Dúnedain and Duty
We thought we'd learned Aragorn's deepest secret. We knew he was the heir of Isildur. We knew dude was a man of noble birth, hidden away in Rivendell and raised by elves to become a lone Ranger of the North, roaming the landscape in solitude, and hiding from his fate.
Honestly, we don't know why he was hiding. Being an all-powerful ruler sounds like a pretty sweet gig—or it at least sounds easy compared to wandering around and forbidden love.
But it turns out there's even more to Aragorn: you know, apart from being a secret royal. Being of the line of Isildur, Aragorn is a Dúnedain. A whatawho? Tolkein history time: the Dúnedain were decedents of the Numenorean line, men that had come from their island in the west during the Second Age. They had long lifespans and, while this longevity has decreased overtime, the surviving Dúnedain like Aragorn still live an exceptionally long time (about three times as long as normal men, which apparently means aging three times as slowly and not just getting really old and being bed ridden for the second half of your life).
So when Aragorn tells Erwin that he's eighty-seven, we're as surprised as she is. He looks to be in his early forties, but he has the experience of an old man. This must be, in part, why he appears to be so wise and so respected by those who know of him. It's unclear what he's being doing living in Middle-earth for such a long time, but suddenly his character makes sense—he's not a super-mature middle-aged man, he's a very youthful old man.
Aragorn the Hopeful
We're not talking about Aragorn being hopeful for the throne of Gondor. In fact, that's about the last thing he's hopeful for. Aragorn just has a lot of hope, in general. We suppose hope is just a word, a vague noun used to describe some vague sense of optimism or wishful thinking.
But in LotR, hope is a valuable resource, and one that Aragorn has in abundance.He plays an important role in the Battle of Helm's Deep, where he fights on the frontline, slaughtering orcs and commanding the elves. When Théoden needs time to recoup, he and Gimli run a flank mission and start chopping orcs away from the doors to the wall.
So his mastery of the sword is useful, but no matter how many orc heads fall, no amount of death can amount to Aragorn's ability to inspire:
ARAGORN: What is your name?
HALETH: Haleth, son of Hama, my lord. The men are saying we will not live out the night. They say that it is hopeless.
ARAGORN: [He swings Haleth's sword and hands it back to him. This is a good sword Haleth, son of Hama. There is always hope.
Finally, when Théoden seems all but defeated, it's Aragorn who inspires him to ride out one last time: a ride of wrath and almost-certain death. Théoden, the king who is supposed to be leading his people in war, is ready to call it quits… while Aragorn has never lost faith. And maybe this faith in the triumph of good over evil is nothing more than an idea, but if you can use an idea to lead a final charge against an overwhelming enemy, we think that idea is a pretty powerful one. Aragorn plays a pivotal role in Helm's Deep and, considering the title of the final film, we expect him to play an even bigger part—perhaps even in the fate of humanity as a whole.