Sunday, November 17, 2013

Middle Earth Challenge, Day 17

Favourite Male Character
Och. One of the things this challenge has done for me is the make me think long and hard about Tolkien, and what exactly it is about his writing that I love so much. It has been fun, and stimulating and I have enjoyed it. However, it as also caused me to remember how much I enjoyed reading some of his less popular works, - notably, The Silmarillion. Which means that this post was rather harder than I expected it to be, as there are so many really great characters in Tolkien, whom I like very well. There is Beleg, the dark, Ranger-ish elf, who roams the wild with his great bow; Fingolfin, who engaged Morgoth in single combat; Beren, who cut the Silmaril from the Crown of Morgoth, and went through Death to win the hand of Luthien; Hurin, the Elf-Friend and their staunch ally in the wars against Morgoth; His son, Tuor, who wedded the Elf-Maid, Idril; Their son, Earendil, father of Elrond, who sails his swan-ship, Vingilot through the sky, keeping safe the last of the Silmarils; Glorfindel, who battled a balrog.... If I was as familiar with The Silmarillion as I am with The Lord of the Rings, you would be getting one of those characters for this post. As it is, however, I am falling back on the two characters who have been may favourites from time out of mind: Peregrin Took, and Boromir. 

I have never been able to make up my mind which of those two I like the best. They are both very hopeful and encouraging characters - though for very different reasons - and the two who most make me want to be a better, braver version of myself. I shall start with Pippin first, because he is the easier of the two. 


Pippin is a funny character - the youngest by far of the company, and yes, probably the most foolish. He is plucky enough. In the book, he is part of the "conspiracy" that has pledge to go into danger with Frodo. In the book and the movie, he refuses to be cowed by the black mutterings of Gandalf, or the disapproval of Elrond, and insists upon being included in the quest. For all that, I think it took him longer than anyone else to realise just how much was at stake, and how much it would cost him personally. I rather think he was under the impression that the Fellowship would always stick together, and that the original plan of helping Frodo would be all that would ever be required of him. And yet, he is a perfect illustration of what it is Gandalf so admires about the hobbits. They love food and comfort and stability, and seem soft and helpless, but when they are called upon to be brave, their courage is remarkable. Once the Fellowship is broken, and Merry and Pippin are taken captive by the orcs, the idiotic Took suddenly shows himself to be not only brave, but practical and resourceful. In a very short time, he goes from being somewhat irresponsible, to being a true and gallant knight, worthy to be a Guard of the Citadel. I admire him for that.

Boromir by Amanda TollesonFreehand digital painting on corel with oil paint brushes

Boromir... well, Boromir is almost like the flip side of the coin. He starts out weighed down with responsibility, with worry. His country has been at war with the East for as long as he can remember, and though the men of Gondor are valiant, they cannot hold out forever. Boromir is the eldest son. His life has been one long service towards his country. He is courageous, and noble and true. He is a good man, but a proud one. Pride is a terribly thing, for it makes one trust oneself when it is not wise to do so, and it causes even good men to fall, and fall hard. And so, Boromir fell, harder and faster than anyone else in The Lord of the Rings. And his single act destroyed the Fellowship, and caused Frodo to run off into wild, alone, but for Sam - no warriors to help them, no one to guide them or council them. Yet, Boromir understood what he had done as soon as he did it. His repentance was complete and also practical. He picked himself up again, and died fighting, defending Merry and Pippin to his last breath. If Pippin's bravery encourages me to be brave myself, Boromir's fall and recovery inspire me to virtue. It can be hard, to want to serve God wholly and unselfishly, but to find oneself continually falling away from what God intends you to be. But it is at times like that when we are called upon to be like Boromir - to acknowledge our failings, surely, but to pick up ones sword and continue to fight anyway. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Middle Earth Challenge, click here.

1 comment:

Kiri Liz said...

Wow, Mahri... you have hit upon so many things that I admire in these two characters. Pippin has always been a favorite for me; since my first reading of the book he was my favorite hobbit, and then I really liked how they portrayed him in the films, even though it wasn't necesarily 100% on Tolkien's original description of him. Yup, I love the character change that he undergoes. And he's hilarious. In both books and movies. I cannot quote him enough.

Boromir, on the other hand, I despised when I first read the book. I saw only his flaws, how he was consumed with the Ring, and I wasn't even sad when he died. Now, after reading the books five times and watching the films I really don't know how many times, I've come to appreciate Boromir like I never have before. Sure, he was flawed, but he learned from his mistakes and came out stronger in the end, even though that, unfortunately, became his death. I love how Peter Jackson showed how close he was to Pippin and Merry, and the looks on their faces when he gets shot by Lurtz while protecting them is heartbreaking.

Okay, I should stop there before this becomes a novel. Excellent posts! I've loved reading them, and I cannot thank you enough for joining in the Challenge with us!