Boromir is a fictional 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 heir of Denethor II (the 26th Ruling Steward of Gondor) and the elder brother of Faramir. In the course of the story Boromir joined the Fellowship of the Ring.

Boromir
Tolkien character
Portrayed bySean Bean
Information
AliasesCaptain of the White Tower,
High Warden of the White Tower
RaceMan
Book(s)The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
The Two Towers (1954)

Boromir is portrayed as a noble character who believed passionately in the greatness of his kingdom and fought indomitably for it. His great stamina and physical strength, together with a forceful and commanding personality, made him a widely admired commander in Gondor's army and the favourite of his father Denethor. As a member of the Fellowship, his desperation to save his country ultimately drove him to betray his companions and attempt to seize the Ring, but he was redeemed by his repentance and brave last stand.

LiteratureEdit

Boromir was the son of Denethor II and Finduilas. He had a younger brother Faramir. A year after Faramin was born their father became Steward of Gondor and Boromir became heir apparent, inheriting the Horn of Gondor.

When Boromir's mother Finduilas died, he was only 10. Denethor became sombre, cold and detached from his family, which drove the brothers Faramir and Boromir to confide and depend on each other. 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 brothers. Boromir, more fearless and daring, always protected and helped Faramir. Boromir was made Captain of the White Tower.

In response to prophetic dreams that came to Faramir and later to himself, Boromir claims the quest of riding to Rivendell. His journey lasts a hundred and eleven days, and he travels through "roads forgotten" to reach Rivendell, though, as he says, "few knew where it lay".[2] Boromir looses his horse while crossing the Greyflood and travels the rest of the way on foot[3]

The Fellowship of the RingEdit

Boromir first appears in The Lord of the Rings arriving at Rivendell just as the Council of Elrond is commencing. There he tells of Gondor's attempts to keep the power of Mordor at bay.[4] He attempts to persuade the Council to let him take the One Ring to defend Gondor, but is told that it would corrupt and destroy its user, and alert Sauron to its presence. He accepts this for the moment. He agrees to accompany Aragorn to Minas Tirith, and since their path lies with the Fellowship for the first of the journey, so they pledge as part of the Fellowship of the Ring to protect the Ring-bearer, Frodo.

Boromir accompanies Frodo south from Rivendell with the Fellowship. Before departing, he sounds the Horn of Gondor, saying he "would not go forth like a thief into the night". On the journey south, Boromir frequently questions the wisdom of their leader Gandalf. Boromir proves himself a valuable companion on the Fellowship's attempt to pass over the Misty Mountains: he advises that firewood be collected before the attempt to climb Caradhras, and this saves them from freezing in a blizzard. In the retreat from Caradhras, Boromir proves his strength and stamina as he burrows through shoulder-high snowbanks alongside Aragorn to clear the path back down the mountain.

The Fellowship then passes under the mountains through the caverns of Moria, where Gandalf is killed, and Aragorn becomes their new guide. At the borders of the Elven realm of Lothlórien, Boromir is unnerved by the thought of entering—he pleads with Aragorn to find another way "though it led through a hedge of swords", citing stories of elvish witchcraft, and the "strange paths" they had been taking which had already caused Gandalf's death. Once in Lórien, Boromir is greatly disturbed by Galadriel's testing of his mind; he tells Aragorn "not to be too sure of this lady and her purposes." On parting, Galadriel gives Boromir a golden belt and an Elven-cloak.

Boromir always planned to go to Minas Tirith, and despite the consensus reached at Rivendell that it must be destroyed in Mordor, he urges the Fellowship to accompany him to Minas Tirith before going on to Mordor. As Frodo ponders his course from Parth Galen, Boromir privately urges Frodo to use the Ring in Gondor's defence rather than to "throw it away". Finally, he succumbs to the temptation to take the Ring for himself, justifying this by his duty to his people and his belief in his own integrity.

After seeing that Frodo was unconvinced, Boromir half begs, half commands him to at least lend the Ring, and when Frodo still refuses, Boromir leaps to seize it. Frodo vanishes by putting on the Ring and flees, intending to continue the quest alone. Boromir, realizing his betrayal, immediately repents of his actions and weeps. Searching unsuccessfully for Frodo, he tells the Fellowship of Frodo's disappearance, though not of his own misdeeds. The hobbits in a frenzy scatter to look for Frodo. Aragorn, who suspects Boromir's part in Frodo's flight, orders him to follow and protect Merry and Pippin. The Fellowship is then attacked by a band of orcs.

The Two TowersEdit

During the fighting against Orcs, Boromir is mortally wounded by arrows while defending Merry and Pippin. The fighting is described through Pippin's eyes:

Blasts from Boromir's horn alert Aragorn, but he comes too late to prevent the hobbits' capture. As Boromir lies dying, he remorsefully confesses to attempting to take the Ring from Frodo. He urges Aragorn to save Minas Tirith, as he himself has failed. Aragorn reassures him that he has not failed, that "few have gained such a victory". Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas place 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 sing a "Lament of the Winds" as his funeral song.

Three days later, Faramir, to his and their father's great grief, finds the boat bearing his dead brother floating down the River.

CharacteristicsEdit

Tolkien describes Boromir's appearance as reflecting his Númenórean descent: tall (Tolkien wrote he was 6'4" or 193 cm) and sturdy (slightly shorter but stockier than Aragorn), 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, acting from strong love for his people and his family.

Boromir's character changes throughout Book II of The Fellowship Of The Ring, in line with the epic's progression towards the catastrophe that ends Book II. Boromir is shown as having 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.[7] 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.[4]

As Book II continues, Boromir is shown as displaying increasing "bravado and recklessness."[8] 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.

Names and titlesEdit

Boromir was the son and heir apparent of Denethor, the ruling Steward of Gondor. Appendix A calls him "Captain of the White Tower",[9] while Faramir called him "High Warden of the White Tower" and "our Captain-General".[10]

Boromir was described by Tolkien as a name "of mixed form",[11] and possibly combines Sindarin bor(on)- 'steadfast' with either Sindarin mîr or Quenya míre 'jewel'.[12] But the Stewards of Gondor also often bore names "remembered in the songs and histories of the First Age",[11] regardless of meaning, and the name Boromir did appear during the First Age in The Silmarillion.[13] 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.[14]

Interpretation of the characterEdit

Boromir's desire for the Ring has been described as well-intentioned but oblivious of the potential danger. His perception of Middle-earth is biased by a belief that divine powers have chosen Gondor to lead the fight against evil.[15] He is always eager to praise the great deeds of Gondor, including his own.[16] Boromir's hubris makes him prey to the malign power of the Ring, and he seals his own doom when he attacks Frodo to seize it.[15] He makes way thereby for Aragorn to become the future king of Gondor, in a manner similar to Virgil's character Turnus.[16]

Boromir has been compared to other Tolkien characters such as Fëanor or Túrin Turambar who display vainglorious excess, a trait in leaders that Tolkien himself despised.[17]

The character of Boromir has also been compared to the medieval legendary hero Roland. Both blow a horn in the distress of battle and both are eventually killed in the wilderness while defending their companions, although Roland is portrayed as blameless and heroic throughout.[18]

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

 
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 a total departure from Tolkien's text.

Boromir is 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 three large arrows fired by the Uruk-hai leader Lurtz, a character created for the films, instead of by numerous arrows from orcs led by Uglúk. 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. The Extended Edition adds two additional flashbacks: first when Faramir remembers finding Boromir's body and his cloven horn in the elven boat washed up on shore; and in considerably longer flashback (the only scene of the film trilogy where Boromir and Faramir are seen speaking to each other), after Boromir's victory in Osgiliath and before his departure for Rivendell. The two brothers are seen celebrating and laughing before their father interrupts, asking him to go to Rivendell to seek the One Ring, and the scene ends as Boromir leaves, saying to Faramir, "Remember today, little brother". Here Boromir apparently knows that "Isildur's Bane" is the One Ring, and he is chosen specifically by his father, despite his reluctance to go, in response to a summons from Elrond. He is thus aware of the true meaning of the phrase "Isildur's Bane" when he arrives at Rivendell on horseback.

In The Return of the King (2003), Boromir 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 alsoEdit

  Speculative fiction portal

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ a b The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (2003), p. 121
  5. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"
  6. ^ The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai".
  7. ^ The Two Towers, "The Window on the West".
  8. ^ The Road to Middle-Earth, rev. ed. (2003), p. 215.
  9. ^ The Return of the King, Appendix A: I (iv).
  10. ^ The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit".
  11. ^ a b Return of the King, Appendix F, Part I, p. 406, note 1.
  12. ^ Lost Road, "Etymologies", entries BOR- and MIR-.
  13. ^ The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion", Chapter 17, p. 148
  14. ^ Pesch, Helmut W. (2003). Elbisch (in German). Bastei Lübbe. p. 25. ISBN 3-404-20476-X.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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
  18. ^ Drout, Michael D. C., ed. (2007). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Taylor & Francis. pp. 468–9. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0.

External linksEdit