The Fellowship begins to break apart. Lothlórien could have been a turning point. It could have strengthened their bond through their mutual loss and bring their musings to a more peaceful place, but instead, it divided them even further.
As the Fellowship is leaving this blessed realm, the Elves present them with gifts of which they could make good use on their journey. Gimli`s gift, however, cannot match even the sharpest blade of the Elves. His interaction with Lady Galadriel is a special one.
A brief enchantment
Galadriel and Gimli – an unlikely bond. Gimli tries to shield himself from her „spell“ as they reach Lothlórien, but her mere presence incapacitates him. He stares in awe as she addresses him.
He appears to be smitten. When asked what he would want from the Elves, he turns nervous and giddy, like a boy not feeling worthy of a girl`s attention, and every request that fills his mind seems stupid. A very different side of Gimli.
He regards Galadriel as the fairest of all, fairer than all the jewels under the mountain, and him being a Dwarf, that is saying a lot. He says himself he would never again call anything fair, but her gift to him. One strand of hair from her golden head is something he very much desired, and she gave him three. A very romantic notion.
Celeborn and Galadriel both take turns speaking to Aragorn. Celeborn warns him of the Orc pack that are following the Fellowship and danger they will face. A classic man to man interaction, or in this case Elf to Man. Galadriel, on the other hand, appeals to his softer, emotional side.
The Evenstar around his neck tells her about the emotional predicament in which he finds himself. The choice of Arwen has not yet come to pass and he would be powerless to influence it. However, the choice of his path in life is here for the taking and he should embrace it.
You have your own choice to make, Aragorn. To rise above the height of all your fathers since the day of Elendil. Or to fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin.Galadriel
Galadriel presents him plainly with the choice at hand. Aragorn doesn`t seem to be as insecure and fearful as he was in Rivendell. He knows what he must do, exactly like Frodo.
That a fear of failing still clouds his mind is clear, but it does not paralyze him. He has been given the task to lead the Company, and through this role, he will come into his own. It will not be an easy path for him, but a character-building one, necessary for the battles to come.
However understanding and compassionate Aragorn was in Lothlórien, his fear and thoughts about his own race boil to the surface as they rest on a bank of the Great River and Aragorn and Boromir stand watch. As Boromir explains to Aragorn that Minas Tirith is a safer path and that from there they could regroup, Aragorn simply states that there is not strength in Minas Tirith that could avail them.
Boromir: “You were quick enough to trust the Elves. Have you so little faith in your own people? Yes, there is weakness, there is frailty. There is courage also and honor to be found in Men. But you will not see that. You are afraid. All your life you have hidden in the shadows, scared of who you are, of what you are.“
Aragorn: „I will not lead the Ring within a hundred leagues of your city.“
Now, this interaction says it all. Boromir is explaining himself rather than an entire population. He is conscious of the weakness and frailty he carries within him, but his courage and honor have remained intact, and as long as these still live inside of him he will fight to protect his people.
Aragorn on the other hand, it seems, would trust any other race but his own. As Boromir points out, he was quick to trust the Elves, but trust his own people he cannot. Boromir has described Aragorn as he is, living in fear of who and what he is. If he cannot accept who he is, he will feel an aversion toward his own people. It makes sense that Aragorn would find a better foothold and comfort with the Elves, than with his own race.
How can he trust his own people, when he does not trust himself? As he sees himself, so are his feelings towards his own people. When one does not accept oneself, then how can one accept anyone else?
As Aragorn himself states, he would not let the Ring come close to Gondor. This is because of his inability to see beyond the weaknesses. He is afraid of that weakness in himself and he is sure that if the Ring were close to the race of Men, they would have done anything to claim it for themselves in an attempt to use it against the enemy. Failing that, of course, the Ring would destroy them.
Boromir`s claim angers Aragorn and his opinion slips out. Boromir is hurt by Aragorn`s response but at the same time, he understands that this desire for power and possession would cause the destruction of all races. Boromir is admitting to this flaw in their race, but he also sees a lot of good qualities whereas Aragorn doesn`t. As Boromir states Aragorn`s fear, Aragorn wishes not to hear it, so he strikes back offensively.
Fight or flight
In every conflict situation, there is always a fight or flight instinct. Truth hurts as Boromir states it, which is why Aragorn, in an attempt to overthrow it, strikes back. He is being rude and demeaning to Boromir and his people, which is what happens when the truth is told, and fears strike.
Aragorn`s insecurities are the ones answering Boromir, for if he observed himself more carefully, he would probably not have reacted in that dismissive and hurtful way. It`s one thing to have fears for oneself, but when they are seen by others, then they become a danger. Then one could be seen as weak, insecure. And Aragorn certainly does not want to be seen that way. Not from one of his own people, and not from someone who is easily corruptible. Aragorn`s pride and ego are clouding his ability to accept what Boromir is telling him.
As Boromir and Aragorn stand watch, Sam urges Frodo to eat something. He has noticed that Frodo not only doesn`t eat, but he also doesn`t sleep that much either. Sam reminds him that he promised Gandalf that he would help him, and he really tries to hold to his word. Frodo now knows he must do this task alone.
Sam can`t help him, and he is becoming aware of that. He has isolated himself from all other members of the Fellowship ever since Gandalf told him he fears a danger from within it. As he doesn`t want to say goodbye to any of the members, especially Sam, he holds on, knowing very well he would have to leave them behind.
Frodo distancing himself emotionally from others is a coping mechanism and a very useful one. Since his task is one of great peril, he has to be in control of his emotions the entire time. So, displaying any emotion to his Company would make the transition from decision-making to going through with him leaving a lot tougher. This way he is slowly distancing himself emotionally from all of them to make his transition bearable.
It is the most unpleasant part of the decision-making process, to have a decision ready but still not enough courage to take that first step.
As they paddle down the Great River, and come to an embankment for a rest, as they are exiting the boats, Frodo steps out and feels Boromir`s gaze upon him. Boromir, in turn, bows his head in desperation and anger. This is a premonition of what happens next. Read on in my next post.
Featured image by Ana Segota.