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November, 12 2005
OK, folks-this is the general forum now for questions that don't seem to fit in any of the other threads. I'm going to sort some of the earlier posts into the appropriate forums, but it might take a while, so bear with me. I'll delete the ones that have already been reposted by their authors.
I'm puzzled by this attitude on the part of Aragorn, and Hethlin too for that matter. She's a humble girl, but she can't imagine that Elrohir might choose to stay in Middle Earth for reasons besides his love for her (if indeed he does love her)? He said that he'd been arguing with Elrond for many years about that very issue, long before he knew Hethlin.
I think she can imagine it, it's just that she would feel like a murderer if he stayed. Like you said, the Gift of Men gets short shrift in these sorts of debates, probably because neither the Elves nor the Men know what truly comes after for Men, therefore it's a little difficult to see it as such a bargain, particularly when the advantages of the Elven side of things-immortality and basically eternal youth are so obvious.
And Aragorn surely knows this. In fact, I've been wondering if part of Elrohir's lingering anger toward his foster brother is due to the fact that by wedding Arwen, Aragorn has placed Elrohir (and Elladan) in a real conundrum -- now if they choose to stay, Elrond & Celebrian will lose all their children. If prior to falling in love with Aragorn Arwen had intended to travel West with her father, the twins could have considered staying on in Middle Earth without imposing *such* a high price on their parents -- they'd still have Arwen with them. Elrond still wouldn't have liked it but it would have been a slightly less bitter pill to swallow.
That's a very good point, and there may very well be some truth in it, as well as a bit of a feeling of betrayal on Elrohir's part. Here they go to all the trouble of making Aragorn part of the family, only to have him take an action that will sunder that family completely.
So yeah, it is quite presumptuous of Aragorn to advise anyone about depriving Elrond of his children. Except that in saying that, one removes responsibility from Arwen -- it was her choice to make. Elrohir's anger is misplaced -- it rightly should be directed at Arwen if at anyone. As Aragorn himself observed to Hethlin, you can't command another's heart. Arwen is her own person, who for her own reasons opted to give priority to the love she feels for Aragorn over going West. Possibly she has other reasons for staying in Middle Earth, who knows? But Aragorn isn't responsible for her choice; to suggest that he is is to strip her of self-determination. I guess he could have refused to wed her despite the feelings they had for each other ... but would that have allowed her to live happily ever after in Valinor?
Another good point, and I fear I might be responding to Tolkien's rather one-dimensional depiction of Arwen when I have Elrohir react in this way and not give his sister any credit for having a mind of her own. Arwen has always been difficult for me, and the one thing I absolutely despise is the way that Tolkien makes her sort of go back on her bargain there at the end. I've read various peoples' justifications for it, but it always seemed to be that he totally robbed her of any dignity.
Maybe Elrohir isn't the one for Hethlin, but I don't see why he can't be. I guess I would find it hard to swallow if he chose to stay in Middle Earth solely for the sake of love for Hethlin... but if he's already got lots of reasons for staying, loving Hethlin could be the thing that tips the scales for him. Or sweetens the pot he was already planning on taking. But all of that -- his other reasons for staying, and loving or not loving Hethlin -- are up to him! Not Hethlin. Not Aragorn. Not even Elrond. Everyone thinks they have Elrohir's best interests at heart, but surely a 3,000 year old being can make his own choices. If I were in Elrohir's shoes I'd be highly vexed by everyone trying to prod me in a direction I don't necessarily want to go in, just to ease their consciences, or because they've made a choice and want me to come along with them. I'm sure that Elrond really wouldn't be happy if his son(s) lived a discontented eternity in Valinor. What fun that would be for everyone!
And I suspect that he might very well be discontent in Valinor. In fact, I'm almost sure of it.
I'm really intrigued by Elrohir's relationship with Hethlin. Puzzled and intrigued. I think they could be good together in the long run, although I could see her being happy with someone else too. Perhaps Amrothos! But I don't see why the relationship between Hethlin and Elrohir must be a non-starter. If ever there was a human woman worthy of the love of an elf, it's Hethlin! (I've always found it slightly irksome that the few elf-human pairings on record were always between elven females and human males. I know, Aegnor & Andreth, but that didn't come to pass because he held back.)
It would be a historic first, wouldn't it? You make some tempting arguments, Rebecca!
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