White trapped in black. Here Saruman consults his Palantir. Reflected white light seems to be trapped within the darkness. When he consults his client, the Dark Lord, Saruman signals here his aim is to confine the white light. Within this moment we see the aim of the relationship with Sauron is to contain the white with the dark. A black imperialism.
Saruman is not comfortable. He is even irritable. To be in this natural environment is an affront to him. To Saruman being White means that nature has been bleached out of oneís inner self. To be caught too long in the garden runs the risk of being mistaken for Grey and that would not do. He must get around to clearing the garden out. His step quickens. He is in a hurry to get away from the green. Saruman is anxious to shut it out and return to the top floor of Orthanc. If your going to convince a visitor of your whitness then Saruman figures the way to do it is to set yourself against a dark backdrop. Stay in a black and white world.
Saruman is white not in the way of being pure but white like the wraith. Saruman's whiteness is the same as Frodo sees when he wears the ring. Every light casts a shadow and the white of Saruman hides a dark shadow. Saruman is a classic shapeshifter of mythology. The deception comes from cloaking or masking a dark intention with a garment or garb that pretends the opposite. Saruman's preference is for the mask. He wears a white mask.
It is worth spending a moment reminding ourselves about the spiritual spectrum in Lord of the Rings. Black is at one end (shadow, evil) then it flows to grey (spirit in love with life on earth) and on into white (pure spirit). The spectrum looks like this:
Saruman's trick is to deceive us into believing he is at the white end of this spectrum when in truth he is at the dark start of it. He adopts white as a disguise. He wears his mask to achieve a reversal in our perception of him. We think he's the culmination of the spectrum but he is really at the degraded end. This switch is a classic shapeshifter's tactic.
In Sarumanís staff we see again white contained or trapped in black. The staff of Saruman is his emblem. Our eye is drawn to the white globe and we may forget that it is held within four black spikes. White imprisoned by black. He'd put us in there if he could, the staff prefaces the fate of the grey visitor. In the dualism of this image we are deceived. Black is boss.
Saruman has carefully positioned his throne where light cannot reach him. He wants to be alone. For Saruman the presence of light would likely reveal his disguise. Light would find him out so better to be set against a black background. The contrast might deceive us into thinking he was pure white. This is a place for capturing prisoners too. The doors can slam shut and Grey too can be held captive in here. Shutting out the light and capturing Gandalf would be a source of absolute relish to Saruman. Lock out the invader and torment the earth lover, what sport.
You see itís all deception. Saruman does not want friends. He wants clients. The bigger the better. He wants to be the agent of evil. He is an agent in disguise. Saruman is a classic shape shifter. He wants us to see the White but it only works if he can fix himself against a black background. We are supposed to believe that he is the future. White will triumph. It is phony, manufactured and a mere substitute. White as emptiness, a phase on the way to the ultimate triumph of black. Wearing a white hand as itís mark of triumph of course.