Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Strength of Men

Throughout Lord of the Rings, men seem to get a bad reputation as weak and easily corrupted (think Boromir, Isildur, Denethor, etc.). There are several characters like Aragorn and Faramir that somewhat redeem men, but still there is an overall theme of their dwindling strength. However, who stands with Gandalf on the Bridge as the Balrog approaches? It's not the Elf or the Dwarf, but instead it's the two men, Aragorn and Boromir, who are brave enough to get Gandalf's back and stand against the Balrog. And Boromir has a point at the Council of Elrond - the men of Gondor have been fighting on the front lines constantly against the Shadow of the Enemy, holding him at bay for many years. I just thought I'd try and give men some credit since they do redeem themselves and show tons of bravery throughout the story!


Thengel said...

I think that Tolkien, rather than wanting to portray Men as weak, points out that other races see them as weak. The Elves are more detached from the things of Middle-Earth, and the Dwarves tend to just guard and create things for themselves. However, Tolkien himself puts a lot of faith in Men. There's the running theme of the "Age of Men", which is approaching as the Elves prepare to leave. The races of Middle-Earth don't have faith in Men with the line of Kings essentially broken, but everyone is aware that they do need to turn to Men eventually.

You mention men displaying weakness, which is true -- but I think that the greatest moments of weakness are redeemed by the greatest moments of strength. Aragorn is the vehicle by which Tolkien symbolically redeems the weakness of Isildur (even using the same sword!). Boromir is one of Tolkien's ultimate fallen heroes, who makes up for his weakness by giving his life to protect the Fellowship. As far as Denethor, I think he's a character who would've remained perfectly sane if he hadn't been in a position of power. Power does weird things to people, like make them set themselves on fire.

Kudos to Aragorn and Faramir (and don't forget Eomer and Theoden!!! A little love for the Rohirrim, please!) for being the most awesome of the awesome. Sorry for rambling...I like Men.

Aredhel said...

I probably should have phrased my post better by saying in Middle Earth (especially amongst the Elves), Men didn't have a great reputation - not necessarily Tolkien portraying them as weak.

Aragorn is basically just awesome. And I think it's great how Tolkien uses him to basically redeem his ancestors. Men are used basically to show that even the most flawed of characters can be heroic and ultimately lead the way for the triumph of good. I can't believe I forgot your son and grandson (I think)! Please accept my apology - Rohan is pretty BA!

Aredhel said...

Also, I apologize for using the word "basically" way too often in that last post. Haha.