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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Scouring of the Shire

Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

May 8 2013, 11:17pm

Post #1 of 24 (500 views)
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The Scouring of the Shire Can't Post

One thing that has often puzzled me about this chapter. What exactly was Saruman thinking? All though I suppose his good thinking days were long gone. But let's say he had succeeded. He had managed to secure the Shire properly, turned it into a wasteland, apprehended the Ring-bearer and his companions and given them a nasty death or long and unpleasant imprisonment. Then what would Elessar had thought when he heard about it? The kIng of Gondor might be a bit miffed. And thought of some terrible revenge on Saruman!


Brethil
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 11:44pm

Post #2 of 24 (307 views)
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Good points Hamfast! [In reply to] Can't Post

And true - Saruman's clear thinking days were far behind him I suppose! What a waste!

JRRT says about Saruman: "...these wizards were incarnated in the life-forms of Middle Earth, and so suffered the same pains of mind and body. They were also, for the same reason, thus involved in the peril of he incarnate: the possibility of 'fall', of sin, if you will. The chief form this would take with them would be impatience, leading to the desire to force others to their own good ends, and so inevitably at last to mere desire to make their own wills effective by any means. To this evil Saruman succumbed." (Letter # 181)

Plus in the text of ROTK we read that Saruman is so bitter and consumed with hate, and cannot let go of, as Gandalf put it earlier, gnawing the ends of his old plots that he has put blinders on himself. It seems he cannot let go of the dark dreams he had of domination in the stamp of Sauron, and cannot step back from the failing of trying to enforce his own plans on the world in the most expedient and self-serving way possible. Though he is offered a way back, he refuses to even consider it. As a destroyer of Trees I think JRRT placed quite a brand of moral failure on Saruman, because it is such a rejection of natural life.

I think he feels a bit safe in exploiting Hobbition because of two reasons: its distance from Minas Tirith and the King being one. Two, and probably more important, because he probably projects his own disdain of Hobbits onto others, and perhaps presumes that they were only 'used' by the Wise (as Saruman would have 'used' anyone that suited him, and did use Grima) and that no one would really care what happened to them. His moral code was so warped by then he has simply no regard for life or love and can only value getting his own way.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


elaen32
Gondor

May 9 2013, 5:22am

Post #3 of 24 (244 views)
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While I agree with Brethil's points [In reply to] Can't Post

there is one member of the Wise who Saruman recognised did really care about the Hobbits and the Shire, and that was Gandalf. I see Saruman's actions here as much an act of revenge against Gandalf as against the 4 Hobbits. He was aware of how much Gandalf valued the Shire and so was determined to destroy it. Also, Saruman was aware that the 3 Elven ringbearers would soon have to depart Middle-earth and possibly, in his warped thinking, still thought that, with Sauron out of the way, he still had the chance of becoming a Power.

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 9 2013, 9:30am

Post #4 of 24 (239 views)
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That seems right to me too [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Saruman had got to the point where revenge against the Hobbits was more important than any coherent plan about himself. And as they say, if you set out to have revenge dig two graves - one for your enemy, one for yourself.

I think that also explains why he is so put out when Frodo tries to let him go a second time at Bag End, even after he's released him once and then Saruman has tried to murder him:

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"Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. 'You have grown, Halfling,' he said. 'Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you!' "


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 11:11am

Post #5 of 24 (231 views)
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Hunger, poverty, and despair [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with everything Brethil, Elaen, and noWiz said and would add hunger as a motivation. He was hungry and poor when the hobbits and others overtook him in Dunland. The Shire was the only place he could get regular meals. When they see him at Bag End, he looks pleased with himself and well-fed.

And really, if he'd any thoughts in his corrupted mind at all, he wouldn't have hated Frodo so much for forgiving him with the hope that he might find his cure. He'd so given into despair at this point that a little ray of hope just stirred up the despair to resist it even more. Similar to Gollum's tiny little bit of hobbit left in him, which if aroused only enraged the monster that had consumed him.

PS. Great question!


(This post was edited by CuriousG on May 9 2013, 11:11am)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 9 2013, 11:36am

Post #6 of 24 (217 views)
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[Hope], if aroused only enraged the monster that had consumed him [In reply to] Can't Post

Well put, CuriousG. Re-reading the final Frodo-Saruman encounter, Saruman does all he can to provoke Frodo and the hobbits into killing him. Its as if he wants them to beat him to death - perhaps that would confirm his bitter theories and allow him to feel that he'd scored some final point of revenge in a strange way. It's Frodo's absolute insistence on pitying him and letting him go that he dislikes.

Just thought - you could see this scene, which takes place in Bag End, of course, as one of a pair with the Chapter 2 one, in which Frodo is unable to pity Gollum because he is afraid:

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[Frodo, discussing with Gandalf] " 'For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'

'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. ...'

....'I am sorry ' said Frodo, 'But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.'
'You have not seen him' Gandalf broke in..."


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 11:54am

Post #7 of 24 (204 views)
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Frodo shows more pity than Mandos. Who's the better Ainu? :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


elaen32
Gondor

May 9 2013, 3:10pm

Post #8 of 24 (200 views)
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Pity.. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Well put, CuriousG. Re-reading the final Frodo-Saruman encounter, Saruman does all he can to provoke Frodo and the hobbits into killing him. Its as if he wants them to beat him to death - perhaps that would confirm his bitter theories and allow him to feel that he'd scored some final point of revenge in a strange way. It's Frodo's absolute insistence on pitying him and letting him go that he dislikes.


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I think that at this stage Saruman's thoughts, as far as they go, are to mar and spoil things. To corrupt. We see this with the spoiling of Isengard, Rohan and Fangorn and later with the Shire. I wonder if, eventually, he wants Frodo to kill him because he would finally succeed in something which Sauron and the Ring did not, ie the corruption and marring of Frodo by making him a murderer. Saruman is still so supremely arrogant that he seems to think a return to Valinor is still on the cards for him.

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


CuriousG
Valinor


May 10 2013, 9:08pm

Post #9 of 24 (168 views)
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To make that comparison [In reply to] Can't Post

isn't it odd that Gollum has a positive reaction to pity, vs Saruman's contempt? Maybe that's because of pride. Gollum was many things, but proud was not one of them, and Saruman had pride in abundance. Even normal, non-evil proud people usually resent pity.

But in Saruman's case, Frodo had more than pity and openly stated that he hoped Saruman would find redemption, which angered him as well. That wouldn't upset Gollum, though the latter probably wasn't sure what it meant anymore. What would Gollum's reaction have been if Frodo had said, "Someday, Smeagol, I hope you feel at home again with other hobbits, living in a comfortable hole, tottering about the garden, and drinking in the pub." Would Gollum be angry, afraid, confused, resentful?


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2013, 6:55am

Post #10 of 24 (142 views)
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Yes, definately pride [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman's galled that he's become so powerless that Frodo feels its safe to let him go. He doesn't see compassion in this, just that his "value" as a piece life's "war game" (as i think he sees it) has become so low.

Saruman has already refused similar offers - from Gandalf after the siege of Orthanc, and then again when he meets the returning hobbits on the road. But as Gandalf said, "he will not serve, only command."

If one tries to think about Gollum's character in terms of the deadly sins, I don't see much Pride. More Anger and Envy, perhaps.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 11 2013, 7:31am

Post #11 of 24 (146 views)
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What does Gollum want? [In reply to] Can't Post

He wants The Precious, of course. But then what? What would he do with it? Go back to Moria or wherever and catch fish whenever? He has no ambition, no goals, beyond being restored to his Precious, as far as we know, for his whole career.

Saruman, on the other hand, was more into world domination.

So, Gollum can respond to someone pitying his poor excuse for a life, because deep down he knows what a miserable existance it was, even with The Precious in his possession. Saruman has a totally different set of goals and objectives, not to mention where he believes he belongs in the overall scheme of things. So, it's not odd at all that their response to an offer of pity is vastly different.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on May 11 2013, 7:32am)


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

May 11 2013, 10:41pm

Post #12 of 24 (134 views)
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And about Ruffians [In reply to] Can't Post

I could make this as a seperate thread, but I thought I'd use this one, but I have often thought that the use of Ruffians, outlawed men I suppose was a bit anti-climatic. What was wrong with Orcs? As in the rest of the novels, the Orcs were the major enemy race. Or at least Saruman's half-Orcs!


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 15 2013, 1:23pm

Post #13 of 24 (100 views)
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I know what you mean, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

never thought about "why ruffian men as Saruman's goons in the Shire, rather than orcs?" But I think it works - the despoiled Shire is a sort of copycat Mordor rather than the real thing. Having men rather than orcs as the bad guys is consistent with the idea that this kind of thing could happen anywhere. You don't need to import specialist bad guys; there are plenty who will turn bad given a chance.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


May 15 2013, 2:23pm

Post #14 of 24 (100 views)
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The ruffians may have been Half-orcs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
never thought about "why ruffian men as Saruman's goons in the Shire, rather than orcs?" But I think it works - the despoiled Shire is a sort of copycat Mordor rather than the real thing. Having men rather than orcs as the bad guys is consistent with the idea that this kind of thing could happen anywhere. You don't need to import specialist bad guys; there are plenty who will turn bad given a chance.



Robert Foster writes in The Complete Guide to Middle-earth (pg 90-91) that some or all of the Chief's Men (a.k.a. Sharkey's Men) were Half-orcs:


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The Chief's Men seem to have been a motly assortment of ruffians, at least some of whom were agents of Saruman's before the WR. They tended to be squint-eyed, sallow-faced and otherwise esthetically displeasing; they may have been selected from the more mannish of Saruman's Half-orcs.



I tend to agree with this.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 15 2013, 5:44pm

Post #15 of 24 (84 views)
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Good point - maybe give Saruman few miserable centuries & he'd be more ready to be pitied // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Elessar
Valinor


May 16 2013, 7:01pm

Post #16 of 24 (76 views)
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Backed into a corner [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman has lost it all basically and to make what happened worth it to him at least he goes for the long shot. He also must feel its the safest bet since I would assume he knows that Gondor will be watching with Elessar now in charge. So he goes about and trys to take the shire and if in the end he can get revenge on the Hobbits then its a win/win for him. With his back against the wall he is willing to do it even if it means getting attacked from the outside. What he doesn't realize is just what strength Hobbits have in them and what the returning Hobbits are able to gather. In the end he put all his chips in play for this one last movie and lost out. His lifeforce is then forced to just wander forever.



Yngwulff
Gondor


May 17 2013, 8:00am

Post #17 of 24 (67 views)
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True [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Saruman has lost it all basically and to make what happened worth it to him at least he goes for the long shot. He also must feel its the safest bet since I would assume he knows that Gondor will be watching with Elessar now in charge. So he goes about and trys to take the shire and if in the end he can get revenge on the Hobbits then its a win/win for him. With his back against the wall he is willing to do it even if it means getting attacked from the outside. What he doesn't realize is just what strength Hobbits have in them and what the returning Hobbits are able to gather. In the end he put all his chips in play for this one last movie and lost out. His lifeforce is then forced to just wander forever.



He was so eaten up by the desire for the Ring it ruined him. He became obsessively convoluded in his desire to pay the Shirefolk back for thwarting his plans. Perhaps even thru his contact and covorting with Sauron via the Palantir (some even might say submission to) he was acting on Sauron wishes to enslave and force the Shire into submission.


Take this Brother May it Serve you Well
Vote for Pedro!


Elessar
Valinor


May 17 2013, 12:53pm

Post #18 of 24 (61 views)
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Two peas in a po [In reply to] Can't Post

Exactly! He has searched so long for the Ring and wanted it so badly it ruined him. You then pair that with him being in the company of Sauron doing bidding for him (even if it was trying to get his own stuff done) corrupted who he should have been. So in the end by being corrupted the way he was and his own quest for power he really ends up no different than Sauron himself. He even follows the same fate as Sauron being left to have the spirit wander yet never be able to do anything again.



CuriousG
Valinor


May 17 2013, 1:54pm

Post #19 of 24 (57 views)
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I like that parallel in their endings [In reply to] Can't Post


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He even follows the same fate as Sauron being left to have the spirit wander yet never be able to do anything again.

There is some justice in Middle-earth even for the mighty.


Elessar
Valinor


May 17 2013, 2:45pm

Post #20 of 24 (55 views)
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I'm with ya on that [In reply to] Can't Post

I love that those who look to bully and do harm in the end get the justice that should come to them for such behaviors.



Brethil
Half-elven


May 17 2013, 6:46pm

Post #21 of 24 (51 views)
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A deep Tolkien truism. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I love that those who look to bully and do harm in the end get the justice that should come to them for such behaviors.




That not only do they get justice but unexpected good will come from their acts. Love the hope in that message. Angelic

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Elessar
Valinor


May 17 2013, 6:52pm

Post #22 of 24 (52 views)
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Hope indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

I totally agree. So much good comes from the actions of those that band together for the sake of doing the right thing. There are just so many great messages with Tolkien's work its really uplifting.



wildespace
The Shire

Jun 5 2013, 2:49pm

Post #23 of 24 (27 views)
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It's all about the pipe weed [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman loved his pipe weed, and wanted to monopolise it. It's like a heroine junky going to poppy fields of Afganistan.


Dirhaval
The Shire

Jun 9 2013, 8:59pm

Post #24 of 24 (32 views)
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Scouring [In reply to] Can't Post

What a waste. This chapter is the most important chapter of them all. Returning from victory.
I wonder, just wonder, why it was not in the movies? ummm.
I have a challenge for you. Think back to your life 15 years ago, then just read that chapter.
Would you resisted the coming of the police state that is upon us?

That chapter is the definition of fascism. There is only one part of "supernatural" in it; Saruman's spirit rising.

If you have PTSD, then think about reading this chapter. Exercise your conscience again. Be free.

 
 

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