Homework. From Boromir’s perspective. Benefits and Concerns. Does Boromir think that his divine dream has been explained? Does he buy the plan?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Yes!

If Boromir was not satisfied that his Dream had been answered, he would object! If Boromir did not think that he understood the Dream, he would have spoken up!

Boromir did not travel for 110 days and 400 leagues in pursuit of answers to the Dream, to just be silent if he does not think the Dream has been totally explained.

So, what does Boromir think the explanation is?

“Seek for the sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;”


‘Check – found Imladris. Check – found sword that was broken.’

“There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.”


‘Check – That’s the Ring and the Hobbit.’

“There shall be counsels taken Stronger than Morgul-spells.”

‘OK, that is the puzzle. What ‘counsels’ have been taken? I think there were three decisions: The sword, and its possibly helpful (though possibly inconvenient) bearer will come to Minas Tirith; The Ring should be thrown into Mt. Doom; The Hobbit will try to take it there.’

‘Why would those counsels be, ‘Stronger than Morgul-spells’?


One does not travel desperately and distantly to find mythical Imladris in response to a Divine Dream, sit at a Council which seems to be directly mentioned in that dream, and leave that Council before it comes up with counsels which seem to fit the Dream and be ‘stronger than Morgul-spells’.

Boromir has his ‘Eureka’ moment when he hears Elrond say that he believes that if the One Ring were destroyed, the Three would fail.

“That’s it! If the One Ring is destroyed, the Three will fail! Therefore, the Nine will fail! Stronger than Morgul-spells indeed! Those Nine Rings are all that keep the Nazgul ‘alive’ here in Middle-earth. Destroy the One Ring, and poof go the Nazgul! The Nazgul disappear, and there will be no more Morgul-spells!”

“Sure, we will still have Sauron himself to deal with. But the Nazgul are his chief agents. They are the ones we could not face in the retreat to Osgiliath. If they disappear, Sauron will be greatly weakened. Without the Nine, the brave Men of Gondor can defeat him! Probably the Sword of Elendil, and Isildur’s heir can help?”

“Also, I judge the odds of sneaking into Mordor and destroying the Ring and eliminating the Nazgul as worth taking. If the quest to throw the Ring in the Fire fails, and Sauron reclaims the Ring, he gets stronger. So what? He is too strong for us already! A Stronger Sauron cannot defeat us any worse than Ringless Sauron can.”

“The chances of success are surprisingly good. Gandalf, as I understand it, has snuck into (and out of) Sauron’s stronghold twice before, and invaded it in force another time. He has experience. The Hobbit can also turn invisible, which might be very useful when sneaking into Mordor. Also, Mordor is not Dol Guldur. Mordor is probably easier to sneak into and get to Mt. Doom. Sauron lived in Dol Guldur. He does not live at Mt. Doom, but in Barad-dur, which is leagues away. Probably easier to sneak into Mordor and get to Mt. Doom than to sneak into the very dungeons of Dol Guldur, and escape successfully!”


I believe that Boromir must think that his Divine Dream has been completely answered, or else he would speak up. I think the answer that must have occurred to him is that destroying the Ring will destroy the Nazgul. That is how the ‘counsels taken’ in Imladris might prove ‘stronger than Morgul-spells’. He also thinks that if Gandalf, with a proven track record, is part of the attempt, the odds are worth the gamble.

I do not think that Boromir has totally forgotten the notion of using the Ring as a weapon against Sauron. It will come back to him. But, I think that for now, he is thinking that the ‘counsels taken at Imladris’ might prove stronger than Morgul-spells, and that using the Ring as a weapon might not turn out well. I think he now accepts the current plan. However, Boromir is a good General. He will always have several back-up plans in the back of his mind.

I do not think there is any way that he thinks destroying the Ring will destroy Sauron and win the war in one fell swoop! (No one has mentioned that at all during the entire debate.)

I also think the careful first-time reader should be thinking precisely as Boromir.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Sorry, I remain skeptical, and believe that Boromir remains skeptical as well. I felt that way the first time I read LOTR and have felt that way every time I've read it since then.

He does speak up, "So be it." That does not show conviction, but a recognition that he's outranked. And in truth, he's not the only person there who thinks the Ring should go to Minas Tirith on its way to Mordor - most members of the Fellowship think so as they get closer to the need to decide. Even Aragorn says he thinks so. At Parth Galen, when Frodo has gone off to think, that's what they discuss (except of course for Boromir).
 

Odola

Active Member
Sorry, I remain skeptical, and believe that Boromir remains skeptical as well. I felt that way the first time I read LOTR and have felt that way every time I've read it since then.

He does speak up, "So be it." That does not show conviction, but a recognition that he's outranked. And in truth, he's not the only person there who thinks the Ring should go to Minas Tirith on its way to Mordor - most members of the Fellowship think so as they get closer to the need to decide. Even Aragorn says he thinks so. At Parth Galen, when Frodo has gone off to think, that's what they discuss (except of course for Boromir).
We will never know, but there is a change it would have halted Denethor's descent into despair if it did. It would be very risky, but not much more so that taking Gollum as a guide imho.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
We will never know, but there is a change it would have halted Denethor's descent into despair if it did. It would be very risky, but not much more so that taking Gollum as a guide imho.
I don't think it would have helped Denethor. I think Boromir would still crave it, and I think Denethor might also. I think there would have been dissention in Minas Tirith caused by the Ring. The story would be different, but there would have been no chance of the Ring going on from there. Which is to say, the quest would have failed.

Not to mention all the side effects of the Fellowship not breaking up. Merry and Pippin would not have been kidnapped, the ents would not have been roused to defeat Saruman. Without the help of Gandalf and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, what would have happened in Rohan? Would Theoden have continued under Wormtongue's influence? If Saruman won over Rohan, there would have been a great army coming from the north to fight against Minas Tirith, and more people to covet the Ring. The Witch King would not have been killed because Rohan wouldn't have come to Gondor's aid.

So who knows?
 

Odola

Active Member
I don't think it would have helped Denethor. I think Boromir would still crave it, and I think Denethor might also. I think there would have been dissention in Minas Tirith caused by the Ring. The story would be different, but there would have been no chance of the Ring going on from there. Which is to say, the quest would have failed.
Of course, but craving it would activate Denethor, preventing his downwards spiral, and while he and Boromir would struggle for it, the rest could have fled with the help of Faramir. So not necessary more dangerous than letting Gollum leading one into Shelob's lair.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Gollum was certainly dangerous, but if you want a guide into Mordor, you won't find anyone who isn't. And there is a strange kinship between Frodo and Gollum that almost cures him. The Ring is a deep tie. People say Frodo fails at the end, but he is still the reason the Ring is destroyed, because he spared Gollum's life, and got Faramir to spare him as well. If not for Frodo (and Bilbo before him) Gollum wouldn't have been there to complete the quest. Some gambles are better worth taking than others.
 

Odola

Active Member
Gollum was certainly dangerous, but if you want a guide into Mordor, you won't find anyone who isn't. And there is a strange kinship between Frodo and Gollum that almost cures him. The Ring is a deep tie. People say Frodo fails at the end, but he is still the reason the Ring is destroyed, because he spared Gollum's life, and got Faramir to spare him as well. If not for Frodo (and Bilbo before him) Gollum wouldn't have been there to complete the quest. Some gambles are better worth taking than others.
True, but I am sure there were other ways to get into Mordor and Gondorians were exaclty the people to know them as they occupied the country for ages, had maps and reports. Faramir seems resistnt to the ring and might have succeeded where Frodo failed. So it is not sure they would have failed if they went via Minas Tirith. Gandalt wanted to avoid it, but he wanted to avoid Minas Morgul even more.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
The key point is that Boromir suddenly realizes that destruction of the Ring will not only deny it to Sauron (no more helpful to the war effort than hiding it in the sea, and riskier), but will weaken Sauron, and aid the war effort by destroying the Nazgul.

Aha! That is why destruction of the Ring, though risky, is potentially a better plan than hiding the Ring in the Sea.

Also, Boromir must think that sneaking the Ring to Mt. Doom must be considerably easier than sneaking into and out of Dol Gudur. Yet Gandalf has done that twice, and forced his way into Dol Guldur a third time.

Boromir must suddenly see the potential in the plan to destroy the Ring.

Destroy the Ring, destroy the Nazgul! Divine Dream explained!
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I think that many may be operating under the unconscious assumption that destroying the Ring will destroy Sauron, destroy the Nazgul, win the war. Given that bias, it is hard to see the bombshell revelation that Boromir must experience when he realizes that destroying the Ring will destroy the Nazgul!

That is because we are not first-time readers, and know that this is what will happen.

Remember, that Boromir does not know this (neither does the first-time reader, nor does anyone else). To Boromir, the whole discussion about whether to hide the Ring or destroy it, has seemed pretty futile. Neither option will save the West from Sauron. Ringless Sauron seems powerful enough to win.

Boromir has not seen any counsels that seem to be 'stronger than Morgul-spells', nor any that seem to offer a hope of survival or victory.

But, when Elrond says that if the One is destroyed the Three will fail, Boromir suddenly gets HOPE. He was blind, but now he sees! Destroying the Ring not only denies it to Sauron, and eliminates the threat of someone else becoming a new Dark Lord. It also destroys the Nazgul! It is an effective weapon in the war. It could just turn the tide!
 

Odola

Active Member
I think that many may be operating under the unconscious assumption that destroying the Ring will destroy Sauron, destroy the Nazgul, win the war. Given that bias, it is hard to see the bombshell revelation that Boromir must experience when he realizes that destroying the Ring will destroy the Nazgul!

That is because we are not first-time readers, and know that this is what will happen.

Remember, that Boromir does not know this (neither does the first-time reader, nor does anyone else). To Boromir, the whole discussion about whether to hide the Ring or destroy it, has seemed pretty futile. Neither option will save the West from Sauron. Ringless Sauron seems powerful enough to win.

Boromir has not seen any counsels that seem to be 'stronger than Morgul-spells', nor any that seem to offer a hope of survival or victory.

But, when Elrond says that if the One is destroyed the Three will fail, Boromir suddenly gets HOPE. He was blind, but now he sees! Destroying the Ring not only denies it to Sauron, and eliminates the threat of someone else becoming a new Dark Lord. It also destroys the Nazgul! It is an effective weapon in the war. It could just turn the tide!
I do think Gondor has some intelligence worth the name (beyond the Palantir), and has some idea how big Saurons forces really are?
 

Beech27

Active Member
I do not think there is any way that he thinks destroying the Ring will destroy Sauron and win the war in one fell swoop! (No one has mentioned that at all during the entire debate.)
I've found the fact that neither Elrond nor Gandalf explicitly state the "win conditions" during the council (that we now basically take for granted) one of the more exciting (and sometimes a little puzzling) discoveries of this very meticulous read. However, I think Glorfindel does at least hint in the direction that destroying the ring will (for all practical purposes) destroy Sauron and win the war. At least, if fear of his dominion is to be taken away forever, it's hard to see how these two things wouldn't come to pass.
 
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Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Glorfindel says, "Yet all the Elves are willing to endure this chance, if by it the power of Sauron MAY be broken....."

Boromir thinks, 'Yes! Glorfindel is confirming! If the Nazgul are eliminated, we MAY have a chance to win!'

But the interesting thoughts about whether anyone suspected that destroying the Ring might destroy Sauron, should perhaps be discussed in a different thread. That was not the subject of the homework assignment.

The Homework assignment was to ‘think through the cost benefit analysis here’. ‘Is this the best strategic plan we could be thinking of here’? What are the benefits and concerns of the Council’s plans? What are the risks and rewards?

From Boromir’s perspective, here is what I think they are:

Benefits:
  • The plan fits the Divine Dream. It could well prove ‘stronger than Morgul-spells’.
  • The plan, if successful will eliminate the Nazgul.
  • That will weaken Sauron.
  • That will aid the war effort.
  • We might then find some way to win.
  • Gandalf has a successful track record in sneaking in and out of Sauron’s strongholds.
  • Frodo can turn invisible. Always potentially useful in sneaking.
  • It avoids the risk of creating a new Dark Lord, which seems a problem if wielding the Ring against Sauron.
Concerns:
  • Although destroying the Ring would destroy the Nazgul and weaken Sauron, it does not guarantee victory.
  • No matter how much experience we have, sneaking into Mordor is risky. (But, what is the risk? Risky for Elves, yes, if Sauron reclaims the Ring. Not so risky for Gondor. Ringed Sauron will defeat us, but so would Ringless Sauron, as the balance of forces now stand. Ringless Sauron without the Nazgul? Now that might be a different story?)
  • Now that we have got a plan, I really wish we would get going on it. What is the point of hanging around Rivendell for two months before setting off?
What would be the benefits and concerns from the perspective of other Council Members? Galdor? Erestor? Gloin? Frodo? Bilbo? Glorfindel? Aragorn? Elrond? Gandalf? And what might be an assessment of the benefits and concerns from first-time readers?
 

Beech27

Active Member
But the interesting thoughts about whether anyone suspected that destroying the Ring might destroy Sauron, should perhaps be discussed in a different thread. That was not the subject of the homework assignment.
I don't see how we can completely avoid the question and hope to complete the assignment. Glorfindel's quote is the most succinct cost/benefit analysis we get in the text.

The potential cost is that the power of The Three will be fail. (Of course it would be worse if Sauron just recovers The Ring.)

The potential benefit is that the power of Sauron may be broken and fear of his dominion take away for ever. (This implies, I think, a great deal more than that The Nine would fail. Sauron would be a lesser power without The Nazgul, but certainly not broken, nor removed as a threat for ever.)

Everyone at the council hears this, and presumably thinks Glorfindel is providing credible testimony. A first-time reader would also. (Would, I'd suggest, put more into his testimony even than we do. We know Glorfindel basically vanishes from the narrative at this point. But a first-time reader would probably think he's going to be a main character.)

In any case, I do think drawing a throughline from Elrond's speculation about The Three diminishing to The Nine doing likewise is a really good catch. I suspect that Boromir could have made the same connection, and thus believe that his dream has been addressed. But it's very hard to speculate on whether he is satisfied with the counsels given. We simply don't get his PoV, and he doesn't speak up again. As Rachel noted, his "So be it" is his final word on the matter, which is hardly an endorsement.

We will get more in the next chapter about his involvement in the Fellowship. But this passage strikes me as a marriage of convenience rather than shared belief:

`I would have begged you to come,' said Frodo, 'only I thought you were going to Minas Tirith with Boromir.'

`I am,' said Aragorn. `And the Sword-that-was-Broken shall be reforged ere I set out to war. But your road and our road lie together for many hundreds of miles. Therefore Boromir will also be in the Company. He is a valiant man.'
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
The potential cost is that the power of The Three will be fail. (Of course it would be worse if Sauron just recovers The Ring.)
I'm not sure Boromir would see that as a cost rather than a benefit. If anything, I think he's probably near to indifferent on the subject of the Three. If he does think the Nazgul would also be destroyed, that would be a plus, but I don't think that would outweigh the potentional of the Ring to fight Sauron in his mind, and he has not given that up. I think that's the most important point, that he has not given that up. He is a practical man and a soldier - he would see folly in sending a halfling without military back-up into Mordor, right into Sauron's hands. I think he still sees that as a cost.
 

Beech27

Active Member
I'm not sure Boromir would see that as a cost rather than a benefit. If anything, I think he's probably near to indifferent on the subject of the Three. If he does think the Nazgul would also be destroyed, that would be a plus, but I don't think that would outweigh the potentional of the Ring to fight Sauron in his mind, and he has not given that up. I think that's the most important point, that he has not given that up. He is a practical man and a soldier - he would see folly in sending a halfling without military back-up into Mordor, right into Sauron's hands. I think he still sees that as a cost.
Sorry, I should have been more clear.

I meant only that Glorfindel there was expressing his cost/benefit analysis, which is (I think) the clearest statement we get of such in the text.

I don't think we have positive evidence to conclude that he has convinced Boromir, or that Boromir has abandoned his idea that The Ring should be used rather than destroyed.
 

Odola

Active Member
I'm not sure Boromir would see that as a cost rather than a benefit. If anything, I think he's probably near to indifferent on the subject of the Three. If he does think the Nazgul would also be destroyed, that would be a plus, but I don't think that would outweigh the potentional of the Ring to fight Sauron in his mind, and he has not given that up. I think that's the most important point, that he has not given that up. He is a practical man and a soldier - he would see folly in sending a halfling without military back-up into Mordor, right into Sauron's hands. I think he still sees that as a cost.
Boromir was probably enough times himself undercover and scouting in enemy's territory that he knows the value of blending in and avoiding attention. The question is does he consider Frodo the right person for this job.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Boromir was probably enough times himself undercover and scouting in enemy's territory that he knows the value of blending in and avoiding attention. The question is does he consider Frodo the right person for this job.
Hi Odola,

I think that Boromir considers Gandalf the right person for the job (he has probably been impressed by his track record in sneaking into Sauron's strongholds). He is also probably impressed by parts of Frodo's account of his journey to Rivendell, but unimpressed by other parts (the incident in the Prancing Pony comes to mind). But, he still does not know Frodo very well, and would probably find Gandalf's credentials and experience for the task to be considerably more impressive than Frodo's.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
I meant only that Glorfindel there was expressing his cost/benefit analysis, which is (I think) the clearest statement we get of such in the text.

I don't think we have positive evidence to conclude that he has convinced Boromir, or that Boromir has abandoned his idea that The Ring should be used rather than destroyed.
That's true - it is Glorfindel's cost/benefit analysis, and he is speaking for many elves, who are willing to risk losing everything to destroy Sauron's evil.

But he is not addressing Boromir, his analysis is directed to Gloin, who is trying to figure out the cost/benefit analysis of Elrond and the elves before making up his own mind. I think Elrond and Glorfindel do convince him. The hobbits present have already been convinced by Gandalf, as has Aragorn.
I think that Boromir considers Gandalf the right person for the job (he has probably been impressed by his track record in sneaking into Sauron's strongholds). He is also probably impressed by parts of Frodo's account of his journey to Rivendell, but unimpressed by other parts (the incident in the Prancing Pony comes to mind). But, he still does not know Frodo very well, and would probably find Gandalf's credentials and experience for the task to be considerably more impressive than Frodo's.
Hmmm... Don't you think Boromir views Gandalf rather the way Denethor does? He is no wizard's pupil, after all, and I think he sees Gandalf's study of lore as inferior to physical prowess (he probably would have liked Gandalf 2.0, though) and not worth much of his time. I'm not sure Gandalf's account of the history of Dol Goldur and of the Ring would really impress him enough to choose him for this task. I think he thinks that once the Ring gets to Minas Tirith, they will be strong enough to defeat Sauron without destroying the Ring.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Rachel,

No. I don't think that Boromir thinks that if the Ring gets to Minas Tirith they will be strong enough to defeat Sauron without destroying the Ring. (Unless someone wields it against Sauron. Which, I think Boromir accepts at the moment as risky.)

Boromir's concern is his Divine Dream. His other concern is the Nazgul. That's what he thinks his army could not stand against in the retreat to Osgiliath. Morgul-spells!

Boromir cares about his Dream! (And the fact that it is also Faramir's Dream). Gandalf and Elrond may think that the purpose of the Council is to decide what to do about the Ring. Boromir does not. To him, the purpose of the Council is to answer the Dream.

Boromir has probably re-evaluated Gandalf from what he has heard at the Council. Once he may have thought that Gandalf merely studied lore. He has learned that Gandalf twice snuck into Sauron's stronghold to gather intelligence, and successfully snuck out again. And then, a third time assaulted Dol Guldur, and drove Sauron out.

Boromir's appreciation of Gandalf's practical skills, and prowess, must have grown considerably from what he has heard during the Council. I would think he has rapidly re-evaluated whatever previous conceptions he had of Gandalf.

Boromir is astute. Boromir has been listening carefully. Boromir has just heard an answer to his Dream about how the counsels taken in Imladris might indeed prove 'stronger than Morgul-spells.'

I think that Boromir has had a sudden infusion of Estel. The first real HOPE since the battle at the Bridge, other than when he and Faramir received the Divine Dream.

You have to believe that Boromir believes in the Dream. He would not have travelled so long and so far, abandoning his army and responsibilities, if he did not.

He has just heard from Elrond that destroying the Ring will destroy the Nazgul. He has just heard from Glorfindel that destroying the Nazgul MAY lead to victory and the destruction of Sauron.

Boromir is satisfied with the plan. If he were not satisfied he would have spoken up! Everything we have read so far about Boromir tells us so.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Yeah I think I'm with you on this one Flammifer. This moment you describe would be interpreted by Boromir as the exact counsel that he came here for. Dream solved!

His corruption by desire for the Ring can come later and change his mind/plans. But for now, this is the answer.

(BTW, who better to sneak into Mordor than a) the dude who snuck into Dol Guldur and b) a freaking INVISIBLE halfling? You barely notice the ones who aren't invisible.)
 
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