Saturday, May 05, 2007

Faramir the Dutiful

One thing I admire about Faramir, something that makes him the hero he is, is his sense of duty. Aragorn urged obedience to duty when he spoke to Eowyn at Dunharrow. She cried out that too often she had heard of duty, and she wished to spend her life as she willed. “Few may do that with honour,” Aragorn told her. The Bible describes what a young man should be in (among other places) Titus 2: "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded." In my experience the spiritually mature young men are those who are self-controlled and who recognize the serious nature of their choices. Therefore Faramir’s dedication to his responsibility made him a man mature and ready for stewardship in other areas.

Though a man of passionate conviction, who loved truth, Faramir was willing to submit to his father’s will that he be a ‘man of action’ and defend his country in its need. He gave up time, forsaking his own preference for studying lore, to accomplish his tasks. The fact that he is skillful with weapons shows that he has practiced, a diligent habit marking those possessing self-discipline. Without loving war and glory, Faramir risked and dedicated his life to strategy, ambush, and border-raids. In Boromir’s absence, his brother led the armies of Minas Tirith. While conflict heightened, and facing major stakes, it was Faramir who was holding the western shores of Anduin on the night when Boromir’s body floated down the river. Then, as his father’s sanity crumbled, the careful son held together the steward’s counsel and the empire by standing in his brother’s stead on top of his own.

As much influence as duty has on Faramir, it is not his master. There are higher claims, and ultimate responsibility to do what is right. “I should now take you back to Minas Tirith to answer there to Denethor, and my life will justly be forfeit, if I now choose a course that proves ill for my city,” he told Frodo and Sam in Ithilien. Ultimately, he did not do as law and duty would bid, but by his wisdom sent the ringbearer on his way, aided in his mission. The quote above reveals already that he was choosing a course not only based on his perceived duty, but on the basis of what was beneficial to his city.

Again there was conflict between his duty and his judgment when Denethor in his madness commissioned his son to retake Osgiliath. His submissive reply to his father was, “Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will go and do what I can in his stead – if you command it.” The test of that moment held another lesson we can learn about duty. Duty shouldn’t make you bitter. Duty requires selflessness. Selflessness by nature is not bitter; it can be grim, but it ought to be joyful and willing. Gandalf counseled Faramir before he rode away, “Do not throw your life away rashly or in bitterness.” That the dutiful son took Gandalf’s advice is evidenced by how he fought for life when wounded.

After his recovery, Faramir took up duty once more, faithfully fulfilling his role as a steward, preparing his city and his country for the long-awaited return of her king. Here as he answered Eowyn do we get another glimpse of his views on duty, “I myself am in the warden’s keeping. Nor have I yet taken up my authority in the City. But had I done so, I should still listen to his counsel, and should not cross his will in matters of his craft, unless in some great need.” On the day of coronation, his duty was recognized with further faith from his king: “That office [of stewardship] is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!”

Performing duty earns trust, and blessing as well. After all, his faithfulness earned Faramir a princedom in Ithilien, purchased peace for his country, and won the heart of the stern shieldmaiden of the Rohirrim.

Luke 17:10, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."

To God be all glory.

1 comment:

Melian said...

I love your insights on Faramir, Lisa. They attest what I've heard you say about how God teaches you through fiction =)