Gandalf: A Ray Of Hope & A Christ Figure?
One of the beloved characters of Tolkien’s series is the wizard, Gandalf. The characterization of this particular figure within both the pages and the film The Lord of the Rings is one that paints a very intriguing contrast between light and dark. In the same way, it also could portray good and evil from a biblical perspective.
Who Is Gandalf?
From the beginning, Gandalf has the presence of a close friend, and perhaps a bit of an eccentric. His appearance too is one that would also put him in among the common or the poor as he is not a man with fine silks or satins. Gandalf the Grey is not a figure of immense wealth, power, or status. In fact, to some, Gandalf was perceived as bad news.
“He wore a tall pointed grey hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of his hat.“
“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.
“Good morning!” he said at last. “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.” By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
“What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!” said Gandalf. “Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won’t be good till I move off.”
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
Gandalf was even dubbed by some, as a Disturber of the Peace!
The Symbology: Christology?
Gandalf is what some today might call a “Christ Figure” or a “Christ Type” in fiction.
What Is A Christ Type or Christ Figure in Literature or fiction?
- A character who possesses abilities that are similar to those of Jesus Christ
- A figure in literature who has experiences similar to Jesus Christ
- The character is misunderstood by many; is considered to be crazy or odd
- The character possesses a dual identity: generally one of the common man, and one greater identity.
These are just a portion of what Christ Types or Christ Figures entail! Each of these though, we can attribute to the Lord Of The Rings Character Gandalf The Gray!
Proof Is In The Pudding, Well The Writing…
- The Character is misunderstood by many. The character could be deemed odd or even crazy.
Examples of such perceptions of Gandalf are presented above in the quoted text and youtube link. Consider the conversation between Gandalf and Bilbo, as well as the quotation of Bilbo Baggins.The Character of Gandalf is dubbed as strange, crazy, and even perhaps a menace to those he comes into contact with. The hobbits of Hobbiton are a good example of this.
2. A Character Who Has experiences similar to Jesus Christ.
Gandalf, much as Christ did, He rose from the dead. Gandalf falls into ‘Shadow’ much as Christ had to face the very depths of Hell. In addition to this, Gandalf faces off with the Balrog that catches the wizard by the foot with his whip. This also bears a striking resemblance to a prophecy made about Jesus in Scripture in terms to His conflict with Lucifer, the Devil.
Genesis 3:15 King James Version (KJV)
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
As Jesus Christ is both Savior and the Son of Man, Satan’s animosity for God’s perfect Lamb is undeniable. This is something conveyed from the very beginning of scripture when mankind fell prey to temptation. For it was Christ’s blood and sacrifice alone that earns mankind God’s Grace. Likewise, were it not for Gandalf’s valiant placing of himself between the Fellowship and the Balrog, they might not have ever made it to the very depths of Mount Doom.
3. A character who possesses abilities that are similar to those of Jesus Christ
In The Lord Of The Rings, The Two Towers, the fellowship is met with another challenge in which presents another Christ Like Quality that manifests in the character of Gandalf. King Theoden, long having his mind taken over by Saruman, is released by the power of Gandalf Himself! This particular instance bears a bit of a likeness to demons possession as the King’s mind was enslaved to the will of another.Thus his body became riddled and frail.
Jesus cast out a number of demons. One instance though that mirrors this one is found within the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 4:33-36 King James Version (KJV)
33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
4. The character possesses a dual identity: generally one of the common man, and one greater identity.
“You have no power here.” Ill King Theoden jeers at Gandalf knowing well the wizard’s reputation and lowly status. Yet as Gandalf’s cloak falls back, there are no longer vestments befitting one with the title Gray. Instead, the wizard is deemed white as he has become someone new and more powerful through his trials with the Balrog.
Jesus died on the cross. When He did, He fulfilled prophecy. Jesus became Lord and Savior as He gave Himself up on Calvary. He triumphed over sin as well as death and thus overcame Satan’s power when He died a righteous lamb of God. Jesus Christ was a man, flesh and blood, regarded as nothing more than a carpenter’s son. When God acknowledged Him as His Son and Jesus paid the ultimate price He was no longer a simple man or prophet…He was Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior!