It says a lot for screen Aragorn that he jilts one girl and tries to
jilt a second, but still retains our sympathy.
It is almost impossible for him not to look a heel as he gives
Éowyn her marching orders. He is of course doing The Right Thing
but it does look awfully cruel. One can understand, watching this
scene, why women often prefer rogues who lie to sterling heroes who
tell the plain unvarnished truth. Perhaps the rogues have more
Aragorn couches his brush-off in language designed to appeal to
Éowyn's common sense; 'I can't give you what you want', so she
should stop wasting her time and chase someone more eligible. No wonder
that did not work. It is some consolation that Éowyn manages to
stay on her feet, in the book she falls to her knees to beg Aragorn to
stay. Film Éowyn sees the cause is lost and remains upright.
The following scene with her uncle is interesting. He obviously knows
what has happened and has a smile of sympathy on his face, but also
seems a bit amused, as if he knows that being jilted is a worse
disaster to the young. Telling Éowyn that she can rule in his
place is obviously supposed to be a great honour and he is a bit taken
aback when she is underwhelmed by it all. He realises then that his
niece is really hurting and takes her hands in his and talks to her
with genuine love and empathy.
Aragorn's attempt to jilt Arwen does not go so well for him, as Arwen
is made of sterner stuff and he is only doing it because Elrond has put
pressure on him. I think Arwen spots this straight off. But Aragorn
uses words that are poignant, and so quite hurtful;
'It was a dream, Arwen'
This harks back to their meeting in The Two Towers where she wakes him
from his dream. Now he is saying that their love is no more than a
dream. Arwen is horrified, but regains her dignity and when he tries to
give back the Evenstar she refuses it;
'It was a gift; keep it'
Arwen, in fact, simply ignores Aragorn's attempt at a brush-off and
continues to love him and hope for a future for them together. In the
film she exerts her powers to save him from the river. When her father
forces her to leave, she comes back. When he tries to refuse to reforge
the sword she begins to relinquish her life as Elves can do. All this
without any real return from Aragorn, who is busy bashing orcs. This is
no woman to be jilted.