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In The Return of the King, just before the Battle of the Morannon near the Black Gate, Aragorn gives the following (now famous) speech before his army:

Transcript: Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. 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. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

While rewatching this scene recently, what caught my eye was the line about fear:

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

My interpretation of this is that Aragorn imagines himself as a random soldier in his army and what it must look like to face impossible odds and almost certain death. Had he been in such a case, he might had been a coward.

However, we know that Aragorn is not a coward and this was just a way to inspire his troops and develop camaraderie. Still, at some point during any of the numerous battles or perilous trips in hostile territory throughout his long life there might have been moments when he had expressed fear, e.g. on the road from Dunharrow to the Paths of the Dead or when facing the Nine (Five!?) at Weathertop.

So, my question is: Has Aragorn ever expressed fear, e.g. when talking to a companion or in internal dialog?

Answers from both the books and the movies will be accepted.

  • I have removed the [aragorn] tag as it is not one we need. It doesn't help us sort our answers nor can someone truly be an expert on aragorn. We generally don't use character tags in [t-l] because they aren't very useful. The ones that exist should likely be removed as they are remnants from an older time on the site. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 19:32
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    @Edlothiad I respectfully disagree. It seems other characters have their own tag, e.g. Jean Luc Picard [jean-luc-picard], so why not Aragorn? Also, there seem to be several questions about Aragorn and there were just 2 or 3 in the last couple of days. – Rebel-Scum Jun 1 '18 at 19:38
  • @Loki as I said, those characters are not part of the [tolkiens-legendarium] sub-group, and they are a remnant from an older time of the site. If you feel strongly about it, I recommend that you make a meta post and allow the community to decide. While there have been 2 or 3 in the past couple of days, they were by the same user on the same topic. If we did that every time someone had a theme of two questions we would have infinite tags. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 19:42
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    There's a big difference between being afraid and being a coward. Bravery is all about overcoming fear; the more intense the fear, the greater the bravery in facing it. – Nicola Talbot Jun 2 '18 at 11:43
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I think yes

You may escape from Bree, and be allowed to go forward while the Sun is up; but you won’t go far. They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there is no help. Do you wish them to find you? They are terrible!’ The hobbits looked at him, and saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair. The room was very quiet and still, and the light seemed to have grown dim. For a while he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away. ‘There!’ he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. ‘Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do. You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet. Tomorrow you will have to escape, if you can. Strider can take you by paths that are seldom trodden. Will you have him?’

FotR, Chapter 10 - Strider

He does not say's it openly, but I think his body language expresses that he has very unpleasant memoires about the riders, and that he fears a close encounter with them. Normally Aragorn can perfectly control and conceal his fear, but now he can use it to his advantage, presenting the hobbits that the Nine are not to be taken lightly.

And also in Book II, Ch 4 - A journey in the dark

‘The road that I speak of leads to the Mines of Moria,’ said Gandalf. Only Gimli lifted up his head; a smouldering fire was in his eyes. On all the others a dread fell at the mention of that name. Even to the hobbits it was a legend of vague fear. ‘The road may lead to Moria, but how can we hope that it will lead through Moria?’ said Aragorn darkly. [...]’

‘I too once passed the Dimrill Gate,’ said Aragorn quietly; ‘but though I also came out again, the memory is very evil. I do not wish to enter Moria a second time.[...]

I will follow your lead now – if this last warning does not move you. It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!’

Arguably in this case Aragorn expresses two different kind of fear: He fears Moria for himself, and he has a 'higher order fear' of losing his old friend, teacher and advisor, Gandalf.

And look at this: (Ch 10- The Breaking of the fellowship)

‘The day has come at last,’ he said: ‘the day of choice which we have long delayed. What shall now become of our Company that has travelled so far in fellowship? Shall we turn west with Boromir and go to the wars of Gondor; or turn east to the Fear and Shadow; or shall we break our fellowship and go this way and that as each may choose? Whatever we do must be done soon.

It seems to me that Aragorn is here (and in the previous chapter) afraid of making the decision. He knows that the decision must be made, and that it would be irreversible and have decisive consequences, and although he had prepared for these times in his whole adult life, he still fears and tries to push the responsibility on Frodo. He had not expected to become leader so soon, and fears that he is not as wise as Gandalf, so he tarries, and that almost leads to catastrophe.

Conclusion

Aragorn feels many fears: The fear of the guts when he looks forward to encountering things that made him suffer in the past, the fear of the heart when he dreads the loss of his friends, and the fear of the mind when he is suddenly beset with enormous responsibility, and fears that he would turn out an unworthy leader and fall short of his high destiny.

The reason that the reader notices this rarely is twofold: Tolkien scarsely uses his POV, we see him through the eyes of the hobbits, Gimli and even Ioreth, but we never hear his internal monologues. And since he knows that his expressed fear would disheart his companions and lead him to decisions that further the cause of Sauron, he almost never tells them or lets them influence his deeds. We only see his fears when he is conversing with his most trusted friends and when he uses it as a tool to disaude others from foolish decisions.

EDIT:

Scanning further, I have found another instance when Aragorn actually admits fear:

‘Why are you waiting? What is the matter with you?’ said Gimli in a hissing whisper. ‘Legolas is right,’ said Aragorn quietly. ‘We may not shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever fear or doubt be on us. Watch and wait!’

Two Towers, Ch 5 - The White Rider

This is again a different kind of fear. All the previous instances originate from Aragorns superior knowledge: (compared to that of the hobbits or avarage men) Having been to Imlad Morgul he knows the true nature of the Black Riders, knowing Gandalf better than any living man, he knows that the Wizard is not as inviolable as the hobbits imagine, knowing geography and the ways of the enemy he knows that if they go to Gondor, they will have no second chance to try ro get into Mordor...

Now he does not understand: They have lost the hobbits, the signs are puzzling even to his Ranger tracker-skills, a mysterious old man chased away their horses and is now approaching, he and Legolas feel some quer foreboding in the Forest... It is a great feat of courage and self-control that he does not let their insecurities burst out in violence.

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    I also always took Aragorn singing of Luthien on Weathertop as an expression of fear: he's about to face the dreaded Nazgul (you provided the quote from chapter 10), and he's singing of a man triumphing over a terrible, impossible darkness, to come back and marry his beloved, who just happens to be strongly associated with Aragorn's own beloved. Looks to me like a man actively drawing courage from a meaningful story and the thought of the person he loves. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jun 2 '18 at 9:15
  • As I expressed below, I'm unsure if your first quote really expresses Aragorn's fear of the Riders as opposed to his concern for the Hobbits. The second quote however is a good one and certainly one I'd forgotten! – Edlothiad Jun 2 '18 at 10:57
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    @Edlothiad Most of the time in the Pony he reasons to the hobbits, but when he remembers his previous encounter with the Nazguls, I am quite sure that he feels anguish: "saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair" – b.Lorenz Jun 2 '18 at 11:38
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    That's a good point, I think you've absolutely blown the other two answers away with yours and provided the best answer of the three here. – Edlothiad Jun 2 '18 at 12:15
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    I can get behind that. Well done! – NKCampbell Jun 2 '18 at 14:24
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In the films, Aragorn fears his past

Specifically, he fears following in the footsteps of his ancestor, Isildur.

Arwen: Why do you fear the past? You are Isildur’s heir, not Isildur himself. You are not bound to his fate.
Aragorn: The same blood flows in my veins. The same weakness.
Arwen: Your time will come. You will face the same evil, and you will defeat it.
The Fellowship of the Ring - Quotegeek

Aragorn fears that because of his relation he will follow in the footsteps of Isildur, he will fail to become a great King of Men as was destined and instead lead Gondor and Arnor to their demise.

Books

In the books Aragorn doesn't seem to ever express fear. He is the proud heir of the throne of Men, strong willed and powerful, a memory of the great Men of old, Turin and Beren. There was naught for Aragorn to fear, eventhough two Maia, Sauron and Saruman, both feared him, and with reason.

With respect to the above, Aragorn never doubts his rights to the throne in the books. He knows that he has a destiny to fulfil and he never doubts his path. He fears not his past, instead he looks to improve and be better than the failures of Isildur.

Did you say aught to – him? Even Gandalf feared that encounter.’ ‘You forget to whom you speak,’ said Aragorn sternly, and his eyes glinted.
Return of the King - Book V, Chapter 2: The Passing of the Grey Company

From the two points you mention, Aragorn shows no fear for the Nine at Weathertop, jumping out to face all five Ringwraiths that are present, and defending the fear-struck Hobbits

Even as he swooned he caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand.

Aragorn shows no fear for the Paths of the Dead and is willing to take whatever route he must to travel East the swiftest:

I will ride east by the swiftest way, and I will take the Paths of the Dead.
Return of the King - Book V, Chapter 2: The Passing of the Grey Company

He rode through the paths without fear and summoned the dead without second thought:

Then Elrohir gave to Aragorn a silver horn, and he blew upon it; and it seemed to those that stood near that they heard a sound of answering horns, as if it was an echo in deep caves far away.
ibid.

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    Saying that Aragorn acted bravely in some (or many) circumstances is not the same as saying he never feared. Also to say that he did something (i.e. took the Path of the Dead) does not mean he was not frightened of it. – DJClayworth Jun 1 '18 at 20:42
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    ^ exactly. if Aragorn had no fear at all, he would be foolhardy, not brave. – NKCampbell Jun 1 '18 at 20:45
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    He may have feared, but this is never openly expressed. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 21:02
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    None of those are him being afraid of something or someone, but concerned for the protection of others, either way I feel neither of our answers was destined to go anywhere ;) – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 21:28
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    @Edlothiad - I found another possible instance - what of his statement re: Bill Ferny? Also, I clarified the Pass of Caradhras exchange. He very clearly states he was both afraid of that journey and that he is more afraid of other things [but what those are goes unstated] – NKCampbell Jun 1 '18 at 22:27
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Yes

On several occasions in the book, Aragorn / Strider has said that he feared or worried about something. This is not to say that he has ever been cowardly or reticent to take action, or lacking boldness. Healthy knowledge and fear of your enemy is a valid character trait of the brave and heroic.

Gandalf and Aragorn both were afraid that the Pass of Caradhras would be too perilous. This interchange is particularly telling, because it indicates that Aragorn is aware that he has fear of not just one thing, but several and that he fears some things more than others:

[it is unstated what he fears more than, but the statement itself implies that such things do exist]

"This is what I feared", he [Gandalf] said. "What do you say now, Aragorn?"

That I feared it too, but less than other things", Aragorn answered.

  • FoTR: Book Two - Chapter 3 - The Ring Goes South

It is worth noting as a secondary instance, regarding the journey through the Paths of the Dead and to Gondor, that Gimli states:

"But still, Aragorn was driven by fear that time was too short."

  • Ch 9 - The Last Debate

This comment is open to interpretation/doubt though as it is another character speaking as to the thoughts of another, not the narrator or character themselves stating it.

Another example is Strider/Aragorn stating that he is concerned of Bill Ferny talking about what he [Ferny] has seen and what direction the group is headed:

"He [Bill Ferny] knows the land round here well enough, but he knows he is no match for me in a wood. It is what he may tell others that I am afraid of."

  • Chapter 11 - A Knife in the Dark

Other examples of Aragorn stating a fear or concern from the book, as the question asked:

Here - Aragorn seems to be indicating that he is uncertain of what is coming upon him and hobbits at Weathertop, and that he fears it is the Black Riders.

"I do not know, but I fear the worst", answered Strider

  • Chapter 11 - A Knife in the Dark

Later - he is looking for tracks and clues as to who may have been in the area, but, he was afraid that the important clues would be lost due to the hobbits movements.

"It is just as I feared", he said when he came back. "Sam and Pippin have trampled the ground".

  • Chapter 11 - A Knife in the Dark

Finally, from the Appendix:

"For a moment Aragorn gazed in silence, but fearing that she would pass away and never be seen again, he called to her crying Tinuviel, Tinuviel! even as Beren had done in the Elder Days long ago."

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    None of these are actual examples of fear. Their merely what he was worried about. He is not expressing his fear of the Nine Riders. Nor is he afraid of the circumstances. He is merely aware that it hasn't turned out the best for their situation, in my opinion that is not fear, at least not for himself. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 19:44
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    So Aragorn is also afraid of not having Gollum's love? He will never love me, I fear; for he bit me, and I was not gentle. The downvote is for your misunderstanding of the character. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 19:52
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    No but the quote is the same use of the word "fear" as you have included above. And one needs to understand the character Aragorn to answer this question. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 19:59
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    You're suggesting that the fear op is looking for is concern, this is one interpretation, an interpretation I disagree with. I have expressed my disagreement. I don't presume I know more than the author, and never have I stated that. He had those concerns, sure, but I don't believe those are the fears OP is looking for. – Edlothiad Jun 1 '18 at 20:31
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    I fear you are taking the phrasing of several of those quotes too literally. – Kevin Jun 1 '18 at 20:51

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