Aragorn II is one of the main protagonists of The Lord of The Rings franchise. Aragorn was a Ranger of the North, first introduced with the name Strider at Bree, as the Hobbits continued to call him throughout The Lord of the Rings. He was eventually revealed to be the heir of Isildur and rightful claimant to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor. He was also a confidant of Gandalf and an integral part of the quest to destroy the One Ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron.
He was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen.
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 have 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 in nearly 2,000 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: thus, Aragorn was technically a descendant of not only Elendil and Isildur but of Anárion as well.
Concept and creation
The "first term" 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 behavior, 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.
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). The latter suggestion was linked to an early comment of Bingo: "I keep on feeling that I have seen him somewhere before". Tolkien made a proposal that Trotter might be Bilbo Baggins himself, but rejected that idea.
Another suggestion was that Trotter was "Fosco Took (Bilbo's first cousin), who vanished when a lad, owing to Gandalf". 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, 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.
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".
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. While the history of Númenor and the descendants of Elros and Elendil were not fully developed, the terms 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 developments
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". 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.
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.
The first mention of Elrond's daughter, named Arwen Undomiel, was in reference to the banner which she made for Aragorn, 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, but it was explicitly stated only near the completion of the book. 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.
A passing idea was that Galadriel gave her Ring to Aragorn, and that he would accordingly be titled the "Lord of the Ring".
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 Ecthelion possibly being equivalent to Peregrin (Boffin). Instead of the latter title "the Dúnadan", Quenya Tarkil ("Noble Man") was first used, synonym with Númenórean.
Tolkien hesitated for some time about Trotter'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. 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, and 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.
Richard J. Finn presented a paper entitled "Arthur and Aragorn - Arthurian Influence in LOTR at the Forty-First International Congress on Medieval Studies". The are additional similarities between Aragorn and Arthur beyond those pointed out by Finn. Arthur is descended from Kings of Goddodin - Coel Hen, Aragorn becomes King of Gondor. Kings of the period in Goddodin lived at both Traprain Law and Din Eidyn (Edinburgh, still known as Dùn Éideann in Scottish Gaelic) remarkably similar to Dúnadan. For "Men of the North", Goddodin was a far northern kingdom. Arthur was crowned by St. Dubriticus, who wore a long gray robe for which he was called "His Grey Eminence" - Gandalf the White also wore a gray robe at Aragorn's coronation to indicate he at one time was Gandalf the Grey.
- “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.”
- ―The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Aragorn was a descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur. His ancestor Arvedui was wedded to Fíriel, who was descended from Anárion, who bore their son Aranarth, making Aragorn the last descendant of Anárion as well.
When he was only two years old, his father Arathorn 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 2951.
Elrond revealed to "Estel" his true name and ancestry when he was twenty, and gave to him the Ring of Barahir and the Shards of Narsil. Elrond withheld the Sceptre of Annúminas from Aragorn until he "came of the right" to possess the item. It was also around this time that Aragorn met and fell in love with Arwen, Elrond's daughter, newly returned from her mother's homeland of Lórien where she had visited her grandmother Galadriel.
Aragorn thereafter assumed his proper role as the sixteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain and the Rangers of the North, and left the comforts of Rivendell for the wild, where he lived with the remainder 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. Heeding Gandalf's advice, Aragorn and the Rangers 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 TA 2957 to TA 2980, Aragorn undertook great journeys, serving in the armies of King Thengel of Rohan, and Steward Ecthelion II of Gondor. Many of his tasks helped to raise morale in the West and counter the growing threat of Sauron and his allies, and he earned priceless 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 Gondor 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 a time as his foster son should be king of "both" Gondor and Arnor. As both Elrond and Aragorn knew, to marry a mortal, Arwen 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 properly take place, Aragorn also traveled through the Dwarven mines of Moria, to Harad, where (in his own words) "the stars are strange". Tolkien does not specify when these travels occurred nor does he indicate what happens when Aragorn visits. In 3009, Gandalf grew suspicious of the origin of the ring belonging to the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, which later turned out to be the One Ring, the source of the Dark Lord Sauron's evil power. Aragorn went at his request into Rhovanion in search of Gollum, who had once possessed the Ring. He caught the creature in the Dead Marshes near Mordor, and brought him as a captive to Thranduil's halls in Mirkwood, where Gandalf questioned him. Gollum, however, escaped some time later with the aid of Sauron's Orcs.
War of the Ring
Escorting the hobbits
Aragorn joined Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's adopted heir, and three of his friends at the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree. Though originally the hobbits were suspicious of Strider, they eventually trusted him and prepared to escape Bree and the Ringwraiths. These four had set out from the Shire to bring the One Ring to Rivendell. Aragorn 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. The elf-lord Glorfindel later arrived and led them to Rivendell.
There, Aragorn chose to join Frodo, thus forming the Fellowship of the Ring that was formed to guard Frodo, tasked with destroying the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. Besides Aragorn, Gandalf, and Frodo, the company included Frodo's cousins Pippin and Merry, his best friend Samwise Gamgee, Legolas the elf, Gimli the Dwarf, and Boromir of Gondor.
- “All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be Blade that was Broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
- ―Bilbo's poem about Aragorn
Before the group set out, the shards of Narsil were reforged, and the restored blade was named Andúril.
Accompanying the Fellowship
Aragorn accompanied the group through an attempt to cross the pass of Caradhras and through the mines of Moria. He helped protect Frodo from an Orc captain and became the Fellowship's leader after Gandalf was presumed lost in battle with a Balrog. Aragorn then led the company to Lórien, where Lady Galadriel gave him the Elfstone.
After Lórien, Aragorn and the Fellowship sailed down the river Anduin to the Falls of Rauros. Though his original plan was to set out for Gondor and aid its people in the War, he felt responsible for Frodo after the loss of Gandalf.
Breaking of the Fellowship
- “Fear not! he said. "Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anarion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur's son heir of Elendil, has naught to dread!”
- ―Aragorn proclaiming his lineage
After passing into the Argonath, the Fellowship camped in Amon Hen. Frodo saw that Boromir had been driven mad by the influence of the One Ring trying to take it. Frodo put the ring on, rendering him invisible, and ran away from Boromir. Frodo climbed to the high seat on Amon Hen; from there he could see Sauron's eye looking for him. The Hobbit felt the eye but it was distracted by Gandalf the White, later found in Fangorn Forest by Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli during their search for Merry and Pippin. Frodo struggled against the power of Sauron before finally managing to take the ring off. Then Frodo knew what had to be done: He was to go alone to Mordor to destroy the ring. On the way back to the river he met Sam, who went with him.
At this same time, the others were attacked by Saruman's Uruk-hai and a battle ensued. During the ensuing battle, Boromir was killed defending Merry and Pippin and giving up his desire for the ring in a last attempt to resist the ring. After discovering that Frodo had left, Aragorn and the others decided that they would leave Frodo and Sam to continue their quest on their own. Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn put Boromir's body and war gear in one of the elven boats as a funeral boat and tribute to Boromir for his bravery and courage. His body would be sent over the Falls of Rauros.
While Frodo continued his quest with Samwise Gamgee, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli went to Rohan to free Merry and Pippin, who had been captured by the Uruk-hai working for Saruman.
The Three Hunters
In the fields of Rohan, the Three Hunters Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli 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 destroyed and that the Hobbits had not been found. Dejected, he led Legolas and Gimli to the site of the battle. Clues led Aragorn to believe that the Hobbits might still be alive, and he led the Three Hunters into Fangorn Forest. They did not find the Hobbits, but they did find Gandalf the White, sent back from Valinor to continue his struggle against Sauron. Gandalf told the Three Hunters that the Hobbits were safe with the Ents of Fangorn.
- “Where now are the Dunedain, Elessar, Elessar?
Where do thy kinsfolk wander afar?
Near is the hour when the lost should come forth,
And the Grey Company ride from the North.
But dark is the path appointed to thee:
The Dead watch the road that leads to the Sea.”
- ―Galadriel's message to Aragorn
Together, Gandalf and the Three Hunters travelled to Edoras, where Gandalf freed Théoden from Saruman's enchantment and helped him organize the Rohirrim against Saruman. He allied with Théoden and led the refugees to Helm's Deep.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli then help the people of Rohan in the Battle of the Hornburg, in which they conclusively and victoriously defeated Saruman's army. Afterward Aragorn went with Gandalf to Isengard, only to find it in ruins by the work of the Ents. Aragorn, being present with Gandalf, Theoden, Éomer, Legolas and Gimli, negotiated in a final parley with Saruman. Saruman attempted to bend Theoden to his will, and at first the king was almost swayed, but mastering his will he refused to join with Saruman. Saruman also attempted to sway Gandalf, but failed in this also, and even so Gandalf offered his counterpart the opportunity for forgiveness. Saruman refused to repent out of pride, and thus Gandalf broke Saruman's staff and banished him from the Order of Wizards and The White Council. After Saruman crawled away, Grima Wormtongue threw the Palantír of Orthanc at Gandalf as he and the others began to leave Orthanc. He missed, however, unable to decide if he hated Saruman or Gandalf more, and thus ended the Battle of the Hornburg and the Battle of Isengard.
Return of the King
In order to defend the city, Aragorn travelled 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 a 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 jeweled crown and seven stars of the House of Elendil. With the help of the southern forces the armies of Gondor and Rohan rallied together and defeated Sauron's army.
The Steward Denethor II declared that he would not bow to a descendant of Isildur (years before, he had seen "Thorongil" as a rival to his father's favor). Aragorn healed Faramir, Denethor's last heir, winning him the immediate recognition of Faramir as rightful heir to the throne; his humility and self-sacrifice gained him the hearts of the inhabitants of Gondor's capital city. Aragorn's healing abilities, moreover, were a sign to the people of Gondor of the identity of their true king; 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 following nights of March 15–16, he left Minas Tirith and symbolically refused to enter it again until he was crowned King on May first.
As Reunited King of Gondor and Arnor
- “Men of Gondor, hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! One has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dúnedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Numenor. Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there?" And all the host and all the people cried yea with one voice.”
- ―Faramir the Steward announces the coronation of King Elessar
Upon Sauron's defeat, Aragorn was crowned as King Elessar, a name given to him by Galadriel. 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 reestablished in Arnor. His line was referred to as the House of Telcontar (Telcontar being Quenya for "Strider"). 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 among 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. During his coronation, Aragorn sang Elendil's Oath: "Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta!" ("Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place I will abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.")
Death and End of Reign
- “Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him in wonder; for they saw that the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.”
- ―Description of Aragorn's death.
When in the year 120 of the Fourth Age, King Elessar realised his days were at an end, he went to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street. He said farewell to his son Eldarion and his daughters and gave Eldarion his crown and sceptre. Arwen remained at Aragorn's side until he died. Shortly a year after Aragorn died, Arwen soon died of a broken heart. Eldarion began his reign as the Second King of the Reunited Kingdom after his father's and mother's death.
- “Was there ever anyone like him? Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related.”
- ―Peregrin Took on Aragorn
Tolkien gives a brief but detailed description of him in The Lord of the Rings: lean, dark, tall, with "a shaggy head of dark hair flecked with grey, and in a pale stern face a pair of keen grey eyes." In The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, he was said to be often grim and sad, with unexpected moments of levity. Some time after the publications of the books, Tolkien wrote that he was six feet six inches tall.
Aragorn possessed Elven wisdom due to his childhood in Rivendell with Elrond and the foresight of the Dúnedain. He was also 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.
Though there is no indication of his ever doubting his role and destiny as the future king of the Reunited Kingdom and one of the leaders of the war against Sauron (as he did 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.
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 (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, it is left unsaid).
He also appeared to possess a nigh-indomidable will. At one point, he was able to psychically challenge Sauron for control of the Palantir of Orthanc, and proved victorious in that struggle. It should be noted that even Gandalf the White was reluctant to use the Palantir for fear of challenging Sauron directly and revealing himself to the Dark Lord. He was accounted as "the hardiest of living Men" during his lifetime.
Powers and Abilities
- Main article: Andúril
As a Ranger, Aragorn was trained to be proficient with various weapons, such as bows, knives, spears and swords In battle he focused primarily on his sword play, preferring close combat to a long scale fight. He was a mighty warrior, and as such easily defeated many types of foes, ranging from large groups of orcs to far more powerful foes such as Trolls and Ringwraiths, evident throughout various battles like Helm's Deep and the Morannon. In each case, Aragorn's finesse in battle has served him greatly and earned him much recognition and respect from both the Fellowship of the Ring and the people of Rohan and Gondor. He was arguably the greatest swordsman of the Third Age, surpassing the likes of Faramir, Boromir and perhaps even Elrond.
Aragorn's sword is Andúril, Flame of the West, the reforged sword Narsil, Elendil's blade that Isildur used to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand. Aragorn uses it with the same skill the Numenoreans had long ago.
The name Aragorn means "Revered King", from the Sindarin ara ("king") and (n)gorn ("revered"). Aragorn was named after Aragorn I.
- Elessar - Aragorn's name as king (Quenya)
- Edhelharn - Sindarin translation of Elessar
- Elfstone - Westron translation of Elessar
- Estel - Aragorn's nickname during his childhood in Rivendell. It means "Hope"
- Longshanks - Used by Samwise Gamgee and some of the Men of Bree
- Stick-at-naught Strider - Used by the Men of Bree, particularly Bill Ferny
- Strider - Used by the Men of Bree
- Telcontar - Quenya translation of Strider and the name of his House
- Thorongil - Aragorn's alias during his travels to Rohan and Gondor. It means "Eagle of the Star"
- Wingfoot - Given by Éomer
As king, Aragorn had many titles:
- The Dúnadan
- Chieftain of the Dúnedain
- Heir of Isildur
- King of all the Dúnedain
- King of the West
- Lord of the Dúnedain
- Envinyatar - "the Renewer"
- King of Gondor
- King of Arnor
- High King of Gondor and Arnor
- Lord of the House of Telcontar
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
The Return of the King (1980)