Saruman's Ring!

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Úlairi, Mar 16, 2002.

  1. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Excellent post barclay. It got me thinking about Saruman's Ring and I seem to recall reading somewhere where JRRT compared Saruman's study of ring lore with Germany during WWII. I'm not sure if I came across this in Tolkien or in my readings of WWII though it makes more sense it would be in LOTR, The Silmarillion or UT (I'm excluding The HoME since I'm just now beginning reading them.) Perhaps someone will help me out where I came across this.

    I thought the comparison implied that both Saruman and Germany if given enough time would have both realized their ultimate desire, total power over their worlds. Germany via their creation of the first atomic bomb, something they were concurrently striving towards as was Japan and the USA. Saruman by creating a ring with which he could have total control over Sauron and ME.

    I could be reading too much into this but it is an interesting pov and might help shed more light on JRRT's thoughts here.

    And btw barclay welcome! It's wonderful having new members join.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  2. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    What sort of special ability are you thinking? Certainly no special ability was needed to talk to the Nazgul. Are you thinking he was actually able to summon them?

    My impression is that Sauron sent them as needed, but that Saruman and Sauron primarily used the Palantír for communication.
    I don't really recall any evidence in the book that Saruman had any special ability that might be attributed to a ring.

    Interesting. Which edition are you referencing?
    I can't find that in my 50th Anniversary Edition. There is Gandalf's reference in The Shadow of the Past where he says:
    "The lore of the Elven-rings, great and small, is his province. He has long studied it, seeking lost secrets of their making..."
    I'll have to go look in my older editions. I'm not sure I have a newer edition.

    As I mentioned in another similar thread, linked a few posts up, his orcs could be easily explained by selective breeding. No special power needed.

    I would lean towards "along the way", if it wasn't innate. We've had in recent history people who're capable of the power of persuasion to very despicable ends without a magic ring. 1930's Germany springs to mind.

    In Forward to the Second Edition Tolkien is addressing the suggestions of allegory between WWII and The Lord of The Rings. He states:
    "The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion."
    That's where he goes on to say if it was allegory Saruman would have gone on to make a Great Ring.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2018

  3. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Thank you Barliman I knew I read it somewhere. Well I guess my idea flopped since we know Tolkien did not like allegory.
     
  4. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    My appreciation for all discussions and contributions! Excellent reading. Here are quite some elaborations and suppositions for that particular ring.

    I must admit I'm a bit dizzy now (the totally unbearable heatwave here in Europe at the moment, no doubt, must be the cause mainly) when trying to read here and discern facts from deductions or suppositions, wise as they be. About the JRRT sources on that ring, my dizziness would be helped by just having these meager facts back into a nutshell again.

    What I can see from canonic stuff is this:
    1. Saruman was deeply involved in studying ring-lore.
    2. Saruman lusted for the one Ring.
    3. Saruman wore a ring of his own by the time he imprisoned Gandalf.
    4. Saruman called himself a ring-maker.
    (Probably, even my 2 first points are only marginally related).

    Is this all that we know “for fact” about this ring of his, or did I skip something "canonic" in my bullet points?
     

  5. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  6. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Care to go into detail here Barliman?
     
  7. Barliman

    Barliman Member

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    Not much detail to give.
    It's what Gandalf reported to the the Council of Elrond, when describing Saruman imprisoning him at Orthanc,
    "'For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-Maker, Saruman of Many Colours!' I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered."
     
  8. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    So all we have is that Saruman wore a ring by the time he imprisoned Gandalf and that he called himself ring-maker. Nothing else? Even when he died in the Shire no ring was mentioned to have been found.

    Very few hard facts, in my personal view, to give much thought to...

    JRRT may have had his reasons/intentions to expand the idea and then abandoned the lead as he went on. Happened on other occasions.

    Hey- I'm now speculating about this too now! :mad: I am really dizzy these hot days. :confused:
     
  9. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    I'm dizzy over the, "many colors" claim...guess there are just many things only God and JRRT will ever know absolutely.
     
  10. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    I mentioned one idea about the colours on another thread, but I don't know where, so I'll repeat it here: I suspect Tolkien may have modeled them, at least in part, on the various Catholic Orders. The connection of Radagast with St. Francis is clear enough, and the Dominicans (always considered an "intellectual" order), wear white. I'm not sure if Gandalf fits in here, as I haven't researched very deeply, but I'll look.

    Of course, Gandalf is so associated with fire symbolism that it wouldn't surprise me if he were a special case. IIRC, in "The Istari" his cloak is described as "grey as ash", which continues the symbolism.
     
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  11. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Interesting pov SES. Something to consider...thx for replying
     
  12. darkG

    darkG New Member

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    One wonders; the One ring obviously works for Bilbo and Frodo, invisibility. The wizard's staffs, on the other hand, are they tied to them or could they similarly be used by anyone? Forging magical artifacts may, or may not, imply putting something of yourself into the object.

    Rings - jewelry - are possibly to be understood as more vain (symbols of vanity) than a staff, particularly of course Gandalf's crude one. So Rings are pride, and pride is opposite to wisdom, or at least benevolence..?

    Saruman was white, became 'of many coulours', Gandalf was gray, became white. Surely there are connotations of purity here, being not-white, opting for "many coulours" does seem a bit desperate?
     
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  13. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Great ideas on the contrast, DarkG -- and welcome to the forum!

    Yes, rings in Tolkien seem always inseparable from pride, to a greater or lesser degree, beginning with the Silmarils, the concept of Arda as "Morgoth's Ring", up through the One.

    And including the Elf-rings, great and small: Tolkien mentioned in more than one letter that, as well-intentioned as the desire of the Elves to preserve the good things of Middle Earth may have been, it was still, in important ways, an expression of selfishness and pride; that is, a desire to preserve their idea of what Middle Earth should be, rather than trust to the unfolding of Eru's plan.

    This parallels the earlier intervention by the Valar, who wanted to "save" the Elves from Morgoth, something they later recognized as error.

    But rings are so loaded with symbolic meaning, from their long association in myth, ritual, folktale, and literature, that it would take a lot of work to unpack all the implications of their appearances in Tolkien.

    To your question about staffs, there's much to explore there, too, but I'll limit myself to saying that, as opposed to the rings, I don't think just anyone could use them; I can't see Frodo, for instance , picking up Gandalf's staff and saying "Now I command fire! Burn, you orcs!". Rather, they are both sigil and "device": they are the mark of wizards as Istari, "Messengers", in the same sense as the herald's banner, or the king's scepter; and they simultaneously act to focus and express their powers, as is repeatedly shown by Gandalf. It's a bit unfortunate that we don't get any clearly delineated demonstrations of their use by the other wizards; the contrast would be interesting to see. The only (possible) example I can think of is the undue weariness of the Three Hunters:

    'There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb.'
    "Truly!' said Legolas. 'That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us.' He pointed away over the land of Rohan into the darkling West under the sickle moon.
    'Saruman!' muttered Aragorn.

    It has been suggested here that this is due to Saruman's ring; I lean towards Saruman's innate power, "projected", if you want to look at it that way, through his staff.
     
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  14. darkG

    darkG New Member

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    I guess it boils down to a larger general issue of magic, the extent to how much of it is from the wizard, entirely from an Artifact, or a little of both, and also the nature of Words and Gestures used, and - again - artifacts such as rings and wands. I agree that not just anyone could use a wizard's staff. In the movie, Saruman uses his own and Gandalf's in tandem, to great effect. I find that rather plausible. Then, they were in the same Order, so they are likely to be familiar with each other's, eh, style, to some degree, and probably also share some common general wizard knowledge.

    Edit Thanks, I feel welcome :)
     
  15. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Let me state, as clearly as possible: I'm not talking about the movies. In fact, unless I somehow end up on a movie thread, I'm never talking about the movies! In short, I look on a statement starting with "In the movie. . ." as of exactly the same relevance to a discussion of Tolkien as one beginning "I read in this fan-fic once where. . ."

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I want you to know where I stand on the subject.

    Ahem. With that out of the way, let me ask: do you have the Letters? In some of those, Tolkien goes into his conceptions of "magic" in his works much more extensively than his somewhat ambiguous hints in LOTR. He also discusses the subject in "On Fairy Stories".

    I ask before I go digging for quotes.
     
  16. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    I don't see any real problem bringing in the movies as an example. The RP games, the movies and the books are all enjoyable and stress one thing or another to differing degrees.

    It might not be the best choice to do so when talking strictly literature but everyone to his/her strengths. A new member especially should not be expected to fully see the big picture of the forum threads. Sometimes it's darn confusing. I've been here a few months and I still get turned around. People join from all over the world, in places where English isn't their first language. Allow a person a mistake or two before hitting them over the head. We all want new members especially one's like darkG who post and imo some pretty intelligent posts too.

    'nuf said...
     
  17. darkG

    darkG New Member

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    Sure, the movies are not Tolkien works, I fully understand that they'd be of little interest to many here at a Tolkien forum :)

    I came here to look something up, saw something else interesting, and registered. However, I am not quite a die hard Tolkien fan at all, as it happens most of his works are of little Interest to me! Clearly, this is my problem and not yours, this being a, well, like... a Tolkien forum.

    While the movies cannot be said to explain Tolkien, they can illustrate things, If one would want to. I find it proper that this might not be the place for wider, generalized ramblings. Thus, general ramblings being what I am all about, I bid you farewell. No hard feelings.
     
  18. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Ramble all you want darkG...others do including me. I have a friend who's never read Tolkien. I watched the movies with him and he pointed some things out that shed light on issues in the books. I didn't notice them but he did even though he didn't realize the scenes were in the books.
     
  19. Ithilethiel

    Ithilethiel Active Member

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    Don't leave darkG. I'm sure SES didnt mean to come off as hard as he did. You are welcome here.
     
  20. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    My personal Gemini Cricket having taken her umbrella to my, um, whatever (ouch!), let me rephrase my earlier post in nicer fashion:

    Generally speaking, the discussions in the book forums are reserved for the books, as there are dedicated forums for the movies.

    As Ithilethiel says, of course there can be some overlap, for comparison purposes, for instance, but it's usual to keep them separate.

    There. As Captain Renault would say, that is a more pleasant way of putting it.

    So sorry if I put you off, DarkG, and please stay on the site -- you've already raised some good points, as I said above. It would be our loss if you left.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018

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