Why I Love . . . {Faramir} || Hamlette's Tolkien Blog Party


Some people are a little confused when they find out that Faramir is my favorite Lord of the Rings character.  Not only my favorite, in fact, but my favorite by a long chalk.

Just a little puzzled, you understand.  Not judgmental or contemptuous, just puzzled.

"I mean, he's nice and all, but . . . what does he do?  What's so great about him?   Why isn't your favorite Aragorn or Gandalf or SAM or Frodo?"

And honestly?  Up until about two days ago, I was still floundering a little bit myself as to why.  I knew that I loved him deeply and unchangeably and would protect him from all comers, but I didn't know--fully--why he had such a hold on my heart.  My general answer would be that I loved how he remained gentle and kind despite the emotional abuse his worm of a father dished out.  And, on the surface, that's still the answer.  But I just uncovered a whole new layer to that, and that's what I'm going to talk about today.


A couple days ago, I was flipping through my copy of The Lord of the Rings in search of quotes to use for my answers to Hamlette's tag; and I stumbled across this little exchange, and everything clicked.  I now understand why I love this character so much.  Here's the quote (Denethor has been talking with Faramir about his decisions concerning Frodo and the Ring):



[Denethor] "But in desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death."

         "So be it," said Faramir.



(That's from the chapter "The Siege of Gondor" in The Return of the King, if anybody wants to know.)

"So be it."




You see, I've recently figured out that gentleness and sensitivity and kindness and compassion are some of the traits that are most important to me.  On the flipside, one of the things I hate the most is when people try to stamp the softness out of other people.

As someone who is very sensitive--and who is learning that that is an actual thing and it's actually okay and it can actually *gasp* be good and productive and beneficial to society--I've experienced this a little in my own life.  Sometimes people try to get you to "grow out of" your sensitivity from good motives: they want you to be able to stand on your own two feet emotionally and take life's hard knocks without getting bowled over.  But, see, that's the problem: people assume that if you're too soft-hearted, you won't be able to do that.  People assume that gentle people are either weak and insufficient or naïve and untried.  

And that.  Is not.  True.  



Sometimes, we "highly sensitive" ones know full well that our gentleness opens us up to vulnerability.  We know that not trying to strengthen our so-called "fragility" may end up mentally and emotionally wrecking us time and time again.  But because we believe that our specific "mode" of sensitivity is a trait that can be harnessed for good, we keep ourselves soft. 

I think that Faramir is one of those people.  He has a very, very soft--not weak--heart; and despite best efforts from his father, he's self-aware enough to refuse to change that.  He knows that his capacity to feel deep pity and compassion for the hurt and the hurting is a GOOD thing.  He understands that gentleness is costly, but important.

"So be it."  


I think it's worth pointing out that soft people are not necessarily soft because we've never been through anything truly hard. Faramir, at least, certainly isn't. Faramir has faced abuse and loss and national despair. He's a soldier; he's seen bad things. He knows that there is true darkness out there. He's not soft because "he's never had to be anything else".  He's gentle by nature, and he stays gentle by choice, when it would almost certainly be easier to be anything but.

"So be it."


He is someone whose character in essence says, "I know that keeping my heart tender will make it bleed.  I know cultivating such a deep well of compassion may mean that the darkness and pain around me will rip and tear and slice and mutilate my soul.  I know that staying gentle will hurt me, but I'm going to do it anyway because it's what I believe to be right.  Because it's how I know I can help."

That's why I love Faramir.  I love him because I feel kinship with him, as someone who is very soft-hearted and sensitive and who is learning to value that instead of grow out of it.  I love him because he stays gentle when the world demands that he harden.  And I love him because he validates my cherished hope and growing belief:  that you can be soft and strong at the same time.

Because to stay gentle in the face of what he goes through?  To guard his softness when literally everything in his life would be made at least 70% easier if he "toughened up"?  To nurture pity instead of revile it?  To cultivate kindness in a hostile atmosphere?  And to do that while being a respected, talented, and fully capable army captain?

I think there's strength in that.












Comments

  1. "Having a kind heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."

    Did you know Tolkien never planned to put Faramir in the story, or for Boromir to have any siblings? Here is a quote from "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien", in a letter to his son Christopher: "A new character has come on the scene (I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien): Faramir, the brother of Boromir- and he is holding up the 'catastrophe' by a lot of stuff about the history of Gondor and Rohan (with some very sound reflections no doubt on martial glory and true glory): but if he goes on much more a lot of him will have to be removed to the appendices...."
    Later he says: "I am *not* Gandalf.... As far as any character is "like me" it is Faramir-except that I like what all my characters possess (let the psychoanalysts note!) COURAGE." The dream of "The Great Wave" that Faramir has in Return of the King was actually a reoccuring dream that Tolkien himself had, along with his eldest son John, who was startled when he read that passage, as he and his father had no idea that the other had the same dream. Other scholars have noted that Faramir was a lot more like Tolkien than even Tolkien believed.

    Tdlr: Faramir is Tolkien's self-insert OC and you can't tell me otherwise.

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    1. That's obviously supposed to be Tldr, lol 😁

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    2. AMEN. <3 Love that quote. (That's Tolkien, right?)

      I did not! Your comment was very informative, so thank you! I find it interesting that Tolkien identified so strongly with Faramir, because the other accounts I've heard of him seem to indicate that he seemed to be a rather curmudgeonly fellow (albeit with a heart of gold). XD But perhaps these reports slander him unduly. ;)

      "(let the psychoanalysts note!)" << ahhhh, what a fabulous man. XD

      Thanks again for your comment, Victoria! :)

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  2. Awwww I loooove the post Olivia!!! I love Faramir soooo much <3 <3 <3

    I'm very much the same way, super quiet and sensitive, and I love the way you explained everything, how you can be soft and strong at the same time :) <3 Lovely, lovely post!!!

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    1. Thank you, Miss Woodhouse!! Same. <3 <3

      Awwww! Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it. :) <3

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  3. Lovely post, Faramir was my first real book crush and I think you've just helped me understand why! He was just such a good man. I read the second book in the space between the first two films and when he says he's taking the ring and Sam is like 'no!' so was I :/ I understand dramatic license but I thought the whole point was that he is different from Boromir in that way - Boromir is better at so many things but when it comes down to it Faramir is like, emotionally stronger? Or something like that. Like you said, sensitivity can be a strength!

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    1. Aww, thanks, Catherine! That makes me happy. :) Hehe, oh dear! I do get where you're coming from; personally, the movie version was what made me "fall in love" with Faramir in the beginning (since I watched before I read), so it doesn't honestly bother me TOO much. But I will admit that now, having read the books a couple times, I do tend to think of Faramir from a book perspective and just ignore that part in the movie and think, "Well, it's not really THAT bad that he did that but he didn't REALLY do it anyway." ;D Hmm, I like how you put that--"emotionally stronger". I mean, I adore Boromir too and think he is strong in his own right, but I get what you mean.

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  4. Wow! Excellent post both about Faramir and the quality of gentleness. This is so insightful and brave and has given me much to think about.

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    1. Thank you so much, Brittaney! That's encouraging, especially since I did have to delve kind of deep into my own heart in order to understand what I wanted this post to be about.

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  5. Bravo! So well said.

    Did you know that Tolkien considered Faramir to be the closest to himself of any character he'd created?

    Also, I just love the phrase "so be it." It's always soooooooooo good, no matter what story it's in. Mmm, such good words.

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    1. Hamlette, thanks!

      I had not, until Victoria's comment above. Cool!

      It certainly has a sense of "glorious purpose" to it, doesn't it?

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  6. YES to everything you said!!! After reading the LotR trilogy for the first time this past summer, Faramir became one of my favorite characters, if not my absolute favorite. You really did him justice with this post. Gah, I just love him so much. <3

    "...you can be soft and strong at the same time." Again, yes! As someone who is also veeeery sensitive and quiet, I really appreciate this post. Like you said, being sensitive and soft-hearted is not something that needs to be conquered; instead, it can be a strength!

    Looove this post, Olivia. <3

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    1. Isn't he the best?!?! Awww, thank you. I hope so. :)

      That makes me happy! I've had someone in my life recently who's really been helping me to change my mindset about some of those things that I used to see as weaknesses, so I'm glad I could share some of that in the post. :)

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! :D <3

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  7. *clapping* Odds fish what a satisfying post! Faramir has always been one of my favorites...if not my favorite...hmmm...but I really shouldn't play the favorites game so I shouldn't go there. Very dangerous territory.

    Anyway, this post really does explain why I love Faramir. When you said you felt a kind of kinship with him I GOT IT! Being sensitive and aware of my emotions and how those things can be a strength for me has been on my mind for at least the past year. And I loved your exploring this idea through one of my favorite characters.
    Really, like REALLY, loved this post, Olivia!!!
    (And I love Faramir too, soooo, win-win! :D <3)

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    1. Cordy, aww, thanks! :) Haha, indeed, it can become a dangerous game.

      I'm so glad! Ahh, SAME--it's been on my mind, too. D'awww. *blushes*

      THANK YOOOUUUUU. <3 :D

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  8. I read this post very carefully, twice, because it makes me very happy <3 I'm really, really glad you have a character you can relate to so much.

    Because you're right. IT'S GOOD TO BE SOFT. It's good to be gentle. Especially if that's the way you naturally are, if that's the way you process and understand the world . . . then, for heaven's sakes, why would anyone think they have the 'right' to try and change that about you???? That's who you are. Urghhhhhhhhh. It just makes me mad. Cause I know exactly the kind of people you're talking about :-/

    Oddly enough . . . I have a bit of the opposite problem. In some ways, I'm like you, I'm pretty sensitive; but in other ways (and I've been realizing this more and more lately) I'm very hard inside, I have a lot of internalized anger and I can be super super rigid and unforgiving; and stoic, also; and I do this to protect myself, BECAUSE of hard things I've been through. (Like that's definitely not how everyone reacts to hard things! but it's how I myself reacted.) But what I'm realizing is, I don't have to be that way.
    Because a lot of it is artificial!! Induced by rough experiences, not naturally given to me by God. If I don't want to be hard in that way, I don't have to be. I can learn to relax, and be soft. It's okay to be soft--just like you said <3

    *all the hugs*



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    1. Katie, your comment makes ME happy. <3 Thank you. :)

      It's neat that you're learning those things about yourself--and how you don't necessarily have to be that way--recently. These are things that I've only recently been learning about myself, too. We're on this journey together! *hugs* But yeah, like you said: everyone reacts to hard things different ways, but if you feel or if God shows you that you don't need to react that way anymore, it's awesome that you're self-aware enough to see that and be able to change. <3 (Not that the things I talked about in this post are the only way to be, or THE right way to be for all people everywhere! but just, as you said, that it's okay to be soft sometimes.)

      *all the hugs*

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  9. No, not one soul will perish
    who puts their trust in Me'
    -Jesus

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  10. Olivia this is just beautiful!
    Thank you for highlighting the strength of Faramir's character to be in his very gentleness and the courage not to let the darkness and hurt destroy that in him. That is something I have similarly faced like you. Thank you for sharing.

    Faramir is also one of my top favourite Lord of the Rings characters. <3

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    1. Thank YOU, Joy! All of you commenting to tell me that you've experienced similar things is really encouraging and affirming. :)

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  11. This is lovely! I've gotten to be quite the Faramir apologist over time (he is also my favorite LOTR character), but you've uncovered an aspect of his character I've never quite seen. Thanks for making my favorite even better!

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  12. Ohhh, I love it I love it I love it!! *starts crying* It's so beautiful. Yes, I think you found exactly what I've been searching for - exactly why Faramir is so precious. I love the way you explained that, and your statement about how strength and softness can go hand in hand. Isn't Jesus a good example of that, really? He was SO gentle, but still so very strong. I definitely agree with you.

    Amazing post. <3

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    1. Awwwwww, Gabby!!! Thank you!! Ahh, I like that comparison you drew--it's neat how different people share different ones of Jesus's traits: some people gentleness, some people ferocity, etc.

      Thank you!! <3

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  13. Wow, Olivia, this post is unspeakably wonderful. I could go on for an eternity about all the countless important reasons why Faramir is by far my favorite, though that happened gradually over time. But you summed up the most important and essential reason better than I ever could. I never could have expressed it so well! Everything you said about yourself and him goes for me too. Some of it I knew but couldn't put into words as well as you did, and some of it I didn't consciously know till you said it, even if it's true for me too. I love this post so much!

    Like you, I feel that affectionate urge to protect him from the world - even if he takes care of himself just fine, I wish he didn't go through such pain.

    YES, there is incredible strength in being soft and gentle when the world is so full of brokenness and pain and darkness. It is far, far stronger than the type of strength a tough person has, I have realized in recent years. I used to think the other kind of strength was the only kind, and that I was supposed to be that way (like my older sister) instead of the way I am. But no, I would rather be this way, like you and Faramir, even if it gets me hurt badly. There have been a few times when I have been tempted to be hard, or felt myself growing insensitive and callous, because I've experienced too much hurt myself and seen too much hurt in the rest of the world at once - I feel it all. But I was always scared when I saw that happening to me, cause I don't want to be that way! I'm so thankful that despite going through incredible pain in my life, I have stayed soft, by the grace of God. Cause that is the way He made me to be, and it is good and right, not wrong, the way I used to think.

    And like you, that is why Faramir is my favorite, though there are many other reasons. He grew to be my favorite even before I consciously learned all this about myself in recent years. But now I know that I love him so dearly largely because he represents the way I am - and shows that it can be good and strong.

    By the way, it also always makes me feel a kinship with Tolkien himself to know that Faramir was the character who unintentionally represented Tolkien - he didn't plan it that way, but Tolkien saw himself in Faramir, and Faramir represented him in the end. I think that's really special, especially since I'm like Faramir too.

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    1. Mary, oh my goodness, what a beautiful comment!

      I know what you mean about feeling tempted to harden yourself. But, like you say, if God has made you as an individual "soft" in this way, then we shouldn't discount that. I don't believe it's necessarily better or stronger than the other types of strengths that God gives other people--I think this world needs "all kinds," cliché though that sounds--but I do think this particular type of strength IS a strength, and one that's often mistaken for weakness. Like you said, it's something to be accepted and embraced and even cultivated, since it comes from God. (And by the way, I'm sorry for whatever experiences in your past have made it tempting to "toughen up". <3)

      Yes, I just found out about that because of comments on this post! I like that Faramir had a special place in Tolkien's estimation. :) (Though, I guess all of them did . . . but still. ;D)

      Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts!! <3

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  14. I love Faramir too! He's just so...so Faramir! :D He's a great example of kindness and love. NOT TO MENTION HOW HE AND EOWYN ARE SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. AHHHHH DON'T SPEAK OF FARAWYN I WILL FANGIRL FOREVER!! <3

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  15. k this was the sweetest post ever and I 100% agree!!!!

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  16. I LOVE FARAMIR SO MUCH!! I can never really pin-point why, but I think captured it in this post. I love him for who he is. <33

    And I am so glad Tolkien brought Faramir and Eowyn together! They are too cute. XD

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    1. Same, Kendra!! He's wonderful. :)

      FARAMIR AND EOWYN ARE PERFECT THE END.

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  17. Yay!!! More Faramir appreciation! I feel like he's really underrated, especially since they changed his character a bit in the movies. :(
    "Softness and strength" are a combination that's frowned upon. I loved the whole post! :)
    My favorite has always been Sam, partly because of his and Faramir's exchanges. :) Go Faramir!
    Oh, and he and Eowyn in the houses of healing brings even more weight to your argument- his "grave tenderness". :)
    And Denethor can go sit on a tack for hurting Faramir- I always want to give F. a hug whenever I watch that scene in the movies.
    ~IrishAG

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    1. He IS underrated. :( (At least, in my opinion. ;)) I personally love him in the movies, as well, but I get why people would dislike him if they read the books first.

      It is, sadly. Thank you so much! :)

      Sam is an amazing and amazingly worthy character. <3

      Yes! He pretty much says it outright. ;)

      Denethor can most DEFINITELY go sit on a tack, as you so aptly put it. I'mma borrow that expression now, if that's cool. ;D Thanks for the comment!

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    2. "Sit on a tack" comes from a song that goes "And if the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack-ouch! Sit on a tack, sit on a tack... today!" :)

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