To flee and hide does not grant safety. It only brings a false sense of security. The anticipation of the enemy`s next move stirs the fragile safety. We can run and hide from many different situations, feelings, thoughts, but that doesn`t mean they would not catch up with us. Facing something, however terrifying, eliminates the feelings of dread that haunt us if we don`t.
Théoden has made a decision that brought his people to safety. His inner world, however, has not become a more peaceful place because of it. The feelings of grief, sadness, loss and overall fear still roam around freely. Try as he might to keep them in check for the sake of his people, they influence his every move.
A great host
Unbeknownst to Théoden still, Aragorn gallops into Helm`s Deep. A man they have taken for dead presents himself. He will become the King`s most fearless ally.
Upon seeing him conversing with Legolas, Éowyn`s disposition changes from desperation to joy and hope. Tears of joy fill her eyes, and the subtle expression of her face renews confidence. Aragorn`s arrival now solidifies the strength of the Eorlingas. He was the piece that was missing, the piece that glues faith and hope together. The hope of a new day is all they are left with.
Théoden: “A great host, you say?”
Aragorn: “All Isengard is emptied.”
Théoden: “How many?”
Aragorn: “Ten thousand strong, at least.”
Théoden: “Ten thousand?”
Aragorn: “It is an army bred for a single purpose: To destroy the world of Men. They will be here by nightfall.”
Théoden: “Let them come.”
A terrifying purpose
The magnitude of the army approaching Helm`s Deep is staggering. Théoden may have had his reservations about a few hundred finding them in their hideaway, but this number scares him straight. In that single instance, he knows his army does not stand a chance against such a vast number of opponents.
To make matters worse, Aragorn confirms his darkest fears, they come to wipe them all out. An overpowering army fitted with a single focus. If this were an oncoming battle for territory, the opposing army would have been satisfied with claiming the Hornburg and letting the people escape as they could, particularly women and children.
However, as the destruction of a race is their goal, and their motivation to taste human flesh and blood, there is little any army could do against such hate. For it is the pure feeling of hate the Uruk-hai carry with them.
Aragorn fears them, as his eyes plainly show. Both he and Théoden are stopped in their tracks. Théoden, although finding this information terrifying, becomes angered which in turn hastens his action by giving orders and forming defenses around Helm`s Deep.
The King prepares his defenses
I want every man and strong lad able to bear arms to be ready for battle by nightfall.Théoden
Théoden is preparing for battle by using every able-bodied man and boy. There isn`t much else he can do at this point. The fact that there are only a few hours until the battle begins, there isn`t much time to have a skilled army.
Not everyone who can hold a sword and a shield can face such terror as that of battle. Théoden, however, needs numbers in order to at least seem as if he were ready for nightfall.
Théoden: “We will cover the causeway and the gate from above. No army has ever breached the Deeping Wall or set foot inside the Hornburg!”
Gimli: “These are no rabble of mindless Orcs. These are Uruk-hai. Their armor is thick and their shields broad.”
Théoden: “I have fought many wars, Master Dwarf. I know how to defend my own Keep.”
Although not certain of a solid defense, Théoden answers Gimli with utter surety. He believes he can counter any strike Saruman can throw at him. As many wars as he had fought in the past, do not, in reality, give him any leverage. There has not been a force of this number or of this particular race before, so Théoden cannot know what to expect.
Superposition and arrogance
However, in order not to appear weak, or unprepared, he counters Gimli`s argument by presenting himself superior to whatever thought this Dwarf might have. A bit of arrogance is visible in Théoden`s demeanor, and in the Dwarf`s as well.
Théoden is king and as such he must maintain confidence in himself and his army that this battle can be won. The fact that he demonstrates arrogance and superiority is only to mask his own insecurity and doubt in the afore made decision. When we don`t want to feel or appear weak in front of another, then superposition and arrogance work to awake the feelings of weakness and inferiority of the other person.
What we don`t want to feel ourselves, we awake in others by judgment and criticism. It makes us temporarily feel better about ourselves but doesn`t resolve the problem we are having.
Théoden being left a shell of a once strong and noble leader clutches at every emotional means possible to ascertain his position. He cannot but act this way, given the loss he had suffered by the death of his son, and a loss of himself.
He had tasted the bitterness of darkness, the numbness, and personal prison while he was under Saruman`s spell. A fear of feeling that way again is what drives his emotional stubbornness now. He has to appear strong, although his inner world may be crumbling. But if his spirit falters, there is no one his people can trust, at this moment, to lead them or protect them.
Both Aragorn and Legolas comfort Gimli, as Théoden retorts him in an unpleasant manner. All of them understand the strain that Théoden feels, they may not be able to relate to it, but they certainly know when to keep silent. They all understand the peril that is about to come to their doorstep, but they all react in their own way.
The Three Hunters are respectful towards the King, but amongst themselves know exactly what awaits them. Gimli is left feeling defeated in the argument. He had raised a good point, but Théoden assures him that he knows what he is doing. And indeed he does. Only the night will reveal how true Gimli`s statement actually is.
A false sense of security
They will break upon this fortress like water on rock. Saruman`s hordes will pillage and burn. We`ve seen it before. Crops can be resown, homes rebuilt. Within these walls, we will outlast them.Théoden
Théoden`s tactic to overcome this battle is to stay hidden within the walls of Helm`s Deep. Knowing he won`t be able to defend the Keep, he relies on its structural stability to defend them from their enemies. They are safe within these walls. He has lived through enemies pillaging and burning their lands, and every time they rebuilt their homes and started anew. This is what he is hoping would happen now, because that he could salvage.
Aragorn: “They do not come to destroy Rohan`s crops or villages. They come to destroy its people down to the last child.”
Théoden: “What would you have me do? Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance.”
Théoden remains faithful to his first instinct of hiding away in the same place they always had before. It is as if he chooses to ignore Aragorn`s plea for reasoning. But alas, Théoden holds to this idea only to encourage his men to stand and defend the Keep. That is the only breath of hope he can give them.
His men need to believe in the structural integrity and impenetrability of Helm`s Deep. Their own courage is almost non-existent, therefore, a more solid glimmer of hope provides them with the security they lack. This might give the men enough courage to stand and defend their own with pride and honor, giving whatever is left of them.
The King`s mind is occupied with the need for remembrance. He wants to make sure that this effort of theirs is passed on to generations and other races, as exemplary, heroic and courageous. Théoden has the need to leave something worth remembering behind him. Since his son has come to death and can therefore not carry on the name, a worthy battle may fill this need. He makes it a point of pride to lose honorably and valiantly.
No call for help
Aragorn: “Send out riders, my lord. You must call for aid.”
Théoden: “And who will come? Elves? Dwarves? We are not so lucky in our friends as you. The old alliances are dead.”
Aragorn: “Gondor will answer.”
Théoden: “Gondor?! Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell?! Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us?! Where was Gon…? No, my Lord Aragorn we are alone.”
There is a lot of rage boiling just beneath the surface. He hasn`t forgotten and he surely has not forgiven Gondor for not aiding Edoras in need. There is much resentment in his words mixed with sadness, for his eyes glisten with tears as his anger culminates.
His pride, however, is what keeps him from even calling for aid. He may not believe Gondor or any other race would answer, but he hasn`t even tried to ask for help. This is a common weakness in many, unfortunately. Saving face and keeping pride is at times much more important than one`s own life. Sometimes one would rather give up than ask for help.
I, therefore, believe it takes great courage to ask for help when your ego is screaming against it. To swallow pride and ask for help does not make us weak, it makes us strong and willing to fight for ourselves with all the means possible.
There isn`t much he can do at this moment, though, but prepare the people for the oncoming battle. Read on in my next post.
Featured photo by Stijn Te Strake on Unsplash.