The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Gandalf Character Analysis

Gandalf, also called Mithrandir, is the wizard who entrusted Frodo with the task of bearing the Ring to Mount Doom. Many characters rely on him for advice or help. There are also some, such as Denethor, who feel that Gandalf’s wisdom is more of an insult than an aid, and it’s rumored among Men that when Gandalf arrives, bad news is sure to follow. Gandalf comes to Minas Tirith with Pippin in tow, hoping to counsel Denethor as to the best ways to prepare Gondor for war; however, he finds Denethor to be stubborn and arrogant, and he ends up making battle plans independently. When Denethor becomes overwhelmed by grief and orders his guards to burn him and his son alive, Gandalf intervenes, though he knows that removing his power from the midst of battle means that many others will die while he saves Faramir. His fearsome reputation and the respect he’s cultivated within Middle-earth become obvious when, at the moment of utter hopelessness in battle, the Eagles come to the aid of Gondor’s army to repay a favor. Gandalf is motivated by the responsibility he feels to save those less powerful than himself and to preserve life wherever possible, and he’s also driven by the goal of defeating Sauron. When this is accomplished and the Ring has been destroyed, his own power (which is tied to one of the slightly less powerful Three Rings) begins to wane too, and he accepts that his time in Middle-earth has come to its end. Ultimately, he boards the ship for the Undying Lands along with Elrond, Galadriel, Frodo, and Bilbo.

Gandalf Quotes in The Return of the King

The The Return of the King quotes below are all either spoken by Gandalf or refer to Gandalf. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
).
Book 5, Chapter 1  Quotes

“But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”

Related Characters: Gandalf (speaker), Denethor, Shadowfax, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Frodo Baggins
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 7 Quotes

“[O]ne at least of the Seven Seeing Stones was preserved. In the days of his wisdom Denethor would not presume to use it to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of his own strength. But his wisdom failed; and I fear that as the peril of his realm grew he looked in the Stone and was deceived: far too often, I guess, since Boromir departed. He was too great to be subdued to the will of the Dark Power, he saw nonetheless only those things which that Power permitted him to see. The knowledge which he obtained was, doubtless, often of service to him; yet the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind.”

Related Characters: Gandalf (speaker), Denethor, Boromir, Sauron
Related Symbols: The Seeing Stones
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 9 Quotes

“We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless—as we surely shall if we sit here—and know as we die that no new age shall be.”

Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 5 Quotes

“Turn your face from the green world, and look where all seems barren and cold!” said Gandalf.

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone there in the waste a growing thing stood. And he climbed to it, and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tree no more than three foot high. Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.

Related Characters: Gandalf (speaker), Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Aragorn/Strider, Arwen
Related Symbols: The White Tree, The Shadow
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 7 Quotes

“Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,” said Merry. “We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.”

“Not to me,” said Frodo. “To me it feels more like falling asleep again.”

Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gandalf Character Timeline in The Return of the King

The timeline below shows where the character Gandalf appears in The Return of the King. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 5, Chapter 1 
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Pippin wakes up to find himself wrapped in Gandalf’s cloak on the back of Shadowfax, a swift white horse. He asks Gandalf where they... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
When Pippin wakes up again, he hears Gandalf talking to a group of men standing guard in front of a vast wall. Gandalf... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Gandalf, Pippin, and Shadowfax enter Gondor, and after a few more hours of riding, they come... (full context)
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Gandalf, Pippin, and Shadowfax reach the final level of the city, which houses the Citadel. Shadowfax... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
Pippin and Gandalf enter the Great Hall. The throne is empty, and Denethor, Lord and Steward of Gondor,... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...first command to Pippin is for him to tell Denethor everything he knows about Boromir. Gandalf mentions that he has a lot to discuss with Denethor; Denethor replies that he has... (full context)
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
After an hour of Denethor’s questions about Boromir, Pippin is exhausted and hungry, and Gandalf is impatient. Denethor sends Gandalf to the lodgings prepared for him and allows Pippin to... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
When Pippin and Gandalf reach the room that has been prepared for them, Pippin asks Gandalf if he’s angry... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Gandalf remarks that each following day will bring more bad news. He wishes he knew where... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...and Bergil and Pippin hurry inside too. Pippin heads back to his lodgings to find Gandalf—but Gandalf isn’t there. Pippin falls asleep and wakes up when Gandalf returns in the middle... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 3
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...without waiting for the muster at Edoras. One of the chiefs explains to Théoden that Gandalf had urged the Riders to gather quickly. Théoden asks the marshals and captains to meet... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 4
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Gandalf wakes Pippin and tells him to prepare to see Denethor. There’s a small meal laid... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...and cries for someone to help the horsemen. Pippin peers over the wall to see  Gandalf riding towards the men. Gandalf raises his hand at the Black Riders and sends out... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Pippin watches Gandalf and the riders gather themselves and move towards the city gate. He hurries to the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...he encountered with his men at the border of Gondor, and notes, to Pippin and Gandalf’s great interest, that he encountered other hobbits in that time. Gandalf’s hands tremble while Faramir... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...replies that Faramir doesn’t care what Denethor thinks and would rather have the approval of Gandalf than of his father. Denethor grieves Boromir’s absence. Faramir, he thinks, is too gentle to... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Gandalf tells Denethor that Boromir would never have brought the Ring to him. Even if Boromir... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...to assist, but they agree that this won’t be enough. Faramir goes to rest, and Gandalf and Pippin head to their lodgings. Pippin asks Gandalf if there’s any hope for Frodo.... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...respect upon his return. Denethor replies that that will depend on Faramir’s success in battle. Gandalf urges Faramir to remember his value: Denethor will remember his love for him before the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...secret plans to cross the river for a long time and “swarmed across like beetles.” Gandalf rides out to help Faramir and his men return to the city. Pippin spends the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Gandalf returns to Minas Tirith, escorting wagons of wounded soldiers. He meets Denethor in a high... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...Dol Amroth emerge from Minas Tirith to come to Faramir’s aid, along with Shadowfax bearing Gandalf, who once more sends a beam of light from his hand. The enemy forces are... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...he plans to burn with Faramir. Pippin leaves as ordered but goes instead to find Gandalf. He thinks that Faramir needs medicine rather than to be burned alive. (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
As Pippin searches for Gandalf, he runs into Beregond and tells him that Denethor has lost his grip on reality... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...burst through the gate. The Lord of the Nazgûl has entered Minas Tirith, and now Gandalf faces him. Where the Black Rider’s head should be, there are only flames. They face... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 7
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Rider withdraws from the city to join the battle on the field, Pippin cries for Gandalf to come with him to save Faramir. He explains that Denethor has gone to the... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Denethor appears from the door that Beregond is guarding, holding a sword. Gandalf storms towards Denethor, casting the sword into the air. He asks Denethor why he’s lighting... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Denethor watches Gandalf take Faramir away, but when Gandalf calls him to follow, he laughs instead. He shows... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
Gandalf tells Denethor’s knights that their obedience would’ve led to Faramir’s death had Beregond not disobeyed... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
As they reach the Houses of Healing, Gandalf, Pippin, and Beregond hear a piercing cry and see the sun breaking through the shadow.... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...in the high tower at that time: Denethor must have been looking into the Stone. Gandalf confirms that this is the way Sauron caused Denethor’s downfall. But now he must go... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 8
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...errand for the Healers and Pippin asks him to send for help for Merry. Soon, Gandalf arrives to take Merry to the Houses of Healing. He comments that Merry should have... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...phrase: “The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.” Upon hearing this, Gandalf goes to fetch Aragorn. (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Gandalf greets them and says that Éowyn is near death, and Faramir, who is the new... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...ago. Éomer says he didn’t know that Éowyn felt such despair for so many years. Gandalf tells him that it was not only Wormtongue’s treachery that made her feel trapped in... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Aragorn tells him to smoke and remember his friend fondly. Pippin stays with Merry while Gandalf and Aragorn leave, finding a crowd has gathered at the door to see Aragorn. A... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 9
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...sends for Éomer and they descend the levels of the city together to meet Aragorn, Gandalf, Elladan, and Elrohir. Gandalf urges them to consider Denethor’s final words—a prediction of defeat. The... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Aragorn concurs with Gandalf, but he allows the other captains to choose whether to follow. Elrond’s sons agree to... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 10
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...watching the army leave, tries to cheer him by suggesting that, with the strength of Gandalf and Aragorn, the army cannot fail. (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...Mordor flanked by scouts. Though the weather has cleared, the smog of Mordor is permanent. Gandalf gives intermittent orders for a fanfare to sound, and for the men to proclaim the... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Mouth of Sauron recognizes Gandalf and tells him his plan is foolish. He says he was instructed by Sauron to... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Mouth of Sauron offers to deliver Frodo if Gandalf agrees to Sauron’s terms. Gandalf asks for the terms: they dictate that Gondor withdraws, that... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 3
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...journey. Sam thinks of the Shire and of the people he loves there. He believes Gandalf to be dead after his fall in Moria, and thinks that, if Gandalf hadn’t fallen,... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...himself again. He’s glad to know that Gollum is gone forever, but Frodo says that Gandalf was right: Gollum did have a part to play in the story, and without him,... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 4
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Aragorn’s army is overcome by the onslaught of Mordor’s troops. Suddenly, though, Gandalf looks to the north and cries, “The Eagles are coming!” As the huge eagles arrive... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...the captains look around them, they see that the enemy troops are fleeing in chaos. Gandalf calls to the mightiest eagle and asks to be carried by him, joined by a... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
...sees that Frodo is missing a finger, he realizes that it wasn’t all a dream. Gandalf appears in front of the bed. Sam is amazed: he thought Gandalf was dead, and... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Frodo and Sam follow Gandalf through a tree-lined grove and are heralded by a host of knights and guards. The... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Frodo gave Sting to Sam on their journey, Sam insists that Frodo wear it again. Gandalf helps them to dress in their mail and places a silver circlet on each of... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 5
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...Faramir greets them. Aragorn leads the company of Dúnedain forward, and with them are Éomer, Gandalf, Imrahil, and the four hobbits. Faramir meets them and surrenders his stewardship to Aragorn, but... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...order to claim the kingship, so he’d like Frodo to bring him the crown and Gandalf to set it on his head. When this has been done, Aragorn rises: he appears... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...day is. Frodo knows that the hobbits will have to return to the Shire soon. Gandalf assures him that, while their journey must’ve felt endless, it has in fact been less... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
One night, Gandalf takes Aragorn to a high peak to survey the land of Gondor. He tells Aragorn... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...see his line continuing, and one day he will die—who will be king after him? Gandalf tells him to look around him. Aragorn sees a sapling growing in the snow: it’s... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 6
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
...group rides on to Isengard and talks with the Ents who have taken over Orthanc. Gandalf thanks Tree-beard for all his help in the war. Tree-beard tells him he’s been boring... (full context)
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
...a knight of Gondor and might be called to serve again. The hobbits ride with Gandalf, Galadriel, and Celeborn. On their way, they come across Saruman, who looks ragged and old.... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...a while so that Galadriel and Celeborn can take their time conversing with Elrond and Gandalf about the past and the future. Eventually, Galadriel and Celeborn head into the mountains with... (full context)
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
The hobbits eventually prepare to leave for the Shire. Gandalf will escort them as far as Bree. Frodo says goodbye to Bilbo, who tells him... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 7
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...never heal, and that he won’t recover from the burden of the Ring. He asks Gandalf where he’ll be able to rest at last, but Gandalf doesn’t answer. The next day,... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Gandalf tells Butterbur to cheer up: more pleasant days will come soon. He says that many... (full context)
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
...going to finish it when he gets home. After a few nights, the hobbits and Gandalf leave Bree. Butterbur says he should’ve warned them more about what’s gone on in the... (full context)
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Gandalf urges the hobbits to hurry to the Shire before the gates are locked. Merry reminds... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 9
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...him for now. When they arrive at the Havens, there’s a white ship waiting, and Gandalf is beside it. They see that he’s wearing the other of the Three Rings, and... (full context)
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War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
Gandalf says that Sam’s journey back will be better with company. He says goodbye to Sam,... (full context)