HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 3 Chapter 10 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Two Towers (Book 3, Chapter 10) : The Voice of Saruman | Summary

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Summary

Gandalf needs to speak to Saruman. He lets the others come along, and they go together to Orthanc. Saruman, whose voice can mesmerize, tries to win over Théoden with his beautiful voice. When this is unsuccessful, he tries to convince Gandalf to join him. Gandalf is having none of it, however, and casts Saruman out of the Council of the Wise, and breaks his staff.

As they turn to leave, Wormtongue throws a large, round object out of the window at them. Pippin picks it up, but Gandalf immediately takes it away.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Pippin, Merry, Gimli, Legolas, and those from Rohan prepare to leave for Edoras, leaving Treebeard in charge of making sure Saruman does not escape. The Ents promise to watch Saruman carefully.

Analysis

It is fitting that Wormtongue becomes Saruman's lackey, as both share a talent for lying and deception. Wormtongue deceived Théoden with his persuasive words and bad counsel, and in this chapter we see Saruman's tactics, though more refined and powerful, are essentially the same. Both use their voices, or speech, to deceive. Théoden makes this connection when he first hears Wormtongue's voice at Orthanc: "I know that voice ... and I curse the day when I first listened to it."

It is hard not to consider the historical events that might have given Tolkien insight into the way people, including leaders, can convince others to follow them into foolish or evil actions. Saruman's power seems to be a combination of his beautiful speech and the desire on the part of the hearers to seem wise by agreeing; those assembled who hear Saruman feel it is "a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves."

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