Frodo in a World of Boromirs (II)

Image: Peter Xavier Price

Boromir, you'll recall, is the Judas of the Fellowship of the Ring. Sworn to protect Frodo the Ring-bearer with his life if need be, Boromir betrays his trust and tries to take the Ring by force, thereby sundering the Fellowship. Tellingly, all of this is done for the best of motives in Boromir's eyes. He means to accomplish nothing but good with the Ring, to save his beloved kingdom of Minas Tirith from Sauron's conquering armies.

In one of their own satires on power, The Giant Rat of Sumatra, the audio comedy troupe the Firesign Theatre speaks of "a power so great, it can only be used for good or evil." This is Boromir's tragically mistaken view of the One Ring. Though masking an unchecked power, the Ring is, for Boromir, only a tool -- something no better or worse than the person who uses it. He seems almost unaware of the Ring's dark side. Insofar as he is aware, he dismisses it out of hand, swearing, "True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted." Like any politician lobbying for his favourite cause – himself -- he supplies a noble motive: "We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause." He also supplies a noble champion. Guess who? He muses, "What could not a warrior do in this hour, a great leader?" Nor should Frodo have any fear that Boromir will succumb to the Ring's blandishments because, as he vows, "I give you my word that I do not desire to keep it."

Yet keeping or not keeping such power is not the main issue. Merely to desire it is to show oneself unworthy of it even for a moment. It is no accident that the Ring comes to a humble bearer who in no way has sought it and who wants no part of it. In the end it proves too much even for Frodo. (to be continued)

Kurt Luchs - First Things
Oct 27, 2008


Emmy said...

Thank you for sharing this; I find it really interesting :) I love the literature, and the Inklings are fascinating!

Kim said...

Power is indeed the ultimate corruptor. I find the reaction of Faramir fascinating... wish there had been more chance to develope his character.

amateur idler said...

I never seriously thought about the Judas-Boromir connection, but it's a good one to make. Very interesting.