Man on horseback

Siege of Gondor – Part 1

Faramir’s sacrifice for his country has brought death upon him and the rest of his garrison. They never stood a chance against the now Orc infested Osgiliath. To overtake it was a decision of a madman, of Denethor. Now that it is done and come to naught, the last able-bodied men willing to protect the city are gone.

Coming home

Of all the soldiers who lost their lives in that attack, only Faramir’s horse found his way back to the Citadel, dragging Faramir’s body by the stirrup. 

Open the gates! Quick!

Soldier

As Faramir’s horse enters the great gate of Minas Tirith, all that is left of a once valiant descendant of the House of Steward is a limp body protrude with arrows. With fear and tension building inside the walls of the city, due to the forces gathering outside of them, there now comes a feeling of horror. 

To know, or assume that someone has died is a completely different feeling from having to see this person dragged on the ground with no visible life signs. If there were only an assumption of death then some hope of life would still remain. However, when it is blatantly presented to all gathered it gives the feeling of horror a face. 

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In the shade of the White Tree

Quick! Hurry!

Irolas

In the hopes of preserving Faramir’s life in some way, the guards take him on a litter to the Citadel’s courtyard. They place the litter near the White Tree. It is almost a symbolic gesture, a metaphor. Here, beneath the symbol of hope lies the last successor to the Lord and Steward of Gondor. All hope is now lost. 

Disbelief

Denethor, in a state of disbelief, runs toward Faramir. 

Denethor: “Faramir? Say not that he has fallen.”

Irolas: “They were outnumbered. None survived.”

Denethor kneels beside his son. Although advised otherwise, his futile dream of strengthening Minas Tirith’s defenses by going after Osgiliath has proven fatal to all, including his own son. The look of disbelief in his face tells us that he thought his decision was right. Not a thought crossed his mind that he might be sending his son to death. He was very sure of himself and the reasoning behind his actions.

Sitting in his great hall, Denethor couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of evil that was gathering outside his door. Now, that he has emerged it is too late. The men are dead and the city is slowly but surely falling into enemy hands. 

The glorified son

Denethor placed his firstborn on a pedestal, glorifying him for his invincibility. It is only natural then that Boromir’s death raised confusion in Denethor. Even after the event of his death was explained, he still held the position of his son being this fearless warrior, raised to the level of a martyr almost. This, in turn, made Faramir even more inferior to his brother.

For Faramir, this only made things even more difficult than they were whilst his brother was alive. Now, his father put the burden of living up to his brother on his shoulders and expected him to carry it. Being a different character than Boromir, Faramir could have never pleased his father, even if the overtake of Osgiliath was possible. This he knew, but still carried out his father’s orders as Boromir would have done.

Denethor’s claim on his firstborn’s overemphasized ability gave way to futile decisions. All he thought about Boromir was false, as well as, all he thought about Faramir was false. He developed concepts of his sons’ character and stuck with it although they proved him wrong. 

Expectations

The guilt of the one surviving son of the Steward pushed Faramir to try and compensate for Boromir’s lack of presence. Faramir tried his best but ultimately failed. 

There is nothing and no one that can replace a deceased family member or any other person because everyone is unique. Denethor, of course, did not even consider this and used his only son and heir to fulfill an unattainable dream. Even if Boromir were alive he would not have been able to hold back the armies of Mordor, because the garrison would still hold the same number of soldiers as it did when Faramir led it. 

It is our expectations of other people and our perception of their character that disappoints us in the end, not the people themselves. We make our own reality and become disillusioned when it doesn’t work out. We only have ourselves to blame. 

If Denethor saw his sons the way they actually were, he could have developed a sense of empathy and compassion for them. Once they are gone, all the realizations on this subject are useless and serve only to hurt him and further his grief.

Gothmog

Gothmog, the leader of the Mordor armies now advancing on Minas Tirith, makes his appearance on a Warg. In a very arrogant and victorious way, Gothmog rides his beast through the ranks. He dismounts with difficulty on account of his bummed leg and arm. An Orc soldier offers his help to him but Gothmog refuses, in an effort not to look or seem disabled. He doesn’t want to lose face or have his pride bruised by being helped. As he looks upon the city, he takes a sniff. 

Gothmog: “Fear. The city is rank with it. Let us ease their pain. Release the prisoners!”

Skully: “Catapults! Ha!”

Desecration

The level of the gruesomeness of the Orcs undertaking exceeds the imagination. The poor slaughtered soldiers of Gondor do not even have peace in death. The Orcs beheaded the soldiers’ bodies. They now use the soldier’s heads, in various expressions of horror, as weapons against the guards of the Citadel placed along the city walls. 

Shields up!

Soldier

Without the ability to see what the catapults carry, the guards of Minas Tirith prepare their shields for the attack. As the catapult load reaches the soldiers, their faces contort in disgust. Their comrades’, friends’ heads fall to the ground. The screams of shock over this horrendous act of violence and desecration ripple through the walls of Minas Tirith. 

Self-interest

My sons are spent. My line has ended.

Denethor

It would seem the only thing that worried Denethor was losing an heir to his “throne”. Still, he does not consider the possibility of Aragorn taking his rightful place as the King of Gondor. Denethor figured as long as his sons were alive, they would succeed him, and the House of Stewards would live on. Now that this is not the case anymore, he has lost all that was important to him. 

To face himself for the demise of his sons and claim at least some of the responsibility for their death is, of course, a tough road to take. It takes a lot of self-reflection and introspection of the decisions made and actions undertaken. He couldn’t have known for sure that his decisions would bring such a tragic ending to his two sons.

However, had he been aware of his own greed for power and ambition, he could have refrained from deciding on their fates solely on a selfish and vain whim. 

Assigning blame

Pippin: “He’s alive!”

Denethor: “The house of Stewards has failed.”

Pippin: “He needs medicine, my lord!”

Denethor: “My line has ended!”

Denethor stumbles forward toward the city walls as if in a daze. His eyes seem to not register anything, they stare into nothingness. Not even the cries of Pippin over his son being alive, do not register with Denethor. He can’t hear or see clearly. Even his mental capacity is deteriorating rapidly, for he only repeats his own loss over and over again.

Pippin: “My lord!”

Denethor: “Rohan has deserted us. Théoden has betrayed me.”

As he sees the Mordor army attacking his city, his expression of grief turns to fear. He has not counted on such a vast number of Orcs and quite this ending to his reign. In seconds, his fear switches to rage. He has found a culprit for his current situation. It is not he who should have prepared his army for this attack, having foreseen it, no, but Rohan and its King are to blame for the devastation that is about to be unleashed.

The second part follows in my next post.

Photo by janeb13 on Pixabay.

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