*Spoilers for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy below*
A person cannot and should not be defined by their one misstep. One failure, no matter how catastrophic is not a measurement of an individuals worth of might.
If you asked people who casually watch Lord of the Rings who their least favourite member of the fellowship is, most people would arguably say Boromir. I disagree entirely with that sentiment. For me, the Son of Gondor is one of the most tragic characters during Tolkien’s most famous novel, a feeling extrapolated through adaptations – particularly through Sean Bean’s manifestation of the character during the Peter Jackson trilogy of movies.
The man’s life has not been an easy one: his mother died when he was ten years old and younger brother Faramir five, and had to take on a protective role to defend his brother from a grieving and weary Denethor. For decades this man saw the defence of his beloved city, in a war that they were likely to lose. Knowing each man killed under his command, knowing their sons would one day take their place. Just before he left for Rivendell, his military engagement in Osgiliath left only he and three others escaping as they demolished a bridge to prevent Orcs advancing.
I do not fault him for his attempt to claim the Ring, for his cause is desperate. And not for power as many might attain, but for protection and the safety for his people. For his entire life, Boromir had lived under the growing immediate strength of Sauron and his forces, leading scores of men to fight them, and seeing them die. his beautiful White City was becoming an active war zone, and he was more certain day by day that it was a war they were going to lose. What is his line to Frodo shortly before he attempts to take it? “I only ask for the strength to defend my people”.
What’s more, scenes in the Extended Editions of the trilogy move to humanise the man and give him far more sympathetic natures that are missing elsewhere. The primary example of this is with his younger brother Faramir, but the way in which so many talk positively about him speaks wonders. Even Frodo, who boromir had attacked with the intent to steal the One Ring, is distraught at the news of his death.
Sean Bean’s acting is immaculate, and the scene he shares with Viggo’s Aragorn as he lies dying is something that never stops bringing tears to my eyes. If we show our true qualities during our final moments then Boromir displayed everything about him in all its glory: with his dying moments he protects two child-like friends and gives Aragorn the motivation he needs to take that next step towards the throne.
You can fault a man for falling, but do not fault this man for holding out as long as he did, in the most dire of circumstances. Boromir is human through and through, and I will defend him even if it means also taking Uruk-hai with me.