Portrait of a Hero: Boromir
Hero. 1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave
deeds and noble qualities. 2. a man distinguished by exceptional courage,
nobility, fortitude, etc .
To the category of hero as defined by dictionary.com, I would like to nominate Boromir of Gondor from The Lord of the Rings. When the vast majority of people who have knowledge of the Lord of the Rings movies (and no history with the books) are asked who the heroes of the story are, Boromir is rarely mentioned. Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, or any number of other characters may be hailed as such, but not Boromir. If a character were described by the characteristics listed under the definition of a hero, adding to it "one who gives his life for his friends, a soldier who dies in service of his country," there would be no dispute about the person's heroism, yet Boromir is still not often counted among Middle Earth's heroes. Upon closer inspection of the character however, it should be noted that Boromir of Gondor is worthy of the title of hero. Although his usefulness may have been brief due to his untimely death in The Fellowship of the Ring, the fact remains that he is indeed a hero, and an unsung one at that.
Unfortunately for the mighty man of Gondor, Boromir is most remembered for his moment of weakness. The great soldier is certainly ambitious and strong-willed, and perhaps short-tempered, but he is also driven by a sense of duty and patriotism. In the extended version of The Return of the King, the audience learns that it was never Boromir's desire to pursue the Ring of Power-- he did so on orders from his power-mongering father. In so many minutes it is also revealed that Boromir endeavored to restore Gondor to its former glory, and was therefore bound by a sense of loyalty and honor to protect the realm he had labored to repair. Faced with the greatest vessel of evil Middle Earth has ever seen, Boromir succumbs to a temptation for just a moment and attempts to seize the ring from Frodo, deceived by the idea that this would be the answer to protecting all that Boromir had striven to build. This brief lapse then unjustly becomes his defining moment.
Mere seconds after his threats against Frodo, the mighty man breaks down in tears at what he has done, but audiences forget this. Earlier in the story, he viciously fights a multitude of raging goblins, and literally carries a friend out of the Mines of Moria when the other is overwhelmed with panic and grief. He charges into a host of sordid orcs that vastly outnumber him with courage and vigor to defend his friends, ultimately giving his life for them, yet he is still not counted among the heroes. The fact that he continues to defend small, weaker comrades, even as arrows are jutting out of his punctured chest is overlooked and forgotten. Weakened by many blows and on his knees before a filthy leader of a squalid horde, he straightens to meet his end rather than cowering before his inevitable demise. With his dying breath he restates his allegiance to the future king of Gondor, and passes from Middle Earth with warrior's honors.