Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Biding time for kingship

Just another way to look at it but...

We mentioned in class that Aragorn was biding his time, but my question is why Aragorn. Gondor has been kingless for some time now, and apparently the king has been around. Aragorn is proof at least for that. Aragorn’s daddy and his daddy and his daddy all should have been king. Even without the sword being “remade” those people were still descendents and rightful heirs. Plus if the fixing the sword is such a big deal, you would think that it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to be like, “Hey Elrond, want to do me a favor?” I’m just saying that waiting for the world to come to an end or “biding time” doesn’t really sound like all that great and noble.

This brings up a couple of questions. If you look at it that way, is Aragorn still the same type of hero? Was he really trying to be King the whole time and accepting the responsibility, or is he hiding from his nobility and responsibility? (Like his ancestors must have done)


Eileen Joy said...

Rocky: good question, but you've already partly answered your own question, "why Aragorn?", by referring to the fact of his lineage. So, yes, on one level, Aragorn is going to be king because of Isildur, regardless. On the other hand, it would appear that Tolkien was also trying to make the case that the best king is the one who "proves" himself: in battle, in stepping up to certain challenges, in being willing to put himself on the line for his subjects/his so-called "country," etc. So, by first introducing Aragorn as "Strider"--a kind of outlaw vagabond who wanders around like a kind of moral pirate--Tolkien sets up a narrative arc through which Strider can "become" Aragorn and prove himself as the rightful king, not just because he is in the right blood-line, but because he possesses the right "character." In a sense, then, the novels participate in what I would call a certain medieval mythology of "kingship": that kings, deep down, are "rightful" rulers, both in terms of their genealogy and also their inner character, and maybe even in the divine status conferred upon them by "God." In reality, this was seldom the case. So the vision that Tolkien gives us of history is, of course, overly romanticized.

Rocky said...

My question was more along the lines of why didn't Aragorn's dad or grandfather claim kingship? They were the rightful heirs too weren't they? Seems like no wanted to be king. Even Aragorn waited 80 plus years.