Who is the Leader? Tolkien’s Houses of Healing

Tolkien’s Houses of Healing (Lord of the Rings)

When watching the movie as you get to the end, Aragorn is crowned king. Why? Is this something he inherited? Was he that good at slaying all the bad guys? Was he some kind of leader – if so why did they think he was this leader? The answer lies in the Houses of Healing with the words spoken by Ioreth.

The Houses of Healing were omitted from the movie, and Jackson barely mentions the Houses of Healing in the extended version of the movie. In the book version, what happens in the Houses of Healing are the focal point of the entire book trilogy. After the battle three of our heroes lay dying in the Houses of Healing after the battle. The city has been destroyed by the enemy and even the gates are torn down (America today?). Aragorn, who they expected to be the coming King, has left for the Paths of the Dead with his few followers, a place from which no human has ever returned alive (Jesus analogy?). No one has heard from Frodo and his friend Sam (little haflings less than four feet tall) since they left for the dark territory to throw the ring in the volcano from which it was forged, saving Middle Earth. Denathor, the Steward of the City (there had been no King for a long time) had given up hope and committed suicide. Denethor had also tried to kill his son. Faramir now lies near death in another of the Houses of Healing. Lady Eowyn, another of our heroes, also lies dying. Merry, the hafling (hobbit) that tried to help Eowyn fight the witch queen. is also near death.

At this point Ioreth, eldest of the women who served the houses, looks on the sad situation and weeps as she says :

Would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in old lore that the hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.
Tolkien speaking as Ioreth, Lord of the Rings, p 136

Unknown to them, however, Aragorn has returned and is now camped at with his men just outside the city. Soon he has entered the Houses of Healing and heals all three of our heroes. I fell to the floor as I read them, weeping. Get the book and read the story of the three healings Tolkien repeats Ioreth’s line again and again in the book, almost as if it is the drumbeat of the heart of Tolkien’s message. (It is.) What was Aragorn’s real name? What did it mean? (It’s in Tolkien’s chapter on the healings.)

Finally comes the big moment that Aragorn is crowned as King. Now Ioreth is shouting the line, only to be drowned out by the trumpets before she can complete the line. This forces the reader to complete the line in his or her head, and in so doing take ownership on it’s truth. (Tolkien is tricky here!) The next time she starts the line (as instruction to her cousin) she doesn’t get the first word out, and you find yourself saying the entire line. Tolkien tricks you again..

Jackson, in none of the film versions, ever uses this key line. Jesus is the King. He is King not only because he has authority, but He also has the power. He is also the healer. Ioreth, the wise old elder in the Houses of Healing, carries the message of the book. Jackson never gives that line to you in the movies.

As you vote at both the Federal and local levels, you see a broken nation rift with lost values and dishonesty. We need the healers. Who do you see is best at leading that? Why? Who has been open and honest with you? What are their values? How have they lived them?

(Please share! )


Carl is a researcher, writer, speaker based in Portland, Oregon. He also designs really high quality and affordable web sites for people that dream big. Ask him to build you one.

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