Forum: Deconstructing Denethor

Discussing: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Hello, fellow Denethor fans, this is Loremaster of Anorien. I joined HASA a few weeks and absolutely love it here. It's great to know that I'm not the only obsessive, lifeless person in the world. (Not that I'm insulting anyone. ) Anyway, I'm still suffering from awe-sickness. I mean, a lot of you have written the BEST House of Hurin fics I've ever read. It was actually due to your fics that I began liking Denethor in the first place, and I'm trying to get it through my skull that I can actually *gasp* communicate with you. To get back to what I was blabbering about, I recently finished a Denethor/Finduilas fic, Of Denethor and Finduilas , and after finishing it, I decided that I had written an OOC Denethor. After lamenting on and on over my perceived notion that I had written an OOC Denethor (whether I had is open to interpretation ), a question hit me. How far can someone go in portraying Denethor's character in fanfic? How can a person know if she (or he) has written him out-of-character? Of course, I'm not really sure if I'm the only one struggling with writing his character, but I would love to know what all of you have to say. Namarie! Loremaster

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I'm not a Denethor fan. Or rather, I'm not what I call a Denethor Apologist. I think he was a complex and not entirely villainous man, but I don't think of him as a hero. He is what I would call a great character in terms of drama, and of writing; since he's one of Tolkien's best-written characters IMO. I've seen Denethor written as a child-beating, nearly crazy or actually crazy Palantir addict. I've also seen him written as a kindly father totally undone by Sauron's evil via the palantir. The truth, in my opinion, is somewhere in between. I see Denethor as a man who was as much undone by his own pride and nature as by Sauron's Palantir-borne malice and the Shadow's impending fall. Others may differ, and probably do. Where would the fun be if everyone agreed? I didn't much care for the movie version of Denethor - waste of a good and very attractive actor. Common to both movie and book Denethor are these characteristics/events: Denethor loved both his sons, but loved Boromir more than Faramir, and spoke his preference in front of others, at least in ROTK; Boromir had a somewhat protective attitude towards his younger brother, Denethor's good opinion mattered very much to Faramir, but not enough for Faramir to bring the Ring to him and so risk corruption of all he held dear, Denethor resented Gandalf both for Gandalf's association with Aragorn/Thorongil and Gandalf's suspected influence over Faramir; Denethor sent Faramir out on an extremely dangerous mission with harsh words rather than a farewell or a blessing; and wounded Faramir's return drove Denethor into the final downward spiral. Denethor is not an easy character to write. He is a complex man with good qualities and bad; and a man of great intensity and passion and pride; and high intelligence. He also doesn't give much of himself away easily; he's very guarded; though I think he would be more relaxed in Finduilas' company. I've written Denethor twice, in a mega-drabble (BIRTHDAY KISSES), from Imrahil's POV; and in the first part of a very short story (OFFERINGS, published at HASA). I have no great desire to get into his head again, but we'll see what the muse inspires. I think you can go as far in writing Denethor's character as seems reasonable to your judgment, after researching the character in the LOTR books. You should be able to glean a certain amount of insight into the character from what his sons say of him, what Gandalf says of him, what Pippin views of him, and Denethor's own words and actions, as well as the very informative backstory in the Appendix. I personally try to apply write within the parameters of what I see as Tolkien's Denethor. When I wrote BIRTHDAY KISSES - my Faramir-gets-a-puppy-for-his-sixth-birthday mega-drabble - I based it upon my personal belief that Denethor did not care for dogs, was not what I call a "dog person", but would have tolerated Finduilas' dog(s) while she lived, and would also have had the perception to see that Faramir needed the comfort of a puppy as a connection to his dead mother. I don't see Denethor as being cruel to animals; but just not the type of person who would enjoy canine companionship. I extrapolated this idea from what I'd read of him, the pride in tradition, the image of Denethor as a lonely man who did not encourage closeness (after Finduilas' death at least) and my interpretation that he would be someone who treasured silence, quiet contemplation, cleanliness and order - and would not respond to a dog's desire for affection and attention and physical interaction...I'm not saying that my interpretation is the only possible one of Denethor, but that's how I went about it. (btw, being a dog person is not my only litmus test of a person's worth - Supposedly Hitler was very fond of dogs. I have some friends who have cats instead of dogs...) RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Denethor loved both his sons, but loved Faramir more than Boromir Heh. Is that a mistake...or some sort of Freudian slip?

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Oopsie! Definitely a mistake. I'm the one who loves Faramir more than Boromir! Must go and fix. R.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I think that the best way to tell if Denethor, or any one else, has become out-of-character is to go through, in your mind or on paper, the logical steps that the person would go through in their development as a person, starting from how you've written them, and ending with the actions that they take in the books. (Of course, this doesn't work if you are writing about events in the future, in which case it has to go backwards, and it's just a messy jumble when you try to write something that takes place during the book.) The best stories take factors such as time, catalyst events in the character's life, and the influence of other characters into consideration, and then decide what the logical state of the character would be, and how they should be best portrayed. Well, that's what I do, anyways, and I'm not sure that anyone else can decipher it. If you can, my hat's off to ya. I agree with what Raksha said about Denethor not being one extreme or the other... I don't envision Denethor as either a perfect guy who isn't at all responsible for what happens to him in the end, and I definitely don't envision him as a crazy, child-beating, dog-kicking fiend, either.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Thanks muchly for all your pointers and opinions. Denethor is an extremely difficult character to write. I too don't believe he's a bad guy, but he doesn't strike me as Mr. Touchy-feely either. One of the reasons I put this up was because, well, I wrote a Denethor romance of all things, and he ended a little softer than I envisioned him to be. Anyone mind reading my fic (It's linked in my post.) and telling me how I did portraying him? I briefly considered putting it up for review but was unsure if it was good enough for the public archive. Anyway, thanks! Namarie! Loremaster

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Hi Loremaster Sorry for the late response. Given the wide variation in how Denethor is portrayed in fanfic, it seems it isn't possible to be OOC given the variety of reader responses to the character! I think Eldamir is exactly right to ask: can I logically get here from what I see in the books. (Which is why I personally think physically abusive Denethor is OOC, because I don't see that kind of violence in him until he really does go mad. Now, emotionally abusive Denethor is a whole different matter....) I'm not a complete Denethor apologist (Raksha may disagree with me on that ): the man did some monstrous things. What interests me is how someone whom Tolkien apparently intended to be basically decent (he does mention his "pure" Numenorean descent) became such a monster. How did Denethor and Faramir, who are so very similar in many ways, end up making such different choices? One aspect that IMHO often gets overlooked is that Denethor had two aspects to his interactions with his sons: professional as well as personal. At least some of the time when he's being tough on Faramir, it's as a commander-in-chief with a captain, rather than a father with a son. I would expect Denethor to be tough on any captain - although I also feel he drives his sons harder because he fears criticisms that he's protecting his sons while sending others' sons to die. (What you make of the "correctness" of Denethor's strategies is another matter - Tolkien, in Letters, saw Denethor as "tainted by 'politics'" and thinking only, selfishly and inappropriatel of Gondor rather than the wider needs of M-e.) To me, part of the tragedy of Denethor is that he put "professional" before "personal" for all of Faramir's life, and realised the folly of that only when (he thought) it was too late and Faramir was dead. Anyway, enough rambling. I'll take a look at your story over the next couple of days and give you some feedback soon. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

How did Denethor and Faramir, who are so very similar in many ways, end up making such different choices? Before I address this, I'll freely admit to being something of a Denethor apologist. I think the disastrous end he meets with in RoTK is a convenient literary device to remove a rather sticky hurdle in Aragorn's path. As for Faramir and Denethor, I think the only way to address this issue is to imagine what a 35 year old Denethor was like. At that stage in his life, Denethor is apparently a good soldier and a good scholar, much like Faramir. Again, like Faramir, I assume that he has a strained relationship with his father, who openly disdains him in favor of another. Like Faramir, he also has marriage and family ahead of him. Now add to all that the death of a beloved wife and the fact that Denethor becomes Steward at a fairly dark time in Gondor's history. He spends almost 40 years trying to keep the Shadow at bay. If Faramir had to endure all that Denethor did, who is to say he wouldn't have turned out much the same (although perhaps less grim and more compassionate)? thinking only, selfishly and inappropriatel of Gondor rather than the wider needs of M-e I find this criticism particularly objectionable (even if it does come directly from Tolkien). Denethor is not responsible for all of Middle Earth. He is ruler of Gondor and it is his responsibility to do everything he can to protect Gondor. He has a solemn responsibility (a blood oath even) to safeguard Gondor, to hold it in trust for the king. What kind of ruler would he be, if in keeping the bigger picture in mind, he did things that might endanger Gondor? His view might seem shortsighted, but not (I think) inappropriate. In this I think he and Faramir are in perfect agreement. They both will do anything to protect Gondor. They just disagree on the means.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Hi roh_wyn FWIW, I don't personally disagree substantially with any of what you've suggested. I was (I hope) more trying to throw some ideas out for the mix about what Tolkien said and what that might mean, rather than take the argument one way or the other. I agree with you that Denethor was in an incredibly difficult role for many many years, even if you don't throw the palantir into the mix, and he cared passionately about Gondor. His "nationalist" view was not necessarily completely "wrong", just as Faramir's more "internationalist" view was not necessarily completely "right". And I always feel Faramir might well have made a terrible steward if he'd been the one in charge for the particular 35 years during which Denethor ruled, with that particular set of problems. He'd have certainly had to become a lot more ruthless! Denethor was definitely one of the "losers" that history can be so cruel to.... Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Hi Liz! His "nationalist" view was not necessarily completely "wrong", just as Faramir's more "internationalist" view was not necessarily completely "right". You make a good point there....and the parallel to modern day geopolitics is uncanny. So who'd make a better President or PM in 2005? Denethor or Faramir?

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Hi Liz! His "nationalist" view was not necessarily completely "wrong", just as Faramir's more "internationalist" view was not necessarily completely "right". You make a good point there....and the parallel to modern day geopolitics is uncanny. So who'd make a better President or PM in 2005? Denethor or Faramir?

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I think Faramir would have made an excellent Steward of Gondor in Denethor's place. Just because Faramir preferred, when possible, to be gentle and compassionate, doesn't mean that he's incapable of making hard decisions. Faramir does have a tough streak, he wouldn't have lasted so long in Ithilien killing men and (possibly) orcs, and possibly spies in guerilla warfare if he didn't. Not to mention dealing with his father for 35 years. I'm not sure that Faramir would have looked into the palantir as frequently, or relied on it so heavily. He might have been quicker to make alliances; Denethor seems to have been a very isolated man, personally and politically, with the fiefs coming in at the very last minute. Denethor doesn't seem to have had any long-term strategies; Faramir might have, in his place, worked closer with Gandalf and known earlier how huge a threat Mordor was becoming. Not that Denethor had a lot of choices, though... I think Faramir is the type of man who would have had greater internal resources to deal with the grief that Denethor suffered after Finduilas died. Again, Denny's tendancy to self-isolation was, in my opinion, a strong factor in his downfall; it's part of what I believe is a major control-freak problem in Denny's character. A leader, be he Steward or President, must have the ability to lead and command loyalty. Both Faramir and Denethor have it, though in my opinion, Faramir has it in greater measure. They must be able to make hard decisions; as both Faramir and Denethor do, frequently. But I wouldn't trust Denethor, at least the Denethor of pre-Pyre ROTK, which is the only Denethor we really come to know well, in a position of power that entails nuclear weapons. He is too much the control freak; and he doesn't trust anyone else. A president, or a Steward, needs advisors whose advice he'll respect and occasionally follow. And, very important, he needs friends; to help him deal with the stress of such a high-pressure position. My vote for President in 2005 would be for Faramir. Also for Steward; and not because of politics - Faramir would put Gondor first, but would try to be fair to the rest of the world. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

think the disastrous end he meets with in RoTK is a convenient literary device to remove a rather sticky hurdle in Aragorn's path. Actually, I think you are missing the point of what Tolkien intends to be a very specific counterposition between Denethor and Aragorn. Just consider the following: 1. The palantir: When Aragorn looks in the palantir, he wrenches it away from Sauron's control, with the specific aim of drawing the Dark Lord's attention to himself and away from Frodo. He is then able to use it to find out about the military threat from the corsairs. When Denethor looks into the palantir, he is progressively ensnared by Sauron's illusions, which finally contribute to the overthrow of his mind. 2. defense of Gondor: Aragorn trods the paths of the Dead to mobilize the only army available to him to put down the corsairs. And in the process of passing across the country to Pelargir, he not only pulls together yet another army to go to the defense of Minas Tirith, but is hailed as king by about half the country, at least. Denethor wages a losing, defensive operation, and finally gives up. 3. the message of the dream-summons: The dream that comes mainly to Faramir ("seek for the sword that was broken") is a specific summons to Aragorn to come to the city. (It's other things as well, but that's one of its purposes.) Tolkien is big on destiny and doom and all that kind of thing, and he is saying specifically that Aragorn is meant to play this role. But for Denethor, the realization that Aragorn is on his way to claim the kingship is another of the issues that sends him over the edge. It's my belief that he is quite well aware that Aragorn, "this Ranger of the North," and Thorongil are the same man. So he is denying "destiny" and part of the Numenorean heritage (the 10,000 years thing) for the sake of holding on to his own personal power. 4. the healing hands: Aragorn saves Faramir's life (as well as others). Denethor tries to do him in. All this being said, I don't think Denethor is supposed to be the "bad guy." I think he is a very interesting character and that Aragorn knew his value (my story The Summons refers to this). I definitely do not like the Denethor as child abuser theme in fanfic. That just destroys all of Tolkien's subtlety (like Peter Jackson did with that ridiculous caricature). Gandalf specifically says that "the blood of Numenor runs nearly true in him." If you follow canon (and on this I do), this is very high praise. So the relationship between Denethor and Thorongil is a very interesting one indeed to explore. The self-immolation, far from being just a convenient plot twist, brings to a resolution the specific comparison Tolkien is making. While Aragorn is winning the battle of the Pelennor, Denethor is burning himself and his son alive. As far as "nationalism" vs. "internationalism," the point, again, is that the Numenoreans are supposed to be the guardians or overlords of Middle-earth. As Gandalf says later to Aragorn, part of his job as the King is to preserve what can be preserved of the best of the old life.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Actually, I think you are missing the point of what Tolkien intends to be a very specific counterposition between Denethor and Aragorn. 1. The palantir Tolkien makes it clear that although Denethor is not king, he does use the palantir rightfully. It's the duty of a good ruler to use all the intelligence available to him. I will concede Raksha's point that Denethor is something of a control freak, so he "needs" to use the device more than is probably wise. Aragorn is not in the same position as Denethor vis-a-vis the palantir. It's all well and good to say that he's being noble and doing it to bail Frodo out, but that doesn't make his situation comparable to Denethor's situation at all. If Aragorn had been in the proximity of a device like the palantir for 40 odd years, can you say for certain that he would only have used it for noble ends...even with the need to know the Enemy's mind is so dire? 2. Defense of Gondor Presumably, Denethor isn't sitting on the couch eating bon bons while Gondor is being attacked. He has ordered the beacons lit, he's sent out his red arrow to Rohan, etc. It's not as if he really has any other allies he can count on. Who is he supposed to turn to? Arnor? Elves? Istari? Aragorn is able to muster the Dead to the Pelennor ONLY because he's carrying a famous sword. It's not his valor or his abilities as a military commander that win the day. A line from The Holy Grail about swords and watery tarts comes to mind.... 3. Faramir's Dream Denethor undoubtedly knows who Thorongil/Aragorn is in RoTK. But I don't think his hostility to Thorongil is simply a greedy power grab. Remember that the Gondorian tradition is that only the male line descendants of Anarion can claim the throne of Gondor. As Steward, Denethor is honor-bound to protect the claim of the Anarionath. As far as he's concerned, the Northern claim was taken care of by the exchanges between the steward Pelendur and Arvedui. So, from Denethor's POV, Aragorn is something of a "usurper." That he treats Aragorn's claim (as presented by Gandalf) with disdain isn't all that surprising. Nor is it a reflection of what a terrible person Denethor is. 4. Healing Hands Ah yes. The ultimate Aragorn-friendly PR move. How in the world can Faramir deny the claim of the guy who brings him back to life? Denethor trying to fricasee Faramir is part of the ignominious end he meets in RoTK. If he'd sent Faramir off to Osgiliath (unthanked and unblessed, naturally) and then died fighting off the Enemy, sword in hand, he'd be a hero. Contrast the death that Tolkien gives Denethor with the glorious and redeeming death he gives Theoden. If Denethor did have a Theoden-like death, even Faramir would be at least a little reluctant to trample on his father's grave and quickly acknowledge Aragorn as the king. Gandalf specifically says that "the blood of Numenor runs nearly true in him." If you follow canon (and on this I do), this is very high praise Exactly. Why then does a character who is deserving of such high praise meet such a terrible end? Surely, even those who make mistakes are entitled to redemption. Even Boromir is somewhat redeemed by a hero's death. Why not Denethor? Tolkien can't leave Denethor alive because of Aragorn. And Tolkien can't give Denethor a glorious death, also because of Aragorn. That's just my 0.02 cents....

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

If Denethor did have a Theoden-like death, even Faramir would be at least a little reluctant to trample on his father's grave and quickly acknowledge Aragorn as the king. Umm, Faramir hailed Aragorn as King before he knew anything about Denethor's death, or even that Denethor was dead. Denethor could have been heroically leading the troops of Minas Tirith as far as the waking Faramir knew, yet he did acknowledge Aragorn as King because he recognized him as such.... Fascinating discussion, btw. As far as what that character gets, or deserves, let us remember that Tolkien wrote the book, he got to make those decisions, and I don't think it's really fair to imply that Tolkien was persecuting the character of Denethor. Denethor's characterization as a tragic figure, a ruined shadow of greatness, neither hero nor villain, was part of the creative process that forged LOTR, and for me it really was a dramatic masterpiece. Denethor really came off far more interesting and memorable than did Theoden (though in the movie, Bernard Hill made a sensational Theoden)... Tolkien could have given Denethor a glorious death, I don't see what Aragorn would have to do with that. Aragorn would still be King afterward. But it made for a far more dramatic story that Denethor did not take the same path as Theoden. Perhaps JRRT set up Denethor as a man with great potential to be a distorted mirror to Aragorn - they are both set up as Ecthelion's 'sons' in an increasingly dysfunctional situation. I view Denethor as being very similar to Aragorn (and to Faramir), but with that fatal flaw of overweening pride/urge to control/possess. Well, Denethor could have done a bit more in the years leading up to the War of the Ring: 1. Denethor should have been able to figure out that one thing he had that Sauron's orcs did not, was cavalry - he should have started to beef up horse-breeding and training and numbers of horse soldiers several years ago. He could have worked with Imrahil, expanded the Swan Knights, had Swan Knights training cavalry on the Pelennor, etc. 2. The Rohirrim is sort of the mega-cavalry of Gondor. Why couldn't Denethor have tried to make alliance with Theoden years before Grima's influence took hold, betrothed Eowyn to Boromir, and maybe sent assasins to do away with Grima once he became a problem. Or at least had some communication with Eomer and the other marshals. 3. Why did Denethor wait until the last minute to repair the Rammas Echor? That should have been done, and the wall fortified, years ago. 4. In Denethor's position, next door to Sauron, with Sauron sitting there breeding tens of thousands of orcs, not to mention the Easterlings and Haradrim in reserve, I'd have made overtures to Arnor years ago, tried to find Isildur's Heir and made an alliance, gone to talk to Elrond personally if that is what it took to get more knowledge of Sauron's weaknesses (hey, Elrond was there when Sauron was defeated), been also talking to Esgaroth and Thranduil too. I'd have brought Dwarves to Minas Tirith to help build up the stonework defenses...It's uncertain whether such actions would have helped, in the long run, but it wouldn't have hurt, at least it would have been something. One has the impression that Denethor relied solely on himself, Boromir, and the physical power of Minas Tirith, to resist Mordor, at least until the year preceding ROTK, by which time it was pretty much too late for long-term preventive measures. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Aragorn is able to muster the Dead to the Pelennor ONLY because he's carrying a famous sword. It's not his valor or his abilities as a military commander that win the day. A line from The Holy Grail about swords and watery tarts comes to mind.... You are mixing up Jackson with Tolkien. If you read what Tolkien wrote about the Paths of the Dead and the mustering of the Army of the Dead (which does NOT go to the Pelennor, but only to Pelargir), Anduril is not mentioned once. Aragorn is able to summon the Dead because he is Isildur's Heir, and the oath the Dead Army broke was to Isildur, who was the High King of Gondor and Arnor after Elendil's death (sorry, Tolkien does say this in Appendix A with regard to the claim of Arvedui to the crown in Gondor). This is spelled out even more explicitly in the words of the Seer that Aragorn quotes: Who shall call them from the grey twilight, the forgotten people? The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. From the North shall he come, need shall drive him: he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead. That Aragorn is a powerful military commander is said many times, not least with regard to Thorongil. Furthermore, like I said in my earlier post, what he does to save Minas Tirith is evidence of same. Further on the claim of Isildur's line to royalty in Gondor: The same seer (Malbeth) says of the last king in Arnor: "Arvedui you shall call him, for he will be the last in Arthedain. Though a choice will come to the Dunedain, and if they take the one that seems less hopeful, then your son will change his name and become kin of a great realm. If not, then much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, until the Dunedain arise and are united again." So my point here is not that you have to like Aragorn. Hey, it's a story. We've all got our favorite characters (and mine is Aragorn, I bet you couldn't tell). Rather, I'm just saying that your views are not supported by the book. But that's okay! I'm AU about a lot of things, too, including stuff that Tolkien says about my favorite character, just read my fics. For example, I disagree all the way with Tolkien about religion and sex, and those are pretty important subjects. I've written more than one thing that was "gee, I wish Tolkien had written it this way instead." As far as Denethor goes, to me he is a tragic figure. He is a truly great man (I think Tolkien is pretty clear on this) who fails at a critical point. Shakespeare wrote a whole lot of plays about this very thing. So if you want to hate Aragorn, why don't you take it all the way? Set up a challenge for an evil Aragorn AU. Of all the characters in the book, he probably has the most consistent opportunities to make off with the Ring. He even points this out to Frodo in Bree. And later Legolas says, "In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him." And talk about motive! This man wants to be the King, what surer way than to grab the Ring of Power? Have Denethor save Middle-earth! Go for it! Gandalfs apprentice P.S. By the way, the name Aragorn means "kingly valor."

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

You are mixing up Jackson with Tolkien. Um, I was just using "famous sword" as an analogy for the fact that Aragorn is able to muster the Dead because he's Isildur's heir...and not ONLY because he happens to be a great military commander. To fault Denethor for this is a little silly, considering mustering the Dead isn't really an option for Denethor. I never said Aragorn could be faulted as a military commander. In fact, Tolkien generally describes him as a great captain of men, but it's not that prowess that helps him muster the Dead, is it? I never said I hated Aragorn. He's just less interesting to me than many of the other characters in the book, Denethor included. I'm much more partial to the Rohirrim myself. FWIW, I think my views are supported by Tolkien's words just fine. With regard to Arvedui's claim, I'm not saying that Aragorn isn't the rightful king of Gondor. I'm only saying that for the kingship as reckoned in Gondor (by Denethor and his ancestors), Aragorn's right to the throne isn't so clear cut. Raksha- I agree with you that it's not right to fault Tolkien for his Denethor, since his Denethor is the only Denethor, not a "treatment" or "interpretation" of the character. Still, I can't help but feel for Denethor....ergo, the whole Denethor apologist thing. I would add that in addition to pride and the need to control everything, Denethor's other great failing is his despair. You never get the impression that he has hope that good may ultimately triumph over evil. I think this is the one area where he is truly distinct from either Faramir or Aragorn. When the situation becomes dire in RoTK, Denethor gives in to his despair, loses his sanity and ultimately his life (while simultaneously acting like a psychotic pyromaniac!). If there is a Denethor-Aragorn counterpoint to be made, I think it's this idea of hope vs. despair. Aragorn is Estel, after all...and the return of the king is hope renewed. As for developing Gondorian cavalry, that's an excellent point. Surely, Rohan would have been able to provide some decent breeding stock over the centuries. I wonder if there's something about warfare in Gondor that makes it difficult to use horses on a regular basis? I've always wondered too why Denethor was willing to let his heir get to 40 without marrying and producing next heirs. This can't just be a simple case of oversight. Either Denethor figured there was still plenty of time for that sort of thing or he thought that the situation was so hopeless, there was little point in forcing marriage on Boromir only to bring children into a world that's about to end. With Denethor, the latter is far more likely than the former, IMO.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Also, let me apologize right now for any testiness on my part, or any ruffled feathers that I've caused. I don't mean to insult.... In my defense, however, I've had a really rough weekend. Just moved into my first home...and on the first night there, the basement flooded! Still trying to clean up. Sigh...

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Haven't read many of the responses here yet - I'm at work and sneaking on for a moment... I could not pass this up. But Raksha - I think yours was a Freudian slip. I personally believe that Denethor DID love Faramir more - he envied Boromir - wished he could have been more like him, knew Gondor needed a warrior for the moment, but saw himself in Faramir, loved him yet hated him for it. I believe Denethor felt weak and needed to have Faramir be stronger than he was. I believe Faramir was a younger Denethor - insightful, wise, a good statesman, but lacking (fortunately) the pride. Agape

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Raksha- I agree with you that it's not right to fault Tolkien for his Denethor, since his Denethor is the only Denethor, not a "treatment" or "interpretation" of the character. Still, I can't help but feel for Denethor....ergo, the whole Denethor apologist thing. I would add that in addition to pride and the need to control everything, Denethor's other great failing is his despair. You never get the impression that he has hope that good may ultimately triumph over evil. I think this is the one area where he is truly distinct from either Faramir or Aragorn. When the situation becomes dire in RoTK, Denethor gives in to his despair, loses his sanity and ultimately his life (while simultaneously acting like a psychotic pyromaniac!). If there is a Denethor-Aragorn counterpoint to be made, I think it's this idea of hope vs. despair. Aragorn is Estel, after all...and the return of the king is hope renewed. As for developing Gondorian cavalry, that's an excellent point. Surely, Rohan would have been able to provide some decent breeding stock over the centuries. I wonder if there's something about warfare in Gondor that makes it difficult to use horses on a regular basis? I've always wondered too why Denethor was willing to let his heir get to 40 without marrying and producing next heirs. This can't just be a simple case of oversight. Either Denethor figured there was still plenty of time for that sort of thing or he thought that the situation was so hopeless, there was little point in forcing marriage on Boromir only to bring children into a world that's about to end. With Denethor, the latter is far more likely than the former I feel sorry for Denethor too - I mean, who wouldn't! He loses his favorite son, Mordor's about to fall in on his City, and then his only remaining son returns apparently fatally injured after he sent him out on a desperate mission without a decent farewell. His pain is extreme, and it's not all of his own making - who could enjoy watching a guy suffer like that. Even Gandalf, who doesn't particularly like Denethor, admires him and tries to save him. Denethor is a great character. Not, IMO a great man, but he's rather unique in ROTK. Faramir does not entertain hope that good will prevail, at least not before being healed by Aragorn (got a hefty spiritual transfusion of Hope, there, literally!). In TTT, he tells the hobbits that "it is long since we had any hope". In a way, Faramir is all the more remarkable (shameless Faramir plug here!) because while he knows Gondor is fighting a war they are probably not going to win, and he's on the front lines of it, he doesn't give up, he digs in and keeps fighting. Which I think would have been a lot harder, emotionally, for Faramir, then it would be for Eomer or Theodred (not to diminish their courage, which is considerable); because Faramir doesn't enjoy warfare. He doesn't shrink from it, but it's not an exultant masculine activity to him, it's a dirty job that must be done, and he's been doing it for awhile and will continue until he dies. Which is a reason I think that Faramir is emotionally stronger than his father, though Denethor is no pushover, obviously. But Faramir seems to have more internal resources to support him through this period that is probably pretty miserable for him, not only support him, but enable him to be a strong leader and a beacon of hope to his men. Where Faramir and Denethor differ from Aragorn, i.e. dealing with hopelessness on a daily basis v. being the poster boy for Hope Renewed, is perhaps in their home life. Aragorn has a home that is untouched by the Shadow. He loves his father-figure, his father-figure loves him unconditionally (the conditions were on Aragorn's taking Arwen to wife, not on Elrond's loving his foster-son); he was raised in a place of safety and light, not next door to Orc Central/Home of Sauron. Aragorn knows that even if he should fall, it is very likely that his beloved Arwen would be able to get to the Havens along with some of the Elves, possibly Elrond too, and then get to safety in the West. Aragorn did have a parent who yielded to despair, his mother; but he doesn't seem to have spent much time with her during the years she spent grappling with depression, and doesn't seem to be much affected by it either, except to feel sorry, of course. It's true that Elrond's lady, like Denethor's, had faded, but Elrond at least had the comfort of knowing she was safe and probably healed in Valinor. Denethor had a father who favored a mysterious outland mercenary over him, and a home that was increasingly endangered by the Shadow, and not just from a distance, as in men dying, evil winds, imminent destruction. Faramir had a father who, at least in later years, doesn't seem to think Faramir can do much that's right, dotes on Boromir; a home that is going to fall to Shadow. Also, Aragorn has been told since he was 20 that he's more or less the Hope of the West, heir of the Sword of Elendil, etc. To someone with a strong character like Aragorn, that can be a confidence-builder as well as a challenge. But I think Aragorn's family and home foundation gave him great strength, whereas those of Denethor and Faramir seemed to have undermined them. (I can just imagine that if it took Faramir umpteen years to find and snare Gollum, he would have been greeted by Denethor's disdain when he returned home, whereas Aragorn would have been regaled with "Tra-la-la" songs, good food, Bilbo's nattering, and fresh clothes, as well as Elrond's air of quiet approval) Dunedain men didn't marry young. Wasn't Denethor in his forties when he married Finduilas, older than Boromir at the time FOTR began? Denethor probably thought there'd be time in the future, and then Mordor exploded and took back half of Osgiliath in June of 3018...And I don't have the impression that Denethor's mind was on hopeful things like weddings and future grandkids at that point. (which seems to have been a general Minas Tirith trait during that era - low population, not many children, empty houses - I wonder about the emotional/physical effects of living downwind from Mordor, which is probably more toxic than Gary, Indiana on a humid day or something) Also, Boromir wasn't interested in taking a wife, he liked going out with the guys and killing things, soldiering. And I doubt that Denethor thought that marrying Faramir off would have improved any situation (it would have improved Faramir's situation! Sniff-sniff, poor dear Faramir. Sorry, my bias is showing). RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

For my part, I enjoy a good argument. No bad feelings at all! Who else would pay attention to my obscure ravings about Tolkien lore? Further, arguments are quite productive of creative ideas. One of the things I want to write in the future is a Thorongil story that centers on the relationship with Denethor. You've given me some more ideas for that. One of the reasons I haven't gone for it yet is that I really want to express the complexity of the relationship between the two men, and that takes some thinking. I very much agree that they are alike, and my read is that Aragorn deeply regrets Denethor's resentment of him, and not because he sees it as a barrier to his gaining the crown. My read is that instead of fearing Denethor for that reason, he believes in his own destiny, and thinks that Denethor would be a huge asset in ruling the country, if he were to support Aragorn. In that sense, you get it just right with the hope vs. despair point. I completely agree that Denethor is an interesting character. That's one of the main reasons I was so disappointed in Jackson's third movie. (I was even more horrified by what he did to Faramir in The Two Towers.) What a travesty! And then to end it, the jumping off the citadel thing was like a cartoon. And on the plus side...you mention the Rohirrim. The cavalry charge was one of the best things about the movie. Wow! Taking up some more arguments...actually, Tolkien is quite explicit about Aragorn's will and courage--and the loyalty the others felt toward him--being what made the Paths of the Dead possible. "Only his will kept them to it," he says, and "Does he feel no fear?" Gimli thinks. And I certainly don't "blame" Denethor for not being able to summon the Dead. Rather, it is evidence that Tolkien views Aragorn as being appointed to the kingship and all it entails. Well, I expect we could go on like this forever, and our non-Tolkien friends would think we ought to all be committed. My sympathies for your house troubles. There's nothing worse than moving--and then a flood! Ouch! G.A.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

One of the things I want to write in the future is a Thorongil story that centers on the relationship with Denethor. I've been thinking of something along those lines as well. A sort of "Thorongil and Denethor's Excellent Adventure." Their relationship is interesting, esp. considering how little detail Tolkien provides in the Appendices. Raksha- Interesting. I never thought of pre-HoH Faramir as being without hope. I agree that it's probably not the hope that Gondor will somehow prevail, but I think he has hope that there are powers at work in the world for good, and not just for evil. This is why Faramir is so focused on "doing the right thing"...because he has hope that his good deed will have a ripple effect and will produce more good in the long run, even if he and his compatriots don't necessarily benefit from that future good. This is in sharp contrast to Denethor, who doesn't have hope of any kind.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

One of the things I want to write in the future is a Thorongil story that centers on the relationship with Denethor. I've been thinking of something along those lines as well. A sort of "Thorongil and Denethor's Excellent Adventure." Their relationship is interesting, esp. considering how little detail Tolkien provides in the Appendices. Raksha- Interesting. I never thought of pre-HoH Faramir as being without hope. I agree that it's probably not the hope that Gondor will somehow prevail, but I think he has hope that there are powers at work in the world for good, and not just for evil. This is why Faramir is so focused on "doing the right thing"...because he has hope that his good deed will have a ripple effect and will produce more good in the long run, even if he and his compatriots don't necessarily benefit from that future good. This is in sharp contrast to Denethor, who doesn't have hope of any kind.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I agree with you about Faramir. He is a close second favorite character of mine. While you are right about Aragorn having a more supportive family life than Denethor (very non-Tolkien way to put it, I know), his life really has not been easy. While Denethor lived in luxury (albeit downwind from Mordor), Aragorn slept in ditches and was ceaselessly hunted by Sauron's minions. Denethor was born into power in Gondor, Aragorn had to achieve it as Thorongil. Aragorn didn't have to take on all the dangers he faces, he chooses to. Also, he's the closest Tolkien presents as a cosmopolitan man--well-traveled, seen all these cultures, etc. One of my own AU interpretations of Aragorn is that he overcomes self-doubts, grows into confidence and leadership, and doesn't simply have it from youth. That's one of the things that interests me--how he gets there. I am actually relatively less interested in King Elessar. I also think he experiences a great deal of anguish over the Arwen situation. That's one way I thought that Jackson's portrayal had a point over Tolkien. Anyway, my fics deal with this stuff. I always was a sucker for mysterious strangers with hidden identities. Strider just grabbed me from the very beginning. (This is 1964 we're talking about here, I confess. That's how demented I am.) G.A.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

roh_wyn - In THE WINDOW ON THE WEST, in TTT, Frodo asks Faramir: What hope have you for that city in your long war? '. And Faramir answers: 'What hope have we? ' said Faramir. 'It is long since we had any hope. The sword of Elendil, if it returns indeed, may rekindle it, but I do not think that it will do more than put off the evil day, unless other help unlooked-for also comes, from Elves or Men. For the Enemy increases and we decrease. We are a failing people, a springless autumn Then, being Faramir, he launches into a nice juicy history lecture. But there, I think, he puts his finger right on the biggest obstacle to Gondor's being able to hold back the Shadow - numbers! The orcs breed like evil bunnies; and there is no shortage of Easterling and Southron cannon fodder. Gondor doesn't have enough men to hold back Sauron's forces for very much longer. That's why, pre-LOTR, I would have said that Gondor's only chance was in forging alliances and strengthening its cavalry. (and sending a small mixed band of Rangers and dwarves through Mordor to either do some sabotage wouldn't have hurt either) In the next chapter, Faramir tells Frodo: `Well, so we meet and part, Frodo son of Drogo. You have no need of soft words: I do not hope to see you again on any other day under this Sun. But you shall go now with my blessing upon you, and upon all your people. Rest a little while food is prepared for you. 'I would gladly learn how this creeping Smeagol became possessed of the Thing of which we speak, and how he lost it, but I will not trouble you now. If ever beyond hope you return to the lands of the living and we retell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, you shall tell me then. It's almost as if Faramir can't help reaching for a trace, or a hint of hope while he is telling himself that there is none. I would like to see a "Thor And Thor's Excellent Adventure"...I personally think they have outstanding slash potential; but I wouldn't write them that way, and don't expect you to...They'd strike sparks off each other whether they're attracted to each other erotically or not. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

It's almost as if Faramir can't help reaching for a trace, or a hint of hope while he is telling himself that there is none. See? Not completely hopeless! I think all that doom and gloom stuff is Faramir channeling his father! As for "Excellent Adventure", I wasn't thinking of a slash fic, although I agree there's great potential for that sort of thing. More of a "soldiers in the field" kind of story, I think. I have exactly zero lines written, so who knows what will happen?

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

While you are right about Aragorn having a more supportive family life than Denethor (very non-Tolkien way to put it, I know), his life really has not been easy. While Denethor lived in luxury (albeit downwind from Mordor), Aragorn slept in ditches and was ceaselessly hunted by Sauron's minions. Denethor was born into power in Gondor, Aragorn had to achieve it as Thorongil. Aragorn didn't have to take on all the dangers he faces, he chooses to. Also, he's the closest Tolkien presents as a cosmopolitan man--well-traveled, seen all these cultures, etc. One of my own AU interpretations of Aragorn is that he overcomes self-doubts, grows into confidence and leadership, and doesn't simply have it from youth. That's one of the things that interests me--how he gets there. I am actually relatively less interested in King Elessar. I also think he experiences a great deal of anguish over the Arwen situation. That's one way I thought that Jackson's portrayal had a point over Tolkien. Anyway, my fics deal with this stuff. Sorry if I gave the impression that Aragorn's life had been easy. I know he's been sleeping in ditches, on the run, etc. I don't believe he was ceaselessy hunted by Sauron's minions, there seem to have been long stretches in his life when he wasn't expecting an orc-or-wraith-attack in the next league, but yes, the guy spent a lot of time on the run in and out of perilous situations. But again, he had a better foundation, and more physically/emotionally secure home, to return to, than did Denethor and Faramir. And since Aragorn is someone who had to carry so much of his strength with him, in dreams and memories, I think it meant a lot to him to have that home in his heart. Faramir loves the City of Minas Tirith, and the legacy of lore and Numenor, blah-blah-blah, but he doesn't have a personal foundation there that equals Aragorn's, not a loving and welcoming father and hot elf-princess betrothed. Aragorn is a strong tree rooted in good soil that is growing in inclement weather; Faramir (and Denethor) are strong trees rooted in blighted soil and battered by poisoned winds, and Faramir only survives because Aragorn heals the blighted soil. There were times that Aragorn's life probably wasn't that different from Faramir's or Eomer's - when he served Ecthelion and, earlier, Thengel; Aragorn would have had decent, if not luxurious, quarters as a favored Captain when returned to Minas Tirith or Edoras, and better quarters than Faramir had in Henneth-Annun. And we don't know where Aragorn bedded down in Harad...But it's wonderful that Aragorn finally gets to settle down in Minas Tirith with Arwen, and have constantly clean clothes and good food and a warm comfy bed. Though I bet the poor guy will be fretting for a quiet campfire within a month! I loved the way JRRT implied tough ol' Strider's definite anguish over another, and even more uncertain parting with Arwen, in FOTR; he's bowed down with sorrow. No, Aragorn has had a hard life. But my point was that he had a core, a centre in his life where there was love and safety and beauty and hope. And having Elrond as a father was a big plus over having Denethor as one, IMO. I think that it gave Aragorn a big emotional boost that helped sustain him through the years of hardship. In my opinion, Aragorn is probably the strongest Man in LOTR. Faramir comes close, as does tough-and-tender Eomer (and Beregond gets big brownie points - yay, Berry!). RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor, um, Aragorn in Fanfic

One of my own AU interpretations of Aragorn is that he overcomes self-doubts, grows into confidence and leadership, and doesn't simply have it from youth. That's one of the things that interests me--how he gets there. You think that's AU? I think that's a normal part of growing up. Aragorn has the 'potential' for greatness as a young man, but it is not foreordained that he will achieve it. Elrond tells him: "A great doom awaits you, either to rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil, or to fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin. " Aragorn has a nice-ish childhood (if you can overlook the whole 'why won't anyone talk to me about my father?' problem that must have terribly worried him as an intelligent adolescent in a culture obsessed with 'proper patrilineal descent' - and, yeah, I've thought about that, but the story is stalled. I do wish people would stop flinging nuzguls at me, or the silly things' bites would not be so deep.) but none of his adult life is 'easy'. There must have been a lot of cold, damp nights in the wild when he wondered why he was doing this. That he always went on took real courage, too. I always was a sucker for mysterious strangers with hidden identities. Strider just grabbed me from the very beginning. (This is 1964 we're talking about here, I confess. That's how demented I am.) Well, I have not been at it *quite* as long as you have. I've only been obsessed with Aragorn since 1967. If that's long enough to join you in calling myself demented, I will be happy to admit to it. Gwynnyd

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

*awed* Wow. Who knew that my little questions would spark an ongoing debate about Denethor vs. Faramir vs. Aragorn? Not that I mind. All this deep insight is helping me understand their characters better. Carry on! Namarie! Loremaster

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I don't mean to say that the normal vagaries of growing up are AU. Rather, the particular spin that I've put on it in my fics involves some pretty AU stuff. See "The King of Many Cloaks" (my retelling of the tale of Aragorn and Arwen, complete) and "The Sword of Elendil" (Aragorn age 20-26, only one chapter done, don't know when I'll do the rest, I'm stalled on a problem in chapter 2). These are both posted at Tolkienfanfiction.com. Mostly the AU has to do with the elves, I guess. But I have to confess that I got really tired of reading (nameless) fan fic stories featuring Aragorn as a tedious goody-goody, so I included lots of SIN. I mean, if there's no conflict, why on earth is it interesting? (Some of my stories at HASA have even more sin, as you will know if you've read them.) And in Aragorn's case, I would say that "growing up" is a really big challenge. Just try having this mighty elf lord for a foster father who says you've got this incredible destiny and try living up to that! Glad to know there's at least one fellow 1960s fanatic. I'm sure there's more of you out there! By the way, everybody, there's a prospective challenge "Captain of Gondor" that needs a couple more commitments in order to become real. It's all Thorongil. Sign up! On the "hope" question: actually, EVERYBODY in the book says that the only real hope--and Gandalf says it's a fool's hope--is Frodo getting that thing into the fire. So all hope and despair are conditional, and if hope resides in any one person--or two, it's Frodo and Sam.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

True, Frodo is the hope of Middle-Earth. But Aragorn does bring hope to Minas Tirith; he is victorious in battle, he carries the Sword of Elendil, and is a very fresh new face with an ancient link to Gondor. Faramir seems much happier after Aragorn heals him, awed and inspired, etc. It's like Aragorn gives Gondor a collective shot of Hope; inspiring fresh courage even though they know that there's a tough road ahead. And it's no coincidence that Aragorn's Elvish name means Hope... I kind of like the concept of Aragorn as a goody-goody, keeping himself pure for Arwen. Boy, that would have added to the tension with the more worldly Denethor...One of these years I'll write the story of Aragorn and Arwen's wedding night, when both are nervous virgins. It could be funny. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I'm happy now. I love a good debate! Anyways... Roh_wyn: 'Excellent Adventure', eh? I love that movie... anyways. I think the relationship between the two would have been a pretty good one before Denethor started getting jealous of Thorongil. That would be an interesting story! Sorry about your house! I can sympathize... when we were selling our last home, we finished the basement, and it flooded less than two weeks after we were finished. We had to REfinish it again, and quickly, because all of the flyers said that the house had a finished basement. It wasn't fun. But I digress. I don't think it's a coincidence that Denethor's father was a father-figure to Aragorn at one point. A lot of Tolkien's brothers were foils for one another. Boromir and Faramir, for instance, were both valiant, loyal men who served their country well... but Faramir had a critical difference, which was compassion and pity. At first, in the New Line film, it bothered me that Faramir was wounded with two arrows instead of one. (Can't leave the guy alone, can you, Jackson?) However, it is very interesting to me that they are placed very similarly to two of Boromir's... And that one arrow made all of the difference. Denethor and Aragorn also mirror each other, for me, and, as has been said here, I believe that the critical difference is hope.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I kind of like the concept of Aragorn as a goody-goody, keeping himself pure for Arwen. Boy, that would have added to the tension with the more worldly Denethor...One of these years I'll write the story of Aragorn and Arwen's wedding night, when both are nervous virgins. It could be funny. We've all got our Inner Aragorn! That's not mine. As far as personal predilections go, I would tend to see Denethor as rather a cold prude, and Aragorn--well, not. But this all gets down to my blasphemy on Elves. My Elves are really into sex, and that includes Arwen. Hot elf princess indeed. And Aragorn's attitudes on such matters definitely reflect where he grew up, as in fact would only be expected. I freely admit that this is NOT Tolkien (but it is Ancient Irish People of the Sidhe, so I do have a precedent). He had this really Catholic thing about one lover for ever, and that sex has to be only for love, etc., that I just can't stand. And since I'm writing these stories for fun and not to qualify for a PhD, I like to indulge my fantasies. But you might want to skip my stuff, at least "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rangers But Were Afraid to Ask" (otherwise known as Halbarad and Aragorn's excellent adventures) and "Arwen in the Afternoon" (further adventures of same). Although they are pretty funny, even if I do say so myself. G.A.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Actually, I think Denethor might have been somewhat sexually experienced, though it wasn't a major part of his recreation. I think he would have been rather passionate when alone with Finduilas, and jealous of anyone who even looked at her. Yes, I've seen your hot elf-fantasies. Nicely written; and definitely reminiscent of the Sidhe/Tuatha De Danaan... One of these days I'll write up my Thorongil-wakes-up-in-bed-with-Denethor fanfic. Slash may or may not have happened. Depends what Denethor tells me. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Raksha: I'd be very interested to see your Thor/Thor maybe slash. It goes completely counter to my own ideas, but as you have probably figured out, not due to any moral objections. (I don't have too many morals on that score--as long as it's consensual, that's my line...) Rather, my view of the characters just doesn't see them getting there. But maybe you'll inspire me! Hey! It's happened before! It's fun seeing people's different takes on the characters. What I've tried to do in my Aragorn fics is keep him in character with Tolkien, at least on the leadership/strength/destiny stuff, but have his private side much more in tune with my own interests. I'm most interested in his relationships with others (from Arwen to Elrond to the Dunedain to Denethor, whatever), and I have a hard time coming up with good action stories. So I always really, really appreciate stories that are such. My favorite is meckinoc's "In the Hands of the Enemy." [makes noises of unending admiration] G.A.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I'm inundated with plotbunnies and have a few unfinished things ahead in the queue, so it will take awhile. But I the scene is very clear in my mind; and the sense of flustered, not-his-usual-cool-self Thorongil and a very cool and in-charge-and-devious Denethor. I definitely don't see Aragorn initiating any sexual goings-on with Denethor, or any man, under normal circumstances. But if Thorongil were tired, drunk, alone with Denethor...well, maybe that alpha-dog rivalry of theirs would lead them to try a sexual resolution. Or not. I'll have to wait 'til I write the tale. I have no urge to write Aragorn/Faramir slash, although there's a lot of it out there. Both the guys are happily involved with women; I think Aragorn would feel somewhat brotherly/fatherly towards Faramir, and besides, Faramir's his Steward. I just don't see them having any feelings of the sort that lead to slash... RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Dear Raksha: I see Aragorn as 99 percent heterosexual, but that in Rivendell he probably tried men as a youth, because those wicked Elves that inhabit my lusty brain just do that kind of thing... Anyway, he decides it's not for him, but he does do group sometimes (like in my story). I haven't made up my mind whether he and Arwen commit hanky-panky with the Elves in Ithilien in the Fourth Age, for a bit of recreation sometimes. Aragorn/Faramir slash is just weird to me. I see their relationship the way you describe it. Personally I think all members of our species have at least some degree of bi, but the details should make some sense. Not that people don't do all kinds of strange and irrational things in their sex lives... Boromir, now, has a lot of potential as seriously into men, like 100 percent. I haven't really thought it out with Denethor. Your story sounds quite interesting, I'm intrigued. G.A.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

'Excellent Adventure', eh? I love that movie... Me too! I just can't decide if Denethor is Bill or Ted...and frankly, I can't see either him or Thorongil ever saying "dude" (that's more Eomer's speed, I think) As for Denethor/Thorongil slash, I tend to think that wouldn't work. I don't think Thorongil particularly attracted to men. And although I'm not sure about Denethor, I tend to think he's too straight-laced to even try something like that.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I am rather opposed to slash, but I am sekritly going to read all these stories, of course ;) Raksha, your remark that it's unfair to accuse Tolkien of persecuting Denethor cracked me up! What a good way to put it. Actually I think Tolkien did very well by Denethor, having given him some truly unforgettable stage time on just a few pages. Also I very much enjoyed your suggestions for Denethor on how Gondor should have been ruled. Plain fun to read. These considerations sure didn't occur to me before. However, I happen to agree with roh_wyn that a lot of Denethor's behaviour can be explained by the fact that he is a convenient plot vehicle. A great tragic character, sends a lot of messages, rounds up important themes... but his actions do happen to resolve the major plot conundrum. So I think Denethor didn't make all these alliances you mention, most notably with the Rohirrim, purely for plot reasons. Had he made them, the battle on the Pelennor field might not have happened, and where LotR narrative would have found itself? The greatness of Tolkien's storytelling makes Denethor's tragically flawed & prideful isolationists politics fit neatly into these plot considerations. Whether Denethor had fatal character flaws or not--I think he can be imagined either way. We just don't know, because we meet him when he is already at the edge of his sanity and might be displaying a behaviour, normally uncharacteristic for him. I personally think that the stress and pressure he had lived with for decades, would be enough to render anybody insane, and he actually did very well, having lasted that long (agrees with roh_wyn). But the option with the epic flaws is equally valid, and it is very interesting reading stories which deal with them. Very intense. So there. Thanks, a great discussion!

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

When one looks at LOTR critically, every character is a convenient plot vehicle. What works is the way JRRT employs them. If part of your epic's plot is the return of a king to a realm his ancestors ruled a few thousand years ago, chances are that this king will be replacing someone. JRRT also intended his returning king to invigorate and renew Gondor, whose decay he'd mentioned in TTT (from the POV of its Steward's heir, Faramir, who loved the land enough to die for it). I don't think ROTK would have been nearly as interesting if ...(A) Denethor died nobly on the walls of Minas Tirith or on the Pelennor - JRRT already scripted a king's death in battle with Theoden. (B)if Denethor had survived the battle, and wisely and honorably handed over the White Tower to Aragorn, (C) Denethor was already so crazy that he was locked up in comfortable apartments and Hurin of the Keys was administering the City in cooperation with Faramir before Aragorn arrived. As far as Denethor's pre-ROTK fatal character flaws, I think he had them. No one forced him to look into the Palantir, or to continue looking into it. All the previous Stewards had the opportunity, but none did, since they knew that Sauron would probably look back. 'Denethor II was a proud man, tall, valiant, and more kingly than any man that had appeared in Gondor for many lives of men; and he was wise also, and far-sighted, and learned in lore. Indeed he was as like to Thorongil as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father. At the time many thought that Thorongil had departed before his rival became his master, though indeed Thorongil had never himself vied with Denethor, nor held himself higher than the servant of his father. And in one matter only were their counsels to the Steward at variance: Thorongil often warned Ecthelion not to put trust in Saruman the White in Isengard, but to welcome rather Gandalf the Grey. But there was little love between Denethor and Gandalf; and after the days of Ecthelion there was less welcome for the Grey Pilgrim in Minas Tirith. Therefore later, when all was made clear, many believed that Denethor, who was subtle in mind and looked further and deeper than other men of his day, had discovered who this stranger Thorongil in truth was, and suspected that he and Mithrandir designed to supplant him. 'When Denethor became Steward (2984) he proved a masterful lord, holding the rule of all things in his own hand. He said little. He listened to counsel, and then followed his own mind. He had married late (2976), taking as wife Finduilas, daughter of Adrahil of Dot Amroth.... 'After her death Denethor became more grim and silent than before, and would sit long alone in his tower deep in thought, foreseeing that the assault of Mordor would come in his time. It was afterwards believed that needing knowledge, but being proud, and trusting in his own strength of will, he dared to look in the palantír of the White Tower. None of the Stewards had dared to do this, nor even the kings Eärnil and Eärnur, after the fall of Minas Ithil when the palantír of Isildur came into the hands of the Enemy; for the Stone of Minas Tirith was the palantír of Anárion, most close in accord with the one that Sauron possessed. 'In this way Denethor gained his great knowledge of things that passed in his realm, and far beyond his borders, at which men marvelled; but he bought the knowledge dearly, being aged before his time by his contest with the will of Sauron. Thus pride increased in Denethor together with despair, until he saw in all the deeds of that time only a single combat between the Lord of the White Tower and the Lord of the Barad-dûr, and mistrusted all others who resisted Sauron, unless they served himself alone. This speaks to me of flaws in Denethor from the get-go. He trusts a Palantir linked to Sauron's mind as a source of intelligence, but mistrusts Gandalf because Gandalf might want to supplant Denethor's rule with Thorongil? Denethor was sharp enough to know that Gandalf would given him good counsel on the protection of Gondor, if only to provide Thorongil with an intact kingdom to rule. It seems to me that Denethor's decision to personally and continually wrestle with Sauron for information rather than try to work with other rulers and powers to gain intelligence is a function of Denethor's over-weening pride. We don't know if Palantir usage is addictive. I don't remember anything that says it is, once the user has put the thing away. And yet Denethor chose to continually subject himself to Sauron's scrutiny. I think, as JRRT implies, that Denethor liked being the sole champion of the West in mental combat with the Big Bad Eye, it was a role he enjoyed more than working with Elves, dwarves, anyone else who might help defeat Sauron, especially Gandalf. GA - if/when I do get around to that Thor/Thor strange bedfellows fic, rest assured that I'll set it up to make as much sense, given the characters, as I can manage, or it won't see print. (Hmm; that's probably what I'll call it - STRANGE BEDFELLOWS; unless it's been used already. Probably has) RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

but mistrusts Gandalf because Gandalf might want to supplant Denethor's rule with Thorongil? I don't think that's the only reason Denethor had for mistrusting Gandalf. Again, taking a cynical view, Gandalf's something of a meddler/manipulator. If I were in Denethor's shoes, I'd be more than a little wary of a wizard who doesn't disclose much of what he knows, unless disclosure is necessary to achieve whatever ends he wants. All this isn't just "Denethor is controlling and prideful." It's also good old fashioned common sense. No one mentions or even implies, during THE SIEGE OF GONDOR, that Denethor is acting unusually paranoid or crazed Actually, up until he hears of Faramir's downfall/death, he seems quite in control. I don't think he's particularly sane at this stage, but he is in control. He's got some sort of functional psychosis, I guess. As for browbeating Faramir, I've never quite seen the exchanges between Denethor and Faramir that way. I think Denethor is speaking as a lord speaks to one of his captains...and he's (IMO appropriately) disappointed in Faramir's actions. That Faramir appears (to Denethor) to be acting on Gandalf's wishes just reinforces this for the ol' Steward. Somewhat later, when he tells a weary Faramir to go get some rest, I think there's more of a father-son thing going on. Anyway, I admit to having little objectivity on this issue. I just think Denethor's way too complex and interesting to be relegated to "pervy, wife-beating, child-abusing psychotic pyro" status.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Boromir, now, has a lot of potential as seriously into men, like 100 percent. That Boromir is into men seems to be fanon gospel. Personally, I think he's much more likely to be a sort of frat boy inveterate skirt chaser type. You know...likes women fine, but quantity is more important than quality.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

don't think that's the only reason Denethor had for mistrusting Gandalf. Again, taking a cynical view, Gandalf's something of a meddler/manipulator. If I were in Denethor's shoes, I'd be more than a little wary of a wizard who doesn't disclose much of what he knows, unless disclosure is necessary to achieve whatever ends he wants. All this isn't just "Denethor is controlling and prideful." It's also good old fashioned common sense. As for browbeating Faramir, I've never quite seen the exchanges between Denethor and Faramir that way. I think Denethor is speaking as a lord speaks to one of his captains...and he's (IMO appropriately) disappointed in Faramir's actions. That Faramir appears (to Denethor) to be acting on Gandalf's wishes just reinforces this for the ol' Steward. Somewhat later, when he tells a weary Faramir to go get some rest, I think there's more of a father-son thing going on. Yes, there's no question that Gandalf is a manipulater and meddler. He's also incredibly powerful and wise, has what, 1000 more years of experience in fighting Sauron than Denethor has, and has contacts over half of Middle-earth. Sorry, but Denethor was very foolish to waste a resource like that. And since Denethor was no dummy, I believe he allowed his pride and resentment towards Gandalf's Thorongil-association to cloud his judgment. Heck, Franklin Roosevelt didn't team up with Stalin because Stalin was an altruist; he teamed up with him because Stalin had the moxie to help the Allies stop Hitler. (And Stalin was a worse monster than Gandalf ever could be) Denethor was certainly smart enough to at least try to enlist Gandalf to save one thing they both prized: the realm of Gondor. For most of their discussion in The Siege of Gondor, at least the conference immediately after Faramir's return, Denethor doesn't seem to be treating him as a captain, he treats him as the inferior son. "See, you have spoken skillfully as ever, but I, have I not seen your eye fixed on Mithrandir, seeking whether you have said well or too much? He has long had your heart in his keeping." Denny is being rather paranoid here, not speaking as a commander-in-chief to an incompetent Captain, but as a father angry because Jr. listens to, or appears to listen to, someone else. (we don't know whether Faramir was looking at Gandalf; Faramir had just spoken rather anxiously to Denethor, seeking validation - it's the only time that Faramir seems very uncertain, and that's when Denethor starts in on him, as an aggrieved father) Denny goes on in this vein to Faramir, speaking to him as a father, implying that he's Mithrandir's pupil and tool, bemoaning that Boromir isn't here in his place, referring to Faramir as 'my son', 'this son of mine'. It is only when Denethor asks Faramir "What think you of the garrison at Osgiliath?" that the dynamic shifts between them from father/son to Commander In Chief/Captain. Faramir shifts it back by asking "May I have your leave, father?"; but Denethor's response is curiously impersonal; he does not, as some fathers might, mention anything about being pleased that his only living child survived the onslaught of Air Nazgul on the Pelennor... Denethor's disappointment towards Faramir is only, IMO, appropriate in terms of releasing the Ring-bearer instead of grabbing the Ring and bearing it back to Denethor. If Faramir had done so,MInas Tirith would probably be destroyed and the Ring taken, since even if Gandalf had freed Frodo and sent him off with the Ring, there were too many of Sauron's forces between them and even the Ephel Duath by that time, and the Nazgul would be on their track. Sauron would probably have won, if not immediately, then soon. I think that Faramir was right, from a moral and military standpoint, to let Frodo take the Ring into Mordor. It was a longshot; but about as good a chance as Gondor had without them going, and better than if the Ring came into Denethor's hands. Still, the worst thing for me is Denethor's sending Faramir off on an extremely dangerous mission and pretty much refusing to give him farewell. I don't think even a hardened military commander would do that, at least wish the guy good luck. Denethor was refusing the emotional support of either a commander or a father to Faramir. And sadly, Denethor lived to regret it; his own cruelty coming back to bitterly haunt him. I concur that Denethor would not be a wife-beating, child-abusing pervy psychotic pyro. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I agree with Raksha in her last post re Faramir and Gandalf and the non-pervy psychotic pyro. On Boromir: actually, he could be both seriously into men and liking to pick up floozies on the side. Personally I lean toward the 100 percent men idea, because Boromir reminds me of certain people I have known. But my real reason for this post is to quote ROTK on the question of whether Denethor is right to challenge (in his head only, because he kills himself too quickly to actually do it) Aragorn's claim. Tolkien quotes the Red Book: "after the War the days of the Ruling Stewards came to an end; for the heir of Isildur and Anarion returned and the kingship was renewed, and the standard of the White Tree flew once more from the Tower of Ecthelion." You are going to protest that history is written by the victor. Absolutely! and precisely! This is not history--it's Tolkien's story. And there it is in black and white that Aragorn is Anarion's heir too.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

I think Aragorn expected to have to present his credentials to the ruling Steward and possibly the Council as well. Given his heroic return to the Pelennor, and his close friendship with Eomer, and oh yes, the Sword of Elendil, I think that the Council would have taken all of an hour at most to confirm him as King-elect. If Denethor had survived and fought Aragorn's claim, there could have been civil war; because Imrahil also supported Aragorn and Imrahil had the most powerful soldiery in Gondor. If Denny had survived, I can see him finally acceding to the change, to spare Gondor further turmoil. But he wouldn't have been happy about it. I don't know what Faramir would have done if his father had survived and protested Aragorn's claim - it would put Faramir in a very awkward position since I'm still assuming that Aragorn healed Faramir... Wasn't Aragorn Anarion's heir through a female line of descent, which one of Denny's ancestors and the Council had rejected? But, since the Stewardship was inherited through a female at one point, I don't know that the objection to the female line couldn't be overthrown. At any rate, Faramir was quite clever to mention, in acclaiming Aragorn at the coronation, that Aragorn was victorious in battle and had the hands of a healer, and his ancestral connection to Elendil and Numenor. RAKSHA THE DEMON, who can't resist plugging Faramir's virtues whenever possible

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Yes, there's no question that Gandalf is a manipulater and meddler. He's also incredibly powerful and wise, has what, 1000 more years of experience in fighting Sauron than Denethor has, and has contacts over half of Middle-earth. But it's not a question of wizardly advice from Gandalf or no advice. Denethor looks to Saruman for this kind of thing. Denethor was taking the best advice he could find, as he saw it. Faramir trusts Gandalf over Saruman even though Saruman is Head of the White Council and chief of the order of wizards. To Denethor, it must look as if Faramir is disdaining the best advice and following the lesser guy's opinions due to a misplaced sense of 'liking' not based on political reality. We (the readers) know Saruman is a rat bastard and has betrayed the West, but Denethor does not and woul dhave no way to find that out. Saruman fooled even Gandalf and Elrond. Remember how surprised everyone was at the CoE when Gandalf revealed that Saruman had gone over to the Dark Side. Saruman had been counselling Denethor to use caution and do nothing while he cooked up his own plans for domination. Some, too, will remember also that Saruman dissuaded us from open deeds against him (Sauron), and for long we watched him only. Up until the time that Saruman captured Gandalf even Gandalf trusted him. 'And that message brought me hope. For Saruman the White is the greatest of my order. ... But Saruman has long studied the arts of the Enemy himself, and thus we have often been able to forestall him. It was by the devices of Saruman that we drove him from Dol Guldur. Saruman was 'often' welcomed to Minas Tirith `With that thought, I forsook the chase, and passed swiftly to Gondor. In former days the members of my order had been well received there, but Saruman most of all. Often he had been for long the guest of the Lords of the City. and Denethor never trusted Gandalf, because Thorongil did. And in one matter only were their counsels to the Steward at variance: Thorongil often warned Ecthelion not to put trust in Saruman the White in Isengard, but to welcome rather Gandalf the Grey. But there was little love between Denethor and Gandalf; and after the days of Ecthelion there was less welcome for the Grey Pilgrim in Minas Tirith. Anyone think Saruman and Denethor ever had any late night palantir chats? Gwynnyd

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

One of the biggest unanswered questions I have is WHY Thorongil gives Ecthelion that advice about Gandalf vs. Saruman. All evidence points to Gandalf not agreeing with him on this. But all the same, Thorongil was right. Tolkien doesn't give us a clue, so it's open to all of our fantasies. Is it another example of Aragorn's foresight, as in seeing the danger to Gandalf in Moria? I'm still working on it. Anyway, there's lots of room for Ecthelion-Denethor-Thorongil-Gandalf-Saruman stories, too. As far as Aragorn's claim to the throne and the potential of civil war: Aragorn makes it very clear that he intends to make no such formal claim until/unless Sauron is defeated. That's why he has the banner of Elendil taken down, removes the Star of the North, and stays in a tent in the Pelennor. He only enters the city because Gandalf begs him to, in order to use his healing power (which, by the way, is greatly enhanced by the power of the Elessar that Arwen gave him), in particular to save Faramir's (et al.) life. And then he leaves again. Of course, that he raises the banner of Elendil at all makes it very clear that he intends to make a formal claim in the event of victory. Assuming Denethor survives through the victory in the Ring War: My personal opinion is that the threat of civil war is not so great. By then Aragorn has assumed command of the army, such as it is, with the support of Imrahil and Eomer, as you point out. In the circumstances of the war against Sauron, I doubt Denethor (at least in his sane personna) would have tried to challenge this. He wants to beat Sauron, too. This is not negligible, legitimacy of claim aside. I think that Faramir would have done his damnedest to convince his father to support Aragorn, and if his father still refused, gone against his wishes (very much to his own pain and regret). Denethor would have been pretty isolated. It is my read of the man that in that case, he would have done his best to put up with it all so that he could remain a powerful figure in Gondor. Boy, the reign of King Elessar would have been off to a tense start politically. But I think that one of the big differences between Aragorn and Denethor is that Aragorn is very skilled at drawing other men into leadership and bringing out the best in them, whereas Denethor is a loner. Aragorn would have maintained the Stewardship no matter who the individual occupying the post. No one needs to plug Faramir to me. One of the reasons I was SO looking forward to Jackson's second movie was that I was dying to see Faramir come on stage. Then, when I saw what Jackson had done to him, I was so horrified that it spoiled the movie for me. I had to see it a couple of more times to get over my rebellion enough to appreciate it. I still can't stand the Faramir parts, especially when he beats up Gollum. (Actually, it's Aragorn that does this--gagged him, leashed him, starved him, etc.--although he really has no choice,since he has no soldiers to help him out.) On the claim through the female line: In Numenor inheritance through women was recognized. Remember that Elendil is descended from Elros through a woman. This should clinch the matter, but the Stewards of Gondor chose to ignore this at the time of Arvedui's claim. One of the overall questions I wonder about is the difference between those Tolkien fans pre-movies, who went to see Jackson's flics with a great deal of hope and trepidation (as I did), and those who got into the books because of the movies. I can't help but think it colors people's views of things, but it's just impossible for me to put myself in the shoes of the second generation.

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Raksha- Denethor's disappointment towards Faramir is only, IMO, appropriate in terms of releasing the Ring-bearer instead of grabbing the Ring and bearing it back to Denethor. Well, I don't disagree on that score. Faramir's actions are only inappropriate from Denethor's POV. Apropos nothing in particular, I use to be a huge Faramir fan...spent years obsessing over him. Then I realized that everything I liked about Faramir (his preternatural perception, his love of lore, his dark hair and grey eyes) was something inherited from his father! In addition, Denethor is just dirty enough to make him "real". Faramir seems like a Stepford person sometimes. I should probably duck right about now.... GA: Yep, history is written by the victors...and although LoTR is a story, the information in the Appendices is presented much like a history, so that all that information has to be taken (IMO) as third party perspective heavily tainted by the POV of the victors. I tend to agree with you that a sane Denethor would probably accept Aragorn's claim, not so much because of the rightness of such a decision, but because there's precedent for it. Denethor's ancestor Pelendur also picked a mighty and victorious captain of men to be king, mostly to avoid internal politicking and strife. I think he rejected Arvedui's claim because he though an unknown Northerner couldn't bring Gondor the unity it needed. Whether Aragorn was descended from Elendil would be less important to Denethor than his relative popularity and the other lords clamoring to make Aragorn king. Denethor is politically savvy enough to know how his bread is buttered. He's better off being steward and lord under a king than being an isolated bit player in a new regime. A steward doesn't need a king, but a king usually needs a steward...

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Clang! In this corner, Faramir's Champion, preparing to defend her hero! Calling Faramir a Stepford person - them's fighting words! Faramir might not have inherited his grey eyes from Denethor. Nowhere is it stated that Denny has grey eyes; the only description of his eye color is "dark". Nothing wrong with that, I'm dark-eyed myself, so is Gandalf...But most grey-eyed Tolkien mention have their eye color mentioned a few times and Denethor's eyes are never called grey. Yes, Faramir inherited his ability to read the hearts of men, his love of lore, and the black hair (though it seems quite likely that Finduilas was also dark-haired) from Denethor. He didn't get the ability to see the big picture/think outside the box, or the compassion/pity for weakness, from Denny. Faramir would perhaps seem like a Stepford guy if not for a few scenes and moments: in Ithilien, with the hobbits, he is very tough; smart and talkative when he has the time, but a tough guerilla warrior. He also is downright scary when tempted by the Ring, and shows considerable passion that the Ring is exacerbating and bringing to the surface. Faramir shows insecurity in his relationship with his father, the two conferences in the SIEGE OF GONDOR - understandable IMO, he's worn out and feeling Black Breath effects; but without whining, he shows that he craves his father's approval, or at least a little of it. A Stepford guy wouldn't show any weakness, any insecurity or nervousness. Later, after Eowyn finally agrees to be his, Faramir sounds rather silly and clumsy in his speech (very unusual for someone as elegant and precise as Faramir), burbling about gardens and flowers and his White Lady - it's rather embarrassing, but sweet and genuine, and not Stepford-like at all. I don't see a sane Aragorn agreeing to be Aragorn's steward, at least not immediately, it would take a lot of pressure and a lot of soul-searching to overcome 50 years of personal hatred and his personal All Or Nothing fixation when it comes to the administration of Gondor or practically everything else. Denny might well agree, eventually, but Aragorn is going to have to be very charming and Imrahil might have to play mediator. I think Faramir would have excused himself from the debate; because in terms of loyalty, he was in a very awkward position; his first loyalty was to his father, but he believed that Aragorn was the rightful King and the best choice for Gondor. I don't see Faramir publiclly siding against his father - particularly since he wouldn't really have to; Aragorn would get the Kingship without Faramir's support, as long as Faramir didn't come out publicly against him, the support of Imrahil, most of the other lords of Gondor, plus the Rohirrim and Gondor's soldiery (all camped out on the Pelennor or within the City), would bring Aragorn to the throne. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

The "Faramir is a Stepford person" comment was just to bait you...and I'm glad you didn't swim past it! I was mostly kidding when I described Faramir that way. I've always liked cynical and tough Faramir circa TTT much better than Faramir in The Steward and the King portion of RoTK. As beautiful as Tolkien's words are, I've always found the actual Faramir-Eowyn romance a little dull. All you E/F shippers can just shoot me now. I don't recall exactly where, but Tolkien describes Denethor as being "dauntless" (or maybe fearless?). Frankly, you'd have to be pretty undaunted and tough to do battle, even via palantir, for so long with the Enemy. I think both of Denethor's sons inherit that from him. Also, although Faramir is clearly more compassionate, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he turned out to be just as calculating and astute a diplomat/politician as Denethor. With the exception of his compassionate nature, most of Faramir's outstanding traits are inherited from his father. So throw Denethor a bone already! Denny might well agree, eventually, but Aragorn is going to have to be very charming and Imrahil might have to play mediator. Exactly. I mean, Denethor will require serious persuasion (maybe even a buy-off of some sort), but it would be political suicide for him not to acknowledge Aragorn as king. A sane Denethor circa 3019 would be the consummate political animal. On another note, I've always wondered what Denethor's personal relationship with Imrahil was like. Imrahil's quite a bit younger than Denethor, so I can't imagine that they were ever friends, although they are kinsmen and that always alters the equiation, I think. (For the same reason, I doubt Imrahil was friends with Thorongil). In fanfiction, Imrahil always seems to be very pro-Faramir and therefore anti-Denethor. In extreme cases, Imrahil resents Denethor for "killing" Finduilas. I'm not sure any of these theories are expressly supported in canon. I'm contemplating writing something where Imrahil helps Faramir get over his father's death and the events surrounding him, by remembering a younger and less batty Denethor...

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

No one mentions or even implies, during THE SIEGE OF GONDOR, that Denethor is acting unusually paranoid or crazed But Imrahil does! After the battle on Pelennor Fields he mentions to Aragorn that Denethor "has been in a strange mood after his son was stricken down".

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

You're right there, which is why I removed that line from my post. But I don't think Imrahil observed behavior that was sufficiently unusual to warrant concern for Denethor's sanity, or he would have said something earlier, to Faramir or Mithrandir or spoken up to Denethor himself to the effect that Denny wasn't using good judgment. I don't see how a leader with Imrahil's physical power would leave Denethor the option of commanding the defenses if he thought the Steward's mind was succumbing to the stresses of grief. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

oops - accidental double post RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: The Portrayal of Denethor in Fanfic

Raksha: on your citations from the Appendixes. My point is that not everybody would consider these qualities of Denethor as "flaws". You do, but I honestly don't. My understanding of these pages is that Denethor was an extremely strong and daring man, brought low by circumstances. The interpretation, of course, depends on the reader's own attitude to the world. We just put into those pages the substance we want. However, I concede a point here *sigh* "Grimness" for me is not a flaw, but a neutral quality. (What is wrong with it, especially if you tend to spend all your time alone peering into a Palantir, anyway ?) But I have an impression it might have been a flaw for Tolkien. Good people in LotR tend to be either "merry", or at least potentially "merry". Anybody remembers about a good LotR character who is permanently grim?

 

 

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