Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 5

Of course, whilst everyone it out on their various daring adventures, there are those who are left behind.  And with their leaders dead, their heirs wounded, and their heroes far away facing a terrible enemy.

I really can't help knocking Eowyn as a romance figure.  It annoys me because both in various interpretations and in the source text it always seems to take away from her as a person of power.  Not that powerful women can't be romance figures, but in how she's handled always seems to reduce her.  I suppose the bright light in their romance is that Faramir sees and respects her, "For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten."  Yet she is considered "tamed" and that just doesn't sit right with me.  She shouldn't need to be tamed, even if Gondor is now at peace.

To me the bonding of Eowyn and Faramir is less of a romance, at least in the traditional sense, but rather a bonding over shared trauma and grief.  They are both wounded in similar ways, and having the other gives them something other than their own grief to focus on... and I think this is something Tolkien knew something about too.

With peace returns the prodigal son, the titular King to claim his throne.  Fairy tales, fables, and myths always like to show the rightful king as both just and wise, and Aragorn is no exception.  His ruling brings to mind King Solomon, adhering to the law yet bending it in ways that are not just fair but kind.

This is a chapter of endings and beginnings.  The fall of Sauron brings about the end of the Third Age, and with it the decline of the elder races and perhaps even magic itself.  Certainly Gandalf will soon depart with his burden lifted, and the Elves will continue to leave for the Gray Havens, their already waning power further weakened by the diminishing of their Rings.  Yet not all wonder has faded, with the start of the Age of Man and the reign of Strider, the White Tree of Gondor is born anew with the discovery of a sapling of the Eldest of Trees.  And lastly, the arrival of Arwen.

With so much still left to the story, it is perhaps no surprise that Jackson has done quite a bit of excising and compressing here.  Gandalf does crown Aragorn, but he takes the crown from Gimli, and neither Faramir nor Eowyn might as well exist at this point, beyond a meaningful exchange of glances from the crowd.  Much of the pomp and circumstance is missing, no triumphant parade or excited gossiping.  Aragorn and Eowyn are finally reunited, an event that he clearly did not expect... and one that Hugo Weaving's Elrond sells as a loving parent who knows that he is losing his daughter in more than just a marriage to another family.  I don't think I ever really noticed how upset Elrond looked before.  Then as a capstone, the citizenry and nobility of Gondor all kneel to our hobbits.

From here, there is only seeking home.


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