Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Aragorn Never Had an Identity Crisis

This came up the other day, so I had to look it up. Any classic character that is adapted to contemporary media is consistently mutilated into something they’re not. Most recently this can be observed in the many edits made to Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in Disney’s cartoon adaptation of the original Star Wars film. It seems a small thing, maybe, but this is how people that hate us actively rewrite our culture right in front of us. Plenty of well meaning people take the knockoff for the original while their imaginations are dimmed. Before long, the waters are so muddied the original inspirational character concept is lost in the noise.

Now about Aragorn: was he reluctant to take up the mantle of king? Was he at all ambivalent about his identity and heritage? Let’s check back to the Council of Elrond and see.

Aragorn introduces himself in response to Boromirs tale of the dream about Imladris, a broken sword, and a halfling. Elrond identifies his lineage. Frodo reveals the ring. Bormir is still confused, thinking that the dream must indicate the doom of Minas Tirith. Then Aragorn says this:

The words were not the doom of Minas Tirith, but doom and great deeds are indeed at hand. For the Sword that was Broken is the Sword of Elindil that broke beneath him when he fell. It has been treasured by his heirs when all other heirlooms were lost; for it was spoken of old among us that it should be made again when the Ring, Isildur’s Bane, was found. Now you have seen the sword that you have sought, what would you ask? Do you wish for the House of Elendil to return to the Land of Gondor?

So… Aragorn announces himself as the true king at the Counil of Elrond to the steward’s eldest son. The reason he waited is because of prophecies regarding the ring, not due to some lame heroic journey that people decided that every single character arc has to follow starting some time in the late seventies.

Returning as king is politically complicated in war time, yes, particularly with the steward descending into madness. And it’s pointless anyway so long as Sauron is not defeated. With that miraculously taken care of, the way is opened for Aragorn to marry his betrothed with her father’s permission. Which was the plan all along.

He was humble, but he never compromised. He was, perhaps, an inferior guide for the fellowship in comparison to Gandalf. But he did his duty in that regard right up until circumstances dictated that he take another course– one that would involve leading an army of undead among other things…!

He never doubted his identity. He never shirked his responsibility. And he certainly never needed to be scolded by the guy that was going to end up being his father-in-law. Though he grieved in response to disaster, he never needed to be told to “boomer up” and be true to himself. He did what was right without compromise or complaint– with the hope that providence would set all things right in the end!

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16 responses to “Aragorn Never Had an Identity Crisis

  1. Pingback: Aragorn Never Had an Identity Crisis | Woelf Dietrich

  2. Constantin May 19, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Modern storytelling is cancer. I used to think that the movies were far superior to the books precisely because of changes like what was made to Aragorn, and Faramir, and other crap like that, and I kept defending them even recently. But as more time passes and the more I re-watch them, the less I enjoy them (even if they remain spectacular from a technical and visual standpoint with some beautiful soundtracks), precisely because I discovered pulp fiction and the literature before it. Not only are they great stories, they changed my perspective regarding heroism and moral values in fiction. I realize how much better fiction is when it’s instilled with these values.

    Now, when I re-read LoTR for the first time in years with a new perspective, it blew my mind just how much difference there is between the books and the movies. Now I appreciate the slow pacing, the melancholic tone, the introspective scenes. The chapter with Tom Bombadil, which I used to loathe, was so incredible, full of wonder and, well… magic, in the sense of old fantasy. The Fight between Gandalf and The Witch King gave me goosebumps. Faramir’s character was 1000 times better than the movies. And so much more.

    So yeah, to hell with modern storytelling. It’s nihilistic, it’s anti-heroic and depressing. It’s getting harder and harder to enjoy it.

    P.S. The Moon Pool was awesome. Now I’m waiting for my copy of The Ship of Ishtar to arrive.

    • jeffro May 19, 2019 at 10:53 pm

      Man, I hope you enjoy Ship of Ishtar as much as I did!!!

      • Constantin May 20, 2019 at 3:33 am

        Thanks, you definitely sold it well enough for me to be interested in it. And I need a heroic fantasy adventure to wash off the bad taste Game of Thrones left in my mouth.

  3. H.P. May 19, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    The heart of Aragorn’s arc was in the short period between Gandalf’s death and the decision to pursue Pippin and Merry. He is torn by indecisiveness that entire period and struggles to take on the mantle of leader. Notably, once he DOES finally make a decision, he never looks back.

  4. Alexandru Constantin May 19, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Solid. You never disappoint.

  5. John Boyle May 20, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Great post and what you say about people who hate us rewriting our culture is spot on. Part of the reason why their knockoffs dim the imagination so badly is because they literally do not understand words like Honor and Duty. I think that’s why their versions come off as such ghastly mockeries of the originals.

    Constantin: If you liked the Moon Pool, I think you’re really going to enjoy The Ship of Ishtar.

  6. keithakenny May 20, 2019 at 6:52 am

    All true. You caught me off guard with your initial comment on “the classics”, e.g., “Star Wars” characters. I think of classics belonging to times longer ago. A “Star Trek” fan friend of mine laments the heretical changes to the Klingons’ appearance.

    Reading “classic” fairy tales like “The Little Mermaid” or classic horror like “Frankenstein”—that is the originals the way they were originally written—you see the PC hand in modern movies even more clearly. The mermaid who could not accept her born identity did not get the prince in the end and dies. The Frankenstein monster is not a misunderstood, tormented, ugly person of refinement. It is a murdering psychopath—mis-created and abused true—who took joy in tormenting and killing innocent women and children. It cried at the death of Dr. Frankenstein only because with the object of its hatred gone, it had no reason to live.

    A major purpose of the old classics was to teach life lessons. Modern versions seek to affirm identity and deny all judgment.

  7. deanbradleysff May 21, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Aragorn may well have had some sort of crisis, but it would have happened before The Fellowship of the Ring. By the time we meet him, he is worthy of the sword that was broken, and the crown that goes with it.

    • malcolmthecynic May 27, 2019 at 7:47 am

      One thing that strikes me about critical discussion of the films outside of our explicitly more old-fashioned right wing circles is how many people believe Jackson made Aragorn more “realistic and interesting”.

      Catch that? More realistic?

      *Modern people literally can’t even fathom the idea that there can be genuinely heroic people.* The idea that such people might exist is seen as unbelievable.

      See: The character assassination of Peter in the first 2 Narnia films. The “Prince Caspian” film was “The Last Jedi” before TLJ. One of the worst adaptations of all time.

  8. himachaltourtravel May 26, 2019 at 1:18 am

    Very well written and informative post.
    Roman Banjara

  9. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: A. Conan Doyle, Barry Smith, Gardner Fox, Manly Wade Wellman, Sundered: Eldritch Edition – castaliahouse.com

  10. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: A. Conan Doyle, Barry Smith, Gardner Fox, Manly Wade Wellman, Sundered: Eldritch Edition – Herman Watts

  11. dh May 28, 2019 at 9:51 am

    When you say “how people that hate us actively rewrite our culture right in front of us.” remember that it’s not just our culture, but theirs too. It’s a shared experience and we don’t have any stronger claim to Star Wars that Abrams does, or than 10 year old girls do.

    This is why we need to write our own stories.

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