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Grima Wormtongue

GrimaGrima Wormtongue is known as the chief Counselor of King Theoden of Rohan as well as the servant of Saruman the White. When naming Grima, Tolkien resorted to a special literary device – antonomasia. Therefore, Grima’s nickname – Wormtongue – is a highly descriptive speaking name, and shows Grima’s rotten nature. We meet Grima in the second part of “The Lord of the Rings” when Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli came to the King of the Golden Hall. “At his feet upon the steps sat a wizened figure of a man, with a pale wise face and heavy-lidded eyes.”Grima’s sweet talks only proved that in reality he didn’t care for the King of Rohan. Wormtongue didn’t trust anyone and with all his might tried to prevent Gandalf from seeing Theoden, for he knew – the wizard would reveal his evil designs.

Grima mastered the art of rhetoric to such extent that it even exceeded Saruman’s, who was his master. Also Grima was extremely good at persuading people. Grima was a diligent pupil and became a proficient liar. Grima, acting in favor of Saruman, made the King of Rohan practically an invalid on his throne. Therefore, it was Grima who ruled the Kingdom in reality. But Gandalf with the help of his staff and magic broke Grima’s spells. However, Wormtongue did not surrender easily – Grima continued to utter imprudent accusations against the wizard and his companions. When it was decided to expel Grima, he howled and wriggled like a worm at the King’s feet. He whined: “Have pity on one worn out in your service.”. The Wormtongue suggested that he should be appointed the Steward of Edoras, the capital of Rohan. Saying that he licked his lips with a long pale tongue.

For a long time the Wormtongue was dreaming of enriching himself with the treasures of Rohan. When his game was up, Grima was not punished but was expelled from Rohan. The following quotation describes Grima before his departure: “Then suddenly he drew himself up. His hands worked. His eyes glittered. Such malice was in them that men stepped back from him. He bared his teeth; and then with a hissing breath he spat before the king's feet”. There was only one thing Grima could do – return to Isengard, to Saruman.

Every new meeting with Grima provides more evidence for calling him Wormtongue. Tolkien skillfully uses situations, when the speaking name becomes the core of Grima’s behavior.

After the battle of Helm’s Deep, when Saruman refused to take a pardon, Wormtongue, to his master’s dismay, threw away the Palantir of Orthanc – a means of communication between Saruman and Sauron – from a window in an attempt to kill Gandalf … or was it his master he was aiming at? However, Wormtongue, without knowing that, helped Gandalf to solve the riddle of Orthanc – to find out which army Sauron would send to Isengard.

Grima unintentionally helped Good side, although he did not abandon Saruman and fled with him to the Shire. The then white wizard and Grima had arguments and clashes every now and then. It seemed that their anger would reach boiling point. And it did reach it after the victory of uprising in the Shire.

After the victory “out of a nearby hut came Wormtongue, crawling, almost like a dog”. Grima was given the alternative: either to continue to serve his master or have a new life, free of scrounging. But Saruman interfered and told about Lotho’s murder which had been performed by Grima. Saruman sarcastically stated that Wormtongue had stabbed the Chief of hobbits in his sleep, and then either buried him or ate him. “Worm has been very hungry lately,” – added Saruman. However, Grima tried to justify himself and said that he had been obeying orders. The last straw was when Saruman kicked Wormtongue in the face. It seemed that Wormtongue realized how cruel his master was. Taking into account that Grima meant nothing for others – except for Frodo and Gandalf who once took pity on him – he rose up and then “with a snarl like a dog he sprang on Saruman’s back, jerked his head back, cut his throat, and with a yell ran off down the lane.” Before Frodo could recover or speak a word, three hobbit bows twanged and Wormtongue fell dead.

That was it … the end of Grima Wormtongue. In “The Lord of the Rings” Grima was the embodiment of hypocrisy, meanness and betrayal.


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