Conversation from the Barnes and Noble University's Lord of the Ring's class
Sunday, 6-Oct-2002 7:06 PM
Here's a random thought on friendship. Frodo and Sam were friends; Merry and Pippin were friends; Legolas and Gimli were friends; and, Gandalf and Aragorn were friends. Granted, they were all on the same team, but they did more or less pair off...with the exception of Boromir. He was the only one of the nine in the fellowship who did not have a friend. (With the number 9 I suppose it is likely that there would be an odd man out.)
I know it's really obvious but for some reason, the starkness of his aloneness just tugged at my heartstrings. There is an inherent synchronicity at work here...not only does the Quest depend upon friendship and teamwork...so does the survival of individuals.
Monday, 7-Oct-2002 12:50 AM
J2, I like it! What's more, Legolas and Gimli didn't even know each other before they met at Rivendell, yet they overcame the animosity between Dwarves and Elves and became friends.
Boromir seems such a brooding type, buried in his concerns. Each of the others has a lightness of heart or spirituality -- something to counter their terrible quest -- that Boromir lacks. A dark and brooding nature doesn't invite friendship.
Near the end of 'The Houses of Healing' (p.850-1), Aragorn says of Merry, 'But these evils can be amended, so strong and gay a spirit is in him. His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.' This quote stood out for me the first time I read LotR. Nietzsche was wrong: what doesn't kill you does not always make you stronger. Yes, some people come through a horrible experience intact, and often stronger because of it; yet others are broken by even minor hardship. Maybe it's what Aragorn attributes to Merry: a strong and gay spirit that lifts part of him above a broken body and heart.
Monday, 7-Oct-2002 6:33 AM
D, I like the Nietzsche reference. It's so true--one LotR reflection of reality is that there isn't always a miraculous cure. A lot of war veterans don't emerge from battle stronger, some are damaged for life. The only thing that is healing sometimes is that "...lightness of heart or spirituality..." that you mentioned.
I feel this spirit is fed through friendship, and friendship is a rather big word, don't you think? I mean, a person can be friends with herself or himself, friends with other people, friends with animals and the earth, or friendly with the divine. And Boromir didn't really seem to be on friendly terms with any of these. (I know he loved Gondor and his father, but that is different than the lightness associated with friendship that we are talking about.)
Something else about Boromir I noticed: he even arrived at Rivendell alone (at least in the movie. I didn't have time to go back and look it up this morning in FotR, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Even if he didn't arrive alone in the book, however, I think this was a good move on Jackson's part...to highlight his aloneness). Everyone else had support with them. Even Gandalf didn't arrive alone--he had Gwaihir--a friend for sure. Speaking of Gandalf, if he didn't have that friendly little moth come to him on Orthanc, he might have been orctoast.
I'm glad you brought up Merry. I love Merry's and Pippin's names--they ring of lightness. Like windchimes.
Tuesday, 8-Oct-2002 3:02 PM
I really enjoyed the discussion between you and Jennifer about friendship and lightness of spirit.
Your statement, D: "Yes, some people come through a horrible experience intact, and often stronger because of it; yet others are broken by even minor hardship. Maybe it's what Aragorn attributes to Merry: a strong and gay spirit that lifts part of him above a broken body and heart." was what struck me. It put into words something I feel true for the books and for life.
I was looking out my window and remembering a difficult time this summer. We were facing (along with many people) effects from the poor economy that could impact greatly on our life. We were trying to stay positive but it was a struggle. I looked out my window and was delighted to see a goldfinch at our new thistle feeder. It was the first goldfinch we'd had in the back yard and I KNEW, that regardless of what happened to us, joy exists in this world. It is always there. We just have to look up. And I thought of Sam who looked up through the darkness of Mordor and "saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."
This is what I think of as "the lightness of spirit." The ability to look up and the faith that something is there. Some joy, some friend, some wonder.
Maybe THIS is why we respond to LOTR on such a deeper level as we age (a reference to my lesson 9 discussion). This isn't a message that is so needed at young ages (at least we hope). But I have learned it first hand many times. Life and light find a way.