Son of Gondor: Boromir & Redemption

Boromir is one of my favorite Tolkien characters, but this wasn’t always so. When I was younger, I could never justify how someone who was supposed to be one of the good guys, one of the heroes meant to save Middle-earth from great evil, could turn against the rest of the Fellowship.

As I got older, I started to understand the more complex aspects of Boromir (and the other characters as well). For a while now, I’ve been contemplating writing a character study sort of thing about him and why his character arc is one of my favorites in The Lord of the Rings. So as an ending to Tolkien week, here it is!


Protector of Gondor
Boromir serves as a protector of Gondor. He fights on the front lines with the soldiers who give their lives to reclaim their country’s lands and attempt to keep Sauron’s forces at bay. They live on the doorstep of Middle-earth’s greatest enemy and yet they continue to fight even though the odds are against them. It isn’t an easy battle, and for the most part, they feel they are fighting it alone.

“By our valour…the terror of Morgul [is] kept at bay; and thus alone are peace and freedom maintained in the lands behind us….”
- The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Council of Elrond” -

Boromir is wrong though. There are others fighting against the evil in Middle-earth, even if Gondor cannot see it. This is only one instance in which we can see Boromir’s major flaw and how it influences his perception of the rest of the world. He is prideful—not just of his own part in protecting Middle-earth, but also in the strength of his people. While the rest of Middle-earth sees Isildur’s failures when they look at Gondor, Boromir sees a people striving to overcome evil.

“Who are you, and what have you to do with Minas Tirith?”
At the council, Aragorn reveals his identity as Isildur’s heir and also reveals that Gondor is not as alone in their fight as they believe themselves to be:

“Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay…. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for [the Rangers]. Fear would have destroyed them.”
- The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Council of Elrond” -

It’s just the beginning of the conflict between the two. For Boromir, it seems Isildur’s heir should make his claim to the throne and openly fight for his country instead of keeping himself hidden and fighting in secret. This conflict highlights a painful truth: Aragorn is the person Gondor needs—its true king, and that is something Boromir can’t be. No matter how much he fights for and with Gondor for its restoration and freedom against Sauron, no matter how much he may act in the stead of the king, Boromir can never be that king.



When faced with this realization, there must be bitterness and sadness, along with a sense of inadequacy. All three combine in a way that hits hard at Boromir’s weak spot: his pride.


“True-hearted men will not be corrupted.”
The temptation of the power the Ring offers is enough to push anyone to their limits and when combined with Boromir’s belief that he could be worthy of using of the Ring to save Middle-earth and become a great king, the situation is even worse. What begins as a well-meaning discussion of the Fellowship’s journey transforms into Boromir’s lowest moment as he threatens Frodo and attempts to take the Ring.

“Now I see your mind. You will take the Ring to Sauron and sell us all…” 
- The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Breaking of the Fellowship” -

We see Boromir’s fear in this moment, perhaps even more than his pride. Middle-earth falling under Sauron’s rule is the one thing he has fought so hard to prevent, and this accusation he makes against Frodo in his weakest moment says more about what hides behind his own pride.


Boromir is afraid of letting people down—be it his fellow Gondorians or all of Middle-earth. He’s afraid of failing, afraid of being the reason Sauron wins.

“Minas Tirith will not fall!”
Moments after attempting to take the Ring, Boromir shows his true nobility by fighting to save Merry and Pippin. Though he is not successful, there is redemption in this fight. He realizes what’s at stake on a different level because he now understands his own weaknesses. Every member of the Fellowship is free to leave the quest when they choose, and Boromir could easily choose this moment to return home to Gondor.
 
But instead, he chooses to stand by his promise in spite of his own fear and the fact that he’s outnumbered by the enemy.

In the end, he understands where he was wrong and asks to be forgiven. And with his last breaths, he acknowledges Aragorn’s claim to kingship and asks him to save their people in the ways that he could not.



Boromir is the first of the Fellowship to be so strongly tempted by the Ring and the first to falter under that temptation. But in those moments of fear, he gathers his courage and chooses to fight for the freedom of Middle-earth one last time.

Boromir’s redemption remains one of my favorite aspects of The Lord of the Rings because it is so real and relatable. He’s a multifaceted character full of complications and flaws, but he is also a noble man whose heart is in the same place as the other members’ of the Fellowship. Boromir’s redemption is found in the choice to continue fighting in spite of faltering.


So…yeah. I have a lot of feelings about Boromir. What are yours? In Tolkien’s works, whose character arc is your favorite? Tell me about them in the comments!

Comments

  1. Wow. Great post! I've loved the complexity of Boromir's character and how relatable he is with his desires for his kingdom and his flawed pride. You wrote out every aspect of his character beautifully! I always cry at his death. . . TT_TT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      YES. There are so many layers to his character and they ring really true in a lot of ways and just make him a great character. ^_^

      That part of the trilogy is one that gets me every time!

      Delete
  2. THIS
    POST!!!!!

    YES. THANK YOU!!! I, too, never really understood Boromir's character when I was younger. But my feelings on him drastically changed through the years as I grew to understand people and the world better.

    To me, Boromir is a picture of all of us--a fallen human capable of succumbing to temptation. As you said, he let his pride blind him and he made mistakes. But it really, really bothers me when people label him as "evil". Boromir was in no way evil, he was merely a human. But, in the end, he saw his mistake and asked for forgiveness. His story was a heartbreaking one, but also a beautiful and inspiring one. Because we ALL make mistakes, we're ALL fallen beings, but through God's grace we can be forgiven if we merely repent and ask.

    His redemption is also one of my favorite things in LotR! It's SO powerful. As was this post! This was BRILLIANT. It was so beautifully and deeply written. I JUST WANT TO HUG THIS AMAZING POST!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much!

      I think out of LOTR characters, he's one of the the most relatable in that regard, even among the human characters. There's such a struggle for wanting to do the right thing and being misguided in what exactly that may be for Boromir, and it's so beautiful to see how that leads into his repentance and redemption.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Hi, and welcome to Lovely Whatsoevers!

Feel free to comment—I love hearing from you! I just ask that you be kind, play nice, and if you don't mind, keep it family-friendly. :)

(If this is your first visit to LW, I'd love to hear how you found this little corner of the internet!)

Thanks for stopping by!