Episode 159 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

The gate closed silently behind:
  • Gandalf has the insight that Orthanc would be good at holding one inside as keeping others out.
  • Gandalf has no rational cause to fear Saruman, and he may have chided himself for feeling it.
  • This is the second time involving Saruman that he has felt fear for which he knows no reason. The first time was when he suspected the Ring, though Saruman had said it couldn’t be the One.
  • Saruman is not Gandalf’s liege, and though he is the head of the order, they are more peers.
  • Gandalf is telling this story after the fact, so this may be foreshadowing, though it still seems significant that Gandalf voices this fear that is contrary to his own reason, though correct.
  • He is not making himself seem wiser through this fear, but rather emphasizing his own folly in trusting his reason over his own fear, which adds credibility to his story.
  • The effectiveness of Saruman’s lies is based not only on his intellectual authority, but also on the fact that the other Wise would want to believe these particular lies to be true.
  • However, even if Gandalf had fully heeded his own fear, he could not have known the full truth.
  • Note: Boromir’s fear at the border of Lothlorien and Gimli’s at the Paths of the Dead are parallel experiences of irrational fear at entering a new land, though there are important differences.
  • The guards on the gate are certainly Men, as Orcs would have alerted Gandalf at once.
He wore a ring on his finger:
  • There would be no suspicion in Gandalf being taken up to Saruman’s high chamber, as this would be Saruman’s private study, and on its own would be completely normal.
  • What stands out as ominous is that he is wearing a ring, as Saruman has long been associated with the study of ring lore, and so far, the Rings of Power have been associated with evil.
  • Gandalf mentions this ring especially, which has meaning given the short sentence as rhetoric.
  • If this is a Ring of Power, there is no information given about its intentions or powers. This seems to be a ring that Saruman has never been seen wearing before when Gandalf sees it.
  • Saruman seems most likely to have made this ring himself, as he would be unlikely to be willing to wear one of the lesser Elvish rings, and with his knowledge of the making of the Great Rings.
  • Note: While Gandalf is wearing one of the Rings of Power, this points to the fact that Rings of Power are not exclusively bad, but the fact that the Elvish Rings are hidden point to a difference in perspective about their use, since Saruman is wearing his openly.
  • Gandalf seems to point out the ring now because he understood its significance in retrospect.
  • Note: While it’s not explicit what the ring’s powers are, and while Saruman as used his voice to create power and dominance over others, he is now doing this over a long distance and to whole peoples rather than individuals. Therefore, the ring may allow him to amplify or enhance the ability of his voice to reach and influence others to his service. It may also be related to his breeding of Uruk-hai, and his control over them, much like Sauron’s power over his own. It may also have powers to preserve him against attack from the power of other rings.
A cold laughter was in his heart:
  • Saruman seems to open with an insult, implying that he didn’t expect Gandalf would be wise enough to come to him for help after all. He seems to be toying with Gandalf by mocking him.
  • Saruman seems to be indulging in a grave celebration of the moment in a kind of triumph.
  • The white light in Saruman’s eyes seems to be related to the “pale light” we see elsewhere.
  • Gandalf’s response in speaking formally seems to be pointedly deferential, and his use of the full title is in conscious contrast to Saruman’s informality toward him.
  • Note: Since we don’t know what the Wizards call each other among themselves, it's possible that either Gandalf or Frodo is using the names Gandalf and Saruman for the benefit of their listeners or readers. It’s also possible that Saruman is using the name Gandalf in the context of his being summoned from the North and the Shire, and Gandalf is using Saruman’s name in Rohan, which may also be why that name is used in Gondor for him, rather than his Elvish name.
  • Note: While the concept of a Common Speech existed, Westron wasn’t invented until after he developed Adûnaic language for Númenor later during the writing of “The Notion Club Papers”.
  • Note: The alternate names of Gandalf don’t appear until later in the text and the writing.
  • Gandalf seems to try to remind Saruman of who he is in Middle-earth, and of his offer to help. This may be an implicit attempt to confirm these things, which pays off in Saruman’s anger.
On the colors of the Wizards:
  • The designation of colors as a kind of ranking system is not supported in the text, though this belief is usually derived from Gandalf’s change to White when he returns in greater power.
  • This change may be more to do with their role, and Gandalf is assigned to replace Saruman in his role, as evidenced that his behavior changes from his role as the Grey.
  • The role of the White wizard was needed for this time, but was now vacated by Saruman, and Gandalf needs to fill that role.
  • Gandalf also doesn’t treat Radagast as an inferior, but the Brown seems to be associated with his connection to the earth and life, much like St. Francis’ connection to the beasts and birds.
  • Saruman’s anger at the use of “the White” seems to have more to do with his no longer acting in the role of the White Wizard, since as someone who is seeking power beyond that role.
  • Had the White had to do with his rank, he would not have disdain for the title of “the White”.
  • Saruman seems to be turning the title of “the Grey” back on Gandalf twice as if to associate it with Gandalf’s unlikely seeking for aid, implying that it is associated with independence.
  • By speaking of “Gandalf the Grey” to Gandalf in the third person, it is a sarcastic imitation of Gandalf’s formality, as well as mocking him with false praise.
  • It’s possible that the role of “the White” is to stand as the chief enemy of “the Black”, Sauron.
  • Saruman also seems to imply that Gandalf is neglecting the role of “the Grey” by involving himself in other affairs, which is a form of projecting his own faults onto Gandalf.
  • There is an implication that the role of “the Grey” is to work behind the scenes in a cloaked way, and Gandalf’s actions, such as his involvement in The Hobbit, are beyond his remit.
  • Saruman may also have contempt for the role of “the Grey”, whether Gandalf fulfills it or not, but he also seems to see Gandalf as his most serious threat, which is why he ensnares him.
  • He doesn’t attempt to capture or convert Radagast in the same way, and it may be that Gandalf’s research into the Ring may be seen as an encroachment into Saruman’s business.
  • Therefore, Saruman may be emphasizing that the White Wizard is supposed to look into ring business, not the Grey Wizard, and especially without consulting the White Wizard before.
  • Gandalf has also concealed this from Saruman, which he may see as adding to the affront.
  • Saruman would also see Gandalf as a threat because of his traveling, which would make it more likely to learn about the Ring and Saruman’s treason, unlike Radagast, who doesn’t travel.
  • Having implied that he has received revelation, possibly from the Valar, that the Ring was rolled to the Sea, he can’t go back and reveal the possibility that the Ring was at large to Gandalf.