The negotiations with the Mouth of Sauron had been cut short. Aragorn did not take his word for the death of Frodo. There is still a belief that he is alive and struggling to climb the slopes of Orodrúin in an attempt to destroy the Ring. As long as hope is alive, Aragorn will do his darndest to help his little friend.
The Eye has lost its focus on Frodo as soon as Aragorn slashed the head of the Mouth of Sauron. Now, it looks to the entrance to its land. The killing of its representative was also a cue for the Mordor Orc army to prepare for the attack.
The Black Gate opens with a swarm of Orcs headed towards the troops. They all take a step back seeing the pouring out of enemies. Aragorn takes charge of calming his men.
Hold your ground! Hold your ground. Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!Aragorn
The troop needs encouragement from their leader. The fear they feel is a normal reaction to what awaits them, but that does not mean they have to give up. Aragorn identifies with them, for he too feels the fear he sees in their eyes. He is one of them. He fought his way to becoming King, not because he had to, but because he wanted to earn his title. This is why he can identify with his men and they can believe in him.
One of them
The respect they have towards him comes from him fighting with them in both the battle of Helm’s Deep as well as that of Pelennor fields. Aragorn never presented himself as having a particular birthright to the Gondorian throne nor did he superimpose himself as a superior warrior. He held his own by fighting amongst the same men who now stand before him.
As the situation increased in danger with a time constraint, he slowly but surely took to decision-making and leadership and even motivation when Théoden lost all hope. This particular trait of his has painted him as an incredible force among the men of Rohan.
Aragorn has now reached the point where he himself feels confident enough to stand before his men and encourage them to fight this one more day. There are enough reasons to back down. However, for all they have suffered and all the loved ones they have lost, they need to fight this last fight. If for nothing else than for those two defenseless Hobbits wearing almost only their skins, struggling to relieve the world of its fiercest enemy.
The soldiers, although still feeling fear, summon courage in spite of it. They draw their swords, preparing a defense against the Orcs.
From climb to a crawl
Frodo and Sam start their climb of Orodrúin just as the Orc army encircles the army of men.
The two Hobbits are in close proximity to the fiery peak of Mount Doom. So close, and yet so far away. They are both too exhausted to continue their climb upon this ashy gravelly surface that makes it impossible to hold any kind of grip. They both fall to the ground. Wanting to scale the slopes further but without enough strength to do so, Frodo tries to crawl. He can only manage a short distance before he collapses.
The two battles
The army outside of the Black Gate prepares for battle. There are now two “battles” occurring simultaneously, the men against the Orcs and Frodo and Sam against their own exhaustion and weakness. One battle is an outward one, whilst the other is an invisible one, the battle that rages inside of them.
On the one hand, Frodo and Sam are within sight of their goal. Their spirits and physical conditions have deteriorated to the point where they cannot even move. They have not eaten or drank or slept for who knows how long. The lack of fulfilling their primary needs leads to a weakened state of mind which at this point can only crave the end of the journey.
Side by side with a friend
Gimli: “Never thought I’d die fighting side by side with an Elf.”
Legolas: “What about side by side with a friend?”
Gimli: “Aye, I could do that.”
For all their good-natured ribbing, counting dead Orcs in a competition against each other and the historical discrepancy between the two races, they now crown their friendship. Both of them may have had different ideas of how they would meet their death and fighting in close proximity of one another, under one banner, may have been unimaginable a couple of hundred years ago. The fact that the two have formed a somewhat unusual friendship is a testament to what is possible.
As Gimli looks upon the army of the Orcs surrounding them, he is reminded with whom he will now face death. Legolas has considered him his friend for almost their entire journey. The first time he showed his concern for Gimli was their capture by the Rohirrim when they were banned from their realm by Gríma Wormtongue. Legolas raising his bow and arrow at the men in order to protect Gimli was evidence enough of his protectiveness towards him.
Considering Gimli’s stature in a world of men, Legolas became something of a big brother to him, always there to protect him when he needed it. Now they stand on the equal ground facing the same fate but reassured in having each other.
Evoking the Shire
Sam crawls up to Frodo and takes him in his arms.
Do you remember the Shire, Mister Frodo? It’ll be spring soon, and the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket and they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields. And eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?Sam
In an attempt to console Frodo, Sam uses vivid imagery of the Shire in spring to evoke ease and comfort. He cannot know what Frodo is going through at this moment, but he tries his best to keep Frodo’s mind occupied with something other than the Void. Although he now too believes there will not be a journey back, Sam nevertheless evokes the memories of the Shire to heighten both their spirits.
It would be cruel to believe in never seeing the Shire again, and still using it to make someone feel better. And Sam is not a cruel person. So, I suspect he still believed in them accomplishing their task and the two of them seeing the Shire in spring again. On the other hand, Sam is using this imagery that seems to come to him effortlessly, which in itself indicates that he has been using the same imagery to make himself feel better as well, for he is the one whose eyes stare into blank space as he recalls the Shire.
These mental images are keeping him alive, spiritually at least. They are a sign of hope that still remains within him. They took the journey to save the Shire, so it is only natural for him to remember it as it was before they left, so that he might hold on to something positive and pure. Since nothing else surrounds them but the grey ashy ground and poisonous air, he needs to use his imagination to conjure a positive reference from which he can drain inspiration and motivation.
The reality of the Void
Frodo opens his eyes and stares blindly at Sam.
No, Sam, I can’t recall the taste of food. Nor the sound of water. Or the touch of grass. I’m naked in the dark. There’s nothing… no veil… between me and the wheel of fire! I can see him with my waking eyes!Frodo
For all of Sam’s efforts to depict the Shire for the two of them, Frodo cannot recall anything for himself, not even imagine it. He has come to the point of no return. This lack of senses that he describes for Sam are the same ones Gollum told us about at the beginning of the Return of the King. Now, Frodo and Gollum are almost on the same level playing field, the one has no hopes of a return to his former self, and the other follows in his footsteps.
Being this close to the Ring’s creator, the feeling and surroundings of the Void he first lost himself in Bree, is now all that he can see, without even having to put the Ring on his finger. The Void surrounds him completely blinding his eyes and numbing his senses.
Frodo is at his most vulnerable and alone. No one can help him snap out of it, for his reality is a different one than that of Sam. Sam may be experiencing depression and hopelessness being in this barren wasteland. But Frodo sees a much darker reality, one that only he is privy to, making his existence a very lonely one.
He ain’t heavy
Then let us be rid of it, once and for all! Come on, Mister Frodo. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you! Come on!Sam
Sam’s action in this scene is one of the heroes. It is here that we acknowledge Sam as the hero of the main story in the third film. He had been self-sacrificing, patient and supportive of Frodo the entire journey. Now though, he has taken Frodo into his own hands and used his own weakened body strength to aid him in accomplishing his task. For all that he feels himself and all that he has been deprived of, he still places the needs of his friend first. This is the ultimate representation of heroism in the simplest and purest of forms. Sam lifts Frodo onto his back and staggers up the mountainside.
The oncoming battle in front of the Black Gate has yet to commence. But first, there is a special meeting that Sauron was waiting for. His Eye emanates light towards Aragorn and calls out to him.
Aragorn is stopped in his tracks. His sword drops from its initial position of defense. It would seem Sauron had disarmed him. Aragorn’s eyes cannot but look in the direction of the light. The voice tempts him to surrender to its power of persuasion. Sauron uses the Elessar denomination, which Aragorn is yet to claim. However, the weakness he still carries inside him for power overpowers him for a split second.
His eyes well up with tears as he turns to face Gandalf who is holding Frodo’s mithril vest in his hands and looking at Aragorn questioningly.
Aragorn’s lips widen into a slight smile as the vest reminds him of the love and friendship he has for Frodo. He grasps his sword upright and charges towards the Orcs. Right after him run Merry and Pippin screaming in determination. The rest of the troop takes to charging towards the Orcs. They all express their will power and accumulating courage through screaming their hearts out. There is nothing for them to lose now, but their own lives, which they have already forfeited.
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