The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Théoden is the king of Rohan and the uncle of Éomer and Éowyn. Though his own kingdom is under threat from Mordor, he honors the longstanding loyalty between the peoples of Rohan and Gondor and agrees to muster the Rohirrim to fight at Minas Tirith, where their skill on horseback is vital to Gondor’s victory. He is beloved as a leader, and thought of by Éomer and Éowyn, as well as Merry, as a father. Théoden’s death on the battlefield is, for him, an absolution of the years of his rule spent under the corruption of Saruman. His body is laid in the royal tombs of Minas Tirith until Éomer takes it to be buried in Rohan.

Théoden Quotes in The Return of the King

The The Return of the King quotes below are all either spoken by Théoden or refer to Théoden. 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 5 Quotes

His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them.

Related Characters: Théoden
Related Symbols: The Shadow
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 6 Quotes

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn am I, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

Related Characters: Lord of the Nazgûl (speaker), Éowyn/Dernhelm (speaker), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), Théoden
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
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Théoden Character Timeline in The Return of the King

The timeline below shows where the character Théoden appears in The Return of the King. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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, and his party. Aragorn is still working out his plan of travel... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...Éomer calls the unknown riders to a halt, at which one of them dismounts. When Théoden asks for the riders’ purpose, the leader introduces himself as Halbarad Dúnadan, Ranger of the... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...to the hall for the midday meal, where a seat is set for Merry at Théoden’s side. Théoden tells Merry he will have a pony made ready for him. Éomer says... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...the fortress to join the company. Aragorn seems to have aged years overnight. He tells Théoden that his plans have changed. Instead of journeying slowly and secretly to Dunharrow with the... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 3
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...long journey, and lonely—he thinks of all his friends who are now far from him. Théoden tells Éomer he will continue on to Edoras tomorrow, and Éomer suggests that, after the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...greets the king and his guard. Merry suspects she has been weeping, though she tells Théoden all is well. She confirms that Aragorn and his riders followed the Paths of the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Théoden invites Merry to sit beside him. They eat silently together until Merry asks about the... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
An errand-rider of Gondor arrives to speak with Théoden. The rider, Hirgon, is carrying a red arrow: a token of war. Denethor sent him... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Théoden suggests that his company rest, and he tells Merry to be ready at sunrise. Merry... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Théoden releases Merry from his service and instructs him to stay behind with Éowyn. Merry is... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...Rohan assemble, joined by a large host of men on spare horses. Merry rides behind Théoden past the ranks of men. One Rider, smaller than most others, catches Merry’s attention—his hopeless... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 5
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...ignored by the Riders for the whole journey. He wanders towards a lantern, under which Théoden and Éomer are discussing strategy. He sees beside them a squat Wild Man, similar in... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...takes this as good news, because it means the wall cannot be held against them. Théoden thanks Ghân and farewells him. Just before leaving, the Wild Man sniffs the air and... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...has left his place in his designated company in order to be nearer the king. Théoden rallies the Riders with a speech and instructs Éomer to lead into battle. They increase... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 6
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...is disturbed by the breaking of the shadow and rides out from the city immediately. Théoden leads his Riders towards the city with Dernhelm in the leading group. Though outnumbered, they... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Though many of Théoden’s knights have been slain or carried away by their spooked horses, Dernhelm and Merry are... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...from the place where his body vanished. Merry blinks through tears to see Éowyn and Théoden lying around him unmoving. (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Merry goes to kiss Théoden’s hand. Théoden opens his eyes, and he tells Merry he is passing on to the... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...fallen Rohirrim. They burn the carcass of the winged beast and dig a grave for Théoden’s horse. They carry Théoden and Éowyn into Minas Tirith; Merry walks with them. (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Rain begins to fall. Prince Imrahil rides out to greet the knights and weeps over Théoden’s body, but notices that Éowyn is still, barely, alive. He orders help be brought for... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 8
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Merry reaches the smoldering city in a haze beside the bodies of Théoden and Éowyn. Suddenly his vision goes dark and he feels as though he’s walking into... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...the city, looking to meet with Denethor. In the hall of the citadel, they find Théoden’s body clothed in gold. Imrahil asks the guards where the Steward of Gondor is. They... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Éomer to call to her. Éowyn wakes up and asks Éomer whether it’s true that Théoden is dead—he confirms this. Éowyn rests, saying that though she might regain health if she’s... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...for supper and a pipe, but quickly rescinds his second request at the memory of Théoden, who told him that one day they would smoke together. Aragorn tells him to smoke... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 5
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...things in order, and Éowyn goes with him, telling Faramir she’ll return when they’ve laid Théoden to rest. The Riders of Rohan leave Minas Tirith. (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 6
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The hobbits ride with Éomer’s company to escort Théoden back to Rohan. When they arrive, they stay and rest. After a great feast, Théoden... (full context)