Not even sleep can ease Aragorn’s peace of mind. When his concern is not focused on the gathering army of Mordor and the probability of failure, his subconscious wonders over to Arwen. Every aspect of his life seems to be descending into shadow. His only way of survival is to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
The armies of neighboring lands have not gathered in the amount needed to even approach a defeat of Mordor. Therefore, preparing for the worst is the only way of thinking Aragorn can hold onto because death seems almost inevitable. Hoping for the best while being a thread of hope and an antidote to the surrounding negativity.
A dream of Arwen
An image of Arwen pale, weak and dying crowds Aragorn’s sleeping mind. A tear escapes her eye as her wish to see her beloved Aragorn remains unfulfilled. She closes her eyes and the Evenstar pendant falls and shatters on the floor, indicating her death. The only physical manifestation of her love and devotion has broken into a million little pieces. All that she was is fading away with him thousands of miles away, fighting his own battles.
It is almost impossible to even dream of a happier reality when all that surrounds us is pain and darkness. The mind has gotten used to a more negatively inclined outlook and can therefore only reciprocate in the same way. Once we condition our minds to only expect the worst, it can only provide us with the same feedback, even if we aren’t conscious to receive it.
However, to dream of something that occurs, later on, s to obtain a glimpse of a future that, although nonsensical at the moment, and frightening, it doesn’t mean it won’t come true. Naturally, we cannot know in advance that what we have seen will come to be. We might take it as a testament of our own mind struggling to cope, or simply ignore it.
Hopes and dreams
In the case of Aragorn and Arwen, there is a certain sense of connection beyond that of loving feelings towards one another. The story as it is told in the film has the two lovers almost telepathically communicating.
Their fates are more intertwined than initially thought and as such it has to be shown in ways that are intricate to the story. He cannot possibly know everything that has happened with her since he left Rivendell, as she cannot know if he is alive or dead. However, they each are privy to glimpses of each other’s lives as it could be.
Arwen hopes beyond hope and her vision of her son in Aragorn’s arms spurs her on to believe that a future with him is not lost. He, on the other hand, sees her as she could be after renouncing immortality. His view of their future is as hopeless as he feels about his current endeavors. To each his own.
I choose a mortal life. I wish I could have seen him, one last time.Arwen
A surprise visitor
A soldier calling upon Aragorn, standing by the entrance to his tent, startles Aragorn from his troubled sleep. As such he wakes in all preparation – with a knife in his hands.
Sir? King Théoden awaits you, my Lord.Soldier
Without any reason to this King’s request, Aragorn walks over to Théoden’s tent with a rather confused look in his eyes. There must be something important he wants to share with him. As he enters Théoden’s tent, he finds the King in conversation with a cloaked figure.
The look on Théoden’s face is not one Aragorn is familiar with. It is a mixture of awe, respect, and fear. Since we at this point don’t know to whom he speaks, there can be many reasons behind his feelings. Théoden keeps a safe distance from the person of interest. Upon Aragorn’s entrance and obvious confusion in his facial expression, Théoden takes his leave.
A dream ringing true
Aragorn: “My Lord, Elrond.”
Elrond: “I come on behalf of one whom I love. Arwen is dying. She will not long survive the evil that now spreads from Mordor. The light of the Evenstar is failing. As Sauron’s power grows, her strength wanes. Arwen’s life is now tied to the fate of the Ring. The shadow is upon us, Aragorn. The end has come.”
It is an interesting continuation of Aragorn’s dream. Lord Elrond not only confirms Aragorn’s nightmare but also provides an explanation. Aragorn listens in disbelief and fear over losing his beloved one. Not even Elrond, one who has not taken part in Aragorn’s quest and has only relied on his gift of foresight brings only ill premonition. He never had any faith in their quest to begin with, the situations that unraveled after their departure only solidified his belief that all will turn to darkness.
A fool’s hope of triumph
Aragorn: “It will not be our end but His.”
Elrond: “You ride to war but not to victory.”
Aragorn’s hatred of Sauron translates into courage and implied victory over the Lord of Mordor. Even though he knows they are probably outnumbered, his spite drives him to subjective conclusions that serve the purpose of showing his dwindling hope of triumph.
Lord Elrond, on the other hand, looks at Aragorn with an almost pitiful expression. Aragorn holds on to a fool’s hope and Elrond responds with a thinly veiled expression of mockery.
Aragorn responds to Elrond’s expression with a look of betrayal. Not even Elrond believes in him, or the success of his quest. He is hurt by this negativity.
Sauron’s armies march on Minas Tirith, as you know, but in secret He sends another force, which will attack from the river. A fleet of Corsair ships sails from the South. They’ll be in the city in two days. You’re outnumbered, Aragorn. You need more men.Elrond
The news of an oncoming fleet attacking from the river catches Aragorn off guard. This is vital information, albeit discouraging. At least he won’t be surprised by their arrival. This leaves him, however, with an unsolvable problem: how can he divide the soldiers that await his orders at the foot of the White Mountain when there aren’t even enough for the main battle on the fields of Pelennor?
Hope not only wanes in Aragorn’s eyes, but the problem-solving part of his nature had hit a reef. There isn’t anything he can do, despair colors his face.
The dwellers of the mountain
Aragorn: “There are none.”
Elrond: “There are those who… dwell in the mountain.”
Aragorn: “Murderers! Traitors! You would call upon them to fight? They believe in nothing! They answer to no one.”
All able-bodied men who care to join the Rohirrim have set up camp beneath the Winding path of the mountain. There are no more men who would risk their lives for those who don’t stand a chance at defending themselves. Correction, there are no loyal and good-hearted men left.
The image of the King of the Dead flashes in Aragorn’s mind as Elrond suggests calling upon them to help. He has seen him before and he cannot rely on their help, given the lives they led whilst alive. As a man with a straightforward differentiation between right and wrong, he is sure the Army of the Dead would be a poor call to make. They cannot be trusted.
The importance of being Aragorn
Elrond: “They will answer to the King of Gondor! Andúril… Flame of the West. Forged from the shards of Narsil.”
Aragorn: “Sauron will not have forgotten the Sword of Elendil.”
As Elrond reveals the sword, Aragorn stays his place in reverence to the moment. He moves slowly toward it, with a mixture of incredulity and baiting interest. Aragorn takes his time taking the sword into his hands.
As he wraps his fingers around its hilt and with one fell swoop releases the sword from its sheath, there is a strong sense of claim in him, a bond forging between the sword and Aragorn. He doesn’t hesitate in its presence and does not bow to its meaning, his movements appear natural, almost necessary, for the sword was reforged for him, and him alone. He takes to it with elegant ease, remembering his ancestors whose hands once grasped the same hilt.
The lineage is unbroken, the heir of Elendil has accepted himself and his fate as naturally as his lungs take in air to breathe. All the pieces have come together. This quest was his journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Now, the time has come to reclaim his position in Middle-Earth.
The music accompanying the reveal of the sword gives the moment the majesty and importance it well-deserves.
Ranger becoming King
Aragorn: “The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.”
Elrond: “The man who can wield the power of this sword can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be. Take the Dimholt road.”
Lord Elrond urges Aragorn to use the power of the sword in order to proclaim the army hat will turn the fate of their quest in their favor. To do that, however, Aragorn needs all the confidence in the world in who he was born to be. To accept the past, rejoin the lineage that he ignored for so long and to head on to ask for the aid of the deadliest army in Middle-Earth takes courage and introspection.
Fortunately, the quest up until this point has strengthened Aragorn in ways of which he might not be aware. Every step of the way had its own hindrance and complexity, and he had overcome them all. There is no point in his life where he will ever be readier than he is now. All roads have led to this moment, a moment of personal revelation, acceptance and new-found courage in himself.
It isn’t an easy task to face or to digest in one gulp. Aragorn remains uncertain as Elrond plainly instructs what is to be done. There is fear in his eyes, fear of the unknown, fear of failure. It has accompanied him to this point, and just because he now accepts his fate, does not mean the fear leaves him. In a way, this fear might be the fuel he needs to push forward, even when everything around him falls apart.
Abandoning hope for self
Elrond: “Ónen i-Estel Edain.” (I give hope to Men.)
Aragorn: “Ú-chebin Estel anim.” (I keep none for myself.)
There is a glimmer of tears that cloud Aragorn’s eyes. He renounces hope for himself and as such sentences himself to almost certain death. To think in such terms is to feel an inevitable doom and sadness for oneself. He can be courageous for everyone else, but when it comes to himself, there is little to hold him together.
Aragorn now knows what he must do in order to give the race of Men a fighting chance. Although Elrond initiates this new course of action and provides a faint hope in spite of what he has foreseen, Aragorn takes his fate in the worst-case scenario mode. He will do whatever it takes to help, however, that does not mean that his life will be spared because of his bravery. On the contrary, given the dangerous pursuit he is about to embark upon, he might be the first to taste the sweet release of death.
Aragorn prepares for departure in my next post, so keep reading.
Photo by azboomer on Pixabay.