Man with open arms

Reunion at Isengard

Merry: “It`s good. Definitely from the Shire. Longbottom Leaf.” 

Pippin: “I feel like I`m back at The Green Dragon.” 

Merry: “Mmm. Green Dragon.”

Pippin: “A mug of ale in my hand. Putting my feet up on a settle after a hard day`s work.” 

Merry: “Only, you`ve never done a hard day`s work.”

Enjoying the perks

It is a warm day, surrounded with good food, ale and all the Longbottom Leaf they can smoke. 

It is easy to reminisce and enjoy a walk down memory lane after a battle. Granted, Merry and Pippin did not participate to the same extent as the Ents, but without their idea of going past Isengard, Treebeard would never have seen the devastation his old friend Saruman had brought upon his forest.

Pippin may have never experienced a hard day`s work before leaving the Shire, but their journey will make up for all the hardship he may have missed. 

This scene was not a part of the theatrical version of The Return of the King, so I recommend watching the extended edition. 

A warm welcome

Merry: “Welcome, my lords to Isengard!”

Gimli: “You young rascals! A merry hunt you`ve led us on and now we find you feasting and…and smoking!”

Pippin: “We are sitting on a field of victory enjoying a few well-earned comforts. The salted pork is particularly good.” 

Gimli: “Salted pork?”

Gandalf: “Huh. Hobbits.” 

Merry: “We`re under orders from Treebeard who`s taken over management of Isengard.” 

After the Three Hunters looked for the two Hobbits now standing in front of them, it makes their whole sacrifice seem insignificant and redundant, for they have been taken care of. However, were it not for Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli`s three days and three nights without food or rest, their bond and their loyalty to their comrades and each other would not have shown as brightly.

Different reactions

Gimli may be a bit miffed to see them now frolicking after he thought they may be gone. But as soon as Pippin mentions salted pork, every silly resentment simply fades away. Dwarf does not need much to make him happy, especially after the toil he and the rest of his company endured in the Battle at Helm`s Deep.

There is, however, a bit of jealousy in Gimli`s voice and expression. He would have loved to be in their place and enjoy all they have enjoyed while the rest of them were fighting for their lives and the lives of their comrades.

Aragorn smiles as he sees Merry and Pippin enjoying their comfort away from home. He is well aware of their nature and their want and need for comfort. They have found a little place for themselves among this great wide world of Men and made it their own. 

Gandalf, given the grave situation and place they find themselves in, is not that lenient towards them. Gandalf, as the White Wizard, seems to not approve of their intoxication and overindulging of their Leaf. He is a bit more serious, with good reason.

He and his company have barely finished their battle, now they have to try and negotiate a peace with a dangerous wizard. Not an easy task, given the battalion that is assembling in Mordor ready to take down the last kingdom of Men.

Managing Isengard

Young Master Gandalf. I`m glad you`ve come. Wood and water, stock and stone I can master. But there is a wizard to manage here locked in his tower. 

Treebeard

Treebeard has done all that he could to restore balance and reclaim the land of Isengard. Now everything is as it should be. The river is flowing again and all the signs of there ever being an industry has been wiped out. His job is done. 

A need for information

Aragorn: “Show yourself.”

Gandalf: “Be careful. Even in defeat, Saruman is dangerous.” 

Gimli: “Well, let´s just have his head and be done with it.” 

Gandalf: “No. We need him alive. We need him to talk.”

After having won a battle, it seems only fair for Saruman o to suffer the same fate as his creations.

Aragorn and Gimli are more than willing to skip any kind of negotiations and go straight to punishment. Gandalf, however, has a different idea. He wants to use this opportunity to gain as much information about the enemy`s next move.

Friendly counsel?

You have fought many wars and slain many men, Théoden King and made peace afterwards. Can we not take counsel together as we once did, my old friend? Can we not have peace, you and I?

Saruman

As the one who enchanted Théoden and took the Lordship of the land of Rohan, Saruman attempts to play the same game he did then. He seeks to play nice by reminding Théoden of their old alliance before it all came to his defeat.

Saruman also makes an argument stating that Théoden has done this before, caused casualties in battles and still managed to negotiate peace after it was all done. It may seem as if Saruman is trying to make him out to be the same as him, for this is the same situation, only the side has changed. Now the defeated party is asking for mercy.

But why would Saruman stoop to such a level? Is it because he is conscious of his lost support from Sauron and is trying to behave as nicely as possible in order for them not to unleash their vengeance on him? Or is it just an interlude into what he actually wants, to release his fury upon those who stand to oppose him?

As much as Saruman`s kind words to Théoden could have been construed as genuine, in a different context of course. Here they only reak of falseness. This gives Théoden the right ammunition to speak his anger and sorrow for all that had happened since Saruman`s spell overtook him.

Anger and fury

We shall have peace. We shall have peace when you answer for the burning of the Westfold and the children that lie dead there! We shall have peace when the lives of the soldiers whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the gates of the Hornburg are avenged! When you hang from a gibbet for the sport of your own crows we shall have peace. 

Théoden

Théoden`s fury is almost uncontrollable. If these words were his actions, Saruman would have been dead by now. There are no words to explain the rage that Théoden must feel for all that had been done to him and to his people. Although Théoden only mentions the destruction and deaths of many of his own people and the cruelty with which it all was executed, there is an underlying source to it all.

Two sides to every perspective

As enraged as he is at Saruman for orchestrating the fall of Rohan, the rage and disappointment he feels for himself are almost as big. He cannot deny his own role in it.

He wasn`t only a peasant or a follower of the King`s rule. He is the King, and to let his own people suffer and die while he went incapacitated and numb through his days, is something he hasn`t forgiven himself for.

Although there may not have been much he could have done differently to avoid Saruman`s influence over him, he cannot shake the sense of responsibility towards his land and his people, for, in his eyes, he is as much to blame for their fates. Therefore, the anger towards the executioner is as strong as that of the follower.

After the spell had been broken there were other options he could have considered other than heading for a trap at Helm`s Deep. He had known then that it was just his fear that drove him to this decision, for the loss of his son and the guilt and pain he felt for failing his people in their hardest times, had led him to run and hide. This, in turn, made him feel like a coward, a weakling, a feeling he was trying to avoid.

Man`s eye in the dark
Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

Revenge

The punishment he thought of for Saruman, is as cruel as the actions Saruman`s army exercised on the people of Rohan. There is fairness to it, but also a similarity of thinking between the two. Although this punishment would be a tit for tat, it gives us an insight into the feeling of rage and revenge.

Saruman had his reasons for destroying the land of Rohan and annihilating its people in the cruelest way. Théoden too has a good reason for dispensing punishment at Saruman in as cruel a way as possible. No matter what the reasoning behind our rage, the need for fairness and revenge awakens. 

Now, we can be as enlightened and as benign as we want, but the fact is we have our moments of weakness. An in these moments we contemplate ways to take revenge on someone who wronged us. It may only be a fleeting thought, nevertheless, it is still there. And for all its cruelty our individual rage can muster, it only shows the great need we have for fairness and equality. An eye for an eye.

In our organized world, there are processes that must be obliged to come to any sort of punishment for a wrong-doing. However, our own sense of fair might stray far and wide from a democratic view on the subject. 

So to have Théoden wish for Saruman to be punished in as cruel a way as he says is understandable.

Insults

Gibbets and crows? Dotard!

Saruman

Saruman finds this notion of gibbets and crows as silly as any revenge Théoden might have thought of, for he considers himself not only above any human law but superior to all of them gathered at the foot of his tower. To call Théoden a dotard is an insult that rings true.

To insult a person, we have to use their weaknesses against them. Therefore, if we know that a person thinks of himself as old, weak be it physically or mentally, then calling them “dotard” will bring them the most harm. And since his attempt at softening his opponents did not work, the only thing left to do is to degrade them. Each one individually. 

Read more about it in my next post.

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