Character Analysis: Faramir, the simp?

There’s not a lot of characters that make you scream at them in the books. In Lord of The Rings, the people are mostly static characters. Aragorn is a boss, whether as a raggedy Dunedain Ranger or a silver King of old. Samwise goes right back to gardening after coming back to the Shire, Gandalf keeps to wandering to and fro, and Barliman Butterbur is still droning on and on. But man. When it comes to our second-born son of Denethor, you’re left wanting more and more. So without further adieu: Faramir, a character analysis.

Faramir Nazgul Blank Template - Imgflip

A better way to put my former statement would be; you want more for him, because the poor guy has it rough. He’s an unloved and motherless son, a less adept fighter, and a hard “behind-the-scenes” warrior. It’s almost the world’s first teen drama, in the sense that he has a jock brother whose captain of the football team (or White Tower here), and he’s expected to go out and rule just like chummy Boromir. The reader realizes though, what Denethor and the Gondorians do not, is that Boromir… sucks. Really though; he’s not a guy who should be ruling. He’s a kickass fighter and a hardy warrior, definitely a guy you want on your side. He probably would of made a great Rohan horseman too. But he has no restraint, and not the wisdom a King or Steward needs. It’s straight up even mentioned so by Gandalf, when describing Denethor to Pippin: “… by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him; as it does in his other son Faramir, and yet did not in Boromir who he loved best.”

The Numenorean blood runs true! Does that mean nothing to you people?! Well… on second thought, it might not. It’s more complicated than you think at first. The line of Ecthelion does in fact have some lineage to Numenorean blood (Hurin of Emyn Arnen). But what probably amplifies this, is that Finduilas, Faramir’s mother, was a daughter of the Prince of Dol Amroth, of who have Elvish blood in their lineage (Legolas crushes harrrrd on the dude over this, true story). From those facts, you can make a valid argument that he’s more Elvish than Aragorn. When Aragorn shows up to heal those wounded in the Battle of Pelennor Fields, he comes across Faramir, and he can tell straight away that this is a lordly dude. And yet, Tolkien frequently remarks that he is less noble than Aragorn, less of a fighter, less wise perhaps.

So what then, defines a “lesser man”? Heritage? Oh sorry Faramir, you don’t have some Elrond in you and you’re not banging your great, great, 100x great Aunt. Blood lineage is mentioned here more than anywhere else in Tolkien’s work. At this point, it’s probably important to mention Tolkien’s interpretation of bloodline and nobility. While it’s not outright said, Numenoreans are clearly meant to be the superior race of Arda (at the very least, the superior race of the Edain). They live longer, fight harder, and create all the cool stuff in Middle-Earth. Far often than not, he pins the importance of characters to how their lineage is tied into the story. And when the noble intermingle “with those of lesser men”, the bloodline becomes corrupt (see Ar-PharazĂ´n). So not only is blood the central factor in the ability to rule, but it reflects moral fiber? I really don’t believe that looking at this in the lens of 2021 is going to be doing much service to anyone, but I do want to acknowledge this is an area where we grimace, and are left to interpret the similarities to themes of eugenics, racism, ect. I would of loved to see perhaps more tales of lesser men in the Appendices, or more “rags to riches” stories. Better minds than me have spoken more about Tolkien and race, so I leave it to you on how to make sense of it. What I will end on is that the Hobitts are clearly an exception and purposefully given the largest roles in the story – they show that even the smallest people can make the biggest difference. To quote Elrond:

“This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

Elrond, FOTR

I’m not going to get into Peter Jackson’s take here. The films crush this character, that is a fact. Why? I’m not a cinephile, I don’t want to get in the head of Peter Jackson. And I think I’ve also droned on a bit too much as well. But it’s clear that this character has been cut significantly down to size, maybe to save time.

In summary, Faramir is one of the most well-rounded characters in the whole saga, akin to Tolkien himself. Ol’ Johnny mentions that he felt as he didn’t create the character Faramir, he just embodied himself in this story and felt as if he is most similar to Faramir. In one of the many Letters of Tolkien, he describes Faramir as “modest, fair-minded and scrupulously just, and very merciful.” High praise, sir, high praise indeed. In short, give the Faramir’s of your life some credit. They are due more than they receive.

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