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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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The arrival of the Riders of Rohan turns the tide of battle.
After Minas Tirith is saved, Aragorn leads the armies to the
very gates of Mordor, where they are surrounded by
Sauron's forces.

At that moment, when all seems lost, the men of Rohan
arrive and join the battle. The captain of the ringwraiths,
mounted on his winged steed, flies over the battlefield,
striking despair into the hearts of men. But unlike
Denethor, Theoden refuses to succumb to despair. He calls
to his men, "Fear no darkness!" Perhaps having already
overcome the despair induced by Grima the Wormtongue,
Theoden is now immune to it.

Theoden's horse is struck by a dart from the captain of the
ringwraiths and falls on its master. As the wraith swoops
down for the kill, he is challenged by Dernhelm, now
revealed as Eowyn. With Merry's help, she kills the
ringwraith. In this way another prophecy is fulfilled, that
the ringwraith would not die at the hand of any man.

Merry's sword proves to carry unthought-of significance. It
was made long ago to be used against the Witch-lord of
Angmar, the leader of the ringwraiths. The man who made
the sword went to defeat and death. But his efforts were not
entirely fruitless, because Merry found the sword in the
barrow and carried it all the way to Minas Tirith. Only this
sword could have harmed the ringwraith. Through details
such as this, Tolkien shows the workings of a greater
purpose, one that men cannot follow, because it works too
slowly, taking unknown years to bear fruit. Tolkien's
message seems to be that even though something you have
done may appear futile at the time, in years to come it may
prove to be of great importance.

While Eowyn faces the ringwraith, Gandalf is inside the
city, saving Faramir from his father's madness. But
Denethor, in his pride and despair, cannot be stopped from
killing himself. Denethor gives several reasons for wanting
to die. He believes that Sauron will win the war. But he
also knows that Aragorn is coming to claim his throne, and
Denethor will have to relinquish his power. Since he cannot
have things as he wants them, the steward would rather die
than serve another. Compare Denethor's death with
Theoden's. One gives in to despair, the other dies resisting

Like Saruman, Denethor had a palantir, which he used to
watch the growing strength of Sauron. Denethor believed
that he controlled the palantir, but Sauron actually
controlled it and presented a distorted picture to the
steward, one intended to induce despair.

When Denethor falls into despair, he brings about the
deaths of others as well as himself. If not for Denethor,
Gandalf would have been in the battlefield and possibly
could have prevented Theoden's death and the wounding of
Eowyn and Merry. Gandalf says that this is the working of
Sauron. The ringwraiths also use despair as a weapon.
Few men can resist the power of their cries, which make
men cower in despair and stop fighting. Despair, then,
causes people to abandon their roles in the grand design,
and to fail to do their allotted tasks. In this way evil

For now, the battle is over, but Faramir, Eowyn, and Merry
all lie in the Houses of Healing. Seemingly nothing can
cure them, until Aragorn arrives and calls them back from
their dreaming. There is a saying in Gondor that the hands
of a king are the hands of the healer, and now it is
whispered that a king has come. But Aragorn slips away
without claiming his throne. Remember when Aragorn
refused to leave his sword outside King Theoden's hall?
You can see now how he has changed. Then he placed his
pride above peace, until Gandalf rebuked him. Now, he
humbles himself rather than stir up controversy by his
claim to kingship. For the moment it's more important to
have a united front against Mordor.

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes

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