Boromir vs Isildur

Blad The Inspirer

New Member
In episode 129, one possible reading regarding Boromir's exclamation of "Isildur took it! That is tidings indeed," was that Boromir was immediately thinking about it as good news -- a chance to find and use the ring now. While I agree that this reading works well with Elrond's response, I don't think it is the only reading that works.

We will learn a lot more about Boromir's relationship with Faramir and Denethor later, and it seems to me that Boromir would tend to espouse his father's beliefs. Is it not possible that, upon hearing the information from Elrond, Boromir looks on Isildur with derision? After all, Denethor will later look down on Aragorn because he is of the line of Isildur. Arvedui, of the line of Isildur, attempted to claim the kingship, and was rejected. Isildur's Bain was mentioned in the dream, so the great ones in Gondor have likely been discussing Isildur over the past year, and maybe not in the most positive way. Denethor will also later say that "To use [the ring] is perilous". I believe that Denethor (and so, most likely, Boromir) would consider Isildur's decision to take the ring (instead of easily destroying it after the defeat of Sauron) to be foolish.

So, I think it is quite possible that Boromir's exclamation is genuinely one of disappointment, and even derision, and the statement from Elrond that follows can be taken at face value, in agreement with the sentiments of Boromir. Of course Boromir thinks that it is better to destroy the enemy's ring -- assuming that it could easily be destroyed. If Boromir had been in Isildur's place, of course he would have destroyed it! But my situation is very different from that of Isildur. My people have waned, while Sauron is only growing stronger. To destroy the ring now would be nearly impossible. To win without the ring would also be impossible. Our only hope is to use it... and so on.

I can see this line of thinking going through Boromir's head as the council of Elrond continues and he learns more and more about their plight. I like this reading, as it adds an extra level of irony to the words and actions of Boromir, and seems to match with the claims that will be made by Denethor in the Return of the King.

Of course, both this reading and the one given in class depend a lot on our own hindsight. I wonder what first-time readers would be thinking at this point? What would they think about the exclamation of Boromir?
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Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
Of course, this is the very first time we hear Boromir speak -- we don't even really know who he is yet, only that he is from the South and has come seeking counsel. In this short exclamation, two things leap out at me (although I'm not sure whether they did at the first reading, which was decades ago!): the fact that in the South, they 'do not name' Sauron, which reminds us of Strider's caution not to speak the name of Mordor too loudly; and the fact that Elrond's revelation is 'tidings indeed' -- which indicates that it might relate to the counsel which he came seeking. [Otherwise, I like your multi-leveled analysis of what's going on in Boromir's head: the internal conflict which comes to a head at Parth Galen is what makes his character arc so interesting.]