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Inspired by xkcd #1256's Title text :

To whoever typed 'why is arwen dying': GOOD. FUCKING. QUESTION.

This refers to a scene in the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The exact quote is :

ARAGORN: (bows) My lord Elrond

ELROND: I come on behalf of one whom I love. Arwen is dying. She will not long survive the evil that now spreads from Mordor. The light of the evenstar is failing. As Sauron’s power grows her strength wanes. Arwen’s life is now tied to the fate of the Ring. The Shadow is upon us Aragorn. The end has come.

(The quote is from www.ageofthering.com, The Return of the King Extended Edition Movie Script : Scene 30 ~ Andúril - Flame of the West)

The explainxkcd page is not helpful: it refers to the IMDB faq which just explains that she "chooses to become mortal in order to wed and remain with Aragorn". We already discussed this.

But the real question is : Why Arwen's "strength wanes" as "Sauron’s power grows"? Why Arwen’s fate is "tied to the fate of the Ring"?

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@TGnat I read the books, and I'm fully aware Peter Jackson took some liberties with is adaptation. The fact that the movie is not completely identical to the original material is irrelevant. The movie still exist and a question about something that happened only in the movie is still on-topic. –  DavRob60 Aug 29 '13 at 2:54
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Regarding (auto-)censorship: "quotes should be exact quotes" (accepted answer). –  bitmask Aug 29 '13 at 8:54
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5 Answers 5

up vote 24 down vote accepted

I think this isn't taken to be literally nor as something that happened (off-screen).

I always considered this scene in a different way (never thought about some sickness, wound or whatever):

  • Arwen insists on staying in Middleearth to be with Aragorn.
  • As such she won't be able to esccape with the other elves leaving to the west.
  • If Sauron wins (which might indeed be the case at that point in the story; the "end" he's referring to), he'll conquer all of Middleearth, which would also spread his influence anywhere Arwen might go (this is the specifical evil she won't survive for long).
  • As such he decides to fight, not so much for Middleearth as a whole, nor for humankind, but for Arwen, who'd be doomed as well.

In the end, she's dying due to giving up immortality (as jwenting already mentioned). Elrond can't change that, but he's able to prolong her life significantly by fighting now rather than just leaving her back and he's determined to do so whatever it costs.

It's just some artistic freedom to me. It doesn't really change the story or its outcome (I assume Elrond shows up in the books as well; never got that far so far).

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Elrond plays a decently large role in Fellowship, and IIRC he shows up at the end of RoTK, although in the book his sons deliver the sword to Aragorn. –  Wes Sep 3 '13 at 22:32
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@wes: In the book Aragorn gets the sword before he ever leaves Rivendell. The banner is what Elrond's son's deliver. –  Satanicpuppy Sep 6 '13 at 19:50
    
@Satanicpuppy, right, it's been a few years since I read RoTK, thanks. –  Wes Sep 6 '13 at 22:51
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When Arwen crosses into Rivendell after outriding the black riders, she holds Frodo - who is slipping into wraithdom - and says "What grace is given me, let it pass to him. Let him be spared." I assumed she was passing on some of her mortality and taking on some of Frodo's frailty and also his connection with The Ring.

I realise this differs from the book, as it is Glorfindel who rides with Frodo into Rivendell.

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Elves as a race are sensitive to Morgoth and then Sauron's power/darkness whatever. Elves as a race are immortal, but due to age or "great sorrow" undergo a process known as 'fading' unless they are in the undying lands of valinor. It simply appears that due to these 2 factors and that arwen apparently has the constitution of a wet paper bag, that she is dying.

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I very much understand and sympathize with everyone who wants to try and find a way to integrate the movie with Tolkien's legendarium. As a huge fan, and a huge nerd, I can stay engaged with this sort of thing much, much, much longer than the average person. That said, I'm pretty sure Arwen is dying because Peter Jackson decided to just randomly insert whatever fantasy trope he had lying around, just for the hell of it.

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Hello, @Neil Dryden, and welcome to the site. Please take a look at the about page when you get a moment, as this site works pretty differently to the forums you may be used to. Be aware that this answer is unlikely to be accepted as is - the site rules call for factual answers or knowledge based on experience. (SF is looser than other SE sites, but not by that much; speculation on Mr Jackson's motives is not an answer unless backed by some form of evidence.) –  Tynam Sep 1 '13 at 22:19
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The books mention none of that whatsoever, period.
In the books however Arwen chooses mortality so she can marry Aragorn. As such, she will eventually die. This grieves the elves, as she's the fairest of their maidens (and it's not the first time this happened in their history, previous cases having ended in tears).

As so often with the LOTR movies, the filmmakers corrupt and pervert the lore for the sake of making a movie that flows quick with lots of dramatic moments and dialogue.

So there's no canon explanation, you'd have to ask the script writers for the movie what they were thinking (if anything) beyond "it sounded catchy".

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The question clearly asks for the film, not the book. What your personal opinion is regarding which is better is irrelevant. So, frankly, I don't see how this answers the question. –  bitmask Aug 29 '13 at 8:57
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it answers the question in that there is no answer within the lore, only within the distorted minds of the scriptwriters and those can be summarised as "it makes for a nice dramatic line". –  jwenting Aug 29 '13 at 10:42
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The script defines the lore of the film. If you claim the film to be corrupt and perverted compared to the book, clearly those two are different works of art and therefore lore is not directly transferable in either direction. –  bitmask Aug 29 '13 at 10:56
    
@bitmask - it belongs on Movies.SE then. Typically I see questions on the movies (specifically focusing on changes between the script and the source material) being posted there. –  Adam V Aug 29 '13 at 16:33
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@AdamV: No it doesn't. It could be posted there, but it is perfectly on topic here. –  bitmask Aug 29 '13 at 16:35
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