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Denethor-centric meta over at Tumblr

So I ... may have committed a meta today.


It's looking at the book scenes where Denethor says he wished Boromir's and Faramir's places had been replaced and where he orders Faramir to try to defend (retake in the movies) Osgiliath. I wanted to look at just wht was going on in those scenes and so talked a bit about the LOTR scenes and the HoME drafts, as well as some comments Tolkien makes about Denethor in the letters.

Comments welcome here or there. If anyone runs an archive that's interested in a cleaned-up version of it, please let me know.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:57 am (UTC)
I saw that over on Tumblr and enjoyed the discussion. I like the idea that Denethor meant he wished they'd switched placed because Boromir would have brought the ring to Minas Tirith instead of aiding Frodo in his quest, verses the idea that he wished it were Faramir who was dead instead of Boromir. It would be a lovely thing to post at Many Paths to Tread.
Apr. 6th, 2015 03:16 am (UTC)
It's not wishful thinking, I don't think - that really is the most straightforward way I can think to read the text! It's doubly clear in the drafts that that was what Tolkien was thinking. Of course, it's a bit of a philosopher's difference: Denethor knew places switched would mean Faramir was dead, but I do think the difference matters.

I may throw it up at MPTT. That's a good suggestion, thanks!
Apr. 6th, 2015 04:09 am (UTC)
I would love to see it over at MPTT! We can never have enough non-fiction there!

BTW, I had a bunch more to say, but it got eaten by the internet somewhere along the line. *sigh*
Apr. 6th, 2015 01:09 am (UTC)
Thank you! This is an excellent defense of Denethor and very much in line with my own understanding of his desire to have their places exchanged, not to mention his reasoning behind sending Faramir to Osgiliath. Your point that the conversation between Faramir and Denethor is as a captain to his lord rather than a son to his father is key to understanding so much about the dynamics between these two, particularly after Faramir has just knowingly gone against orders in a way that could (in Denethor's view) compromise everything.

Again, a most excellent essay and very much appreciated by an avid fan of Denethor!
Apr. 6th, 2015 11:48 am (UTC)
Excellent points, Marta!
You made really good use of the earlier draft, too.
One thing that I might have read a little differently--I didn't get the impression that the troops that Faramir had been commanding previously were necessarily minor forces--but I guess when he was commanding them directly under Denethor's eyes, it would usually have been as Boromir's second-in-command.
Apr. 6th, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
You know, that's an interesting question. I got the impression just from the way they're described that the group of troops we see in the Two Towers ambush/Henneth Annun regroup are the majority of his Ithilien troops, and certainly the troops we see in any detail (Mablung, Damrod, etc.) seem to know Faramir as well - that suggests intimacy and more ease of access than I think you'd see if Faramir was commanding troops on a scale like Boromir was, even the men who were under his immediate command before he became captain-general of the whole Gondorian military.

I'm also probably influenced by what seems likely to me, given Gondor's manpower shortage and the fact that Ithilien seems seen as a losing battle. I just don't get the impression that anyone expects the Rangers to seriously hold on to Ithilien. There's not even really any reason to try, other than history: no Gondorians are living there at that point, and the river provides a great tactical barrier behind them. What they can do is get information and perhaps make Mordor feel uncertain in that area. But I don't get the impression that Denethor is going to devote a lot of time and resources to this cause.

Then again that's what makes sense to me, more than a clear statement from Tolkien. It's interesting how people will interpret the same situation differently.
Apr. 7th, 2015 12:44 am (UTC)
A most interesting essay. I second you should post it on MPTT.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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