Honors Theses


College of Arts and Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Bachelor of Arts


Biological Sciences

Document Type

Honors Thesis


In The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien uses Aragorn’s healing abilities to solidify his identity as the rightful king. While it is made clear that this ability to heal is a sign of kingship, it is never clarified from where this belief arose. There is no other lore in The Lord of the Rings, The Appendices, or in The Silmarillion to suggest that healing hands were at all common among the kings of Númenor, Arnor, or Gondor, so the rhyme remembered by the old wife in the House of Healing may be surprising. Aragorn’s abilities, however, do not surprise the people of , nor do they seem out of place to the reader, because while there is little narrative surrounding a history of healing kings in Númenor, there is certainly a clear need and desire for such a king both in Middle earth and in this world. Aragorn’s identity as a healer-king is a response to man’s longing to survive and to cast off the mortality of the younger, “follower” race of Middle earth. It also, however, hearkens back to the myth and tradition of this world. The need and desire for a king like Aragorn has been present in human hearts for thousands of years and has resulted in a tradition of healing kings in a number of cultures across Europe. Pagan Germanic, Celtic, and Norse traditions all point to a king descended from a god with special abilities including success in battle and healing hands. These myths conclude, however, that a healing king must also be a sacral king. J. R. R. Tolkien drew on a number of literary traditions in the crafting of his character Aragorn including Arthurian legend, and messianic symbolism. With a closer study of ancient Germanic history, however, it is clear that much of Aragorn’s characterization as a healing king is drawn from a pre-Christian Gothic understanding of kingship and healing.

Publication Date


First Advisor

Snyder, Christopher

Second Advisor

Price, Marty

Third Advisor

Farmer, Angela