The Passive-Aggressive Mourning of Aragorn

Though I have a few other things in mind, I’d like to take this time to look at the Fellowship immediately after Gandalf’s death. Gandalf was killed in the early afternoon of January 15, and shortly after that, the Fellowship escaped from Moria. They had before them the rest of the afternoon and evening. They didn’t simply escape and then bump into the Elves from Lothlorien.

With the aid of the maps in Barbara Strachey’s Journeys of Frodo, we can see that this day was quite a busy one, though they walked less than 20 miles. (Here’s another map.)

The first thing the Fellowship did was mourn. Aragorn started it off with a bit of “I told you so” (too soon, hunk). ‘Farewell, Gandalf!’ he cried. ‘Did I not say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware? Alas I spoke true! What hope have we without you?’ This sounds very similar to the Dwarves’ lamentations in The Hobbit after Gandalf left them.

Following a short pep talk, Aragorn became their leader, pointing out Dimrill Stair – a series of small waterfalls, and pointing out that they should have come that way, as if he were some Monday morning quarterback. Of note is the mountain Caradhras, which had provided the snowstorm that kept them from using the Redhorn Pass and Dimrill Stair. Now it was sunny and would have been relatively easy to cross.

This must have been very hard on Gimli. He had always wanted to see Moria and the Mirrormere, which they came upon next. He recalled Gandalf telling him “May you have joy of the sight!,” but now all seemed lost. “Now long shall I journey ere I have joy again.”

The path they traveled was once a great paved Dwarvish road. Now it was old and cracked and resembled stairs more than a highway. Along the path, there were ruins, and then a single broken column. This was Durin’s Stone.

This was not Durin’s grave, but a monument to mark where Durin the Deathless looked down into the Mirrormere and saw a crown upon his head. Actually, it was the reflection of the mountains, but Dwarves apparently dug symbolism as much as Mithril. They saw seven “stars,” which Durin had seen as well. This probably went on to represent the seven Durins that they believed would come. It was also where Balin was killed, though I’ll get to that at a later date (promise).

The Fellowship then followed the Silverload toward Lothlorien, their next destination. In a very real way, at this point, Tolkien was making it up as he went along, inventing Lothlorien and its inhabitants as he wrote (more later on this too).

Though Aragorn was leading, he was using the roads which Gandalf had selected to get them to Lothlorien, though really, there seems to be only one way to get there. At any rate, when Legolas saw Lothlorien, he talked about its trees.

He was speaking of the mallorn trees, though he didn’t use the name. This was (almost) the only place in Middle-earth where they grew. They sort of resembled a beech tree in both trunk and leaves, though the mallorn’s leaves were bigger. We learn from Legolas, they the leaves didn’t fall in the autumn, but instead turned gold and stayed like that all winter. Come spring, new green leaves would begin to appear, and also blossoms like the cherry tree. They bloomed in the summer, and when they did the golden leaves would fall off, leaving the newer green leaves behind. The mallorn, like the beech, had nuts, though these had silver shells.

At this point in his writing, I don’t think Tolkien had much of the back story concerning how the trees came to Middle-earth from Numenor, but eventually, he would decide that Gil-galad gave some of the seeds to Galadrield, and it was because of her power that they grew, though not as mighty as they did in Numenor.

Shortly after seeing the forest quite a ways before them, Frodo and Sam began to lag behind, as they had been wounded in the fighting. Aragorn, I’m noticing, can get a bit passive-aggressive. When he saw how far behind Frodo and Sam had fallen, he apologized – sort of. “You should have spoken. We have done nothing to ease you, as we ought, though all the orcs of Moria were after us.” That’s sort of dickish, no? Clearly, he was spending too much time around Elves.

Soon enough, they found a dell and took a bit of rest. They were only a few miles from Moria at this point, so resting wasn’t exactly something they wanted to do. It was around 3pm and the sun was soon going to set. If they didn’t want a repeat of the events following the Dwarves’ adventures after leaving the Misty Mountains, they better make it short.

They started a fire and Aragorn tended to Sam and Frodo’s wounds, using the same athelas leaves that he had gathered at Weathertop. Though Sam was willing to be tended, Frodo wasn’t. This is where they found that Bilbo’s Mithril armor has saved Frodo’s life.

Nobody but Frodo and Bilbo knew he had it, though Gandalf might have been suspicious back in the guard room in Moria: “Bilbo had a corslet of mithril-rings that Thorin gave him. I wonder what has become of it? Gathering dust still in Michel Delving Mathom-house, I suppose.”

Gandalf suggested that its worth was greater than the whole Shire put together, but once Gimli got a look at it, he noted that the wizard undervalued it. And that it saved the life of the Ringbearer several times during the fight, its value was truly immeasurable.

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Svema 125

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Svema 125

A Few Note

  • In Friday’s post, we’ll talk a little bit about Lothlorien and Thranduil. Ready for some history? Sure you are!

About the Photo
I wish I would have taken more photos in the Alpine regions of the Cascades (which is basically like the ground over which the Fellowship is walking now). But here’s this little dell – a sort of shabby depiction of the dell in the book, but that’s okay. It was taken last month on Mt. Rainier.

  • Day 171
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 844 (390 from Rivendell)
  • 47 miles to Lothlórien
  • 935 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s place in the narrative begins with: For some time Frodo and Sam managed… and ends with …and that will seldom chance while your quest lasts. Book II, Chapter 6, Lothlorien. Past the Silverload, near a dell where they made their camp. January 15, 3019 TA. (map)


14 thoughts on “The Passive-Aggressive Mourning of Aragorn

  1. You’ve got the BEST post titles 😀 I think I’ve resigned (not the right word, but I’d rather read other stuff) to restarting the series in the immediate future. I want to get a re-read in before my 30th in December, so better get on it! Can’t wait to catch up with you on your journey.

        • I was thinking about taking them mile by mile, going over what each party was doing at the same time. Or at least giving a quick blurb to cover the others. Tolkien had this all worked out and I’d like to explore that a bit.

            • Exactly! But I’d also like to dig into the other parties a bit, too. So maybe I can juggle like I do with my Civil War blog. Sometimes I write about Virginia, sometimes Tennessee, sometimes Georgia. Depends upon what I can fit where.

  2. The few chapters that covers the march from Rivendell to Khazad-Dum, these are the chapters when the Fellowship is intact. They could be given heed to, which you also do. Beautiful photo !

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