Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

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Mirimaran
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Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Mirimaran » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:23 am

Hi all,

I was reading earlier about Tolkien's early life, and found that he learned to read at age 4, and what his likes and dislikes were. He didn't like 'Treasure Island' but loved stories about "red Indians", so that got me thinking that perhaps Tolkien read books about colonial America, and more than likely 'The Last of the Mohicans.' So, perhaps Hawkeye has a faint impression on the character of Strider. Both characters are men of the natural world, have aliases, and are men who have proud lineages. Perhaps when Tolkien finally realized who Strider was (evolved from Trotter, once thought to be a hobbit with wooden feet, or perhaps Bilbo, in an abandoned attempt at writing LOTR) that his childhood love of the American frontier, and perhaps the Rangers and mountain men who lived in the wilderness, brought about Aragorn from the shadows into the literary light. I am inclined to believe, looking at Strider's descriptions in Fellowship:

"Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits."

"The Company took little gear of war, for their hope was in secrecy not in battle. Aragorn had Anduril but no other weapon, and he went forth clad only in rusty green and brown, as a Ranger of the wilderness"

that he is more akin to the Rangers and men of the American Frontier than he is rooted in more ancient history. For the Dunedain, those descriptions take them backwards, from a people who dominated to a wandering folk perhaps more like those 'red Indians' that Tolkien loved to read about as a child, yet with a rich culture and heritage that they refused to surrender.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome!

Ken
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:44 pm

Why do you think I find Colonial Rangers and some of their kit so appropriate for this sort of Rangering? ;)

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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby RangerKellen » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:53 pm

That's very interesting! Strider is one of my favorite characters in LOTR so this topic is intriguing. :)
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Peter Remling » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:06 pm

Even in the character Hawkeyes' (Nathaniel) later life, he was a dangerous adversary. A deadly shot, and a man with wiry muscles, who didn't look his age. He was well respected but stayed on the outskirts of society.

James Fenimore Cooper was the premier American author of his time and his novels were well researched, including a great deal of info gleaned from the census' of the time.

Ken, I really think you're on to soemthing.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Ernildir » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:27 am

Interesting idea.

I seem to remember reading somewhere (Letters, perhaps?) that Tolkien's interest in those sorts of stories was simply (though perhaps not entirely) due to the fact that they involve bows and arrows. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the question of whether or not Strider might have been partly inspired by the material, though.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Andy* » Wed May 15, 2013 12:55 pm

Older thread I know..but new to me.
Any thoughts on Aragorn being inspired by Robin Hood? Aragorn can be grim and deadly like Robin in the orginal tales...both also have their lighter moments, also both used disguise at times.
Not thnking of the robbing aspect.....but more of the "men of the greenwood".....and love of archery.
Also am aware that Robin was originally of humble stock...not the son of kings.....
Edit to add that both have an "outlaw" status.....as in both were men outside of the law.
Just some thoughts.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Greg » Fri May 17, 2013 1:45 am

There may be something to that, Andy. I'm inclined to think that he wasn't, but since we'll never know for sure, that's what opinions are for!

In my opinion, I think Aragorn might have been Tolkien's answer to Robin Hood, rather than inspired by him. Aragorn never actually uses a bow, to my recollection...he certainly is not cited to carry one for any length of time, and I can't think of a time when he used one. Was he skilled with one? Most definitely. But does he use one? I don't think so...the focus on Anduril was too great to allow something like that. Tolkien is cited to have created Middle Earth as his own answer to the Arthurian Legends, since he didn't like them and wanted an alternate "Mythology" for Europe. I think, in light of this, that some inspiration might have come from Robin Hood, but I personally wouldn't put any stock in it, but rather that Aragorn was Tolkien's opinion of how to do Robin Hood "better".
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Andy* » Fri May 17, 2013 2:22 am

Greg,
I like your thinking of "doing Robin Hood better"....
My "love of archery" was referring to Tolkien's love of archery, not Aragorn's....sorry about my poor writing.
Wasn't really thinking of Aragorn of being a archer per se.....but as an man outside of the law...making his own way in the world....having knowledge of nature....a band of trusted followers....living of the land...
Not sure if I buy into my theory myself...just was a thought while drinking coffee before work.....
Thanks for your reply....hope to hear more.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Greg » Fri May 17, 2013 4:38 pm

I think, in different ways, we're saying the same thing.

Welcome to the forums, by the way! Glad to have you here.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Beornmann » Fri May 17, 2013 6:12 pm

Some digging around found these:

Why Did Tolkien Use the Name ‘Ranger’?

Frontier Partisans of the mythic realm

What was a Ranger of the North like?

Aragorn and J.R.R. Tolkien - An Essay Regarding the Source Of Inspiration For Aragorn
An interesting essay is talked about but cannot find the actual essay, just an intro

My take is that he created a king that he wanted...a people's champion, worldly, slightly insecure, capable, and honourable.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Jonathan B. » Fri May 17, 2013 10:32 pm

I don't see Aragorn as being a man outside the Law.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Beornmann » Sat May 18, 2013 2:38 am

I'm not feeling the Robin Hood vibe, as an heroic outlaw.

"He liked stories about "Red Indians" and the fantasy works by George MacDonald.[24] In addition, the "Fairy Books" of Andrew Lang were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings.[25]" Wikipedia

The American western aspect may have influenced him in using the Texas Rangers for inspiration. See the link in a a previous post about the Mythical Frontier.

As for MacDonald, "As hinted above, MacDonald's use of fantasy as a literary medium for exploring the human condition greatly influenced a generation of such notable authors as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L'Engle. " Wikipedia

From Lang's works, one could see the influence of the Noble Savage concept. Aragorn is an outsider and despised grungy ranger, as described by Barliman. Also, Lang translated Homer's Odyssey, which one might also compare Aragorn's journey as a sort of quest to return home to Ithaca.

I still maintain that Aragorn was the King or leader that the Professor wanted or idealized. In a letter to Edith during the Great War, Tolkien complained, "Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed." Aragorn was compassionate, capable, heroic, but had shortcomings also. He was human..

He also may have incorporated elements from The Wanderer, a solitary roving noble longing for the glories of serving his lord and comradierie of the feast hall or in a sense a return to the former glories of old.

Tolkien’s Influences
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Andy* » Sat May 18, 2013 12:47 pm

To all who have replied to my thoughts of Robin Hood as a inspiration.....just wanted to say thanks for the well thought out replies.....might not agree to the idea...but no one gave me a snarky reply, as on other forms.
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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Eledhwen » Sat May 18, 2013 1:27 pm

If memory serves, and I would have to look in the books to be certain, Aragorn told the hobbits that he had 'some skill as a hunter at need'. He wasn't really an archer in the sense of Robin Hood or William Tell. He was a great tracker, could hunt, was skilled at war. He used a bow, but it was a short bow, not those once used by his ancestors, the great bows once of steel, then of wood. I think Faramir probably has more to do with Robin Hood, if any of the characters do, than Aragorn.

Just my late two pence.

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Re: Wondering on Strider's literary inspiration...

Postby Mirimaran » Sat May 18, 2013 1:53 pm

I think what Aragorn was saying was that there wasn't much to hunt when he and the hobbits tracked too far to the north. I will have to look it up, but as for Robin Hood (one of my favorites) he seemed to me to have been forced outside of the law of the time, and was a folk hero. The Rhymes of Robin Hood were very famous back in those days with the common folk. Aragorn *was* the law, imo, as Chieftain of the Dunedain, and heir to the Kingdoms of Arnor (such as it was) and Gondor.

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