Monday, April 11, 2011

Sleep as death

I liked the explanation of why Theoden would not mention sleeping in his grave without his being grounded in the Christian belief of eventual resurrection. However, it occurs to me that, though one imagines that Middle-earth is everywhere equally pre-Christian, there is another mention of sleep as death. Namely, from Denethor: "No tomb for Denethor and Faramir. No tomb! No long slow sleep of death embalmed. We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West." Why can Denethor refer to death as sleep, but not Theoden? Are we meant to see the Gondorians as somehow having a proto-Christian mindset?

--Luke Bretscher

1 comment:

  1. Good question! I think the answer lies in what the Numenoreans were after--and why, therefore, they lost their land. Denethor is not hoping for resurrection, but "death embalmed": the Numenoreans wanted eternal life without dying, which is why they fell to Sauron. See Letters, no. 131, pp. 154-55.