Chess pieces in conflict

Boromir of Gondor – a Character Unraveled

In the Council scene, there is one other threat that starts to loom. Boromir is the only one who sees the Ring as something positive, something that could be used against the enemy. He is clearly unaware of the power the Ring possesses and the only Master it answers to. Like a moth to a flame, the Ring draws him in.

A premonition

In a dream, I saw the eastern sky grow dark. But in the West, a pale light lingered. A voice was crying: ‘Your doom is near at hand.’ Isildur’s Bane is found.

Boromir

He begins his speech with a dream of his own. This will turn out reality as the story continues. The eastern sky will grow dark and there will be a ray of light in the West, however, Boromir will not be there to witness it.

Although the West may still have hope, the finding of the Ring annihilates it. As his dream is telling him that only doom awaits them, it is no wonder that he might have other ideas on how to use it to give Middle-Earth a chance.

The lure of the Ring

After only once glance at the Ring, it lures him in. As he begins his speech, his gaze is locked on the Ring, he is barely able to look away. His behavior starts to give clues about his true character.

The weakness he feared has finally presented itself in a form of body language. He touches his forehead as if in conflict with himself. The power of the Ring prompts Boromir to act on his weakness as his hand reaches for it. Even after Gandalf stops him from coming closer to the Ring, and Boromir is seated again, the allure he feels doesn`t fade. Now he uses a second-hand argument to logically explain, to the Council and to himself, his need for the Ring.

It is a gift. A gift to the foes of Mordor.

Boromir

The argument

Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!

Boromir

As he doesn`t understand the Ring itself, he proposes a logical solution. If the Ring is a weapon against the Peoples` of Middle-Earth, why shouldn`t they use it to their advantage and perhaps gain power over the enemy?

The argument he uses, however, is a guilt-evoking one. There is no doubt Gondor has lost many lives protecting itself and the rest of Middle-Earth from the enemy. But this is a geographical fact, they are nearest to the source of evil, and every time it tries to advance over their lands, Gondor is there in the first line of battle.

However, the use of this fact to induce a guilt trip on the rest of the Council is, in my opinion, a very poor character trait. In his frame of mind, his own logic makes perfect sense and the Ring should go to Gondor in order to defend itself.

When this idea is shut down, and the fate of the Ring decided, Boromir turns negative.

The obstacle

One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. And the great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland. Riddled with fire and ash and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly!

Boromir

He has a point, and it is a very valid argument he presents. He tries to maneuver the Council by shutting down its ideas so that he might bring “this mighty gift” to Denethor in the end. When this doesn`t work, he joins the Fellowship.

Joining the Fellowship

Whereas the rest of the Companions offered their weapons and guidance for the Ring-bearer, Boromir`s only remarks were “If this is indeed the will of the Council, then Gondor will see it done.” He looks very peeved and indeed unsure of this undertaking.

He figures perhaps, that remaining close to the Ring, he may still have a chance of taking it for Gondor, if he worked inside the Fellowship. There is a deviousness in his eyes, he is not innocent and he is not pure of heart. He is not at peace with himself.

A father-son relationship

The flashback scene in the Two Towers helps us understand Boromir`s plight. As he celebrates the reclaiming of Osgiliath for Gondor with all his people cheering beneath him, he is filled with joy and pride. A feast ensues. His father, Denethor – Lord and Steward of Gondor, is there to congratulate him.

“A moment`s peace, can he not give us that?” is a somewhat interesting remark to Faramir. It doesn`t spell out a good relationship with his father. On the surface, they hug and Denethor congratulates him on his victory, as it perhaps should be, a father celebrating his son`s victory.

Boromir`s remark, however, suggests another kind of relationship entirely, a relationship filled with guilt, responsibility and a misunderstanding of Boromir`s character. Denethor has been pushing his will on Boromir for a while now, always with a task at hand. This he has been doing as a proud father of his first-born.

The relationship seems to be a strained one, with Denethor believing in his own imagination of what Boromir is, and Boromir playing a part for his father and standing tall despite his own beliefs and feelings.

Perception vs. truth

Denethor wants Boromir to bring him the One Ring. As he speaks of the One Ring being found, fear creeps into Boromir`s eyes, he physically leans away from his father as Denethor reassures him that he knows the Ring is dangerous and that it “would seek to corrupt the hearts of lesser Men. But you are strong and our need is great.”

The image that Denethor has of his son Boromir is somewhat misguided. He holds him on a pedestal and sees him as a great successor to his throne. Boromir`s physical strength, or the courage and valor with which he has reclaimed Osgiliath, is seen as Boromir`s character value. And in a sense it is.

Boromir has proven himself worthy in his father`s eyes. However, Boromir`s weakness is unknown to Denethor. He regards him as a mighty man, to whom all other men are inferior and who would therefore not even be troubled by the power of the Ring. Boromir, on the other hand, is completely unsure of himself.

Fear of self

He fears the journey to Rivendell, he fears the seduction of the Ring, he fears his own weakness, which is why he abandons the notion right away. His father, however, would not be easily ignored and pushes him to accomplish this task for him.

“It is our blood which is being spilled, our people who are dying.”
Sounds familiar?

Boromir in the end, cannot deny his father and accepts this fate. As he sits upon his horse looking down upon his younger brother Faramir, upon Osgiliath and the flag of Gondor, he is giving an impression of certainty, never to be coming here again. There is sadness and sorrow in his eyes as he leaves Osgiliath, a sense of imminent doom.

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The inner conflict

Boromir is a conflicted personality. He wants to do the right thing for his father and his country, but simultaneously the temptation of the Ring entices him in a way he cannot control. Boromir is doubtful and does not know how to deal with his feelings.

Although he suspects something about Aragorn, he switches to insignificance. He lets Narsil fall on the ground as he states that it is only an heirloom. However, the sword`s sharpness still fascinates. As Legolas reveals Aragorn to be the future King of Gondor, Boromir states that „Gondor has no King, Gondor needs no King“.

After the Ring falls from around Frodo`s neck onto the snow on Caradhras, Boromir states „I care not“, even though the closeness to the Ring had him under a spell. He disparages everything and everyone. Even after a fascination, surprise or experience of any discomfort, he brushes it off as insignificant, all the while carrying the burden of it inside him.

The shame of weakness

He is scared of being weak, and in turn, he only shows uncertainty. He uses this insignificance as a protective strategy. It is much easier to ignore your own feelings about something and save yourself the pain of looking inside. He refuses to perceive and subsequently believe his own feelings, so he goes on the offensive, attacking or simply dismissing everything and everyone.

On the other hand, as the story progresses he takes to his role in the Fellowship with great responsibility and duty, especially towards the Hobbits. He is there to protect them and teach them swordsmanship.

He would be a wonderful nobleman, with all the goodness towards others had he had a different relationship with his father, or rather if his father took the time to see Boromir for who he really was. As this never occurred, Aragorn was there to witness his nobility and bravery.

Aragorn seems at first, to be the polar opposite of Boromir, reliable, trustworthy although not revealing about himself, and very emotionally stable. But there is something about this Ranger from the North. Read on in my next post and discover for yourself.

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