Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aragorn's Self-Decided Death

In the apendicies, Tolkien says that when Aragorn is extremely old, he chooses when he will die. He says goodbye to Arwen and everyone and then goes to sleep in the tombs of the kings. He basically chooses to die before he becomes sick or crippled with old age. Does anyone else find this kinda odd? What gives him the right to die when he wants to? How is it different from Denethor's suicide?


Luthien said...

That part was kind of weird for me, too, especially since it makes Arwen get really depressed and go alone to Lothlorien and die, too.

The best I can figure out from it all is that Aragorn was just tired of being in the mortal world, unlike Arwen, who was "not yet weary of her days." It also seems that because he is the last of the Numenoreans, he gets this privilege/right. He expresses a wish to not have to remain in the world until at long last he "wither[s] and fall[s] from [his] high seat unmanned and witless." While he does escape from all the symptoms that normal old age would bring, I think it's important to note that he's already lived 120 years in Middle-earth with Arwen. And who knows? Maybe, in his wisdom and foresight, he "just knew" it was time for him to go, and for his son to take over the kingdom.

Aredhel said...

I agree with Luthien. I actually thought this was kind of cool. That instead of waiting for old age to really affect him, Aragorn realizes and is allowed to basically relinquish his life. He tells Arwen that their son is "ripe for kingship"- I think this is an important point for why he chooses to die when he does. If Aragorn continued living, it would've been hard for his son to have everyone's loyalty because they wouldn't know who was really the king, their old or new ruler.

Aragorn's (i.e. the Numenoreans') ability to choose when they die brings up the point of their long lives. I thought one of the most interesting parts of the appendices was the history of Numenor. The fact that Men saw their mortality as the "Doom of Men" and the Elves viewed as a gift. What do you guys think? Would it be a curse or a gift to be immortal? Would we eventually tire of life?