A friend and I have been discussing Boromir and Aragorn. During this it occurred to me that Aragorn is a bit wooden, a bit of a prig.
There is no spice of devilry in Aragorn as there is in Boromir. Aragorn is Good and he stays Good, no matter what. Aragorn wouldn’t cuss if he hit his thumb with a hammer. He would roll his eyes upward and whisper, “Arwen!”, or maybe “Boy, does that hurt!”.
Boromir, should he ever pick up a hammer, should he ever swing that hammer, should he ever hit his Noble Thumb, would let loose with “Gadzooks! ‘Sblood! Confounded hammer!” and he would toss the offending article into the shrubbery.
Boromir swaggers, Aragorn plods. Boromir brags, Aragorn has doubts. Boromir was born to wear velvet and ride fine horses, Aragorn was born to wear leather breeches and a rusty jerkin. His horse is “rough coated”. The only time the poor guy ever dressed up, Galadriel lent him the clothes. Were they Celeborn’s? Just where did Galadriel get those duds?
But guess what, boys and girls? Aragorn is a King, and Boromir fell stuck full of Orc arrows, fell dead. An oath-breaker and friend-betrayer, the lordly beautiful man lay in a welter of blood and tears, and died knowing he had committed a foul deed and earned his death.
Still, wicked as he became, Boromir had style, and he had that “it” factor of sex-appeal, and he had it, as they say, in spades. The maidens of Minas Tirith probably all ran to their windows to watch him ride by, they probably threw roses at his feet. They would have tossed him slips of paper with their phone numbers, if they’d had phones.
Aragorn? Well, an Elf princess loves him, in a tepid and bloodless way. Their love is the fulfillment of some ancient prophecy, the tying up of some loose ends. It is a melancholy affair, of tears and a heart-broken father, and the lovers don’t get to spend a lot of time together. They have some dim future to look forward to, if things go well. But things might go very badly, and their love might never be more than a few kisses and sighs. Arwen’s love for Aragorn is notable chiefly because she gives up her immortality for him. Undoubtedly noble, but where are the eager embraces, and the bone-melting kisses?
Then a blonde tom-boy falls for Aragorn. She sees something in him that moves her cool Northern spirit and she throws herself at him and he draws back, not offended, but wounded by this worship he cannot return. He doesn’t say, even in the deepest deepest place in his heart, “Wow! I must be quite the guy, if this frozen shieldmaiden thaws just being in the same room as me!” No, Aragorn is saddened and mortified, and Eowyn creeps away. That lucky girl gets Faramir later on, which I think is almost more than she deserves.
Yet. Yet. Aragorn has “it” too. Aragorn is manly and bold, though he is quietly bold and quietly masculine. Aragorn is the kind of man you would be glad to be marooned with, because he would know how to build a hut and catch fish, and he would never, never presume on the situation. Honourable, our Aragorn. He broods a bit, because he has secrets. Aragorn must be the source of the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” He never lies, he never cheats, he never bends his high standards for any reason. He IS noble, while Boromir LOOKS noble.
I have been more than half in love with Aragorn since 1966. I have walked every step of the way with him from Rivendell to the Black Gates so many times I’ve lost track. He improves on aquaintance. He is kind, gentle, and honest. He is tough. He can do hard things. Now and again he laughs, and now and again he writes poetry. He knows old songs, and weeps over the death of a friend. Even though that friend betrayed him.
Aragorn wooden? Not once you get to know him. He takes some knowing, our Strider. Some precious things are harder to see than others