Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Return Of The King Book 6 Chapter 8 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Return of the King (Book 6, Chapter 8) : The Scouring of the Shire | Summary

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Summary

Indeed, upon arriving at the borders of the Shire, the hobbits find out evil has come there, too. The "Chief" at Bag End (who turns out to be Lotho Sackville-Baggins, son of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins) is in charge, and he has forced many of the hobbits into his service: some as laborers, some as "shirriffs" (enforcers of rules), and some as "gatherers" (tax collectors). Many new rules and restrictions are in place. Men have also been brought in to maintain this new order.

The four hobbits decide something must be done. Pippin and Merry lead an uprising of hobbits to overthrow the new leadership and restore the Shire. Finally, they reach Bag End, which is in complete disarray. Suddenly, Saruman and Wormtongue appear, and Saruman's role in creating all this mischief is revealed. The hobbits force him out of Bag End and tell him to leave the Shire forever, and in the midst of all this action, Wormtongue attacks and kills Saruman. When Wormtongue attempts to flee, he, too, is killed, struck down by hobbit arrows.

Analysis

The mystery of the Longbottom Leaf at Isengard is resolved by the appearance of Saruman in the Shire. Part of Saruman's mischief, growing into revenge against the hobbits who helped in his demise, was to corrupt what the hobbits hold dear—the Shire. Saruman brings industrialization to the rural Shire, just as he did at Isengard. He has trees cut down, including the Party Tree under which Bilbo gave his farewell speech, and corrupts hobbits such as Lotho Sackville-Baggins and the miller Ted Sandyman.

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