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Posted: Fri May 14, 2010 10:54 pm
by Lindariel
I don't know, Riv. "On the dark confines" communicates the concept of walls/borders/that which encloses. Aragorn could very well have been reconnoitering the outer defenses, including the Dead Marshes, the Black Gate, the Morannon, the Morgul Vale, Cirith Ungol, the Ephel Duath, the Ered Lithui, Cirith Gorgor, the Towers of Teeth, etc. That certainly would have been perilous and dangerous enough without actually entering Mordor proper.
Surely Aragorn was too important for the future of Middle-earth for Gandalf to send him there for anything less than destroying the Ring, and with the weight of future Kingship on him why would he decide himself to enter with little chance of coming back?
Iolanthe, I don't think we have any information that specifically Gandalf sent Aragorn on this mission. Aragorn's message to Ecthelion only says, "Other tasks now call me." The "call" could have come from Gandalf, Elrond, the Northern Dunedain, etc., but I strongly believe the call came from within Aragorn himself. I think this was a duty he set for himself -- the final step into manhood. Whatever it was he accomplished, he returned from these perils armed with the confidence to accept Arwen's pledge. He was finally a Man, independent of his mentors, worthy of his lady love.

Posted: Sat May 15, 2010 9:13 am
by Iolanthe
Mmmmm. Interesting use of the word 'on' rather than 'in'. If I was saying that someone was somewhere I would use 'in'. He's 'in France', or 'in London'. 'On' makes me also wonder - like Lindariel - if Tolkien wasn't thinking of the surrounding mountain ranges and passes that 'confine' Mordor, rather than actually 'in' it, i.e. down on then plains around Mount Doom and Baradur. Though once someone passes the highest points they are 'in' Mordor, strictly speaking.

Maybe he expressed it a bit sloppily but that's very un-Tolkien to do so. To me he's left it quite ambiguous and I would read 'on the dark confines' as on the surrounding mountain walls that confine it.
Lindariel wrote:Iolanthe, I don't think we have any information that specifically Gandalf sent Aragorn on this mission.
No - we don't. I was just speculating as it had been mentioned as a possibility and, in my mind, Gandalf wouldn't take that big a risk with the Heir to Gondor unless it was the last throw of the dice.

Posted: Sat May 15, 2010 2:16 pm
by Merry
It does seem like a risky thing for the Heir to do, but he does seem to have done other risky things, although not as risky as this. (Do I have any more other hands to play here? :? )

And I also think that JRRT was adept at being ambiguous in places. This is great: 'dark confines of Mordor' is a wonderful expression and it hints at something in our imagination without having to spell out the whole history!

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 9:29 pm
by Lindariel
Merry, when we take into account Aragorn's later mission with Gandalf to try to find Gollum -- a mission that Gandalf gave up as lost, although Aragorn persisted and was ultimately successful -- it may be that this solo trek "on the dark confines of Mordor" was in response to foresight or an inexplicable sense of need. I would imagine whatever intimate knowledge Aragorn gleaned about the lay of the land came in handy when he returned there years later to try to find Gollum.