Sunday, April 24, 2016

Compare and Contrast: Isildur and Boromir


  • Both were royalty with Numenorian blood
  • Both were involved in the Downfall of Sauron
  • Both fell to the lure of the Ring
  • Both were killed by orc arrows (see Of the Rings of Power and The Departure of Boromir)
  • Both were from Gondor
  • Both were considered great warriors
  • Both had prominent brothers (Anarion and Faramir)
  • Both of their fathers ruled over Gondor (Elendil and Denethor)
  • Both traveled from Gondor to Rivendell (Isildur was killed en route while Boromir had to venture there to be at the council of Elrond)
  • Both are assumed to have fought with a sword (Boromir's sword is mentioned in The Ring Goes South, and though Isildur's weapon is not mentioned, seeing as he "cut" the Ring from Sauron's hand, it is logical to assume he used a sword although it is possible he had a dagger or other small utility weapon)
  • Both were next in line to become the ruler of Gondor but didn't make it (Isildur was technically the ruler though he never made it back to the capital city and Boromir died before he could succeed to the Steward's seat, and Aragorn reclaimed the throne as king anyway)
  • Both take the Ring out of pride (Isildur wants it because to him it seems like Sauron owes him it, and Boromir wants it because he thinks he is strong enough to wield it)

  • Isildur saved the White Tree of Numenor and replanted it in Minas Anor while in Boromir's time, the White Tree was dead
  • Boromir died a hero's death protecting Pippin and Merry while Isildur died as a coward floundering in a stream searching for the Ring
  • Isildur was of direct royal lineage while Boromir was the second choice for the Gondorian rulership
  • Isildur came directly from Numenor and Boromir never knew Numenor
  • Isildur was married and had children but Boromir was single
  • Isildur wanted the Ring as "weregild" or compensation for his father and brother's deaths but Boromir wanted the Ring to defeat Sauron and save his city
  • Isildur actually vanquished Sauron directly--temporarily--while Boromir played an integral role in Sauron's defeat, but was not actually around for the destruction of Sauron a second time
  • Isildur was around in the time of glory of Gondor while Boromir was living during it's slow decay
  • They both seem to prefer "fighting on the front lines" (Isildur's city is Minas Ithil, on the very border of Mordor, and Boromir's main conquest is in Osgiliath, ground zero in terms of the battles of his time)
So what does this mean?

Clearly these two characters are similar in many ways, but they also have their differences.  The fact they are so similar makes them fun and easy to compare, but also highlights the ways they differ.

First off, we know they are both high and considered noble men.  They are prominent people in Gondor and are respected by the people.  They are both warriors and "royalty" of sorts which points out a bit of what we might expect the people of Gondor to value--that is, they show great respect to their warriors.  

They are around in very different times in history.  Isildur comes as Gondor is being built and Arnor and Gondor are still united.  Boromir is on the stage as the realm is falling into a slow decay which culminates in his father's suicide.  The glory of Gondor is symbolized by the White Tree.  Isildur brings it to Middle-earth where it flowers, but in Boromir's time it is dead in the square.  This points out the very opposite ends of history they represent.  

I think in some ways, Boromir represents the way Isildur could have been, if he had not fallen to the Ring.  Yes Boromir does get corrupted temporarily by the Ring, but he repents at the end and dies a hero's death instead of Isildur's cowardly attempts to locate the Ring.


  1. Good post! I enjoyed it. :D I was actually just reading the section where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli sing the lament for Boromir.

  2. Oh interesting! Normally, especially when watching the movie, you compare Aragorn and Isildur but it almost makes more sense to compare Boromir and Isildur. Never thought about it. :)

    1. That is true--they all kind of form a triangle of parallels :)