When I first read FR, I remember that I distrusted Boromir entirely. Perhaps it is because in the first two mentions of Boromir the reader is told that he is “from the South” (FR, II, II, 240) and a “stranger” (FR, II, II, 243). I already knew that the real bad guys were in the south, and that the shadowy men from Bree were “strangers.” Perhaps, too, it was because his first action is to interrupt Elrond in order to boast about his country and ask about the Ring; at least that is how I interpreted his statements at the time.
Boromir is one of the largest detractors from the plan to destroy the ring while at the Council of Elrond. Throughout his journey with the Fellowship, Boromir is constantly preoccupied with the Ring and how it should be used, not destroyed. I think that my childhood instinct to view people, and characters, I loved as infallible played a role in the way I perceived Boromir. To me, he was ‘the enemy’ who was against the wisdom of Gandalf (whom I loved dearly, which I will cover in detail later). As such, I did not see him as a real man, as a character who was valiant yet flawed. I saw him, honestly, in the same way that many conservative American Christians see the devil: as a crafty and deceitful enemy who has his goal in front of him the whole time and picks his spots to exploit weakness. My reading was not to see Boromir as occasionally tempted, but as wholly corrupt and hiding his nature until he can sate his desires.
This interpretation of Boromir stayed with me for approximately three years. When I was sixteen, I audited a course on J.R.R. Tolkien which Dr. Amy H. Sturgis taught at a university near me. It was through her class that I first realized that Boromir was not an entirely unredeemable figure. Since then, my views on Boromir have changed drastically, but that evolution is a story for another time!
Where do we go from here?
What Do You Think?
Has your reading of Boromir changed over time?
Let me know in the comments!