Minas Tirith was an altogether novel experience in my first read of LotR. It holds an interesting place in my memory because it is so different from the rest of LotR, but is more like other fantasy stories that I read before LotR.
Here is what I mean: Most of LotR felt original and new to me in the settings and many of the interactions, but Minas Tirith was like an allusion to stories with which I was familiar. Minas Tirith was the first ‘castle’ in the book, which automatically brought up associations with knights, damsels, jousting and quests for adventure. Most notable among these tales, I was aware of Camelot and Arthurian legends (which ones particularly, I cannot recall). For better or worse, I started to think about knights errant and chivalric tales.
This made the setting seem more remote and ancient to me than the rest of the text. I do not mean that it felt like it had a long history, several parts of the text feel like that. I mean that it felt like part of an older story to me. While most of LotR was a novel experience, I thought Minas Tirith was going to revisit fantasy of the medieval court variety. This was probably because, unlike with most of the other characters, events, and settings in the story, my only reference frame for Minas Tirith was other fantasy books. I had not living thing to equate Minas Tirith to. These other fantasy text were always set in distant lands or in earlier times (or ‘long ago’ and ‘far away’ if that were not banished as a cliché at this point).
In a sense, Minas Tirith was more storied for me as a location, but also more remote. I have often wondered how Europeans and Brits might feel about this point, since they grew up in places where they could have visited castles as a kid. To me, a castle was an element of make-believe, I wonder if it was just an element of history to them.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I would like to take a breath and talk about Merry and Pippin before we move on to the larger picture.
What Do You Think?
Did you think of Minas Tirith as a castle?
How did this influence the way you perceive(d) the events in Minas Tirith?
Did I miss anything? Let me know!