The descendent of Isildur, Aragorn is the heir to the throne of Gondor, but at the beginning of the trilogy, he hides this identity and pretends to be a ranger named Strider. That Aragorn does not claim his throne, and that the steward Denethor rules Gondor, show the disunity and weakness of man at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. However, Aragorn is not king because he is not yet ready. As much as the trilogy tells of Frodo’s inner steadfastness before constant temptation, it also tells of Aragorn’s transformation from ranger to king. He must grow into his position as king, and his own journey proves vital not only for his rightful coronation but for the very survival and growth of the kingdoms of man. He gains confidence and self-awareness through his courageous support of Frodo and the rest of the fellowship, as well as from his love of Arwen.

Four main points mark Aragorn’s path to becoming king. When he publicly pronounces his identity during the initial meeting of the fellowship, he rouses the jealousy of Boromir, who is heir to the steward of Gondor. Aragorn’s pronouncement and its effects show that the human race does not yet accept Aragorn as king. Aragorn demonstrates his increasingly strong leadership role when he shows conviction and strength before the leaders of Rohan, a second human kingdom he will someday rule. Elrond’s gift to Aragorn of the sword Anduril shows that the elves recognize that Aragorn is king and is ready to lead the battle against Sauron. Finally, and most important, Aragon fully embraces his role as king when he demands the fealty of the men of the mountain, who will obey only the king of Gondor. With this act, Aragorn commits himself to the role of king and gains his first followers. When Aragorn is finally officially crowned, the ceremony is only symbolic—Aragorn has already proven himself to be the true and rightful king.