The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

From postings to rec.arts.books.tolkien by myself, Shimpei Yamashita <> and David Salo <dsalo-aaaaaaat-usa-dawt-net>, dated 19 April - 24 April 1997.

Products of a discussion begun when one poster asked the question:
Luthien vs. Arwen - Who was the better babe?

Posted by O. Sharp:

Let's start with Luthien... along with being the "fairest child of Elves or Men", the daughter of a Maia, and the most accomplished singer of all time, she also loved her man so much as to be willing to knock out her guards and leave home and face down Sauron and beat Sauron's sorry ass just to stand by him. She was willing to go with him straight to Thangorodrim itself, put one over on Morgoth(!), and even after all that still cared for him so much that she was willing to go to Mandos and talk the Valar into bringing Beren back to life. Let's face it: Luthien Tinuviel was one hot thoroughly accomplished scared-o-nothin' clever-as-hell broad.

Now, let's look at Arwen... According to Return of the King appendices A and B, Aragorn first met Arwen and fell in love with her in T.A. 2951 - but Arwen wouldn't even give him the time of day until twenty-nine years later. Her father, Elrond, made it clear that she wasn't gonna marry Aragorn unless he became the Ruler of Gondor and Arnor; and when Aragorn joined the Fellowship and went forth on the hopeless mission to overthrow Sauron, did Arwen help him, as Luthien helped Beren? No! She stayed at home and read magazines until the War was already down to the last gasp, and even then she refused to show up herself but just sent all of Aragorn's friends south to offer all the moral support instead! Oh, sure, once all the dirty work was already done, then she shows up - probably carried all the way there in a sedan chair by some sweating oafish admirers - to finally say, "Ohhhh, Aragorn! Now that you've become the king of several hundred thousand acres of prime real-estate and defeated all of our dire enemies, suddenly you look much more handsome", and in the blink of an eye she's all ready to say the hell with what Dad thinks and marry him. ...Put it all together and what have you got? A cheap, greedy, standoffish gold-digging trollop.

Luthien or Arwen? Come on! Stop kidding around. The "fairest child of Elves or Men" wins hands down. If you're going to give us a contest, at least make it a relatively fair one... like, say, the favorite "who-would-win" contest from last year:

Arwen -vs- Eowyn: Mud-Wrestling For The Hand of Aragorn! :)

Posted by Shimpei Yamashita:


Aragorn? Are we talking about the same sad excuse for a Dunadan who couldn't get over a stuck-up older woman who wouldn't give him the time of the day for twenty-nine years? The same rat who connived to usurp the kingship of Gondor -- a realm that had happily gotten rid of the last king nearly 1000 years ago -- taking advantage of some broken, rusty, factory-refurbished sword he found in his foster father's attic and a 1000 old myth about his ancestors? (How would you react if the descendent of Charlemagne showed up in Paris today to claim kingship over France, bringing in the shroud of Turin as the evidence?)

You have to admire the intricacies of his insidious plot to weaken and eventually eliminate the line of the Stewards while keeping his hands clean, though. First, he "erred" by leaving Boromir to die at the hands of Orcs (then had the cheek to win himself renown for chasing those same Orcs down Rohan, while making Eomer and friends do the actual work in destroying them!). Then he sent in his partners-in-evil, Gandalf Stormcrow and Peregrin the Hobbit, to fill poor Denethor with grief, entice him into looking into the Palantir, and hasten his death (but not so quickly that he couldn't win brownie points by arriving "just in time" to save the day at Minas Tirith, only hours after Denethor had died!). And, after the war was over, he finally marched in himself to wrest power peacefully from Faramir, who was too spineless to resist him (not that he could have done much, after all the clever PR campaigns Aragorn had done for himself in the city). Talk about perfect crime -- Saruman would have been proud.

All this, for bagging one Elven wench [1]. And you call Beren "lusty"? I think not.


[1] See p. 277 in Return of the King: "A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood." I'm honestly convinced that Aragorn would not have gone through so much trouble to gain kingship over Gondor were it not for Elrond dangling Arwen over his head -- he never seems hungry for glory, power or authority anywhere else in the book.

Posted by David Salo:

To be fair to Faramir, he was extremely sick in bed at the time of the coup d'etat (really Gandalf's, with Aragorn as figurehead) and by the time he could get up it was too late, and he was smart enough to know whose good side to get on.

Of course, history does not record the savage suppression of the 'Steward's Rebellion' in Ithilien in the early Fourth Age...

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"...and they plighted their troth and were glad." - Return of the King, p. 341.