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

Discussions of papers inspired by Tolkien's writings.
Per Håkan Arvidsson
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Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:51 pm

OK, I hear you. I wll forward the entire paper to RivRes before the end of March.
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:35 pm

Image

© Per Håkan Arvidsson: Used by Permission





The Tales of the Heir of Isildur


My sincere apologies to all for taking so long to post Per Håkan Arvidsson's COMPLETE MA Thesis. I believe this will answer many of your questions that stemmed from his previous drafts, and will renew a spirited discussion. :D


Because of the size, we have uploaded the entire thesis paper for you in a pdf/zip file. PLEASE DO NOT HOTLINK. Left click and save to your computer.


Aragorn: Tales of the Heir of Isildur, by Per Håkan Arvidsson


Thoughts? :D


© Per Håkan Arvidsson: Used by Permission

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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Sat Apr 21, 2007 8:23 pm

Per, I was reading through your paper at my leisure and found it interesting. There is much that I am prepared to agree with and a few things where I believe my interpretation of Tolkien differs from yours. However, when I got to the following passage, I was stopped dead in my tracks and I feel compelled to comment on it here.

Tolkien’s decision not to let Éowyn marry Aragorn, because he is to old, lordly and grim, has contributed to making him just that. In LotR, Aragorn marries Arwen, who is a couple of thousand years old. Some readers may feel that it is a pity that Aragorn does not marry Éowyn instead. He may be older than her, but she would not have to miss him for very long after his death. Arwen on the other hand, could logically live on forever, if only she could endure life without her late husband. There are no facts establishing how long Arwen’s supposed mortal existence is assumed to last. At any rate, a marriage with Éowyn would have avoided the unfortunate ending of the love story between Aragorn and Arwen, and Aragorn would not have to turn out to be a daft prick*. Most readers do perhaps not read the appendices in LotR, and will therefore not experience this side of Aragorn.

*The most accurate descriptive term for Aragorn’s level of stupidity.


Per, I have to tell you that in my opinion all of this comes off as incredibly inaccurate and if it is not what you meant to say, then it is poorly written.

Tolkien’s decision not to let Éowyn marry Aragorn, because he is to old, lordly and grim, has contributed to making him just that. In LotR, Aragorn marries Arwen, who is a couple of thousand years old.


I believe you have missed the nuance of Tolkien’s writing style and use of words here. Tolkien’s use of “old, lordly, and grim”, I believe, are in the Old English style where today we would undoubtedly substitute “older, of noble lineage, and serious”…all of which Aragorn was and appropriately so. You carelessly toss out the fact that Arwen is “a couple of thousand years old” for an anecdotal comparison, when Tolkien in essence speaks of the age of Elves in order to portray the concept that they are ageless. Éowyn is 24 when she meets and falls in love with the 87 year old Aragorn. Her love may be deep and true, but compared to the love that has grown over time between Aragorn and Arwen, it is virtually the infatuation of a young woman’s first love…much akin to the first feelings that Aragorn held for Arwen when he was but 19 years old. Thirty years later Arwen returned his love in Lothlorien and it has grown and ripened between the two of them for almost another full 40 years.

Most readers do perhaps not read the appendices in LotR, and will therefore not experience this side of Aragorn.


I would suggest that you might also want to re-visit the appendices to read about the season that Aragorn and Arwen spent in Lothlorien culminating in their pledging themselves to each other. By comparison, Aragorn’s time spent in the presence of Éowyn is miniscule and can hardly be the stuff that produces lasting love on either part.

Some readers may feel that it is a pity that Aragorn does not marry Éowyn instead. He may be older than her, but she would not have to miss him for very long after his death. Arwen on the other hand, could logically live on forever, if only she could endure life without her late husband. There are no facts establishing how long Arwen’s supposed mortal existence is assumed to last.


Perhaps there are many who think as you do, and would have preferred that Aragorn and Eowyn wed. In the beginning of your paper, you virtually disqualify Kocher’s treatise on Aragorn because his premise was based solely on LotR

Kocher’s analysis of Aragorn is crippled by the fact that in 1972 The Silmarillion, Unfinished tales, and the twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth had yet to be published. Kocher’s chapter on Aragorn provides no more than can be revealed by an attentive and unprejudiced reading of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices.


And what’s wrong with that? I submit that gathering all of the disparate notes from Tolkien's further published writings has served to only confuse you and dim the clear picture of Aragorn that we are given in the original text.

:arrow: Who says that Éowyn will outlive Aragorn had they married and mourned when he died? To the contrary, Aragorn ruled the Reunited Kingdom for a full 100 years after his coronation. He had the gift of longevity. Éowyn did not. He would have undoubtedly outlived her. Your thought that she would “not have to miss him for very long” is ungrounded by this.
:arrow: “Arwen on the other hand, could logically live on forever…” No she could not. She chose mortality when she did not sail to the West. Living forever is no longer an option for her.
:arrow: “There are no facts establishing how long Arwen’s supposed mortal existence is assumed to last.” Yes there are. Tolkien did not ever write (anywhere) that Arwen could do other than eventually die. She chose her fate back in Lothlorien when she pledged herself to Aragorn.

In sharing the original writings that show Tolkien’s thoughts to have Aragorn and Éowyn fall in love, I believe he also had her die in battle and the grieving Aragorn would never marry. Tolkien thought better of this plan, leaving the lineage of the King intact. I would ask you to consider if, after reading LotR alone, and before reading any of the additional and later published Tolkien writings, would it dawn on you that the Aragorn/Éowyn match would have been so wonderful? What from the original text, would lead to favor that match?

Finally…

. At any rate, a marriage with Éowyn would have avoided the unfortunate ending of the love story between Aragorn and Arwen, and Aragorn would not have to turn out to be a daft prick*.

*The most accurate descriptive term for Aragorn’s level of stupidity.


Per, I am being totally honest with you that this statement and this terminology left me aghast. I honestly can not believe that you want anyone, anywhere (much less in academia) to give your paper serious consideration with an inappropriate and degrading comment like that. There are a hundred better and more suitable and fitting ways to get your point across than by stooping to this crass term.

Not only do I disagree with your conclusions here (I truly don’t think you gave this point appropriate thought), but I am embarrassed that you use such a vulgar way to make your point and you even try to justify it in your footnote. There is no justification for that.

Disappointed here. Care to try to change my mind?
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Postby marbretherese » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:09 pm

Hear, hear, Riv! Per, you wanted feedback: you have it.

Having read your thesis as far as the reference to Aragorn as a 'daft prick', I'm amazed; are you trying to shock your audience, Per? because you've only succeeded in making yourself look daft. Unless it's a mis-translation of what you intended to say, in which case my advice to you is: choose your words carefully!

What's more, I now understand why the University rejected the second part of your thesis: pages 27 - 45 are totally unnecessary as you make the point perfectly well (and far more efficiently) on page 56. A synopsis of the entire Silmarillion, while useful, is not needed!

I have gained one thing from reading your thesis: one throwaway remark in the first part annoyed me so much I've now written an essay of my own. But at the moment I have little inclination to join in further discussion on the thesis itself - I can't take it seriously any longer!
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Postby Lindariel » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:15 pm

Riv and marbretherese, you express my thoughts precisely!

Per, for heaven's sake, re-read "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" in the appendices, and read it carefully! Yes, the end is almost unbearably sad, but it is not because Aragorn was . . . I'm not even going to say it (how horrid that you would use such a term in an academic paper!) . . . cruel to Arwen (in fact, quite the opposite is the case), but because she lost her faith at his passing that they would indeed meet beyond the "circles of the world."

Did you completely skip over this, perhaps the most beautiful passage in all of Tolkien's writings:

"Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"


A marriage between Aragorn and Eowyn would have resulted in a widowed King in another 40 years; Eowyn is not among the long-lived Dunedain. As it is, Faramir is very likely to outlive Eowyn by 15-20 years or more himself (the dates of their deaths are not listed in the Appendices). Aragorn would have outlived her by 60 years or more. And as Riv pointed out, Tolkien's initial plan was for Eowyn to die in battle and Aragorn never to marry. What would have been the point of that?

The beauty of the marriage between Aragorn and Arwen is the sacrifice they both accepted for the sake of their love, and the faith and belief they had that, like Beren and Luthien, they would find each other again after they died. It also represents the rejoining of the sundered lines of Elrond and Elros and the reinfusion of elven blood into the line of the King.

I see now why this paper failed (aside from the unnecessary recapitulation of the entire Silmarillion). You have completely failed to understand the nature of the relationship between Aragorn and Arwen -- a relationship absolutely critical to understanding Aragorn and what he means to this story.
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Postby Merry » Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:43 pm

Well! Per, when you choose to seek an academic degree, you need to apply academic standards, obviously. This makes me wonder what it is that you're really trying to do.

Tolkien is, among other things, writing mythology. The archetypes of mythology dictate that the Lost King of Men must unite with the Elvish Princess. Not only do they reunite the lines of Elrond and Elros, as Lindariel explains, they reunite the divine heritage of both, resulting in a rich and holy legacy for the future of Middle-earth. It is a matter of salvation. This makes the totting up of a few years of difference in age tragic, but well worth the sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.

So, I'm wondering: does your academic background prepare you to understand concepts like tragedy and mythology?
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Per Håkan Arvidsson
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Hoping for some understanding

Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:02 pm

I realize that you are upset with me, but I assure you that I mean no disrespect to Aragorn or yourselves. Remember that the paper is not a criticism of Aragorn, but do you not think that his failure to understand how Arwen feels gives us some reason to be a little angry with him? I really feel that Aragorn shows a complete lack of understanding of Arwen's situation.

I borrowed the term "daft prick" from the movie Notting Hill. The language is not mine, but that of a rather lewd Welshman. Rather than being offensive, it is supposed to provide a little comic relief. I am well aware that some people may be sensitive about this, but try to not take it too seriously.

The paper is, however, supposed to question Aragorn's importance, and seeing as he has been accused of being too-good-to-be-true, I thought this incident was worth mentioning. It was only after reading the appendices many times over that I found myself reacting in such a way. It was by no means my initial response, but one that came from deep reflection.

I do not doubt Aragorn's love for Arwen, and I believe that I understand the nature of Aragorn and Arwen's relationship, but you must understand that Arwen does not understand what her mortality means. My discussion of mortality is supposed to reflect how tricky it all is.

Perhaps I should be upset with Arwen for not understanding her fate, but I think Aragorn could have handled it better. Aragorn has lived his whole life as a a human, so there is perhaps no way for him to truly understand how Arwen feels, but the reader has come to expect so much from him that I feel that he is letting us all down here.

There is no evidence to suggest that human loved ones are reunited after death, or not. In fact, Aragorn's beliefs stem from Elvish thought. It is perhaps then interesting that Arwen is not as convinced. I have tried to present and discuss all that I found on the subject, in an attempt to understand both Arwen and Aragorn. Maybe Arwen has a much more Middle-earth human outlook, i.e. seeing mortal death as the end...

Yes, of course Eowyn could have died long before Aragorn, but my point is that she is human, and seeing as Tolkien considered their union, I do not think it is far-fetched to say that their match is a more likely one, no matter how little time they spent together.

Yes, Arwen would eventually die, but Tolkien does not say how long she would live. this is all I am saying. Forever, in this sense, would be until the end of the world. She could logically live until the end of the world, when she would have to join the ranks of the humans, who by then would have all passed on. Arwen would then experience whatever fate Eru has in store for the mortal race of humans.

As you now all seem unsurprised at my failure, I would ask you to consider whether a rewriting of the "Silmarillion chapter", making it more like the first chapter with the help of the manuscripts for the Silmarillion, would be worth the effort. Over the past few years, I have been studying the first volumes of HoME without finding much reason for such an undertaking.
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Postby Lindariel » Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:47 pm

Per, I honestly feel like we are reading two different stories! In what way is Aragorn lacking in feeling or understanding for Arwen's grief? Every statement that he makes to her on his deathbed is devoted to comforting and uplifting her, reminding her of the sacrifice they agreed to make, reminding her of what they learned from the fate of Beren and Luthien -- that there is strong reason to believe in a life after death "beyond the circles of the world."

What more can he do? He is DYING, he cannot stop that process, no matter how strong his will. "Lady Undomiel, the hour is indeed hard, yet it was made even in that day when we met under the white birches in the garden of Elrond where none now walk. And on the hill of Cerin Amroth when we forsook both the Shadow and the Twilight this doom we accepted . . . . But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair."

Where is there lack of understanding? Where is there cruelty? Where is there anything but boundless love and the deepest sorrow for her grief?

In the end, Arwen was overborne by her grief and lost her faith, and her death -- alone on the hill of Cerin Amroth where they plighted their troth -- is unbearably sad. But I have to believe that when she at last gave up her life, that she was greeted on the other side by Aragorn, who waited to guide her beyond the circles of the world.

It is interesting to me that Tolkien crafted this loss of faith for Arwen -- she who upheld Aragorn in spirit throughout his long, lonely, and dangerous path to the Kingship, who at every turn professes more faith in him than he has in himself. It seems to me that Arwen kept to her faith because of her belief in HIM. When he died, her faith died with it.

How could Aragorn have foreseen this? Surely, he must have thought that her faith came from a source far greater and far outside himself, because her faith seemed stronger than his. Her loss of faith was no doubt a tremendous shock to him, at a time when life was leaving him and there was so little he could do to comfort her except to remind her of the source of their faith.

Somehow, I think you have read and analyzed this story to the point that you have analyzed yourself in a circle and come to some rather wrong-headed conclusions. Don't over-think it!

In terms of how long Arwen would have lived, she certainly would NOT have lived until the end of the world. After being returned from the Halls of Mandos, Luthien lived a mortal lifespan with Beren and then DIED. At the time Arwen married Aragorn and forsook the life of the Eldar, she entered into mortality just as Luthien did. Her longest possible lifespan would have been that of the Numenoreans, and the longest-lived of the Numenoreans was Elros Tar-Minayatar, who lived 500 years. Arwen did not live that long because she also had the grace of the Numenoreans to give up her life at her choosing -- so she fled to Lothlorien and gave up her life on the hill of Cerin Amroth, rather than endure another 300-400 years without Aragorn.

There is no evidence to suggest that human loved ones are reunited after death, or not. In fact, Aragorn's beliefs stem from Elvish thought.


Yes, Aragorn's beliefs do stem from Elvish thought, but the Numenoreans arose from an Elvish forebear -- Elros, Tar-Minyatar. Do not forget the end of the tale of Beren and Luthien:

This doom she chose, forsaking the Blessed Realm, and putting aside all claim to kinship with those that dwell there; that thus whatever grief might lie in wait, the fates of Beren and Luthien might be joined, and their paths lead together beyond the confines of the world.


This definitely implies a life after death together. Why should Aragorn and Arwen doubt that they would be subject to a similar fate? Arwen herself declares to Frodo that she has made the Choice of Luthien "and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter."
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Postby librislove » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:23 pm

Aside from "daft pick"--an unfortunate use of a popular reference that does not belong in academic discourse anyway--Per, you must deal with the story as it is written, not as you would like it to be, or as Tolkien might have once intended to write it and later amended his thoughts. "Eowyn would have been a better match, et al" is not an academic argument, but an intensely personal one that ultimately carries no weight except in the part of your imagination where we all keep the what ifs. The same goes for the unfounded assertion that Aragorn somehow misled Arwen about the nature of mortality. If you indeed want to show that he was not as "perfect" as he seemed, you are going to have to come up with textual evidence that is much stronger and more obvious than these arguments., or leave this matter out of your paper completely.
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Many live who deserve death; some die who deserve life--can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment. Even the wisest cannot see all ends.

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Postby librislove » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:36 pm

As an addendum--I suspect that most of us, while we may well be attached to Aragorn , are far more upset with the holes in your argument. We are scholars after all.
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Many live who deserve death; some die who deserve life--can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment. Even the wisest cannot see all ends.

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

Postby MICHKA » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:39 pm

Pour soutenir la thèse défendue ici de la volonté d'Arwen,d'être avec Aragorn, je rappelle cette phrase sublime(pour moi!) :''Je préfère vivre une vie mortelle avec vous qu'un éternité toute seule''-ce n'est peut-être que dans la version cinématographique, mais quelle splendeur!quelle grandeur d'âme, vraiment ce que l'on attend du grand amour, tel que le concevait Tolkien, tel qu'on souhaiterait que ce so!
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Re: Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

Postby Merry » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:36 pm

I had almost forgotten this thread with its 'interesting' paper!

I think Tolkien would have approved of this line from the movie, too. And just another thought: an old friend of mine, a magnificent man, a scholar and a leader of note, finds this line of Arwen's in the movie to be his favorite. He says he finds Arwen's sacrifice to be quite moving. I think he wishes that there was an elf-princess somewhere for him!
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Re: Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

Postby MICHKA » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:42 am

Dans le calendrier des grandes années, Iolanthe cite le passage où Eowyn se délie de l'amour qu'elle ressentait pour Aragorn; je trouve leur dialogue fort émouvant, et ce sont deux lignes magnifiques. Avec quel talent et finesse Tolkien relate simplement les sentiments, c'est merveilleux!
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Re: Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

Postby Lindariel » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:44 pm

Michka, one of my very favorite lines from The Professor's great book is this statement that Aragorn makes in the Houses of Healing:

"Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned."

What a beautiful and sensitive line about the nature of Eowyn's despair over her unrequited love for Aragorn, and what tremendous nobility of spirit Aragorn has to acknowledge his "bitterness and shame" concerning a situation over which he honestly has absolutely no control! How could he possibly control Eowyn's feelings?!? Is there a modern man alive today who would respond to this situation with such gallantry, humility, and generosity of heart? HAH! Most modern men would preen and brag about the "poor chick who has the hots for me."

This is yet another statement that makes me question Per's objectivity over the Aragorn-Arwen-Eowyn "triangle" and reject the second half of his paper pretty much out of hand. What a shame! His opening summary was really good and very useful. His analysis, however, went completely over the dam!
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Re: Aragorn, Tales of the Heir of Isildor. Parts 1 & 2

Postby MICHKA » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:38 pm

La grandeur d'âme d'Aragorn ne fait pas de doute et son honnêteté est exemplaire même si cela fait souffrir Eowyn: il est préférable de connaître la vérité des sentiments plutôt que d'entretenir de faux espoirs. La suite montre qu'elle découvre un autre intérêt en la personne de Faramir, ce chevalier-servant délicat et patient, qu'elle l'apprécie et finit par accepter et lui rendre son amour. Ce sont des choses qui arrivent aussi parfois dans la vraie vie, le destin est quelquefois généreux, bienveillant; on ne peut qu'admirer la fidélité ,la sincérité,la franchise de ce héros magnifique qu'est Aragorn, je comprends qu'il est difficile d'imaginer un homme comme lui, généreux mais loyal envers son propre élan de coeur!
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