Episode 204 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

They shall represent the Free Peoples of the World:
  • If the composition of the Company is symbolic, who is the audience for this symbolism?
  • Note: When confronting the Mouth of Sauron with representatives of all of the Free Peoples, Aragorn has an obvious target for that symbolic gesture, which is the Mouth and Sauron himself.
  • The secrecy of the Company means that any symbolism cannot be meant for the Enemy.
  • Is this for their own sake, and what power is in that symbolism for them? It’s possible that in the choosing of the individual representatives, they are recalling that they were all called by fate.
  • It’s possible that as members of the Council of Elrond, these now bear witness to the Ring.
  • This also shows solidarity and support of all the Free Peoples to Frodo himself on his quest.
  • Note: While in the films this support was shown by the pledging of weapons and as warriors, what Frodo is most in need of on this journey is emotional and spiritual support while carrying the Ring, as Elrond has said that what will help in the quest is not strength or wisdom. Elrond’s intuition will be justified as the members of the Company will participate in the whole war.
  • It’s highly likely that Elrond dispatched messages to Erebor and Mirkwood, especially with their returning embassies, to inform them that Gimli and Legolas would not be coming home yet.
  • Note: The fact that messages need to be sent between the Elven realms shows that the films’ assertion of distant telepathy is not possible in the book, though it can be done in person.
Maybe the end of his labours:
  • While Frodo and Sam are named as the ones actually carrying out the quest, and Gandalf is named as acting according to his fate, the others’ relationship is more tangential to the Ring.
  • He is also the first one who is connected to the Ring, while Gandalf is there to oppose Sauron.
  • Why did Gandalf only say that he “might go” before? He seems to be deferring to the authority and wisdom of Elrond, and that Elrond seems to have been delegated this task by Providence.
  • When Gandalf made that statement, he left to speak with Elrond immediately afterwards.
  • While it seems a certainty that Gandalf would come, he would not want to say so before hearing if Elrond had some other idea or plan that may seem wiser and would help assure their success.
  • It’s also possible that he was reticent to put himself in position to be tempted by the Ring and would view anyone eager to accompany the Ring on this journey with suspicion of temptation.
  • Sam is not eager to go with the Ring, but rather to go with Frodo and help him however he can.
  • This lack of desire for the Ring makes Sam the best possible companion for Frodo on his quest.
  • Note: Tolkien operated on a general principle of caution regarding those who seek out power and leadership positions, stemming from the principle of “nolo episcopari” in Catholicism. Also, Gandalf may not have a premonition or foresight that he might die on the journey, but he would be willing to die in the attempt for it to be sincere, or otherwise risk becoming like Saruman.
  • Elrond seems to refer to the end of Gandalf’s “labours” as a happy occasion for him in the end.
The Ring of Isildur:
  • Aragorn is set in a special place through his relationship with Isildur as his direct descendant.
  • Having multiple kinds of titles, the choice of referring to him by his patrilineal title is important.
  • This emphasizes his lineage, and it would also refer to his chieftainship of the Dúnedain, though it also identifies him as a Ranger, and not as a possible claimant to the throne of Gondor.
  • Therefore, this is not an assertion of his possible kingship, but because of Isildur and the Ring.
  • Aragorn had already stated that he felt that it was his responsibility to repair Isildur’s fault as far back as when he began the hunt for Gollum, and long before he even met Frodo later in Bree.
  • If Aragorn had been named as the heir of Elendil, asserting his birthright, this would be detrimental to his resisting to the Ring, as it would put him in the same position as Isildur.
  • Even Frodo had expected Aragorn to claim the Ring as the heir of Isildur, which he didn’t.
  • Pointing toward Arathorn does suggest the line of kings but is gentler than naming Elendil.
  • Why does Elrond refer to the One Ring here as “the Ring of Isildur”, and not “Isildur’s Bane”?
  • This seems to be to remind everyone there, even Aragorn himself, of this connection to Isildur’s fault in claiming the Ring, and that it is only this mistake that connects Aragorn to the Ring.
  • Note: While in the films, Aragorn’s primary relationship to the Ring was in his desire to resist its temptation and not repeat Isildur’s mistake, in the book, Aragorn is more proactive in his trying to help the Ring be destroyed, which is what Isildur should have done in the first place.
  • This is not seen as a prerequisite to becoming king, but as the means to heal the kingship itself.
  • Note: Aragorn will be seen as re-founding the kingship anew, removing the Ring’s stain. He will also play a parallel role to Beren, though by destroying the Ring instead of claiming a Silmaril.
Strider returns:
  • Frodo’s referring to Aragorn by his Ranger name also emphasizes that it is in this role that Aragorn will set out with Frodo again, ironically paralleled to Bree, not as the heir to the throne.
  • Aragorn’s smile shows that the picks up on the connection and is willing to banter with Frodo.
  • They may be imagining what someone like Butterbur would think of Strider going on the quest.
  • Note: In the film, Frodo is made the center of the pledges that are made at the Council, though in the book, that is not what is happening here. Frodo seems to know that he doesn’t have a say in who the companions are, as that is Elrond’s prerogative, but Elrond is also aware of and honors pledges of support that have already been given, such as Aragorn’s in the Prancing Pony.
  • Aragorn’s asking for permission is a joke, calling back to the inn in Bree for the punchline.
  • Gandalf had already told Frodo that companions would be chosen for him, so he isn’t expecting to have a say in this, but he is delighted to see that those he would have chosen are coming.
  • Aragorn had clearly communicated his intentions to go to Minas Tirith with Boromir in the two months during the Council, and that he regarded the dream as a summons to go to war there.
  • By referring to the “Sword-that-was-Broken”, he reaffirms that he will answer that summons.
  • This also acts as the prompt that the actual Sword should now be reforged, as was prophesied.
  • Therefore, Aragorn has a double purpose in going with the Company, which is both to act as the heir of Elendil in opposing Sauron with war, but as the heir of Isildur in destroying the Ring.
  • Frodo is the one that spots the apparent conflict between those two objectives, and Aragorn chooses not to respond to it. Rather, he also reassures that Boromir will be on the same road.
  • This, however, doesn’t reconcile these two competing priorities for Aragorn, and it’s clear that Aragorn can’t do both unless he sees the Company itself as a recapitulation of the Last Alliance.
  • Note: Aragorn will delay this decision for a long time until the Fellowship is finally broken. There will be a shift in priorities once he becomes the leader following Gandalf’s death, but not total.
  • Elrond does not introduce Boromir into the Company, but rather leaves this to Aragorn to do.
  • Boromir himself doesn’t seem to be in the room, like Legolas and Gimli are not there also.
  • Aragorn seems set, at this point, on going to Minas Tirith no matter which way the quest goes.
  • Boromir has stayed at Rivendell since the Council, which seems important, as he would have had time to start his return to Gondor, so this means that he must have volunteered early on.
  • He may feel that he must return with Aragorn in order to fulfill his charge and is waiting for him.
  • Could Boromir have also stayed to be close to the Ring? There is no direct evidence of this yet.
  • While Frodo and Sam seemed to observe Boromir’s interest in the Ring, it could be unconscious.
  • Elrond seems to have tacitly approved of Boromir’s staying, though he doesn’t say that aloud.
  • It also seems as though Providence has provided Boromir for this mission, which Elrond knows.
  • Note: There is no reason to question Boromir’s word that he had received Faramir’s dream, though he might have told this to Denethor in order to support Faramir being taken seriously.
  • What does it mean that Aragorn only describes Boromir as “a valiant man? He is the only one who is praised as part of the presentation of the Company as if it justifies his going with them.
  • Sam had been praised as faithful, but merely as description. Aragorn’s praise of Boromir seems to be intended to reassure Frodo of his place in the Company, but not because of his identity.
  • It’s possible that Aragorn had been the one to suggest Boromir being included in the Company.
  • The shortness of Aragorn’s statement stands out, as if he is trying to make a special point with it.