The Two Towers, Book 3, Chap. 6-11


Keri Hosler
Book III, Chap. 6 “The King of the Golden Hall” 

1) Throughout the chapter, Theoden slowly begins to return to himself. By what power is he being restored? Is it Gandalf? Or his own will?

2) Theoden was overcome by the evil words of Wormtongue, which aged and weakened him. What does this signify when we consider Tolkien’s view on giving advice?

Book III, Chap. 7 “Helm’s Deep”

1) During the battle of Helm’s Deep, lightning falls upon the attacking orcs, breaking their defenses. Do you think the lightning is natural –or sent? If sent, from whom?

2) Throughout the battle, Gimli and Legolas call the number they have killed to each other. Why did Tolkien put this in?

Shira Baskind
Book III, Chap. 8 “The Road to Isengard”

1) What does Gimli and Legolas’ discussion about caves vs. trees represent on a deeper level? What does this reveal about how they are different/similar?

2) There is little time to rest in between everything that happens in this chapter. What does this say about the urgency of the journey that the fellowship is on?

Book III, Chap. 9 “Flotam and Jetsam”

1) The Ents are presented as slow moving, sleepy creatures who do not stand up for themselves. Explain how the underestimation of the Ents ended up aiding them in their attack against Saruman.

2) How does the flood of Isengard reflect biblical imagery? Does it represent a new beginning?

Andrew Calhoun
Book III, Chap. 10 “The Voice of Saruman”

1) Upon their arrival in Isengard, Gandalf warns the others of Saruman’s magic, advising them not to approach Orthanc with a “light heart.” Tolkien takes great strides to describe Saruman as a deceitful villain who uses magic to aid his deceptions. How are Saruman’s arcane abilities similar to the power of the Ring and how are they different?

2) In the heated parley between the two parties at Orthanc, Theoden says he wishes to see Saruman dead, but Gandalf is not so vengeful. Have Gandalf’s naturally generous ways blinded him to the crimes of his former friend and counselor, or does he truly recognize some reason to leave Saruman alive?

Book, III Chap. 11: “The Palantír”

1) Gandalf describes the palantiri as ancient tools which were created to serve a good purpose but were later corrupted by Sauron. How is Aragorn’s reclamation of the Orthanc Palantir significant in regards to the coming of the new age?

2) In this chapter, we are given some insight to the dealings between Orthanc and Barad-dur. Is Saruman a servant of Mordor, or is he his own master? Before his defeat at Isengard, was Saruman in control of his own fate?






29 thoughts on “The Two Towers, Book 3, Chap. 6-11”

  1. Chapter 10:
    2) I think this situation is similar to that of Gollum. Despite the evils he has committed, every character, when faced with the chance to kill him, decides to let him live. In the end, this pity is the only reason the Ring is destroyed. Although no good seems to come from the rest of Saruman’s life, I think Tolkien is expressing that the decision to end a life is a grave one. At the beginning of the book, Gandalf tells Frodo, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” He adds that Gollum has a part to play in the world, though it may be good or bad, before the end. Tolkien gives every character a chance (or multiple chances) at redemption, regardless of what their past looks like.

    Chapter 11:
    2) I think Saruman believes that he is his own master, but has been fooled by the cunning words of Sauron. He is control of his own actions, but the actions geared towards claiming the Ring are fruitless. He is blinded by greed and lust for power, which is ultimately his downfall. Tolkien probably believed that Saruman had a chance to turn back — that he was in control of his own fate — since a general theme throughout the story is the ability of any character to change the “course of the future.”


    1. Response to Ch. 10 Q 2:
      I agree with your comparison of Saruman to Gollum. Gandalf would be someone who has seen how people can change for better or for worse if they are given the chance, and killing them flat out would deny them that chance. I think that this also exemplifies Tolkien’s feelings on war, acknowledging that death and dealing death should not be treated lightly.


  2. Book III, Chap. 7 “Helm’s Deep”
    Question 2: Tolkien is no stranger to the horrors of war, serving as a signals officer in World War II and living through World War II as his son was drafted. He lost many close friends in the war, and was forever changed by it. Throughout the course of The Lord of the Rings, Gimli and Legolas have put aside old grudges and become good friends, despite the animosity between their two races. Tolkien only ever describes war and battles as terrible, violent things, and while some might think that Legolas and Gimli’s tally of how many they’ve felled might be a morbid attempt at humor, it may also be a way of letting the other know they are still alive. The Battle at Helm’s Deep was sudden and merciless, and through humor, Gimli and Legolas are assured that their friend is still fighting.

    Book III, Chap. 9 “Flotam and Jetsam”
    Question 2)
    Flooding in biblical stories and nearly every religious tale is used to represent rebirth and renewal, and the flooding of Isengard is no exception. Sauron has suffered a loss for the first time, with the bloody victory of Rohan at Helm’s Deep and the destruction of Isengard by the Ents. Previously, all hope had seemed lost on multiple fronts, but the forces of good finally scored a triumph against the forces of evil. The Ents, whose downfall and loss of the Entwives had been due to their inability to take action, finally moved to help and to save Middle-earth, rather than sit back and allow events to unfold. In flooding Isengard, Sauron and his forces not only suffer a blow, but set a precedent for Rohan, Gonder, all Free Peoples, that Sauron is not indestructible, and they are capable of crippling him.


    1. I really like your insight on Gimli and Legolas’ kill tally. I had never thought about it as a way to reassure each friend, but it makes me appreciate their relationship just that much more.


  3. Ch 6
    1) I think that while encouragement and support comes from Gandalf, as both a friend and a wizard, this was not the only force driving Theoden away from evil. To fight the dark powers of Saruman, the strength must come from within someone, they cannot solely depend on others to bring them into the light.
    2) Tolkien’s view on giving advice is that it’s dangerous and shouldn’t be done. This ideas appears multiple times throughout the stories, and here it is no different. While earlier he has a character directly state that advice is dangerous, here he indirectly shows the adverse consequences that come from it. Not only can advice take an individual down a bad road, but it can also mean trouble for an entire population, possibly even the world.

    Ch 10
    1) With both parties, their power is used to manipulate people into aiding them in some way or another. Saruman can use his power to control someone’s mind and therefore control their decisions to his benefit. The Ring, in a similar way, can control people’s bodily urges and actions to help it get back to its original owner.
    2) I think that his kinder ways come not from blindness but from hope. He is a powerful, smart wizard who has lived many years experiencing the world, both light and dark. I do not think he would be so easily blinded, however strong the power of friendship may be. I think that like with Gollum, Gandalf always has the hope that the good side of the corrupt villain could return once more.


    1. I agree with your interpretation of Gandalf’s hope for Saruman. If evil is depicted as the absence of what is good then by Gandalf giving hope and trying to help those who seem beyond redemption (maybe Gandalf’s support is what can help shape villainous characters into something better).


    2. I agree with your statement that the fight Sauron’s powers, a person must do it on their own. While Gandalf obviously provided some encouragement, Tolkien was hinting at the power of the self and free will when fighting evil. A person can always be consumed by evil, but they can also always fight it off.


  4. Chapter 6
    1) I believe that Theoden’s transformation back to his original self was mostly of his own doing. Gandalf was definitely necessary to spot Wormtongue’s betrayal and convince Theoden to cast him out, but Theoden returned to himself on his own. Tolkein’s portrayal of evil is often something invisible, the antithesis of what is good, and the absence of what is good. Without Saruman’s magic to manipulate him, the good that was inside Theoden was enough to overcome. I think that it’s important that he should come back due to his own will because it speaks to him as an actually capable leader with goodness in his heart. If Gandalf used magic to solve everything it gives less of a chance for characters to grow and prove themselves including Theoden.
    2) Wormtongue’s power over Theoden is Tolkein’s example of how dangerous advice can be. While it is to an extreme, it shows that if one is too willing to accept any advice they are given without critical thinking, they can be prone to manipulation and corruption. Similarly to how Theoden, a king of a very paranoid and isolated nation-state, was so willing to listen to anything Wormtongue said.

    Chapter 8
    1) The dialogue between Legolas and Gimli represents who they both are on a deeper level and how the dynamic between elves and dwarves as a whole could get better over time. We see things that we don’t see before out of the two characters: Legolas being freightened of a location and Gimli describing an area’s beauty in a very poetic way. Usually those two roles are swapped as we can see in the forest where Gimli is clinging to Legolas in fear while Legolas excitedly rides deeper into the forest. By showing Gimli as someone who has a deep love for the beautiful caves of Helm’s Deep, it puts aside the stereotype that all dwarves want to do is plunder. When Legolas talks about how he was on edge in the caves, it contradicts the stereotype of elves finding beauty wherever they go and always being level headed. By showing them bond over the lands they visited and ultimately planning to explore both places, it speaks to how elves and dwarves have similar values and can work together like Legolas and Gimli have.


    1. I really like your responds on Chapter 8. When I was reading this part in the book I didn’t realize that it contradicts the stereotype of elves. I think you had a really good view over that passage.


    2. I totally agree with your answer to Chapter 6. Tolkien portrays evil as shadow and invisible, lacking genuine substance. Such is the case for the Black Riders. This absence, and evil’s ability to produce from this nothingness is a threat to all, capable of twisting Theoden’s mind. This nothingness as foisted by Saruman was capable of being removed, as Gandalf did, but it had to be Theoden’s choice to return from that void. As ever, Tolkien emphasizes the importance of choice and free will as the core of what is good. Gandalf may have freed Theoden of Saruman’s curse, but he also had to will himself back, and deny the nothingness that had controlled him for so long.


  5. Chapter 6:
    1. I believe it is a joint effort between Gandalf and Theoden which breaks the spell on the old king. Gandalf simply shows Theoden the path towards his reinvigoration, and perhaps helps him along the way. In the end, it is Theoden’s newfound strength of will which finally overcomes Saruman’s sorcery.
    2. Tolkien seems to believe that advice is a dangerous thing. On the one hand, it can help someone greatly, such as with the advice Gandalf often gives to his companions. Conversely, advice can be manipulating or misleading, such as with Wormtongue. To sum up my interpretation of Tolkien’s view on the matter; Advice given in friendship and good will is a precious thing, and one not easily replaceable. Advice given in feigned companionship and ill will is deadly, but the two manners of advice are nearly impossible to differentiate.

    Chapter 9:
    1. Saruman, like most villains in Middle-Earth, is exceedingly arrogant. He believes that the Ents could never muster for war, gentle and naive creatures that they are. In truth, without the coming of the Hobbits to Fangorn, it is likely that the Ents would not have attacked Isengard. Nevertheless, Saruman was wholly unprepared for such an offensive, and the defenses of Isengard fall swiftly to the wrath of Fangorn.
    2. Much like the biblical flood, the flooding of Isengard represents a new beginning for a land choked by sin. Saruman’s domain was once a great garden, host to one of the benevolent protectors of Middle-Earth. At the time of the flood, Saruman had reduced Isengard to an industrial wasteland given over to the Dark Powers. The flood smashes Saruman’s machines and cleanses the land of his cruelty.


    1. I agree that the Ents would likely not have gone to war with Saruman without the Hobbits coming to Fangorn. This is interesting when you consider the effect that the hobbits have on Middle Earth, despite everything about them seeming to hinder them from doing so. It’s amazing how much Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin end up saving Middle Earth


    2. I think the importance of Merry and Pippin is one of the most interesting parts of The Lord of the Rings. At first, no one thought they would be of any use, and even Merry and Pippin feel like pieces of luggage through most of the first two books. In the end, however, Merry helps Eowyn kill the Witchking, Pippin saves Faramir’s life, and together they start the last march of the Ents. It reemphasizes Tolkien’s theme that heroes aren’t always the biggest and the strongest.

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    3. I like your comment on how advice can be used for good or bad, and I think there are ample examples of both good and bad advice being heeded later on in the series, for example some of Smeagols advice to the hobbits and the ideas that Lord Denethor has for holding on to Gondor.


  6. Chapter 6
    1) I think that Theoden’s transformation was largely a combined effort. Gandalf clearly had the power to influence and help Theoden become his old self, but in the end, Theoden had to choose to transform by himself. This is an important theme in Tolkein’s work because he often emphasizes that evil is just the absence of good. The reverse is also true in that good is the absence of evil. Without Sauron’s power over him, Theoden lacked that evil presence that caused him to be the way he was. Once that evil left, good could overcome him once again and he could transform into his old self.
    Chapter 8
    1) Gimli’s and Legolas’s discussion about the caves and trees is important because it shows the shifting dynamic between elves and dwarves. There was obviously a rift in the relationship when the fellowship was formed, but as the journey continued, Legolas and Gimli become much closer and develop and your understanding of each other. The conversation about caves vs trees breaks many stereotypes about both elves and dwarves. The elves believed that dwarves only want to plunder and destroy, but Gimli shows an incredible amount of reverence for the caves. And Legolas is obviously uncomfortable with th caves, showing that elves don’t necessarily find beauty in everything in nature.


    1. I like your observation on the dialogue between Legolas and Gimli. Elves and dwarves have held this nonsensical grudge against one another for generations, but Legolas and Gimli find mutual respect for one another in mere months. Elves, in all their arrogance, look down upon the dwarves (both physically and metaphorically) without realizing their own faults. Dwarves can’t seen to look past their ancestral rage towards the elves long enough to respect that ancient race. Both sides have their faults, but neither will admit to them.


  7. Chapter 6
    1/ I think that the power he is being restored from is the one coming from Gandalf and his own one. Gandalf had to help, because I don’t think Theoden would have been able to do it alone.
    2/ I think that Tolkien’s view about advice is very negative. He doesn’t believe that an advice can be given to really help the person. He thinks that advice can be given to manipulate the other one. Therefore, I think that Tolkien see advice as something dangerous.

    Chapter 10
    1/ Saruman’s arcane abilities are similar to the power of the ring because they can both control people minds and people action.
    2 I don’t think he has a reason to leave Saruman alive. Gandalf has experienced a lot of things during his lifetime, and I’m sure he has realize how terrible things some people can do, especially when you are “evil” like Saruman.


    1. I totally agree with you on question 1 of chapter 6. I think that your ideas are super good and can relate to them. Good Job!!


  8. Chapter 6:
    2) I’m interested by this question because we have all seen that many wise people of Middle Earth are reluctant to give advice, and for good reason. The advice of Wormtongue was clearly a force of corruption and not helpful to Theoden at all, so one would think that Tolkien was making a statement about advice and its dangers. But right after Wormtongue is kicked out of Rohan, Gandalf immediately advises Theoden to ride out and attack Saruman head on. Theoden heads this advice and it all works out for him in the end. My only guess to why Gandalf can give advice and not others is because he is a maia, and perhaps because he is a divine being he is allowed to do so, considering how religious Tolkien was.

    Chapter 8:
    2) The company has very little time to rest and it feels wrong when reading that. My first thought when reading the chapter was that they all deserved a big rest and plenty of time to recover. But I think this is a point that Tolkien is trying to make. In times of war there is no fairness and concern for what people deserve. The company certainly deserves rest but that will not help them win this war against evil in Middle Earth. There is a big sense of duty and obligation that supersedes individual wishes throughout the book and I think Tolkien got that directly from his life experiences.


  9. Chapter 6
    Theoden’s power is slowly being restored, and although Gandalf helped to initiate this change through ridding the king of Wormtongue and Saruman’s influence, it is ultimately down to the strength of Theoden to return to his former state. It reminds me of a test of courage or determination; the people of Rohan need their king to be strong and determined in their fight against Isengard, and though Theoden might be aging, he is still able to cure himself and rally his people.

    Chapter 7
    This competition between Legolas and Gimli served mainly as a bit of humor in a dark time, but it also represents their growing friendship and a more friendly cooperation between dwarves and elves which has been initiated by these two. Their extreme confidence in victory through this competition they are doing must instill faith into the fellow defenders and fill their hearts with vigor as well.


  10. Chapter 6

    1) I believe that Theoden was restored by a combination of his own free will and Gandalf too. Although I don’t think that he could’ve fully begun his transformation back to normalcy without Gandalf though. Gandalf’s power is what sparked the change.

    2) I feel like Tolkien’s point of view on advice is that we should be cautious in accepting and listening to others’ advice because we don’t always know the motive of that person.


  11. Ch. 6
    1)I think that Theoden is slowly returning to himself with the power of Gandalf and his own will. There is a mix of both.
    2)I think that Tolkien’s view on giving advice is that it is okay to get advice but you need to go with your gut. I think that is why that aged and weakened it because it was too much.

    Ch. 9
    1)It aided them because sometimes you believe that the weakest people will have not significance where really they can find the power in them.
    2)It reflects Noah and his Arc. I think that represents a new beginning. I think it shows that it represents a new beginning because it is like a cleansing.


  12. Chapter 11
    I think Saruman’s and the way his powers are depicted are similar to the state of the Orthanc. “Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better. as he thought, being deceived-for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own. came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress. armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”
    Saruman’s power of deceit is mainly in imitation of Sauron, who bends the will of others to his. In other words, he seeks to imitate the power of the ring, but cannot. As is seen in his confrontation with Gandalf, unlike the ring, he has nothing of substance to offer in exchange for corruption and is thus easily rebuffed by true wisdom.

    2) Gandalf will always choose mercy over wrath. Tolkein is interesting in that there are no true stories of redemption. Gollumn relapses, Wormtongue flees to Saruman, and Saruman refuses to leave the Orthanc. Yet Gandalf persists in stretching out a hand of friendship to all three. Is he naive? Yet his efforts to do so are not completely in vain. Smeagol endsup playing an important role in the fate of Middle Earth, after all. And sometimes Gandalf’s patience is rewarded, as through it Bilbo is able to give up the one ring willingly. There power in giving others a chance to reform and do some good, and Gandalf realizes that, even if it might be in vain.


    1. The theme of showing mercy is definitely interesting, and we can but speculate if Gandalf knew exactly how Smeagol would help the effort of destroying the One Ring.


  13. Book III, Chap 6:
    1) I think Gandalf was slowly removing the evil presence of Saruman from Théoden, allowing him to fully return as his former self. Saruman seemed to be clouding Thèoden’s mind and Gandalf removed that clouding, allowing Thèoden to truly return to himself.
    2) It seemed Thèoden took all advice given to him by Wormtongue. Tolkien is trying to say that while advice might not be bad, accepting all the advice given by one person can lead to horrible things. The person who is listening to the advice should still make decisions based off their own opinions, not solely off the advice given, leading to corruption.

    Book III, Chap 7:
    1) If we believe Saruman called snow upon the Fellowship when trying to pass over the mountain, then it is safe to believe Gandalf called this lightning. Being Gandalf the White comes with many new powers and strengths, the control of weather could be one of them.

    2) Tolkien added Legolas’ and Gimli’s kill count to exemplify the strengths in brotherhood. That even in the chaos that is the battle of Helm’s Deep their friendship isn’t broken. Showing that while war can tear many things apart, the sense of companionship characters like Gimli and Legolas have for each other cannot be broken.


    1. I answered question 1 from Chapter 7 similarly to yours but it did not connect in my brain how if Saruman was able to do it, the Gandalf can too. Interesting point.


  14. CHP. 6

    1. The restoration of Theoden is a result of his liberation, both from the influence of Wormtongue and from his own despair. It took Gandalf’s effect in order for Theoden to see how he had given into hopelessness and inaction. Afterward, he saw how he was affected by Grima’s wicked counsel.

    2. In the Fellowship of the ring, Tolkien writes this, “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.” Given this, the view of Wormtongue could be seen as someone who gives unfiltered and foolish advice.

    CHP. 7

    1. There is a possibility that the lighting is natural and added just for dramatic effect. However, in lieu of the snow storm from TFOTR being possibly conjured to deviate the fellowship; the lighting could also be magic. If sent, it could maybe be a attack used by Gandalf to help buffer the attack until he arrived with a greater calvary.

    2. To show the development of their friendship. This scene, portrayed also in the movie with a comedic theme, is a marker in the story to show how far Gimli and Legolas have come. It ties also into the overarching theme of eucatastrophe, as even in the seemingly peril of Helm’s Deep, there is a gleam of humor.


  15. Chapter 7 Question 1
    I feel the lightning that occurred during the Battle of Helms Deep was sent. Perhaps by Gandalf considering he is more powerful now and cares for the Fellowship enough to help them.

    Chapter 7 Question 2
    Gimli and Legolas have had their difference but this far on, they have become friends and seem more comfortable with each other than before. I feel the calling out tallies in between the battle really shows how close they have become even if its competitively or jokingly these two are getting along. I also feel this scene is for comical effect during this intense battle scene that makes it a little less stressful.


  16. Ch. 9
    1) The Ents seem to be forgotten, or at least dismissed. Since they were not bothered enough to even go after the Entwives after they left, they have been written off by Saruman as unwilling to do anything. They have become content in their situation, and do not look beyond their borders, so they don’t understand that the perils of the outer world can and will affect them. The Ents must wake up to reality, and become educated in the plights of others around them in order to understand how they will be affected.
    2) The great flood in Genesis was a way to cleanse the world from sin and evil, just as the flood of Isengard is cleansing Isengard of Orcs and destruction. It represents a new uprising, or a reaction, not a beginning. Saruman still remains in Isengard, or at least in Middle Earth, for some time.

    Ch. 10
    1) Saruman’s ability to corrupt depends on the strength of will of the listener; not only does Saruman have to speak evil to you, but you must accept it and listen to it. The Ring’s corruptive power is inherent, and no matter what kind of character you possess, you will be overtaken by it inevitably. The Ring is addiction, something you can’t say no to, while Saruman is peer pressure, trying to drag you down until you are at the same level as him.
    2) This is Tolkien’s way of not enacting revenge, and creating a narrative that does not rely on revenge. Gandalf is the character given to the reader as a role model: Tolkien wants us to ask in difficult situations, “What would Gandalf do?” and if Gandalf wouldn’t seek revenge, or condemn someone to death, or decide the fate of someone else, then you shouldn’t either. Gandalf doesn’t see the future, and he doesn’t have a reason to let Saruman go, other than to give him another chance. This is Gandalf’s old friend of millennia, and for him to understand what’s happening is a lot in itself, but now he can’t bring himself to condemn him. Gandalf is ultimately proven wrong in this situation, though, when we get to the scouring of the Shire at the end of the trilogy.


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