Pride and Despair: A Defense of Ecthelion's Son: Ch. 2. Notes
By Marta


[1] Cadiliniel has a nice essay looking at some of the problems with film!Denethor: "In Defense of Denethor: A Closer Look at Peter Jackson's Misrepresentation. Trust me when I say that you do not want me to talk too much about the issues of movie!Denethor; we'd be here a while.

[2] This movie quote and all subsequent quotes are from the transcripts available at The Seat of Kings. Used without explicit permission, though they do seem available for general use.

[3] For a legal analysis of Pelendur's decision, I highly recommend Roh-wyn's essay, Arvedui v. Pelendur.

[4] By Tolkien's own conceit, The Lord of the Ring is a translation of the Red Book, a hobbit historical memoir compiled by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gamgee.

[5] I'm not saying that these are the only characters who could be considered mentors or lore-masters, but they seem the most obvious examples to me. And this list is enough to illustrate my present point.

[6] The standard example of a Greek tragic hero is Oedipus, a king of Thebes who killed his father and married his mother, and whose two sons started a civil war that let Creon gain the rule of Thebes. The pertinent features of the Greek hero is that he has a position of power (usually a king) but loses it through some fatal flaw, usually pride. For more on the Greek tragic hero, see this treatment of hamartia.

[7] Some may say that Dol Amroth is a province of Gondor rather than an independent kingdom, because the prince of Dol Amroth is said to have gotten his title from Elendil (see note 39, "Appendix: Númenorean Line Measures," "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields," Unfinished Tales). However, it seems to me that Dol Amroth functions much more independently than other Gondorian fiefdoms. The Swan Knights are described as fighting under Dol Amroth's flag, and Finduilas is regularly described as "Finduilas of Dol Amroth" (and other Gondorians, say from Lebennin, are not given this regional descriptor). Perhaps most decisively, HoME XII says that "after the ending of the kings [the Dol Amroth princes] became virtually independent princes." So even if they are subjects of Denethor, it seems like the Dol Amrothians operate as a fairly independent people.

[8] Which they deserve, but that is beside my point.

[9] In a private email exchange, Altariel compared Denethor's attempt to cut Faramir with a knife to Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac. I found this comparison apt because it illustrates how Denethor is trying to sacrifice Faramir, not just to save him from Sauron, but out of allegiance to some personal highest good—not the Valar, but some code of honor. At the least, it shows that Denethor's love of Faramir was rather possessive, at least at the height of his madness. Not his most endearing trait, I admit!

Supplemental Notes

As with many things in life, it really does take a village to write an essay. At least about a character as complex as Denethor. Many people deserve thanks for their help. Thanks to Annmarwalk for her beta assistance and for providing the necessary prodding for me to finally write this thing (via comments in her Far-sighted drabble). And thanks to agape4rivendell for her discussion about Tolkien's charge that Denethor was too "political". That was most helpful. Lyllyn also helped me straighten out why I felt so compelled to defend Denethor, so I could untangle good interpretation from my own psychological idiosyncrasies.

I also thoroughly blame Tanaqui and Gwynnyd for getting me thinking about political implications, and to Tanaqui in particular for our many discussions of Denethor. I have not involved them directly in the writing of this essay, but I would not think about Denethor at the level I do without their assistance. Tanaqui has affected much of how I view Denethor's relationship with Faramir in particular; Gwynnyd has always encouraged me to appreciate the political side of things, and I highly suspect my thoughts on Thorongil somehow trace back to her as well. And I am sure I have absorbed other peoples' opinions as well along the line. This essay has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time.

Finally, much thanks to the HASA Research Library volunteers. Your chronologies were wonderfully helpful in identifying events that might have affected Denethor and Ecthelion, which made that part of the essay much easier to research.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.