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Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is also known as Strider. He is first introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring, and becomes a central character in the story of The Lord of the Rings.

AppearancesEdit

LiteratureEdit

Template:Unreferenced section Template:IsildurHeirs

HistoryEdit

According to the appendices of The Return of the King, Aragorn, named after his ancestor Aragorn I, was born on March 1 in 2931 of the Third Age, the son of Arathorn II and his wife Gilraen. Through his ancestor Elendil (whom he closely resembled)[1] Aragorn was a descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur, Master Elrond's Half-elven twin brother and the first king of Númenor. Aragorn is descended from both of Elendil's sons, from Isildur through Arvedui, last King of Arthedain, and from Anárion through Arvedui's wife Fíriel.

When Aragorn was only two years old, his father was killed while pursuing Orcs. Aragorn was afterwards fostered in Rivendell by Elrond. At the request of his mother, his lineage was kept secret, as she feared he would be killed like his father and grandfather if his true identity as the descendant of Elendil and Heir of Isildur became known. Aragorn was renamed Estel and was not told about his heritage until he came of age in 2951.

Elrond revealed to "Estel" (hope in Sindarin) his true name and ancestry when he came of age, and delivered to him the shards of Elendil's sword Narsil, and also the Ring of Barahir. He withheld the Sceptre of Annúminas from him until he "came of the right" to possess it. It was also around this time that Aragorn met and fell in love with Arwen, Elrond's 2700-year-old daughter, who had newly returned from her mother's homeland of Lórien.

Aragorn thereafter assumed his proper role as the sixteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, and went into the wild, living with the remnants of his people, whose kingdom had been destroyed through civil and regional wars centuries before.

Aragorn met Gandalf the Grey in 2956, and they became close friends. At Gandalf's advice he and his followers began to guard a small land known as the Shire, inhabited by the diminutive and agrarian Hobbits, and he became known among the peoples just outside the Shire's borders as Strider.

From 2957 to 2980, Aragorn undertook great journeys, serving in the armies of King Thengel of Rohan (King Théoden's father), and Steward Ecthelion II of Gondor (father of Denethor). Many of his tasks helped to raise morale in the West and counter the growing threat of Sauron and his allies, and he acquired invaluable experience which he would later put to use in the War of the Ring. Aragorn served his lords in disguise and his name in Gondor and Rohan during that time was Thorongil (Eagle of the Star). With a small Gondorian squadron of ships, he led an assault on the long-standing rebel province of Umbar in 2980, burning many of the Corsairs' ships and personally slaying their lord during the battle on the Havens. After the victory at Umbar, "Thorongil" left the field and to the dismay of his men, went East.

Later in 2980, he visited Lórien, and there once again met Arwen. He gave her the heirloom of his House, the Ring of Barahir, and, on the hill of Cerin Amroth, Arwen pledged her hand to him in marriage, renouncing her Elvish lineage and accepting the Gift of Men: death.

Elrond withheld from Aragorn permission to marry his daughter until such time as his foster son should be king of both Gondor and Arnor. To Elrond's as well as Aragorn's knowledge, in order to marry a mortal his daughter would be required to choose mortality, and thus deprive the deathless Elrond of his daughter while the world lasted. Elrond was also concerned for Arwen's own happiness, fearing that in the end she might find death (her own and that of her beloved) too difficult to bear.

Before the events of The Lord of the Rings proper take place, Aragorn also travelled through the Dwarven mines of Moria, and to Harad, where (in his own words) "the stars are strange". Tolkien does not specify when these travels occurred.

In 3009, Gandalf grew suspicious of the ring belonging to the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, which was later discovered to be the One Ring, the core of the Dark Lord Sauron's evil power. Around this time Gandalf asked Aragorn to track the creature Gollum, who had previously possessed the Ring. This hunt led him all across Rhovanion, and he finally captured Gollum in the Dead Marshes north of Mordor. Aragorn then brought him as a captive to King Thranduil’s halls in Mirkwood, where Gandalf questioned him.

The Lord of the RingsEdit

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn joined Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's adopted heir, and three of his friends at the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree. These four had set out from the Shire to bring the One Ring to Rivendell. Aragorn, going by the nickname Strider, was aged 87 at that time, nearing the prime of life for one of royal Númenórean descent. With Aragorn's help the Hobbits escaped the pursuing Nazgûl and reached Rivendell. There Aragorn was chosen as member of the Fellowship of the Ring that was to accompany Frodo, who was charged with destroying the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. This Fellowship also included Gandalf, the hobbits Pippin and Merry along with Frodo's faithful gardener Samwise Gamgee, Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, and Boromir of Gondor. Before the company departed, Elven-smiths reforged the shards of Narsil into a sword, setting into the design of the blade seven stars (for Elendil) and a crescent moon (for Isildur), as well as many runes. This sword Aragorn took up and renamed Anduril (meaning “flame of the west” in the Sindarin language), and it was said to have shone with the light of the Sun and the Moon.

Aragorn accompanied the group through their attempted crossing of the pass of Caradhras, and subsequently through the mines of Moria. After Gandalf was lost in battle with the Balrog there, Aragorn led the company to Lothlórien and then down the river Anduin to the Falls of Rauros. Originally he had planned to go to Gondor and aid its people in the war, but after the loss of Gandalf he became increasingly concerned about his responsibilities to Frodo and the quest. Frodo, however, decided to continue his journey alone (accompanied now only by Sam). Here Boromir was slain by orcs while protecting Merry and Pippin, both of whom were eventually captured. After this breaking of the Fellowship, Legolas and Gimli accompanied Aragorn on the hunt for the Uruk-hai who had abducted the two younger Hobbits.

In The Two Towers, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli (by this time calling themselves the Three Hunters) encountered Éomer, who had recently been pursuing rumours of an Orc raid in the area. From Éomer, Aragorn learned that the Orcs who had kidnapped Merry and Pippin had been slaughtered, and that no Hobbits had been found among the remains. Dejected, he led Legolas and Gimli to the site of the battle. Clues led Aragorn to believe that the Hobbits might still be alive, prompting him to lead the party into Fangorn Forest. They did not find the Hobbits, but they did encounter the resurrected Gandalf the White (who they initially mistook for Saruman), sent back to continue his duties in Middle Earth. Gandalf told them that the Hobbits were in the care of the Ents of Fangorn. Together, the four travelled to Edoras, where Gandalf freed Théoden from Saruman's enchantment and helped him muster the Rohirrim against Saruman.

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli then helped the people of Rohan in the Battle of the Hornburg, in which they conclusively defeated Saruman's army. In order to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo, who was approaching Mordor, Aragorn used a palantír and revealed himself as the heir of Isildur to Sauron. Sauron probably believed that the One Ring had come into Aragorn's hands; therefore he made his assault on Minas Tirith prematurely and without adequate preparation.

In order to defend the city, Aragorn entered the Paths of the Dead, and summoned the Dead Men of Dunharrow who owed allegiance to the king of Gondor. It had been prophesied by Isildur and Malbeth the Seer that the Dead would be summoned once more to pay their debt for betraying Gondor millennia before. With their aid the Corsairs of Umbar were defeated. Aragorn, a small force of Rangers, and a large contingent of men and soldiers from the southern regions then sailed up the Anduin to Minas Tirith. When they arrived at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Aragorn unfurled a standard that Arwen had made for him which showed both the White Tree of Gondor along with the jewelled crown and seven stars of the House of Elendil. With the help of the southern forces the armies of Gondor and Rohan rallied and defeated Sauron's army.

The restoration of the line of Elendil to the throne of Gondor is a subplot of The Lord of the Rings; Aragorn's adventures not only aid Frodo in his Quest, but also bring him closer to his own kingship — which, though his by right and lineage, has been left open for centuries due to historical, legal, and military circumstances. The people of Gondor had been under the rule of the Stewards of Gondor for centuries, as it was widely doubted that any of the royal line still lived. Shortly after Isildur's departure, Meneldil, son of Anárion, had severed Gondor from Arnor politically, although the formal title of High King remained with the northern line (as Isildur was Elendil's eldest son). This arrangement had been reinforced by the Steward Pelendur about 1,200 years before when he rejected Arvedui's claim to the Throne of Gondor during a Gondorian succession crisis (Eärnil, a member of the House of Anárion, was eventually chosen as King instead). It is worth noting, however, that Arvedui had also based his claim on the fact that he had married a descendant of Anárion. As a descendant of Arvedui, Aragorn was a descendant of not only Elendil and Isildur but of the ruling family of Gondor founded by Elendil's other younger son and Isildur's brother, Anárion.

In The Return of the King, the Steward Denethor declared that he would not bow to a descendant of Isildur (years before, he had seen "Thorongil" as a rival to his father's favour). Aragorn healed Faramir, Denethor's heir, who had been expected to die; this won him immediate recognition by Faramir as the rightful heir to the throne, and his humility and self-sacrifice gained him the hearts of the inhabitants of Gondor's capital city. His healing abilities were noted also by the people of Gondor; as Ioreth said, "The hands of the King are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known". The people hailed him as King that same evening.

Despite his immediate success and popularity, however, and despite his claim to the throne through raising the royal banner, Aragorn decided to lay aside his claim for the time being. He knew that if he aggressively promoted his claim, rival claimants or debates as to his legitimacy were not out of the question, and this could be a fatal distraction for Gondor at a time when the West needed to be united against Sauron. So, to avoid conflict, after he had healed people during the night of March 15/16, he left Minas Tirith and symbolically refused to enter it again until he was crowned King on May 1.

In order to ensure safe passage across Mordor for Frodo to fulfil his quest, Aragorn then led the Army of the West out from Minas Tirith to make a diversionary feint on the Black Gate of Mordor itself in the Battle of the Morannon. Gandalf had been given supreme command of the war effort after the Pelennor Fields, and acted as chief spokesman in the parley with the Mouth of Sauron; but Aragorn commanded the allied troops during the battle and its aftermath.

Upon Sauron's defeat, Aragorn was crowned as King Elessar (translated as Elfstone in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya), a name given to him by Galadriel. (In Sindarin, another of Tolkien's languages, this becomes Edhelharn.) He became the twenty-sixth King of Arnor, thirty-fifth King of Gondor and the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom, though it would be several years before his authority was firmly re-established in Arnor. His line was referred to as the House of Telcontar (Telcontar being Quenya for "Strider" which was the name he was known by at Bree and the name which he was introduced with to the hobbits). Aragorn married Arwen shortly afterwards, and ruled the Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor until 120 of the Fourth Age. His reign was marked by great harmony and prosperity within Gondor and Arnor, and by a great renewal of cooperation and communication between Men, Elves, and Dwarves, fostered by his vigorous rebuilding campaign following the war. Aragorn led the forces of the Reunited Kingdom on military campaigns against some Easterlings and Haradrim, re-establishing rule over much territory that Gondor had lost in previous centuries. He died at the age of 210, after 120 years as king. He was succeeded on the throne by his son, Eldarion. Arwen, gravely saddened by the loss of her husband, gave up her mortal life shortly afterwards. Her grave was in Lothlórien. Arwen and Aragorn also had at least two unnamed daughters.

CharacteristicsEdit

Tolkien gives a brief but detailed description of Strider in The Fellowship of the Ring: lean, dark and tall, with shaggy dark hair "flecked with grey", grey eyes, and a stern pale face.[2] In "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" in the Appendices, he was said to be often grim and sad, with unexpected moments of levity.[3] Some time after the publication of the books, Tolkien wrote that he was 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) tall.[4]

Aragorn possessed Elven wisdom due to his childhood in Rivendell with Elrond and the foresight of the Dúnedain. He was a skilled healer, notably with the plant athelas (also known as Kingsfoil). He was also a mighty warrior and an unmatched commander; after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, he, Éomer and Imrahil were said to be left unscathed, even though they had been in the thick of the fighting.[3] Due to his position as Isildur's heir, Aragorn had impressive powers for a Man, and, as the rightful owner of the palantíri could use the Orthanc stone in Sauron's despite.

Though there is no indication of him ever doubting his role and destiny as one of the leaders of the war against Sauron and the future king of the Reunited Kingdom (as in Peter Jackson's film), he was not immune to self-doubt, as he doubted the wisdom of his decisions while leading the Fellowship after the loss of Gandalf in Moria, and blamed himself for many of their subsequent misfortunes.[2][5]

On one occasion, his pride (or reverence for his heritage) led to complications, as he refused to disarm and leave his sword Andúril (a priceless heirloom of Númenor and one of the weapons which slew Sauron) at the door of Edoras, as Théoden had required, and only did so after Gandalf left his own sword Glamdring (also of high lineage) behind. Even so, he swore that death would come to anyone else who touched it (whether by his own hand or by some magic is left unsaid).[5]

Names and titlesEdit

Aragorn, son of Arathorn was called the Dúnadan ("Man of the West/Númenórean", given by Bilbo in Rivendell), Longshanks (given by Bill Ferny in Bree), Strider (by which he was known in Bree and the outlying areas), and Wingfoot (given by Éomer after discovering that Aragorn had travelled forty-five leagues in four days in pursuit of Pippin, Merry, and their Uruk-hai captors). He was the founder of the House of Telcontar (Telcontar is "Strider" in Quenya, after the mistrustful nickname given him by the rustics of the North), which ruled Gondor well into the Fourth Age of Middle-earth; in records, his full ruling name is given as Elessar Telcontar ("Elfstone Strider"). Envinyatar (meaning "the renewer") is another name by which he referred to himself when he claimed the elfstone. He was known as Estel ("hope") before coming of age, to protect his true lineage from the Enemy when they were seeking the heir of Isildur. He was also known as Thorongil ("Eagle of the Star") in his younger days when he travelled across Middle-earth and took up service in Rohan and Gondor (often by protecting camps and raiding enemy strongholds like he did when he crossed the Corsairs of Umbar).

Concept and creationEdit

The concept of Aragorn's person and fate underwent a series of developments and name changes before reaching his final identity, as Tolkien did not have the full plot of the story or its background planned-out when he started writing, but rather he "discovered" it as he wrote.

IdentityEdit

The "first germ" of the character that later evolved into Aragorn or Strider was a peculiar hobbit met by Bingo Bolger-Baggins (precursor of Frodo Baggins) at the inn of The Prancing Pony. His description and behaviour, however, was already quite close to the final story, with the difference that the hobbit wore wooden shoes, and was nicknamed Trotter for the "clitter-clap" sound that they produced. He was also accounted to be "one of the wild folk — rangers", and he played the same role in Frodo's journey to Rivendell as in The Lord of the Rings.[6]

Later Tolkien hesitated about the true identity of "Trotter" for a long time. One of his notes suggested that the Rangers should not be hobbits as originally planned, and that this would mean that Trotter was either a Man, or a hobbit who associated himself with the Rangers and was "very well known" (within the story).[7] The latter suggestion was linked to an early comment of Bingo: "I keep on feeling that I have seen him somewhere before".[8] Tolkien made a proposal that Trotter might be Bilbo Baggins himself, but rejected that idea.[7]

Another suggestion was that Trotter was "Fosco Took (Bilbo's first cousin), who vanished when a lad, owing to Gandalf".[7] This story was further elaborated, making Trotter a nephew of Bilbo, named Peregrin Boffin, and an elder cousin of Frodo. He was said to have run away after he came of age,[9] some twenty years before Bilbo's party, and had helped Gandalf in tracking Gollum later. A hint was also given as to why Trotter wore wooden shoes: he had been captured by the Dark Lord in Mordor and tortured, but saved by Gandalf; a note was added by Tolkien in the margin, saying that it would later be revealed that Trotter had wooden feet.[10]

The conception of Trotter being a hobbit was discarded with the following recommencing of writing; another short-lived idea was to make Trotter "a disguised elf − friend of Bilbo's in Rivendell,” and a scout from Rivendell who "pretends to be a ranger".[11]

Quite soon Tolkien finally settled on the Mannish identity of Trotter, from the beginning introducing him as a "descendant of the ancient men of the North, and one of Elrond's household", as well as the name Aragorn.[11] While the history of Númenor and the descendants of Elros and Elendil was not fully developed, the germs of it were in existence, and would come to be connected with The Lord of the Rings as the character of Aragorn developed. Thus the evolution of the history of the Second and Third Ages was dependent on the bringing of Trotter to association with them.

Further character developmentsEdit

The development of Aragorn's connection to Gondor was long and complex, as was his association with Boromir. Initially it is said that Aragorn's forefathers were the exiles of Númenor who ruled over the people of Ond (early name of Gondor), but were driven out by the Wizard King "when Sauron raised a rebellion".[12] The story of the two branches of Elendil's descendants ruling over two kingdoms of Men through many generations only emerged gradually; at one time, Tolkien even seems to have conceived only three generations between Isildur and Aragorn.[13]

One significant feature which was not established until late stages was Aragorn's relationship with Arwen. When Tolkien first introduced Éowyn, the interest which she showed towards Aragorn was not one-sided, with suggestions in notes that they would marry at the end of the story. Another proposal was done soon, that Éowyn would die to save or avenge Théoden, and Aragorn would never marry after her death.[14]

The first mention of Elrond's daughter, named Finduilas, was in reference to the banner which she made for Aragorn,[15] but Tolkien did not give any hint whether she had any further part to play. The references to her marriage with Aragorn were made later,[16] but it was explicitly stated only near the completion of the book.[17] It is only in his working on the appendices for The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien recorded the full tale of Aragorn and Arwen.[18]

A passing idea was that Galadriel gave her Ring to Aragorn, and that he would accordingly be titled the "Lord of the Ring".[16]

Rejected namesEdit

The original nickname Trotter was retained for a long while, and Tolkien decided to change it to Strider only after the story was completed. There were also several experimental translations of Trotter to Sindarin: Padathir, Du-finnion, and Rimbedir, with Ethelion possibly being equivalent to Peregrin (Boffin).[19] Instead of the latter title "the Dúnadan", Quenya Tarkil ('noble Man') was first used, synonym with Númenórean.[20]

Tolkien hesitated for some time about Strider's "real" name. Although Aragorn was the first suggestion when the Mannish descent was settled, it was changed a number of times. At one point Tolkien decided that an Elvish name does not suit a Man, and thus altered it from Aragorn via Elfstone to Ingold, where the last one is an Old English name with ing- representing 'west'. Later, however, a new plot element was introduced: Galadriel's gift of a green stone, and Tolkien reverted the usage to Elfstone in order to make an additional connection.[21] This was retained into the final version of the legendarium as a side name and a translation of Elessar.

Among other names to be used instead of Elfstone Tolkien considered Elfstan, Elfmere, Elf-friend, Elfspear, Elfwold and Erkenbrand, with various Elvish forms: Eldamir, Eldavel, Eledon, Qendemir. The name of Aragorn's father also passed through many transient forms: Tolkien intended Aramir or Celegorn to go in pair with Aragorn before settling upon Arathorn; Elfhelm and Eldakar with Elfstone and Eldamir; and Ingrim with Ingold.[21]

AdaptationsEdit

File:BakshiAragorn.jpg
File:ROTKTVAragorn.jpg
File:Aragorn500ppx.png

Aragorn was voiced by John Hurt in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film version of The Lord of the Rings. Bakshi's Aragorn, unlike all other portrayals that were to follow to date, has no beard. This actually conforms to a statement appearing in Unfinished Tales that implicitly says that Aragorn was not supposed to have one, due to his Elvish ancestry (Elves did not grow beards).[22] However, Tolkien actually wrote elsewhere that Elves did have beards; in The Lord of the Rings itself Círdan is described as having a beard. Also, some viewers and critics have said that this version of Aragorn looks Native American,[23][24][25][26] though not necessarily to the detriment of the film.

Aragorn was voiced by Theodore Bikel in the 1980 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, made for television. Robert Stephens voiced Aragorn in the 1981 BBC Radio serial of The Lord of the Rings.

In the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy (2001–2003) directed by Peter Jackson, Aragorn is played by Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen who took over the role from Stuart Townsend after four days of shooting because they felt he was too young for the role. Mortensen, whose son Daniel convinced him to take the role, won acclaim for his performance.Template:Citation needed In these movies, Aragorn begins his journey with the Fellowship with no intention of claiming the kingship; he only arrives at such a decision in the third film after spending much time battling his own self-doubt. This specific element of self-doubt is not present in Tolkien's books, where Aragorn intends to claim the throne all along once he has the opportunity. Among other actors to be considered were Vin Diesel and Chuck Norris,Template:Citation needed who both auditioned but were not chosen, Nicolas Cage and Daniel Day-Lewis,Template:Citation needed who both declined. Russell Crowe and Jason Patric were New Line Cinema's backup plan in case a deal with Mortensen could not be reached.Template:Citation needed

On stage, Aragorn was portrayed by Evan Buliung in the three-hour production of The Lord of the Rings, which opened in 2006 in Toronto, Canada. In the London production the role was played by Jerome Pradone, and the role was taken over by Robbie Scotcher on 23 June 2008. In the United States, Aragorn was portrayed by Josh Beshears in the Cincinnati, Ohio production of The Return of the King (2003) for Clear Stage Cincinnati. At Chicago's Lifeline Theatre, Aragorn was played by Robert McLean in the 1999 production of The Two Towers and the 2001 production of "The Return of the King."

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. "He was Aragorn son of Arathorn, the nine and thirtieth heir in the right line from Isildur, and yet more like Elendil than any before him."Template:ME-ref
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:ME-ref
  3. 3.0 3.1 Template:ME-ref
  4. The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion: "The Ring Goes South," p. 272
  5. 5.0 5.1 Template:ME-ref
  6. Template:ME-ref
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Return of the Shadow, pp 223–4.
  8. The Return of the Shadow, p. 208–8.
  9. The Return of the Shadow, pp. 371, 385.
  10. The Return of the Shadow, pp. 401, 413.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Template:ME-ref
  12. The Treason of Isengard, p. 116.
  13. The Treason of Isengard, pp. 360–1.
  14. The Treason of Isengard, pp. 445-8.
  15. Template:ME-ref
  16. 16.0 16.1 The War of the Ring, pp. 425–6.
  17. Template:ME-ref
  18. Template:ME-ref
  19. The Return of the Shadow, pp. 476, 478, 488-9.
  20. The Treason of Isengard, p. 499.
  21. 21.0 21.1 See the index to The Treason of Isengard and pp. 277-8.
  22. "In a note written in 1972 or later, among the last writings of my father's on the subject of Middle-earth, there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless)."Template:ME-ref
  23. http://www.coldfusionvideo.com/l/lordofrings.html
  24. http://www.stomptokyo.com/movies/l/lord-of-the-rings-anim.html
  25. http://www.mutantreviewers.com/vlotr1.html
  26. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077869/usercomments

External linksEdit

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