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Minas Tirith Forums » Lord of the Rings » Was Aragorn fit to be King?
Author Topic: Was Aragorn fit to be King?
Roll of Honor Eoin MacDomhnaill
Soldier of Gondor
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This comment is not meant to imply any criticism of either Aragorn the character or Tolkien the writer. I've always felt that Aragorn was, well..., not quite kingly enough to be King. He snaps at Butterbur at the Prancing Pony, even resorting to name-calling; he seems to struggle at times when making decisions, then sinks into self-doubt and complaint -"Alas, An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss... It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf's trust in me." I appreciate the fact that Tokien gives us more than a cardboard-cutout figure in Aragorn - he is human and has his ups and downs. Nonetheless, I would have expected a future king to be more wise, more consistent in his behavior. Even Faramir seems, in his quiet way, to have a nobility that Aragorn sometimes lack. What say ye all, have I raised a legitimate question or is it all Orc-talk?

This message has been edited by Eoin MacDomhnaill on 09-07-2001 at


From: The Berkshires, Massachusetts, U.S. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendilyon
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Orc talk!!!!
From: Rivendell | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendilyon
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To be serious, Kings (and Queens for that matter) are human beings like everybody else. I read in your profile that you're from the US (keep quiet guys, I won't go ranting here!), and maybe you have a somewhat romantic few on Kings. Kings aren't Kings because they are fit for it (unless they are newly chosen), but because of heredity. So, people extremely unfit for being King may become one, and people extremely fit for being King live their lives as beggars.
As for Aragorn, I think he WAS fit for being a King. Although he sometimes doubted his own decisions, he was the one who led the Fellowship after Gandalf's fall; he led Gimli and Legolas in the hunt through Rohirrim; he led the troops of Gondor against Mordor. The best quality of a King in a Monarchistic society is to be able to lead his people, just like Aragorn did.

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ZENITH
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a round of applause for that man!


well done E

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From: The Mens Room. ENGLAND | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Eoin MacDomhnaill
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Hmmm.... good points, Earendilyon, and worth pondering. If you are, as I assume, a native of the UK, I bow both to your greater knowledge and broader experience of kings. Perhaps a better question would have been - why didn't Tolkien portray the character of Aragorn as a stronger man? Was he setting us up for the climactic surprise - this all-too human Strider who was to become King? Could it have reflected Tolkien's own opinions about the system of Monarchy?
From: The Berkshires, Massachusetts, U.S. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ZENITH
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who ever said that he came from the UK?
he is DUCH an enhabitant of the netherlands

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From: The Mens Room. ENGLAND | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendilyon
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Indeed, Zenith, I live in the Netherlands, and currently, we have a Queen here. Next year in February our Crown Prince will mary his girlfriend
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Earendilyon
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I don't know which idea lived earlier with Tolkien: the idea you offer Eoin, or the idea of Aragorn being the last of the Ranger Kings. Mb both ideas lived with JRRT.
With the last idea ofcourse comes the notion that the future King had a rough life and wasn't as cultivated as people living in the cities, like Faramir. Remember though, that Aragorn helped Bilbo writing the poem on Earendil; according to Bilbo himself, Aragorn wrote the major part! So, he wasn't that uncultivated!
The snapping-at-Butterbur-and-even-calling-names thing belonged IMO to his act as Strider; it was not part of his real character.

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Roll of Honor Eoin MacDomhnaill
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Once again you offer convincing arguments, Earendilyon. I had not considered the possibility that Strider's snapping at Butterbur was Aragorn keeping in character. (Not that I would blame Strider for his anger. Tolkien consistently portrayed the Rangers as an anonymous and selfless group willing to endure great hardship to protect a people who remained ignorant of their very existence). As for Aragorn's education, he was, no doubt, extremely cultured. In an age when legends were passed down orally, committing to memory long and complicated prose and poetry was commonplace. But Middle Earth contained several written languages, and Aragorn was fluent in most (if not all). Despite his literacy, for him to have memorized the material that he did shows a keen intelligence as well as a committment to preserve the past. Kingly attributes, indeed.
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Ringbearer
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Aragorn was not ready "to claim his kingship" untill he used the Palantir and revealed himself to Sauron. A character change occured here. He threw off the "Strider" mask at this time!
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Snöwdog
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quote:
Aragorn was not ready "to claim his kingship" untill he used the Palantir and revealed himself to Sauron. A character change occured here. He threw off the "Strider" mask at this time!
Yes, it was quite a dramatic battle of wills when Aragorn used the Palantir and wrest control away from Sauron. I think it was a 'greying' experience and took its toll on Aragorn, but he came through wiser and quite kingly.
From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
faithfull
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Yes, Ringbearer and Snowdog - I agree. That was truly a defining moment for Aragorn, and proved his worthiness through his choice of timing (deeply strategic), along with demonstrating the strength of his character, soundness of his mind, and his fitness through being the heir of Elendil.
I don't have the books at hand, but I seem to remember Gandalf admiring his moxy, over that move. []
I think also, that seeing the Lady Arwen in Rivendell and her confidence in and love for him bolstered his courage. He was fighting for more than his kingdom. He was also battling to provide a future for himself together with the love of his life.

[ 07-03-2015, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: faithfull ]

From: East of the sun, West of the moon | Registered: Oct 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Flammifer
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Yes, not only his wresting the palantir from Sauron, but let's not forget The Paths of the Dead.

Here he showed his true 'metal' and this trek would not have taken place but for Aragorn's will. His comrades fearful (save Legolas who did not fear The Dead), yet followed him knowing his true lineage as the Heir of Isildur.

The Dead came when called, performed as commanded, and left when dismissed.

[] Klaatu barada nikto

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Cernunnos
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In a fantasy like LotR, Aragorn's status as the true Heir of Isildur in itself gives him legitimacy - a 'magic' quality that we agree to in the imagined world we are reading about. In the real world, of course, hereditary monarchies, where they have actual power (as opposed to the ceremonial monarchies of the UK, the Netherlands etc), are a bleeding disaster, because sooner or later someone inherits the throne who is totally unfit for it, simply because they are (usually) the reigning king's eldest son (see the histories of the Kings of Spain, or the Tsars of Russia, for numerous appalling examples).

Elective monarchies, by contrast, may last for centuries (eg the Papacy, getting on for 2000 years and still going strong). The Antonine Emperors of Rome (Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius), where the successor was chosen by merit, brought Rome to the height of its power and influence. As soon as the hereditary element was re-introduced (the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius succeeded by his son, the vicious Commodus), disaster followed.

Aragorn's personal qualities are his true strength - he may snap at the intolerably rude and stupid comments of Butterbur, but he doesn't do anything worse! And he goes on 'loving' Bree and its inhabitants. He listens to advice, but can take his own counsel. Above all, he is not proud (a supremely important quality in Tolkien's work, influenced of course by his Catholicism). The true contrast is between him and Denethor, who is both proud and unwilling to lay down his Stewardship, and has little or no sympathy with anything or anyone outside the narrow compass of Gondor. He commands using the (borrowed) authority of the ancient kings, while Aragorn leads by example, inspiring passionate loyalty in persons of many backgrounds (and even different 'species').

Faramir, also lacking in pride, willingly lays down the Stewardship, and is not diminished in honour (or even, as it turns out in authority).

[ 11-22-2015, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Snöwdog
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Well said Cernunnos! This leaves us wondering if Eldarion was a decent King, or his son, and where things go pear-shaped in the line. Of course it is a "magical" line so every heir of Elendiil was considered reasonably good, if not soft-willed (Earendur per chance not being able to settle the ascension and Arnor splits between his three sons?)
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faithfull
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Great discussion, all! [] Ahem, but now I find myself out of my depth, having never read the sil, or the other supporting material. [] Y'all are just spoilers . . . [] []
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Snöwdog
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Well dear Fatefull, you can start by reading the Appendices at the end of Return of the King! It will get you started on the historical lore. []
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faithfull
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quote:
Well dear Fatefull, you can start by reading the Appendices at the end of Return of the King! It will get you started on the historical lore. []
Hee! Well, with that material right at hand, of course I devoured it toute de suite, on first reading. I was fated to become a faithful fan . . . [] Acquiring and making time to read the stuff that Christopher eventually released took a backseat to, um, reality. []
All's well that ends well - Now I have more time for such pursuits. [] []

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Cernunnos
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Look at it this way, Faithfull . . . think how much you still have to look forward to!

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Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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