Study Guide

The Two Towers Pippin (Billy Boyd)

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Pippin (Billy Boyd)

What is our "fool of a Took" up to now? When Pippin's not sending skeletons down old pipes and waking entire armies of orcs, he's eating mass quantities of lembas bread, setting off giant fireworks in tents, or just generally messing things up. This reputation has followed him in one way or another over the course of his adventures. Always the screw up, Pippin seemed to be good for a few laughs and not much else.

In the beginning of The Two Towers, not much has changed. In fact, Merry and Pippin don't have much agency throughout their narrative—they're forced into Fangorn and then carried around be Treebeard; it seems like they're basically just along for the ride:

PIPPIN: And whose side are you on?

TREEBEARD: Side? I am on nobody's side because nobody's on my side, little orc. Nobody cares for the woods anymore.

But a single, crucial moment changes the fate of the ents and of Isengard, and it's all a product of Pippin's plan.

As Treebeard carries them home, Pippin tells him to take them south, instead of toward the Shire, knowing that Isengard is south and that Treebeard will be faced with the destruction Saruman has wreaked on his brother trees, and may change his mind about entering the ents into the war.

The plan works perfectly. Treebeard is enraged by the burning of the forest and the ents end up assaulting and overthrowing Saruman's fortress as the water from the dammed river floods his grounds and drowns his machinery of war. Suddenly, we can't quite see Pippin as an ignorant, naïve hobbit hoping to have a bit of fun and score some of Farmer Maggot's cabbages. He has been a key player in the history of Middle-earth; maybe he'll finally get some respect.

And what's more, this plan doesn't come without some sacrifice. From the start, Pippin has just been tagging along with Frodo and friends, not looking for adventure so much as sticking with his hobbit pals. And now that he finally has a choice to go back home, he decides instead to go toward the enemy and away from the Shire.

It would be easy to leave the fate of Middle-earth to bigger, more important people like Elrond and Aragorn and Gandalf, but Pippin proves that even the homebody race of hobbits can make a difference. And now that he and Merry aren't being carried around by orcs or trees, we'll have to see what moves they make next… after they snack on some rotisserie chicken, that is.

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