The Fellowship of the Ring
Good vs. Evil Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
Suddenly Boromir came and sat beside him. "Are you sure that you do not suffer needlessly?" he said. "I wish to help you. You need counsel in your hard choice. Will you not take mine?"
"I think I know already what counsel you would give, Boromir," said Frodo. "And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning of my heart." (2.10.24-5)
Boromir tempts Frodo to take the easy way out of his troubles, to bring the Ring to Gondor and let it be used as Boromir wishes. But Frodo is (a) not that stupid, and (b) starting to learn to make his own decisions. Frodo began this quest needing counsel at every turn. When he travels through the Old Forest with Merry, Pippin, and Sam, he needs Tom Bombadil to save him from his bad decisions not just once, but twice. Frodo leans on Gandalf while he can. But then, Galadriel refuses to act as a counselor for Frodo. And now, Boromir offers Frodo counsel that he rejects. Frodo is developing the self-reliance he needs to go into Mordor with Sam, just the two of them. This confrontation with willful Boromir, who wants to take Frodo's difficult decisions away from him, is a key milestone in Frodo's development into a determined and decisive character in his own right.
"We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of Wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause. And behold! in our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the Enemy against him. The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory. What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir? The Ring would give me power of Command. How I would drive the hosts of Mordor, and all men would flock to my banner!" (2.10.36)
In one dense paragraph, we see an excellent example of someone starting with good intentions and going straight to an evil place. Boromir is right to long for something to help Gondor. As the country bordering Mordor, the Gondorians pay a heavier price than everyone else to keep Middle-earth safe from Sauron. But Boromir quickly goes from "defend[ing] ourselves" to victory, and then to "the power of Command" for Boromir himself. We wonder what he imagines will happen after he drives "the hosts of Mordor" out: will all of those men who "flock to [his] banner" conquer the rest of Middle-earth? Does he want to be King of the world? Like Saruman, Boromir justifies seizing the Ring using an abstract ideal. For Saruman, that ideal is knowledge; for Boromir, it is strength. Clearly, Tolkien has taken to heart the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Horsemen were galloping on the grass of Rohan; wolves poured from Isengard. From the havens of Harad ships of war put out to sea; and out of the East Men were moving endlessly: swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen upon horses, chariots of chieftains and laden wains. All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion. Then turning south again he beheld Minas Tirith. Far away it seemed, and beautiful: white-walled, many towered, proud and fair upon its mountain-seat; its battlements glittered with steel, and its turrets were bright with many banners. Hope leaped in [Frodo's] heart. But against Minas Tirith was set another fortress, greater and more strong. Thither, eastward, unwilling his eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul, and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. (2.10.54)
After his confrontation with Boromir, Frodo climbs Amon Hen and looks over what appears to be the whole of Middle-earth; Galadriel wasn't joking when she said that the One Ring has made his sight keener. This moment just before the breaking of the Fellowship reminds the reader of what is at stake. Because The Fellowship of the Ring is character-focused, and because the Company has been trying to keep their business secret and private, we haven't gotten very much perspective on what is currently happening in the world beyond what they experience for themselves. This panoramic view of southern Middle-earth shows all of the doings and activities of Sauron. Middle-earth is caught up in a world war, and Frodo's decision to take the Ring straight to Mordor is a central part of it. His individual actions will have an effect on everything he sees before him in this scene. By stopping the action to give us a snapshot of the current state of affairs in Middle-earth, Tolkien is ramping up the suspense by reminding us what is at stake in Frodo's decision to ditch the Company and take the Ring quest right to Sauron's door.