The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Aragorn/Strider Character Analysis

Aragorn is a Dúnedain ranger from the North and the heir to the throne of Gondor. He is also the respected friend and leader of many, including Legolas and Gimli, who trust him so completely that they follow him through the dreaded Paths of the Dead. Aragorn plays an integral part in the war against Sauron, to whom he symbolizes the strength of Men. He uses his ability to intimidate Sauron to his advantage, leading a vastly outnumbered army to a final battle at the Black Gate of Mordor with the hope that it will distract Sauron from Frodo’s quest. In the midst of the war, Aragorn refuses to enter Minas Tirith to claim the throne, prioritizing a united, focused army of Men over the distraction of fanfare and personal glory. When he does finally take the throne, Aragorn’s first acts are to show mercy even to peoples who fought for Sauron in the war and to acknowledge the service of all who fought with him, at one point inviting Frodo and Sam to sit on his throne. His gentleness and care mean that he’s dearly loved, not only by his own race of Men but by the hobbits of the Fellowship, who continue to address him as “Strider” even within the walls of Minas Tirith. After claiming kingship, Aragorn shares his concerns with Gandalf that his line will end, at which point Gandalf shows him a sapling that has descended from the White Tree. Aragorn’s planting of this new White Tree in the place of the old dead one, and his subsequent marriage to Arwen, make clear that he’s ushering in a new age of Middle-earth in which the race of Men will flourish.

Aragorn/Strider Quotes in The Return of the King

The The Return of the King quotes below are all either spoken by Aragorn/Strider or refer to Aragorn/Strider. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
).
Book 5, Chapter 2  Quotes

“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”

“What do you fear, lady?” he asked.

“A cage,” she said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”

Related Characters: Aragorn/Strider (speaker), Éowyn/Dernhelm (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 8 Quotes

“Alas! For she was pitted against a foe beyond the strength of her mind or body. And those who will take a weapon to such an enemy must be sterner than steel, if the very shock shall not destroy them. It was an evil doom that set her in this path. For she is a fair maiden, fairest lady of a house of queens. And yet I know not how I should speak of her. When I first looked on her and perceived her unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die?”

Related Characters: Aragorn/Strider (speaker), Éowyn/Dernhelm, Lord of the Nazgûl
Related Symbols: The Shadow
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do not be afraid,” said Aragorn. “I came in time, and I have called him back. He is weary now, and grieved, and he has taken a hurt like the Lady Éowyn, daring to smite that deadly thing. But these evils can be amended, so strong and gay a spirit is in him. His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.”

Related Symbols: The Shadow
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 9 Quotes

“We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless—as we surely shall if we sit here—and know as we die that no new age shall be.”

Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 5 Quotes

“Turn your face from the green world, and look where all seems barren and cold!” said Gandalf.

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone there in the waste a growing thing stood. And he climbed to it, and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tree no more than three foot high. Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.

Related Characters: Gandalf (speaker), Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Aragorn/Strider, Arwen
Related Symbols: The White Tree, The Shadow
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
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Aragorn/Strider Character Timeline in The Return of the King

The timeline below shows where the character Aragorn/Strider appears in The Return of the King. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 5, Chapter 1 
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...who they are here to meet, and especially not to discuss Frodo’s journey or mention Aragorn at all. When Pippin is confused by this last request, Gandalf tells him that when... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...learned more from Pippin’s story than Gandalf wanted him to know (particularly the clues about Aragorn), there was nothing Pippin could have done to keep those things secret. He says that... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 2 
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Merry, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli prepare to leave the wreckage of Isengard alongside Théoden, King of Rohan,... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...himself as Halbarad Dúnadan, Ranger of the North, and reveals that they’ve been looking for Aragorn. To Merry’s relief, Aragorn greets Halbarad like an old friend and introduces the Dúnedain riders... (full context)
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Elrohir, who is riding with the Dúnedain, brings a message from his father, Elrond, to Aragorn: he should “remember the Paths of the Dead.” Aragorn says he’ll only go that way... (full context)
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...enough sleep, and he feels like a burden to those around him. He asks after Aragorn, and Legolas tells him he’s in a high chamber where he’s been thinking for hours.  (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
After the midday meal, the Riders and the Dúnedain assemble, mounted. Éomer and Aragorn emerge from the fortress to join the company. Aragorn seems to have aged years overnight.... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Riders of Rohan depart. Aragorn returns to the hall to eat before his journey, where Legolas asks him why he... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Gimli asks if there’s any hope of surviving the Paths of the Dead. Aragorn reminds him that he’s Isildur’s heir and can go that way at a time of... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...Dead, she blanches, sure that their journey will end in death. After dinner, Éowyn finds Aragorn to speak with him alone. She tells him that if he is sure he needs... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...them farewell, and Gimli and Legolas are surprised to see her weeping. Again, she begs Aragorn to let her ride with them, and again, Aragorn refuses. She stumbles back to her... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...whisper around them in a language they don’t recognize. They reach a huge cavern, where Aragorn finds a man’s bones and armor. He doesn’t know who the man is or why... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The sun has set. Aragorn urges the company to ride with speed. Just before midnight, they reach the Stone of... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 3
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...hundred feet, the company reaches a field near the foot of the Dwimorberg—the same mountain Aragorn’s party rode into. Éowyn greets the king and his guard. Merry suspects she has been... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...that the last man to venture down that road never returned. Merry doesn’t understand why Aragorn would take the Paths; the others are just as confused, though Théoden suggests that perhaps... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Éowyn takes Merry to show him the armor she’s found for him and says that Aragorn asked her to make sure Merry was prepared for battle. After providing him with a... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 4
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...of the Seeing Stone, which alerted Sauron of Saruman’s defeat, hurried the enemy along—or perhaps Aragorn used the Stone to challenge Sauron. Pippin wonders why Frodo and Sam are travelling with... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 6
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...embellished with a crown and seven stars—the sign of the king. The Rohirrim see that Aragorn and his company have arrived. They drive the enemy into Aragorn’s path. At last, Éomer... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 7
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...is hopeless for Gondor. He believes that Gandalf hopes to rule in his stead, using Aragorn as a puppet, and in any case, he refuses to accept Aragorn’s claim to the... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 8
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...the king are the hands of a healer.” Upon hearing this, Gandalf goes to fetch Aragorn. (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Aragorn, Éomer, and Imrahil reach the city gate. Aragorn decides not to enter the city: he... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Faramir is sick. A cloaked man next to Gandalf steps forward to reveal himself as Aragorn. But he won’t take on the title of king yet—he has only come to help... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Pippin is waiting at the door when he sees Aragorn, and he greets him with joy and surprise. Imrahil is surprised to hear Aragorn being... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Aragorn thinks Faramir has fallen under the Dark Shadow, too, and his condition has been worsened... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
When Aragorn sees Éowyn, he describes her sadness as a sickness that began long ago. Éomer says... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Aragorn knows he can revive Éowyn, but if she wakes into despair she won’t survive. He... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Finally, Aragorn goes to revive Merry. He is confident that Merry’s buoyant spirit will help him recover... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 9
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
In the morning, Gimli and Legolas bring a message to Imrahil that Aragorn wants captains to gather at his tent to plan their next move against the enemy.... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...the river, Legolas explains, the Dead swept through the enemy and took the ships for Aragorn’s company. The fear that the Dead brought to the enemy was more powerful than any... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Imrahil sends for Éomer and they descend the levels of the city together to meet Aragorn, Gandalf, Elladan, and Elrohir. Gandalf urges them to consider Denethor’s final words—a prediction of defeat.... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Aragorn concurs with Gandalf, but he allows the other captains to choose whether to follow. Elrond’s... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 10
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...is dismayed to find he won’t be going, as he still needs to rest, but Aragorn tells him not to envy Pippin’s place in the battle: Merry has already been able... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...reach a crossroads where a statue of an old king of Gondor has been defaced. Aragorn sets trumpeters at each path of the crossroads to blow a fanfare and declare that... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...whole army. The next day, some of the soldiers become so paralyzed by despair that Aragorn allows them to turn back. Six days after their departure from Minas Tirith, the army... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Gate is closed. Aragorn arranges the army before riding with the rest of the captains to the Gate, along... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
The Black Gates open wide. A huge army emerges, and Aragorn’s guard retreats quickly, but their army is surrounded by orcs and men of the enemy.... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 1
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...in the Fellowship think of him and Frodo at all. At this point in time, Aragorn has taken the fleet at the river, Merry is a day away from Minas Tirith... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 3
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...and Sam decide to take the easier but more visible main road. At this point, Aragorn’s army has passed the crossroad. Frodo and Sam journey on for days, taking breaks to... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...at the Eye in Sauron’s tower. It’s turned away from them towards the north, where Aragorn’s army waits at the Black Gate. Looking towards the Eye makes Frodo reach towards the... (full context)
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...When Frodo puts on the Ring, he draws Sauron’s attention, and Sauron at once understands Aragorn’s intention was only to distract him. Sauron’s armies all falter: his mind has abandoned all... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 4
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Aragorn’s army is overcome by the onslaught of Mordor’s troops. Suddenly, though, Gandalf looks to the... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...blows trumpets and chants in praise of the hobbits. As they go forward, they see Aragorn sitting on a high seat: he is the king they were told about. Aragorn stoops... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 5
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
After the departure of Aragorn’s army, those remaining in Minas Tirith are filled with gloom. Éowyn refuses to rest for... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...the two of them look out from the wall together. The air has grown colder. Aragorn must be reaching the Black Gate soon. Faramir tells Éowyn that the last days have... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...to Éomer. He suggests there are two reasons: first, that it was Éomer and not Aragorn that called for her; second, that she wishes to stay with Faramir. Faramir knows that... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...field below. The next morning, the captains ride towards the city where Faramir greets them. Aragorn leads the company of Dúnedain forward, and with them are Éomer, Gandalf, Imrahil, and the... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
Faramir brings Aragorn the crown of the last king. Aragorn gives the crown back to Faramir, saying that... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
Over the following days, Aragorn issues pardons and judgments. He makes peace with the men from the south and east... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...city are busy repairing the damage from battle. The hobbits, Legolas, and Gimli stay with Aragorn, who doesn’t want the Fellowship to disband yet. He tells them a day is approaching... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
One night, Gandalf takes Aragorn to a high peak to survey the land of Gondor. He tells Aragorn that while... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Aragorn laments that he cannot see his line continuing, and one day he will die—who will... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Messengers come to Aragorn on the day before Midsummer to tell him that a group of Elves are riding... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 6
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Many days later, Frodo goes to Aragorn to ask for permission to leave the city. Before returning to the Shire, he wants... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...but Legolas and Gimli decide to take a different route to reach their own homelands. Aragorn announces the end of the Fellowship of the Ring at last. Galadriel tells Tree-beard that... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
The hobbits are sad to leave Aragorn. Aragorn reminds Pippin that he’s still a knight of Gondor and might be called to... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 7
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...king has to do with Bree. Sam tells Butterbur that the king is the same Strider that visited Bree a year ago. Butterbur is shocked and pleased. He tells Sam that... (full context)