No Blame for Boromir? (Or Smeagol, Isildur, etc.)

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No Blame for Boromir? (Or Smeagol, Isildur, etc.)

Post by idoron » Sun Dec 28, 2003 7:00 pm

I have been thinking for a while now: Can we blame Boromir (and therefore anyone) for their actions surrounding the One Ring?

For example, Boromir trying to take the Ring, Smeagol killing Deagol to get it. Smeagol lying and decieving Frodo and Sam, Isildur keeping it, Frodo claiming it for his own in the Cracks of Doom.

Where do the power of the ring and the choices of the individual meet?

The crux of this issue is this: are any of these people responsible for their actions when a power (almost) infinitely greater than themselves coerces them? Emotions aside, how is Frodo claiming the Ring as his and Isildur keeping it any different?

Penance surely counts for something and of them only Smeagol expresses no regret for his actions. Everyone else repents.

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What would JRRT Do (WWJRRTD)

Post by idoron » Sun Dec 28, 2003 7:03 pm

Tolkien, I think, would say they are responsible. but just because he wrote the story does not give him the moral high ground in <b>this</b> world.

Anyway, interestingly enough, Tolkien states in <i>Letters</i> that he thinks the elves are ultimitely to blame for the whole "ring fiasco" (my words) because their desire for dominion, and to keep ME as it was is what led to the forging of the rings of power, and specifically the 3 Rings. They desired to make another Valinor where they were in charge. :shock:

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Re: No Blame for Boromir? (Or Smeagol, Isildur, etc.)

Post by MayorOfLongview » Sun Dec 28, 2003 8:00 pm

idoron wrote:I have been thinking for a while now: Can we blame Boromir (and therefore anyone) for their actions surrounding the One Ring?

For example, Boromir trying to take the Ring, Smeagol killing Deagol to get it. Smeagol lying and decieving Frodo and Sam, Isildur keeping it, Frodo claiming it for his own in the Cracks of Doom.

Where do the power of the ring and the choices of the individual meet?

The crux of this issue is this: are any of these people responsible for their actions when a power (almost) infinitely greater than themselves coerces them? Emotions aside, how is Frodo claiming the Ring as his and Isildur keeping it any different?

Penance surely counts for something and of them only Smeagol expresses no regret for his actions. Everyone else repents.


Well, we must remember that Sam was able to give it up. Certainly he was responsible for his actions when he did so. So as for the others who fell to the temptation, they perhaps should recieve some blame. Smeagol took the ring and murdered to do so. His original intent played a part in his ultimate fall. Isuldur (as a man) couldn't handle it either. Boromir fits that category, but Faramir allowed the ring to slip his grasp. Of coure neither of those two ever possessed it. That's my thought on the matter. Of course I'm typing this with a todler screaming in the background. Something you'll learn to enjoy in a couple of years! lol
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Post by Bnielsen » Sun Dec 28, 2003 8:35 pm

Yes, but you also must look at the length of time each bearer carried it..
Gollum had it for a long time, and it toally courrpted him because he killed to take it

Biblo had long life with it , but it didnt corrupt him as much because the manner in which he took it

You see the weakness of boromir of course,

frodo ... well.. man hes just special lol

but again, Sam, only had the ring for a short time, and took it under non murderous conditions lol... so it was easier for him to give up
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Who/how Long

Post by idoron » Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:19 pm

So we can establish that the effect of the Ring can be predicted by the manner and length of possesion.

But that is just "what the ring does to people."

My question is can we hold them responsible in a figurative sense.

Example: Smeagol killed Deagol for the Ring because it "possessed" him, if we can call it that. He does not kill for it because he thinks it is a shiny ring, maybe he could pawn it to buy some of that "funny" pipeweed. He kills for it because the Ring called for him to do it. "Ensnared" him, as is said in the prologue to the films. A psychic power greater than his own compelled him to do it. Just like the power of the ring compels Frodo to do things he wouldn't. Like putting on the Ring at "opportune" times. At one point, the lust for the ring causes Frodo to see Sam as an Orc. Did it do something like that to Smeagol? If he saw Deagol not as he actually was, but as an enemy (like an Orc could be Frodo's enemy) can he be held responsible for killing him?

To expound on this point a little further, we don't blame Frodo for putting the Ring on at Amon Sul (Weathertop) but we (probably) do blame Smeagol for wanting it back from Frodo. Why? Isn't it the same desire?

Also, Gandalf, the most far-sighted of all the characters in the LOTR series, called Smeagol's story sad. Because Deagol died? Or because of what the Ring did to Smeagol? Both? He suggests that <i>pity</i> is necesary when considering the plight of Smeagol.

Interesting questions, I think.

(Try watching TTT DVD with pity for Smeagol/Gollum, considering the situation he is in, as Frodo says "what is has done to him. What it is still doing to him.")
Last edited by idoron on Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Disclaimer

Post by idoron » Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:21 pm

<b>Disclaimer</b>
Note to everyone, I have already started working on an essay/article about this topic.

Just for full disclosure.

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Post by Sam Gamgee » Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:38 pm

Tolkien says somewhere that at the point of Mount Doom for Frodo, he really couldn't have chosen anything else. The Ring had corrupted him to such a degree that he was powerless to resist. But in the end, his mercy toward Gollum is what saved him. Which is a very comforting message - it's ok if we aren't perfect all the time. That's the ultimate goal, of course, but it's not the end of ends if we screw up once. or more than once.
But anyway, this shows that at some point in time, the Ring takes away your free will. Or does it? Maybe it happens because you've chosen to give into its power once, and then gradually it forms into you like a habit? No, that's vice in general. I think the Ring is something a little different, because it's something external. Anyway, I doubt someone could be possessed beyond their free will at their very first encounter with the Ring, but after a long time with it, it seems that they become so.

That thing about the elves... I love the elves. Dearly. And somebody said that before, that the elven rings were a peversion of the elves' power, and that their whole warping of time and trying to preserve things was evil. It really made me mad. But now I hear it from you, O Learned One, and now I am curious. Where is this coming from? Does Tolkien himself really talk about it? It is in his Letters or something?
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Post by idoron » Mon Dec 29, 2003 12:05 am

Sam Gamgee wrote:Tolkien says somewhere that at the point of Mount Doom for Frodo, he really couldn't have chosen anything else. The Ring had corrupted him to such a degree that he was powerless to resist. But in the end, his mercy toward Gollum is what saved him. Which is a very comforting message - it's ok if we aren't perfect all the time. That's the ultimate goal, of course, but it's not the end of ends if we screw up once. or more than once.
But anyway, this shows that at some point in time, the Ring takes away your free will. Or does it? Maybe it happens because you've chosen to give into its power once, and then gradually it forms into you like a habit? No, that's vice in general. I think the Ring is something a little different, because it's something external. Anyway, I doubt someone could be possessed beyond their free will at their very first encounter with the Ring, but after a long time with it, it seems that they become so.

That thing about the elves... I love the elves. Dearly. And somebody said that before, that the elven rings were a peversion of the elves' power, and that their whole warping of time and trying to preserve things was evil. It really made me mad. But now I hear it from you, O Learned One, and now I am curious. Where is this coming from? Does Tolkien himself really talk about it? It is in his Letters or something?


Yes, at that point Frodo is powerless to resist. So at what point does that happen? Was Boromir? At what point was Smeagol? Like the force, maybe the Ring has a strong influence on the weak mind, could it have corrupted Smeagol on sight only? Very possible as Smeagol was quite "simple."

Regarding Elves. i understand your love. But elves are not perfect (pride of feanor, the kinslaying, the pride of Turgon, or Thingol, the desire for dominion of Galadriel...). That is the connundrum. Elves are the most wise of the Children of Illuvatar, but even they are subject to the profound loss of innocence that permeates all of Tolkien's writings. Though to a lesser degree than men, because the elves can be, in a way, "cleansed" when they come to the Undying Lands, sanctified by the presence of the Deathless, as it were.

The quote is in <i>Letters</i> somewhere...I think in the 40's (letter number, not decade); 43 sounds familiar. I don't have it handy, would take a while to come up with, since I don't have a copy of the book.

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Re: Who/how Long

Post by Alatar » Mon Dec 29, 2003 9:33 am

idoron wrote:To expound on this point a little further, we don't blame Frodo for putting the Ring on at Amon Sul (Weathertop) but we (probably) do blame Smeagol for wanting it back from Frodo. Why? Isn't it the same desire?


I think a more appropriate analogy here is Smeagol wanting it back and Bilbo wanting it back in Rivendell.

An important point with Boromir is the reason he wanted the ring. He wanted it because of the good that he would be able to do with it. Having obtained that psychological foothold Boromir soon succumbed to the lure of the ring.

The real test of the ring is at what point are you no longer able to resist the lure of the ring. Smeagol desired it on site, his own avarice allowed the ring to take a hold of him. Boromir wanted it to save Gondor, in spite of counsel to the contrary. Both Isildur and Frodo were unable to resist the ring at its most powerful, at the cracks of Mount Doom.

Which just goes to show that Sam is the real hero of the story. He only wanted the ring because he thought Frodo could no longer carry it. Once Frodo was able to take it Sam's own desire to hold it was reduced to such a point that he was able to give it up.
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Re: Who/how Long

Post by idoron » Mon Dec 29, 2003 9:56 am

Alatar wrote:An important point with Boromir is the reason he wanted the ring. He wanted it because of the good that he would be able to do with it. Having obtained that psychological foothold Boromir soon succumbed to the lure of the ring.

The real test of the ring is at what point are you no longer able to resist the lure of the ring. Smeagol desired it on site, his own avarice allowed the ring to take a hold of him. Boromir wanted it to save Gondor, in spite of counsel to the contrary. Both Isildur and Frodo were unable to resist the ring at its most powerful, at the cracks of Mount Doom.

Which just goes to show that Sam is the real hero of the story. He only wanted the ring because he thought Frodo could no longer carry it. Once Frodo was able to take it Sam's own desire to hold it was reduced to such a point that he was able to give it up.


Right. Boromir wanted to Ring to save Gondor, but he also talks about "men flocking to his banner" which would be pride and desire for dominion. But we don' t know why Smeagol wanted it in the first place. Maybe the Ring took the opportunity to be found by Deagol and, when it encountered Smeagol, saw a weaker individual, more easily dominated and said to itself (if you will) "I think I'll take that one." Which would mean Smeagol "wanted" it because the Ring wanted him.

That is speculation, but we see in at least 2 possibly as many as 4 cases that the Ring chooses one specific person out of a group to "corrupt." The Ring chose Smeagol, and later Boromir. Deliberately. Why? Weaker mental defenses? That would seem to be the case. (the other two cases could be choosing Frodo over Sam during the Quest and choosing Isildur)

Regarding Sam:
I think it is unfair to say any one character is the real hero. The only person who could destroy the Ring was Gollum. It wasn't intentional, but loyal Sam (sorry Steph) Frodo, Aragorn, even Gandalf couldn't have done it.

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Re: Who/how Long

Post by MayorOfLongview » Mon Dec 29, 2003 10:15 am

idoron wrote:
Alatar wrote:
Regarding Sam:
I think it is unfair to say any one character is the real hero. The only person who could destroy the Ring was Gollum. It wasn't intentional, but loyal Sam (sorry Steph) Frodo, Aragorn, even Gandalf couldn't have done it.


I agree. But I was only pointing out that Sam actually gave it up of his own free will. But then Bilbo did the same with a bit of prodding from Gandalf. So the ring had complete control over those who had not the will to fight it, but others seem to have mustered the will.
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Re: Who/how Long

Post by idoron » Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:20 am

MayorOfLongview wrote:
idoron wrote:
Regarding Sam:
I think it is unfair to say any one character is the real hero. The only person who could destroy the Ring was Gollum. It wasn't intentional, but loyal Sam (sorry Steph) Frodo, Aragorn, even Gandalf couldn't have done it.


I agree. But I was only pointing out that Sam actually gave it up of his own free will. But then Bilbo did the same with a bit of prodding from Gandalf. So the ring had complete control over those who had not the will to fight it, but others seem to have mustered the will.
Steve


So does someone innately have or not have the will to resist the Ring? That is, some (Sam, Bilbo) were able to resist, some where not (Boromir, Frodo, Smeagol/Gollum, Isildur). Was there something about them that made it impossible for them to give in or resist?

Analogy: Somone with Turret's (Spelling?) Syndrome cannot help or prevent their outbreaks (twitching, shouting, sometimes vulgarity). It is a genetic condition. Is there a genetic/psychic characteristic that makes one susceptible to the Ring? To the point they could not resist (whether they wanted to or not)?
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Re: Who/how Long

Post by MayorOfLongview » Mon Dec 29, 2003 12:28 pm

idoron wrote:
MayorOfLongview wrote:
idoron wrote:
Regarding Sam:
I think it is unfair to say any one character is the real hero. The only person who could destroy the Ring was Gollum. It wasn't intentional, but loyal Sam (sorry Steph) Frodo, Aragorn, even Gandalf couldn't have done it.


I agree. But I was only pointing out that Sam actually gave it up of his own free will. But then Bilbo did the same with a bit of prodding from Gandalf. So the ring had complete control over those who had not the will to fight it, but others seem to have mustered the will.
Steve


So does someone innately have or not have the will to resist the Ring? That is, some (Sam, Bilbo) were able to resist, some where not (Boromir, Frodo, Smeagol/Gollum, Isildur). Was there something about them that made it impossible for them to give in or resist?

Analogy: Somone with Turret's (Spelling?) Syndrome cannot help or prevent their outbreaks (twitching, shouting, sometimes vulgarity). It is a genetic condition. Is there a genetic/psychic characteristic that makes one susceptible to the Ring? To the point they could not resist (whether they wanted to or not)?


I think you'd have to fall back on Tolkien's Christianity at that point. What did he think of pre-destination for instance. Did Judas really have a choice? I think Judas had free will, but God was aware of the choice he'd make beforehand. My opinion would still be that free choice played a factor. Gandalf KNEW he couldn't resist it, so he made the CHOICE not to handle it. We make those choices everyday regarding one temptation or another. I believe therefore that Tolkien would say that each person was responsible for their own response to the ring. Boromir WAS warned of the ring's power, but continued to flirt with it until it finally destroyed the Fellowship and his life.
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Mon Dec 29, 2003 12:59 pm

I concur. With Steve. Very clever way of putting it.

But I think if you were to choose the greatest hero of the story, it would be Sam. He's the main character. He undergoes the most character development and he's the one Tolkien leaves us with - he's the one most like us. He doesn't get to sail to Tol Eressea for a long time - he's got to live on earth, like us. Sorry, just had to get that out. I do dearly love Sam. Surprise, surprise, huh?
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Re: Who/how Long

Post by idoron » Mon Dec 29, 2003 2:30 pm

MayorOfLongview wrote:I think you'd have to fall back on Tolkien's Christianity at that point. What did he think of pre-destination for instance. Did Judas really have a choice? I think Judas had free will, but God was aware of the choice he'd make beforehand. My opinion would still be that free choice played a factor. Gandalf KNEW he couldn't resist it, so he made the CHOICE not to handle it. We make those choices everyday regarding one temptation or another. I believe therefore that Tolkien would say that each person was responsible for their own response to the ring. Boromir WAS warned of the ring's power, but continued to flirt with it until it finally destroyed the Fellowship and his life.
Steve


Are they responsible for their inital response only? Or every response, every time? Again, both Boromir and Frodo fall to it, but Frodo gets praise, Boromir does not.

Smeagol didn't even have the opportunity to know that it needed resisting, though.

And Tolkien's value judgement of the characters is seperate from the telling of the story. That doesn't mean he is right or wrong, and his feelings should be considered, but are no less valid than ours.
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