Back next


Agamemnon ... Varda ...

I never thanked everyone for their replies to my Out of The Strong post on Friday night, sorry. I was very interested in the discussion, especially about Faramir.

For myself, I don't think Faramir was ever tempted by the Ring. On the contrary the Ring was everything he hated; domination, violence, deception. He says to Frodo he would not even trap an orc with a falsehood. Faramir is a man of principles; doing the right thing matters as much if not more to him than winning. Power is not a temptation for him. On the contrary, he is a reluctant general and hates killing, and only does it when necessary. He is a warrior out of a desire to protect what he values and out of duty, he is not Colonel Blimp.

Faramir also hates the Ring for what it did to Boromir. Not just that it destroyed him, but that it brought out the worst in him, and hid the good person Faramir knew was there under a grasping for power. Faramir says he would not take the Ring even if he found it on the road, and he means it.

Faramir's tragedy is that his strong principles are in direct conflict with his father, whose concept of power is wildly different and autocratic and authoritarian. He bitterly reproaches Faramir for letting Frodo - and - the Ring go; he would have seized it and used it; as Boromir wanted to seize it and use it. Perhaps by using the Palantír Denethor has fallen into Sauron's vision of power, dominating, destroying.

Faramir has a 'modern' feel to him, he is a principled individual crushed by the opposing forces of a dynastic family and patriotism and his weakness is that despite everything he still loves his father and needs his approval.

But Denethor, like Agamemnon, sacrifices his children to the demands of power. He does try to beat Sauron at his own game, in his own chilling words 'spending even my sons'. He tells a terrified Pippin that Sauron regards his destruction as the apex of his triumph; it has become a deadly game played with Sauron.

But Denethor despite everything loves his sons, and is destroyed by Boromir's death. He cannot reconcile himself to this or to what he believes to be his defeat, and destroys himself. Faramir, unable to reconcile his love for his father with his father's rejection of him, also tries to destroy himself. Perhaps Sauron is indeed sowing madness and despair in his enemies. The house of Denethor is fertile ground.

Like Aeschylus Tolkien captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of a family riven with irreconcilable tensions, a dynastic family ruling a nation at war, shut up in their White Tower tearing each other to pieces. In the Lord of The Rings it is a tragedy within a story. No wonder Faramir throws himself into danger in a desperate attempt to escape.

Just musing, many thanks for the replies, no offence to fans of Boromir or Faramir :-)