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Old 07-05-2013, 04:36 PM   #1
Nikkolas
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Saruman's Words to Gandalf and Galadriel

"‘Saruman,’ said Galadriel, ‘we have other errands and other cares that seem to us more urgent than hunting for you. Say rather that you are overtaken by good fortune; for now you have a last chance.’

‘If it be truly the last, I am glad,’ said Saruman; ‘for I shall be spared the trouble of refusing it again. All my hopes are ruined, but I would not share yours. If you have any.’

For a moment his eyes kindled. ‘Go!’ he said. ‘I did not spend long study on these matters for naught. You have doomed yourselves, and you know it. And it will afford me some comfort as I wander to think that you pulled down your own house when you destroyed mine. And now, what ship will bear you back across so wide a sea?’ he mocked. ‘It will be a grey ship, and full of ghosts.’ He laughed, but his voice was cracked and hideous.


Saruman was decidedly unstable by this point but the underlined passage seems significant. What does he mean that the Elves and everyone doomed themselves by overthrowing him?
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:26 PM   #2
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Should we start the discussion with the obvious (and easy) answer?

Galadriel's and Gandalf's refusal to use the ring(s) means their downfall - well the vanishing of the elves and in some sense of all powers of old from the ME as it will now become the world of men devoid of magic or any other "powers of old" aka. the influence of the West.

And it looks more like a hindsight: You have doomed yourselves, and you know it. And it will afford me some comfort as I wander to think that you pulled down your own house when you destroyed mine. So it's not a threat or suggestion to any further deals but only stating the obvious with some bittterness, like "had you gone my way we - not men - could all be strong and thrive but now as I lose also you'll wither away".

One could argue whether it was "overthrowing" him Saruman claims was wrong or just his idea or POV they didn't take into consideration - well they wrestled with it both but came to an opposite comclusion Saruman did. But surely overthrowing the idea meant in the end also the end of Saruman. Which is quite pointedly exhibitioned in what cosequently happens in the Shire...

Anyway, Saruman was right as well. Of course.


Different readings?
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:43 PM   #3
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I was thinking about this passage recently and the one soon just before the lorien elves depart from the company going back to Rivendell where it says that a wanderer would have seen them as carvings. A hypothetical wanderer again would see the elves passing through the shire to Mithlond as a "swift shimmer" or "a light and a shadow" it is as if they have already faded.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:13 PM   #4
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I read that as referring to his work prior to the Scouring of the Shire. After all, that was in a way the "purest corner" of ME. But I did not have particular reasons for reading it that way other than that Saruman makes references to this encounter later, at Bag-End.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:50 PM   #5
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I was thinking about this passage recently and the one soon just before the lorien elves depart from the company going back to Rivendell where it says that a wanderer would have seen them as carvings. A hypothetical wanderer again would see the elves passing through the shire to Mithlond as a "swift shimmer" or "a light and a shadow" it is as if they have already faded.
Hmm. The part of the relevant passage Nikkolas didn't underline, this:

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'And now, what ship will bear you back across so wide a sea?' he mocked, 'It will be a grey ship, and full of ghosts.'
I find more intriguing, maybe in line with what Mith suggested. When Saruman says the ship will be "full of ghosts", maybe he's going even further in mocking Elrond and Galadriel specifically. Being shorn of the power of the Three, they were indeed "ghosts" in Middle-earth, already fading.
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:10 PM   #6
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Doesn't Galadriel say to Frodo already that she's going to wane / fade and withdraw from the ME? And I think Gandalf hints towards the same idea all the way...

So it's not that Saruman is "breaking the News" - one way of Tolkien to show Saruman is no more in control of things and seeing things to come, but only stating what the others already know?
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:03 AM   #7
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So it's not that Saruman is "breaking the News" - one way of Tolkien to show Saruman is no more in control of things and seeing things to come, but only stating what the others already know?
Looks like it to me. I think it's just Saruman being bitter, making a point of reminding Elrond and Galadriel, the latter especially (as he perceived her as being his enemy and Gandalf's friend on the White Council) of what they had lost.

Saruman does something similar with Frodo at Bag End, telling him he will have neither good health or a long life, again trying to spoil whatever sense of victory or accomplishment the heroes have.
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Old 07-06-2013, 02:32 PM   #8
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Saruman does something similar with Frodo at Bag End, telling him he will have neither good health or a long life, again trying to spoil whatever sense of victory or accomplishment the heroes have.
And his words in that scene are a key statement:
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But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.
Saruman has indeed lost his power to manipulate people and events, but apparently retains some knowledge of the future. Perhaps it's his knowledge of Ring-lore that gives him this insight?
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:12 PM   #9
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Saruman has indeed lost his power to manipulate people and events, but apparently retains some knowledge of the future. Perhaps it's his knowledge of Ring-lore that gives him this insight?
Maybe his former knowledge, or his former greatness, or his "maiarity". But whatever he predicts, he does so truthfully, though he may twist it somewhat to the negative side. He lies somewhat, but not in his foretelling.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:54 AM   #10
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Maybe his former knowledge, or his former greatness, or his "maiarity". But whatever he predicts, he does so truthfully, though he may twist it somewhat to the negative side. He lies somewhat, but not in his foretelling.
I think Saruman simply is, after all, Wise (however foolish he had become). He simply sees the reality, because he knows the reality on a deeper level than an average mortal. On top of that, he also knows it already on the existential level (in contrary to Hobbits, who are at that point still happy and with the prospect of happy lives at home): he has lost everything and thinks that what he is experiencing now (the homelessness after destruction of Orthanc, for instance) will happen also to Galadriel and Gandalf (the homelessness after e.g. Lórien fades out, and nobody has any more need of Grey Pilgrim's counsel).

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Saruman was decidedly unstable by this point but the underlined passage seems significant. What does he mean that the Elves and everyone doomed themselves by overthrowing him?
I think it definitely does not mean that they doomed themselves by overthrowing him. By "you pulled down your own house when you destroyed mine", I think Saruman simply refers to the fact that while they made him lose everything, at the same time Gandalf and Galadriel have lost everything too. It is not a causative sentence, it is simply finding his own malicious bit of happiness in the fact that he isn't the only one whose time of power is over. The main point being, Saruman speaks a lot about his experience from the Ring-lore ("I did not spend long study on these matters for naught") - knowing that with the destruction of the One, all the Rings lose their power, the Dominion of Men comes, and the Wizards or Elves aren't going to remain in Middle-Earth.

As an addendum, I would also say that I think Saruman also wants to, somehow in the manner of a bitter politician who had lost his elections badly, throw into Gandalf and Galadriel's face the fact that "you ruined our country's bright future which I might have brought, had you joined me." So, "look you fools, you could have wielded all the power in the world, kept the Elves ruling Middle-Earth with the Ring and with everything you would have wanted, and you have thrown it all away". It is simply all over again the old argument of Boromir's, "why do we speak of throwing away and destroying the Ring? Why not use it?" Saruman does not see the hope, he only sees the loss - in that way, you could call him "a blind pessimist". In fact, I think he deserves that title the most of all, he is the "man with tunnel vision" no.1 - he exhibits these signs already by refusing coming down to Gandalf even when offered mercy.
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:48 AM   #11
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Saruman the fool

It really just shows how foolish Saruman has become: in his reckoning, the loss of power in Middle Earth that Galadriel and the Elves now face is terrible; for a long time (until she was tested by Frodo) Galadriel would, I think, have agreed with him. But now, having forsaken the Ring and the desire for power, she and the other Elves have acknowledged that dominion in Middle Earth is really not worth very much, in the end, and that the real good is to accept their place in the West. I mean, lets face it, they get to spend the rest of their immortal lives with the Valar! Saruman, still embroiled in his idea that power is the only good, sees no value in their journey...and that's his great tragedy.

The irony of his statement is apparent: he is happy that the others are houseless now, but Gandalf has never had a home (except his true home in the west), never having given way to the illusion that dominion in this world is of any real value.
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Old 07-16-2013, 04:55 PM   #12
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I think it's also interesting that Saruman says Galadriel's ship will be grey. The ship that actually bore her to the West was, of course, white. Probably it's another stab at pointing out the fading of the Firstborn. In The Silmarillion, it is said that when the Three Rings lost their power, to the Elves "the world grew old and grey". Saruman sure goes out of his way to strike at what he perceives as the most vulnerable point of his enemies, doesn't he? He had become so full of hate and pride that one shudders to think what he might have been capable of had Gandalf not stripped him of his authority and most of his power.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:54 PM   #13
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I think it's also interesting that Saruman says Galadriel's ship will be grey. The ship that actually bore her to the West was, of course, white. Probably it's another stab at pointing out the fading of the Firstborn. In The Silmarillion, it is said that when the Three Rings lost their power, to the Elves "the world grew old and grey". Saruman sure goes out of his way to strike at what he perceives as the most vulnerable point of his enemies, doesn't he?
Random remark - this actually made me wonder how did Gandalf and Galadriel react to this, I mean, on the inside - they didn't certainly seem affected on the outside, and they knew (rationally) that Saruman was just insulting them and that he, on top of that, did not really see the true state of things, but still, I wonder if this might have struck home - them realising that they really are leaving Middle-Earth and that lot of its beauty is fading and so on; to Galadriel that she is losing Lórien and all that... I mean, that you don't show anything (or even get over it) does not mean you can't be hurt by what somebody says, even if you know it's merely out of hate and ultimately, he does not even grasp the truth of it... but there was some part of it which could have resonated with something G&G were just trying to deal with...
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Old 07-17-2013, 03:27 PM   #14
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Random remark - this actually made me wonder how did Gandalf and Galadriel react to this, I mean, on the inside - they didn't certainly seem affected on the outside, and they knew (rationally) that Saruman was just insulting them and that he, on top of that, did not really see the true state of things, but still, I wonder if this might have struck home - them realising that they really are leaving Middle-Earth and that lot of its beauty is fading and so on; to Galadriel that she is losing Lórien and all that... I mean, that you don't show anything (or even get over it) does not mean you can't be hurt by what somebody says, even if you know it's merely out of hate and ultimately, he does not even grasp the truth of it... but there was some part of it which could have resonated with something G&G were just trying to deal with...
Oh, I think Saruman should have known the state of things for Elrond and Galadriel quite well. After all, who had a better understanding of the Rings of Power than he? That's why I think he chose his words pointedly.

I don't think Gandalf was affected by Saruman's taunts, other than to feel pity for the low state he'd acquired. The destruction of the One meant that Gandalf was going home, mission accomplished.

Galdriel, on the other hand, likely did feel sorrow at the prospect of the loss of Lórien, and maybe a sense of defeat that ultimately, her efforts to make a corner of Middle-earth into her own personal Aman, came to naught.
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