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What of the Boromir Woman?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Everett Collection, Shutterstock

It is, by now, established scientific fact that humanity can be easily cleaved into two types, the Legolas Girl and the Aragorn Girl. The designation of “girl” transcends both age and gender — it just evokes the eternally accessible state of abjection that is the schoolgirl crush. It recalls how one feels while gazing upon the alluringly furrowed brow of Aragorn, or upon Legolas’s perfect and limpid visage. But reality can rarely be reduced into stark absolutes, and so I propose another option, a new paradigm altogether: that of the Boromir Woman.

Boromir only meaningfully appears in the first Lord of the Rings movie. He dies sort-of-ignominiously at the end, after being seized by his lust for power and attempting to steal the Ring (sexy), though he does find redemption by sacrificing himself to protect his comrades (also sexy). This distills Boromir’s appeal — he is deeply flawed, but doing his best. As such he leaves plenty of room for any flaws in whoever he might encounter. He possesses a strong, if convoluted, sense of honor, but whereas Legolas and Aragorn radiate innate nobility and seem to be driven solely by righteousness, Boromir is a man who suffers from dark urges, and is sometimes possessed by them.

If there is such a thing as a Boromir Girl, I have yet to encounter it. Boromir is complicated, fatalistic and flawed. He’s an acquired taste, born of the wisdom that comes with age. “There are Legolas Girls,” my editor sagely put it the other day, “but there are only Boromir Women.” This was certainly my experience. In my adolescent years, I was consumed with an undying ardor for Legolas, whom I considered the most gorgeous being in existence. I went on forums about it; I owned a life-size cut-out of him sultrily brandishing a bow and arrow; I once sent a furious letter to the film critic at the New Yorker because he had the audacity to call him a “funky elf” in his largely positive review of The Two Towers. In my more advanced years, though, I cooled to Legolas, in particular the same qualities that once endeared him to me — like, okay, he is objectively painfully handsome, he can do flips onto horses, he loves to contemplate the moon, he can walk on top of snow … I’m bored! Adulthood is about making concessions and accepting reality, and so for a while I placidly resigned myself to being a person with a straightforward love for the film trilogy, who does not have a Middle Earth celebrity crush.

Recently, though, on my semi-annual rewatch of the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition box set, I had the realization that Boromir radiates powerful sexual energy … the artfully tussled Medieval Lob, the inscrutably accented growl, the way he obviously chafes under the weight of his crumbling familial legacy. Aragorn is secretly the heir to the throne of Gondor, which is cool, I will admit — but Boromir is the son of the strict old man who’s occupying the throne until Aragorn decides to come back, meaning he is saddled with the double burden of responsibility and the sheer futility of shouldering that responsibility. This is something I understand as a millennial, and so I think we would enjoy having conversations together. I suspect he would start crying about his family problems on our second date, and then tell me he was in love with me immediately after we had sex.

Most crucial to his sex appeal is that Boromir lacks the suffocating purity of spirit that ruin both Legolas and Aragorn for me. One gets the sense that those two would never do anything bad or questionable, even if it would be a lot of fun and no one really minded anyway.

Aragorn spends the final two films engaging in a tepid and drawn-out emotional affair with a woman who wears sensible earth-tone garments and nervously serves him a bowl of fish stew as a seduction technique; in the Return of the King extended edition, Legolas partakes in a drinking contest with Gimli, and after like 15 beers, proclaims, in a worried tone of voice, “A slight tingle in my fingers — I think it’s affecting me.” Having grown into a person with a need for constant stimulation and intensity, I cannot abide either of those situations. The Boromir Woman eschews a life of bland and tranquil perfection, instead seeking out the emotional vagaries that come with a man who famously proclaimed, “ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDOR,” before setting out to do exactly that.

What of the Boromir Woman?