This week’s prince is the character I crushed on most in The Lord of the Rings. Yes, Aragorn was the ultimate alpha male, but he wanted a trophy wife. He couldn’t see past Arwen to recognize the value of Eowyn.
And Eowyn almost made the same mistake. She couldn’t see past Aragorn to recognize the value of Faramir.
But we – the readers – were more fortunate than she. Rather than encountering Faramir injured, drained, grieving the twin losses of his father and his brother, we met him at his strongest. And he was a man to admire. Fair, virtuous, courageous, loyal, a leader of men… all those things that marked Aragorn were present in Faramir, as well. And he was wise – a man of honor. His encounter with the hobbits showed us so much of his character that we were stricken with terror when it appeared he might fall victim to Denethor’s madness.
I don’t know whether you remember meeting him, on your first reading. I do… he was mysterious. I feared for Frodo and Sam, when they fell into his hands. And yet he was a man of honor, with more strength of will than his brother.
Here is what Tolkien said of him:
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.
There are characters like that. Essential characters who insert themselves into the story because they’re needed. The men of the hour.
Faramir is not the star of the trilogy. He’s not even a main character. But he is a character without whom all would have been lost. And, because of him, we see for ourselves that Men are worth all the trouble the hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards are put to in their defense. They are not merely easily corrupted (Boromir), jealous (Denethor), or easily broken (the Theoden we meet initially), but noble to the end.
My kind of man.