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The Three Kings in the Lord of the Rings: Aragorn, Theodon, and Denethor

Updated on November 30, 2012

The three kings in the Lord of the Rings are extremely different in their wants, needs, and personalities. They can easily be ordered from best to worst: Aragon stands as the ideal, with Theoden below him, and Denethor not even a true king, as compared to the others. Yet their roles are all vital in both the books and movies.

Viggo Mortensen, the actor who portrayed Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy
Viggo Mortensen, the actor who portrayed Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy | Source

Aragorn

Aragorn is the ideal king. He is related to Isildur, who failed to destroy the Ring when he had the chance. He is not happy with his ancestor, and he fears that he will not be a good king because of it. Because of this, perhaps, he will be and is a wonderful king. He cares about the people above his own needs. He shows how much he cares for others above himself in two instances. First, he gives up his claim to the throne to be a Ranger which forces him to live in the woods and protect people. (This is also good for him, as it teaches him a great many things that will aid him later when he is a king.) Second, he gives up his love, Arwen, because he knows that she will suffer for loving him. He puts her needs above his. Aragorn is the most virtuous of the kings, showing by his example how to lead and how to behave.

Bernard Hill, the actor who portrayed Theodon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy
Bernard Hill, the actor who portrayed Theodon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy | Source

Theodon

Theoden is fairly wise, and a good man and king in many ways, yet he is limited in what he believes he can do. He does not have as strong a will as Aragon, as is shown in the fact that he was enthralled and controlled by Wormtongue and Sauroman. He does not readily see the evil, but once he has been awakened by Gandalf and the Fellowship, he acts quickly, being strong and ready to fight for his people. The movie portrays him incorrectly, showing him weak and unwilling to fight until it is forced upon him. The book shows a character that cares deeply for his family and his people, and one who understands that evil must be stopped, not avoided. His attachment to his family is shown through his connection to his son, nephew, and niece.

John Noble, the actor who portrayed Denethor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy
John Noble, the actor who portrayed Denethor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy | Source

Denethor

Denethor is not truly a king, just a steward who wants to be a king. His family has held the position of steward for a very long time, and he believes it is his right and his family’s right to govern Minas Tirith. The movies treat his character differently than the book. In the book, we understand his character much more completely, and he is not quite as horrible a person as he appears in the movies. Within the book, Denethor is unknowingly exchanging information with Sauron. He’s gone mad because of it, not realizing where the knowledge is coming from, and not realizing that all of it is not true. He still tries to be a good man, but fails because of his weakness that he is not able to overcome. He does not treat his family well, obviously favoring one son over the other, but even then, he does feel his family is important and wise.

All Different - All "Human"

While the kings may be different, each one is vital to the functioning of the world created by Tolkien. Each has a destiny to fulfill, and while some may not be as powerful or strong, they all function as they must.

The Complete Symphony - The Lord of the Rings

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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Not bad at all.

      Although it could be argued that Aragorn was not completely human as a member of the Dúnedain he had a longer than average life span. Other than that, it was spot on.

      Up and Awesome!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 4 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      This is interesting. I've read the books and seen the movies, but I don't think I've ever seen the three kings compared side by side before. Definitely food for thought. Thanks! :)

    • profile image

      Bronwyn J Hansen 4 years ago

      Peter Jackson's portrayal of Theoden and Denethor was certainly a let down. As for his desecration of Tolkien's books, do not get me started! A very interesting look at the three men and their outlook on life.

      Voted up.

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