Gandalf is a protagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He is a wizard, one of the Istari order, and the leader of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien took the name “Gandalf” from the Old Norse “Catalogue of Dwarves” (Dvergatal) in the Völuspá.
As a wizard and the bearer of one of the Three Rings, Gandalf has great power, but works mostly by encouraging and persuading. He sets out as Gandalf the Grey, possessing great knowledge and travelling continually. Gandalf is focused on the mission to counter the Dark Lord Sauron by destroying the One Ring. He is associated with fire; his ring of power is Narya, the Ring of Fire. As such, he delights in fireworks to entertain the hobbits of the Shire, while in great need he uses fire as a weapon. As one of the Maiar, he is an immortal spirit from Valinor, but his physical body can be killed.
“Even The Very Wise Cannot See All Ends.”
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
“I must rest here a moment, even if all the orcs ever spawned are after us.”
He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
“Go back to the abyss! Fall into nothingness that awaits you and your master!”
“It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.”
“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to.”
“It may be your task to find the Cracks of Doom; but that quest may be for others: I do not know. At any rate you are not ready for that long road yet.”
“I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass.The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”
“Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.”
Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell. Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done.
It is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the world. We should seek a final end of this menace, even if we do not hope to make one.
“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
“What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!” “Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”
He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.
“And Gandalf said: “This is your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what must be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings also is ended. And all the lands that you see, and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart.”
“You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?”
“No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.”