Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf the Grey, an immortal being, is a wizard, one
of the five Istari (i.e. “wise” in Kvenian) and a maiar. Before coming to Middle-earth
(T.A. 1000) like any other maiar he was subject to the Volar. He can appear both
in visible and invisible form.
Gandalf is also known as Mithrandir (i.e. “grey wanderer” in
Sindarin) and Olyrin, a name given to him in Valinor. In “The Silmarillion” wisest
of the Maiar was Olyrin who dwelt in Lyrien. His ways took him often to the house
of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and compassion. This gives grounds to believe
that Gandalf and Olyrin was one and the same person. In Middle-earth the wizard sympathized
with the weak and those who heard his prayers were awakened from despair and ceased
thinking about Evil. In “The Silmarillion” very little is said about the wizard but “The Lord of
the Rings” and “The Hobbit” definitely shed more light on his personality.
Gandalf dwells in different parts of Middle-earth. And many are his
names in many countries. The elves call him Mithrandir, the dwarves – Tharkun, the
haradrims – Incanus. It is hobbits and the Rangers of the North who called him Gandalf.
He has a number of nicknames: Gandalf Greyhame, StormCrow, the White Rider, the
Grey Wanderer and the Grey Fool. Most likely that by the latter he was “christened”
by his ill-wishers as Gandalf is wisdom itself. Like Frodo, he is Tolkien’s favourite personage.
Everywhere he is known as a tall robust old man with long grey beard
and kind eyes, wearing a pointed hat and a long coat.
Upon arriving at Middle-earth, Cirdan the Shipwright gave him one
of the three Elven Rings, Narya, Ring of Fire.
He always carries his staff with him which lights up the way in the darkness
and helps to cast a spell. He is armed with the elven-sword Glamdring (i.e. “the shatter of the foes”
in Sindarin), forged by the elves and once belonging to the Duke of Turgon. The wizard found it
in 2941 T.A. during his journey to the Lonely Mountain.
Gandalf was fighting against Sauron and his servants for about 2 thousand years.
It is he who tried to reveal the secret of the Ring, found by Master Baggins in Gollum’s cave,
and he narrated this story in detail at the Council of Elrond. Little by little the wizard found out
the ominous power of the Ring and asked the Rangers of the North to keep an eye on the Shire.
Gandalf knew that getting rid of the ring is not a task to be taken lightly, like playing in a casino.
Gandalf loves hobbits and always visits their wonderful land. The wizard’s fame in the Shire
is mainly due to his skill with fires, smokes and lights, adored by all the shire-folk especially kids.
Being a wizard, Gandalf’s powers and wisdom are not unlimited. Thus, before
going to Orodruin he studies carefully the maps of Middle-earth as well as Gondor’s chronicles
where he learns about the One Ring. His fight with Balrog turns out to be fatal. Gandalf sacrified
himself by battling the fiery Balrog so his friends could escape. He actually died … but because
of his generous act, his spirit was placed in a new body and given even greater powers than before.
He becomes invulnerable to any weapon. There is an opinion that before Moria Gandalf was mortal
but died from Durin’s Bane. And as the fate willed he came back to Middle-earth to accomplish his
Cause in the form of Gandalf the White. There was another wizard whose powers where like the maiar’s.
It was Saruman, a betrayer, who shut him up on the pinnacle of Orthanc. If it were not for the swiftest
of the Great Eagles, Gwaihir the Windlord, Gandalf would probably have been Sauron’s prisoner
till the end of his days.
The Windlord carried the brave wizard to Edoras, the capital of Rohan,
where Gandalf chose Shadowfax – the fastest and most tireless horse in Rohan’s herd.
Indeed, Gandalf could choose not only the right way in the dark corridors of Moria but also
the right weapon and the right horse. It is he who predicted that it was only in Frodo’s power
to make his way to Orodruin and destroy the One Ring.
Gandalf becomes the leader of the Fellowship (before Moria events
take place). He bears the responsibility for all the folks of Middle-earth. Only after the
end of the War of the Ring would he tell Aragorn that the time had come for Gondor’s
Sovereign to become the guarantor of peace and order.
During the War of the Ring Gandalf does a lot. He sets free
Theoden, the King of Rohan and exiles his servant, Grima WormTongue. So people
gain anew a bellicose Theoden and gradually forget him being passive and bewitched
by the spells of his Adviser. Also Gandalf overthrows Saruman, breaks his staff into
pieces– every wizard’s symbol, and frees Isengard along with Rohan’s Company.
Saruman flees from Hobbiton and Gandalf becomes the Head of the Istari Order.
Gandalf symbolizes honesty and kindness. He doesn’t punish
Pippin either when the Palantir is stolen or for his conversation with Sauron. It is enough
to look into the hobbit’s eyes and see – there is no lie there.
Gandalf is an interesting story-teller and a wise advisor. For this
very reason Elessar begs Gandalf not to sail over the Sea. The duo of wizard and
Aragorn struggles bravely at Minas Tirith and reaches the Black Gates of Mordor.
Another interesting episode occurs when Sauron’s messenger brings Sam and Frodo’s
clothes. The messenger of the Dark Lord adduces an ultimatum and affirms that the
Fellowship’s mission has finally failed. If it were not for the wisdom and eloquence of
Gandalf, who did not believe the messenger for a moment, the allied army would probably
have lost its competitive spirit and would not have won.
In 3021 Gandalf and Frodo left Middle-earth as the third Age,
the Age of fight with Sauron, was over. And, therefore, Gandalf the White fulfilled
his mission successfully. The time of wizards comes to an end and the future of Middle-earth
is entirely in the hands of people – that is Gandalf’s main idea which fully characterizes the
arrival of a new Age, the fourth one. Gandalf left Middle-earth but he would stay in the hearts
of common people for ever.