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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Istari Questions, Melian, Galadriel & Saruman
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Elizabeth
Valinor


Oct 18 2013, 8:38pm

Post #76 of 92 (267 views)
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"Devices" [In reply to] Can't Post

In the "high English" that Tolkien often uses, especially when writing historical bits, "devices" is much more likely to mean "plans and strategies" than physical gadgets, which is the modern English sense of the word. And "driving out" the evil is very unlike "destroying" a place. Moreover, the "driving out" in this case clearly left some walls to be later "thrown down".

I am firmly convinced that Dol Guldur was not in any sense "destroyed" in the earlier action.








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 19 2013, 2:20am

Post #77 of 92 (259 views)
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Just for the sake of theorizing.... [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think happened? I really have no ideas, and would love to hear some of yours.


Elciryamo
Rivendell

Oct 19 2013, 4:10am

Post #78 of 92 (260 views)
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Regarding the limits of power [In reply to] Can't Post

I will, of course, have to reread Tolkien's own words, but the thought about their physical limitations reminded me of something my wife mentioned. Gandalf's abilities, both with splitting the stone at Trollshaw, or against the Goblins, require a bit of time and force of his will to manifest. I think my wife mentioned that Gandalf had to sit and summon within himself the level of power to cause the disruption to the Goblins.

My interpretation is the limits of their power is not only in the mandate in the creation of the Istari, but also in their physical form. Yes, they can perform their acts but it is draining on them.

Please feel free to correct me if I am remembering in error.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Oct 19 2013, 11:40am

Post #79 of 92 (262 views)
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Destroyed? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In the "high English" that Tolkien often uses, especially when writing historical bits, "devices" is much more likely to mean "plans and strategies" than physical gadgets, which is the modern English sense of the word. And "driving out" the evil is very unlike "destroying" a place. Moreover, the "driving out" in this case clearly left some walls to be later "thrown down".

I am firmly convinced that Dol Guldur was not in any sense "destroyed" in the earlier action.



Who said anything about Dol Guldur being destroyed? Anything like that didn't happen until after Frodo cast the One Ring into the Fires of Doom. I have speculated that Jackson could have Lady Galadriel lay bare the pits of Dol Guldur here, since it was not portrayed in the LotR films (Sauron could always rebuild the fortress in the following 60-plus years), but I did not suggest that in my last post.

In the passage during the Council of Elrond, where Gandalf speaks of the devices of Sauron, my impression is that he is speaking of physical (possibly alchemical or magical) devices, rather than strategies. However, it is certainly open to interpretation.

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


squire
Valinor


Oct 19 2013, 7:11pm

Post #80 of 92 (226 views)
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That's how it was put, but not by you. [In reply to] Can't Post

The discussion has been more wide-ranging, but in this case I think Elizabeth is responding to the thoughts of rangerfromthenorth, up above. He asserted rather positively that:
"I mean, Gandalf and Saruman most definitely used their power in the destruction of Dol Guldor."

But I think you're right that Dol Guldur was not destroyed until after the fall of Sauron; Elizabeth said the same thing. I also agree with Elizabeth's interpretation, following Tolkien's style, that Saruman's 'devices' should be taken as meaning stratagems rather than infernal machines. After all, Saruman's introduction of blasting powder at Helm's Deep is represented by the author as something deeply shocking and Mordor-like; if the White Council had used such 'physical' devices (as you put it) courtesy of a then-good Saruman many years earlier, I think the moral basis of the entire story would shift somewhat.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Oct 19 2013, 7:30pm

Post #81 of 92 (257 views)
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The Devices of Saruman -- Reprise [In reply to] Can't Post

From FotR, "The Council of Elrond"; Gandalf says:

Quote

But Saruman has long studied the arts of the Enemy himself, and thus we have often been able to forestall him. It was by the devices of Saruman that we drove him from Dol Guldur. It might be that he had found some weapons that would drive back the Nine.



As I stated before, Gandalf's usage of the word "devices" is open to interpretation, but here he seems to be speaking of something physical. Yet that isn't necessarily the case.

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


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 20 2013, 1:09am

Post #82 of 92 (218 views)
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Perhaps these words imply.... [In reply to] Can't Post

That Saruman found magical items that aided them before, or that he found new spells or other magical power? Didn't Gandalf say that he forgot things? Maybe Saruman remembered things?


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Oct 20 2013, 11:38pm

Post #83 of 92 (193 views)
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Well, if nothing else... [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman puts proof to the proverb that those who hunt mosters must be careful lest they become monsters themselves.

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


squire
Valinor


Oct 21 2013, 12:20am

Post #84 of 92 (194 views)
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Thank you, that's the kind of thing that makes me reconsider [In reply to] Can't Post

I admit I've always focused on just the line about the devices, and have - probably due to my own preconceived ideas about the story - overlooked the word 'weapons' in the next line.

And, now that I look at it, I find it remarkable that Gandalf says "thus we have often been able to forestall him", the Enemy, using "the arts of the Enemy himself."

Remarkable because such a statement seems to me to go against one of the major themes of the entire book: that one cannot use evil to combat evil, therefore one cannot use the One Ring to defeat Sauron and so must try to destroy it instead.

What is Gandalf saying? It's not enough to answer that this dialogue is meant to foreshadow Saruman's fall (which it is). Because Gandalf says "we" with evident satisfaction. "We", the good guys, have defeated the Enemy before, using his own weapons, courtesy of Saruman's skill. Wha? So why not use the Ring? Where is the line to be drawn, between these lesser 'devices' of Saruman's and Sauron's, and the ultimate device, the Ring?

I'm not sure this was a big deal to Tolkien. I can't decide if this is one of those little lines he threw in for melodramatic effect, without considering its moral impact on the story, or whether he actually had distinguished in his mind that war by sword and shield is justifiable (as Eowyn argues later on) but war by domination of the unwilling is not. Maybe he had concluded that some of Sauron's devices were no more than just 'weapons', i.e. physical instruments of bodily destruction which either side in a war may use without harm to their underlying morality, and so Saruman was justified in studying these matters with no risk to his own soul. But, as noted, that would contradict the import of this passage which is that Saruman did indeed risk himself by so doing.

Thanks for focusing us on this interesting quote. It seems to me that here Gandalf (speaking for the Wise as a group, to be sure) is left looking or sounding like a fool -- much as he does when he tries to explain why he left the matter of Bilbo's ring unexplored for many decades.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


sador
Half-elven


Oct 21 2013, 12:38pm

Post #85 of 92 (220 views)
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Unless, that is [In reply to] Can't Post

the attack upon Dol Guldur was indeed a breach of the Istari's mandate; but Gandalf might have been awakened to this only with hindsight, after fathoming Saruman's treachery.

I mean, exceeding their mandate would not necessarily lead to an immediate fall from grace, but would make them vulnerable to the Enemy's influence - just as using the Ring will.

I have, a few years ago, portrayed Saruman before the assault upon Dol Guldur as being gnawed by these very doubts (especially in PS. 1, and my reply to Curious' response).

And in the same vein - I disagree with what seems to be the consensus here, that Gandalf was fully within his rights when combatting the Balrog. When fighting his spells at the East-door of the Chamber of Mazarbul, he probably was; but was he allowed to invoke the Secret Fire to beat off another Maia? For sure not!
Which I actually see as a truly heroic deed; Gandalf literally sacrificed himself and his mission, for the saving of Frodo and his Quest. And it seems clear that the Valar did not send him back; he hints in The White Rider that he has truly left Arda. Only Eru Himself could have decided that he had acted correctly, and send him back - which He did.


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 21 2013, 2:33pm

Post #86 of 92 (172 views)
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I think you are correct but one caveat [In reply to] Can't Post

that their physical bodies are "drained" when using magical powers. But I think this is also true in their spiritual forms. If I remember correctly, Morgoth was drained after the incident with the Simarils and Ungoliant and that is why she as able to threaten his life as it were. So perhaps, the incarnation process increases this problem being that the physical limitations are further limitations. Make sense?

Not all those who wander are lost


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 21 2013, 4:33pm

Post #87 of 92 (170 views)
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Draining [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps the process of fatigue is accelerated within a mortal frame?


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Oct 21 2013, 4:41pm

Post #88 of 92 (164 views)
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agreed! [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Not all those who wander are lost


Elciryamo
Rivendell

Oct 21 2013, 6:59pm

Post #89 of 92 (165 views)
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I'm not sure of that... [In reply to] Can't Post

The idea that Gandalf and the White Council used the weapons of the Enemy to forestall Sauron's advancement strikes me as odd, even for Tolkien's evolving world. Unless I am reading the wrong passage, Gandalf's description of the devices of Saruman are from Sarauman's studying of Sauron and his works, not using the same tools against him.
Also, in the same passage, Gandalf refers to weapons being discovered to use against the Nine not Sauron. Clearly, the Nine are not a threat in the same way Sauron is and the ability to dispatch them easier would be useful to Men and Elves and not just the Istari.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 21 2013, 7:21pm

Post #90 of 92 (171 views)
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Well...... [In reply to] Can't Post

Your statement that Gandalf spoke 'with evident satisfaction', is one which with I must disagree. I think that it might have been a bitter musing, a sorrowful retrospect.


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Oct 26 2013, 3:50am

Post #91 of 92 (140 views)
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Invoking may not be the case [In reply to] Can't Post

he never calls on any power specifically at that point he seems to be
announcing who he is in some respect. Regardless letter 156 seems quite clear that he was doing what he was allowed. A similar situation arises when he saves Faramir at Pelennor before the main battle.


(This post was edited by ElendilTheShort on Oct 26 2013, 3:51am)


sador
Half-elven


Oct 28 2013, 7:56am

Post #92 of 92 (137 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Following your reponse, I've re-read letter 156; and while it is possible to argue, I think that you are correct - and in 1954, close upon the time of publishing LotR, Tolkien considered Gandalf to be acting within his mandate.
I note, however, that he is not forbidden to use force but to dominate other wills into obeying him (a delicate concept in itself) - the prohibition against using power to oppose power seems to stem from the (not much) later Istari essay; moreover, Gandalf's self-sacrifice seems to be specifically because he was the being of greatest power who was needed against Sauron.
Another curious point is that this letter mentions Gandalf as being slain on the bridge, while according to the book this happened several days later, on the peak of Celebdil. A careless lacuna, or a simple goof?
Faramir, of course, is a different case, as he was saved by Gandalf the White, who was on an arguably new mission (and more powerful). But Tolkien does not make this distinction.

Thanks again!

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