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Aragorn: in the light of the change

Drawn by the light

In this first meeting with Strider we are entitled to wonder if this is not a wraith. There is a hooded figure and it seems dark and forbidding. But we see that the figure is in shadow but not from shadow. The function of the clothing and the setting of the character is for concealment, anonymity not menace. The shadowy face is picked out by the reflected light of the candle. A man in shadow found by the play of light. Half in shadow and half in light. We suspect that he is happier to be concealed and that if the light did not find his features we wouldn’t know what they were. There is a question of identity here. How many layers of shadow beneath that expression lies the true Strider? What quality of light would reveal the depths and illuminate the truth?

With his chosen love the light seems not to fall directly on Strider, now revealed as Aragorn, but on Arwen. The light reflects onto Aragorn’s face from Arwen‘s. As in our first encounter, there is an expression of troubled identity with Aragorn picked out by a reflected light. This time the light's reflection comes not from a candle but off the face of his love. Arwen is not questioning his identity but is simply bringing a light to him. She challenges his preference for the concealing shadow. Arwen holds him up to the light. The function of her light is to bring him to an honesty about himself. Aragorn cannot hide his identity here. Arwen has covered her elf ears with her hair signalling that her desire is to be joined to Aragorn and therefore sacrifice her immortality. She has chosen her identity and path and her choice is unequivocal. Now she looks for the same in Aragorn. Arwen cradles Aragorn as if he is a gift to her. She holds his head to the light like a chalice. Arwen brings light to Aragorn and illuminates the potential in the man.

Notice how throughout Fellowship Aragorn is never far from the concealing shadow. His choice of clothing is always dark. At Rivendell he wears more regal attire but once again the choices are dark hues reflecting a duality between his status and his mind: between declared kingship and hidden identity.

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