Book Boromir vs. Movie Boromir

by Lindorie
Book vs Movie Boromir...this subject always seems to create a schism here. It is true that Peter Jackson has romanticised and perhaps gentled Boromir from the one depicted in the books, but not completely. Last night, I skimmed through all of the Boromir parts of the three books and was surprised to find out just how little of Boromir is written. Of the nine walkers, he is the least developed character. Gimli and Legolas may have less in the first book, but they come to more fullness of character in TTT and ROTK.

In FOTR, we see Boromir as proud, skeptical, and pragmatic. He is willing for the Sword that was broken to come to the aid of his people, if the bearer has inherited more of Isildur's strength and character and not just his heirlooms. I think that at the Council of Elrond, Boromir truly feels that the Ring could be used by the enemies of Sauron to defeat him. He is skeptical of Gandalf and the Elves, virtually all of his people are, as the Elves are skeptical of men, Dwarves of Elves, etc. Middle-earth is full of mistrust, so this trait of Boromir is not unusual.

He is bold and arrogant, blowing the Horn of Gondor as they leave Rivendell, he is chastised but states that he will not go as a thief in the night. Even today we are taught that if you project confidence and self assurance when we walk alone through a parking lot at night, you will reduce risk of attack. If you act suspicious, you will be watched and followed. This is another thing he has been trained for, as a warrior and leader.

In Hollin, it is Boromir who suggests that each take a piece of firewood and that they load Bill with as much as possible. He demonstrates attributes of a good leader, thinking of the future and of those in his care and of the survival of the group. He is very vocal about his dislike of this rounte and of that through Moria, but I think that he is only the most outspoken of the lot on this. I dont think that many of them would have chosen either path without Gandalf gently pressuring them towards them.

In Moria, it is Boromir who covers the party as they escape from the various chambers. He is the one who closes and holds the doors being them, the one who stands to fight until Gandalf tells them that swords are of no more use. Subtly, we are shown that he already has recognized that Aragorn must lead the group, he has accepted the role of final line of defense, as has been the Role of Gondor in the last years.

He is fearful of Lorien, as are most if not all humans of ME at this time, save perhaps Aragorn. Eomer and Faramir both express fears of Lorien and the sorceress who lives there. Faramir says that those men who go their on occasion do not return. No wonder he was frightened. We do not know the extent of Galadriel's testing of Boromir's mind, but we can and do surmise. The test served to confirm his fears in many ways. The long stay there also served as time for the Ring to increase its hold on him. If they had kept moving and not spent the month in Lorien, would he have been able to resist it long enough to get past Henneth Annun? Another something to consider. Instead he had a month in a place he feared to think about how his homeland was faring and how much he wanted to return. He understood more now about how dangerous things were in the world and that war would come soon. The people of Gondor and his father needed him and he needed to be there. He wanted to take the shortest route.

In the end, he tells Aragorn what he has done and asks forgiveness, stating that he did not understand, but now does, and he reports what he has seen to his commander, as a good soldier, and he asks Aragorn to save his people because he cannot. His final words are of his home and the people of his homeland. He is dutiful to the last.

The most telling lines in the books regarding Boromir, in my mind, come in TTT. Eomer says this of him: "All spoke his praise." and "he was more like to the swift sons of Eorl than to the Grave men of Gondor." and "He was likely to prove a great Captain of his people when his time came."

This is high praise. That Eomer would consider Boromir more like his own people is probably about the highest complement that he could give him. Think of how nationalistic people are now. To consider a person as more like to one's own people is a very high compliment. Eomer's lines indicate respect, and one does not get respect by bullying or being selfish and getting one's way all the time. "All spoke his praise." Boromir was well liked, again, not something that comes from bullying. He would have become a great leader of his people. Again, Bullies do not become great leaders, they become dictators.

Yes, Gandalf says that Boromir was used to getting what he wanted, and that he was masterful. Do these lines say that he was a, not really. He was born to wealth and privilege, he would, just from this, be used to getting what he wanted, but that does not make him a bully. I daresay that Princes William and Harry of Britain are used to getting their way and what they want, too, but if they were bullies, the press would have a field day with the info, as they did back when William first started school as a toddler and they called him Billy the Basher. The phase was blown out of proportion and seems to be the farthest thing from the truth from what I have seen of the young man. He seems to be gracious, dutiful, and compassionate. He can assert himself if needs require it, telling off the press if he thinks they deserve it or to protect someone or something he feels needs protection. Hardly a bully. Perhaps I am stretching things by comparing William to Boromir. They are not alike in many ways, but there are similarities of background in that both are born to rank, wealth, and privilege and therefore both used to getting what they want. William is masterful, as well, but his mastery is not that of sword or of command, as yet, anyway. He is masterful in polo and in his studies and the way that he deals with people and the press. Masterful, does not necessarily mean dominering, though it can, admittedly.

Faramir admits that he is concerned that Boromir and Aragorn might have become rivals, that Boromir always thought that his father should have been King. Actually I am surprised that Gondor had not made the Stewards kings long before. They had ruled and watched over Gondor for over 900 years waiting for a king that no one believed would ever come. Boromir had a point. His father did all the duties that a King would do, devoted his life to the Kingdom and it's people, why wouldnt he be king. His arguement is actually quite logical. Kingship by heredity is actually a newer concept than many think. In early medieval Europe, Kings were chosen by battle, or by the other knights and warriors. In Arthurian legend, Arthur is not guaranteed the Kingship even when Uther names him his heir. Arthur has to prove himself to the lesser kings. Because of their respect for Uther, the backing and support of Merlin, and of Arthur's own earning of their respect, he remains the High King. Granted, this is legend, but in Northern Europe, this is basically the way it worked for a long time. It would have made perfect sense for Gondor to make the stewards kings or to have changed their form of government completely.

Tolkien left a lot of room for interpretation in his Boromir character, and a lot of room for the imagination to create a character that would mean different things to different people. I think that he, too, was afraid of having Boromir look too much the bully sometimes, but he did not want to make him look 'soft' either. If he softened him, Boromir would have become a sympathetic favorite and killing him off would have angered the readers. He did see a possible future where Aragorn and Boromir would become rivals, as Faramir feared. Personally, I think that he changed his mind about this, not only because it would take the story in directions that would change the focus of the tale, but because he didn't want to turn Boromir into a villain. I dont think that there is a wrong way or a right way to visualize Boromir. I do think that Peter Jackson has made him into a more sympathetic character, but Tolkien left lots of area for that to be done. There are a lot of hours and miles not documented in detail in the books, and I can remember an inkling about a certain fencing lesson that showed a gentler, kinder, Boromir. All of us have visions of the characters that have, over the years, evolved. Not a one of us thinks the same way about them exactly as we did when we first met them. Some of them have softened in our minds, others have developed more of an edge. Those of us who write about them have created a vision of them that suits our needs. I dont think that any of us writes the characters in a more Tolkien way than any of the others because we can see from the history of lord of the rings books that Tollers changed his own views of them continuously and continued to do so even after the books were completed, if I understand what I have read of his letters.

I see none of the characters of the books as saints though it seems to me that lots of people see Frodo as one. If any of the book characters is saintly, I think that Tolkien came very close to making Faramir too good to be true.

Boromir's role in the Quest was vital. Without him and his fall, the Quest would have doubtless failed. Eru's plan was fulfilled by his submission to the Power of the Ring. Frodo would not have been able to make up his mind to go on alone when he did without Boromir's attack. A large party would not have been able to cross Mordor undetected. Without the breaking of the fellowship, the Rohirrim would not have won at Helm's deep, the Huorns and Ents would not have come to help and the Rohirrim would not have gone to Gondor's aid.

I made a simple observation when I replied to Varda's Young Boromir. I was too tired to go further, intelligibly. I still do not see Boromir as a bully, as a young person or in his later life. Strong-willed, dutiful, proud, arrogant, masterful, loyal, a good leader, a good soldier, I see him as all of these and more. A man with serious flaws but a good heart, not a saint, never a saint. He was a man of his time and place who had doubts, fears, and the weakness of them.