In a previous post, I indicated that the death of Boromir was not the “breaking” of the fellowship, but its mending. Many readers may question my ability to see this act in such a positive light, given my previous post about my mistrust of Boromir. As I stated earlier, I saw Boromir as totally “corrupted” by the Ring, and this only exhibited itself when Boromir had a chance to fulfill his desires. To me, the fact that Frodo left the company means that Boromir, for all intents and purposes, could never fulfill his desire to obtain the Ring for use in battle. This allows him to be free to be a noble, valiant, courageous man in his final act. No longer under the burden of the ring, his true nature comes back. This does not undermine my earlier interpretation at all. In fact, it bolsters my perspective that Boromir was under the Ring’s influence for the entire trip.
Several readers will identify the flaw in this reasoning, and I will remind them that I was eleven at the time. The fact is, Boromir did not know that the Ring was lost forever at the time of his sacrifice. He knew that Frodo had run away from him and that enemies were attacking. It is possible that Frodo could be hiding until the attack is over, then he could reappear and oust Boromir from the group. Whatever the case may be, my interpretation is not entirely supported by the sequence of events for the characters in the text. As a child, though, I already knew that Frodo was gone from the fellowship and out of Boromir’s reach, so this influenced my interpretation of events.
This is another instance of what can be called, and has been called by many (most notably Harold Bloom), ‘misreading.’ It is an interpretation of the text that is that a reader honestly holds until she/he later interprets the text in a different way. I should note that, while some of these ‘misreadings’ sometimes prove to be invalid after a later examination of the text, that does not change the important influence that such a reading can have on the reader. In fact, these misreading are an important part of the reader’s experience of the text, since the correction or alteration of interpretation is not a unique experience among readers.
Where Do We Go From Here?
What Do You Think?
Do you have a ‘misreading’ experience like this?
If so, how has it changed your view of the text over time?
Am I missing something? Let me know!
2 thoughts on “LotRFI Pt.21–Boromir the Brave”
I don’t think your “misreading” is a misreading at all in this case. Specifically, if Boromir had been “under the influence of the ring” the entire time, then that implies that the ring is Doing Something To Him. As such, he doesn’t need to KNOW that it has been removed from his vicinity for that “something” to be removed. He is no longer under its influence because it has been moved away from him and can no longer influence him from across the river. (Part of me likes to consider this a nice little callback to Tolkien’s early ideas about water being a barrier against evil.) So as you say, he is now free to act according to his true nature once again.
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I intensely disliked Boromir’s until one of Professor Olsen’s talks about Boromir’s redemption.
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