Friday, June 18, 2010
Saruman (without the rethoric) and the Orcs (piqueteros)
Initially the head of the Istari, Saruman is portrayed as a character who succumbs to the unrestrained desire for power.
Humiliated, stripped of power, and cast out of his order, he remains unrepentant to the end, treacherously murdered by his servant Grıma Wormtongue. Saruman is one of the few tragically unredeemed characters in the whole Middle-earth corpus, and unlike
others— for example, Turin Turambar, Boromir son of Denethor II— Tolkien does not mitigate his moral corruption, nor does he ameliorate his tragic demise by giving him— even after his downfall— any significant virtues or traces of fallen nobility.
As a traitor to the cause of freedom and goodness in Middle-earth, Saruman provides a strategic link between Sauron’s opponents— including Gandalf, Elrond, and The ´ oden— and Sauron himself, with whom Saruman has communicated by means of the palantır.
Gandalf recognizes the source of Saruman’s policies and uses Saruman as an unwitting double agent to discern Sauron’s secret plans.
His tower fortress at Orthanc in Isengard is strategic in its proximity to Rohan, and— by capturing Merry and Pippin— the Orcs (piqueteros) under his command are important in the narrative’s bifurcation and forward movement in the second volume of the trilogy.
In his account in ‘‘The Council of Elrond,’’ Gandalf says Saruman ‘‘has long studied the arts of the Enemy himself’’
Gandalf offers him a chance to repent, leave Orthanc, and forsake his ruinous path; like Milton’s Satan, Saruman is shown in a brief moment of doubt, ‘‘loathing to stay and dreading to leave its refuge’’ (TT, III, x, 187– 188). Saruman rejects the offer and, like Satan, is conquered by pride and hatred. His removal from Orthanc and his banishment from the order of Istari, pronounced by Gandalf, are presented as the result of his own free choice. Gandalf ’s final assessment is that Saruman is ‘‘a fool . . . yet pitiable’’ (TT, III, x, 188).
Under the Orkish name ‘‘Sharkey,’’ ‘‘old man,’’ he appears considerably reduced in stature finally as an exiled vagabond in the Shire, a self-pitying character filled with malice, retaining only traces of his earlier verbal powers.
He is shown pity by Frodo, who does not allow his execution but banishes him forever from the Shire.
He is murdered moments later by the servile character Wormtongue— his last follower— recalling the murder of the exiled usurper Sigeberht in annal 755 of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
In a scene suggestive of the departure of his soul and its utter annihilation, upon his death a grey mist rises above his body, faces the undying West, but then is dissipated by a cold western wind and dissolves to nothing.