hero, I think he must, on some level, represent Jesus.

Like I talked about in the paper I posted on Easter,  I believe in hero stories because I believe in one Hero who saved me.

You certainly can’t take this analogy too far, but they all break down somewhere, don’t they? ¬†The Lord of the Rings is just a story and a story’s¬†job is not necessarily to be perfectly theologically accurate.

I knew I had to do one of my¬†“Aragorn posts” about kingship, but someone has already put what I want to say quite beautifully, so I’m going to stop rambling and point you all over to desiringgod.org:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-allure-of-middle-earth

I know I’ve linked to this before, but I think Tolkien-fans should read it. ¬†In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien said:

Of course, Allegory and Story converge, meeting somewhere in Truth. . . ¬†And one finds, even in imperfect human ‘literature’, that the better and more consistent an allegory is the more easily can it be read ‘just as a story’; and the better and more closely woven a story is the more easily can those so minded find allegory in it. (121)

I think this article has really helped me think about stories and fictional¬†characters, and sort out what’s merely story, what’s allegorical, and what’s “applicable”. ¬†So instead of my words (which you’ve already had enough of), you can read someone else’s on Aragorn and Middle Earth. ¬†Enjoy!

Aragorn: The Gentle Warrior

Some of you may have seen this coming. ¬†And really, it was inevitable. ¬†There are going to be a lot of posts, full of reasons to like¬†this awesome character; there are many things I love¬†about him. ¬†But my¬†obsession is, and I think always has been, lodged in this: he’s compassionate.

In the post I write for his birthday last year, I said:

“He‚Äôs one of the greatest warriors in the whole trilogy, but he has a soft side too. . . ¬†The fact that he can live through anything (and has lived through almost everything) doesn‚Äôt dull his awareness of others‚Äô weaknesses.”

I can’t think of a new way to sum it up. ¬†I admire the way Aragorn loves “his people” and will sacrifice anything to protect them, and how frank he is about showing that love.

‘There go three that I love, and the smallest not the least,’ he said. ¬†‘He knows not to what end he rides; yet if he knew, he still would go on.’ (760) ¬† – “The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

I love how he recognizes how hard the hobbits are fighting, even though it often looks different from his kind of strength.

I’m a purist for the books, but I still love Aragorn in the movies, even though they changed him a little. ¬†This is probably because they still gave him the caring, selfless nature I saw in the books. ¬†Which, as I said earlier, is what’s most important to me. ¬†I love the way they portrayed him as always being “there”¬†for people in the movies–this unspoken, behind-the-scenes encouragement.

I love the scene in Rohan, when Aragorn follows Merry up to the battlements and watches Gandalf and Pippin ride away. ¬†He just stands there–he doesn’t feel the need to say anything, do anything, fix anything. ¬†He just doesn’t want Merry to be alone.

And when you find out how long Aragorn has known Gandalf, you realize they are both watching one of their best friends leave.

Aragorn: The Servant Leader

Hello, readers, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!! ¬†We had some crazy, Nebraska wind today and a bit of hail. ¬†I happen to like storms, so I was quite happy. ¬†Also, I have my first Aragorn post written! ¬†It took me longer than I expected, but here we are. ¬†If I have more to say (and I haven’t bored y’all out of your minds) at the end of March, I’ll let it spill over into April. ūüôā ¬†Let me know what you think!

One of my favorite things about Aragorn, and one that came to mind first when I wanted to write about him, was his example of servant leadership.  Because the greatest leader really is a servant.

Jesus is, and always will be, the best example of a leader; and He made himself a servant.  The story of Jesus washing His disciples feet comes to mind quickly.  Washing feet was a job for the lowest servant, but Jesus chose it, and told his disciples to do the same.  In Philippians it says:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. ¬†And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!”

It’s obvious that Aragorn’s goal in The Lord of the Rings is to claim the kingship¬†of Gondor: he is the heir to the throne, and he knows it. ¬†Aragorn is the rightful king and a born leader–but he knows what being a leader means. ¬†And part of leading is putting your followers before yourself.

I especially loved the way Tolkien depicted him as a healer. ¬†Caring for the wounded is often portrayed as the job of those who were too weak to fight, but Aragorn’s healing powers came¬†with physical strength, which fascinates me. ¬†I think the idea of a king being a healer is such a¬†powerful one. ¬†(We’ll discuss¬†the whole kingship thing in another post, so more on this¬†later. ūüėČ )

The wounded are always sent to Aragorn, and he never refuses the job. ¬†It’s most obvious in The Return of the King, at the Houses of Healing. ¬†But really, Aragorn is serving quietly throughout the trilogy. ¬†In The Two Towers, Gimli insists on riding with¬†the others, despite being wounded in the latest battle. ¬†He claims the wound is only a scratch and doesn’t matter. ¬†Aragorn responds “I will tend it, while you rest,” (page 532). ¬†It took me a while¬†to realize that this implies Aragorn would not be resting. ¬†And you see the same scenario¬†through all three books, from Frodo’s wound after Moria to the Houses of Healing.

I also appreciate how raw and how real Tolkien’s work was. ¬†As much as you can tell Aragorn loves being a leader, Tolkien portrayed how leading can be a burden as well. ¬†At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and the beginning of The Two Towers it’s especially obvious. ¬†You can see that Aragorn doesn’t see himself as qualified to take Gandalf’s role, and feels so lost without him. ¬†I pity him, honestly. ¬†Without Gandalf to guide Frodo, Aragorn feels responsible for helping him, and therefore taking on part of the responsibility of carrying the Ring–he literally has the fate of kingdoms on his shoulders.

But leading the fellowship after Gandalf’s death was Aragorn’s choice in the first place, which brings us back to what I said earlier–he knows he’s a leader. ¬†Literally his first words after Gandalf’s fall are, “Come! I will lead you now!” (The Fellowship of the Ring, page 371)

And there’s no dispute–the fellowship knows he’s the one qualified to lead them.

Strider

It’s honestly hard to remember my sad life before I read The Lord of the Rings.

But I do recall entreating a friend of mine not to tell me any spoilers, as I was about to start The Fellowship of the Ring. ¬†She started listing off Tolkien’s lovely names instead and gave me a whole string¬†of them, adding, as if as¬†an afterthought, “And Strider. ¬†You’ll like Strider.” ¬†I was rather annoyed at the time, as it gave away that this Strider person was good and likable–as I guess I just gave away for you, sorry–but it turned out to be quite the prophecy, as Aragorn has since grown to become my favorite character out of all the stories I’ve ever heard.

Right from the get-go, he’s been my favorite. ¬†Middle Earth is peopled with beautiful, amazing, relate-able heroes–there is stiff competition. ¬†But since before I even started reading The Two Towers, Aragorn has been my favorite.

And. . . (drum-roll please) today just so happens to be his birthday–March 1st. ¬†I was late posting for it last year, so I’m making up this month. ¬†I’m going to do a series of posts through March about why I love him.

I listed most of the reasons in last year’s post, but now I’ll be expounding on them a little more.

They will be over-thought and geeky–fair warning. ¬†But I think they’re the sort of thing I like to read, and perhaps someone else enjoys that¬†sort of thing too. ¬†If not, I’ll have fun writing them. ūüėČ

His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud.  A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heart of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits. (177)
-“The Fellowship of the Ring”by J.R.R. Tolkien

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

So, it turns out yesterday was Aragorn’s birthday, and I missed it. ¬†(Not a mistake I’m¬†planning to make next year!) ¬†And, if my friend hadn’t posted about it, I still wouldn’t know. ¬†Thank you, Ellen! ūüôā ¬†So I thought now was a good time to post my thoughts on him.

Warning–there are several story-spoilers below, for those of you who are haven’t read or are reading The Lord of the Rings. ¬†Sorry, I can’t talk about Aragorn without giving things away. ūüôā

Continue reading All That is Gold Does Not Glitter