Boromir: the Living and the Dead
My inkling started out founded on Boromir but I have gradually realised
that his story and Aragorn's development are not really separable. Or
why else would Boromir's dying words to Aragorn have so much power, or
mean so much to us?
I had to look at Aragorn's own intentions and character. He must
have known from that moment in the Council that Boromir was a potential
enemy, and have been wondering how to deal with that when the time
came. Life overtakes us, though, and before he had thought it out they
had become bonded by fellowship and shared peril and comradeship in
battle, and at the last bonded by Boromir's death and Aragorn receiving
his confession of his attempt to take the ring. A confidence he does
not betray, even to Gandalf, although the wizard guesses it.
As Lothithil points out so well, the raising of the Dead of Dunharrow
shows that Aragorn as king has power over the living and the dead and
so has the right to forgive Boromir. When Boromir asks him to save his
city Aragorn's pledge to do so carries the weight of an oath, a king's
promise. The avenging of Boromir by carrying out his dying wish is not
ordinary vengeance, which is destructive, but a positive, creative act,
granting survival to Gondor.
Thanks everyone for giving me ideas and inspiration
Aragorn's right to forgive Boromir
Sorry if I did not explain this. \par \par In the story Boromir
breaks a number of oaths when he tries to take the Ring. He breaks the
Fellowship and betrays his oath to Elrond. He lets his comrades down.
He betrays Frodo, whom he had sworn to protect. He also brings
dishonour on Gondor, on behalf of which he had sworn his oath to the
Fellowship in the first place.
The poor guy couldn't really have done worse, in fact, and must have
been so deeply shamed we have no real idea of what torment he must have
endured in that hour or so between Frodo leaving and him finding Merry
Aragorn can't undo all that, but he is Boromir's rightful lord because
he is the king and so has the right to forgive him.
How much consolation this brought Boromir is hard to say. In the
book all Tolkien says is 'Boromir smiled', then he dies. In the film
Peter Jackson makes it much clearer that Boromir is given peace by
Maybe Boromir appreciates Aragorn's gesture of forgiveness, but when
Aragorn says; 'few have won such a victory' Boromir knows that he is
only trying to ease his bitter regret, for whatever way you look at it,
Boromir did not win a victory. He failed to prevent the hobbits being
taken and he scared Frodo into running off into what they thought was
great danger alone. His honour, more important to the warrior than
life, is damaged;
'Let whoever can win glory before death.
When a warrior is gone
That will be his best and only bulwark.'
By reassuring Boromir that he is forgiven by his liege lord, Aragorn
gives the dying man hope that for all his failure, his honour will not
be lost. Aragorn never tells anyone what happened between Boromir and
Neither Aragorn nor Boromir can know that what has just happened
will start a train of events that will bring good in the end. For now,
all they know that disaster has happened.
Thanks for the question, Rosie!
It is a good question, Agape, what on earth did Aragorn mean
when he said to Boromir 'few have won such a victory'?
Boromir's attempt to take the ring precipitates disaster; Frodo
runs off alone into danger. Merry and Pippin are captured, and even
Boromir is not entirely sure they have not been killed. And Boromir
himself, a great warrior for Gondor, is dying.
How can this possibly be a victory? How could things possibly be
When Aragorn says this to Boromir he is surrounded by mounds of orcs
slain by Boromir. So it is a great victory, in the sense of the lines I
quoted from Beowulf, which Tolkien would have known too. So, in a
narrow military sense he won a victory by taking a lot of baddies with
him. Is it not strange, though, that Aragorn of all people misses the
bigger picture of all the damage Boromir has done?
Not quite. I think Aragorn's words are mainly motivated by
compassion, something that drives him at important moments, even to do
things which are not really too wise from a political viewpoint. It is
what drives him to follow Merry and Pippin. It is true that they know
the secret of the ring and so are a security risk, but he is not even
sure they are alive, and even less sure they will catch them (in the
end they don't).
But also, at that moment Boromir and Aragorn are in what Trevor
Nunn, speaking of the world of Hamlet calls 'the landscape of death'.
All around are the dead. Boromir himself is dying. Their wise guide
Gandalf was 'slain' some time before and Legolas when he finds Aragorn
thinks he is dying too. This is the utter low point of the story.
Aragorn throughout stands for hope, and here he focusses on the only
good thing he can see; Boromir slaying a great host of orcs in defence
of two of the Fellowship.
And as so often happens in The Lord Of The Rings, something a character
speaks or does not quite understanding why, like Frodo sparing Gollum,
has powerful meaning later on when all is revealed; by letting Merry
and Pippin be taken off to Fangorn (and the Ents) Boromir ensures the
defeat of Saruman. By sending Frodo off on his own to Mordor Boromir
ensures the defeat of Sauron and the saving of Gondor. This is
So Aragorn's words are a prophesy; Boromir's death will win a victory,
only it will not be seen for what it is until the very end, and then
only by the wise.....
Thanks for keeping the thread alive, all....
..about Boromir's victory, I don't think he ever conquered the
lure of the Ring; no-one was able to do that. Even the strongest and
wisest, Gandalf and Galadriel, bent all their strength to avoid even
being tempted, let alone ever trying it on. The Ring simply moved on
from Boromir once he failed to take it from Frodo.
What Boromir does conquer is his own lack of perception and poor
self-knowledge. It is more blindness than evil that makes Boromir fall
for the ring. He just does not *see* it is calling him till it is too
Agape's annoyance at Tolkien for what he did to Boromir is quite
justified. For even within the Fellowship he makes Boromir very
isolated; everyone has someone with them to love and support them,
except Boromir. Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Gimli and Legolas.
Aragorn has Arwen, present emotionally if not physically, and he has
the support and advice of Gandalf. Boromir is also isolated because of
his high rank and the fact that he is not from the North, or the Shire,
or akin to Elves. He is not a friend of Gandalf; Denethor says he is
'no wizard's pupil' as Faramir is, presumably. The brother he loves is
far away, and Denethor is a stern demanding father.
So Boromir seems very alone, and even more when he begins to be
tempted, and cannot tell anyone. In the film he tries to confide in
Aragorn in Lorien, but their talk is inconclusive. Then when he attacks
Frodo he is plunged into a nightmare of guilt, again experienced alone.
Only when he is dying does he find comfort in the company of one who
loves and respects him.
It is a very hard fate, which I think is why Avondster, Linaewen and I
all write inklings that concentrate on the love and friendship between
him and others of the story, even if we don't have too much evidence
from the book. We feel Boromir is too kind and noble to not have won
love and friendship during such close quarter travelling and the
experience of peril and hardship. \par \par Like the Elves at Helm's
Deep, those passages with Boromir that Peter Jackson put in, like
teaching the hobbits to fence, feel so right, like something left out
for lack of space. And above all his plea to Aragorn to let the
distraught hobbits rest after they lose Gandalf in Moria. Here, Boromir
seems more compassionate than Aragorn...
Thanks again for your replies....