Saruman Believes Only Great Power: Quote Explanation

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy world of Middle-earth, the character Saruman believes that great power is the key to keeping evil in check. However, director Peter Jackson, in his film adaptation of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” presents a contrasting perspective through the wise words of Gandalf, who says, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” This quote not only captures the essence of Tolkien’s story, but it also holds a profound message about the power of small acts of goodness and their ability to combat darkness. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the meaning behind this quote and explore how it resonates with our own lives.

The Origin of the Quote

Peter Jackson’s quote is derived from his film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” In the film, Gandalf utters these words to Galadriel, the Lady of the Wood, as they discuss the decision to include Bilbo Baggins, a small, unassuming hobbit, in an unexpected adventure to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Galadriel questions Gandalf’s choice, to which Gandalf responds with this powerful quote, shedding light on his belief in the importance of small acts of kindness and courage.

Unpacking the Meaning

At first glance, Peter Jackson’s quote may seem simple, but it holds a profound truth that resonates deeply with Tolkien’s overarching theme of the power of ordinary individuals to effect change in the face of darkness. Let’s unpack the meaning behind this quote and explore why it has struck a chord with so many readers and viewers.

  1. The Fallacy of Great Power: Saruman, a wizard in Tolkien’s world, represents the belief that great power is the answer to defeating evil. He is consumed by his lust for power and succumbs to the temptations of the dark side. However, Gandalf, a fellow wizard, has a different perspective. He recognizes that great power alone is not enough to combat evil. In our world, too, we often witness the pursuit of power and dominance as a means to address societal issues. However, history has shown that relying solely on great power can often lead to disastrous consequences. It is a fallacy to believe that power alone can hold evil in check, as power can easily be corrupted and misused.
  2. The Power of Small Acts: Gandalf’s insight, on the other hand, lies in recognizing the significance of small acts of kindness and love. These seemingly ordinary deeds may not possess the grandeur of great power, but they have a profound impact in keeping the darkness at bay. It is the everyday gestures of ordinary folk that make a real difference. In Tolkien’s world, it is Bilbo Baggins, a small hobbit who is initially considered ill-suited for adventure, who demonstrates this power of small acts. Bilbo’s acts of kindness, courage, and selflessness, such as sparing Gollum’s life and rescuing his companions from danger, ultimately lead to the success of their quest. Similarly, in our world, it is the small acts of kindness, empathy, and compassion that can have a ripple effect and create positive change in our communities and beyond.
  3. The Importance of Fear and Courage: Gandalf’s words “Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage” shed light on the role of fear and courage in the face of darkness. Gandalf, a powerful wizard, admits to feeling afraid, but he finds courage in Bilbo Baggins, a seemingly ordinary hobbit. This highlights the fact that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to face fear and take action despite it. Bilbo’s acts of kindness and bravery, despite his own fears and doubts, inspire Gandalf and others around him to persevere in their quest against evil. This resonates with our own lives, as we often face challenges, fears, and uncertainties. It is in those moments that small acts of kindness and courage can make a significant impact, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those around us.
  4. The Power of Love: Gandalf’s quote also emphasizes the importance of love in keeping the darkness at bay. Small acts of love, such as compassion, empathy, and selflessness, have the power to counteract evil and promote goodness. In Tolkien’s world, Bilbo’s love for his friends, his willingness to put others before himself, and his capacity for forgiveness are what ultimately lead to the defeat of evil forces. In our world, too, love can be a powerful force for positive change. Acts of love, both big and small, can foster understanding, build bridges, and create a sense of community that transcends differences and promotes harmony.
  5. The Role of Ordinary Folk: Gandalf’s quote also underscores the significance of ordinary folk in making a difference. In Tolkien’s world, it is not the mighty warriors or powerful wizards who save the day, but rather the ordinary hobbits, dwarves, elves, and humans who come together to overcome challenges. This speaks to the idea that everyone has the potential to make a meaningful impact, regardless of their background, status, or abilities. It is the collective effort of ordinary individuals that can hold evil in check and keep the darkness at bay. This is a powerful message that resonates with our own world, where often it is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary people that create positive change in our societies and contribute to a better future for all.
  6. The Enduring Relevance: Peter Jackson’s quote from Gandalf in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” continues to hold relevance and significance in today’s world. In a time when darkness can seem pervasive, and challenges can feel overwhelming, this quote serves as a reminder that small acts of kindness, love, courage, and selflessness can make a difference. It challenges the notion that great power alone is the answer to combating evil and underscores the importance of ordinary individuals coming together to create positive change in the world.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Peter Jackson’s quote from Gandalf in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” serves as a powerful reminder of the wisdom inherent in Tolkien’s story. It highlights the fallacy of relying solely on great power to combat evil and emphasizes the importance of small acts of kindness, love, courage, and selflessness in keeping the darkness at bay. It speaks to the enduring relevance of these values in our world today and the potential of ordinary folk to make a meaningful impact. As we navigate the challenges of our time, let us draw inspiration from Bilbo Baggins and strive to embody the spirit of small acts that can bring about positive change and keep the darkness at bay. After all, it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that truly hold the power to make a difference in our world.

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