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|“||The world is changing. Who now has the strength to stand against the armies of Isengard and Mordor? To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman and the union of the Two Towers? Together, my Lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The Old World will burn in the fires of industry, the forests will fall. A new order will rise! We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the Orc. We have only to remove those who oppose us…||„|
|~ Saruman's speech to Sauron.|
|“||There will be no dawn… for men.||„|
Saruman the White is one of the two secondary antagonists (alongside Gollum) of the 1954 fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by the late J.R.R Tolkien, and the secondary antagonist of Peter Jackson's live action film trilogy adaptation of the novels.
He is the main antagonist of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, before finally meeting his end as a minor antagonist in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In The Hobbit trilogy, Saruman appeared as a supporting character in both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
He is a powerful wizard and the leader of the Istari, as well as Gandalf's "superior", who is corrupted by Sauron and serves as his chief lieutenant during the War of the Ring. He commands Isengard and breeds the destructive Uruk-hai. He also attempts to destroy the kingdom of Rohan and control Théoden with the assistance of his henchman, Gríma Wormtongue. He is the archenemy of Gandalf.
In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, he was portrayed by the late Christopher Lee, who also played Dracula in Hammer Studios' Dracula films, King Haggard in The Last Unicorn, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel films.
Role in the story
Saruman is the head of the White Council, a group of elves and wizards formed to contest the return of the Shadow. Like his fellow wizard Gandalf, he is a Maia, an angelic being sent to Middle-earth by Eru, Tolkien's analog for God. He grows to covet the secrets of Sauron's power, being bewildered and fearful towards him. Using the palantir to communicate with the Dark Lord, the latter ensnares him and gains his allegiance. No longer opposing Sauron, Saruman envisions the future of Middle-earth under his new master's rule, certain of his victory against the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Though subservient to Sauron, Saruman does not abandon all hopes of seizing the One Ring and cheating on him if the opportunity arises. If not, he shall at least be his master's great vassal and benefit from his favour.
He begins his part in Sauron's conquest of Middle-earth by having his ally Gríma Wormtongue poison the mind and body of Theoden, King of Rohan, rendering him weak and powerless; he then has Wormtongue influence Theoden to do Sauron's bidding. In his bid to crush the kingdom of Rohan, Saruman emulates his master by breeding an army of Orcs, with Uruk-hai among them, and fortifies Isengard in preparation for the assaults against the Men of the West. He employs in Bree-land to strengthen Sauron's spy network in the hunt for the Ring and secretly aids the enemies of Rohan, persuading the Dunleding to join his master.
When Gandalf discovers Saruman's treachery, Saruman imprisons him, but Gandalf manages to escape. Saruman then has his Orcs attack the Fellowship of the Ring and kidnap the hobbits Merry and Pippin, in hopes of eventually capturing the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins, whether to obtain his precious burden or otherwise hand him to his master Sauron. When Gandalf helps Theoden overcome Wormtongue's (and thus Saruman's) influence, Saruman orders his Orc army to attack Rohan while he watches from his tower sanctuary. Saruman appears to be winning the battle at first, but then a herd of Ents (giant, tree-like beings) attack on the Free Peoples' behalf, angered by Saruman cutting down whole forests to supply his army with weapons. As the tide of battle has turned against him, Saruman locks himself within his tower, neither willing to sue for pardon out of arrogance nor futher betray Sauron's trust.
After Sauron is defeated, Saruman flees from Isengard, together with Wormtongue, intent on avenging both his and his master's downfall on the peaceful Hobbits. Thus, he chooses settle in the Shire, under the guise "Sharkey", and turns it into his own petty realm, with a ragtag company of Half-Orcs and evil Men as his main enforcers. Eventually, Frodo and his companions come back to the Shire and break Saruman's hold over it. As Saruman and Wormtongue are chased out of the Shire, the fallen wizard curses his minion and throws him down. Enraged, Wormtongue cuts Saruman's throat, killing him; moments later, Hobbit archers shoot and kill Wormtongue.
Saruman was cruel, uncaring, and treacherous. He would do anything to achieve greater power, even if it meant siding with Sauron, betraying his own allies, especially the White Council, and destroying the forests. Ultimately, his schemes and treachery would lead him to his defeat.
During the War of the Ring, he sided with Sauron, believing there was no way the Dark Lord could be defeated. Initially, he planned to use the One Ring to overthrow Sauron, and rationalized every evil thing he did as the means to a good end. By the time of Sauron's resurgence, however, Saruman had given in to his ambition and lust for power, and simply wanted to rule Middle-earth with or without Sauron. Ironically, Sauron was aware of Saruman's desire to overthrow him, and planned to dispose of him once he had served his purpose.
Saruman was arrogant, looking down on Gandalf as a "fool" and the men of Rohan as "peasants" living in "a thatched barn". He was highly manipulative, managing to win many to his side against Rohan and even manipulated Treebeard into releasing him merely with his voice. He was cunning and intelligent, managing to poison the mind of King Theoden, force Gandalf through the Mines of Moria and create weapons capable of breeching the wall of Helm's Deep. He hated the race of Men and wished to wipe them out, starting with the kingdom of Rohan. He has no problem killing women and children. He was also needlessly cruel to Grima Wormtongue, his most loyal servant, beating him in public and calling him a "cur".
Even when defeated, he was spiteful, cursing Gandalf and Theoden and gleefully telling them that Frodo would die.
Agents of Saruman
Allies and Armies
- Grima Wormtongue
- Lotho Sackville-Baggins
- Bill Ferny
- Ruffian Leader
- Saruman's Army
- Wulf II
- Isengard Gate Guards
- Broncho Stonecrow
- Harry Goatleaf
- Wormtongue's bodyguards
- Robin Smallburrow
- Squint-eyed Southerner
- The figure of Saruman is portrayed slightly differently in the cinematic version and the book version.
- In the film trilogy, he is portrayed as being solely a loyal servant of Sauron. In the books, he is one of his master's greatest minions in the war, but he also entertains the idea of taking the One Ring for himself if possible.
- His death is portrayed differently in the films than in the original books: in Peter Jackson's movie Saruman dies during his conversation with Gandalf and Théoden in the Orthanc tower, but in Tolkien's book he dies in the Shire where he set himself up. In both versions, however, he is killed by Grima Wormtongue.
- In the animated film, Saruman wears a red robe rather than a white one despite his namesake.
- In the film Return Of The King, the scene of his death was cut out from the final version since the film was already three hours long with the in-story explanation being that he is trapped in the Tower of Isengard.
- However, the cut scene can be found on YouTube.