The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy)
“In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.
“In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.”
We are told in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring that Saruman the White is the most powerful of the wizards in Middle-earth and trusted by wizards and Elves as a wise, formidable enemy to Sauron, the Dark Lord. When Gandalf the Grey goes to Saruman for help, he learns that Saruman is no longer working to destroy Sauron but to supplant him and has, therefore, become a traitor. Here is a piece of this conversation as Gandalf tells it in Book 2, Chapter 2:
“‘For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”
‘I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
“‘I liked white better,” I said.
“‘White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning, White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.”
“‘In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”
Saruman believes that his new clothing is more beautiful than the original white. The change in his clothing, of course, parallels his personal transformation. Saruman started out good but after delving too much into the works of the enemy, he became the enemy. As the conversation continues, Gandalf sees that Saruman doesn’t realize that he’s following a familiar pattern. He thinks he’s becoming independent, not evil.
Saruman has created a fabric that looks like white at first glance but isn’t. Even Gandalf doesn’t discern the true color of the fabric until he looks closely at it. When he does finally make this observation, he is able to do so because he knows what true white really looks like. Making that distinction is not an easy task. White pigment with a drop of another color looks like white, but it isn’t. Discerning the true nature of a color that looks like white would be impossible unless the observer has a firm image in his or her mind of what true white really looks like. Continue reading