Boromir

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This article is about the son of Denethor II. For the son of Denethor I, see Boromir (Steward). For Man of the First Age, see Boromir (House of Bëor).
Boromir
Tolkien's legendarium character
Aliases Captain of the White Tower,
High Warden of the White Tower
Race Men
Book(s) The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
The Two Towers (1955)

Boromir is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers), and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King. He was the brother of Faramir and the elder son of Denethor II, the last ruling Steward of Gondor.

Boromir is portrayed as an honourable and noble character who believes passionately in the greatness of his kingdom, who would have defended its people to the last. Boromir's great stamina and physical strength, together with a forceful and commanding personality, made him a widely admired commander in Gondor's army: he was made Captain of the White Tower, and quickly became Captain-General, also bearing the title High Warden of the White Tower. He was also heir apparent to the Stewardship. Boromir led many successful forays against Sauron's forces, prior to his journey north to Rivendell, which brought him great esteem in his father Denethor's eyes.

Literature[edit]

Appearances[edit]

Background[edit]

Boromir, as a character, is portrayed as having been born in the year 2978 of the Third Age to Denethor II and Finduilas, daughter of Adrahil of Dol Amroth. His younger brother, Faramir, was born in the year T.A. 2983. The following year, Denethor became Steward of Gondor, succeeding his father, Ecthelion II. Boromir was named after the son of Denethor I, who was Steward around 500 years before the War of the Ring. The first Boromir was known as a great captain who cleared Ithilien of orcs of Mordor and was feared even by the Witch-king himself.

After Finduilas' death in T.A. 2988, Denethor became sombre, cold and detached from his family. As their father withdrew, the relationship between Faramir and Boromir grew closer and greater in love. Denethor always favoured Boromir over Faramir—Denethor loved Boromir "too much, perhaps; the more so because they were unlike"[1]—but this caused no rivalry between the two brothers. Boromir always protected and helped Faramir. Boromir was judged to be the more daring one, as well as the more fearless.

In response to prophetic dreams that came to Faramir and later to himself, Boromir claimed the quest of riding to Rivendell from Minas Tirith in T.A. 3018. His journey lasted 110 days, and he travelled through "roads forgotten" to reach Rivendell, though, as he said, "few knew where it lay".[2] Boromir lost his horse halfway along, while crossing the Greyflood at the ruined city of Tharbad where the bridge was broken. He had to travel the remaining way on foot [3] and barely arrived in time for the Council of Elrond. (Tolkien wrote of Boromir's journey that "the courage and hardihood required is not fully recognized in the narrative".)[4]

The Fellowship of the Ring[edit]

Boromir first appears in The Lord of the Rings arriving at Rivendell just as the Council of Elrond was commencing. There he tells of Gondor's attempts to keep the power of Mordor at bay.[5] He attempted to persuade the Council to let him take the One Ring to Gondor so that it could be used in the defence of the realm, but he was told that it could not be used without corrupting its user and alerting Sauron to its presence. He accepted this for the moment, and pledged as part of the Fellowship of the Ring to keep the Ring-bearer, Frodo the Hobbit, safe.

Boromir accompanied Frodo south from Rivendell with the Fellowship. Before departing, he blew the Horn of Gondor loudly, saying that he "would not go forth like a thief into the night". Elrond, lord of the Elves in Rivendell, warned him not to blow the horn again until he had reached the border of Gondor. On the journey south, Boromir frequently questioned the wisdom of their leader, Gandalf the Wizard. Boromir did, however, prove himself a valuable companion on the Fellowship's attempt to pass over the Misty Mountains: he advised that firewood be collected before the attempt to climb Caradhras, and this saved the Fellowship from freezing to death. In the retreat from Caradhras, Boromir's uncanny strength showed as he burrowed through shoulder high snow with Aragorn in order to clear the snow-blocked path back down the mountain.

After failing to climb over the mountains, the Fellowship passed eastward through Moria, the former realm of the Dwarves, where Gandalf fell into a deep abyss while fighting a Balrog. After the skirmish in Moria, Aragorn became their new guide, and they made their way to the Elven realm of Lothlórien. Boromir was unnerved by the thought of entering the elvish forest—he pleads with Aragorn to find another way "though it led through a hedge of swords", citing the stories of elvish witchcraft he had heard about in Gondor, and the "strange paths" they had been taking which had already caused them to lose one Companion. Once in Lórien, Boromir was greatly disturbed by the Lady Galadriel's testing of his mind; he told Aragorn "not to be too sure of this lady and her purposes." When Boromir left Lórien, he received the gifts of a golden belt and an Elven-cloak.

Boromir always favoured taking the Ring to Minas Tirith, despite the consensus reached at Rivendell that it must be destroyed. He openly urged Frodo to do this, as Frodo pondered his course from Parth Galen. Boromir felt that it would be better to use the Ring in Gondor's defence than to "throw it away". Finally, he succumbed to the temptation to take the Ring for himself, justifying this with his duty to his people and his belief in his own superiority.

After seeing that Frodo was unconvinced, Boromir commanded him to lend the Ring to him. When Frodo still refused, Boromir tried to seize the Ring for himself. Frodo put the Ring on and fled, intending to continue the quest alone. Boromir, realizing what had happened, repented his actions and wept. Searching unsuccessfully for Frodo, he told the rest of the Fellowship of Frodo's absence. The hobbits in a frenzy scattered to look for Frodo. Aragorn, who suspected Boromir's part in Frodo's flight, ordered him to follow and protect Merry and Pippin. Boromir acquiesced without question. This and the subsequent attack by Orcs led to the breaking of the Fellowship.

The Two Towers[edit]

During the scattered fighting near Parth Galen, Boromir was mortally wounded by orc archers while defending Merry and Pippin, redeeming himself for trying to take the Ring. The fighting is described through Pippin's eyes:

Blasts from Boromir's horn alerted Aragorn, but he came too late to prevent the hobbits' capture. As Boromir lay dying, he remorsefully confessed to attempting to take the Ring from Frodo, and that his impending death was his penance. He urged Aragorn to save Minas Tirith, as he himself had failed. Aragorn reassured him that he had not failed, that "few have gained such a victory". Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas placed Boromir's body in one of their Elven boats, with his sword, belt, cloak, broken horn, and the weapons of his slain foes about him. They set the boat adrift in the river toward the Falls of Rauros, and sang a "Lament of the Winds" as his funeral song.

Boromir passed over Rauros on February 26, T.A. 3019. Three days later, Faramir, to his and their father's great grief, found the boat bearing his dead brother floating down the River Anduin:

Faramir later observed to Frodo that Boromir "died well, achieving some good thing. His face was more beautiful even than in life."

Characteristics[edit]

Tolkien describes Boromir's appearance as reflecting his Númenórean descent: tall (Tolkien wrote he was 6'4" or 193 cm), fair, dark-haired, and grey-eyed. He was noted even beyond Gondor's borders for his bravery and skill in battle, and was accounted one of the greatest Captains of Gondor. He was noble and lordly, and at the same time deeply loyal, exhibiting strong love for his people and his family.

Boromir's character changes throughout Book II of Lord of the Rings, in line with the epic's progression towards the catastrophe that ends Book II. Boromir is shown as having grown accustomed to the habit of command. According to his brother Faramir, even as a boy Boromir chafed under the notion that the Stewards were not kings, though they ruled in all but name.[9] He insisted on taking for himself the quest to Imladris, though the dreams had come first to Faramir. At Rivendell he, using what critic Tom Shippey describes as "slightly wooden magniloquence", sets forth Gondor's claim to primacy in the War of the Ring.[5]

As Book II continues, Boromir is shown as displaying increasing "bravado and recklessness."[10] The Captain of the White Tower craved honours, was irked at having to flee from orcs, resisted Aragorn's claim to leadership, and played a key role in the catastrophe that sundered the Fellowship of the Ring. In an opening scene of Book III, Boromir redeems himself. Fatally injured by orc-arrows, Boromir admits his failure, advises Aragorn, and urges him to lead Gondor and save its people. Boromir's loyalty to his native City is shown as redressing the catastrophe he had brought upon the Fellowship by assaulting Frodo in his madness. Although Boromir's death ends the Fellowship, he is depicted as having died as a hero.

Names and titles[edit]

Boromir was the son and heir apparent of Denethor, the ruling Steward of Gondor. Appendix A calls him "Captain of the White Tower",[11] while Faramir called him "High Warden of the White Tower" and "our Captain-General".[12]

Boromir was described by Tolkien as a name "of mixed form",[13] and possibly combines Sindarin bor(on)- 'steadfast' with either Sindarin mîr or Quenya míre 'jewel'.[14] But the Stewards of Gondor also often bore names "remembered in the songs and histories of the First Age",[13] regardless of meaning, and the name Boromir did appear during the First Age in The Silmarillion.[15] The eleventh steward of Gondor, Denethor I, had as well a son called Boromir who was described as a great warrior. This might have been an inspiration for Denethor II to name his first son.[16]

Interpretation of the character[edit]

Boromir's attempts to gain the Ring for himself have been described as well-intentioned but oblivious of the potential danger. His perception of Middle-earth is biased by a point of view that imagines that divine powers have chosen Gondor to lead the fight against evil.[17] He is always eager to praise the great deeds of Gondor, including his own.[18] When his hubris eventually leads him into attacking Frodo to seize the Ring, Boromir seals his own doom by giving in to the malign power of the Ring.[17] He makes way thereby for Aragorn to become the future king of Gondor, in a manner similar to Virgil's character Turnus.[18]

Boromir has been mentioned with other Tolkienian characters such as Fëanor or Túrin Turambar who display "excess" for the sake of their own personal glory, a trait in leaders that Tolkien himself despised.[19]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit]

Boromir in Ralph Bakshi's animated version of The Lord of the Rings.

In both Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film and in the subsequent BBC Radio serial, Boromir is played by Michael Graham Cox. In the former, he is dressed in barbarian garb, which is departing from Tolkien's text completely.

Boromir was played by Carl-Kristian Rundman in the 1993 Finnish miniseries Hobitit.

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Boromir is played by Sean Bean. In a departure from the structure of Tolkien's book, Boromir's death is shown at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), instead of being related at the beginning of The Two Towers. In the film, Boromir is mortally wounded by the Uruk-hai leader Lurtz, a character created for the films, instead of by numerous, unnamed Uruk-hai led by Uglúk. In the novel, Boromir is brought down by a great many arrows, presumably of standard dimensions, shot by goblins, while the hulking Lurtz fires three enormous shafts into him, and no goblins are seen to deliver any wounds. He is found by Aragorn, who slays Lurtz before the latter can deal a final blow to Boromir.

In The Two Towers (2002), Boromir appears in the theatrical version only briefly during the beginning flashback sequence of Gandalf's fight with the Balrog in Moria, and he appears twice in the Extended Edition, both times as flashbacks that were not shown previously in the films. The first is when Faramir remembers finding Boromir's body in the elven boat, washed up on shore, with his horn cloven in two. The second flashback is a considerably lengthier one, and is the only scene of the trilogy where Boromir and Faramir are seen speaking to each other. It takes place just after Boromir has just won a battle in Osgiliath and just before Boromir leaves for Rivendell at the urging of his father. The two brothers are seen celebrating and laughing before their father speaks to Boromir, and the scene ends with Boromir leaving and saying, "Remember today, little brother" to Faramir. Here Boromir apparently knows that "Isildur's Bane" is the One Ring and is chosen specifically by his father, despite his reluctance to go, in response to a summons from Elrond, as Rivendell is a known location. He is thus aware of the true meaning of the phrase "Isildur's Bane" when he arrives there on horseback.

In The Return of the King (2003), Boromir also appears in the theatrical version during a brief flashback as Pippin remembers his heroic self-sacrifice. Due to that scene alone, Sean Bean's name and portrait appears in the closing credits of the film. In the Extended Edition of the film, Boromir appears briefly when Denethor looks at Faramir and imagines for a moment that he sees Boromir walking towards him, smiling.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  2. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  3. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lórien".
  4. ^ Unfinished Tales, "The Port of Lond Daer", p. 264.
  5. ^ a b The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (2003), p. 121
  6. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"
  7. ^ The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai".
  8. ^ The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir".
  9. ^ The Two Towers, "The Window on the West".
  10. ^ The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (2003), p. 215.
  11. ^ The Return of the King, Appendix A: I (iv).
  12. ^ The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit".
  13. ^ a b Return of the King, Appendix F, Part I, p. 406, note 1.
  14. ^ Lost Road, "Etymologies", entries BOR- and MIR-.
  15. ^ The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion", Chapter 17, p. 148
  16. ^ Pesch, Helmut W. (2003). Elbisch (in German). Bastei Lübbe. p. 25. ISBN 3-404-20476-X. 
  17. ^ a b Rutledge, Fleming (2004). The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings. Roundhouse Publishing Group. pp. 140–142. ISBN 978-0802824974. 
  18. ^ a b Burkard, Thorsten; Schauer, Markus; Wiener, Claudia (2010). Vestigia Vergiliana: Vergil-Rezeption in Der Neuzeit [Vestigia Vergiliana: The Reception of Virgil in Modern Times] (in German). Walter de Gruyter. pp. 381, 383. ISBN 978-3-11-024720-6. 
  19. ^ Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J.R.R. Tolkien's Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, p. 42, ISBN 0-9816607-1-1 

External links[edit]