Boromir's reaction to Elrond

Jon Markloff

New Member
Thinking of Boromir's reaction to Elrond and the discussion we were having. To me the first reaction I had when considering his response in light of our considerations of Elrond's "until you stand once more on the boarders of your land, and dire need is on you" was to think of the many times in Malory we hear "I shall take the adventure that God will ordain me". During the discussion, we clearly saw that this is foreshadowing Boromir's death in book three. The extent that this is known to be foretelling to the characters at that time seems inconclusive at best, but we do know that any foretelling would by nature come from the Valar, or directly from Eru. It seems possible that if he hears it, he is accepting that fate and prepared to proceed in the only fashion he knows how. Am I reading back into this passage something that isn't there, or is there echo's of this idea in his speech. How would this reading affect the corresponding events of his death, and the preceding fall that he suffers and victory he subsequently wins?
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
There are many ways that Boromir's response to Elrond can be interpreted.

Here is one interpretation (not the only one possible, but one that was not really brought up in class).

When Boromir says to Elrond, "Maybe. But always I have let my horn cry at setting forth, and though thereafter we may walk in the shadows, I will not go forth as a thief in the night." Is he voicing the same sentiment as the Crusader battle cry of "Deus Vult"?

"Deus vult", means "God wills it!".

If Boromir is now convinced that his Divine Dream has been answered, then his blowing of the horn is an expression of faith. "The prophecy has been answered. God wills it!" All will be well. No blowing of the horn will alert the spies of the enemy. "I hold the faith".

His answer to Elrond might be interpreted as: "Elrond, it May Be that I will be in dire need upon the borders of Gondor. But, I don't care! I have achieved, here in Imladris, what I quested to achieve. I have answered the riddle of the Divine Dream. That was my mission! It is done! I have done what I set out to do. Now, Eru, it is in your hands. Nothing we mortals (or I) can do will make any difference now! You, Elrond, may think it is important that we sneak out of here. I don't think it matters a jot! It is all in Eru's hands now. He will look after it. All will be well!"

"Actually, all the rest of you at this Council are barking up the wrong tree. You (Gandalf and Elrond) said that the question for the Council was 'what should we do with this Ring (that has Providentially come into our hands). Wrong. The question for the Council was 'how to answer all the riddles in the Divine Dream'. Done. Answered. All will be well. Come what may. I am content and full of Estel."

In this, is Boromir most like Joan of Arc? Both get a Divine Dream. Both fulfill it. Neither is guaranteed personal survival. Neither achieves it. But, the Divine Quest is fulfilled.
 

Jon Markloff

New Member
I think I like that reading better than my original, simply because it is unconcerned with weather Elrond's statement is warning, chastisement, or prophesy. I think Boromir is still in the wrong to disregard the secret nature of the mission, even if he view himself as parallel, rather than joined to it. Having this exchange in the middle of the departure description seems like it might be part of the informational process to understand each characters motives and plans, based on what they choose to bring with them. If that is true then maybe we needed this exchange to more fully flesh out Boromir before we get into the final conversations that we wouldn't have the ability to learn in those exchanges later.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
His answer to Elrond might be interpreted as: "Elrond, it May Be that I will be in dire need upon the borders of Gondor. But, I don't care! I have achieved, here in Imladris, what I quested to achieve. I have answered the riddle of the Divine Dream. That was my mission! It is done! I have done what I set out to do. Now, Eru, it is in your hands. Nothing we mortals (or I) can do will make any difference now! You, Elrond, may think it is important that we sneak out of here. I don't think it matters a jot! It is all in Eru's hands now. He will look after it. All will be well!"
That's a nice thought, but I think it is very far from Boromir's character to think in those terms. His mission was to solve the riddle of the dream, but only as a way to help Minas Tirith against this new and fearful enemy. He has always seen his task as saving Minas Tirith. Otherwise there is no way to explain his his dying request of Aragorn. He has always expected to die in battle, I think, but always in fighting to the death for his city. And so he tells Aragorn that he has failed and bequeathes his task to Aragorn. Aragorn responds on a different level, but also with assurance that Minas Tirith will not fall. I would need a whole lot of convincing to believe that Boromir feels estel.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
That's a nice thought, but I think it is very far from Boromir's character to think in those terms. His mission was to solve the riddle of the dream, but only as a way to help Minas Tirith against this new and fearful enemy. He has always seen his task as saving Minas Tirith. Otherwise there is no way to explain his his dying request of Aragorn. He has always expected to die in battle, I think, but always in fighting to the death for his city. And so he tells Aragorn that he has failed and bequeathes his task to Aragorn. Aragorn responds on a different level, but also with assurance that Minas Tirith will not fall. I would need a whole lot of convincing to believe that Boromir feels estel.
Well, yes, this is not the only way to interpret Boromir. However, I think the parallel to Joan of Arc is interesting.

Both receive a divine dream. Both do their best to honor it. Both Joan and Boromir die not knowing whether France or Gondor will be saved. But both die knowing that they have done their part by responding to the Divine Vision?

Joan, like Boromir, faltered near the end. Joan signed the abjuration document. Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo.

Joan renounced the abjuration document, which led to her being convicted of heresy and burnt at the stake. Boromir renounced his attempt to take the Ring from Frodo, which led to him defending Merry and Pippin and being slain by Orc arrows.

The parallels are striking. So, I think it a possible interpretation of Boromir's response to Elrond that he acted out of faith and Estel, much as Joan of Arc continually stated her faith and Estel despite being doubted by the Nobles of the Court of France.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
The same parallels could be found for probably dozens of military heroes in history. Joan of Arc lived in a time when church and state were one, and religion permeated every aspect of life, and her interpretation of her dream and her mission was deeply religious. Joan's estel was based in Christianity, and as you point out, she was burned for heresy though her execution was actually political, and about power though expressed in religious terms.

But as much as Eru and the Valar figure in our discussions of LOTR, that's our perspective, not the characters' perspective. Sauron brought the Numenorans to heresy, but that was thousands of years ago and few in Boromir's culture know much about that. Can you find any evidence of belief in a divinity in Minas Tirith? Perhaps the ritual turning to the West before meals (or at least communal meals) is an echo, but there are probably many who don't remember why it is done, and for those that do, it might go no further than Numenor. It's part of elven culture, but elves are highly suspect in the human cultures of LOTR. I would say Boromir's fall was betrayal, but not of anything divine.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
The evidence for a belief in a Divinity in Minas Tirith is clear. Boromir was willing to leave behind his responsibilities as General of Gondor's army, and travel 400 leagues and 110 days on a quest to answer what he clearly believed was the Divine Dream sent to him and Faramir. Had he not believed that the Dream was Divine, he would not have set out to search for Imladris.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I don't think belief in the supernatural is the same as belief in a Divinity. And whatever Faramir's beliefs about the dream are - and he's the more intellectual and spiritual of the two by far - Boromir's are practical: there simply is no way Minas Tirith's forces can defeat the new foe, and if the riddle in the dream can aid them, he is justified in seeking the answer, knowing that Faramir is also a strong military leader while he is away.

Flammifer, I thought I had already answered this. You and I have always differed about Boromir and the dream. I still believe that your thoughts about it fit Faramir better than Boromir, and I don't think either of us will convince the other. :)
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
It is precisely because Boromir is practical that we know he believes that the Dream is a Divine Dream. Nothing other than absolute faith that the Dream was in fact Divine, would compel such a practical and pragmatic man to leave his army in time of war and venture on such an unclear quest. A mere belief in the supernatural rather than in Divinity, would simply make Boromir suspicious that the Dream was some trick or subterfuge of the Enemy. Only if Boromir had absolute conviction that the Dream was Divine would he have undertaken the quest.

Faramir is more intellectual. But there is no reason to suspect that Faramir is more devout or has more belief than Boromir. Of course Faramir is also far far more open and chatty with strangers than Boromir (who is a lot more cautious and guarded in his speech). So, we have more direct evidence of Faramir's religious beliefs. But, we have no reason to suspect that Boromir has any less devotion or faith.
 
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