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The misdirection of Master Gandalf


Upper Class Twit
Dec 24, 2001
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Hello, and welcome to my dungeon

Anyway, Tolkien does a great job of (over and over again) having Gandalf misdirect/mislead powerful beings such that his ends are accomplished. From the simple tricks to outright plots, Gandalf always is able to get what he wants by getting the people in his way to do what they did not intend to do:

1) simple: He leads the dwarves into things in groups of two or three, so as to keep people on their toes: Bilbo and Beorn
2) not so simple: He gets Saruman to screw up all of his plans, even after being captured by him
3) downright tasty: He gets Sauron to bet on the evil side of people, and instead Sauron finds himself falling with the Barad-dur
4) He heals Theoden, kills a Balrog, foils the black riders (with help from Aragorn whom he help tutor), gets a dragon killed, turns trolls into stone, all quite unexpected
5) He gets the people of the Shire to play a major role in the plans of all the people of the West against Sauron.

What do you think? Anything I missed? How does this theme of misdirection/unexpected misleading and a great outcome compare with other books?


Gandalf has an understanding of the greater sweep of history and causality that do any of the other characters (with the exception of other wizards and the more powerful/older elves). That's probably both because of his great age and his powers as a Maia. So he tries to influence people and events so that they better fit into the greater reality that's unfolding. Gandalf's sense of things (such as his identifying the potential importance of hobbits early on) always seemed rather Taoist, although I suppose he's too interventionist to be very Taoist.


Sep 30, 2002
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old, old thread...

I think Gandalf's "direction" (I wouldn't call it misdirection, even if he's "deceiving" other people) of events is the most Gandalfian characteristic ever. He is the master mover; he moves hearts and bodies in the right direction.

Anyone here thinks that Gandalf was a lying busybody?

(as Denethor and Gríma probably did...)

Gandalf The Grey

Visionary Spirit
Oct 25, 2003
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Have pipeweed, will travel.
According to the personality type website at typelogic.com , Gandalf the Grey is listed as an INTJ personality.

Another well-known personality profiling website at Keirsey.com defines the INTJ or "Mastermind" personality like so:

Of the four aspects of strategic analysis and definition it is the contingency planning or entailment organizing role that reaches the highest development in Masterminds. Entailing or contingency planning is not an informative activity, rather it is a directive one in which the planner tells others what to do and in what order to do it. As the organizing capabilities the Masterminds increase so does their inclination to take charge of whatever is going on.


Masterminds will adopt ideas only if they are useful, which is to say if they work efficiently toward accomplishing the Mastermind's well-defined goals. Natural leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command of projects or groups, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once in charge, however, Masterminds are the supreme pragmatists, seeing reality as a crucible for refining their strategies for goal-directed action. In a sense, Masterminds approach reality as they would a giant chess board, always seeking strategies that have a high payoff, and always devising contingency plans in case of error or adversity. To the Mastermind, organizational structure and operational procedures are never arbitrary, never set in concrete, but are quite malleable and can be changed, improved, streamlined. In their drive for efficient action, Masterminds are the most open-minded of all the types. No idea is too far-fetched to be entertained-if it is useful. Masterminds are natural brainstormers, always open to new concepts and, in fact, aggressively seeking them. They are also alert to the consequences of applying new ideas or positions.
That said, I wish to address the comments about how Gandalf allegedly "gets Saruman to screw up all of his plans" and "gets Sauron to bet on the evil side of people." To my mind, Saruman and Sauron bring enough trouble upon themselves in this regard without the machinations of outside influences.

After all, there's a saying in Middle Earth:

"Evil will oft evil mar."

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