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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
Table of Contents

SARUMAN (SHARKEY)

Saruman the White is a wizard like Gandalf and is head of
the White Council that originally drove Sauron (the
Necromancer) from Mirkwood Forest. But Saruman has
studied the ways of the enemy and has fallen into the
temptation to be like him, to rule the world as he sees fit.
When he speaks to Gandalf of the need to drop weaker
allies, and when he defends murder if it's committed for
greater good, he may remind you of some modern political
speakers who believe that anything can be justified by an
appeal to some nebulous greater good. That, coupled with
his destructive technology, makes him a very modern
villain, a little more recognizable than Sauron. Saruman,
like all of Tolkien's totally evil characters, cannot
understand good and hates those who are good. For
example, he doesn't understand Frodo's mercy toward him
near the end of the trilogy, and he hates Frodo for it.

Some readers see Saruman as Gandalf's alter ego, in much
the same way that Gollum is Frodo's alter ego. Saruman
had the potential to be what Gandalf is, a wise and
powerful being. Likewise, Gandalf has the potential to
become like Saruman, for he has the same abilities and is
faced with the same temptations as his fallen counterpart.



MERRY AND PIPPIN (MERIADOC
BRANDYBUCK AND PEREGRINE TOOK)

These two hobbits, friends of Frodo, serve as a balance to
Frodo and Sam. Even more so than Sam and Frodo, they
are foolish, innocent, and unprepared for the trials ahead.
Where Sam and Frodo face mainly mental trials, Merry and
Pippin endure the physical trials of war. It is through their
eyes that you see most of the action in Rohan and Gondor.
And they both come face to face with evil, when Pippin is
questioned by Sauron through the palantir, the stone of
seeing, and when Merry meets the leader of the Black
Riders in battle. They emerge from their trials stronger and
wiser, and able to defend their own home. As an outward
sign of this internal change, they have also grown taller.

BOROMIR AND FARAMIR

Boromir and Faramir are both sons of Denethor, the
steward of Gondor. You first meet Boromir in Book II,
where he joins the company who set out from Rivendell
with Frodo. Faramir doesn't appear until Book IV, when
Frodo and Sam meet him in Ithilien, just outside the
borders of Mordor. Faramir is the leader of a band of men
from Gondor who are engaged in guerrilla warfare,
harassing Sauron's armies.

Boromir and Faramir serve to contrast the warrior with the
spiritual man. Boromir is characterized by his brother as
closer to the "middle" race of men, the warriors. He is a
proud man, who loves fighting, glory, and power. He falls
under the temptation of the Ring, for he believes that force
can be used in the fight for good. Faramir, on the other
hand, is of the "high" race, which is more noble than the
middle race in Tolkien's scheme of things. A lover of
knowledge, he hates war and fights only to protect the land
he loves. He easily resists the temptation of the Ring, for he
recognizes the danger of power over others.

THEODEN AND DENETHOR

Theoden, king of Rohan, is a warrior of the middle race of
men, while Denethor, steward of Gondor, is of the high
race, a lover of knowledge. Yet in this case the comparison
between "middle" and "high" is reversed, with the warrior
appearing in the more favorable light. Theoden believes in
the heroic ethic of the Anglo-Saxon epics: "Will shall be
the sterner, heart the bolder, spirit the greater as our
strength lessens." No matter how the battle goes, he never
gives into despair, and eventually dies, fighting to the end.
Denethor, on the other hand, prides himself as a man of
knowledge. When his knowledge leads him to believe the
fight is hopeless, he can't accept defeat and, giving in to
despair, commits suicide. Ironically, his suicide indirectly
causes Theoden's death.

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