Forum: Deconstructing Denethor

Discussing: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Faramir's name and other evidence...

I couldn't quite make this topic fit under "The kinder, gentler Denethor-examining the evidence" so decided to make topic of my own...hope I'm not being too "froward"...*nervous grins* "The kinder, gentler Denethor-examining the evidence" topic seems more for canonical evidence supplied in the books that would prove the existence of such a thing. This is more for the defence of specific aspects of his character often under attack by The Society of Pessimistic Denethor Interpreters. My first order of business: The Great Discussion of Faramir's Name Perhaps none of you have stumbled across this, but I myself have stumbled across debate about the meaning of Faramir's name and how that reflects on Denethor's character. I wouldn't be bringing this up here except for the fact that many in The Society of Pessimistic Denethor Interpreters use his name's (alleged) meaning, "sufficient jewel", as a plank in their platform against Denethor, i.e. "see...he liked Boromir better from the beginning" and I thought perhaps someone had the same questions about his name that I did. Not only would I ask those people (not necessarily anyone here mind you) to keep in mind that Finduilas was naming him, too, (and I sincerely doubt she would let her husband name their child something less than flattering, if he indeed had a mind to do so, which I cannot bring myself to believe), but I would also ask them to realize that there are two slightly, yet crucially, different meanings of the word "sufficient" or "sufficiency". The roots of "Faramir" are: "-mir" which means "jewel" or "precious thing" and "fara-" which is most likely from the Elvish root "fáre". http://home.netcom.com/~heensle/lang/elvish/quenya/quen.html says that fáre means sufficiency, plenitude. Now, plenitude is the more positive meaning of sufficient. Rather than being the "just enough" meaning of "sufficient", it is transformed into the "abundant" and "complete" meaning as shown below by sources listed at Dictionary.Com and instead can be interpreted as "who needs more than this? It (whatever 'it' may be) is complete". plen·i·tude- 1. An ample amount or quantity; an abundance: as in a region blessed with a plenitude of natural resources. 2. The condition of being full, ample, or complete. Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. --- --- --- 1. The quality or state of being full or complete; fullness; completeness; abundance; as, the plenitude of space or power. 2. Animal fullness; repletion; plethora. [Obs.] Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc. --- --- --- n : a full supply; "there was plenty of food for everyone" Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University I'm glad I've given this 'mystery' some meaning (even if it was just for me) that still allows Denethor his dignity in the matter as this has been bothering me for quite some time. Cheers to all, Denni (who wonders if she just isn't paying waaaay too much attention to detail here )

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

That's the first time I've come across a really convincing interpretation of Faramir's name because it takes into account the natural pride any parent would feel at the birth of his or her child. So no, you're not paying too much attention to detail at all. (BTW, do we belong to the Society of Optimistic Denethor Interpreters, then? Another name for the Society for a Kinder, Gentler Denethor...)

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Thanks for the reassurance...sometimes I really worry about myself...*grins* do we belong to the Society of Optimistic Denethor Interpreters, then? "Society of Optimistic Denethor Interpreters"....catchy...

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Additionally, Faramir was the name of the second son of (somebody only just got UT and is still psyched) King Ondoher. Faramir was supposed to stay behind safely to ensure the succession, but stole away to participate in battle with the Wainriders, and was killed while incognito. So it seems to me that Faramir is a traditional name for a second son. Artamir was his elder son. (This is all in the chapter of UT called Cirion and Eorl, btw.) My two cents. There's no evidence that Ondoher and his sons had any favoritism issues, though Faramir's sneaking away might indicate something besides him being exceptionally, rebelliously dim.

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

[Applause] Works for me. I also like the point that Faramir may have been named by *Finduilas* as much as by Denethor. I've been using this as a working assumption in my on-going story (haven't reached the naming part yet). But I don't want to abandon sufficient/suffciency quite yet. While one way of reading the concept of sufficient is "Ah, it'll do, I guess," there is also the emphasis on completion - this is something that requires no augmentation, it is sufficient unto itself. sufficient \Suf*fi"cient\, a. [L. sufficiens, -entis, p. pr. of sufficere: cf. F. suffisant. See Suffice.]
  1. Equal to the end proposed; adequate to wants; enough; ample; competent; as, provision sufficient for the family; an army sufficient to defend the country. My grace is sufficient for thee. --2 Cor. xii. 9.
  2. Possessing adequate talents or accomplishments; of competent power or ability; qualified; fit. Who is sufficient for these things? --2 Cor. ii. 16.
  3. Capable of meeting obligations; responsible. The man is, notwithstanding, sufficient . . . I think I may take his bond. --Shak.
  4. Self-sufficient; self-satisfied; content. [R.] Thou art the most sufficient (I'll say for thee), Not to believe a thing. --Beau. & Fl.
Syn: Enough; adequate; competent; full; satisfactory; ample. Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc. By this reading, we have praise for a being who posses all he needs, with no extravagance, no waste, and no superfluity. Given the spare and dignified nature of Gondorian culture, wouldn't sufficiency without excess be something to be admired? And, upon reflection, isn't that a good analysis of Faramir's character - he requires no honors or glory or authority beyond his own sense of what is right and what is due him. No false modesty, but also no reaching for things. He is sufficient unto himself. I'm firmly in the camp that Denethor and Faramir had a perfectly civil and respectful relationship, though with Denethor displeased by Faramir's willingness to take advice from Gandalf. Given that Tolkien did not begin by writing them as being completely at odds, it seems reasonable that the sharpness and contention in their exchanges are of relatively recent vintage, and has as much to do with their mutual grieving over the loss of Boromir and fear of impending doom as any deep division between the two. It makes for a more subtle, and more tragic, story if one presumes a strong foundation of love and respect between father and son, because then there is so much more at stake. Lear rejected Cordelia so harshly, after all, because the love he held for her was greater and more complex than what he felt for his other daughters. Her imagined rejection of him pained him much worse because her approval meant so much more. It took the loss of everything else for him to understand that her resistance to shows of affection (vs. living her love and loyalty) was the sign of her true respect for him, and for herself. It could not be bought because it was beyond any price. Similarly, Faramir's love/loyalty was beyond proof (bring me the Ring), and Denethor could not recognize this. Why he could not, ah, well, therein lies a tale... Stanley Cavelll's essay "The Avoidance of Love" in Must We Mean What We say? is the foundation of my analysis of Denethor. If you can get your hands on it, read it. Dense and fascinating. Ang

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

I'd like to SSP my story Sufficient, which I wrote a few months back and which has just been accepted into the public archive., as it covers this very issue - and yes, I have Finduilas naming Faramir as well! I can't believe Tolkien the linguist didn't know exactly what he was doing in choosing Faramir. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Wow, there are other people looking into this same problem! I've been thinking about this lately. "Faramir - sufficient jewel" is not necessarily a bad thing, I insist (as has been mentioned, how in Arda would *both* parents agree to such a thing?), but that means that we must find an explanation for it. My response was a little more fic-centric than the definitions given here (which I loved - so much more insight). I considered the fact that Finduilas is said to have wasted away, and that Boromir was born after about two years of marriage, Faramir three years later (unless I horribly misread the Appendix's Tale of the Years), and then they didn't have any other children for the next seven years. Could the meaning of Faramir's name been something like "treasure enough"? As in, Denethor tells Finduilas that Faramir is "treasure enough" for them; they should not risk her health by having any more children. Being "sufficient," in that context, isn't a bad thing to me; it means that he's everything the family needs to make it complete. There is no need for more. Personally, I like the idea that Denethor saw Faramir as absolutely perfect and was also showing his love and concern for his wife.

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Ooooh! I like that a lot. Umm, can I borrow it? ;-) Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

"Ooooh! I like that a lot." *blushes* Cool, I'm, glad. "Umm, can I borrow it?" Sure! Be my guest! You're more than welcome to it. It might end up in something I write as backstory at some point (if I ever actually write a Faramir or Denethor fic), but I don't care if you use it as well. Glad you think it's worth using. Feeling very flattered, ~Wolfwind

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

I got around the whole question of why Denethor might choose the name Faramir by having Ecthelion choose the name, in A Gift at Year's Turning. Decided that Denethor and Finduilas had chosen a name for a daughter, but not for a son, so Denethor had to ask his father for suggestions when the baby was a boy. Great thread here! Some wonderfully thoughtful comments. Cel

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

WOW! Thank you all *very* much for your replies! Each of you has provided me with at least one new point to ponder in considering Faramir's name and the reasons/meanings behind it (which is a good thing...really!) I checked the forum after coming back from being sick this past week and was very pleasantly surprised to see all the lovely responses. Thanks again! Your thoughts are most appreciated! God bless, Denni

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

There's no evidence that Ondoher and his sons had any favoritism issues, though Faramir's sneaking away might indicate something besides him being exceptionally, rebelliously dim. Actually, if you take a look at what Faramir's decision accomplished in terms of Gondor's ruling history, you might not think him so dim. I don't, in any case, just as I think Eowyn was justified in joining the Riders in the Battle of Pelennor Fields, although she too, was last of her line and was given instruction to remain in Rohan. Yep. I'm all over that one for a fic. Artamir's loss, and that of Faramir who was, by custom, required to stay home while his father and brother went into battle, wiped out that line of Kings, but paved the way for Aragorn's reign at the end of the Third Age. There is more on this on the Artamir entry in the Encyclopedia of Arda website: The loss of Artamir was a turning point in the history of Middle-earth. Had he not perished, the line of Kings would almost certainly have survived the coming crisis and lasted into the third millennium of the Third Age. A thousand years later, Aragorn would have found Minas Tirith ruled not by a Steward but by a legitimate King, so preventing him from claiming the Crown himself. The unknown Wainrider who cut down Artamir, then, unknowingly paved the way for the reunification of Arnor and Gondor more than a thousand years later. The Wainrider gets too much credit, in my opinion.

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

I've always thought that Faramir's name is an interesting topic. Now, I find it hard to believe that Denethor would name Faramir in a derogatory manner, no matter how you interpret his character. The Steward and his family are likely very high-profile... As with any ruling family, the way they act and behave is crucial to the morale of the people. Take England, for example. Their royal family isn't technically ruling any more, but they are still constantly in the lime-light, and all of their actions are watched closely. Would Denethor, born and bred to rule his country, really put the morale of the people at risk (and subject himself and his family to much gossip) by naming his son something negative? There has also been speculation that the name means 'Jewel of the Hunt', using the root word 'faroth', which means 'hunt, pursue'.

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Now, I find it hard to believe that Denethor would name Faramir in a derogatory manner, no matter how you interpret his character. Someone wrote a fic pertaining to this topic, where Denethor gives him the name, but I can't remember the title or the author, unfortunately. In any case, Denethor names his second son rashly, without really thinking of the consequences; he's reacting more to the circumstances of Faramir's birth. In this case, it's clear Denethor didn't want a second son due to Finduilas' poor health, but she had insisted. Still, I don't think the name itself would be derogatory. Faramir I's actions didn't necessarily wipe out the entire line of Kings, it just ended the one in the south, which eventually gave rise to the Ruling Stewards. And he did die somewhat valiantly in battle. I think the name could be interpreted a number of ways, but the ambiguity of its meaning -- both linguistic and historic -- is something I've always thought Denethor would appreciate, and not necessarily in a malicious way. Oh, yeah -- I almost forgot. Tanaqui also wrote a fic about this, in which Finduilas gives him the name.

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

In any case, Denethor names his second son rashly, without really thinking of the consequences; he's reacting more to the circumstances of Faramir's birth. In this case, it's clear Denethor didn't want a second son due to Finduilas' poor health, but she had insisted. Interesting theory... I don't think it probable (if you were going to name your child in anger and without thinking, 'sufficient' isn't really that much of an insult), but it could happen. As for Tanaqui's story, I've read that before, and I thought it did a great job at explaining this. Hmm... Perhaps this would be a good challenge? A 'Faramir's Name' challenge...

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Hmm... Perhaps this would be a good challenge? A 'Faramir's Name' challenge... Interesting idea! It sounds like the idea might be a little narrow, but it shows a lot of promise. How about if we expanded it to anyone's name? Any character reacting to the meaning of their name, or what a parent was thinking when they named their child a certain thing. If you're interested in this idea, or if you want to keep its original focus on Faramir -- why don't you poke over to the prospective challenges forum? I think it would be a neat addition to Challenges. Marta

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

Damn! you've given an excuse for a tiny embryonic nuzgul i've been carrying about for weeks to begin to fledge... I think I'm in. Soubrettina

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

I agree, names in general is a better idea... And now that's posted under Prospective Challenges! Fun times. Getting back to Denethor, however... Unless anyone has anything else to say about Faramir's name, the title does say, 'and other evidence'. Anyone have anything else that would make for good discussion?

 

 

Re: Faramir's name and other evidence...

From my original post: This is more for the defence of specific aspects of his character often under attack by The Society of Pessimistic Denethor Interpreters. So, our next order of business perhaps... The idea often used in fanon that "he loved her in his own fasion" must mean that Denethor abused Finduilas (physically, verbally, etc.) throughout their marriage. Any thoughts on this???

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

We're sorry. This is a closed discussion. Content is available only to invited readers.

« Back to Deconstructing Denethor