During the course of the Lord of the Rings, many people suggest using the One Ring against Sauron, for example Boromir, who proposes using it to defend Gondor. Likewise, more knowing characters such as Gandalf and Elrond are diligent to explain that using the Ring against Sauron himself is foolish and destructive.

However misguided Boromir's ideas about the Ring may have been, I'm intrigued: How did he think the Ring would have helped him protect Gondor? How did Boromir envision using its powers?


2 Answers 2


Letter 246:

It was part of the essential deceit of the Ring to fill minds with imaginations of supreme power.

In the case of Boromir, this is exemplified by his statements at the Breaking of the Fellowship; for example in his words to Frodo:

The Ring would give me power of Command. How I would drive the hosts of Mordor, and all men would flock to my banner!

This, however, is totally consistent with Tolkien's statement in his letter (above) in that it is an "imagination of supreme power".

In other words, rational thought about how to use the Ring, or even if one could use it, doesn't come into this. The Ring deceives people into thinking that they can, into imaginations of what they might achieve (we see the same effect when Sam uses it in Mordor).

It is therefore probable that Boromir had no idea whatsoever of how he would actually use its power if the Ring came into his possession; the deceit of the Ring was sufficient on its own.

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    I'm kind of disappointed that there's no better canon answer, BUT this definitely isn't as implausible as it sounds - that is a typical thinking for wanting ANYTHING by any self-respecting packrat *looks around guiltily* Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:17
  • Are you sure there's not a more definite answer? This is obviously plausible, given the Ring's nature as a master of seduction by power, but doesn't really cut it unless it's explicitly stated somewhere that Boromir had no idea how he'd use the Ring.
    – kviiri
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:22
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    The only thing more definitive I'm aware of is Boromir's statements at the Breaking, e.g "The Ring would give me power of Command. How I would drive the hosts of Mordor, and all men would flock to my banner!" but that's just "imaginations of supreme power" too. I'll actually edit to work this in.
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:31
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    @DarthMelkor, why, that is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks!
    – kviiri
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:41

I don't think Boromir has anything like a plan for how to use the ring. Until the Council of Elrond, he doesn't even know that the Ring is anything other than permanently lost. He does know that war with Mordor will hit his people first, and hardest.

He has a dream, which sends him to Rivendell, coincidentally right at the time that the Ring comes back from hiding, while his home is under imminent threat of invasion. When he hears the story of Isildur cutting the ring from Sauron's hand, he says:

So that is what became of the Ring! If ever such a tale was told in the South, it has been long forgotten. I have heard of the Great Ring of him that we do not name; but we believed that it perished from the world in the ruin of his first realm. Isildur took it! That is tidings indeed.

Boromir is not a scholar, he's a soldier. It makes perfect sense to him that the right thing to do is to take the ring, put it in the hand of the strongest warrior available, and go out and destroy the army of Mordor before it destroys Minas Tirith.

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