In The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Gandalf plays a prominent role as a wizard. He, like other wizards, has magical powers. Sometimes he uses a wand. He is full of wisdom, and the others can learn a lot from him. Gandalf is also able to disappear and reappear at any time. Gandalf's role in The Hobbit is one of a parent figure to Bilbo, a mentor if you will. Physically, his characteristics are that of an elderly man with a long beard.
"All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which a white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots." (Tolkien 4)
Gandalf is described much like the wizard Merlyn was in the Arthurian Legends- another elderly man with magical powers.