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Gandalf is the supreme force of good in the novel, a worthy
opponent of the evil Saruman and Sauron. Gandalf’s goodness and power
are such as to make him seem a near-religious figure at times; indeed,
there is Christian symbolism attached to the wizard, even though
the mythology of The Lord of the Rings is primarily
pagan. Wearing a white cloak and riding a white steed, Gandalf is
associated with the Christian color of spiritual purity. In a distinctly Christ-like
resurrection, the wizard has died and returned from the grave, having
fallen to his death in the preceding volume of the novel. Gandalf
has passed through the greatest trial of existence—that of death—and
has survived with his powers enormously enhanced. Furthermore, the
wizard’s timely arrival with military backup during the siege of
Hornburg makes him seem almost a miracle worker.
However Christlike Gandalf may seem, though, he is no
transcendent figure floating over the action. He maintains firm
personal connections with all the characters, regardless of race
or rank; he addresses even the lowliest members of the Fellowship
by their full names and with great respect. Tolkien reminds us that
even the immensely powerful Gandalf occasionally needs human help,
as when the wizard asks Théoden to give him the horse Shadowfax. This
human connection brings Gandalf down to earth, enabling us to identify
with him more than we might have expected.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Two Towers!