Is Boromir on-board with the strategy when the company leaves Rivendell?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Good question. I think that Boromir is on-board with the strategy as he perceives it. But he perceives a different strategy from the one perceived by Elrond.

Elrond (and Gandalf) seem to be working on the strategy of trying to read the course of events so far. They believe that Divine Providence is intervening in the course of events (by having the Ring found by a Hobbit and carried by a Hobbit). And have come up with the interpretation that ‘small hands’ will be important and destroying the Ring in Mt. Doom will be important. (Though no one realizes yet that destroying the Ring will win the War.) Move forward in that direction, and be alert to Providence creating opportunities along the way, seems to be their strategy of Estel.

It is tempting to see Elrond and Gandalf as working on faith (estel) contrasted to Boromir representing rational, enlightenment man. Working on logic, reason and amdir, rather than estel. However, this is not what is driving Boromir.

Boromir is also working on a strategy coming from the Divine. He has had a Divine dream. He thinks that the correct interpretation of the Dream will save Gondor (and all of Middle-earth). He thinks he has found the answers to the Dream. He has found the Sword that was Broken, and it will come to Minas Tirith. He thinks that he has found the Counsels greater than Morgul spells. Destroy the Ring and the Nazgul will disappear. He has found his answer. (But it is not really the same answer that Elrond and Gandalf think they have found.) Boromir is also working on estel, not amdir. It is just that he is deriving his estel from a different source than Elrond and Gandalf.

Both Elrond and Boromir are proceeding on the basis of estel. But, interestingly, both have a different approach to amdir. Elrond has not planned much about the quest for Mt. Doom. But he has planned something. He plans a secret mission. Secrecy (and Sauron’s anticipated lack of anticipation of the goal) is the ‘Vegas odds’ or amdir, which Elrond and Gandalf have assumed in their strategy. Boromir, on the other hand, thinks differently about the planning elements of the strategy. He thinks, destroy the Ring, destroy the Nazgul. Great! Frodo is a good bearer – harmless. Gandalf has snuck into Sauron’s domain twice before, and made it out again twice. Decent chance. Secrecy in setting out from Rivendell? Rubbish! God is on our side. Gandalf and Frodo might need to be secret and sneaky later on to penetrate Mordor, but we don’t need to be secret setting out. Blow the horn! If Sauron is aware, let him know that he is challenged! (An anticipation of a decision which Aragorn will make via the Palantir later on.) It will only help the sneaking later. If he is not aware, it will lift the spirits of the Company. In any case, it does not really matter. We have answered the Dream. God is on our side! Boromir believes in an active and intervening Divinity. After all, that Divinity sent him a Dream, which is an active intervention. Elrond believes in a veiled, indirect, and nudging Divinity, operating through ‘chance, if chance you call it’. Their conceptions of the Divine are not similar. (Was Boromir’s Dream sent by Eru? Or was it sent by the Valar? (Messing thing up again Valar?)).

So, is Boromir on-board with the strategy when setting out from Rivendell? Sort of. He is fine with the goal. But his plan is based on a different foundation from the strategy of Elrond. His estel has a different origin. His planning or amdir is based on different assumptions. So, I think that Boromir is fine with the general direction when leaving Rivendell. I think it is only after the loss of Gandalf that Boromir begins to think that without Gandalf, Frodo (whether or not accompanied by any or all of the rest of the Company) does not really have the competence or capability to sneak into Mordor and reach Mt. Doom.

That is when he begins to consider Plan B. (Possibly nudged by the Ring, possibly not?)
 
Thanks for this post! I was at first sceptical but then I came to agree with most of it. I also can't picture Boromir as a solely rational being who is not believing in Eru, the Valar and providence. He is too much noble and numenorian and faramirish in my mind.
Your description of Boromirs understanding of Providence is similar to my view of Judas Iscariot. Many people think Judas being an evil betrayer and not believer in God and/or Jesus. But as I see him, he is a much more tragic figure. He was sure that the Messiah would deliver Israel from the Romans and believed that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised one. He then wanted to provoke a tumult and rebellion in Jerusalem when he saw the time to be right (Hosianna on Palmsunday and the scandalous arrest at Pessach). He misunderstood that deliverence from evil is much more than a simple temporal freedom from political oppression. He saw in Jesus a gift in greatest need and after some months of wandering rationalized he has to use Jesus and push him to his destiny and thus fulfill Gods plan to deliver Israel. He was sure that at the arrest of his Rabbi, he would uncloak in all his glory and might and call all people to arms but what followed was the worst anticlimax ever. Noone rebelled except Simon Peter and Jesus did not oppose. In the end Judas did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah anymore and felt so guilty of having betrayed a righteous man so that he killed himself.

Contrary to you, I dont think that Boromir was ever fine with the plan of destroying the Ring. But he was ready to learn to believe in it and joined the company like a non-believer goes to a pilgrimmage as a last resort in suffering to challenge his believe system. But Boromir never reached the point of conversion (probably something went broke during his war exerience made this impossible). So I would maybe not call his attitude estel but amdir, although he wanted to believe in estel.
One more comment: Divinity operating through chance is not indirect in my oppinion
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
It is quite masterful of JRRT, the way he reverses normal fairy tales during the Council of Elrond. In the typical fairy tale, the point of view is usually that of the mortal man who finds himself in fairy. In the Council of Elrond, our point of view is that of the Hobbits. But their point of view is closely aligned with the Elves. Shire Hobbits trust Elves (are quite enamored with them sometimes). They are OK with Dwarves, who are familiar travelers through the Shire, and can be trusted not to cause trouble. They are suspicious of Men (initial suspicion of Strider: Quick to suspect Butterbur of being allied with the enemy).

The natural point of view for the Council of Elrond, if TLOTR had been a normal fairy tale, would have been that of Boromir, the Mortal stranger in a strange land. The story is written so cleverly that we mostly don't realize how different and unusual our perspective (as readers) is.

I find it interesting to try to imagine the Council of Elrond from the perspective of Boromir. I think that his account would read quite differently.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Lots of interesting questions about Boromir's experience before and during the Council:

Did Faramir and Boromir instantly know that their Dream was Divine? Did they doubt it? Did they question whether it might be a diversion sent by the Enemy? Did Denethor question it? Did Elrond and Gandalf accept that it was a Divine Dream? Did they question it?

Why did Boromir go in search of answers rather than Faramir? Was it because he thought himself better suited to the quest, or did he think that Denethor might refuse Faramir permission, but could not refuse him? If Boromir thought to take the quest because better suited for it, he must have thought the quest more important than commanding the armies of Gondor in her hour of need, as presumably he would have also thought himself better suited for that task than Faramir as well.

When Boromir arrived in Rivendell in the 'grey morning' before the Council, did he tell Elrond his name and rank, and recite the Dream? (I guess he would have.) Did Elrond tell Boromir that luckily he had arrived on the very day of a Council which would likely answer all his questions, dispatch him to get refreshed, and then summon Gandalf (and perhaps Aragorn) to strategize how to deal with him? (I think likely so.)

How frustrated did Boromir get, as the Council first reviewed news from 'events in the world outside', then Elrond giving a history lesson on the Rings of Power, all without introducing the Divine Dream?

When did Boromir realize that the counsels being taken might actually be 'stronger than Morgul spells'. (I think it was when Elrond said, "When the One has gone, the Three will fail." Thus Boromir realized that if the One was gone, the Nine would fail, and the Nazgul would die at last and vanish from the circles of the world. Stronger than Morgul spells indeed!)
 

Forodan

Active Member
It is quite masterful of JRRT, the way he reverses normal fairy tales during the Council of Elrond. In the typical fairy tale, the point of view is usually that of the mortal man who finds himself in fairy. In the Council of Elrond, our point of view is that of the Hobbits. But their point of view is closely aligned with the Elves. Shire Hobbits trust Elves (are quite enamored with them sometimes). They are OK with Dwarves, who are familiar travelers through the Shire, and can be trusted not to cause trouble. They are suspicious of Men (initial suspicion of Strider: Quick to suspect Butterbur of being allied with the enemy).

The natural point of view for the Council of Elrond, if TLOTR had been a normal fairy tale, would have been that of Boromir, the Mortal stranger in a strange land. The story is written so cleverly that we mostly don't realize how different and unusual our perspective (as readers) is.

I find it interesting to try to imagine the Council of Elrond from the perspective of Boromir. I think that his account would read quite differently.
Reversing the 'traditional fairy tale' is his favored technique. The human/elf romances of his Legendarium turn the usual 'fairy child' story upside down, for example. Usually, a 'fairy' of some sort comes to the mortal world, bears child(ren) and then one day leaves to return to the 'fairy' realm. (And actually the 'fairy' woman is often 'captured' somehow, not a willing wife, and leaves when she figures out how to escape...) In Tolkien's Middle-earth, which I guess you could say is the 'fairy world' since Elves arrived first, it is mortal humans who are the visitors as they live for a very short time and truly die. But even though the mortals are the leavers, Tolkien doesn't allow the full separation that occurs in those traditional stories. In all three cases there is some solution to the problem. For Beren and Luthien, or Aragorn and Arwen, the female 'fairy' (Elf) comes along with the human to whatever is beyond the world. With Idril and Tuor, he is granted 'membership' in the Elven kin somehow or other. We have no 'statement' of authorization from Manwe as there was for the Half-elven, but the claim is there in Tolkien's writings. And all three of these couples leave children behind in the mortal world. It's interesting to speculate which direction things would have gone for Turin and Finduilas if not for Turin's 'doomed' path.
 
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Lots of interesting questions about Boromir's experience before and during the Council:

Did Faramir and Boromir instantly know that their Dream was Divine? Did they doubt it? Did they question whether it might be a diversion sent by the Enemy? Did Denethor question it? Did Elrond and Gandalf accept that it was a Divine Dream? Did they question it?

Why did Boromir go in search of answers rather than Faramir? Was it because he thought himself better suited to the quest, or did he think that Denethor might refuse Faramir permission, but could not refuse him? If Boromir thought to take the quest because better suited for it, he must have thought the quest more important than commanding the armies of Gondor in her hour of need, as presumably he would have also thought himself better suited for that task than Faramir as well.

When Boromir arrived in Rivendell in the 'grey morning' before the Council, did he tell Elrond his name and rank, and recite the Dream? (I guess he would have.) Did Elrond tell Boromir that luckily he had arrived on the very day of a Council which would likely answer all his questions, dispatch him to get refreshed, and then summon Gandalf (and perhaps Aragorn) to strategize how to deal with him? (I think likely so.)

How frustrated did Boromir get, as the Council first reviewed news from 'events in the world outside', then Elrond giving a history lesson on the Rings of Power, all without introducing the Divine Dream?

When did Boromir realize that the counsels being taken might actually be 'stronger than Morgul spells'. (I think it was when Elrond said, "When the One has gone, the Three will fail." Thus Boromir realized that if the One was gone, the Nine would fail, and the Nazgul would die at last and vanish from the circles of the world. Stronger than Morgul spells indeed!)
I agree, Boromir is such an interesting character. I wish amazon would make a series on the Lord of the Rings where they tell the same story from different perspectives. Every meber of the company with his own backstory could fill an episode or even a season.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
[...}. But even though the mortals are the leavers, Tolkien doesn't allow the full separation that occurs in those traditional stories. In all three cases there is some solution to the problem. For Beren and Luthien, or Aragorn and Arwen, the female 'fairy' (Elf) comes along with the human to whatever is beyond the world. With Idril and Tuor, he is granted 'membership' in the Elven kin somehow or other. We have no 'statement' of authorization from Manwe as there was for the Half-elven, but the claim is there in Tolkien's writings. And all three of these couples leave children behind in the mortal world. It's interesting to speculate which direction things would have gone for Turin and Finduilas if not for Turin's 'doomed' path.
You left out Dior and Nimloth. I have heard that Dior as first considered to be immortal but that was later changed - like with Beren - who was also invented as an elf at first, and changed in later versions to be a mortal. Still Dior's and Nimloth's marriage stays unresolved - they are killed together - but both Nimloth's husband and her minor sons seemed to have died a mortal death while she was an elf to go to Mandos for reembodiment.
 

Forodan

Active Member
You left out Dior and Nimloth. I have heard that Dior as first considered to be immortal but that was later changed - like with Beren - who was also invented as an elf at first, and changed in later versions to be a mortal. Still Dior's and Nimloth's marriage stays unresolved - they are killed together - but both Nimloth's husband and her minor sons seemed to have died a mortal death while she was an elf to go to Mandos for reembodiment.
I was just focusing on the three 'major' couples on the stories. And then there is Earendil himself and Elwing. They are both 'genetically' half-elven, but Earendil would have chosen mortality except for Elwing choosing to be Eldar. There is an interesting twist on the traditional visit to the 'fairy' world. The 'mortal man' is unwillingly, or at least unhappily, immortal and lives on in the 'fairy' world (Valinor/Eldamar). But as with the other couples, they left some children in the mortal world.

We do have hints of other events that weren't significant enough to broader history to get into the main stories of the Legendarium. The line of Dol Amroth follows the traditional model if the 'rumor' is true. An 'immortal' wife bears children to a mortal man and then disappears.
 

wobh

New Member
Whatever Boromir's initial doubts about the quest, I think it's pretty clear nothing about the quest up to their leaving Lothlorien (an experience Boromir seems to find as distressing as any) could have alleviated them. He's willing to defer to Gandalf and Aragorn and he's shows his worthiness on Caradhas I think in part to gain credibility with them and the rest of the fellowship. But, from his point-of-view, the quest has careened from disaster to disaster and he's been internally cringing the whole way. It's a feeling I have immense sympathy and experience with and it's how I read most of his words in all the chapters from "The Ring Goes South" on. I can absolutely see how, after leaving Lothlorien, he would become increasingly preoccupied with the ring, and his words to Frodo at Amon Hen express his sincere resolve on the matter.

Of course, Boromir's presence on the quest is a matter of Providence. His actions precipitate Frodo's decision-making, of course, but in my recent re-read, I'm thinking that Boromir and Galadriel might actually have a lot in common. It might be that, Galadriel, in looking into Boromir's heart and seeing more than a bit of herself in him, might have helped her find what it took to resist the ring when Frodo offered it.
 
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