But the hobbits and readers alike soon realize he is much more as his history and destiny slowly unfold. First, he is revealed to be a brave and skilled fighter as he rescues the hobbits from the Nazgûl at Weathertop. As the group arrives in Rivendell, it becomes clear Aragorn is a friend of the elves and even betrothed to the fairest among them: Arwen, daughter of Elrond. It is in the house of Elrond, as leaders of all the free races discuss what must happen to the One Ring, that Aragorn’s greatest secret is revealed: he is the heir of Isildur, the last High King to rule both the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Though 38 generations lie between Aragorn and his legendary forefather, it was said he resembled him more than any before him. His descent gave Aragorn rare skills for a Man, harking back to the race of the Númenor. One is his long lifespan; during the events of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is already in his 80s, but in the prime of his life. Aragorn is strong enough to use the palantir and so get a glimpse of the mind of Sauron. Last but not least, Aragorn is a skilled healer. This was mainly proven when he saved Eowyn and Faramir's lives after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. This was the characteristic that made the people of Gondor recognize Aragorn as the heir to the throne, as it was said: ‘The hands of the King are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known.’
Due to his upbringing in Rivendell among the Elves, Aragorn also possesses great wisdom and knowledge of the history and lore of Middle-Earth. Bravery and self-sacrifice are also among Aragorn’s characteristics. He proves this time and time again as he travels with the Fellowship, later with Gimli and Legolas, during the battles of Helm’s Deep, and before the gates of Mordor. Aragorn is always in the middle of the fight -- not standing aside as some commanders would do, but endangering himself by fighting alongside everyone else. His bravery is never shown more than when Aragorn enters the Paths of the Dead, a mountain pass no one has dared enter for centuries as it is inhabited by a long dead army of cowardly Men. This army however, immediately recognizes Aragorn as Isildur’s heir and follows him to aid in the battle.
Besides being a great hero, Aragorn is also just a man. He knows self-doubt and blames himself for the misfortunes which befall the Fellowship under his leadership. Aragorn can be stern and aloof, but also humorous and warm. He builds great friendships with Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits alike and shows great humility in all his relationships. It is no wonder Aragorn is often described as (one of) Tolkien’s Christ-like characters. His story from seemingly unassuming origins (‘All that is gold does not glitter’) to great King is indeed reminiscent of the life of Jesus and can open our eyes anew to many aspects of Christ’s life and lessons.
When at last Aragorn is crowned as King Elessar, it is a wonderful and touching thing to read, more so because as a reader you’ve come to know this wonderful man so well through all his trials and you know no one deserves to be crowned more than Aragorn.
(Hamlette's note -- thank you so much to Birdie for this guest post! Keep an eye out for more character profiles throughout the read-along.)