of the Rings : Book 3, Chapter 1
The Departure of Boromir
A Discussion Led by Beren11:11
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 1. the
question of Aragorn's "fault." - Beren11:11
"Alas! An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss."
The chapter opens with the word "Aragorn" and despite its title, he really seems to be the focus of the chapter, and as it opens, HIS focus is on the "breaking of the Fellowship," but not in any general sense, so much as in terms of what HE has done to let the Fellowship fall apart, and what decisions of HIS led them astray or outright failed them. Again and again in this chapter, he speaks of the bad decisions he has made, and feels so deeply that he has failed himself and his companions.
At Boromir's side and after his death, he cries and says, "Thus passes the heir of Denethor, Lord of the Tower Guard! This is a bitter end. Now the company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf's trust in me. What shall I do now?" And at this point, I have to ask myself, how many of his tears are for Boromir, and how many are for himself? If he cries for himself, are the tears for his own shame, the failure of the quest, the loss of his friends, or any or all of the above?
And how much is he really at fault? Was there actually any choice that he'd made up to this point that was bad? I'm saving a question on what other roads chosen might've led to for later, but up to now, should he be ashamed, or should he be amazed that he managed to lead the Fellowship as far as he did?
I think he's genuinely
weeping for Boromir. - Kimi
Aragorn is a very warm-hearted man, IMHO, as well as being very tough. He feels affection surprisingly readily and strongly, and I think he's genuinely mourning Boromir. B's death has probably also brought back memories of losing Gandalf. In fact, being confronted with death tends to bring back memories of all the losses of dear ones that one has suffered (this has happened to me). He's angry with himself, but I don't see him as crying over that.
And how much is he to blame? Well, he has been surprisingly indecisive. I find Annael's theory tempting (which, given that we're talking about the One Ring, is rather appropriate). He's certainly torn fewer ways after the breaking of the Fellowship, though, and he doesn't really seem to gain confidence in himself again until after the meeting with the Riders of Rohan. At this point he doesn't seem to me like the King of the World.
I think his tears are not
for himself ... - Eledhwen
But for the world - he fears for its survival now Frodo and Sam has disappeared and he has tarried and lost them. I think he's crying for the Fellowship as a whole too, lost, wandering, killed or captured. I think he blames himself too much, for he did what he could in a difficult situation and I doubt anyone except maybe Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel would have done better.
I think it was the Ring at
work. - Annael
This is my new theory (hem). Perhaps the Ring has been at work on ALL the Fellowship, not just Frodo and Boromir. Its proximity may have caused lapses in judgment such as Sam forgetting about ropes, Pippin tossing the stone in the well in Moria, Gandalf forgetting the way in Moria & letting the company linger at Balin's tomb instead of getting out fast. Or it may be that the effort of resisting the temptation of the Ring caused them not to be as clear-headed as usual.
The main reason I think this is Aragorn. As long as the Ring is near, he dithers and makes mistakes in judgment (which was happening before - he nearly got the hobbits lost on the way to Rivendell after Weathertop). As soon as the Ring is gone, he wakes up and becomes the decisive leader he usually is.
That is an interesting
theory, Annael, and I agree to a point.. - Patty
but Pippin has been "off" since the beginning ( with apologies to the pro-Pippin club) and I must be the only one who doesn't view Aragorn as being dithering and indecisive at times. I think he is only voicing aloud or we are made unusually privy to the many thought processes that lead to making a difficult decisions.
I think you've mentioned that before and... - septembrist
...it does make a lot of sense. Once the Ring is gone, Aragorn becomes the leader he was meant to be. It becomes vastly evident when he encounters Eomer and continues to the end.
True, but... - Beren11:11
Maybe that's also just Aragorn coming through this period of failure with a more learned and stronger resolve.
True, learning from his mistakes and all. - septembrist
It certainly would
explain a lot... - Beren11:11
Maybe on some level it works to bring out the worst in those who are near or concerned with it. The Pippin point is what strikes most with me. He definitely seems to be pre-disposed to acting without thinking, but at the gate to Moria, doesn't he say something about being moved to toss the stone, and he doesn't know why? My memory could be wrong about that, but either way, there's no denying the "cloud" that the Ring surrounds everyone with.
mistakes (and blame) - Ophelia
Like septembrist said, Aragorn is definitely at fault for procrastinating- but so is everyone else in the company, including Frodo, who at least knew what he had to do but continued to put it off. Permitting Boromir to chase down Frodo- how could Aragorn have known what would happen? He is, after all, only human.
I think Aragorn is mad at himself for being human, essentially. He's been trying to take Gandalf's place. So, now everything appears to unravel- Aragorn automatically blames himself, or at least his own blunders for the ruin of the fellowship starting with the decision to try Caradhras.
The tears he sheds are at this moment primarily for his own failure in the quest- I don't think he's yet given up hope at all, and therefore isn't crying for Frodo or Merry or Pippin. I don't think Aragorn should be amazed or ashamed, he did the best that was humanly possible
Aragorn's faults. - septembrist
As I have stated before, I think Aragorn should have been making decisions before they reached Parth Galen or at least get the debate started so that the company could prepare itself. I know he was torn but that is a part of leadership. So, Aragorn can be faulted for procrastination of the highest order.
There must be 50 ways to
make a blunder... - Frodo
or so Paul Simon may have sung in describing how Aragorn felt about his day.
Among the questions he was
possibly/probably asking of himself:
Why did I let Frodo go off by himself? Why didn't I listen more carefully to my fear that orcs were nearby? Why did I not notice that Boromir had gone seeking Frodo? Why did I put off a decision about the direction of our company until it was too late? Why couldn't I have held the group together after Boromir returned from his encounter w/Frodo? Why did I leave Boromir to his meet an ill fate while I chased up the hill? Why didn't I keep Sam with me? What has happened to the hobbits? What will become of Minas Tirith without Boromir's leadership? Does the enemy have the Ring? Did they take Frodo? What of our Quest? What hope have we now?
You get the picture. His tears are a mingling of emotions about his perceived personal failure, the plight of the Quest, the fate of the hobbits...but I think mostly just for the loss of Boromir, both on a personal level as a companion/fellow warrior, and also on a larger scale of how bitter his loss was to the cause of Gondor.
Was Aragorn at fault? In at least a couple senses, I think he should have chosen differently. For one thing, Frodo should not have been allowed to stray from the company. There was way too much uncertainty about the safety of the vicinity to have the one person who could not be lost to be exposed to hazard with no immediate aid available.
The second way that he "failed" was to allow Boromir to slip away and approach Frodo. Aragorn was usually an astute observer of people. If others in the company noticed Boromir's queer behavior, the more should Aragorn have taken notice of the change. And in seeing that change, under no circumstances should Boromir have been afforded opportunity to be alone with Frodo far from the others in the company.
I will not join Aragorn in
his thought that all he did that day had gone amiss, but he wasn't
exactly covering himself in glory in the choices department, either. It
was probably his personal low performance point in the whole sequence of
events having to do with the ring.
I like what you say
about Aragorn's perceptiveness of others... - Beren11:11
...and how that fails him when it comes to letting Boromir be alone with Frodo and the Ring. Way back at the Prancing Pony, we're given an image of him as almost a Sherlock Holmes type of figure in his ability to deduce things about people and situations. He has this detatched perspective that seems to enable him to survey the "big picture" and percieve the workings of people's hearts and minds, but it's almost like when he steps out of his Strider/Ranger persona, and some of his personal mystery is stripped away, he's thrust into the thick of the moment more, and kind of chokes.
That is to say, he certainly has the ability to deduce the right paths to travel, but with the added pressure that comes from stepping into position as the heir apparent to kings, he loses some of that Zen-like Ranger and begins to out-think himself.
that's a good question... - leo
I think Aragorn blamed himself for all that went wrong because the Fellowship was under his guard. I think what happened wasn't his fault, it was just a panic reaction of several ppl. When Boromir told everyone he tried to take the Ring from Frodo everyone runs off in the woods at once, Aragorn can't be blamed for that, and he can't go running after everyone too, his choice to seek Frodo is a good one, he is in the most danger at that point.
Aragorn suspected there were Orcs on this side of the river, so it was right of him to send Boromir after Pippin and Merry, it wasn't his fault that the Orcs were too strong for Boromir, nor can he be blamed for wanting to go to Amon Hen and take a look around.
I think it was.... - Binky
Aragorn depended too much on Gandalf and didn't trust himself enough. It was 'what would Gandalf do? What was Gandalf planning?" It seems he was quite content to leave it all to Gandalf and didn't try to find out what Gandalf's plans were beforehand....
I think it was... - Binky
he relied on Gandalf too much. If you notice a lot of his problems go back to 'what would Gandalf do?" "I wish Gandalf were here..." etc instead of trusting himself to make good decisions. Even though he was a grown man of many perils...the time had come for him to make real leadership decisions...and he hesitated to long to make them on his own.
That's an interesting point... - Beren11:11
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 2. what
about Boromir's "fault?" - Beren11:11
Boromir's first words in this chapter are, "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo. I am sorry. I have paid." And his last words are, "I have failed."
Mr. Blue Wizard got us going on this path last week with his questioning of Boromir's ratioanlity in his attempt to sway Frodo to bring the Ring to Minas Tirith. To a lot of us, it seems, the act was certainly "rational," if not the wisest choice, so what is Boromir apologizing for? Why is he at fault for something so great that he feels that only in death has he paid for it?
And what about forgiveness? Aragorn absolves him, granting him at least the ability to die with a smile, but did he attone for his failure? Was he forgiven already when he begged Frodo to forgive him when he snaped out of his "madness" as Frodo ran away? Was he forgiven when he rushed to Merry and Pippin's aid? Or was his death required for forgiveness, and if he had lived, would he be trusted again?
Betrayal - Kimi
In attempting to take the Ring by force, Boromir feels that he betrayed the trust the Company should have been able to place in him. He set a high standard for himself and failed to meet it. Yes, the Ring swayed him, but Boromir feels that he should have been strong enough to resist that influence.
On a more prosaic level, he thinks that by driving Frodo off alone and in a panic he has endangered the Ringbearer's quest.
Boromir feels that he has failed so wretchedly that only by making the greatest sacrifice possible can he atone. "Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends".
I forgave him. Aragorn forgave him. I'm sure Frodo did. What I hope is that Boromir forgave himself. That's sometimes the hardest forgiveness of all to gain, and is one of the reasons (IMHO) that the sacrament of absolution is so precious: if the Almighty forgives your sins, what right have you not to forgive yourself.
Sorry to have slipped into theology, but it's sometimes hard to avoid when talking about forgiveness and atonement in a book written by a Christian.
No need to
apologize... - Beren11:11
It's an integral part of the story, IMHO, and though I'm lacking in faith myself, there's no question in my mind, that I need to consider his Catholocism when attempting to interpret Tolkien's intent.
For me, Boromir's own repentance is all that's required to forgive him, and I think that Aragorn does manage to convey this to him. As GTx said below, his last act was to smile in response to Aragorn's encouragement.
I think Boromir died
at peace. - GaladrielTX
He did smile, at the very end.
True, and comforting. - Kimi
Boromir never understood
the ring's power... - Patty
he never accepted that it couldn't be taken to Minas Tirith, used by "stronger and wiser men" and so he would never have seen that it was the ring working on him and that largely he was not to blame and didn't need to be absolved. Yes, he was a proud man and had faults, but I don't think he would ever have descended into the mental state he got to without the ring's influence, so he didn't need absolution.
ADDENDUM: based on Alan's
post below... - Beren11:11
When I asked, "When was he forgiven," I meant, yes, by Aragorn at his death, but also by you as a reader. Maybe I should have asked, also, when did he "attone," beause a lot of action happens between his grab at Frodo and his death. A lot of decisions are made. He states, "I have paid," and I guess I'm asking,did he need to die to "pay," and in death, did he in fact pay?
Ahhh! Now I see... - Alan_Partridge
Yes, I think the reader definitely forgives Boromir. That is one of the reason he dies perhaps, to redeem himself in the face of his treachery against the Fellowship. His death (futile in a sense, in that he didn't save Merry or Pippin, and yet all the braver for his courage against an entire company of orcs) demonstrates the true Boromir: the valiant fighter who was the last to retreat.
His bravery in death and admission of guilt Aragorn truly shows us Boromir, perhaps for the first time in the book, and then he dies, just as we are about to really discover his character.
His 'burial' by the others is also so dignified and touching that the reader cannot help but sympathise with the pride of Boromir that led to his downfall.
His 'fault' was trying to
take the ring by force... - Malbeth
not trying to convince Frodo to got to Minas Tirith. He immediately realized this was wrong, and was sorry for his actions and ashamed that he wasn't strong enough to withstand the temptation. Unlike Aragorn, Galadriel, and others to come, he failed the test.
However, in this chapter, I think he did all that he could to earn forgiveness. He had already taken the first step in the last chapter; he realized he was wrong and was sorry for what he had done. Then he willingly sacrificed himself attempting to save Merry and Pippin. He probably could have survived the orc attack by fleeing, but he chose to stay and fight, knowing he probably wouldn't survive. I think he felt this was his atonement. As he said: "I have paid."
Also, he confessed to Aragorn what he had done. In fact, those were his first words: "I tried to take the ring from Frodo. I'm sorry."
Yes, his confession is
important. - Annael
He owns up to what he did, doesn't deny it or try to sugar-coat it. Shows that he is in essence a truthful and honorable man.
Oh I hope they get him right in the movie!
Good point - forgiveness followed confession! - Alan_Partridge
The point was it *wasn't*
rational to a clear thinking person... - Alan_Partridge
who was aware of the power of the ring, which all the Fellowship were. It was rational to him while he was under the power of the Ring, but after his outburst at Frodo it was as if the spell of the Ring was broken. He realised his actions had been affected by the power of the ring and that he had been a fool.
Imagine the shame of the son of the House of Gondor stooping to the level of a common thief, stealing such a thing in the wilderness?
That was why he apologised. Because he realised that the road to Mordor was the only way to win against Sauron after the deception of the Ring's evil. He was deeply ashamed that not only had he attacked the Ringbearer but jeopardised the entire quest.
The forgiveness thing; your question is odd. When was he forgiven? When Aragorn forgave him. Who could forgive him as he wept on the summit of Ammon Hen? Eru, perhaps, but it was Aragorn's forgivenes that gave him the real knowledge that he had in a way not been entirely culpable of his actions.
I don't think his death was
neccessarily part of the forgiveness process - it was a result of
actions to be sure, and would he have lived with the guilt or would
Aragorn have wanted him as Steward when he returned?
Personally it seems to me that Tolkien is demonstrating there are consequences of our actions and though we can be forgiven we have to remain accountable.
perhaps he's under the
impression.. - leo
that he has failed in saving Minas Tirith, or that he has failed to keep the Fellowship together.
Most likely to me is that he has failed in protecting Merry and Pippin, the job Aragorn entrusted him with.
his fault..... - elipson
He tried to take the ring by force from frodo who he considered a friend. I think that's what he was apoligizing for.
He considered Aragorn his lord, so he was asking his forgiveness. In his mind giving his life trying to defend merry and pippin was attoinment for his actions, thats why he died in peace. Weather it was enough to repay his debt, i think thats sort of in the eye of the beholder.
What does your eye
behold? - Beren11:11
Do you forgive him? I'm not sure that I do. Rushing to the aid of Merry and Pippin seems like quite a separate event than trying to take the ring from Frodo.
Like, if I stole, oh, I don't know... some batteries from a CVS once and got busted (I'm not saying for sure that I did...), would my helping the owner of that CVS's mom across the street have anything to do with my repaying the store for the batteries?
(that type of harbored guilt is what 17 & 1/2 years of Catholic school will do to you...)
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 3. Who the hell
forgives these people anyway? - Beren11:11
The question lurking behind the two questions I posed below is a bit more esoteric, but I have to ask -- when we say, "forgiven," who's doing the forgiving? Do we, as readers, forgive these characters? Are we consciously or unconsciously placing Eru, as the "God" of Middle Earth in the position of "forgiver?" And if we're doing that, why are we doing that? Does that urge come from within the reader, or does it come from knowledge of Tolkien's cosmology?
Are we just thinking of the other characters (Legolas and Gimli, chielfly, but even the currently lost Gandalf, since Aragorn invokes him), and what they think? And if we're thinking mainly about the other characters, are we not believing or not caring or just not considering whether there are other "higher powers" of Middle Earth that the Fellowship is accountable to?
And I don't just mean Eru -- what about all the other inhabitants of Middle Earth who's lives hang in the balance? I'd like to think that the general populace would "forgive" Aragorn and Boromir, but 99% of them don't even know anything about all of these goings on other than the tidings they may hear at The Prancing Pony, or whatever their local might be anyway, so it's hard to say... Minas Tirith certainly waits for a savior -- would they forgive?
The forgiveness Boromir
seeks - Kimi
is from the Company, with Aragorn as its leader being the one to utter that forgiveness.
As I said below, he needs to forgive himself as well.
In the pre-Christian world of LOTR, it's hard to know what Tolkien "intended" us to think re forgiveness. I think he wanted us as readers to forgive Boromir, who truly repents. In terms of Eru's forgiveness, I think Boromir would have to wait his turn with the Greek philosophers, etc, until the redemption of the world comes.
Few members of the populace of Middle-earth ever know of Boromir's failure. Apart from the Company and the other Ring-bearers, I think that Faramir is the only one who is told.
As far as any mistakes Aragorn might have made in the course of the quest, victory is a fairly reliable method of gaining forgiveness from your followers :-)
Hah -- Boromir in
Limbo... - Beren11:11
...with Virgil and the rest of the "Virtuous Pagans" -- I like it!
good question - Ophelia
I think that answers will vary, though. Whose forgiveness would Aragorn want? Gandalf's, Frodo's, all of Middle Earth's. While Boromir wants the forgiveness of the rest of the fellowship. And like to a Greek chorus, as readers we place ourselves in those roles as well as in the role of outside observer. Boromir doesn't ask for forgiveness until Tolkien percieves the reader is ready to give it.
And from you, a better
illumination of my question... (plus "forgiveness" vs. "attonement") - Beren11:11
...is when you ask, "Whose forgiveness would Aragorn want?"
But you bring up another good point, which is, "Boromir doesn't ask for forgiveness until Tolkien perceives the reader is ready to give it." Does that mean that in the author's mind, his character has been forgiven at that point? And is Tolkien's mind in synch with yours?
Because to me, forgiveness is just like, whatever -- you're forgiven! You know? Move on! But I'm struggling with this thing about "attonement," as in, "I have paid." What does it take to really attone? How do you make reparations for attacking Frodo by coming to someone else's rescue? It's a good deed to be sure, and redemptive of his own character in anyone's eyes, but Frodo is still gone, and that has not been amended.
good points to
ponder, Beren. - Annael
Forgiveness reflects on the person who is in the position of being able to grant forgiveness, while atonement reflects on the person who did the wrong. Forgiving is about moving on, as you say, while atonement means staying in the consciousness of having done wrong. Boromir needed to atone for his wrong so that he could forgive HIMSELF. Frodo of all people would understand that the Ring affected people adversely; he'd already seen that with Bilbo, and I'm sure he would forgive Boromir readily. But I suspect Boromir's sense of self had been severely shaken by his perceived fault. If he'd lived, as someone said in the last chapter discussion, I'm sure he would have continued to atone by serving Aragorn without thought for himself. I like to think that Aragorn's forgiveness and understanding did lighten his heart before he died. Hence the smile.
"I have paid."
This can also be the sense... - Frodo
of paying for a mistake, as in bad circumstances follow a bad decision. Boromir may not necessarily mean he has paid in the sense that he has atoned for a previous error and I , in fact, do not think he means it that way. It makes Aragorn's words to him to be at peace all the more gracious, because Boromir has not claimed to have "earned" that peace through any atoning actions of his.
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 4. With all
of this blaming going on, what about "fate?" - Beren11:11
Every creature in Middle Earth has free will, but how big a role does circumstance play anyway? Had the breaking of the Fellowship NOT occurred, things might have gone very badly, considering the extent of Saruman's treachery, and as it turned out, Aragorn & co. were needed desperately on the western front, while it's probably only the stealth of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum travelling alone that got them through.
At this critical juncture, are the machinations of Fate and Illuvatar's "grand symphony" laid bare, or is it just "dumb luck?"
As Gimli says, "Maybe there is no right choice."
"Dumb luck?" Is there
really such a thing in this story? - Frodo
When Gandalf says to Frodo (way back in "The Shadow of the Past"), "..there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought."
Taken at face value, the circumstances under which Bilbo comes to find and retain the Ring and then pass it on to Frodo may appear to be nothing more than chance circumstances. But Gandalf alludes to an intelligent design beyond what could be deduced from the circumstances.
I think the same applies with the circumstances of the breaking of the fellowship. There is no explicit statement within the text that says that this was all according to the design of Eru/Iluvatar, yet that is an explanation consistent with Gandalf's earlier statement about what was "meant" to happen. Free agents in Middle Earth acted according to their own wisdom, prejudices, abilities and inclinations to good or evil, without a conscious recognition (usually) that they were following a grander scheme which was not of their own making.
I'll step outside of Tolkien to grab an illustration. The book of Esther in the Bible is to many people a wonderful illustration of the sovereign working of God in the affairs of humankind. "Chance" circumstances place Esther and her uncle in a unique position to influence the king and spoil the plans of an enemy of the Jewish people. The Jews are preserved because a king couldn't sleep one night, a righteous man overheard a plot against the king's life and reported it, his niece happened to be one excellent looking woman and was favored by the king, etc.
The interesting point about the book of Esther is that NOT ONCE is God named or alluded to or said to have caused the preservation of the Jews. Yet millions upon millions throughout history and into the present day value the account because that is exactly what it demonstrates.
In the same way, without it being explicitly mentioned in the text at this point, the circumstances all proceed to accomplish what the sovereign will of Iluvatar designs. From within (say, to Aragorn) the events may seem evil, the choices all wrong. From a more encompassing perspective, it all goes according to plan.
A big 'Aye' over
here.... - Alan_Partridge
An involved creator will be present in every event, no matter how bad or how good, trying to show himself in hope and inspiration...or something.
IF I can wrap - Stumpy
my dwarvish brain around this concept...
Is the history of Arda
and the Middle Earth the physical manifestation of the infinite
music from the creation chapter in Silmarillion, played out with
it's taint from Melkor and its harmonic response from Iluvatar?
If so, then I would say free will means nothing, and they are actors on a stage with little room for improvisation. But then, I probably have it all wrong.
I think it
magnifies the greatness of the composer - Frodo
rather than diminish the roles of the individual performers. No matter what theme or "improvised strain" they play nor how many performers enter into the symphony, the composer/conductor weaves them into a consistent and wonderful symphony. Even when they try to play counterstrains to or out of harmony with his theme, he finds a way to make it work within his music. They have freedom to play what they will. He is greater than they and can work all things into his music to produce a work of his design.
It is not that they are automatons - it is that he is incalculably superior in all ways and nothing can frustrate his purpose.
Ah, I see what
you're saying - Stumpy
If they do something that works against his purpose in one movement, he just introduces another theme that moves things into the direction he wants.
put... - Beren11:11
But the idea still sort of squashes the concept of ultimate free will and also ultimate accountability for your actions, unless we remove the concept of the "greatness" of Illuvatar to something completely beyond our capacity to even remotely get our heads around -- to a level at which contradictions of this sort become moot, such as the other big argument, "If Illuvatar created everything, who created Illuvatar?" To extend the analogy to "real life," to me, it's got to remain a mystery.
Somehow, Aquinas just doesn't convince me...
*groan* Aquinus...! - Stumpy
Everyone knows white dwarves can't wrap...unless they're abusive white trash... - Alan_Partridge
quality of your insults is deteriorating A_P - Stumpy
Unless that was a joke. In which case, your jokes are even worse than Ugly Trolls, which are abysmal!
nearly impossible to
answer- although I'm sure it will be tried :) - Aiya
but with every choice you make every day things could go differently then they do. Is it fate? Is it luck? Karma? Who knows... but we are lucky enough to have a board to discuss it on... but for me- if I had to say- I'd say it was a mixture- it was fated that the fellowship had a 'task' to accomplish, but how to accomplish it was left open. My idea of fate is fairly broad- it is the end, not the means
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 5. The Funeral
Boat - Beren11:11
It seems to be a very prcise ritual that they send Boromir off with:
"Now they laid Boromir in the
middle of the boat that was to bear him away. The grey hood and elven-cloak
they folded and placed beneath his head. They combed his long dark hair and
arrayed it upon his shoulders. The golden belt of Lorien gleamed about his
waist. His helm they set beside him, and accross his lap they laid the
cloven horn and the hilts and shards of his sword; beneath his feet they put
the swords of his enemies."
Each placement of an object is obviously meant to tell something about the deceased, and it all seems to add up to what I'd consider a "warrior's funeral."
I'm personally not familiar with what antecedants Tolkien might have referenced for this funeral rite, and yet it seems familiar. Does anyone know of anything similar in literature, myth, or history that might shed some light on this?
The placement of
weapons.... - Dubhdarra
with the dead,( at least the highborn warrior aristocracy of virtually all of the indo-european cultures), is common. But I don't think that the funeral by boat is very specific in this case. it was a means of expediency. But Tolkien would have surely drawn on Norse as well as Celtic beliefs in water being a conduit to the otherworld to frame this scene. One other funeral rite that incorporates this theme in literature (history if you so believe) is the Funeral of King Arthur being taken by Morgan and her women to Avalon by boat.
"The Black Oak"
Ancient Egyptians, too - Idril
Funerals of the nobility often involved journeys in boats. Nobles and royalty were also sometime buried with boats to be used in the afterlife. (The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh has one in their Egyptian collection.)
With caffeine, all things are possible.
not sure- but didn't the
Vikings.. - Aiya
send warriors that had died to a burial at sea? In a burning boat I think- but then i could be mixing up histories & stories :)
yes, the vikings... - lockdar
...did send there fallen warriors in burning boats out into the sea. I believe there was another culture which sended it's dead away in a boat, just can't remember which one :(
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 6. The Funeral
and Ritual - Beren11:11
The funeral is meant to provide Boromir with a send-off worthy of his stature before his death, but as they push the boat off to the falls, it seems (as with any funeral, I guess) that the more important effect is felt among the living. And despite the fact that Legolas and Gimli are obviously touched as well, this seems a particularly "human" event. In fact, of all of the examples of ritual in LOTR, pretty much the only human ones we get a glimpse of are their death rituals. At this moment in time, what does the Comapny get from it? And how do humans in all of Tolkien's works deal with death? What do they get out of the rituals?
And, also, of course, what do we get out of them? What do we as readers get out of this particular funeral? It being a book, I'm sure I'd have gotten over Boromir's death wothout it, but I'm also sure I'd feel very differently about it. Without being privy to that ritual myself, I'd be lacking a certain closure and peace about the whole thing in my own mind.
Does anyone at all feel the same way? I'm not daring to compare the feeling with anything close to actually losing someone I care about, but at the same time, this funeral "works" for me. It provides that closure and that peace.
I have mixed feelings
about it - Kimi
On one level, I have to admit that I get a bit irritated: they should be getting on and rescuing those poor little hobbits, not standing around singing songs to Boromir, whom nothing can harm now.
But when I manage to put that aside, it is a beautiful ritual. The Companions want to honour Boromir, and Aragorn probably benefits from the enforced period of inaction, which gives him the chance to get his head together.
Rituals can be very comforting, even at times when one would think they might be meaningless. That's certainly been my experience at times of loss.
plot development - Mr
excuse me for pointing out the obvious (?), but surely the reason for Boromir being in the river rather than in a hole was just for plot development. later on Faramir or Denethor spots the dead body and the broken horn, and the knowledge affects their treatment of Frodo and Sam (and Gollum) when they find them later on.
I think there's more
to it than that... - Beren11:11
I mean, you're right in that it certainly works itself into the plot, but I actually think that the after effects of it are exactly that -- after effects.
...but I'll be getting to that tomorrow...
In both 'The Hobbit' and
'The Lord of the Rings' ... - Tintalle
...the characters (from gentle hobbits to valiant Men) are never ashamed of grieving openly when someone close to them dies. The dead are buried with honour, and then they go on living in the memories of living. When Thorin dies, Bilbo is terribly shaken, even though they had parted as enemies before the battle of Five Armies. Thorin repents before he dies, and is forgiven, just as Boromir is. Both of them are honoured as great heroes, despite their mistakes.
As for the ritual in Boromir's case, I think it was necessary for readers and characters alike. When I first read LOTR I remember being restless, thinking: come on, the hobbits are in trouble, and you guys are singing songs.
But then I thought of how beautiful it was: for that private moment everything else was put aside, nothing was more important than Boromir's last journey, it was as if time had stopped to allow the companions to say farewell and have a kind of a closure amidst great uncertainty and unrest. The readers need it for much the same reasons, and also to be reminded that, war or peace, haste or not, paying the last tribute is always a sacred duty.
Boromir came very close to being enslaved by the dark power, but he atoned and died free. That he was given to the River and not simply buried, symbolizes that freedom, in my view.
My feelings about funerals
in general... - Patty
is that they are horrible rituals that usually only bring the grieving to almost unbearable pain through the use of the loved one's favorite songs, starring at the body (the wake, unless it's one of those upbeat New Orleans funerals) etc. etc. I don't believe they provide "closure". I believe they just line some funeral director's pocket.
But about this funeral in particular, well..this is a fallen comrade, loved but not as close family, and so a "burial at sea", putting his foes' weapons at his feet symbolizing his victory over them should provide adequate "closure".
Have to disagree. - Annael
My family once experienced a loss & chose not to have a funeral. Big mistake. The pain simply festers if you don't let it out.
Funerals as they are practiced now are not for the dead. They are for the living to express their grief. But in Boromir's case I had a real sense of honor being done to the fallen. Perhaps, as someone said, it was because none of them were that close to him. Their sorrow was not personal; it was FOR Boromir, not for themselves.
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 7. The Funeral Song - Beren11:11
"His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.
O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days."
I might as well tell you all that I'm a songwriter by trade -- but I'll be damned if I could ever come up with stuff like this on the spot! Aragorn and Legolas could've had a great future in the music biz if they chose to...
But all of them -- Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli seem to maybe know this as a specific type of funeral song: asking the four winds for tidings of the departed, and maybe you just plug in the specifics? Legolas picks the second verse right up from Aragorn in the same form, and Gimli knows that he's been left the last verse -- the east wind -- without any prompting. So like the boat arrangement, is there an antecedant to this type of funeral song?
But more importantly, why is song itself so important in Middle Earth? We know that song was more important to the lives of people in pre-literate times, in forming their vision of themselves as a culture or as a part of history, etc. Middle Earth seems to exist in two different worlds -- the world of written history, where things that are to be remembered are specific and often mundane, and the world of oral history, where things are broader and more allegorical. In that world, the songs are more than entertainment -- they're the link to that broad history of allegory that informs the consiousness of an entire world or whatever.
I guess my question is two-fold: why are the allegorical songs still so important in Middle Earth? And do they still play an important role with us?
On a less "broad and allegorical" note, and on a more "specific and mundane" one, do those sorts of songs exist today? Is anyone creating the equivalent? If so, could you tell me? Because I'd like to find them... ; )
Literacy is not universal
in Middle-earth. - Kimi
We're told that many hobbits never learn their "letters", and I get the feeling that the Rohirrim don't use the written word much, beyond the royal household.
Writing exists in Middle-earth, of course; there are many references to written historical records. But oral transmission of knowledge and of art still seems very important.
In fact, I wonder if a system of musical notation exists in Middle-earth. I suspect not, which would mean that tunes can only be preserved orally. There certainly doesn't appear to be any recording technology (though I wouldn't put it past Saruman...).
In such a society, skills such as memorising genealogies, annals and songs are valued far more than in our modern societies. We have echoes of this in NZ, where the Maori language had no written form a mere two centuries ago: to recite one's whakapapa (genealogy) is an important feat, and it's a truism among both Maori and non-Maori that all Maori can sing (which is not completely true, but they certainly have more than their share of singers).
Wow -- thanks for that
info, Kimi... - Beren11:11
NZ and its relationship with the Maori has always been of interest to me. It seems to be pretty progressive place (comparitively speaking)...
It actually sort of fills my heart up with mixed emotions, if I can be so corny, to hear the statement about all Maori being able to sing. It does seem to be necessary sometimes, doesn't it?
Well, we have our
share of sins to atone for :-) (Off-topic) - Kimi
But yes, New Zealand is a society far more tolerant of differences (of all sorts) than it was when I was growing up, in the 60s and early 70s. For instance, we have several openly-gay MPs and one transsexual MP, and the number of Maori in parliament matches their proportion of the population fairly closely. Our record in race relations has many blots on it, but compared to many countries it's quite bright. I hesitate to say that, though; the dangers of complacency are very real.
Getting slightly back on topic :-) (the lapse is my fault, not yours) the karanga, (welcoming song) onto a marae (meeting house) is a spine-tingling experience. It's somewhere between a chant and a song (unaccompanied), and always seems to me to have a yearning sound. If you ever come to NZ, I hope you can visit a marae.
I read this
wonderful book recently - Annael
Called "First Light." It was by a New York museum curator who was put in charge of bringing an exhibit of Maori "artifacts" to the US. She had to go to NZ first to help pack the stuff up. Turns out to the Maori, these were not things, they were people, ancestors, gods. Imagine the New Yorker's response at first, but she becomes a believer in time (and eventually moved to NZ I believe). One of the most moving parts of the book is her description of the ceremony they have each time the show opens in a new town, at first light. It sounds similar to the karanga.
BTW, is it "Mah-ri"? I grew up saying "Mah-oh-ri" but I hear that's wrong.
cool... - Beren11:11
I'll have to check that book out.
I've always said "Mow-ree." Help us Kimi!!
topic... way off topic, actually... - Beren11:11
Yeah, I really hope to get there someday. I've actually been influenced pretty heavily by, or at least "into" a lot of NZ musicians -- The Chills, the Finn bros., Feedtime, Bailter Space, and Dead C, to name a few; but I'm sure the "karanga" and the "marae" would probably top them all!
Every time I get so sick of America that I seriously consider whether I want to raise kids here or not, New Zealand always waves its flag in front of my eyes... ; )
But hey -- for better or for worse, the north east of the USA is in my blood, and I don't think I could leave it for ever...
what you mean about the blood - Kimi
At a deep level, you start to belong to the land.
I lived in England for two years and had many happy times there; I spent nearly a year in Sydney and enjoyed it; we've travelled quite a bit in Europe, and been to some stunning places. I'm sure there are many "better" places to live than in NZ, but it's hard for me to imagine living anywhere else. The only other place that's ever spoken to my heart in quite the same way is the small island off the west coast of Sweden where some of my ancestors came from. It, too, is "home", in a deep sense. But I haven't tried spending a winter there :-)
Lorien and Rivendell are beautiful; Minas Tirith is grand. But the Shire is still Home :-)
Yup. - Annael
I've moved away from western Washington three times, and each time I've gone running back home after a year or three. It just doesn't feel right when I can't see Mount Rainier.
Cool, you're a songwriter?
(very off topic):-) - Eowyn
I am (sort of) too.
what kind of music do you play?
* embarrassed *
yeah... - Beren11:11
But you tell first! ; )
And where in Sweden are you from? I actually just did a 7" single with a label from Vallentuna.
Oh, there's not
much to tell - Eowyn
I have always loved music, I went to music college (although I dropped out cuz they forced me to play jazz all the time:-))
I have been in a few bands, although none as serious as I would wish.
I've been writing songs for about 7 years or so, but they are very simple, and perhaps not so good.
Vallentuna is a suburb to Stockholm if I'm not wrong, I live 200 km north of there in a small town, that you have probably never heard of :-)
Soooo, now it's your turn!:-)
O.k., O.k... - Beren11:11
Sorry for my nervousness... I'm sure you understand how hard it is to describe your won music!
I started out playing with Hardcore and Punk bands in the 80s (when I was in high-school), and though I still keep my feet firmly planted in that fertile ground, I play mostly solo these days, and I'd say I just take what I've learned from that and from my whole life of being a fan of all music, and just write "songs," you know? I guess my songs are sort of Mod/pop -- like based mostly in 60s soul and pop like Curtis Mayfield and the Impresions meets the Beatles and the Small Faces, and early 80s angular art-punk stuff like Wire and Gang of Four.
Does that make any sense? Maybe we can exchange tapes or something...
Do you live anywhere near Gislaved? I don't have a map in front of me, but I've actually toured Sweden, and if I remember correctly, that's about 200 km north of Stockholm, no? Is it farther than that?
south? - Eowyn
I should know this, shouldn't I?
Being Swedish and everything:-)
But my Geographic knowledge isn't big...
I play mostly rock type music, influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith etc.
Have you got
any of your song on the net as an MP3 or anything?
I'd love to hear some!
-- I don't remember! - Beren11:11
Umea, then? Or is that even farther north? You're going to keep me guessing, aren't you?
There's a web-site that I'll e-mail a link to you for if you want, that has some records and info on me and a new song for MP3 download -- but I've got to warn you -- it's just a demo I did in my basement on 4-track cassette, and it's a bit on the "mellow" side of what I do.
e-mail me, and then I'll send you the link: email@example.com
Close to Gävle - Eowyn
That's south of Umeå, the town I live in is called Åmot but I doubt you'll find it on a map:-)
Cool,I'll send you an email...
I just looked at a map... - Beren11:11
...and found Gävle, so I have a better idea now, thanks!
Good ;-) - Eowyn
Where do you live?
Well right now... - Beren11:11
I'm living in New Jersey, which is where I grew up, but I'm toying with the idea of moving back to DC, where I lived for a while, or Boston, where I also used to live, or maybe to Providence, Rhode Island. I have to see what opens up over the next month or so...
What is Providence like? - Eowyn
I've heard a lot of nice things about it.
How did you like Sweden by the
When did you tour here?
Providence... - Beren11:11
...is a really great city. It's small, but it's got just about anything you might want from any bigger town. It's definitely "New England" -- old, beautiful, on the Narragansset Bay, one hour from Boston, less than three from New York, etc. A lot of the life of the town is shaped by all of the colleges there -- Brown University, RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), and many others, so there's always a lot of art happening, etc. It's really "nice."
I loved Sweden -- Stockholm, especially. I was there in December 1997 (cold and dark! But beautiful...), and we played in (let's see if I can remember all of this...) Yståd, Gislaved, Borås, Stockholm, Oskarshamn, Umeå, Sundsval, Lynkopping, Nykopping (did I spell them correctly?), and... and... oh yeah -- Gottborg! I loved every minute of it!
He does, don't let him off the hook - Stumpy
Thanks a lot, Stumpy!! ; ) - Beren11:11
Wow! Is there any extra
credit on this question? - Stumpy
I seem to remember some Norse mythology, where the characters performed magic through song, and we all know Tolkien was well versed there.
As I was reading your question I immediately thought of Woody Guthrie, protest songs in the sixties, and even Keep On Rocking in the Free World (which is in VDUDE'S sig). They convey emotions much more powerfully than written history, and sometimes are the only history that isn't written by the 'powers that be'.
'Song' and songs and
words... - Alan_Partridge
I think that the songs of Middle Earth are part of the power of words that Tolkien so belived in. This may have already been discussed but I've been thinking about the power of elves, their unwillingness to name and even understand the term 'magic' and the quality of speech.
As a Christian, Professor of English and deviser of fictional langauge I think Tolkien had a great belief in the power of words in general and the specific power of some parts of langauge.
As a Christian Tolkien would
have been aware of the association of speech and the power of God. God
spoke and there was light. God's speech was a product of his will; he
exercised his will in commanding there to be light and light was
The indirect speech attributed to God is the result of his will and his power, resulting in the exercise of his power.
The same is true for Jesus, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,' Jesus is the living truth of the Word (and the power) of God. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven he said, "All power in Heaven and Earth has been given to me, so go to all peoples and make disciples in my NAME." (my capitals)
Tolkien could see the power of words, names and speech in his spiritual life and in his own career and studies as he explored ancient language and his own Elvish tongue.
So, when people invoke the name of Elbereth, as the hobbits do at several occasions when they are in dire need, on Weathertop and at the Ford of Bruinen, they are doing more than saying a word, they are invoking the power of Elbereth herself. That is the power of the word.
And for the likes of Gandalf and Galadriel the power lies in the Will and the Word (which is Le Guin, I think?). They have the strength to speak and thus order things as their wills can manage. Presumably they are aided by their rings, but they have the strength of their spiritual selves to call upon too.
The songs I'm thinking of specifically is in the Silmarillion, where Luthien's power is in her songs. She sings songs of disguise, songs of binding and songs of healing, I think. And it is with the power of her words and her will, that her and Beren actually steal the Silmaril.
So songs like those of
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas seem to more liturgical songs that are
remembered across the lands as traditional (and therefore, perhaps,
powerful) means of saying goodbye to a loved one and finding some degree
However the songs of others, for example the song of Frodo in the tower, are songs that are almost prayers, of hope and rescue. The song of Galadriel as they leave Lorien is one of healing and moving on, as they are forced to continue into the bleak east.
For me the significance of songs in LOTR is the ability for them to say more than they mean, because they are songs and therefore so different in tone to the rest of the text.
The use of the "Will
and the Word" in magic ... - Ron
I don't remember if it is in a Le Guin story. David Eddings uses that concep[t in the Belgariad and Mallorian Series.
"Amen" to that... - Beren11:11
But let me attampt to make the more secular side of this case...
I have always felt the performative power of art (including language), and particularly in song. As a writer/musician and (probably more importantly) as a fan of both, for example, I recognize the incredible power in my hands and everyone's to actually shape the world around us in very concrete ways using only our ability to form words that people understand.
(or don't understand, as the case may be -- in re-reading what follows below, I'm recognizing my own power to confuse myself, but I hope you'd prefer that I didn't hold back...)
Though there's no question of a concrete, empirical world that exists, the world that we see and understand is largely within the bounds of our own perception. Cognitive disabilities, for example, do not always leave someone lacking -- they may also simply change or completely eliminate enitre realms of understanding, leaving that person in a very different world than our own. Our perception can be affected and changed by many factors, and often most effectively by the art we encounter and the language we chose to listen to or to use. As a means for "affecting" people, it becomes also a means for "effecting" change in any number of directions.
The songs of the characters that you mention, Alan, are perfect examples of this -- emboldening, healing, or sombre, as they change the singer or hearer's focus, they have the power, in that person's perception of the world, to bring out the sun, to guide their feet along a certain path, or even to discourage and destroy hope.
And in names, though not exclusive to words that name, but present in all words, there is a history in what they both denote and connote that in whole or in parts deposits itself in a sort of "collective unconscious" and reveals itself or can be called on, through its usage, in the understanding of the speaker and listener; and in the context of whatever degree of that history the particular user or hearer is privy to or can deduce, a name or other word can summon up anything from the pure sonic impact of its articulation, devoid of any context but the moment in which it is heard or felt, to all of eternity that is represented by the words "eternity" or "all." This is another way in which the power of exclaiming the name "Elbereth!" and all that it connotes can also be seen.
To me, song is the most effective conveyor of this power. It can pierce my innermost regions of perception and leave me confused or enlivened or angry or whatever. And as it changes me, it thus changes "my world."
Bardic influence? - Nenya
There's no newspapers, radio, TV ... not even any fast transport. Things are best remembered when set to rhyme and rhythm. In the *real* Middle Ages (as opposed to the Middle Earth Ages) travelling bards might carry the news, but they didn't write all the songs they carried. Often someone in the town would have composed their own ballad about it, which the bard would simply tweak and carry off with him to other towns (or at least that's what a college English professor once told us; I really don't have in depth knowledge of it myself).
Anyhow, it would make sense that in a land such as Middle Earth the denizens would be more attuned to composing on the spot to commemorate events.
I guess one of the closest
things would be... - Patty
folk singers and their songs....????
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 8. Cosmology:
"Rauros roared on unchanging." - Beren11:11
"He floated by them, and slowly his boat departed, waning to a dark spot against the golden light; and then suddenly, it vanished. Rauros roared on unchanging."
Boromoir has just given his life -- he died in sacrifice -- bravely accepting a tragic fate, that two of his companions (who he really barely knew) might have some slim chance of holding onto their's, but as his boat passes the remaining members of the company, "he" becomes an "it" -- a "dark spot against the golden light," and "Rauros roared on unchanging." How humbling! What is the significance of our actions in the face of unchanging nature? The falls have taken no notice of events that to us are so momentous! How insignificant are we -- "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" and all that - and yet, how long would Rauros go on roaring unchanged if not for the actions of even the smallest members of the company, or of Middle Earth in general?
Again and again, from the earliest moment of Tolkien's world that we are privileged to glimpse, the idea keeps coming back to me: know your place in the symphony -- play your own part, yes, but do not interfere with the other parts of the orchestra -- let them play their own parts as well. Melkor is the first to attempt to upset this balance, and everyone that follows who attempts to do the same -- who attempts to control that which is quite simpy beyond their grasp or which they have no right to control: the light of the trees, immortality, the wills of the peoples of Middle Earth -- meets the same ignoble end.
In this context, when Boromir becomes a "dark spot against the horizon," might it be that it's not that he is shown to have been insignificant, but that he has been shown to have been "part of the whole," and that in giving his life, he did so to aid in the quest to maintain that balance that Sauron seeks to upset - to ensure that Rauros goes on "unchanging?"
We've been talking quite a bit
about Illuvatar and the "grand symphony." This chapter, more than others,
really leads me to consider the cosmology that underlies all of Tolkien's
works, and which mirrors what I believe is the cosmology that he feels
underlies this world as well. In his world, there is a God, and that God
has set life in motion -- in Arda, Tolkien depicts it as a symphony. That
motion maintains its inertia and avoids entropy through the freely willful
actions of it parts (animal, vegetable, and mineral), as long as they
maintain their harmonious balance.
Is the goal of the quest then, really to deprive Sauron of the power to upset this balance -- to ensure that Rauros goes on? And does Rauros know this? And is that why it carries Boromir over safely?
Arda marred - Kimi
This gets into the question of what Sauron would do if he did win: would he try to turn all Middle-earth into a huge Mordor?
Keeping the balance as you describe might be the motive for the Valar, and perhaps the Great (Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, etc). I don't think Frodo sees it in those terms, though. Especially since he doesn't really expect to succeed.
makes me think - Binky
of something Sam said...(jumping ahead a bit) when he gazed up at the stars and realized that no matter what they did here on earth, no matter how great their struggles...the stars would keep on shining untouched by it all.
That's a perfect
example, Bink-ster... - Beren11:11
And, as small as he feels, it's his struggle that actually holds the continued shining of those stars in the balance, IMHO...
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 9.
Aragorn keeps Boromir's secret - Beren11:11
Why? It certainly would've gone a long way toward helping Legolas and Gimli understand all of the events of the day and why they had to follow the path that Aragorn eventually chose for them.
Boromir's lapse galvanized Frodo into making the decision that he did, but considering Frodo's not too private uneasiness up to that point about what direction the quest should take, it must have been hard for Legolas and Gimli to understand why he suddenly chose the path that he did, outside of the context of what went down on Amon Hen.
I think it's evident, and it seems like we all agree, that Aragorn has forgiven Boromir, but L. & G. don't find out that his character was ever even in question. Does Aragorn not want to sully their memory -- the world's memory -- of Boromir? Or maybe in a very practical sense, he just doesn't want to get into it for expediency's sake, or whatever?
Aragorn shows discretion
and kind sensitivity... - Eomund's
...in not revealing Boromir's last words. Most importantly, I think, he acknowledges with his silence the fact that Boromir has, in essence, redeemed himself. Therefore, there's no reason for Aragorn to sully his image, especially since he's passed on, in peace, "doing some good deed".
I like what folks are saying about the Confessional air about the interaction; I think there may be something to that.
The words and wishes of the dying and dead should be honored, in all ways.
Yes. Even if Boromir
had survived his wounds.. - Frodo
do we agree that Aragorn would not have revealed Boromir's words, but would have allowed Boromir the dignity of choosing how and when to reveal his "disgrace" to the others?
Yes, I do agree. - Beren11:11
It's a character issue... - Frodo
A person of character is reluctant to share a story, even if true, that would serve to damage the reputation of a friend/comrade/associate. I would venture to say that Aragorn first spoke of this only to Frodo, as it would not be breaking a confidence and it may have served to restore esteem for Boromir in Frodo's mind.
Frankly, I don't want the kind of friends who would tell my dark secrets to my other friends. Do any of you?
There was no need... - Malbeth
to ruin Boromir's reputation, in Aragorn's opinion. What purpose would it serve to tell the others? Boromir was a good man, a hero, who failed to resist the lure of the ring, but died a hero's death anyway. Aragorn had passed the test once himself, in Bree, but he knows the temptation is powerful, and failure didn't make Boromir an evil man, just one who wasn't quite strong enough. Also, I agree that he felt some obligation to keep the confession secret.
I hope that later he told
both Frodo and Faramir about Boromir's last words.
There's a hint of the
Confessional about this - Kimi
I don't think that Aragorn thinks he has the right to tell anyone else what Boromir confessed to. And what good would it do? It wouldn't change any decisions that Legolas and Gimli now make.
They probably suspect the truth, but they don't probe for it. Perhaps they're all in "don't speak ill of the dead" mode. Boromir can't defend himself, after all.
Considering that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, it is logical this scene would resemble the rite of confession.... - dudalb
I agree, and I also
think that it was a king-subject thing. - Annael
Boromir's confession to Aragorn has always struck me as evidence that Boromir finally accepted Aragorn as his liege, as the person to whom he owed fealty and the complete truth. Aragorn's acceptance of this fealty puts the responsibility on him to reveal the truth about Boromir only as he sees fit. I imagine that he would tell Faramir, as Faramir had the right to know (and already knew about Boromir from Frodo).
thing - Frodo
I want to believe that Boromir accepted Aragorn's kingship, but some of his last words leave me feeling uncertain on the issue, "Go to Minas Tirith and save my people!"
I know his use of "my people" doesn't conclusively demonstrate either side of the issue. It just leaves me feeling ambivalent.
I want to believe...help me go beyond my skepticism.
rod of office on . . . - Annael
I found this statement equal in symbolism to Faramir later resigning the rod of the Stewardship to Aragorn. Both men are saying "this WAS my responsibility, but I now give it to you."
I like your perspective on this - thanks. - Frodo Hoy
Not sure I can
help... - Beren11:11
...because I think you've convinced me that it's still sort of a challenge from Boromir for Aragorn to "prove it," so to speak. But knowing that he's about to die, I also feel like he knows Aragorn will rise to the occasion...
That's true... - Beren11:11
Up to the point of his confession, he never really put his faith in Aragorn, but rests all of his hope and faith in him with his last words.
Yeah, that's a good
point... - Beren11:11
Aragorn as Confessor to Boromir -- it would be "uncouth" for him to reveal what he has learned, especially after he personally absolved him. There seems to be no need to dredge it all up again.
maybe... - lockdar
Aragorn wouldn't want the rest of the fellowship to know one of them has been tempted to take the Ring. It might be kinda demotivating for them.
And since they were about to make an important decision he didn't wanted L & G's thoughts turned to something else.
I think he
would have told Frodo eventually... - Binky
keeping in mind what Frodo's last memories of Boromir were...Aragorn would probably tell him what happened right after the Fellowship dissovled...I think I would have in similar situations......although if Frodo heard the story of how Boromir fought for Merry and Pippin he may have figured it out on his own...
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- 10. "Forth
the Three Hunters!" - Beren11:11
"We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Forth the Three Hunters!"
Taking off (again...) on the idea of the power of names and the effects of invoking them, we can see how by naming themselves they add a weightiness to their actions -- a well deserved weightiness, because their chase will definitely be legendary -- but in my re-read of this chapter, I was actually struck for the first time in any reading I've ever done of any of Tolkien's stuff that, "This is kind of corny." But then I thought about it (because it bothered me that I could think that!), and I was struck by the necessity of language like this in certain situations. I mean, it's a sort of "pep-talk," isn't it? Like Knute Rokne telling Notre Dame to "Win one for the Gipper!" In regards to Aragorn, it's just the sort of language he probably needs to get very used to using...
Is this an example of "Ara-corn", or is he really coming through the past period of indecision and stepping into his role as King, and are we seeing his first "rallying of the troops?"
Also, on a slightly off-topic note, if anyone's interested, I'd be curious to hear how people feel about "motivational" language in general. Do you respond to it? Do you ever use it?
Aragorn is filled with
fervor, and kingliness... - Eomund's
...and sometimes he allows these to shine through, whilst in Ranger guise. This is, I guess, an example. I'm reminded of Shakespeare's Henry V giving the St. Crispin's Day speech.
I don't know...I don't think it's corny. Then again, I am accused of corniness myself often, so I may not be able to see it....heh.
I don't know about Kingliness in this scene...I think at this point I think he is just trying to be a good Squad Leader....not easy thing to be, either! - dudalb
The choice of words fits
Middle Earth... - Frodo
but would probably seem contrived if we tried to fit it into our present world. Since it was genuine for Aragorn, it works.
I think that is the main criterion for an effective motivational speech. It must be genuine and not mere rhetoric designed to manipulate.
The movie Gettysburg contains an illustration of my point. The Jeff Daniels (playing Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain) speech to the company of Maine "deserters" was heartfelt and genuine. It motivated almost the entire company to change their minds. It wasn't a rousing, "Rah! Rah! Are you with us in this battle, boys?" delivery. One might even say it was subdued. Yet it was effective, because Chamberlain bared his heart to the men.
I use that as an illustration because it is a depiction of an actual historical event.
Aragorn meant his words and I think they reflect the innermost feelings of the other two. That is why they are effective.
Aragorn as motivational
leader. - septembrist
Aragorn is mad as hell and he is not going to take it anymore. He feels a keen responsibility for what has happened and will do what is necessary to try to make it right. Hence, he becomes the motivational leader that he was not earlier. From this time on he moves decisively and with unrelenting purpose.
The language is epic because he knows that he is now the leader of a great struggle against Sauron whether he likes it or not (at least until the White Rider appears later).
interpretation, and I like it. - GaladrielTX
I had never been able to picture Aragorn's manner as he said it, except as high-falutin' and cheesy. I think angry fits the dialogue better.
Thanks for some new insight into this character.
"motivational" language in
general - Draupne
is one of the most annoying things I know. Maybe because I've never been in a situation where it has been needed. I like it in books though. At least sometimes.
The same for those seminars "Learn how to do a thing better/get a better motivation etc". When they tell you to think positive, not to be nervous and bla bla bla. Last time I had to listen to one of those, I sat staring at my fringe and decided that I needed a haircut.
Motivitional speaker I ever knew was my D.I. in basic training...... - dudalb
NOt quite as bad as the one in "Full Metal Jacket" but VERY demanding....and he got results...
I absolutely agree,
Draupne - Nenya
I'm one of those perverse people who, if they feel are being herded in a particular direction through "motivational" babble will willfully choose an entirely different course just to prove I can. I put the "motivational" jargon into the same category as pep rallies, which I also despise as a waste of time and an example of "group think" where it is easier to flow with the mob than be an independent thinker.
The best motivation is reason; if what you propose makes sense, that should be reason enough to do it. If it isn't, you either need to re-evaluate your plan or get smarter help!
I agree with both
of you for the most part, but Draupne... - Beren11:11
...Let's face it -- you needed a hair cut! ; )
I've had one - Draupne
but since that was 6 weeks ago, I need another one now.
Ara-corn - Sep22
I don't think it's "Ara-corn". It's two things: motivational and self-reassurance.
From his first appearance in Bree, Aragorn's not an inspirational speaker. He's an inspirational figure, but his speech is urgent or cryptic...only sometimes poetic. But he improves as he comes to know the hobbits. After Moria he really has to step up in the leadership department and his language steps up too.
At the breaking of the Fellowship he makes one of the most important decisions of his life. He needs it to be the right one. He's not only trying to motivate Legolas and Gimli (which he does, despite the fact that they don't need it), he's trying to reassure himself. It's a great little speech.
though? - Ophelia
I think that it was Aragorn who really needed to be inspired here. Legolas and Gimli will follow him whatever he chooses- and though they are affected by the breaking, they're not blaming themselves for it as Aragorn was earlier.
I think the Forth
the Hunters line works here...however, - dudalb
I fell some of the "Medieval" language later on in the Two Towers in Rohan does go over the line into silliness...and nothing is more silly then a failed attempt at medieval/Renaissaince language ....as a long time participant at Rennaisance festivals I can testify to that....
definitely a dangerous line to walk... - Beren11:11
...and very esay to fall on the foul side of.
Remember Tony Curtis's infamous "Yondah lies Da Castle of my Faddah" line from "THe Black Shield of Falworth"?:) - dudalb
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BOOK III, Chapter 1 --
11. Aragorn's choice (mini-plot-spoiler) - Beren11:11
Aragorn has his break-through and he decides -- "My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left... We will press on by day and dark!" And the decision is finally made -- they undertake to rescue Merry and Pippin.
BUT -- considering the fact that that tom-fool of a Took and the odd kid from Buckland manage to escape the Orcs without the help of "The Three Hunters" (that's the mini-plot-spoiler for anyone who might actually be following along...), was his choice the best? I mean, we all know how the story ends, and we know of what great effectiveness were Aragorn & co. in Rohan and Gondor in later chapters, so the question is more of just a fun hypothetical -- does anyone care to "spec-out" some "What if..." plot lines based on Aragorn's two alternatives: a.) follow Frodo and Sam, or b.) go straight to Minas Tirith?
I know it's a vain endeavor, but it's been a pretty heavy week, and I thought it might be nice to lighten it up a little... ; )
The point has been
made.... - Binky
An elf...a dwarf and a man would have a tough time 'blending in' and 'sneaking' about in the bleaks Morder with two hobbits...and what on earth would they do if they made it all the way to Mt. Doom with Frodo? I'm sure they would have hindered Gollum reaching Frodo if they could. Would they have cut off Frodo's finger...push him in for the greater good.???? If that had happened I'm sure Sam would have jumped in with him!!! Assuming they all made it that far of course...
No...its best that Frodo and Sam go alone...and Aragorn remain behind with the others ...he must claim his heritage and offer a 'distraction' to pull Sauron's eye away from his own land.
If Aragorn had followed
Frodo ... - Ron
He surly would have caught up with him and Sam quickly however his presence would have definitely scared Gollum away.
Gandalf, upon being
reunited with the Three Hunters... - Eomund's
...reassures Aragorn that he made the right choice, telling him that due to it, they had met in time, who might not have otherwise, much to the detriment of all.....
Gandalf's opinion's good enough for me!
I suppose also that having a strong presence like Aragorn's outside of Mordor, unveiled, (not to mention Gandalf's), as a distraction from Frodo's/the Ring's presence IN Mordor, is also a plus....(that's just my own wee silly thought...)
not silly at all... - Beren11:11
It's a good point. I think that, as I've said below a couple of times, the stealth that it affords Frodo and Sam, in addition to that which they themselves have, as Hobbits, that let them get the job done.
If Aragorn, Gimli and
Legolas - Stumpy
try to follow Frodo, they would be spending possibly many days going downriver, with no way of knowing where or if Frodo landed his boat. Plus tracking them through hills on the east side of the river, which would be bound to draw orcs or worse to where Frodo would be trying to sneak around.
So, they would be effectively taking themselves out of any significant role aiding Minis Tirith or Rohan, and drawing attention just where they don't want to.
Very true -- - Beren11:11
Who knows how long it would take the to find Frodo, and really, it's only the stealth that he and Sam have that got them through.
That's really the
only - Stumpy
other legitimate choice. Going to Minas Tirith would be senseless, for the reasons given in the thread below.
He COULD have thrown the sword in the river and gone back to try to get some off of XenArwen, but that's the XXX version.
So... - Beren11:11
...when you say he could've "thrown the sword in the river," should I be interpreting that in a Fruedian way?
Only if you want to :o) - Stumpy
Aragorn was right. Rather
longish (for me) I'm afraid. - septembrist
As Nenya said, Aragorn made the right decision given what was before him. The lives of Merry and Pippin were in danger and he was or at least felt responsible for them.
Following Frodo and Sam would have been a mistake. It would have made the Ringbearer's company larger and more conspicuous.
Let's say Aragorn goes straight to Minas Tirith, what then? Would he have claimed the throne? I doubt it. Denethor was still strong and may very well have disputed Aragorn's claim. Such dissension would have gravely weekened Gondor. Aragorn realized this even after the victory at Pelennor. Aragorn would then have another great captain at Minas Tirith but that would be about it. Like everyone else he would be trapped by Sauron's siege and hoping that Rohan could arrive in time with enough men to turn the tide. I don't think Aragorn would have made a great deal of difference had he appeared at Minas Tirith before the siege.
Thus, it was fate, fortune, providence that proved Aragorn right in his decision.
consequences - Malbeth
If Aragorn goes straight to Minas Tirith, he doesn't get a chance to use the Palantir, with two devastating possibilities as a result. First, Aragorn doesn't see the threat from the Corsairs of Umbar, and Gondor is overwhelmed in the Pelennor Fields. But more likely, Aragorn doesn't challenge Sauron, who doesn't launch his attack early, but waits until all the forces are completely ready. Thus, Mordor is not emptied out, and the Eye is not obsessed with the Captains of the West when Frodo and Sam are on their way to Mt. Doom. They get caught, Sauron takes the Ring, and it's all over.
Use of the
Palantir. - septembrist
That was crucial in forcing Sauron to move early and hence not with full strength. Aragorn and Minas Tirith would be waiting around and not doing much as Sauron bided his time.
excellent points! - Beren11:11
You're using 20/20
hindsight on this one. - Nenya
Let's face it. At the time Aragorn made his decision, he had absolutely no reason to believe that that "tom fool of a Took and the odd kid from Buckland" would have the ingenuity to devise their own escape. It was obvious they were in trouble, and it was furthermore obvious that the Ring-bearer had chosen his path, and had elected to go it alone (OK, he was going with Sam, but you know what I mean.)
Based on all the information he was confronted with at that point, Aragorn decided to throw his resources where they were most needed. Pippin and Merry were in immediate peril of their lives; Frodo and Sam were continuing on a path that Aragorn never planned to follow to it's ultimate destination anyhow. So yes, I think that overall, Aragorn made the correct decision.
Yes, I know... - Beren11:11
...I just thought it might be fun to speculate a little. You are, though, of course, correct -- I think he made the best choice for the situation.
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BOOK III, Chapter
1 -- 12. summing up! - Beren11:11
When I first was asked by Patty to take on "The Departure of Boromir," I didn't remember too much about it other than that not much happened, and I was a little worried about just how many points I could actually squeeze out of an 8 page chapter, in which the most action is in gingerly placing objects in Boromir's funeral boat and watching it slowly float downstream.
Half-way through the first page of my re-read, however, I realized that I was going to have no problem thinking of things to blather on about -- now the question was, "Is it going to bore the hell out of myself and everyone else?" Obviously, I turned out to be not bored at all, and I hope you weren't either -- it certainly didn't seem like it! ; )
Anyway, despite its brevity and lack of "action," this chapter, for me, has become one of the most crucial in both plot development -- as we see Aragorn really finally step into his leadership role and make his half of the two decisions (the other being Frodo's) that spiral most of the ensuing plot happenings off -- and in expounding on Tolkien's more esoteric "issues" -- I mean, the word "heavy" doesn't even do justice to this chapter, in my mind.
As I see Boromir fade to a "black speck on the horizon," I'm drawn into what I believe is a vision of Tolkien's larger "world view" where the largest issues of freedom and redemption and "dharma" and humanity's "place in the cosmos" are brought out and illuminated in a very few, beautifully writen images and events.
The last few chapters have led to some discussion about more general literary theories about the role of the author and the reader -- how much of what the author, specifically Tolkien, brings to the table are we expected to or even interested in folding into our thinking on a novel? I have to go back to what Frodo Hoy -- who wins the "I wish I said that" award -- said way back on Monday or Tuesday, when we were discussing "Fate" and the role of Illuvatar in the lives of his creation (but if you haven't read mine and Eowyn's back and forth thread yet, don't bother -- the "Providence" we were talking about is in Rhode Island...): "I think it magnifies the greatness of the composer rather than diminish the roles of the individual performers. No matter what theme or 'improvised strain' they play... the composer/conductor weaves them into a consistent and wonderful symphony."
I'm an agnostic person -- I'm looking forward to hanging with Boromir, Virgil, et. al. in Limbo with the other "Virtuous Pagans" (thanks Kimi for that image!) -- but what ever connection I have with states of being beyond the immediate -- call it "spiritual" if you like, I certainly won't argue -- generally comes through "art." If I think of the world as a work of art, I can get my head around a cosmology that includes a Provident creator of the sort that Frodo Hoy describes, because it's generaly the same way that I perceive the relationship between author and reader -- we can take into account what Tolkien brings to the table, and we can bring what ever we want to it as well, or not -- the work of art in question has room enough in its "symphony" to accomodate our "improvised strains," and in that, the greatness of the composer can only be increased.
Thanks for a great week you guys -- my head hasn't stopped reeling yet...
Oh yeah, and another special thank you to Kimi for giving me the opportunity to hand myself a "You know you're obsessed when..." award by inspiring me to actually sit around and try to think of how Saruman might have concocted recording equiptment and what it could've consisted of in the third age in Middle Earth, after she planted that little seed in her post about songs... ; )
See ya next week!
Thanks, Beren. Great job. - GaladrielTX
great work, Beren. - Ophelia
Your questions brought things I wasn't aware of at all and not only did you fail in boring us to death, you made the chapter exciting and VERY eventful.
You're welcome :-) - Kimi
Thanks for facilitating some great discussions, Beren. I had to disappear mid-week, unfortunately, but I'll look forward to catching up on the posts I missed later this weekend.
Oh, and I'd be interested in hearing your theories on what Saruman-as-record-company-executive might have invented :-)
Thanks, Beren! - Daisy
Your questions were illuminating and thoughtful. And the discussions were great!
Witches can be right,
Giants can be good
Thanks, Beren! - Eledhwen
Though I missed most of it - nice job.
Thank you for leading the
discussion this week, Beren. - Malbeth
Interesting discussions...it's great having a different leader each week - each week has a different approach and different types of questions.
Thank you for leading a great discussion. - septembrist
You did a good job of leading the discussion! - Idril Celebrindal
Thanks, Beren. - Nenya
I've been poor about posting the the reading room recently, and worse still at thanking the weekly hosts who take it upon themselves to lead the discussions. I do visit the Reading Room every day though, and I am continually amazed that the insights people have in the chapters and by the thought provoking questions that the discussion leaders come up with to pull these thoughts out of people. It's been a good week of reading, Beren, and I appreciate the work you've put into this.
Beren, thanks for drawing us into so many fascinating lines of thought. Well done!!! - Frodo Hoy
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