‘…I am frightened. Something terrible may happen up there. The Lord is out of his mind, I think. I am afraid he will kill himself, and kill Faramir too. Can’t you do something?’
Gandalf looked through the gaping Gate, and already on the fields he heard the gathering sound of battle. He clenched his hand. ‘I must go ‘ he said. ‘The Black Rider is abroad, and he will yet bring ruin on us. I have no time.’
‘But Faramir!’ cried Pippin. ‘He is not dead, and they will burn him alive, if someone does not stop them.’
The Return of the King: Book V, Chapter VII: The Pyre of Denethor
Fearing Denethor is about to act rashly, Pippin has sought out Gandalf at the Great Gate of Minas Tirith. As the battle teeters and rages without, Gandalf faces a desperate choice: leave his key foe the run of the field and face down Gondor’s Steward or abandon the ill and helpless Faramir to the vicissitudes of luck.
Meanwhile in Rath Dínen, Beregond fights Denethor’s servants to a standstill over the life of Faramir.
How has the use of the Palantir poisoned the Steward’s mind? How does Gandalf try to win Denethor back to reality? What do you think about Denethor’s end?
Loyalty to and obedience of authority are key virtues in The Lord of the Rings. Yet in this chapter Tolkien examines the price of uncritical obedience. How do you compare Beregond’s acts with those of Denethor’s personal servants? And what about the murder of the porter, can that be justified?
These are just a few of the questions we’ll ponder this weekend as we explore The Pyre of Denethor in the Hall of Fire.
April 19: Morgoth and Sauron: similarities and differences
April 26: ROTK: Bk V, Ch VIII: The Houses of Healing
The Pyre of Denethor by Robert Chronister.
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