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Old 11-18-2004, 08:55 AM   #41
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Aye. 'Counter' was possibly the wrong word. I mean to augment, if not reposit, the argument so that it is not fully about the power of the substance/Ring and instead equally refers to the pre-existing exploitable condition. Having a good understanding of the true nature of addiction helps
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Old 11-18-2004, 09:04 AM   #42
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when? When did Boromir's respectable desire for his country's salvation, to use the word, twist into the more sordid craving
To and fro, I suppose, as any temptation for any particular member of the Fallen Humanity (and Boromir seems rather a good instance of the Fallen Humanity - still retaining some virtues, but subject to Long Defeat in the long run unless helped by 'Chance') is likely to recur, beaten now and again but never beaten ultimately. Another instance being Frodo in Sammath Naur, giving in to it finally, with 'Chance' helping to throw the ring into the fire. But hush, I'm ahead of things here. We are not discussing movies either, but I am tempted in my turn to bring in PJ, and I submit to temptation - the slope where Boromir picks up the Ring which Frodo let fall - the good illustration of temptation temporarily overcome!

It goes like 'I want the ring to save my people', the phrase being a substitute for inner 'I want the ring for the power it will give me to save my people', when real stress should fall on the power, but tempted person stresses on save my people, lulling himself into belief that what he is after is, basically, good. The idea of 'saving people' than may add up to addiction.

Rigthly noted, person is addicted rather to thing he desires through the Ring rather than ring itself. At first, the Ring is means to an end, even if it tends to replace the goal pursued at the first stage with its own 'precious' self in the end. Even Gollum at times exhibits ability to see other end besides Ring as a Ring:

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See, my precious: if we has it, then we can escape, even from Him, eh? Perhaps we grows very strong, stronger than Wraiths. Lord Sméagol? Gollum the Great? The Gollum! Eat fish every day, three times a day; fresh from the sea. Most Precious Gollum! Must have it. We wants it, we wants it, we wants it! '
At some point he wishes 'escape from him' and 'fresg fish' as an end the Ring is means to, though soon falling back to the Ring itself

But hush, I'm ahead of things again

What I should give a quick remark to is, to a point, 'eucatastrophic' sense of the chapter towards its end, though minor, and imperfect 'eucatastrophe'. Indeed - the bottle neck of hard choice is over, there is resolution - and Sam and Frodo, together (boat part, where Sam forces himself upon Frodo, I still can't read without some joyful shivers down my spine). And such a resolution is achieved thanks to Boromir giving in to temptation! Or, once again, another principle used by Tolkien as a corner stone of his world (besides mentioned in the previous chapters 'thus shall I sleep better' principle) - And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'

scattered thoughts, mainly, I hope you followed, kind ladies and gentlemen.

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Old 11-18-2004, 09:18 AM   #43
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Old 11-18-2004, 10:23 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefoot
You pointed out that you didn't think that Sam's understanding of Frodo was because of their closesness (or at least, that is what I think you are arguing with me), so why is it that you think Sam was able to figure out Frodo's intent?
Here's the rub of our disagreement, although I offer my response with caveats (see below). My initial point was that Tolkein was presenting us with a contrast between the wisdom of the "Wise", which fails to understand the answer in this case, and the wisdom of the "Simple" as represented by Sam. Tolkien is saying to me, here, not to look down on the wisdom of this "simple" and dismiss it as that would be prideful. Aragorn responds correctly to Sam in this case by acknowledging that Sam "has the right of it."

Okay, having said all that, I re-read this section last night, and I can certainly see where the idea of 'relational wisdom" comes from - Sam even thinks to himself how much better he knows his master than any of the others. Let's just say that my initial posistion is much weaker in my own mind now than it was yesterday.
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Old 11-18-2004, 11:34 AM   #45
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OK, back to Boromir (I'm almost happy that the guy is going to be dead soon. . .oops. . .did I type that. . .? )

I think that it might be a bit of red herring trying to ferret out whether he is "addicted" or "tempted" or "corrupted" or what have you by the Ring. Not that it's a useless endeavour, far from it as the discussion is illuminating, but I rather think that perhaps Boromir's fate in this chapter, which concludes the long sweep of his characterisation right from the Council of Elron, deserves a more subtle and complex form of understanding. That is, there is no single or easy answer to what 'happens' to him with the Ring. Which is why I always like to see him as a tragic hero.

Now, he is not as 'successful' a tragic hero as the really great ones (he's no Oedipus or Hamlet, that's for sure), but a tragic hero he remains. The basic definition of a tragic hero (get ready to write this down for future reference) is someone whose greatness is his own downfall -- that which makes him a hero is what dooms him to destruction and perhaps even villainy. Oedipus, for example, is a restless solver of riddles, he finds things out. Had he not been this way he would never have gone after the truth of his birth so relentlessly, and never would have found out that he's married to Mom after killing Dad. Hamlet's the other great example. He is a thinker of no small measure: he is brilliant and moral and possesses a capacity for understanding that goes beyond anyone in his world. Because of this, he is too aware of the implications to what he is supposed to do -- he knows that to murder Claudius is to commit a sin, whereas leaving well enough alone is also a sin. He tries to find some way to do what he has been ordered to do, without creating more problems. It's an impossible situation and he knows it, and this is what makes him great and doomed.

So on to Boromir. His greatness is his heroic stature among Men. He is a hero and unproblematically so. He is great and noble and smart and strong and honourable -- it is his tragedy that he is drawn to the Ring for all of these reasons. I don't think that we need to start going into a search for the "flaws" in his character that lead to his destruction, since the Ring plays on his strengths. He is a military commander of no small measure, a leader of Men, and totally devoted to his kingdom. These are the things that the Ring offers him, and he falls.

So all this gets into the disturbing ambiguities that beset all tragic heroes. Does his fall mean that his values are wrong or 'bad'? Is his mode of heroism being undercut or devalued? I don't think so, since Aragorn, Eomer and Faramir are going to be doing a lot of leading and killing and fighting of their own soon enough. Does his fall mean that he isn't really great or heroic at all? Again, I don't think so -- if he weren't such hero, he would not have attempted to seize the Ring, as he would not have desire to save his city.

The thing about effective tragedy is that it makes us uncomfortable, I think. There are two reactions to this discomfort. The natural response is to seek easy answers with which to do away with the discomfort -- these easy answers usually take the form of some kind of distancing between ourselves and the tragic hero: he is 'flawed' in some way that we can identify and safely categorise and say we are not flawed that way (Hamlet "thinks too much" -- a ridiculous idea, as in the play it's when people don't think that they get into trouble). Boromir is "proud" or "arrogant" or somesuch -- but he is right to be proud: proud of himself and of his achievements, proud of his land. It is because of this pride that he has come on this journey and suffered along with the rest. But it's because of this heroic pride that he falls to the Ring.

Like all tragic heroes, Boromir is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, perfect nor flawed. And he's not all of those at once. He's just human, which is to say he is what he is, and there's nothing he can do to change that.
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Old 11-18-2004, 12:19 PM   #46
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Quote:
He is great and noble and smart and strong and honourable -- it is his tragedy that he is drawn to the Ring for all of these reasons. I don't think that we need to start going into a search for the "flaws" in his character that lead to his destruction, since the Ring plays on his strengths.
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if he weren't such hero, he would not have attempted to seize the Ring
Yep yep yep... you hit the nail on the head, Fordim, and then hit it again and again.
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There are two reactions to this discomfort. The natural response is to seek easy answers with which to do away with the discomfort -- these easy answers usually take the form of some kind of distancing between ourselves and the tragic hero: he is 'flawed' in some way that we can identify and safely categorise and say we are not flawed that way
Excellent observation.

I have nothing to add except- read Fordies awesome post again.

(I would've just repped you, F, but it wouldn't let me- said I had to spread the wealth a bit)
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Old 11-18-2004, 02:16 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
Boromir is "proud" or "arrogant" or somesuch -- but he is right to be proud: proud of himself and of his achievements, proud of his land. It is because of this pride that he has come on this journey and suffered along with the rest. But it's because of this heroic pride that he falls to the Ring.

Like all tragic heroes, Boromir is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, perfect nor flawed. And he's not all of those at once. He's just human, which is to say he is what he is, and there's nothing he can do to change that.
But is he 'right' to be proud? Pride is the deadliest of the Deadly sins. We may not think of Boromir's pride in that way, but the question is did Tolkien? Did Boromir ever display humility before the end? Perhaps Tolkien would have said he didn't have any right to be proud - Faramir fought as bravely as his brother, Aragorn more so, but both displayed not pride but humility. Their role in the war, in life, was to do their duty, & they clearly felt that as it was their duty it deserved no praise. Like the saints they refused to accept any praise or honour for their actions, & thought of themselves almost as 'unprofitable servants' because they'd only done what was required of them.

Boromir is too desirous of honour, & I can't help thinking that it was the very humbling death that he died - shot down by orcs defending a couple of hobbits (who, lets remember, weren't in danger of actually being killed anyway, as Saruman had ordered his servants to capture the hobbits not kill them) that broke him & allowed him his final salvation. A wasteful, pointless death in the eyes of the world, but a death which purified & humbled Boromir. He didn't die as a proud warrior, he died as a humble soul in a state of repentance.

Yes, he was human - or rather he attained humanity in the end, by sacrificing his pride. I wouldn't say he was like us at the end, I'd say he had transcended us. But then how 'human' are we - in the best sense, I mean?
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Old 11-18-2004, 04:53 PM   #48
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1420!

I must say more wonderful observations by Professor Fordhim and Professor Davem. Here is a thread of mine, weighs in on the 7 deadly sins and 7 heavenly virtues. It quickly turned out to be a big discussion on Boromir. It looks at Boromir's last moments, what "good things" he did, and the "bad," maybe it can explain something, or just show how much more a complex character Boromir is.

7 Deadly Sins vs. 7 Heavenly Virtues

(I hope I set up this link right, I might have finally figured out how to do it).
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Old 11-18-2004, 08:18 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
I think that it might be a bit of red herring trying to ferret out whether he is "addicted" or "tempted" or "corrupted" or what have you by the Ring.
Well, I wouldn't call it a red herring. There are two "forces" at work here: Boromir's nature on the one hand and the Ring on the other. And it is in the interaction between the two that questions such as temptation, addiction and corruption arise. While Boromir's nature certainly contributes to his downfall, the Ring has no small part to play.

And can we really say that it is Boromir's "greatness" that is his downfall when, in light of the words of Frodo and Sam in this chapter (not to mention the words of the likes of Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel in previous chapters) he manifestly takes the "wrong" course? Then again, if you are saying that it is that within him which makes him great which also makes him flawed, then I would agree. For example, and to pick up on davem's point, pride may very well be an admirable quality in the service of his land, but it is inappropriate and dangerous here. This is explored in the thread to which Boromir88 has linked, where it is suggested that there are different aspects to pride, such as self-confidence (an admirable quality) and arrogance (not so admirable). While Boromir's well-placed confidence in his strength in arms no doubt serves him well in battle, his over-confidence, in thinking that he knows better than the Wise what to do with the Ring, let's him down big time here.


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That is, there is no single or easy answer to what 'happens' to him with the Ring.
That I would most certainly agree with, which is why it provides such fertile ground for discussion here.
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Old 11-19-2004, 01:19 AM   #50
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With the risk of repeating what’s already been said, but with the hope I can stress on some points not sufficiently discussed yet, I’m forced to comment on some of Fordim’s statements, mainly. Order of their appearence deliberately altered. So:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
The basic definition of a tragic hero (get ready to write this down for future reference) is someone whose greatness is his own downfall
Verily true. But that definition applies to all living human beings as well. The general rule being, the more great is one the futher s/he will fall, and more prone to falling. It is easy to stroll the plains, and fall will bring no more than some bruises, but try to climb the pinnacle – you’ve get more satisfaction in case you succed, but you get more hurt if you fall. Is Melkor a tragic hero or a sample of what may befall anyone (anyone with a free will, that is?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
Like all tragic heroes, Boromir is neither good nor bad
Now that’s not true. Hamlet, being a Christian should have seen that, as both actions were sinful, he must have taken neither, Oedipus, as a member of society which valued bravery and wisdom, should have seen that suicide is neither brave nor wise.

But let them other literary characters be at peace and let’s turn back to Boromir. To argue his character and his flaws, one should admitt that Good is a base, the Fact, and Evil a by-product – i.e. assume Boethian point of view of Good and Evil. Further still, one has to admitt that, though groundless, or being a twisted Good, Evil can be present as active force, and is indeed so in the plane of reality LoTR presents us with – i.e. originally Good Sauron as persnification of Evil (in Mordor where the shadows are). But being an active force, Evil has to employ remnants of Good it still retains – i.e. to win battles, evil soldiers should be reckless (form of courage, which is a virtue), and their captains cunning (form of wisdom/reason which is virtue)

Having those provisos in mind, I’d argue that Boromir is good, but not good enough. What he wishes, and Ring tempts him to use its Power in achieving, is Good – indeed, what is bad in Saving Gondor, Helping His Father and Having Peace and Prosperity for the People? But there is a flaw in his aims and wishes at the outset – he wishes this good not as good per se, but as good brought about by Boromir himself. The victory of Gondor is to be lead by him, Gondorian arms should win glory, but with him as a general, there should be peace, but with his help. That is a chink Ring works through to seize him. “I want to have power to save Gondor” is his maxim, not “I want Gondor saved even if I take no part in it, even if I’m labelled coward for not taking a part in it, even if I die in exile and all who remember me are ashamed of mentioning my name”. Indeed, two parts of his resolution are almost equal – he wants to save Gondor and to have personal glory. If the latter of the two maxims (I want to save Gondor even...) would have been his imperative, the Ring would not have been able to tempt him in that direction. For than “I wan’t to save Gondor from the Dark Lord, regardless the risk of having start-up Dark Lord replace him at the very heart of Gondor’” would terrify him as bringing ruing of Gondor in the long run – as he was told that claiming the Ring to oneself would end in another Dark Lord arising.

Don’t misunderstand me. Nobody in ME is good enough in that respect – nor even Gandalf. All who started wishing good for others, through ring would wish only their own good for others, and here quote from Henry Thoreau (by davem in post #35) comes into play. (Chap coming to do us good, run for it, gents!) Indeed it is stated, not in this chapter but elswhere, that Sauron intended good for ME in the beginning – to have order and peace. But values, good with a proviso, tend to become simply bad with the time, and Boromir’s “I want to have power to save Gondor” would become mere “I want to have power” with no “save Gondor” to give it at least a slight flavour of ‘good end’ on the finish line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
and there's nothing he can do to change that
That’s not true either (unless you mean he can't do it all by himself) – he can and he does a lot to change that – he repents. Not in this chapter, again, but in the following – at his death-bed (well, not bed, exactly) – he acknowledges that Gondor needs merely (in the older sense of the word, i.e. ‘absolute’) good, not good sophisticated by allowances for certain persons to do it, not others, so not necessarily by him, by Boromir, but whoever brings it, he humbles himself to wish this good without provisos and he is saved – the thing which his ‘wiser’ father, Denethor, fails to do (again, further still in the order of chapters)
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Old 11-19-2004, 03:46 AM   #51
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I think H-I makes the point well - the very fact that Boromir's final words are words of repentance shows that he knows he was wrong in what he did. He feels he has paid a deserved price for what he attempted. Aragorn's response that actually he had 'conquered' clearly is not meant to refer to the battle with the orcs. Boromir's 'conquest' is of something far more powerful & dangerous than mere orcs - because orcs can only kill the body. But more of that next week.
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Old 11-19-2004, 03:56 AM   #52
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Thank you, davem.

In addition to Boromir88's post #48, see also The Seven Deadly Sins in Middle-earth by Squatter
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Old 11-20-2004, 01:09 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Encaitare
I'm curious about this; do you think maybe you could expand on it?

I don't think it's silly, but quite possible. The thought that he might be followed must have at least entered his mind, even though Aragorn assured him that he would be alone. I don't think he was trying to tempt anyone, but he might have wondered if any of his companions would be tempted nonetheless.
As the phantom said, yes, I don't think that Frodo would be the sort of hobbit to tempt his fellow Walkers. I think using the word "tempt" is not appropriate for this...I can't think of something subtler and less deliberate. But that's the point...he was trying to see if anyone would talk to him, try to give him counsel, dissuade him from going to Mordor, or eventually try to bear the burden that was appointed to him. He knew what to do, but he was just afraid. So why not look to his companions for encouragement and assurance that he won't be left alone? I don't think that as he walked alone, he would find something in his heart to finally nudge him. No...he needed someone to do that. And what could be more effective than finally realizing that one of your companions has been "seduced" by the Ring for whatever reason? (I would suppose it's something like the marshmallow test: if you take the Ring now, or at the very least show desire for it, you would be deprived of what could have been the best for everyone.)

And Frodo doing this is not at all impossible. In Lothlorien, he has offered the Ring to Galadriel. I'm sure he knew at the time that there was no way Galadriel could destroy the Ring herself. There was only one thing she could do with it: wield it and use it in some way against Sauron. Yet Frodo knew from the Council of Elrond that anyone who wields the Ring would be corrupted and, in the event that Galadriel manage to defeat Sauron, she would just replace his place as the Dark Lord. I might be making heavy accusations here, but Frodo could be using the Ring to see through others' minds and hearts, in a sense; knowing what power the Ring could offer, he uses it as "bait" to find out how far others would go to get what they desire.

I believe the effect that Boromir's action had on Frodo's decision is just spur-of-the-moment. Later in the chapter he tells Sam:
Quote:
If they catch me here, I shall have to argue and explain, and I shall never have the heart or the chance to get off.
One last thing. Speaking of the power of the Ring, I am reminded of a Bible verse, from John 11:17 (NIV)...
Quote:
Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
How come this doesn't seem to be the case for the Ring? If someone powerful enough uses it against Sauron, the Dark Lord would fall...only to be replaced by another "Dark Lord"! So in effect, evil is never ruined. And that's scary.

Last edited by Lhunardawen; 11-20-2004 at 01:12 AM. Reason: wala lang...
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:46 PM   #54
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I read this chapter before the long weekend and find that if I had sharp impressions this time around, they are dulled by the passage of the weekend. AND I find that, despite some scintillating vintage Downsian discussion on this thread, it hasn't prompted me to add anything.

As a point of comparison with "The Great River," not nearly as much happens in "The Breaking of the Fellowship"--despite being the last chapter of The Fellowship and a key moment in Frodo's journey, it's not a chapter with much surface action--like "A Conspiracy Unmasked," it's a fairly short timeframe in a fairly limited location. That's also a fairly good comparison in terms of its effect on the immediately following chapters--but we get scenes here that have no real parallel there: Boromir's "madness," Frodo's simultaneously internal/external battle on Amon Hen, and Sam's dogged insistence on following (the best part of which is Sam's foreknowledge of what's going to happen--next to him, the other members of the Fellowship are clueless). None of this is "action," like orcs attacking them or shooting the rapids or Legolas taking down a Nazgûl, but it's dramatic.
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