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Lord of the Rings: Is Faramir Underrated?

How did the other characters perceive Faramir?

By Mackenzie TittlePublished about a year ago 8 min read

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“Faramir? Mackenzie, why would you write an article about Faramir?”

I know, I know — he may seem like a minor character. In some regards, I suppose that he is. But as I’ve been reading my way through the LotR Trilogy, I’ve been repetitively struck by Faramir’s awesomeness!

1. Faramir’s Pure Love for Boromir

I have a younger brother and I know that at times he has felt over-shadowed by my assertiveness and more outspoken nature. Still, I’ve never felt that he was jealous of me or that he harbored any resentment towards me. Reading the way that Faramir talks about and describes Boromir reminds me in an uncanny way of how I imagine my brother seems to think of me. Two men who grew up in the same home and were raised by the same values, but whose personalities are vastly different. I think the brotherly love between Faramir & Boromir was mutual and pure, but the burden of that relationship consistently fell on Faramir — Boromir was harder to love.

2. Faramir Chooses Gandalf

Faramir has a respect and love for Gandalf that is quite rare amongst the other humans in the LotR Trilogy. The weight that he places on Gandalf’s words & actions reveal that Faramir understands the wizard’s wisdom and authority in a way which other men do not or cannot. In fact, the only other human who seems to view Gandalf in the same light as Faramir is Aragorn. They are the only two men who have chosen Gandalf as a mentor like figure, and the only two humans with whom Gandalf pursued such a special relationship. Faramir even listens to Gandalf at the angering of Denethor II (who he loves dearly).

3. Faramir’s Dream

Boromir travels to Rivendell because he had a prophetic dream about Narsil, Rivendell, the One Ring & a Hobbit. However, by Boromir’s own concession, Faramir had that dream three times before it appeared to Boromir. The unnamed force of Destiny/Good in Middle-Earth was calling to Faramir because Faramir was wiser and more humble than Boromir — he would have made a better companion to Frodo. Boromir asserted himself into the situation instead, and Denethor chose his favored elder son to travel to Rivendell and join the Fellowship. Still, Faramir did not become jealous or bitter towards his brother.

4. Faramir Denies the Ring

In The Two Towers, this moment is mis-portrayed. We see Faramir wrestling with the decision before he eventually denies the Ring’s temptations — after a great struggle. In the books, Faramir has no desire for the Ring — and he resists it’s temptations quite easily. In fact, Faramir seems to have an easier time denying the Ring than… pretty much everyone (excluding Tom Bombadil). We can’t compare him to the people who actually carried the Ring, for obvious reasons, but he certainly resisted it more easily than Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel, Boromir, Denethor & Sauraman. When he finds out that Frodo has the Ring, Faramir responds —

“But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.”

5. Honorable & Obedient + Wise & Discerning

It is difficult for men (both in Middle-Earth and the real world) to be simultaneously obedient to authority & discerning in their actions. At times, those two measures come at odds with one another. Faramir toes that line marvelously — and under exceedingly challenging circumstances. He follows his father’s orders — even when it means sacrificing his own life. Yet, he disobeys his father’s orders when the fate of the whole world depends on it.

Faramir is under orders to kill everything in the lands of Ithilien. However, when he sees Frodo & Sam — he does not kill them.

Faramir is under orders to kill anyone who touches the Forbidden pool of Henneth Annun. Smeagol goes fishing in the pool, and Faramir chooses not to kill him.

Faramir is under orders to bring back to Minas Tirith any matter of great importance — so that Denethor may rule on the wisest course of action. However, he does not bring Frodo back to Minas Tirith — he sends Frodo, Sam & Smeagol off freely on their quest.

6. Faramir’s Kindness to Smeagol

Faramir’s words & actions stand in contrast to the majority of the characters throughout the LotR Trilogy. Amongst those measures of higher character is the manner in which he chooses to conduct himself with Smeagol. Firstly, he calls the creature Smeagol — a name known by few and used by even fewer. In the Two Towers movie, the men of Gondor are rather forceful and mean towards Gollum, but these interactions look much different in the books. In fact, Faramir even grants Smeagol passage throughout the lands of Gondor — so long as he is in the company & good standing of Frodo.

7. Faramir Recognizes Aragorn as King

“Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. ‘My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?”

Aragorn heals Faramir in the House of Healing after the Battle of Minas Tirith, and Faramir awakens to find Aragorn bent over him. Without hesitation, he recognizes Aragorn as his King and joyfully pledges his loyalty to him. Denethor & Boromir were dead, and Faramir was the new Steward of Gondor — his family had been the Stewards of Gondor for over a thousand years. He handed over that position of power — the highest authority possessed by the humans of Middle-Earth, without request or deliberation. How many people could honestly do that?

8. How did the other characters perceive him?

“Yeah, yeah we get it. Mackenzie loves Faramir.”

I do. But I’m not the only one.

What did Pippin think when he saw Faramir for the first time?

“Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Eldar Race. He [Pippin] knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He [Faramir] was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.”

What did Samwise think of Faramir?

“Yes, sir, and showed your quality: the very highest.”

Faramir smiled. “…The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards. Yet there was naught in this to praise. I had no lure or desire to do other than I have done.”

“Ah well, sir,” said Sam, “you said my master had an Elvish air; and that twas good and true. But I can say this: you have an air too, sir, that reminds of, of — well, Gandalf, of wizards.”

What did Eowyn think of Faramir? She married him.

What did Aragorn think of Faramir? After the demise of Sauron, Aragorn named Faramir the Prince of Ithilien (his Right Hand man).

And we already know that he was loved and highly respected by both Boromir & Gandalf.

9. Most Alike to Tolkien

In a letter, Tolkien once claimed that Faramir was the most like him. Although in a later letter he also conceded that he lacked the courage which all of his characters possessed. Still, Tolkien described Faramir as “courageous and decisive, but also modest, fair-minded and scrupulously just, and very merciful.” That’s pretty high praise coming from the author of everything LotR. Faramir is also responsible for one of the most memorable quotes from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy:

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.” — Faramir, The Two Towers

I find this quote to be remarkably similar to Tolkien’s thoughts on war, as described in a letter to his son:

“The utter stupid waste of war, not only material but moral and spiritual, is so staggering to those who have to endure it. And always was (despite the poets), and always will be (despite the propagandists)–not of course that it has not is and will be necessary to face it in an evil world.” — Letter to Christopher

To recap… Faramir is similar to Aragorn, Gandalf, Frodo & Tolkien. That seems like a pretty elite category of people to be in league with, at least to me.

If you enjoyed this story, please check out my other LotR articles:

Gollum Never Framed Sam

Pippin was no Fool!


About the Creator

Mackenzie Tittle - Creator & Writer

I write about Chess, Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, Gloomhaven & Soccer.

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