From Ignorance to Greatness
Throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and especially in the third film, The Return of the King, director Peter Jackson strives to portray and develop the idea that people, though they understandable have hesitation towards taking the right back and accepting responsibility for themselves or others, they still manage to come to terms with the situation that confronts them, and act accordingly. Though many characters in the saga display some form of personal conflict looming inside of them, a few characters shine the brightest when their homeland needs them the most. Aragorn, a strong, yet rugged member of the fellowship, shows impulsive and heroic action whenever he is needed, though the responsibilities that derive from his lineage are a heavier burden to bear for him. Sam, however, is a simple hobbit from the Shire, and originally doesn’t show any form of heroism, until the time came when obstacles brought out the inner strength that he had. With these two characters, Peter Jackson shows that individuals are capable of feeling pressures from the responsibilities and expectations that loom around them, but he also shows that those same individuals have the strength to take action, and that they have the ability to handle anything that is thrown their way.
“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.”
- Aragorn, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Aragorn, initially relying on the alias labeling him ‘Strider’, hid his true identity from the people around him, and in doing so, kept his noble lineage concealed to avoid the truth. Though he never doubted his destiny as one of the leaders of the war against Sauron and to become the future king, he was still extremely vulnerable to his own conscience. Through this self-doubt, Aragorn was consumed with fear regarding his ability to overcome the evil of the Ring, and the possibility that he would end up meeting the same fate as his ancestor before him. While leading the fellowship, Aragorn continued to doubt his actions and the wisdom that he brought forth after he lost Gandalf in the mines of Moria, as well as during the following misfortunes that came forth afterwards. However, upon witnessing the overwhelming destruction that was going to engulf the entire world, Aragorn realized that he had to come to terms with his inner turmoil. The path that had been laid out for him could no longer be avoided, and even though there was no guarantee he would be able to handle the challenges ahead, Aragorn knew that taking no action at all would simply result in the annihilation of all Middle Earth. Director Peter Jackson used Aragorn to relate to the everyday individual in numerous ways, especially in the sense of acknowledging personal struggle. Despite the negative consequences that may come forth as a result of taking action, such as failure, there is no victory that comes from simply doing nothing at all. In the end of the trilogy, the Lord of the Rings director shows Aragorn, the newborn king, in a radiant glow, symbolizing the prosperity and good fortune that has come forth from Aragorn taking responsibility for himself. Aragorn no longer shows doubt or despair, but only comfort and optimism for the future ahead.
“I don’t think there will be a return journey, Mr. Frodo.”
- Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Samwise Gamgee, otherwise known simply as Sam, had no direct obligation to the fellowship, as well as no personal connection to the Ring itself. Literally, the only reason he was in the fellowship was because he was caught eavesdropping on Gandalf, which resulted in Gandalf forcing him on the whirlwind adventure. Throughout the journey, Sam even shows hesitation to show his own heroic traits, and his own heroism doesn’t begin to come forth until The Return of the King. There, though, Sam begins to realize the gravity of his promise to Gandalf to protect Frodo throughout their journey, and he also draws focus from the loyalty and respect he has for Frodo as well. Unlike more natural heroes, Sam originally performs heroic actions more consciously, rather than in such an impulsive and fluent manner as more comfortable heroes such as Aragorn do. Although, in Return of the King, Sam finds himself impulsively charging into battle to save Frodo from She-lob, a massive and ferocious spider with the direct intent to kill and devour. Even with not being labeled one of the staple heroes of the Lord of the Rings saga, Sam was still willing to sacrifice his own chance for future and take responsibility for Frodo’s predicament. Despite all of the negative connotations and stereotypes about hobbits that were brought forth by the humans, Sam brings forth more of a heroic and determined nature than many of the humans in Middle Earth, despite both parties being aware and potentially discouraged by the likely demise that loomed ahead. With this, Sam portrays obvious traits of someone who was able to come to terms with the tasks at hand and follow through on necessary action. With Sam, Peter Jackson constantly emphasizes that even an everyday individual has the ability to do great things. Being a hobbit, Sam already is given a natural disadvantage in Middle Earth, and his original traits boast no positive advantage to make their journey any easier. However, he still manages to remain strong and true to himself, despite the relentless struggles that he and his comrades face. The everyday individual has the exact same potential, in the sense that we, too, can take responsibility for our own situations, or the situations of the ones around us, to take charge with the intent of creating a better tomorrow.
Whether it is through Aragorn, a natural born leader with the hesitant, yet never-ending willpower to combat anything that is thrown his way, or even through Sam, a more common and unlikely hero, director Peter Jackson relays to the viewing audience that the traits and the background of an individual isn’t of great importance when it comes to fulfilling obligations. The fact of the matter is that any individual can do incredible things, as long as they are willing to acknowledge the responsibilities that surround them and take hold of the actions that must be done to see those responsibilities accounted for. Those who choose not to fulfill their own expectations, however, end up having their world fall to pieces around them. Whether an individual chooses to leap in and be decisive, or simply run away from all of their problems, however, is a choice that he or she has to make alone, and the consequences or rewards will be ahead on their paths throughout life accordingly.