The Two Towers

by: J. R. R. Tolkien

Book III, Chapter 4

Summary Book III, Chapter 4

The full dimensions of the imminent standoff between Gandalf and Saruman become clearer in this chapter, as the Ents provide crucial insight into the scope of the war that is brewing. Fangorn issues the first unequivocal call to arms in the novel, declaring Saruman to be evil and announcing the necessity of a large-scale alliance among all of Saruman’s enemies. The fact that this initial call to arms is issued by a tree creature, rather than one of the Fellowship’s leaders like Aragorn or Gandalf, is a measure of the urgency of the conflict at hand. The Ents are very deliberate, patient creatures who have been dormant for centuries, and they are not at all political beings. They seem capable of shrugging off nearly any provocation. However, the offenses to which Saruman’s Orcs have subjected the Ents cannot be ignored. The enthusiasm of the Ents when roused to action shows us that this battle is not just a skirmish among minor, transitory figures, but an epochal clash of the primal forces of -Middle-earth.