LotRFI Pt.21–Boromir the Brave

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.

Image copyright Jef Murray

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?

Into the land of the Horse Lords: Rohan!

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!

LotRFI Pt.20–Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Unlike the death of Gandalf, I saw the fissures forming in the Fellowship long before Frodo set out on his own. The decision seemed like the appropriate one to me, and I loved how Sam is the only member of the Fellowship that understands how Frodo is thinking; this understanding put Sam and me in a very small club together. This was one of the first scenes where I started to understand Sam’s depth. His ability to parse out his master’s actions and understand the animating emotions is more than I expected of Sam up to this point. We will have more on my interpretation of Sam later, when he really comes into his own.

Image copyright Cor Blok

For now, I also wanted to focus on the importance of the “breaking” of the Fellowship. Many fans cheered Jackson’s decision to include the death of Boromir in the first film. I have to admit that I did not appreciate the change for several reasons. First, is the fact that Tolkien’s text is formatted in such a way to emphasize that the end of the Fellowship is not death, but the physical, and perhaps mental, splitting of the group. If death were the cause for the ending of the Fellowship, then the Fellowship was already broken in Moria. The end of the Fellowship, however, is when Boromir falls to temptation and tries to take the ring. This sparks an abiding mistrust in Frodo. This infighting and conflict is the brokenness indicated by the chapter title.

This idea is underscored in the first chapter of the second volume. Here, Boromir mends the rent he caused by dying for Pippin and Merry; furthermore, Aragorn indicates that, if the Fellowship remains true to one another, then it will not have been in vain, regardless of the outcome.

‘My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left’ (TT, I, i, 419).

Therefore the “breaking” of the Fellowship is a temporary condition that exists in the gap between books two and three. It is rectified by Boromir’s death, not caused by it.

This sentiment is one that I felt when I was younger, but I could not really express it well. It has taken considerable time and reflection to be able to make it seem as clean and neat as it does here.

Where do wee go from here?

I want to focus on Boromir’s death a bit more, then head into Rohan!

​What do you think?

Did you like Jackson’s change?
What do you think is the true “breaking of the Fellowship?”
​Have I missed something? Let me know!

LotRFI Pt.12–Boromir the Bad

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.

Image copyright John Howe

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?

Next, I want to talk about some of the obstacles the Fellowship encounter on the journey to Moria.

What Do You Think?

What was your first impression of Boromir?
Has your reading of Boromir changed over time?
​Let me know in the comments!