What character traits descibe Gandalf from the book The Hobbit?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The grey wizard Gandalf is one of the best known and most beloved characters from J. R. R. Tolkien's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  The narrator introduces him as an adventurous character:

"Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tale" (5).


Gandalf remains an interesting character throughout The Hobbit due to his many varied character traits.

Wise

Gandalf is wise.  He has the insight to see a people's potential and the wisdom to direct them in ways that might best develop it.  He chooses Bilbo for Thorin's company, because he sees past the small hobbit exterior and recognizes Bilbo's loyal heart and clever mind.

Meddlesome

Gandalf is extremely meddlesome, often involving himself and others in dangerous plots and quests.  Bilbo had absolutely no mind at all to go on an adventure with dwarves.  After Gandalf's clever arrangement to have all of the dwarves show up for tea however, the allure and excitement of Thorin's tale and song lures Bilbo into joining.

Brave

Gandalf is brave.  He is one of the most intrepid members of the expedition and faces down the worst of foes with grim determination.  After harrowing chases with goblins through the mountains, Gandalf does not panic when they are again pursued by wolves, but merely directs the company up the nearest trees.  He is brave, but this does not mean that he is not "dreadfully afraid," because he is.  Gandalf's courage helps him to be a strong leader.

Powerful

Gandalf's gift for magic makes him a powerful ally.  Several times in The Hobbit he uses magic to save the dwarves and Bilbo from a dire situation, like when he conjured the "tower of blue glowing smoke" to distract the Goblin King in the Misty Mountains (61).

Crafty

Gandalf is extremely crafty and cunning.  He excels at clever plans and arrangements.  A great example of this is when Thorin's company prepares to go to the Carrock to meet Beorn, who does not like strangers very much.  Instead of all fifteen of them showing up on Beorn's doorstep at once, Gandalf hatches a plan for the dwarves to arrive in pairs in five minute intervals as Gandalf tells Beorn the exciting tale of their adventure so far.  This strategy works brilliantly and the story distracts Beorn enough that he does not really mind the arrival of a few more house guests.

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