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Boromir 2/5: behaviour and character development between Rivendell and Lórien
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noWizardme
Half-elven


Mon, 1:36pm

Post #51 of 69 (249 views)
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Snow White [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
The Seven Dwarves who had rings never served Sauron well, apparently Snow White was too powerful a leader for Sauron to take on. Gimli is not going to be an easy win.


"Instead of a Dark Lord you would have a Disney Princess! All (under 10 years of age) shall love me and ....burst into song, and buy merch.!" Smile

I think the dwarves have wised up too. In the Council of Elrond we have some discussion about how you can't use The Three as weapons, but in any case the elves know better (now).


And what oes unremarked at that point is Gloin's report that Sauron offered the Dwarves some of the Seven back in return for handing over Bilbo; and they didn't go for it.

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mon, 1:57pm

Post #52 of 69 (253 views)
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Susceptibility and other qualities [In reply to] Can't Post

(Replying here to both Eledhwen and oliphaunt)

I think we are in agreement! Personally, I think the Ring could 'get' anyone under the right circumstances, and it is about whether those circumstances come up.

When Frodo is told in Book I Ch2 that he is 'meant' to have the Ring he responds:

Quote
I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?’

‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have'.


I think the converse of that might be true too: if Boromir is corrupted by the Ring, it might not be because of any fault that others do not possess: not for powerlessness or folly, at any rate.

(Whether Boromir is 'meant' to try to take the Ring or has been 'chosen' for that role is another possible point from that passage, but maybe one not to do yet.)

The language of 'weakness', or 'susceptability' or 'temptation' is a bit tricky here I think. The words make sense in this discussion, but they suggest that it's all the fault of anyone who isn't a superman for not being a superman. Which is an interpretation, but (as said before) I don't think anyone at all is strong or pure enough to resist the Ring once they start to struggle with it.

Tom Bombadill is the exception that proves the rule in that he doesnt' struggle with it at all - there is nothing at all that it could offer that he wants.
But (in another nice paradox about Tolkien's wonderful fictional creation of the Ring) the very indifference that would make Tom a guardian the Ring cannot harm, makes him a most unsafe guardian.

But, back to Boromir - I think we'll see how the circumstances begin to work against him soon. Before we get to that point, I think we needed both the Council of Elrond (in which we begin to see how it could go wrong) and this section (in which we see what Boromir is like when things aren't going wrong). If Boromir were A Bad Person both his fall and redemption would mean less.

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mon, 6:50pm

Post #53 of 69 (248 views)
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Alfalfa Male - ha [In reply to] Can't Post

(I know that was in another post, still laughing).

This is in response to Eledhwen as much as to you -

I like where this is going re was it weakness or something else about Boromir that made him desire the Ring, or be susceptible to it. Another thing that should be considered is the extent to which the Ring was sentient, and had a plan. While there might have been more powerful people to latch onto (Gandalf, Galadriel, Tom Bombadil), the Ring might have been hedging its bets that if it could seduce Boromir, it would be well positioned, not only to neutralize an enemy bulwark against Mordor's expansion, but also perhaps block the Return of the King (of Gondor).

In any event, I do not think it was weakness that made Boromir attractive to the Ring; rather as suggested in these later posts, it was his power, position, and the other political advantages Boromir would afford.


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mon, 7:00pm

Post #54 of 69 (246 views)
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As an old-timer [In reply to] Can't Post

(speaking in TORn years, of course), it's lovely to see lively discussion in my beloved Reading Room. I've been on TORn since 1999, was here for the founding of the RR, and was a leader and participant in the first several LOTR read-throughs (well before 2016). I rarely post here now, but still read every thread on here. This character-based discussion is a brilliant idea, and has got off to an excellent start. Thank you for inspiring and instigating!


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Mon, 8:40pm

Post #55 of 69 (237 views)
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Yes to toes [In reply to] Can't Post

Which are safer than fingers, maybe, with respect to Rings.


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Mon, 9:09pm

Post #56 of 69 (234 views)
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The seduction of Boromir? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
In any event, I do not think it was weakness that made Boromir attractive to the Ring; rather as suggested in these later posts, it was his power, position, and the other political advantages Boromir would afford.


Agreed the Ring would want Boromir to claim it because he is a powerful individual who hasn't already rejected it.

How sentient is the Ring?

Is it doing the choosing? Are there other powers at work? As noWiz pointed out:


Quote
When Frodo is told in Book I Ch2 that he is 'meant' to have the Ring he responds:
Quote
I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?’

‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have'.

I think the converse of that might be true too: if Boromir is corrupted by the Ring, it might not be because of any fault that others do not possess: not for powerlessness or folly, at any rate.

(Whether Boromir is 'meant' to try to take the Ring or has been 'chosen' for that role is another possible point from that passage, but maybe one not to do yet.)



(This post was edited by oliphaunt on Mon, 9:19pm)


squire
Half-elven


Mon, 10:40pm

Post #57 of 69 (228 views)
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Seeing Boromir as the Debbie Downer of the company. [In reply to] Can't Post

I like one of your themes this week: that Boromir on the road is a practical fellow who understands campaigning and teamwork. He seems to be taking a break from the role given him at the Council of being the one most obviously attracted to seizing and using the Ring.

But as I re-read these three middle-of-Boromir's-journey chapters (Ring Goes South to Bridge of Khazad-dum) I felt there was another dynamic going on. In all three chapters Gandalf is the guide and the primary speaker. He clearly speaks for the author who is taking us across the vast lands of Middle-earth, seeking a plausible way to Mordor without being discovered.

All the other eight characters speak at various times, and they begin to reveal bits of their personalities in doing so. For instance Aragorn, who we already know, is Gandalf's second-in-command and debates the wizard about the various routes (and leads the Company when Gandalf falls) with an equal knowledge of the lands and paths. The four hobbits, led by Frodo, act as they did when traveling with Strider: they ask innocent questions that let the leader inform us of his thinking and of the history and legends of the landscapes they pass through.

And then there are the three newbies: Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir. We get to know them, more or less: Legolas almost never speaks except to give the Elves' point of view, while Gimli and Boromir share a kind of grim practicality about travel until they approach Moria. There of course Gimli stands forth as a Dwarf tour-guide almost as knowledgeable as Gandalf, much the way Legolas will step forward in the following chapter about the approach to Lothlorien.

Finally, we have Boromir. And I noticed that along with his practical helpfulness there is a distinct role of "Debbie Downer" that he plays. He just comes across as negative, cynical, or contrary relative to the ways the others interact with Gandalf (and with us as readers who are primarily mediated by Gandalf/Tolkien's point of view). Here are examples that popped out at me, with my comments explaining my reaction:

"I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy" (unhelpful to the problem of snow falling sooner than expected)

"We cannot go further tonight. Let those call it the wind who will" (resumes the subject of being opposed by hostile and mystical forces)

"What do you say to fire? ... Doubtless we shall be hidden from all unfriendly eyes when the snow has covered us..." (unhelpful sarcasm ironically suggesting that Gandalf will allow them to die rather than be reasonable about survival)

"Still we have thrust a lane through the drift, and for that all may be grateful who cannot run light as Elves." (Aimed straight at Legolas' tossing the Men a "wave of his hand" as he ran past them over the snow. We needn't project a more general dig at the whole idea of magical races in Middle-earth in competition with plain Men, need we?)

"We will bear the little folk. The others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us." (The irony of 'no doubt' might be written off as the temper of an exhausted snow-clearer. But what else could the others, Gandalf and Gimli - and Legolas! - do at this point?)

"...to enter Moria would be to walk into a trap, hardly better than knocking at the gates of the Dark Tower itself." (Pure snark. As we have discussed, this is where Gandalf finally snaps at Boromir's negativity and argues back from his position of greater wisdom and experience.)

"I will not go, not unless the vote of the whole company is against me." (Near absolute refusal, and an invitation for someone, anyone, to join his mutiny and so split the company into two.)

"All choices seem ill, and to be caught between wolves and the wall the likeliest chance. Lead on!" (Pure negativity - all is hopeless. When everyone is semi-terrified already, what's wrong with keeping ones dark thoughts to oneself and just saying "Lead on!"? -- [Sorry, I shouldn't have snapped like that])

"Then what was the use of bringing us to this accursed spot?" (Again, this leads Gandalf to snap at Boromir's bad attitude. In fairness, I feel like Boromir is just plain scared here and would never admit it, so he vents and throws stones.)


Once they pass into Moria Boromir has almost no dialogue at all, compared to the previous two chapters. Sensible, in that he's made it clear he thinks the entire thing is a big mistake but nothing can be done about it and he has to go along with whatever comes. Here are two lines though that remind us that he's still the Boromir we've gotten to know on the journey:

OK, we've already talked about Boromir's inadvertently overheard whisper once they enter Moria, "And thither we are going against my wish." etc. We'll graciously allow that this one he didn't mean for anyone to hear, as he realized just how freaked out they all were at this point.

"And no hope at all, if they come at the other door as well." (Sound tactical thinking, but again a morale-shattering thing to say. Aragorn models the more correct thing to do when that kind of insight is brought to the planning table: he actually listens at and looks out of the other door and reports there is no connection with the door that is under attack.)


Well, perhaps I've overstated my case, but these quotes, and the negative emotional tone that underlies them, is at least as much how I remember Boromir in this part of the book, as the examples of his practicality and manly strength and courage.

I occurs to me, on looking over this collection, that Boromir comes across as a griper - a soldier who complains as a matter of course to hide his anger or fear or boredom. And although he is captain general of Gondor and no mere foot-soldier, this universal aspect of military culture does seem to set him out as different from the rest of the company. Whether intentionally or not, this kind of negative and separate character development does contribute to the reader accepting Boromir's, but no one else's, eventual fall to the Ring's temptation later in the story.

Of course, there is also literary value to Tolkien of having some conflict and tension in the company to contrast with Gandalf's all-knowing wisdom and upbeat leadership; others besides Boromir question or debate Gandalf as well. But it's Boromir who does it with a particular degree of snark or anxiety or arrogance that, I think, is one of the reasons people were so surprised when Sean Bean and Peter Jackson's screenwriters transformed Boromir into a far more admirable, even likable, character in the film version of this story!



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oliphaunt
Rivendell


Tue, 12:28am

Post #58 of 69 (226 views)
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Devil's Advocate Here [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for thought-provoking response. I'm going to play devil's advocate intentionally, to see if that yields any additional clues to Boromir's character.

"I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy" Sensible enough question - is the Enemy closer than we thought? How could Boromir be more 'helpful' than suggesting the Company carries firewood, and facilitating their safe retreat through deep snow?

"We cannot go further tonight. Let those call it the wind who will" Sensible again, they were exhausted. He thinks that going on any further will be deadly, regardless.

"What do you say to fire? ... Doubtless we shall be hidden from all unfriendly eyes when the snow has covered us..." He's genuinely concerned about the survival of the weakest members of the Company. The Hobbits were turning blue.

"Still we have thrust a lane through the drift, and for that all may be grateful who cannot run light as Elves." Aimed straight at Legolas' tossing the Men a "wave of his hand" (with a rude finger extended in the center) as he ran past them over the snow and did not offer any practical assistance whatsoever.

"We will bear the little folk. The others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us." There was no need for Boromir and Aragorn to carry the others. I think 'make shift ' here means 'manage' and is not an insult.

"...to enter Moria would be to walk into a trap, hardly better than knocking at the gates of the Dark itself." Gandalf's snappishness was not any more called for than Boromir's fear, probably less so.

"I will not go, not unless the vote of the whole company is against me." He never suggests splitting the Company at this point, even though he was only supposed to go partway. Recall Elrond's instructions: "The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will." Gimli is the only member of the Company who actually wants to go into Moria with Gandalf. Dividing the Company would not have been mutiny, since they were not obliged to continue.

"All choices seem ill, and to be caught between wolves and the wall the likeliest chance. Lead on!" Boromir does speak his mind. But would have bravely fought the wolves. And he's indicating his willingness to follow.

"Then what was the use of bringing us to this accursed spot?" Again, Gandalf is snappish. He'd been considering the path though Moria the whole time, but didn't bother checking if anyone in Rivendell knew how those doors worked? They were in Rivendell for months, there was plenty of time. Arrogance of a know-it-all wizard?



Quote
Of course, there is also literary value to Tolkien of having some conflict and tension in the company to contrast with Gandalf's all-knowing wisdom and upbeat leadership; others besides Boromir question or debate Gandalf as well.


Agree, someone needed to question Gandalf's authority. If Gandalf knew everything and always made perfect decisions, well, that would have been boring.

If we can interpret Boromir's conversation in more than one way, is this ambiguity intentional?

.


*** Middle Earth Inexpert ***

(This post was edited by oliphaunt on Tue, 12:41am)


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Tue, 1:18pm

Post #59 of 69 (180 views)
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What became of January 24th? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is the Company going to be trapped with the Balrog for yet another seven days? Is this a contrivance of the Enemy?


*** Middle Earth Inexpert ***

(This post was edited by oliphaunt on Tue, 1:18pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Tue, 3:42pm

Post #60 of 69 (171 views)
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Uh oh - that's my mistake in the schedule [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't schedule a discussion for 24 Jan, skipping that week by mistake and scheduling the next one for

Tuesday 31 January
behaviour and character development from Lórien on

Leader (or, Conversation starter): Ethel Duath

Sorry about that!


~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Tue, 8:13pm

Post #61 of 69 (168 views)
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I think it's a great chance to finish out [In reply to] Can't Post

our last 2 discussions. And maybe appeal to the1,700-plus folks, who've been reading but not posting, to jump in and give it a shot. Smile



SirDennisC
Half-elven


Tue, 11:07pm

Post #62 of 69 (157 views)
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Hard to argue with this - [In reply to] Can't Post

But are we dealing here with a mood, a personality, or a character flaw? For all his griping, Boromir seems to render good service to the fellowship. I would have kept him around.


cats16
Valinor


Wed, 11:04pm

Post #63 of 69 (111 views)
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LOL, tis I! [In reply to] Can't Post

A good callout though, as I think it's easy for folks to feel less inclined to jump in if they've missed the first couple of discussions.

Which is not at all the case to my fellow lurkers! There's never a bad time to jump into the conversation, which I hope to do myself very soon. Smile

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!




(This post was edited by cats16 on Wed, 11:05pm)


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Thu, 2:37am

Post #64 of 69 (103 views)
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I think ambiguity is one of the most powerful-- [In reply to] Can't Post

and subtle--techniques Tolkien uses in his writing. And not just with Boromir.



Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Thu, 2:53am

Post #65 of 69 (104 views)
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As a reader, not an anaiyzer, that was my impression [In reply to] Can't Post

He seemed to always be pointing out the downside, and contradicting everyone. And it continues in that vein begun at the Council, where he set himself apart, and now in the journey he continues to do so, not in terms of his concern for the others and his sense of duty, but in his thinking and analysis of the situations they encountered.

But I do think there is some room for ambiguity.
I see more humor plus a dose of irony, rather than than actual sarcasm, in these comments--especially since I think solidarity with the others and concern for them has been established between him and the rest in the process of the journey he's undertaken with them to this point:
"Still we have thrust a lane through the drift, and for that all may be grateful who cannot run light as Elves."
"What do you say to fire? ... Doubtless we shall be hidden from all unfriendly eyes when the snow has covered us..." (And not necessarily unhelpful, since it did seem to persuade Gandalf.)
And these two cases I agree with Oliphant's comment:
"'We will bear the little folk. The others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us.' There was no need for Boromir and Aragorn to carry the others. I think 'make shift" here means 'manage' and is not an insult."
"'I will not go, not unless the vote of the whole company is against me.' He never suggests splitting the Company at this point, even though he was only supposed to go partway. Recall Elrond's instructions: 'The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will.'" Gimli is the only member of the Company who actually wants to go into Moria with Gandalf. Dividing the Company would not have been mutiny, since they were not obliged to continue."





noWizardme
Half-elven


Thu, 10:27am

Post #66 of 69 (65 views)
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Hear hear. [In reply to] Can't Post

And of course it is something that one can enjoy as an effect whilst reading Tolkien as fiction, but it is a problem for people appreciating him principally as a world-builder and character designer.

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Thu, 11:15am

Post #67 of 69 (64 views)
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Yes indeed. Which raises a serious point... [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes indeed. If anyone is trying to catch up with things, they now have a chance.

I'll second cats16 in saying it is never too late to join a discussion.

Or of course, look at the schedule and get ready for the resumption next Tuesday (31st Jan)


Which raises a serious point - when these projects are planned, the intention is to be as inclusive as reasonably practical. This is to be kind and helpful, but also reflects the simple fact that projects falter quickly if they do not attract enough contributors.


But decisions about the pace and the programme can only be made on the basis of the opinions and guesses of the folks who turn up to organise things, what feedback we get, and the often-hard-to-interpret results of trying something. (For example - "Views" figures, are likely greatly inflated by many things other than people following the discussion with interest.)


A probably obvious point, but: having been sincerely invited to share their views, people cannot expect to be heard (or to get what they would like) if they choose to stay silent.

Assuming Boromir is not the last character we study in this way, pauses or a different pace could easily be built into future schedules, if that would be helpful and if people let us know it would be helpful.
The same with any other change that would make things more widely inclusive, or better in another way.


Of course 'too fast' or 'too much' for one person can easily be 'too slow' and 'too little' for another, so this needs to be done in discussion, to come up with whatever solution or compromise seems best on the available evidence, and the people willing to lend a hand to make the project work.


And of course it may not be possible to please everybody. But this should not be a problem - if this project is wildly unsuitable for someone there is nothing at all to stop them organising something they prefer. Or suggesting something different, and seeing whether anyone else is interested in organising it. The only limits I know of are that everything has to be within the Terms of Service and the scope of the board on which the thing is to take place.


So if this accidental pause is helpful, please say so!

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Thu, 4:52pm

Post #68 of 69 (54 views)
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The pause is helpful, or at least does not diminish the project imho // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Thu, 10:56pm

Post #69 of 69 (43 views)
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Semester Break [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd say a toss-up. It allows pursuit of divergent thoughts without hijacking the original topic but could also let interest cool. I do like the full-week length. Two-a-week topics may favor threads scheduled over a weekend.


*** Middle Earth Inexpert ***

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