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**Fellowship of the Ring Discussion - Council of Elrond - Thread 3 of 4: “I still want to know a good deal, especially about Gandalf.” Gandalf’s tale **
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Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Apr 17 2015, 11:20pm

Post #26 of 33 (1645 views)
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Yes, it is interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

And it is possible that both were right. Aragorn was warning Boromir that all was not well in Rohan, which it wasn't considering Saruman's control of Theoden through Wormtongue and his party but at the same time, even Wormtongue had not managed to pesuade the KIng to have a direct alliance with Mordor, or paying tribute through their horses.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Apr 17 2015, 11:23pm

Post #27 of 33 (1645 views)
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Maybe Aragorn is been a bit politic. [In reply to] Can't Post

As you say, he does not want to contradict Gandalf in public, and with Gimli, remember he is trying to pesuade a reluctant Dwarf that he is not walking through a country of enemies, so perhaps he is summerizing facts a bit, maybe only after he thought about it and talked with Boromir perhaps, he did not believe the rumours.


sador
Half-elven


Apr 19 2015, 12:41pm

Post #28 of 33 (1630 views)
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Do you still want to know? [In reply to] Can't Post

After you have posted the summing-up thread? Tongue

We get a humorous poke at Bilbo - who asks for refreshment, but then enjoys telling his part of the story at length.
Several. as in Elrond's quip about granting him leave to tell it in prose.

Any thoughts about why Gandalf proceeds in this way?

For one thing, to excuse him missing the obvious connection for so long.

Would it have been more or less convincing had summarised the logical case instead?
I don't think he really needs to convince them - or at least, this is not the central point of his speech. The other members could accept that if Gandalf and Elrond are satisfied with identifying the Ring, they should know.


But they do need to know much of the information he gives them - it intrduces Saruman, Denethor and Gollum in a way the hobbits (and readers) get interested.

Mirkwood is a reasonable place to begin the tale, but do you also see some level of Gandalf kicking himself for not having figured things out sooner?
I thought he was fending of accusations, like when he is reassured by Elrond.

Is this an odd choice of priorities, actually?
Well, had he known in advance what the markings would be, and that they more or less identify the Ring - he could have saved the trip to Minas Tirith.

But he needed to confirm first Saruman's lore.
And as readers, we really need to bear in mind that perhaps Denethor had also read the scroll.

If Gandalf is confident that his proof lies in an experiment at Bag End, why not do that first?
See above.

Gollum has also been interrogated by Sauron - who should be assumed to know pretty much all the information that Gandalf has gathered.
Except for the proof Gandalf had received. Sauron can only sumise - basically, until the Riders confront Frodo on Weathertop, he has no convincing proof.

But it could be that Sauron had other conclusive proofs, which Gandalf doesn't, as come from the residual effects on Gollum, and so on.

Talk turns to Gollum’s fate, and Legolas reveals the news that Gollum has in fact escaped (or, quite likely, been rescued).
What of Tauriel? Poor Tauriel!

After an account of his meeting with Radagast and his unfortunate decision to trust Butterbur to deliver an urgent message to Frodo
As we discussed before, it turned out to have been quite a fortunate decision!
Perhaps "ill-advised" would be a better term.

It’s immediately apparent when he meets Saruman that something is wrong.
Hindsight is 10/10.
When riding in, the smart aleck did not heed any of those warnings.

I presume there is deliberate irony in Saruman accusing his colleagues of being arrogant, secretive and stupid and himself wise, when the opposite would see to be the case?
The irony is quite overdone, in my opinion.
Either Tolkien is making too strong a case against modern politicians, or Gandalf is self-justifying in a way.
As I think has been obsevred before, Tolkien's later writings about Saruman reveal this inherent weakness - he paints him in a way no Council of the Wise could be duped by him.

(Kind of like Jackson's Wormtongue - but on the other hand, Jackson's Saruman in The Hobbit is far more convincing than the fellow in Unfinished Tales)

Is it a surprise, in a fantasy work with a big theme of the heroic rejection of evil, to find a character making a very realpolitik-sounding speech about compromise and regrettable necessities?
I'm not sure whether it is a surprise, as I am not an expert on fantasy, and therefore have no expectations.
But it does make a very telling point.

What do you suppose is Saruman’s real plan and what is being said to try to win over Gandalf?

I would never underestimate the power of self-delusion. I guess that at least until Gandalf confronts him, Saruman still believes in own integrity.

Does Saruman really propose steering Sauron, or does he plan all along to supplant him as soon as practical?
I don't think he really has a plan of steering Sauron. But he might think that joining in with him could bring him nearer to a chance of overthrowing him.

Is that the stage Saruman has reached, or is he beyond that and only out to benefit himself?

That's what the man says.

Is the Ring driving him crazy,

I doubt it. I don't think its influence is that far-reaching.
But it could be that the ring he made for himself is a vector of corruption.

or have his researches into Ring-lore been fatal,
They have given him the means, and laid the groundwork for his temptation.
As well as anything he might have found in the deserted Dol Guldur.

or is he a tragic character bound to be brought down by his character flaws,
Bound? I don't like that idea; it sounds too much like a Greek tragedy to me.

As we will find out later, there is also his communication with Sauron.

with the Ring being just the best option for getting the power he wants?
I have to quote myself again, from this old post. See the paragrapgh beginning with PS.


Is this setting up Aragorn as the natural choice for the informal second-in-command of the Fellowship?
That is an excellent point. Well spotted!

Is it helping Aragorn’s stock in Boromir’s eyes?
Actually, it is. Boromir accepts without murmur Aragorn's leadership from Moria to Amon Hen.

As I see it, we readers have it confirmed that Gandalf caused the strange flashes that were seen from Weathertop, and of course we were wondering why Gandalf didn’t come to rescue Frodo. Is this just filling in background detail, or am I missing important things?
Gandalf does explain why he didn't come.

Is this a fossil from older plot-lines, before Gandalf has to journey back from Orthanc?

Very likely.

Wouldn’t it be simpler if Shadowfax were a noble steed but slower, and to have Gandalf head direct to Rivendell from Rohan, and perhaps only just arrive before Frodo does?
I don't really think so. He does need to outrun the Black Riders later.
And seeing how wimpy the Black Riders appear to be - having them have Gandalf on the run, does raise their image a bit.

To say a bit more about the idea that Gandalf ought to have gone to Rivendell first: I’m seeing Rohan - Rivendell as a shorter journey than Rohan- Hobbiton.

As the crow flies, for sure. But on the road - I'm really not sure it is.
Boromir would definitely have made it faster from Tharbad had he gone up the Greenway to Bree, and taken the Road from there. Same with Gandalf - but once he's so near the Shire (and not that much late, after all), it makes sense that he should go on t Bag-end.

And it seems a fairly reasonable plan to hasten to Rivendell (where Gandalf ought to expect Frodo to be by now, if he had set off when instructed in Gandalf’s letter).
Letters can often get mislaid or mishandled - even if Buterbur would have acted as expected of him.

At Rivendell get news, and warn of Saruman’s treachery.
He most definitely should send a message regarding that to Elrond. And who sayus he didn't?




noWizardme
Valinor


Apr 19 2015, 2:24pm

Post #29 of 33 (1621 views)
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Oh yes, still want to know! The threads go ever on and on... :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~

"nowimë 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!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


noWizardme
Valinor


Apr 19 2015, 6:05pm

Post #30 of 33 (1614 views)
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"no Council of the Wise could be duped by him" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It’s immediately apparent when he meets Saruman that something is wrong.
Hindsight is 10/10.
When riding in, the smart aleck did not heed any of those warnings.

I presume there is deliberate irony in Saruman accusing his colleagues of being arrogant, secretive and stupid and himself wise, when the opposite would see to be the case?
The irony is quite overdone, in my opinion.
Either Tolkien is making too strong a case against modern politicians, or Gandalf is self-justifying in a way.
As I think has been obsevred before, Tolkien's later writings about Saruman reveal this inherent weakness - he paints him in a way no Council of the Wise could be duped by him.

(Kind of like Jackson's Wormtongue - but on the other hand, Jackson's Saruman in The Hobbit is far more convincing than the fellow in Unfinished Tales)


That's a good point - either Saruman has only just begun behaving so badly, or it is odd that his colleagues on the White Council have not noticed something amiss before!

And I do like the ideas in the older post to which you linked - Gandalf encouraging Saruman to force Sauron out of Dol Gildur, and then feeling guilty that this might have precipitated Saruman's downfall:



In Reply To
PS. Assuming my theory above is correct, and adding to it the assumption Saruman used magic to drive the Necromancer out of Mirkwood (well, Elrond had no 'host of Elves' to storm Dol Guldur, as he said in the Council, so something else than military force was needed) - doesn't it seem like the White Council has overstepped the authority the Valar gave them? And could this be the beginning of Saruman's fall, or at least his stepping over the border?
It sounds very appealing, except for the implication that Gandalf for a hundred years counselled the Council should put forth its power, in order to oppose Sauron. Perhaps he was misled by Saruman's reassurances to this effect.
If so, we have a very interesting image: after having spent ages on persuading others he has the power to drive Sauron from Mirkwood, and that it doesn't involve a breach of the authority the Valar gave him, and having studied Sauron for long enough to be fascinated by him (and not just appalled, as Radagast apparantly remained) - Saruman stands long in Orthanc, looking at the stars, and struggling with his conscience: in his inner heart, he knows he shouldn't use his power; he might even be afraid of becoming addicted to that power once he tastes it (remember Gandalf in 'The Shadow of the Past', recoiling in horror from taking the Ring?) - but he is too proud to open his heart and consult with others, tell them his doubts and seek their advice. And after nearly a century, he persuades himself he can wield his power without being corrupted by it - which does enable the ultimate victory of those opposing Sauron, but leading to his own downfall. Shades of Ar-Pharazon!

PPS. Based on all the said above, does Gandalf's mercy towards the defeated Saruman include a bit of remorse, for advising him on that way? Elrond said quite unequivocally that Saruman's example is a reason why to prefer Frodo as a Ringbearer to others. What did Gandalf think, or feel?

But perhaps that is taking speculation too far.

sador http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=104909#104909


~~~~~~

"nowimë 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!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 20 2015, 7:55pm

Post #31 of 33 (1576 views)
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some answers [In reply to] Can't Post

"I presume there is deliberate irony in Saruman accusing his colleagues of being arrogant, secretive and stupid and himself wise, when the opposite would see to be the case?"

It might be, and it certainly appears ironic. Personally I think Tolkien´s intended effect is more literal, trying to characterize Saruman, how he tries to manipulate the situation by exerting classical authority, referring to his position as head of the White Council and his implied right to be informed

"Is it a surprise, in a fantasy work with a big theme of the heroic rejection of evil, to find a character making a very realpolitik-sounding speech about compromise and regrettable necessities?"

What do you suppose is Saruman’s real plan and what is being said to try to win over Gandalf? Does Saruman really propose steering Sauron, or does he plan all along to supplant him as soon as practical?"

It´s not very surprising, since this is a chapter where other options of how one could deal with the matter of the Ring is presented. It´s a useful and interesting contrast to Gandalf´s point of view and a very different view on the nature of power, a main theme in the story. Throughout the story Tolkien allows several characters to voice objections to Gandalf´s choice of strategy or reasoning and the most central ones, like Saruman and Denethor, are always people with a considerable store of knowledge, who take pride in their own knowledge and show confidence and skill in using rhetorics.

Through Saruman Tolkien wants to show that also the wise and knowledgeable can be corrupted.

I´m not quite sure what Saruman´s real plan is. In the present situation he wants to persuade Gandalf to follow his own plan of action: Gandalf would be an important and powerful ally. He therefore tries to present his course of action as ultimately just another way of achieving his and Gandalf´s mission. Steering Sauron´s policies seems to me to be a way of just trying to make his own strategy seem more palatable in his own eyes as well as Gandalf´s. Saruman´s primary strategy is to wield supremacy by getting hold of the Ring.

"We are used to characters being tempted by the Ring (or denying that temptation) when they have an opportunity to seize it. What of Saruman - he’s come nowhere near it. Is the Ring driving him crazy, or have his researches into Ring-lore been fatal, or is he a tragic character bound to be brought down by his character flaws, with the Ring being just the best option for getting the power he wants?"

I don´t think the Ring is driving him crazy at all. He is a character who´s brought down by his own character flaws and desire for power.

"A quibble: As regards why Gandalf can’t join Frodo, Tolkien has him arrive in the Shire super-fast, but then have to kill time getting lost so that he can’t do much. Is this a fossil from older plot-lines, before Gandalf has to journey back from Orthanc? Wouldn’t it be simpler if Shadowfax were a noble steed but slower, and to have Gandalf head direct to Rivendell from Rohan, and perhaps only just arrive before Frodo does?"

I think it´s vital remember that Gandalf´s information is limited. He only knows that Frodo is in grave danger, is pursued by deadly forces and Frodo´s (temporary) mission cannot afford to fail. The quickest way to get more precise information is to seek it directly himself, not to get external help, which is an uncertain and IMO risky course of action: Gandalf is also used to seek information directly for himself through his many wanderings. Secondly I think he feels personally responsible for not being able to guard Frodo and therefore tries to mend the damage as quickly as possible.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 20 2015, 9:01pm

Post #32 of 33 (1577 views)
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Saruman & Boromir: voicing the alternatives [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice point about Saruman being used as a vehicle for another way to use the Ring. I always think of the Saruman story in the Council as about Gandalf's integrity and Saruman's corruption, but your comments made me think about how the ultra-powerful authority figures in the book chastise Gandalf's plan to destroy the Ring instead of using it for victory. Boromir doesn't seem too bright, but Denethor and Saruman are wise by all accounts, so it's not just a trap that hasty, foolish people fall into.

In that sense it's important for readers to see very own "boss" turn on him and make the same argument that Boromir makes. Hearing this argument several times during the trilogy is more effective, I think, than having it quickly dismissed early on in a Bag End parlor, with consensus ruling the rest of the book and Gandalf clearly in the right and anointed as wise by all.

Galadriel is the other ultra-powerful person who's tempted by the Ring. I'm not sure what that says about Elrond, who seems utterly untempted by it, seeming to find it more odious than appealing.


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Apr 21 2015, 12:48am

Post #33 of 33 (1577 views)
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Mentors matter. [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman (Curumo in his former life) was chosen by Aulë the smith, and tended to focus on devices of various sorts, rings among them. Gandalf (Olórin) was chosen by Manwë, but had a history of hanging out with Nienna, "and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope." That background, plus the gift of Narya for "kindling of all hearts to courage," meant he was first and foremost gifted with what we call "people skills".

He certainly wasn't above manipulation, though. "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" is quite specific: "For Frodo the Halfling, it is said, at the bidding of Mithrandir took on himself the burden..." A re-read of Shadows of the Past as well as this chapter makes the manipulation quite clear, if you look for it.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Apr 21 2015, 12:57am)

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