Monday, February 18, 2008

Gandalf and his bag of tricks

There is all this talk about comparing Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi and old Tom to God, but why not compare Gandalf to Jesus? After all, Gandalf did sacrifice himself and was resurrected, clad in white symbolizing goodness. Gandalf seems to know things that no one else knows. He has an uncanny foresight into the future, an unparalleled wisdom about him. Not to mention, he does pull off few miracles of his own! What connections do you see? Who disagrees? Personally I find it annoying when people try to make everything about Jesus, but I thought it would be a topic people might have something to write about.

Also on page 370, Gandalf says that he is the wielder of the flame of Anor. What is this? Is this his Elven ring of fire? If not, does anyone know the name of the ring? I haven't read the third book yet.

10 comments:

Josh Elmore said...

I believe this is a good point. I have another to make, when Gandalf comes back he is clad in white and reveals himself to people who were close to him before his death. Just as Jesus did to the apostles.

Mike Pilato said...

Anor is the Elvish Sindarin word for the Sun. Minas Tirith was called Minas Anor at one time (Tower of the Setting Sun). Its easy to confuse Anor with Arnor, which is a kingdom in the North founded by Elendil when he came to Middle Earth from Numenor.

Tim said...

I think that you make a valid point. There does seem to be some sort of connection to Jesus through Gandalf. I don't know if you are much into the Chronicles of Narnia, but these are also fantasy books in which there is a close connection to Christianity. I want to say that I've heard that both Tolkien and C.S Lewis knew each other, or of each other and influenced each others works. Or maybe just Tolkien influenced Lewis. I can't remember what it was... Anyway, good point.

Doty said...

There are tons of connections you can draw between LotR (or the Chronicles of Narnia) and Christianity, largely because both Tolkien and Lewis were devout Christians. It's practically impossible for an artist to create something that does not in some way represent his or her beliefs.

Beyond that point, as well, one should recognize that just about anything can be linked to Christianity somehow. I recall talking with a friend, who's now a professor, who said that he made his entire way through college simply drawing connections between his homework and the Bible because it was so easy.

Megan Becker said...

If you wanted to try to connect Gandalf to Jesus based on the fact that he comes back in white and can foresee the future, then what would Saruman be? He is also clad in white and can see into the future. I think the white symbolizes nothing more than a higher standing of wizard-om. (If that's not a word, I just made it one :))

Josh Elmore said...

Sorry i meant to clarify, surrounded by white light. Not necessarily referring to the color of his robe or rank of wizard-dom or what not. (good word by the way play it in your next game of scrabble)

Doug Simms said...

There happen to be many characters who could be seen as Jesus-figures, esp. Gandalf, Frodo and Aragorn.

Gandalf could also be seen as a Moses figure (in leading the Fellowship through the wilderness on their way to Lothlorien)

becky said...

This is an interesting point, but I think it is important to know the difference between miracles and Gandalf's ability of magic as a wizard. Just because there are similarities between works and Christian beliefs, I am concerned by how many things are linked, potentially unbased or without a true foundation of knowledge. I am incredibly curious if we could link the books to something less apparent- a challenge per se.

Blodwulf said...

I think your point is invalid. You've attempted to speak abstractly, but not abstractly enough. It is not Gandalf who points to Jesus, but rather them both who may point to 'the concept of an ideal character' who is wise, good and guiding. It cannot be helped that wisdom is represented quite naturally by grey beards and age. Nor can it be helped that a reborn or cleansed person is represented by white which is naturally absent of color. Also, Jesus really has little in common with Gandalf's character when you consider the nature of his actions and not his mere appearance: He arrives and saves his comrades not in the manner of Jesus but in the active, heroic manner of a guardian angel (if you must draw conclusions from Christianity why not draw the better of them?). Few, perhaps several common qualities can be pointed out between them but too many more of significance can be pointed out to the contrary. Furthermore, avoiding similarities between the two would have involved Gandalf appearing instead as something absurdly irrelevant, like a giant amoeba or some other such thing. A reasonable reader will allow good authors the liberty to write without finding plagiarisms and analogies where they are unintended and the intelligent reader will discuss the applicability of these commonalities for the purpose of enlightment without drawing false conclusions. In any event, I believe it is clear that Tolkien did not create from or intend analagy with Jesus when forming Gandalf and that there are a great many other sources that are far better suited to have been so.

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