In the Hobbits’ meeting with Faramir in Two Towers we see echoes of the Three Hunters’ meeting with Eomer:
- Travelers on a quest must negotiate to remove their status as trespassers
- The heir of the throne has a private conversation with them and must make the difficult choice between what is lawful and what is ethical
- Hot-headed subordinates express their displeasure at the other side’s disrespect before the leaders negotiate above their heads.
Faramir, just like Eomer, chooses to somewhat defy the law and allow Sam and Frodo safe passage through Ithilien, and even helps them by giving them food and a safe place to rest, and refraining from killing Gollum.
Although Faramir’s conversation with Frodo is all about comparing and contrasting himself with Boromir, I think that comparing him with Eomer is also an interesting exercise:
- Faramir and Eomer are both second heirs who must take command after the first heirs are killed by Orcs/Uruk Hai.
- When faced with a conflict between what is right and what is lawful, they manage to winnow a middle option into the picture by invoking their own authority to allow the questing people leave to pass through their lands.
- They also cover their asses by saying that the visitors should come to the King at a later date in order to have their visitor’s pass officially stamped.
- They show that they are able and committed military leaders with organized and competent troops.
- Both of them exist in a state of hopeless defiance because of the encroaching forces of Mordor and the lack of leadership on the throne of their nation. (At least until Aragorn shows up.)
The most visible difference between Faramir and Eomer seems to be their personalities:
Eomer is perhaps prouder (his highest praise for Boromir is that he was more like a man of Rohan than a man of Gondor), and he seems to have more of a sense of humor (one of his first lines is a short joke aimed at Gimli).
Faramir, though not without humor, seems graver, and more impulsive in his desperation (e.g., at first he forgets to wait until he has the hobbits alone to question them about confidential matters, whereas Eomer makes that decision early on in his meeting with Aragorn). He also appears to be more learned (thanks to the stewards’ private library of historical documents) and maybe a little more intelligent. (This is not a knock against Eomer, who seems plenty smart—it’s just that while he was questioning Frodo, Faramir made a hell of a lot of clever inferences that ended up being mostly correct, which I thought was impressive.)
I love that although Faramir and Eomer play very similar roles in the narrative of The Two Towers, Tolkien manages to make them both so distinct and likable in their own ways.