The Return of the King Essay

The Return of the King Essay

The Return of the King Essay

The Return of the King

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The Return of the King Essay
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The Return of the King is the third and last volume of the book, The Lord of the Rings, authored by Tolkien and published in the year 1955. The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the character Faramir. Faramir is the second son of Denothor and Boromir’s younger brother. He is the steward of Gondor. In The Return of the King, Faramir leads the army of Gondor in the War of the Ring, he almost lost his life, succeeds his father as a steward, and marries Eowyn, a lady of the royal family of Rohan (Tolkien,1991).


 Following the death of his elder brother, Boromir, Faramir became his father’s heir. Faramir’s father acts cruelly to him and wishes he ought to have died instead of his elder brother Boromir (Tolkien, 1955). He is sent to an unpromising war in Osgiliath. Despite the challenges, Faramir came back alive but poisoned. Feeling disappointed, Denethor tried to burn him alive rather than find him medication (Tolkien, 1955). Unlike Denethor’s perception of his son Faramir, Pippin considers him wiser and kinder than Boromir. After recuperating, Faramir’s love for Eowyn became stronger leading to their marriage. The humility of Faramir is demonstrated by his readiness to assume stewardship for a short duration to prepare the city for the return of Aragorn. His dedication to Gondor was rewarded through his appointment as the captain of Ithilien by Aragorn.

Based on how Faramir is depicted in The Return of the King, it is challenging to figure his character out since most of his traits appear to originate from what he is not instead of what he is. This is an intricate network of relationships anchored on the perception of the medieval Germanic. The better part of The Return of the King defines Faramir against other characters. Faramir’s father, Denethor, is extremely arrogant and cannot listen to the suggestion of Gandalf. Moreover, he does not consider relinquishing power to Aragorn, the rightful ruler of Gondor.  On his side, Faramir is sensible and does not intend to demonstrate pride.  Although he is the rightful heir, he does not attempt to cling to the authority of Gondor. He is willing to step down for Aragorn as the due ruler of Gondor.  

  The Return of the King also depicts Boromir and Faramir as contradictory characters. The duo can be characterized as good and wicked brothers. They are comparable to their father Denethor and King Theoden who can be described as good and wicked kings. Although Faramir is a shrewd and tough military leader as portrayed in the battle against Sauron, he does not show recklessness as his brother Boromir (Tolkien, 1955). This trait made his father perceive him as a coward. However, despite castigation by Denethor, his father, as less aggressive on the battlefield as Boromir, it is important to note that Faramir has earned admiration for his modesty and prudence. Unlike Boromir, he only fights when it is necessary. 


 Faramir stood out in The Return of the King not as majestic as Aragorn, arrogant as Denethor, or splendid as Boromir, but as a humble character, which worked for Him. In the end, all the close family members of Faramir never made it alive except him. Moreover, he became the rightful ruler after his appointment as the Prince of Ithilien. His humility and readiness to cooperate earned him the nobility to rule. This is admirable from a character that was envied and almost killed by his arrogant father.


Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955). The Lord of the Rings. Part 3: The Return of the King. Allen & Unwin.

Tolkien, J. R. R. (1991). The Lord of the Rings. HarperCollins.


Summary and Analysis: The Return of the King Book 5, Chapters 1–5
Gandalf and Pippin ride Shadowfax through the night, pausing only briefly to rest. They are now heading for Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, and three days have passed since Pippin looked into the palantìr. As they ride, warning beacons call Rohan to aid the city. They enter the city near dawn and make their way through its seven gates and circles to the White Tower and the seat of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Denethor quizzes Pippin closely about his son Boromir’s death, and Pippin pledges himself to the old man’s service in Boromir’s memory. After they are done, Gandalf and Denethor exchange words, revealing a tension between them that Pippin only half understands. When Denethor gives them leave, Gandalf goes to gather news and take part in councils of war, while Pippin meets Beregond, a fellow-guardsman, to learn about his new duties and the city. Pippin spends his afternoon in the company of Beregond’s son Bergil, watching as reinforcements arrive at the city gates — always welcome, but fewer than the city needs.
Merry, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli leave Isengard with Théoden soon after Gandalf and Pippin depart. Shortly after they set out, a group of riders overtakes them. They are the Dúnedain, Aragorn’s people from the North, accompanied by the sons of Elrond, and they have answered a summons of Galadriel to help their chieftain. At Helm’s Deep again, Merry swears himself to the service of Théoden and joins his company. Aragorn, however, has used the palantìr, taking control of it away from Sauron. His vision shows that he must take the Paths of the Dead, so he rides to Dunharrow. Éowyn welcomes their news, but when she learns their intention to depart by the haunted path she becomes angry. She not only believes Aragorn is throwing away his life and the lives of his warriors when they are most needed, but she has also fallen in love with him. The Paths of the Dead begin at a stone door into the mountainside, and everyone who approaches feels the chill of death. As they travel through the tunnels, Gimli feels the dead following. Aragorn orders them to follow and as the Heir of Isildur, he has the right to command their service. They emerge from the mountains in the south of Gondor, near the sea, and Aragorn leads his men and an army of the dead to war as the dark cloud from Mordor blocks out the sunlight.
Back in Dunharrow, Merry arrives with Théoden to gather as many Riders as can be found before riding on to Minas Tirith. There Éowyn tells them of Aragorn’s path, and Théoden explains the legends of the haunted path to Merry. As they talk, a herald of Gondor arrives bearing a red arrow and begs for Rohan’s aid. Théoden agrees to lead his men to Minas Tirith, although he warns that their numbers are few. The next morning has no dawn. The king releases Merry from service, telling him that he is too small to ride a horse into battle. A young rider called Dernhelm then offers to carry the hobbit secretly; to Merry, the rider looks like he wants to die.
Pippin spends most of his first day as a Tower Guard standing near Denethor while the steward talks to Gandalf and his other counselors. At sunset, Pippin watches a small group of horsemen try to reach the city while five winged Nazgûl attack them. Gandalf rides to their rescue, driving away the Black Riders, and then escorts Faramir into his father’s presence. There he tells of his meeting with Frodo. Gandalf seems frightened by Frodo’s chosen path, but Denethor is angry with Faramir and jealous of the respect his son gives the wizard. The next morning, the morning with no dawn, Denethor sends the exhausted Faramir back into the field. Soon, watchers on the city’s walls can see and hear fighting and explosions. When the retreat reaches the city, they bring Faramir’s unconscious body with them.
The city is soon surrounded and all the roads — including the one leading to Rohan — are blocked by the enemy, who begins lobbing missiles into the city. Some explode, while others are the heads of the men who have died on the battlefield. Combined with the terrible cries of the Nazgûl, these tactics soon paralyze the defenders. Through the siege, Denethor sits next to the dying Faramir, and Gandalf takes command of the city. When the assault on the gates begins, Denethor has his son carried to the tombs, where he plans to burn both of them alive before the city falls. Pippin races to find Gandalf, finding the wizard at the ruined gates of the city preparing to meet the Lord of the Nazgûl. Just as the Witchking prepares to strike, a cock crows and the horns of Rohan sound in the distance.
Four days out from Dunharrow, Merry feels like an unwanted piece of luggage among the Rohirrim, who have camped while they decide what to do about the army that blocks their road. Ghân-buri-Ghân, a chieftain of the Wild Men, offers to guide them around the orcs by a hidden road. As they approach the battlefield the wind begins to change, and the light of dawn breaks through the edges of the Mordor cloud. A flash and explosion mark the downfall of the gates, but Théoden answers with the horns of Rohan, and they attack the unsuspecting enemy from behind, singing as they ride.
When Aragorn uses the palantìr, he declares himself to Sauron and manages to learn something of the Enemy’s plans. The communication both warns Aragorn of the danger to Minas Tirith and unsettles Sauron, causing the Enemy to attack prematurely. The declaration also initiates his passage through the Paths of the Dead, a traditional part of the mythic hero’s journey. The visit to the underworld tests the hero’s spirit before he can achieve victory (Frodo also passes through death on several occasions) as he demonstrates his courage in the face of death and the ability to lead men to face death themselves. Through the journey he transcends death and even commands the dead themselves, confirming that he is indeed the heir of Isildur and the True King.
The city of Minas Tirith is the remnant of a golden age, proud and majestic but on its way to ruin. Likewise, its ruler, Denethor, is a great man falling away into old age, whose pride will not allow him to accept the wisdom of Gandalf or even of his own son, and Faramir loves his father too dearly to challenge him. When Faramir slides into deadly illness and the armies of Sauron surround the city, Denethor’s pride leads him into madness, and his lack of action could doom his beloved city — he chooses despair rather than seek help. In contrast, Théoden accepts the offer of help from Ghân-buri-Ghân and brings his forces to the field of battle just in time.
butteries pantries or storerooms.
embrasure an opening in a wall or parapet to allow the firing of missiles.
fey marked for death; also marked by otherworldliness.
garner to collect or gather; also what has been collected.
kine cattle.
livery the uniform of the servants of a nobleman.
oast a kiln for drying hops.
sortie a raid or foray, particularly of troops coming out from a defensive position.
sword-thain a military retainer or servant.
tilth cultivated land.
trowels hand tools for spreading mortar.
wains wagons.
weapontake muster, or assemblage of armed men.
wold hilly countryside.
wont habit.

Summary and Analysis: The Return of the King Book 5, Chapters 6–10

The Witchking of the Nazgûl vanishes from the city gates to meet Théoden’s attack. When Théoden’s horse panics and falls on his rider, only Dernhelm and Merry stay. The Witchking laughs, convinced that no man can kill him, but Dernhelm reveals himself as Éowyn, a woman. Merry strikes at the Wraith, and when it stumbles, Éowyn destroys him. Théoden passes, and Éomer leads the Rohirrim in a vengeful charge, not caring about strategy. Merry follows Théoden’s and Éowyn’s bodies into the city. Éowyn is still alive, and the Gondorians send her to the Houses of Healing. Meanwhile, the fighting before the city goes against Gondor when a fleet of black-sailed ships appears on the river. As hope dies, the lead ship unfurls a banner, revealing the tree of Gondor. Aragorn and his men come to shore, along with many fighters they have gathered in southern Gondor, and soon win the battle.
Pippin begs Gandalf to save Faramir from Denethor’s madness. In the mausoleum, they find Faramir laid on an unlit pyre, but Gandalf quickly removes him. The wizard reminds the steward that he should defend his city, but Denethor laughs. He reveals that he holds a palantír, and that it shows victory is impossible. He refuses to yield his power to Aragorn, and if he cannot rule Gondor himself in peace, he prefers death. He tries to stab Faramir, but when that fails he leaps onto the pyre and sets it alight. The horrified witnesses bear Faramir to the Houses of Healing.
Pippin leads Merry to the Houses of Healing. Aragorn enters the city secretly to tend the injured. When he revives Faramir, the new steward recognizes his king. Aragorn treats Éowyn’s injuries, but he notes that her despair goes back far before her encounter with the Nazgûl. Finally, he wakes Merry to grief at the loss of Théoden, but not despair. The next day, Legolas and Gimli explain Aragorn’s timely arrival. After leaving the Paths of the Dead, Aragorn used the army of ghosts to overcome the Corsairs of Umbar. Aragorn released the dead from their oath before sailing upriver with the armies of southern Gondor. A wind from the south blew away the darkness of Mordor and brought the ships to the battle just in time.
While the friends talk, Aragorn and Gandalf hold a council to decide their next actions. Gandalf confirms that they have no hope of winning the war against Sauron, which is why the Council of Elrond decided to destroy the Ring. Once it is gone, Sauron’s power will be destroyed and the war will end. All that the forces of the West can do is try to distract the Enemy so that Frodo can complete his quest. Sauron expects and fears that they will use the Ring, so if they behave as though they have it he will strike at them rather than guard his own country. They decide to set out two days later for Mordor with an army of only seven thousand men.
Legolas and Gimli accompany Aragorn when the army leaves, and Pippin marches with the Guard of Minas Tirith, but Merry stays behind to heal. As they travel, heralds announce the return of the king. Nazgûl haunt their steps, and Aragorn allows the most frightened to turn aside. At the Black Gate, Sauron’s evil herald shows them Frodo’s mithril coat. He threatens years of torture and anguish for the spy if they do not agree to Sauron’s terms. They refuse, and while the messenger races back to the Black Gate, the armies of Mordor surround Aragorn’s small army. Pippin, at first despairing at the signs of Frodo’s capture, hardens his resolve, and soon he kills a hill troll that falls on top of him. He thinks he hears voices announcing the arrival of the eagles, but he passes out before he finds out.
To use a cliché, victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat before the gates of Minas Tirith. Aragorn’s daring the Paths of the Dead allows his dramatic arrival to secure the field, but many people — not least Éowyn and Merry — join together to overcome the Enemy’s overwhelming force. Denethor’s madness provides a contrast to the heroic deeds on the field, an example of how pride and arrogance — his conviction of the hopelessness of the struggle — can destroy nobility and strength. Even Éowyn, who fights because she cannot bear her life, has turned despair into a weapon against the darkness, but Denethor allows it to master him.
Denethor goes mad because he puts faith in the visions of the palantír. Like Galadriel’s mirror, the seeing stones can show the future, but such glimpses are difficult to interpret. Denethor assumes the black ships carry enemies, and he falls into despair — in fact, they carry friends. When Aragorn reveals himself to the Orthanc-stone, Sauron assumes that Isildur’s heir has the Ring, and the Enemy attacks — in fact, Aragorn wants to distract Sauron from Frodo’s quest. These misinterpretations imply that knowing the future does not insure correct decisions, but may even hinder them.
When the Armies of the West set out for Mordor, they again act in the face of despair, without certain knowledge of the outcome. Although these are the traditional heroes of epic story, the warriors, kings, and wizards, they realize that their actions cannot directly win the war with Sauron — they can only hope to give the Ringbearer his chance. While Tolkien clearly admires their heroism, the true hero is a small hobbit, struggling alone to complete his task.
bandy to exchange back and forth.
buckler a small shield.
clemency mercy.
ghylls a deep, rocky ravine; gully.
proffered to present or offer.
quailed cowered or shrank in fear.
sluice an artificial watercourse, or the gate that regulates it.

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