November 14, 2005
Tolkien Geek Update
Gary has posted The Two Towers, Book 3, Chapters 10 & 11, "The Voice of Saruman" and "The Palantir".
I'll just say that I'd never thought of Wormtongue's throwing of the palantir from Orthanc to be any conscious decision on his part simply because it never seemed to me that Saruman would trust Wormtongue with the knowledge of what it was to begin with. Wormtongue's ambition in aiding Saruman has been to get his hands on Eowyn and a chunk of Theoden's treasure. Would Saruman even inform him that Orthanc was in league with the Dark Tower? I don't know. On the other hand, Gary makes a good point that Wormtongue could have picked up a fair bit simply due to the amount of time he spent at Isengard.
Posted by Robert at November 14, 2005 02:42 PM
An unstated theme of Tolkien's which he introduces in his creation myth in the Silmarillion is that even evil itself is ultimately bent to the purposes of good. In this case, Wormtongue's spiteful, impulsive act causes a few things to happen that end up working for the forces of good: Aragorn uses the Palantir to see the Corsairs assembling, and to threaten the enemy with Anduril. The small act of the throwing of the Palantir has big consequences that work against Sauron.
That's true. And Wormtongue, in this respect, is a kind of mirror image of the hobbits in that his are the "small hands" that cause things to happen on the side of evil. You could probably also argue that the various squabbles among the orcs - those on Saruman's raid, the fighting at Cirith Ungol, Snaga shooting the big orc just before they stumble across Frodo and Sam in Mordor. The theme of little folk causing or influencing big events was constant in Tolkien's story.