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Gandalf - Anticlimax?

daisy

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One thing that has always irked me is the somewhat anti-climactic ( in my opinion) treatment of Gandalf's reunion with Merry and Pippin. Any thoughts on why it seemed to be a non-event? Does anyone agree with this or am I missing something in my reading of the text?

Thanks, daisy
 

aragil

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Are you talking about in The Two Towers? As I recall, Pippin thought it was a big deal, but Gandalf seemed rather blithe about the whole thing. Of course, we don't get direct Tolkien narration about the reunion, we get Pippin and Merry recounting the event. Anyway, the three hunters already got a whole chapter for their reunion with Gandalf (the White Rider), so I think that avenue was already explored, in the literary sense.
 

daisy

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I guess, as soon as I realised Gandalf was back from wherever,re: his reunion with Aragorn et al, I eagerly anticipated his reunion with the hobbits because his interaction with them, especially Pippin, was always so funny, and then it was ....nothin'. I also found Tolkein's technique of 'after the fact narration' to be an interesting choice for such crucial, intense passages such as Gandalf and the balrog and a lot of the ent/hobbit stuff. Any ideas or thoughts as to why he would choose this device, instead of narrating direct action??

yes, I meant the Two Towers. Sorry. You know, when Pippin, Merry, Gimly, Legolas and maybe Aragorn ( can't remember if he went with Gandalf) are getting caught up and smoking pipeweed. :confused:
 

Silme

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Well, I've always loved that bit when Gandalf rides to Isengard, and Pippin is all amazed and asking where he's been... And Gandalf is just ordering him to find Treebeard, and the only explanation he gives is "Wherever I have been, I am back". It's so Gandalf-ish!!! :)
 

Walter

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Daisy I think we must keep in mind that Gandalf was in great haste when he met Pippin and Merry again. The battle at Helm's deep was just to begin or already going on and the odds were definitely against the Rohirrim. There was simply no time for exchanging pleasantries or catching up. And besides - there had already been some tension between them in Moria: "Knock on the doors with Your head, Peregrin Took" or "Fool of a Took!" and "Throw Yourself in next time...". And maybe Gandalf also thought that Pippin was responsible to some degree for the appearance of the Balrog...

Just my thoughts, anyway...
 
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daisy

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Walter,

Too true about Gandalf having other things on his mind, yet JRR may have been able to describe them seeing Gandalf again, and their reactions, with a brief exchange of dialogue without betraying Gandalf's nesessary haste.

I am also still confused over Gandalf's decision to attempt to confront Saruman and get him to turn away from his evil path. Was this not a huge threat to all who heard him, and to Gandalf himself? Why would he risk Theoden falling for Saruman's voice?:confused:
 

Kuduk

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Hi Daisy!

I hope you don't mind if I interject my thoughts on the questions brought up on your thread.

I'll start with the last ones first.

I am ..... confused over Gandalf's decision to attempt to confront Saruman and get him to turn away from his evil path. Was this not a huge threat to all who heard him, and to Gandalf himself? Why would he risk Theoden falling for Saruman's voice?
Daisy, I think you can find an answer in that same chapter of TTT. After the confrontation, Gandalf tells Pippin he will go tell Treebeard the outcome...

'He will have guessed, surely?' said Merry. 'Were they likely to end any other way?'
'Not likely,' answered Gandalf, 'though they came to the balance of a hair. But I had reasons for trying; some merciful and some less so. First Saruman was shown that the power of his voice was waning. He cannot be both tyrant and counsellor. When the plot is ripe it remains no longer secret. Yet he fell into the trap, and tried to deal with his victims piece-meal, while others listened. Then I gave him a last choice and a fair one: to renounce both Mordor and his private schemes, and make amends by helping us in our need. He knows our need, none better. Great service he could have rendered. But he has chosen to withhold it, and keep the power of Orthanc....
It seems Gandalf knew the serious risks he was taking, but for the reasons he gives above, he felt they were worthwhile.

Next question:
I also found Tolkein's technique of 'after the fact narration' to be an interesting choice for such crucial, intense passages such as Gandalf and the balrog and a lot of the ent/hobbit stuff. Any ideas or thoughts as to why he would choose this device, instead of narrating direct action??
For what it's worth, Daisy, here's my opinion. I feel that Tolkien wanted to keep the overall narrative timeline of what was already turning into a long and complex story relatively linear. His 'after the fact' device allows him to explain at length great parts of the story without breaking away from the basic timeline. In fact, he uses this device throughout the LotR - from introducing the history of the Ring in FotR to explaining what happened to Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas at Pelargir in RotK. JRRT only breaks from the direct narrative's timeline to go back in time in only a few places and only after the Fellowship has broken up. Usually he doesn't go back too far from whatever point the narrative thread has already reached (e.g. the chapters at the beginning of TTT where we hear separately the stories of Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas' story and then Pippin & Merry's). He only does significant breaks between books. For example, the second half of TTT is devoted to Frodo and Sam's story and picks up pretty much where FotR left off. Even then, JRRT seems to be pretty careful how he does this and how far he goes. The latter part of Frodo & Sam's story in TTT includes a time period during which events occurring to the other Fellowship members are not recounted until the first book of the RotK. Then once we get to RotK, the latter of half of the first book of RotK takes place at the same time as Frodo & Sam's journey through Mordor to Mt. Doom which is only recounted in the last book of RotK. This careful see-sawing of the narrative would indicate to me the importance of the narrative thread to Tolkien and his desire to keep it relatively straightforward.
Also, I think it is in keeping with the 'epic storytelling' nature of LotR to have parts of the story recounted in the words of its characters. This telling of stories within the story mirrors and reinforces the feeling of LotR as one great story being told or read to others.

Finally, regarding Gandalf's reunion with Merry and Pippin. I personally always found the manner in which this was told to be very funny and one of the more endearing parts of LotR. Using Pippin's voice allows JRRT to poke a little fun at Gandalf's mannerisms which leavens the otherwise 'grave' nature of the epic. JRRT does this 'comic relief' thing a couple of other times in the LotR (though not necessarily at Gandalf's expense) such as Pippin & Merry's dialogue after they free themselves from the Uruk-hai and also in RotK when Merry is healed by Aragorn. Aragorn has already healed Faramir and Eowyn and their first words go something like (Faramir) 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?' and (Eowyn) 'Eomer! What joy is this? For they said you were slain..' I find it funny that after these serious and joyous words that Merry's first words should be the much more practical, 'I am hungry. What is the time?'

Anyway, Daisy, I don't expect you to agree, just trying to explain why I really like the very passages which seem to irk you. Sorry about the long post.

Thanks.:)
 

daisy

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Thankyou!!

Kuduk,

I really enjoyed your explanations about these passages. I never thought about having Pippin narrate the reunion with Gandalf being more entertaining than a real-time account of their meeting. Also, I completely overlooked tha passage explaining Gandalf's reasons for exposing so many to Saruman.

Thankyou for such an indepth reply.

I may have read the trilogy quite a few times, but I can't seem to really know it as well as I want to!!:(
 

Snaga

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Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I think there are no solo Gandalf bits in LotR - whenever Gandalf is the only active 'good guy' its recounted by Gandalf to another character. I think this is to preserve the mysterious nature of Gandalf. So you can't have Gandalf's ride to Isengard described first hand.

The alternative is a lengthy scene of Merry and Pippin sitting around while the ents kick down Isengard, in the middle of which Gandalf rides up, asks for Treebeard and rides off again. It is also rare to have passive Hobbits observing the events around them - far more often they are active participants. The only possible exception I can think of is the Minas Tirith chapter at the start of RotK. Even that is arguably Pippin exploring Minas Tirith. I think this is exceptional anyway in that it is a long slow chapter as Tolkien makes you feel the long slow build up of dread as war approaches.

But most importantly the way it is treated allows for that fantastic scene when Theoden, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas ride up to Isengard to see it smashed apart, and finding the two lost Hobbits with their feet up having a smoke! I love that scene.:)
 

Kuduk

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I can't say how intentional it was on JRRT's part, but it does seem that Gandalf always has to tell his own stories himself. I think, however, that's partly due to the fact that the other possible witnesses to most of his stories would not have been very convenient as storytellers. (But it would certainly have been interesting to hear the Balrog's side of things!)

And Daisy, thank you for your kind words! I appreciate the compliments and smiles.:)
 

Lantarion

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Yes, I think it's only appropriate that Gandalf would not be terribly enthusiastic, as this is what the reader expects. I believe this is also to give a mysterious view of Gandalf's nature (the greatest mind-boggler for a first-time reader, however, are his words to the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm). And also Gandalf had a lot on his mind about then, racing back and forth from Helm's Deep, trying to find Treebeard to help him in his plight. But he's quite kind afterwards, as I recall, when he returns with King Théoden. Jolly bloke, he is. :D
Welcome, Silmë! Kiva kun on muitakin suomalaisia täällä. Tervetuloa! :)
 

Grond

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Since all your questions have been answered by other posters Daisy, I only have one small opinion to add. It concerns why Gandalf would expose himself and the others to Saruman's voice. The reason was simple. Gandalf owed a "chance of redemption" to one who had been a member of his order. Ironically, this wouldn't be the last time Saruman would have a chance to repent. He met with the party of Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf returning home. (This was the scene where he stole Pippin's? tobacco pouch.) He again was spared by Frodo in the Shire.

As far as there being a risk to Gandalf. I don't see one. Gandalf was there to redeem Saruman or strike him from the Orderl (which he did). By this time Gandalf had been transformed and I doubt anything on Middle-earth could have hurt him short of Sauron. (He quotes in the forest of Fanghorn to Gimli, "...alas, you have no weapon which could touch me...". Gandalf the Grey was a man..... I'm not quite sure what Gandalf the White was but it appears he was a lot more than just a man.
 

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Ahh, you beat me to it, Grond! I have many times explained to newbies what Gandalf was, both pre- and post- his transformation. He was a Maia in both cases, but IMHO his mortal body was strengthen increadibly, and his power and thought was enhanced by Ilúvatar; therefore he was at that time probably the most powerful creature in Middle-Earth, including Sauron, but he wanted to deal with the 'smaller' matters (which are very delicately linked to the 'greater' matters, btw), and let the appointed Ring-bearer fulfill his task for him, in a sense. By aiding Théoden's forces at Helm's Deep he worsted Saruman's plans for takeover, and therefore ensured the victory of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields; and the likelihood of Frodo's being captured again were minimized as well.
 

Snaga

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But Gandalf's MO was never, even in his White incarnation, to do most of the fighting himself. He didn't fight fire with fire. Certainly he would defend himself. And he would face up to opponents of equal stature (e.g. Nazgul or Balrogs). He would occasionally intervene to tip the scales, or to save lives, but rarely did he try to waste opposing armies.

Gandalf did not personally destroy Saruman's plans. He just rallied Saruman's opponents and got them working together. If you read TTT he is very modest about his part in events.

I think this is important. Gandalf doesn't believe fighting the enemy is merely for the Wise / powerful.
 

daisy

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Redemption for Theoden ?

It also occurs to me that Theoden may have been granted the chance to struggle with the effects of Saruman's voice because he had lost so much to himself to Wormtongue, including, presumedly, some of the faith of his men. So they were able to see their king denounce Saruman proudly and strongly and I think that he finally reclaimed himself as leader at this point.

Yes,andromeda, I had the same sensation which made me start the thread which was, " Wait a minute, what did I miss?" because the hobbits see Gandalf again before they get a chance to tell the reunion story to the others.

Also another question: was it simply Gandalf's run-in with the balrog that led him to an almost immortal, otherwordly transformation or what? I am sure this is in the Sil, or HoMe as to why one led to the other. I remember the passage where he fills the others in about the balrog and resurrection time, but why the huge shift in power?
 

Kuduk

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I think that having Theoden show his 'independence' was definitely an important step in reclaiming not only his men's confidence but also in his transformation from weakened has-been to the great heroic ruler who dies in battle.

Regarding Gandalf's transformation, I believe it's mentioned somewhere that the Valar restore his body so that he could finish his appointed task to bring down Sauron, in addition, they take the opportunity to increase his powers (and turn him into 'the White Rider') to make it absolutely clear he has a new superiority over Saruman which will allow Gandalf to remove him.
 

Grond

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Melian returned to the gardens of Lorien I believe and lives there still. Of course the Balrogs were mostly destroyed. One killed by Echthelion of the Fountain and one by Glorfindel, both in Gondolin. Gandalf vanquished his Balrog. Saruman was killed by Wormtongue, Sauron perished when the Ring was destroyed. Radagast disappeared and wasn't seen again on Middle-earth after delivering the message to Gandalf. One could speculate since he was close to the Grey Havens, he hopped a ship West since he probably didn't want to face the Ringwraiths. He seemed awfully excited in his conversation with Gandalf. The Blue Wizards went far east and we aren't sure of their final outcome. And finally Gandalf was slain and returned.

I think I've got them all. I never remember hearing of any Eagle being killed but I haven't really looked for that info. My opinion is that all the evil Maia would be remanded to the judgement of Manwe and Mandos for determination as to their fate. My opinion is that they would be either restored to Maia status after a period of reprentence or they would be sent permanently to the void with Melkor. I base this on the first punishment of Melkor. He was sent to the Void in chains for a period of millenia and then returned after he gave assurances of repentence. There you have the opinion of Grond.;)
 
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Walter

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Originally posted by Grond
...Radagast disappeared and wasn't seen again on Middle-earth after delivering the message to Gandalf. One could speculate since he was close to the Grey Havens, he hopped a ship West since he probably didn't want to face the Ringwraiths...
Well I think I read somewhere*) that Radagast quit his job and went on living among birds and beasts...

----
*)Well some may say I have a memory like a sieve, but honestly, I remember everything...
...just - alas - not very long... ;)

I've been definitely flipping through too many books in too little time, so I don't have the slightest clue whether it was in UT, HoME or the Letters... I shall try to find it again when I'm back home.
 

Walter

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It was in the UT, but not exactly how I put it - anyway - he didn't get back West, it seems...
 

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