Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

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Riv Res
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Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

Postby Riv Res » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:50 am

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© Per Håkan Arvidsson: Used by Permission





Essay From The Tolkien Society Journal: The Mallorn
"Aragorn: Tales of the Heir of Isildur. Part 1 - The Evolution of the Man"


Here is a very interesting new study on Aragorn, found in the latest edition of the Tolkien Society's Mallorn Journal. It is the first of two parts of a thesis written by Håken Arvidsson. We will have to wait until March 2007 for Part 2, but I believe there is enough here for us to digest and converse about through the cold winter days to come.

So dust off your copies of Christopher Tolkien's History of Midlle-earth, and trot out your Trotter, and all of your Aragorn resource books (there is a great bibliography on the last page), and join in this discussion of the "leading man of The Lord of the Rings"

This a longer than usual essay and I thought about dividing it up into parts for discussion purposes, but there was no easy cut off page...so...here is the entire Part 1.


Click on the scan to enlarge and read.

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© 2006 The Tolkien Society: Håken Arvidsson



Thoughts? :D
Last edited by Riv Res on Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:25 am

Thanks for posting that Riv, it looks very interesting. I shall take some time to read it properly and digest it (probably this weekend when I have a bit of time). It's always good to talk about my favourite character in LOTR :D .
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Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:13 am

I have read this today, and found it both informative and stimulating. I'm not all that familiar with the History of LotR and for a non-expert like me, this first part is a great summary of the evolution of Aragorn the heir of Isildur, and where he came from, out of Trotter the Hobbit.
I look forward to the next part of this work in which I hope for the author's views on the character and complexity of Aragorn, and the way JRRT developed his personality and mores through his many drafts and re-writes of LotR.
:)

Thanks for posting this Riv!
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Postby Lindariel » Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:52 pm

I thought this was an interesting article as well, if a tad redundant in places. I found it particularly captivating that Tolkien entertained the idea of including a period of captivity and torture in Mordor for Trotter the Hobbit Ranger, which is why he wore the wooden shoes.

This revelation makes the unreported period of Aragorn's life in 2980 after he ends his service to Gondor under the name of Thorongil and before he arrives in Lothlorien, as well as his later efforts to help Gandalf find and capture Gollum, all the more interesting. In the Appendices of LOTR Tolkien indicates: "For he [Thorongil] took boat and crossed over Anduin, and there he said farewell to his companions and went on alone; and when he was last seen his face was towards the Mountains of Shadow."

We know from Aragorn's encounter with the hobbits in Bree that he has had terrible experiences up close and personal with the Nazgul:

'They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there is no help. Do you wish them to find you? They are terrible!' The hobbits looked at him, and saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair . . . . For a while he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away.

'There!' he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. 'Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do. You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet.'


There is little doubt in my mind that he is remembering and describing his own encounters with the Nazgul at this point. Imagine having to face them down alone with no possibility of aid from anyone else! I wonder how on earth he escaped?

Later, while describing his efforts to recapture Gollum he tells the Council of Elrond, "If a man must needs walk in sight of the Black Gate, or tread the deadly flowers of Morgul Vale, then perils he will have."

It seems some vestiges of Tolkien's concept for Trotter's horrible ordeal in Mordor survived in Aragorn's unknown adventures. Fascinating!
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:15 pm

I had the same thoughts about Aragorn and Moria while reading it, Lindariel.

What a fascinating article! I'm really looking forward to the second part. A lot of the evolution of LOTR is new to me and I hadn't realised just how much the whole story was in a state of flux.

It's interesting how unsympathetic the character is between leaving Trotter the Hobbit behind and Tolkien finally finding the true Aragorn in the Houses of Healing. As Arvidsson says 'It is here that Aragorn's moral character finds it's final form'. It's a very painful gestation and I'm glad we have a nobler man that the one who ousts Boromir at Minas Tirith and ends up slaying him when he joins Sauron. And I don't much like the Aragorn who reveals to the rest of the Fellowship that Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo, rather than praising a great warrior and son of Gondor.

I'm also fascinated by Tolkien's original plans for Aragorn and Eowyn. It never occurred to me that originally they were meant to love each other and Arwen only appears as his love once Tolkien really found out who Aragorn actually was.

Wonderful stuff to ponder over.
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Postby bruce rerek » Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:40 pm

I have doubts that if a ranger Hobbit would keep the narrative as taught as the final version. As we have discussed Bombadil and his realtive merits to the final version of LOTR, and how it is a convoluted diversion from the story line. It is facinating to see the imaginitive evolution of Tolkien's masterpiece and how so much fancy was winnowed away to make an epic classic. It is also of note to see how the professor had to be convinced that long winded asides had to be turned into actions, that good narrative forms are compromised by extended exposition. Great stuff.
Bingo? I keep seeing little old ladies with bingo cards craining their ears to the call of I-58!
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Postby Merry » Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:37 pm

Yes! I have wondered about the etymology of 'Bingo', since we know that every word has a purpose in Tolkien. It's hard enough to keep 'Bilbo' and 'Frodo' free of ridicule!
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Oct 11, 2006 2:00 pm

I'm glad 'Bingo' was lost. Horrible name! It's interesting how much variation there is in the creation of the main protagonist. I admit I always thought Frodo as a character was fixed from the start :oops: . Because I don't have any of the History of Middle-earth volumes yet this has been quite an eye-opener!
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:42 pm

Me again :lol: .

I've been musing all week about what a different story LOTR would have been if Tolkien had stayed with the Hobbit Trotter. The biggest loss, I can see, is the whole idea of Eucatastrophy. Aragorn, his ancient lineage and his takling the reins of power in the Fourth Age is vital to healing Middle-earth after Sauron. It's not a job any Hobbit could have done. Boromir, Faramir (was Faramir even thought of at that early stage?) and Eomer have some charge over their lands but couldn't claim to rule most of M-e and have a say over many peoples. Gandalf wouldn't rule - that would be interfering too much in the fortunes of the peoples of M-e. It's not what he came to do and Tolkien is very clear about that. The elves are leaving M-e and no man would have accepted them taking charge anyway.

It seems to me that without the story device of Aragorn and the 'return of the King' there would have been a long period of chaos and I have a gut feeling that Tolkien couldn't have left it like that. One way or another an Aragorn character as High King of Gondor had to be created, even if he didn't evolve out of the Ranger 'Trotter'. M-e needed two saviours, one to destroy the Ring and one to heal. I think that's why Arvidsson fixes on Tolkien writing the Houses of Healing passage as the seminal point for Tolkien and for Aragorn, something that I've also been mulling over all week. It's not just his discovery of who Aragorn is there, but his discovery of the key to the whole resolution of the story, the satifying ending that we all need after so much trauma. It also essentially reflects Tolkien's faith that all bad things are ultimately overcome and that there can be a Golden Age, even if it can't be in the life of this world.

I can't help thinking that a LOTR without Aragorn the man and King would never have been the book that so many love with a passion that goes beyond just enjoying a very good story. It speaks to the deep desire of our souls. It's a book filled with hope (estel), and, maybe even more importantly, hope fulfilled.

I sound like I'm delivering a Tolkien Conference paper...
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Postby bruce rerek » Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:00 pm

I too concur with the notion of redemption in the 4th age. What began as artifices that were ego-centric, the Silmarillions, The Rings of Power, etc. had led to what the professor named the long defeat. In all those long years all races toiled and perished in warfare. In the final age, the pity and self sacrifice of Bilbo and Frodo, as well as Aragorn putting aside his self doubts and accepting the weighty responsibility to recognize the nobiltiy, not the fraility of his bloodline were pivotal in pusing back the darkness of Sauron.
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Postby hope » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:31 pm

I found this very enjoyable because reading about one character and his development is much easier on the reader than trying to this with the History of Middle Earth because of its detailed but fragmented approach.

I too look forward to part two :D
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Postby Merry » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:12 pm

Think about all the stories/myths (including the Christian myth, which Tolkien didn't believe is just a myth) that are about the rightful king returning and making all right again and restoring peace and fertility to the land. I don't know that this is the case with everyone, but there is a deep part of my psyche that longs for that. So I think you're right, Iolanthe, about that being an essential part of the eucatastrophe. I had not thought of the Houses of Healing being the turning point of that, but I think you are right about that, also.

And the eucatastrophe shows up so well against the dark [/i]history of catastrophe that came before it, as you say, Bruce.

Many have written about the organic (some would say 'disorganized') nature of Tolkien's writing--no solid outline of the plot and characters at the beginning, etc. This is just another example. But I don't think we would have had such a rich and powerful result if the whole story had been thought out ahead of time.
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:44 pm

I'm sure you're right, and it would have straighjacketed the creative process for Tolkien. I think that the organic way he 'discovered' his stories meant that deeper things surfaced - like the final charactarisation of Aragorn. It's all the richer for it.

As for the Aragorn as the returning King and the eucatastrophy, I think we all long for things to 'end happily ever after' like all good fairy stories, although LOTR doesn't end happily for all and Tolkien knew there had to be a sacrifice. But even if we don't have any real faith or belief like Tolkien that ulitmately they will, I still think we yearn for it to be possible. I think we all want 'All things to be well, and all things to be well, and all manner of things to be well' like Julian of Norwich says in her Revelations of Divine Love.
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Postby bruce rerek » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:19 pm

Also that all things do end, and we go and come in the telling of this tale. I think when we understand what is asked of us and what we must say farewell to is to truly appreciate this epic which is our lives.
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Postby Merry » Fri Oct 13, 2006 6:39 pm

I love the Julian quote, Iolanthe! One of my favorite church songs is based on it. And yes, Bruce, the losses are real. Are these two ideas necessarily contradictory? I think Tolkien is trying to tell us they are not.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.


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