The decision of Aragorn
So, what was Aragorn's thinking when he looked into the palantír in Chapter 2 of "The Return of the King?"
Kate Nepveu says "Me, I can’t get particularly passionate about it: he did it, it worked, so he was correct that he was able to do it." Her commenters suggest he was claiming his kingship before Sauron and not incidentally distracting Sauron as Frodo got closer to Mordor and Mt. Doom.
I think the argument that he's saying "Hey, Sauron, I'm Elendil's heir, and I'm right here, buddy!" has more merit than the distraction one, mostly because I don't think Aragorn knows precisely where Frodo is. But he recognized the risk that he wasn't quite up to facing Sauron down; he says to Legolas and Gimli: "Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough--barely."
If you've got the time, you really should do a re-read with Kate; it's a lot of fun. The chapter index is here.
Posted by Linkmeister at March 11, 2010 02:20 PM
I disagree, and I've read it so many times I don't NEED to recheck! I think it was pretty clear from the whole context that this was a diversionary tactic to focus Sauron's attention and give Frodo as much chance as he can to get past the defenses of Mordor. Of course Aragorn didn't know where Frodo was; but he knew that what Frodo was trying to do was the ONLY ultimate hope of getting rid of Sauron, no matter what the warriors on the field did.
In the middle of the last paragraph I went and read Kate's post, which is excellent. I particularly like her analysis of the clash between Aragorn and Eowyn. And I am reminded once again: My GOD how that man could write!! I read a comment somewhere that Tolkien didn't write languages for his Middle Earth - he created Middle Earth to have a place to put the languages he wrote.
And Kate is quite right that the Words of Malbeth the Seer are in alliterative verse - of course they are. The language of the Rohirrim is based firmly on Anglo-Saxon; go read Beowulf in a decent translation and you'll hear it yourself. The line "hear there a horn in the hills ringing" would have been instantly appreciated by an Anglo-Saxon, pre-Norman Conquest.