A man with only one focus. A woman with a sole want in her heart. Before the battle commences, they are separated into gender appropriate roles. The man cannot but follow his King`s command. The woman cannot but do the same and follow the rest of the women and children into safety. Their lives intertwine in one brief encounter.
…. but prepare for the worst
The guards hasten people into the caves of Helm`s Deep. Looks of panic and worry cloud their faces. The attack on Helm`s Deep is certain, and the anticipation of it builds fear and terror. With a small chance of success, of winning the oncoming battle, they crowd the caves, knowing their only option is to wait it out.
“Expect the best but prepare for the worst”. This proverb is something people automatically embed into their minds when situations like these arise. Our minds make plans and strategies on how to best handle a particular situation. They always settle on the worst-case scenario and work from there.
If we prepare for the worst, then any other scenario can be dealt with. It is only a matter of knowing your options and working to solve every possible outcome. As a result, when it comes to it, the mind and body sync with each other without a chance of paralysis with fear.
Once we know the remaining option, the emotions that had risen while planning for all the scenarios don`t interfere with the execution. We then know what we have to do, the emotional strain of the actions executed are dealt with at a later time. There is no room for fear, terror, tears or cries, there is only the option we have to go through to protect ourselves.
Aragorn: “We`ll place the reserves along the wall. They can support the archers from above the gate.”
Legolas: “Aragorn, you must rest. You are no use to us half alive.”
Aragorn appears to be a better strategist than King Théoden. Whilst the King gave his orders and retreated to prepare with his man for the attack, Aragorn, having seen the magnitude of evil coming their way, wants to fortify the Keep with as many men as possible. He might have a better understanding of the oncoming force than the King himself and he is not willing to rely on the structural integrity of the Keep.
On the other hand, he has only just escaped death. Not having slept, eaten or in any way rested since his arrival, Legolas is concerned with his well-being, rightly pointing out his limited usage in the battle itself. The look in Aragorn`s eyes seems to stray from any attention Legolas is desperately trying to obtain. Legolas is blatantly ignored. His mind is focused on the battle at hand, and his own needs escape him.
Aragorn, I believe, busies himself with strategies of defense and combat only to escape his own inner world. When emotional confusion starts to claim our faculties, our minds find ways to escape.
Feeling confused, emotionally and physically spent can put our minds into overdrive. Some people become clearer in their decision making, others appear useless from lack of bodily necessities. Aragorn is pushing himself, in my opinion, so as not to grieve for his lost love.
Since the Evenstar is fading and Arwen is leaving the shores of Middle-Earth, there is only one thing he can concentrate on, and only one thing he can influence now, the defense of Helm`s Deep. His capacity and ability as a leader are getting stronger. Fate and the intervention of Gandalf had led him to this oncoming battle.
Every obstacle he faced up until now, he conquered, this is only a test of how courageous he is in letting his true self shine. He was born to lead and, as proven with the taking over leadership of the Fellowship and subsequently his Two Hunters, it comes to him naturally. People are drawn to his sense of leadership, nobility, calm and decisiveness. A true leader of the people.
Want of renown
Éowyn: “Aragorn! I`m to be sent with the women into the caves.”
Aragorn: “That is an honorable charge.”
Éowyn: “To mind the children, to find food and bedding when the men return. What renown is there is that?”
Éowyn strives for renown. She fears the cage of the caves, waiting for the battle to end, only to help the women and children and take care of the men upon return.
She has been a care-taker of her uncle and that role she has done without ever seeking or wanting renown. It was a role she had to do and it came naturally. Now though, she wants to take part and claim the role she was born to play, that of a warrior.
Her character is such that it oozes strength and spite. She has all the qualities needed in a battle situation. Éowyn senses fear, as all the men do too, but she doesn`t shy away from this kind of situation. She wants to face her fear to demonstrate and prove herself as more than just a stereotypical woman.
Éowyn is furious at the charge she was given. She comes to Aragorn because he was the only one interested in her wants and fears. Now, though, her fears have become reality. This is exactly the charge she was afraid would be put before her. It is only logical that she would go into the caves with the other women, for she is a woman herself. However, she doesn`t see herself as one.
This is not to say that she lacks any feminine qualities or is a tomboy kind of a woman, this means she sees herself as a human being. She is a person in the first place, her womanhood comes secondly. The fact that she was born woman is a consequence of biology, and, in a manner of speaking, an accident. She might as well have been born a man.
There are people who identify with the gender they were born with and try to fit the role and its responsibilities. However, there are also people who do not want or even care about the role they were born with. It doesn`t mean they don`t enjoy their gender or have a need to change it. They just feel it insignificant in their own definition of themselves.
Before anything else, we are human beings, individuals with our own wants, needs, talents, and fears. This is what makes us unique and human. Being a man or a woman is only a byproduct, something we couldn`t influence at birth.
A valid argument
Aragorn, knowing her mind, presents the King`s order to Éowyn as honorable, which indeed it is. However, he also knows that would not satisfy her want of showing courage and going beyond what she is.
Aragorn: “My lady, a time may come for valor without renown. Who then will your people look to in the last defense?”
Éowyn: “Let me stand at your side.”
Aragorn finds a suitable argument for her. It stands to reason that if they were to fail to protect the Keep, and the enemy were to breach the Deeping Wall, the women and children hidden safely in the caves would need guidance. They would need her to lead them away from the Keep.
In the event of the King`s death and Éomer`s, she would, in essence, be their replacement The rebuilding of lives in a practical and emotional manner would be her task. But this is the worst-case scenario, and one that she doesn`t believe would happen. Therefore, she seeks to make her valor known now, when the battle approaches.
As she listens to Aragorn`s argument, she mover ever so slightly closer to him. An uncontrollable draw moves her closer to him. She enjoys his manner of thinking, his calmness, his understanding of her anger, which, in turn, attracts her to him. Which is why she asks to stay by his side. Want of renown is one thing, standing beside the man you love in a situation that may mean the loss of his life is quite another.
A declaration of love
Aragorn: “It is not in my power to command it.”
Éowyn: “You do not command the others to stay! They fight beside you because they would not be parted from you. Because they love you. I`m sorry.”
Aragorn is well aware of his station and as such he proclaims not to be able to grant her wish. Although she knows this to be true, she also sees that Aragorn`s leadership draws her people in without him ever asking to follow him, for they sense they can have confidence in him as a leader and feel safe in his presence.
She feels the same. However, she feels a lot more than security in his presence. She tries to speak for all the people fighting alongside him but fails to stop herself as she understands that what she is declaring are her own feelings for him. Éowyn segued into a declaration of her lover without realizing it.
After feeling loss, with Aragorn presumed dead, now on the eve of a battle that might claim his life, she has only this chance to tell him how she feels. Aragorn is not able to look into her eyes. He cannot reciprocate these feelings and so he does not answer her.
A silent rejection
After a moment of silence, he looks into her eyes with an apologetic expression in his eyes. This catches her off guard, for she might have thought that since his love was on her way to the Undying Lands, he would not be taken. She was, however, mistaken.
When you love someone, even if there is a distance between you or the relationship does not come to fruition, the feelings don`t fade easily.
Aragorn may be grieving and for all he knows, he may be grieving forever, but his sense of loyalty, love, and togetherness towards Arwen is still very much alive inside him. Feelings do not change when a situation is altered. They remain for as long as we nurture them.
Aragorn`s silent rejection leaves Éowyn feeling stunned, embarrassed without the courage to look into his eyes again. Her apology is the last sentiment she displays in front of him, as the battle approaches and she moves into the caves with the other women and children.
Aragorn looks after her as she leaves, wanting to somehow ease the pain of rejection he just inflicted upon her. But there are no words that leave his lips. His eyes take on an apologetic look, for that is all he can give her.
The atmosphere in the Helm`s Deep armory culminates. The strain of the situation brings out different reactions from the Three Hunters and King Théoden himself loses himself in self-doubt. Read all about it in my next post.