Thursday 10 January 2008

Saruman and Gandalf- Very Different Wizards

The Valar trusted them. Five messengers would be sent to Middle Earth, to co-ordinate the Free Races of Middle Earth against a further coming of Sauron.

First came Saruman the White, tall, handsome, striking. The First of the Five Wizards.
Next came Radagast the Brown, then the Blue Wizards.

Last came Gandalf the Grey.

And they set about their tasks.

Now Saruman was a man of action. Saruman became the friend of Kings, trusted counsellor of the Kings of Gondor, a leader of men and other races in time of need.

But Gandalf travelled amongst the peoples of Middle Earth. Gandalf got to learn their ways and customs. He even spent time amongst hobbits.
Gandalf got to learn abouts the nuts and bolts of the cultures that he would have to use to bond together the free folk of Middle Earth against the re-forming of Sauron.

Not Saruman. Saruman, in his Tower of Isengard, given him by the Stewards of Gondor, Saruman studied Middle Earth through the palantir, a far seeing crystal ball, through which he saw everything.

But Sauron, who possessed the lost palantir of Minas Morgul, warped his vision, till he saw what Mordor wanted him to see.

And so Saruman failed. Saruman lost sight of his original purpose and started to think like Sauron.

I know it's a novel, and it's not real, but I think the reason why this novel will always be the greatest legend of all literature the world knows of, is because it is a legend of power politics, of the true nature of it.

Saruman just spent too much time sitting in his tower looking through his crystal ball. He never actually went had a look around the pubs of The Shire, or the caves of the Dwarves.
Come on, you live alone, your best mate is called Wormtongue, it's definitely time to get out more!
Otherwise you end up trudging around with Wormtongue trying to cause havoc and mayhem.

Gandalf was a bit more sensible. He got out a lot more. He WAS to be found in the Inns of Middle Earth smoking his pipe and having a think, laughing at the hobbit jokes, getting to understand their social relationships, assessing the world he still LOVED. That's the point.

Saruman forgot all about that, just staring at Sauron through his Crystal ball. He stopped loving.
He became that which he feared.

You have to love people.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you have to love people, a competant understanding of how they work however is definitely required. And like many things, it's not something your learn through watching, you have to go out and experience it.

Anonymous said...

This will be my first and last comment on "the very issue" on this site: It has not only become ridiculous, it's getting boring.
One more, and I shall not be able to recommend this blog as "seldom boring". (And, of course, you may delete Omnium which means as everybody should know everything).

And be sure, self-styled Gandalf: I shall tell the same to "your Saruman", in case he should reply on tonight's post, which the appreciated Mutley - belated Happy birthday, Sir :) -, would call an "allegory".

I do know the words above sound acid. And, of course, I could try to explain, but as you know I do try to follow an advice given by Voltaire. :)

However, don't "crush" yourself. Please.
The Peace of the Night,

Anonymous said...

It is only people who see the supposed "bigger" picture who can enact evil carelessly. When amongst people, you start to see all their stories individually, and you can never see them as anything but.

Sorry I've been so very MIA lately. A few days spent delayed in travel have snowballed into crazyness, and I just feel like I'm getting my head above water now.

Anonymous said...

You do have to love people, because it can be all to easy to stop trusting altogether and slowly become jaded then bitter. I like many already have my share of trust issues, so I make efforts to trust some people. And through it I learned to love people.

I've even come to terms with people I could legitimately hate. I may not like what they do and sometimes want to smack some sense into them, but I try to understand the fact that less than honorable folks are that way because that is what they learned. They can unlearn it, it takes effort, much like learning to trust, but ultimately, it was others before them who taught them to be the way they are.

Both wizards were vastly intelligent, but it was Gandalf who sought wisdom. Sarumon was too prideful of his abilities. A clear lesson is to never think one is above learning, that one knows everything. Sarumon's pride and power corrupted him, and in the process he became weak, thus Gandalf rose to the white robe.

It is a great story. Aside from this discussion, I love how vehemently Tolkien denied any allegory in his story. A sure sign that there is indeed much below the surface, even if it was not intentional. The subconscious plans things so brilliant and subtle that we could never execute them that way intentionally.

Anonymous said...

I was only going to correct a few spellings... but I did spot some knd of allegorical thing here as well. Thanks for the birthday wishes Mr Jeating... I was wondering - are you an anagram?

Anonymous said...

@ Mr. Mutley

"Thanks for the birthday wishes Mr Jeating... I was wondering - are you an anagram?"

:) No, Sir, I am a heteronym.

Anonymous said...

I'm a two dimensional thinker contrary to what you think of me, Ingsoc.

All I saw in these books was wizards with arbitrary and random powers and I thought 'well why didn't you use that trick earlier.' I got quite impatient with it.

Tolkien always said that his works were to be taken at face value and were not meant to be allegorical. Do you think this is true ?

But your salient point:


That's what people do in times of war - stereotype; because it's easier to kill a stereotype than a person. It's easy nowadays to stay locked indoors and read the papers thinking there are barbarians at the gate. I am oh so guilty of this at times.

Anonymous said...

Oestrebunny- Yes, but you have to basically enjoy being around people and see them as basically good. If you think people generally are no good, then your worldview will be based on that.

Sean- Any ressemblance to characters living or dead is purely coincidental :)
I'm a hobbit anyway.

Princess P- It's important to see the bigger picture, but one also needs the picture to be CLEAR.
I think the bigger picture is a bit like a TV image. The more pixels that make it up, the better it is.

Eric- All Tolkien's work is laced with leitmotief and elements of mythic struggle. I see his full works as being a mythology comparable to the entirity of Greek/Roman myth, or the Eddas.

Part of the richness of LOTR is indeed, it's accidental blending.

Tolkien wrote the early legends of the Elves wars against Melkor fitst. He then the hobbit as a children's book, bearing no relation to this cycle.
Both cycles merge in LOTR, when tolkien decided to make it's world the world of man ages AFTER his early cycle of legend.
Hence its richness.

Mutley- Really? I was just a pondering that Saruman should have spent more time with hobbits and less time with Wormtongue.

E-K- It is an allegory of power, in a sense. I don't think we can see it allegory, pure ans simple, much more than we can Theseus and the Minotaur. It's legend, Good versus Evil and an attempt to understand both.

Tolkien always said that even Sauron wasn't always evil. Unlike Melkor, who aimed to just destroy the world, Sauron wanted to order it to his liking. Sauron understood the mind of Saruman, hence how he was able to warp it. Gandalf remained a mystery to him.

The barbarians at the gates. Nothing unites people like an imaginary enemy.

We pulled down the Berlin Wall, now we want to put up new ones.

Anonymous said...

I only see 'love' as an idea - a kind of Bordeaux blend of other, more tangible things. It makes a good adjective though. Loving kindness is a quality I hold in great regard. I sense it is the key to our further evolution. But I only see it manifested authentically in people in a state of real peace. Peace born of true understanding of what we are; as a creature and as a race. And this is so very hard to attain. Because I see everyone as being locked up in towers, towers without mirrors, from which we see only other towers but never the people within and more tragically, we never see ourselves.

A toast to Gandalf. Cheers.