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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Gandalf's magic: a wizard's must

CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 21 2012, 2:51am


Views: 295
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Gandalf's magic: a wizard's must [In reply to] Can't Post

It's probably telling that the most willing and ostentatious display of magic is in the early chapters in the Shire, where Tolkien was initially writing a more Hobbit-like book, and things are similarly light-hearted, so Gandalf can do all the tricks he wants. Later on he's much more reluctant, as you point out. I personally want to shake him by the collar when they're freezing to death on Caradhras and he fusses about revealing himself--that's worse than being buried in snow?

He shows no reservation in barbecuing the Wargs that attack later, I suppose because he figures they know who he is and concealing his magic is no longer of any use. That's one of the rare treats we get. Others are a tease, such as viewing the Weathertop battle with the Nazgul from afar and in just a few words. In Minas Tirith, Denethor taunts Gandalf about confronting the chief Nazgul, but Gandalf temporizes and says the time hasn't come yet, and we're forever left wondering how their duel at the gate of Minas Tirith would have turned out if only the Rohirrim had arrived a little later.

I think Tolkien knew that readers would expect magic, not just wisdom, from anything he called a wizard, so that's probably why we see the most from him. He shows a lot more than the Elves do, as your great list of examples indicates. But as for being a guide of others' deeds, that's the role Gandalf sticks to whenever possible, including at the very end of the trilogy, when Merry and Pippin show up at the last minute, tipped off by Gandalf both to say goodbye to Frodo and to give Sam company on the way home. No magic there, just guidance (or manipulation), and that's the role he played at the very beginning as well.

Subject User Time
'The problem of magic' in Tolkien noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 18 2012, 11:53am
    A thought about games noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 18 2012, 1:33pm
    Galadriel and semantics CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 20 2012, 7:37pm
        Magic vs Blessed Cyberia Send a private message to Cyberia Dec 21 2012, 12:22am
            Elvish magic (a helpful/distracting thought from "On Fairy Stories" noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 21 2012, 4:12pm
    Palantiri vs Skype CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 20 2012, 10:14pm
        Or the palantir as YouTube? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 21 2012, 6:59pm
    Gandalf's magic: a wizard's must CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 21 2012, 2:51am
        Compare & Contrast: Terry Pratchett's witches noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 27 2012, 12:55pm
            Magic and knowledge to Medieval witch hunters CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 28 2012, 2:06am
    A problem of terminology Mim Send a private message to Mim Dec 23 2012, 6:41pm
        Magic & Grace of Valar/Aman/Undying Lands Nolofinwe Send a private message to Nolofinwe Dec 24 2012, 3:38pm
            You can add to that sador Send a private message to sador Dec 24 2012, 4:33pm
            The dark side of magic: Nazgul CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 24 2012, 7:56pm
                passive elven magic Cyberia Send a private message to Cyberia Dec 24 2012, 10:10pm
                Light vs. Dark.. Nolofinwe Send a private message to Nolofinwe Dec 25 2012, 4:56am
                    Perception of Lorien (and Imladris for that matter) Nolofinwe Send a private message to Nolofinwe Dec 25 2012, 4:09pm
                        Good comparisons CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 25 2012, 4:24pm
                            Yes Nolofinwe Send a private message to Nolofinwe Dec 25 2012, 4:31pm
                Evidence of anger? Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Dec 26 2012, 2:37pm
                    Read Gandalf's explanation to Frodo CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 28 2012, 1:55am
                        Well, to be fair... Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Dec 28 2012, 9:26pm
        Please do! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 27 2012, 12:45pm
        Hobbit magic (to add to the pot!) noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 27 2012, 6:21pm
    Elves/Rivendell Nolofinwe Send a private message to Nolofinwe Dec 31 2012, 3:05pm

 
 
 

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