Category Archives: The Lord of the Rings

Secondary Character Saturday: Sean Bean; Boromir

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a bit will recall that March featured Secondary Characters played by the wonderful Alan Rickman. This month I thought I’d focus on another terrific secondary character (mostly) player, Sean Bean.

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Sean Bean as Boromir in Peter Jackson's live-a...
Sean Bean as Boromir in Peter Jackson’s live-action version of The Lord of the Rings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO: Boromir; Son of the Steward of Gonor, Captain of the White Tower

FROM: The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is...
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is by a Christian author, and contains Christian themes, Matthew T. Dickerson, Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings, Brazos Press, 2003, though its wide popularity means that many would not consider it a specifically Christian novel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY: J.R.R. Tolkien

PUBLISHED: July 29, 1954

PROS: Boromir is honorable, noble, strong, brave, couragous , a natural leader, loyal to Gondor and a great big brother.

CONS: His single minded desire to protect his homeland blinds him to the dangers of the Ring. He questions Gandalf’s leadership of the Fellowship and Frodo‘s ability to carry out the task of destroying the Ring. He is stubborn, proud, arrogant. He’s afraid of the Elves of Lothlorien and things start to sour in his relationship with the Fellowship after they’ve passed through the forest.

MOST SHINING MOMENT: Fights to the death in an attempt to keep Merry and Pippin safe from the Orcs.

LEAST SHINING MOMENT: His attempt to take the RING from Frodo. His motive — to take the Ring to protect Gondor — may have been noble, but it is misguided. And he breaks the trust and the bond of friendship of the Fellowship when he tries to take the Ring from Frodo. At first he tries to cajole the hobbit into turning the Ring over, but when that doesn’t work he attempts to seize it physically. Frodo has to put the Ring on to escape (he disappears, but it also alerts the Orcs to his location.) Boromir recovers his senses, but the hobbit knows he can’t trust him anymore. Frodo must go forward on the quest alone. (Until, of course, his faithful servant/friend Sam tags along too.)

WHY SEAN BEAN IS SO GOOD IN THE ROLE: Despite the fact that Boromir dies a third of the way through The Lord of the Rings Trilogy he is still one of the most interesting characters. He’s a leader of men, but Tolkien hasn’t seemed to decide if MAN is really a redeemable species. If the battle for Middle Earth was between Hobbits / Elves  and  Orcs … things would be so much neater. The battles would be black and white. You’d know who to cheer for. But Tolkien throws in Dwarves and Men — greed, pride,  doubt, all kinds of deadly sins — and suddenly the lines are not so pristine. When Peter Jackson made is epic 2001 (yes it was 12 years ago!!!) movie of the book he couldn’t have picked a better actor to play Boromir.  Sean Bean has a look of tired conflict written all over his face. He’s not a  man to be messed with. He’s a soldier who has been fighting for decades to keep his country safe, and he will do anything to further that goal.

But Bean’s performance is multi layered too. He’s gentle, playful, and protective of  the hobbits as they take their long journey.

But there’s heart ache there too…

The perfect flawed hero. And a  truly human performance.

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What other Sean Bean roles do you think we should discuss? Drop me a line and let me know.

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Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).

 

26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 http://www.hughes-photography.eu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?


Secondary Character Saturday Aragorn

I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadain, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the sword that was broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!” [The Two Towers]
Viggio Morgenson as Aragorn in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Viggio Morgenson as Aragorn in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. [Image courtesy:  Wikia.com]

 
Who: AragornFrom: The Lord of the RingsWritten by: JRR Tolkien

Date Published: July 21, 1954

Last week I profiled Samwise, this week it is Aragorn’s turn. Aragorn is the star of his story arc, but he’s not the main character of TLOTRs. That said, his story arc is a lovely one. Left to the protection of the Elves of Rivendell as a child when his father is killed by Orcs he lives a secret life. As an adult he goes from being a Ranger ( some one generally considered to be a dangerous and unsavory character) to King.

Pros:  Brave, skilled, humble, kind to those who are weaker than he is.  He’s good with horses. He’s handsome, and he can sing.

Cons: A reluctant hero he hesitates when it comes to taking on responsibility and the burden of leadership.

Shining moments:

  • Aragorn puts aside his fear and grief and finally takes control of the Fellowship after Gandalf’s fall in the mines of Moria. By the sheer force of his will he gets them out and to the safety of Lothlórien, It is a huge turning point for him. He’s spent his entire life avoiding leadership, and staying safely hidden among the elves or anonymously hidden in the trees.  But now he has takes the lead in a life and death situation.
  • He braved the paths of the dead in  Dwimerberg and took charge of the ghost army in Return of the King. He used the grim army to defeat the Orcs at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He had promised to release them from their curse at the end of the battle. He could have kept the ghost army under his power and forced them to fight for him at the gate of Mordor, but he honorably kept to his promise and let them go.
  • Of course Aragorn unites the Northern and Southern kingdoms and… gets the girl.

Least shining moment:  He spent much of his life shirking his duties as king. “He didn’t want to step into that position, which is understandable… but still, when the world is crumbling around you … you have step up”. — Dave

Coat of arms from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-ea...

Coat of arms from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Español: Escudo de Gondor, reino de la Tierra Media de J. R. R. Tolkien. Français : Blason du Gondor, royaume de la Terre du Milieu de J. R. R. Tolkien. Italiano: Stemma di Gondor, reame della Terra di Mezzo creata da J. R. R. Tolkien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Thanks to Bill, Maggie, Dave and John for contributing to their thoughts to this Blog Post.
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On a lighter side Bill adds to Aragorn’s Cons that…He smoked and that he was too cheap to buy his own sword so he has to make the elves put a broken one together for him.
Strider, aka Aragorn

Strider, aka Aragorn (Photo credit: Dunechaser)


Secondary Character Saturday — Samwise Gamgee

Sean Astin [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Sean Astin as Sam in the 2001 LOTR  [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Samwise Gamgee

“I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.” –Sam from The Fellowship of the Ring

“I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave. wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.“‘–Sam from the Two Towers

Who: Samwise “Sam” Gamgee

From: The Lord of the Rings

Written by: JRR Tolkien

Date Published: July 21, 1954

Why: Sam is the heart of the novel. The Lord of the Rings is essentially a quest/buddy story with a 9 member fellowship of adventurers trying to get the Ring to Mt. Doom. It is hard to stand out in a group of nine when you are small, socially unconnected and unskilled. Sam isn’t a wizard (Gandalf), he’s not a prince (BoromirAragorn), he’s not a warrior (Legolas, Gimli),  and he’s not even a well-born Hobbit (Frodo, Meriadoc and Pippin). He’s just Frodo’s servant. Yet his character arch from simple Shire gardener to determined hero is one of the 20th Century literature’s most endearing.

Pros: Loyal, Brave, Selfless, Kind, Modest, Inquisitive, Humble, Optimistic,

Cons: Occasionally slow-witted and jealous, Sam can also holds a grudge.

Frodo and Sam enter Mordor (Image courtesy Wallpapermay.com]

Frodo and Sam enter Mordor, while Gollum looks on(Image courtesy Wallpapermay.com]

Shining moment: Sam has several shining moments in the books ( saving the Frodo, Merry and Pippen from Old Man Willow, his fight with Shelob, keeping Frodo fed, sane and going thru Mordor, singlehandedly battling the orcs at Cirith Ungol to rescue Frodo among them) but I think his most shiny moment is when he carries Frodo up the side of Mount Doom…

“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.” [The Return of the King]

Least shining moment: Like all of us Sam has his doubts, and Gollum is a master manipulator who plays on those doubts. Sam doesn’t trust Gollum or his alter ego Sméagol, and he doesn’t treat the creature kindly.

Sean Astin embodied Sam for the Peter Jackson trilogy [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Sean Astin [Image courtesy: New Line Cinema]

Conclusion: Sam manages to stay true to himself while evolving into a wonderful hero. He has just as much chance to take the Ring as bigger, more powerful characters, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t need the Ring (or its power) to make him happy. It tempts him with visions of greatness, but he knows himself.  “The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” [The Return of the King] So he carries it but never puts it on his finger.

In “The Lord of the Rings” it is difficult to find a more honest character. During the journey Sam was to Frodo what Sancho was to Don Quixote – confident, conscious and supportive…Sam is a pledge for the prosperity of Hobbiton both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. When in Lyrien, he received a box with the blessed soil, which would fertilize the land in every corner of Middle-earth. This is what Galadriel said: “Well, Master Samwise. I hear and see that you have used my gift well. The Shire shall now be more than ever blessed and beloved.” [Lord of the Rings.org]

For more on Sam, The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien go to Tolkien Gateway HERE

Lego Sam

Don’t mess with Lego Sam


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