Fantasy fiction fans love nothing more than to think about all the possible what-if scenarios in their favorite universes. For me, that universe is Middle Earth and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. One question pondered in my mind: why did Saruman join Sauron in The Lord of the Rings?
Saruman joined Sauron only partially. He believed he could fake an alliance with the Dark Lord while ultimately finding the ring for himself and ruling Middle Earth. Saruman is one of few “grey” characters in the books, meaning he’s neither gone fully evil or good.
Although Saruman had selfish motives, he didn’t expect to fall so deep under Sauron’s shadow while learning the Ring-Lore. Let’s dive into what made Saruman the White turn his back on Gandalf and the rest of the wizards and form an alliance between Isengard and Mordor.
Why Does Saruman Follow Sauron?
Saruman had several reasons why he chose to follow Sauron. Firstly, he believed that if they found the One Ring, he could harness its powers and defeat the Dark Lord of Mordor. Other wizards disagreed, so he decided to do it on his own.
Isengard and Mordor allied, while Saruman was learning the Ring-Lore, how to use the Rings of power, or at least how to create one himself. He planned on betraying Sauron, but the Dark Lord was aware of his plans the whole time.
His studies and being under Sauron’s shadow corrupted him, eventually wanting to rule the Middle Earth, not just defeat the Dark Lord and bring peace.
Another reason why he followed Sauron is that he was convinced that the powers of Mordor were too big and too strong to overcome and that the era of men was coming to an end one way or another. So, he chose to turn his back and go over to the dark side, betraying the wizards.
What Made Saruman Turn Evil?
As I said, Saruman is a character I would put in that tiny grey area between good and evil. Although he did betray the wizard’s council and allied with Sauron, he planned to betray him all along. He wanted to use the Dark Lord to come closer to the One Ring to take it for himself.
However, he didn’t realize how powerful the Rings were, especially the One Ring he desperately wanted. Studying this sort of magic and being influenced by Sauron caused Saruman to go bad.
It corrupted him to a point where he was prepared to kill everybody in his path to get the Ring – even his former allies and friend he once was the leader of.
Is Saruman Already Evil In The Hobbit?
When watching The Hobbit movies, you could see Saruman with only a cameo role, appearing at one of the meetings between himself, Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel. It was not clear if he already started going bad at this point because his attitude was rather sharp. Also, he had already been withholding some information about the One Ring from the Council.
However, according to Cristopher Lee, the actor who portrayed the iconic character, he says that Saruman was still on the side of good when the events of The Hobbit transpired.
It’s safe to say that we can just about pinpoint the moment when Saruman turned evil. He already had deep knowledge about the Rings, and after coming into contact with Sauron through Palantir, he got corrupted over time and wanted the power to himself.
Was Saruman Going to Betray Sauron If He Got The One Ring?
Saruman’s plan all along was to get the ring for himself, so yes, he would betray Sauron if he got the One Ring one way or another. At first, he wanted to use the One Ring to defeat the forces of Mordor.
But, after getting corrupted by Sauron’s evil influence, his plan was to destroy both the men and Sauron, wielding the One Ring and ruling Middle Earth himself.
The only problem is, he didn’t know that the Ring would only corrupt him even further, as it desires to come back to its master – and its master is only Sauron.
Did Sauron Know Saruman Would Betray Him?
So, if Sauron was so powerful, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew that he couldn’t trust Saruman all along. Indeed, the Dark Lord knew that Saruman planned to betray him, but he used him and their alliance to grow his army even further while Saruman worked for him.
However, that move might just be what resulted in Sauron’s loss. Apart from preparing his armies and harnessing his powers for the great war, he also kept an eye out (pun intended) on Saruman, focusing even less on what was going on in his backyard. That might’ve opened the window for Frodo and Sam to enter Mordor without being spotted and destroy the One Ring.
Could Saruman Have Defeated Sauron?
Saruman knew how powerful Sauron was. He feared his powers, so he knew that he was no match to the Dark Lord without the power of the One Ring.
Had he managed to create his own ring, or better yet, find the One Ring, and then managed to harness and control its powers, perhaps he would have defeated Sauron. However, there’s no guarantee he would win if Sauron had his ring and Saruman had his.
Also, if Saruman managed to get the One Ring, he would probably never have been able to control it, as it only has one true master capable of exploiting its full potential, and that’s the Dark Lord himself.
The only scenario where I can see Saruman winning is creating his Ring, while the One Ring remains lost, and he battles a ringless Sauron. Even then, it would be a tough fight. The Dark Lord is just that powerful.