Tag Archive | lord of the rings

Lord of the Rings

I don’t think I’ve read Lord of the Rings as an adult. Nineteen does not count. So it was interesting to re-read it and see what I’d spot for myself this time around.

Aragorn

I was a little bit disappointed in Aragorn, who used to be my great favourite as a teenager. Teenagers think more simplistically, but to my current self, Aragorn was just too full of himself to make him entirely likeable. He is clearly modelled on the great epic heroes of the past, but to a modern reader, these great epic heroes seem implausible, self-important, narcissistic, sometimes morally dubious (not the case with Aragorn, but look at the heroes of some myths and legends). Aragorn had self-doubt, determination, strength and he was a good person, but he was also self-important. That scene at Theoden’s palace where he refused to put down his sword was very unflattering. As a guest, you obey the rules of the host, not go into a tantrum and talk about what a special sword you got and how you are not leaving it behind the door like people with inferior swords have to. There were other instances where he used his status unflatteringly in the “Do you know who I am?!” style. Yes, that is the epic hero style, but I couldn’t fully admire him because of this.

Faramir

Instead, I ended up admiring Faramir. If I had to choose an ideal king, I’d choose him. He had the strength and wisdom of Aragorn, but also he was humble and gentler. Many might mistake this gentleness for weakness, as had done his father Denethor, but I’m not that sort of a person. Gentle + strong is like my absolute ideal of (male) humanity.

Denethor

Denethor I either disliked or did not think much of upon first reading, but now I found myself feeling a lot of sympathy for his tragedy.

Gandalf

I felt rather ambivalent about him and sometimes found myself agreeing with Denethor or Saruman in their assessment of Gandalf’s activities. He seemed to be able to know or quite strongly guess how things would turn out.  So then, why would he send Frodo to Mordor, knowing full well it would destroy him so he could never live in the Shire again? There just was something disturbing in how he used others as his pawns. Yes, it was done with good intentions to save Middle Earth for future generations, but he also orchestrated who and what gets destroyed in the process….If he had not guessed the outcomes and the bad stuff just happened, while he tried his best, it would be different. But to knowingly sacrifice? If Tolkien had described Gandalf’s self-doubt and disinclination to do it, he’d be fully redeemed in my eyes. Because sometimes all you got is rotten choices and then you just choose the greater good and try to cause minimal harm to your pawns, but there was none or little of that in the books. He did end up destroying his own power in the process as well, but I think Gandalf was not really of Middle Earth anyway, so him leaving it felt a lot more natural than Frodo leaving it.

Ents

I really liked ents. I liked them just as much as the first time around and those chapters were among my favourites.

Hobbits

Frodo I came to understand in a more nuanced way. He’s an INFP like me.

Monsters

I also very much enjoyed orcs and uruks bickering with each other. They function like comic relief in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Loved those chapters.

Re-watching Lord of the Rings

The Return of the King was on telly, and I chanced to watch the second half of it.

I had been a fan of The Lord of the Rings in my teens. I think I had crushes on most of the characters one after another. My favourite was Aragorn, but I also recall having a crush on Frodo, Faramir, Boromir and Sam. I was really quite a fan of Tolkien’s world. I even taught myself Elvish and dreamt of owning a sword.

I hadn’t seen the films or read the books for at least seven years, so when I saw the film again, my first impulse was to make fun of the fighting scenes. Aragorn’s portrayal as the classic Hollywood macho hero was also a little comical. But it managed to draw me in after a while, so the annoyingly snobbish attitude vanished. I very much liked the hobbits. I liked Sam. If I were to have a crush on any of the characters now, it’d definitely be Sam. Because he’s so sincere and simple and good. I’m glad the teenage me was able to see something in him too.

I felt Frodo’s departure from Middle Earth to be relatable. I know it is my personal interpretation, but it acquired a wider symbolical meaning for me: after having experienced too much and been corrupted by the ring, he could no longer live like Sam and Rosie. He couldn’t have been happy. It made me think of how things like that can happen to anyone, something so terrible, so life-altering that you can no longer have the life you want. You may want that life still, I’m sure Frodo did, but cannot have it or be happy in it. Your melancholy and awareness do not allow you to enjoy mushroom pies and the peacefulness of the Shire like you once did. Or they are just not enough.

frodo

I have moods when I feel the same emotions. I want to live like the Sam’s of this world, but I feel I understand too much, think too much to ever live that happily, to be as carefree. I want to, but there is that sense of separation, of being unable to. Cut off. My heart always seems to be somewhere else. Frodo’s choice to leave and give up life in the Shire was therefore quite relatable to me. I wonder about that sometimes myself, my unfitness for life. There are days when it descends on me like a thick fog. I don’t have a magic other world to sail away to, however, so I don’t even know what to do about that feeling. It just is there. The only source of strength I still have is that I’m relatively young. Maybe I’d grow out of it under better circumstances.