It all started with music. Inside the complexities of the human-being there lies the source of all of our emotions, aspirations, fears, and hopes. This source is one’s animation and essence; it is commonly called ones “soul” or “spirit.” All of these abstractions lie dormant waiting for a particular animator that will rouse these metaphysical feelings and set them into motion. One animator that we all share is music. Music-whether it be the soft plucking of harp strings or the slow, melodic groaning of a pensive violin-awakens something within that can only be described, it often seems, through writing. This is what J.R.R. Tolkien did when he set out to write the Silmarillion. This is also what Rowling meant to convey in her first novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “Ah, music, a magic far beyond all we do here!” Tolkien conceived of his world-called Arda-and its divine masters through music:
“”There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each only comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.”
This essay is concerned with identifying the “voices” of Dumbledore and Gandalf in their respective literary worlds. Indeed what both Tolkien and Rowling have done should be considered mythopoesis-or “myth-making.” What interests me most about these two wizards, one might ask. Their authors created them to be vessels of hope for the entirety of their stories; what’s more, their avatars are fire-related. Their “Talismans of Identity,” as I am calling these avatars, is the ring of fire called Narya and the Elder Wand. The word Elder, in fact, may come from the Anglo-Saxon eller meaning “kindler.” Gandalf is described throughout the Lord of the Rings (as we shall soon discover) as a bringer of hope. Both wizards aid their far younger protégés Aragorn and Harry to fulfill their Arthurian quest of vanquishing evil with hallowed items, and both are paragons of self-sacrifice. I will be using Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of “heteroglossia” to isolate their voices while observing how they intersect and interact with their protégé’s voices. Since the character of Dumbledore–it can be argued–was in part modeled on the literary legend of Gandalf, I will focus primarily on Gandalf, while using him to unravel facts about his literary successor.
Part I. Mikhail Bakhtin and Heteroglossia
In a previous essay of mine, when I wrote about Tolkien’s Council of Elrond from his novel The Lord of the Rings, I used Bakhtin’s stylistic tool to better understand the “voices” of his characters. I had examined the characters of Boromir, Aragorn, and Elrond and proposed that these three individuals represented not only their own separate visions of the outcome of the War of the Ring, but also their own unique way of speaking. Elrond, for example, is the wise, archaic speaking character who has lived thousands of years. His speech is antiquated, precise, pithy, and foreboding. Boromir represented the fears of the council members and was perhaps the most naïve individual present. His voice was dramatic, emotional, and impatient. Aragon, one of the main characters of the novel, is the voice of temperance, regality, and experience. These characters also represented certain beliefs which, as the theory of heteroglossia goes, reach back somehow to the “authorial voice”, however far away they are from it. The trick is trying to understand how a character’s voice intersects with other voices and how that voice represents the author’s voice. For Bakhtin says “The author participates in the novel (he is omnipresent in it) with almost no direct language of his own. The language of the novel is a system of languages that mutually and ideologically interanimate each other. It is impossible to describe and analyze it as a single unitary language.”
It certainly helps to isolate a certain few of these many, many voices in a novel to attempt an understanding at how this stylistic theory works. Ultimately, our goal is to understand what influenced the author to write a certain way for any one character and how that character acts as an avatar for the author’s beliefs or disbeliefs about any number of things. See, we should desire to replace “beliefs or disbeliefs” and “any number of things” with actual ones such as “death,” “courage,” “murder,” “God,” “environment,” “wisdom,” and so on. These emotions, beliefs, and moral issues are pervasive throughout any good novel, and they should be heeded and understood. No one likes to walk away from a novel not learning anything; indeed, they should be considered for more than just entertainment. We seek for ways to make the characters, dilemmas, events, beliefs, and moral lessons tangible, realistic, and relevant to our own personal lives. A great novel will not only change the way one reads, but also the way one observes the world and its people. Great novels should fan a creative fire within us, unlock a long-hidden passion, or disturb a great unrest which has hitherto remained dormant. One might even suggest that a great novel serves as an impetus to write for oneself and others. That is why heteroglossia is an important tool: it is a key to the knowledge and power of writing.
Perhaps the most important issue to understand within the framework of heteroglossia is its ability to determine character voices. Furthermore, heteroglossia enables the student to perceive their varying distances from the authorial voice. By “distances” it is meant that each character, whose voice is an object of representation, is either easier or more difficult to link directly to the authorial voice. For example, Tolkien was a well-known lover of the outdoors, but it would “destroy the novelistic image,” Bakhtin says, if we were to take Treebeard and simply label him as the exclusive and direct link of evidence for Tolkien’s love of trees. So it would be incorrect and unfair to label each and every fictional character as a direct representation of King Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, or Captain Kirk just because these characters are well-known objects of representation. If the author of a novel has done his or her job satisfactorily, then their characters will rouse connections between these and other legendary figures, but not form a solid bridge between them. But Bakhtin’s concern was for the novel’s “system of languages,” not its characters per se. So he tells us, “Were we to discard intonational quotation marks and take the use of metaphors here as the direct means by which the author represents himself, we would in so doing destroy the novelistic image of another’s style, that is, destroy precisely that image that Pushkin, as novelist, constructs here.” Bakhtin is referring to a quote from Onegin in which Pushkin’s character, Lensky, sings a song: “He sang love, he was obedient to love, and his song was as clear as the thoughts of a simple maid, as an infant’s dream, as the moon…” Bakhtin says that Lensky’s ‘song’ “is characterizing itself, in its own language, in its own poetic manner.” The author has created this song for one of his characters, but has, to a great extent, detached himself from the character to allow the character’s own language to take hold of our imagination. But what happens when Pushkin comments “Thus he wrote gloomily and languidly,” of Lensky’s song? Bakhtin’s progression of thought on this matter will lead to a better understanding of what we will come to do for Tolkien and Rowling’s wizards.
“In the four lines cited by us above it is Lensky’s song itself, his voice, his poetic style that sounds, but it is permeated with the parodic and ironic accents of the author; that is the reason why it need not be distinguished from authorial speech by compositional or grammatical means.” Indeed, Pushkin allowed for Lensky to sound his own song but a careful reader-or critic-would still be able to detect the trace of the authorial voice (or influence) within it. In other words, even though Pushkin has tried to let Lensky speak for himself, we “have before us in fact an image of Lensky’s song, but not an image in the narrow sense; it is rather a novelistic image: the image of another’s language, in the given instance the image of another’s poetic style (sentimental and romantic).” Is Bakhtin suggesting that Lensky’s sentimental and romantic voice within the novel has a Plato-esque copy from Pushkin’s life? Did Pushkin create the character of Lensky-and thus his voice-from an amalgamation of personalities (or voices) from his experiences? Even more interestingly, does Bakhtin’s next comment suggest that characters in novels operate within their own linguistic bounds? In other words, does Lensky speak from himself, and is he borrowing from another character’s voice within the novel’s world? If so, Tolkien was on the right track by creating for his characters an exclusive means of communicating-this, then, renders a whole new meaning for the term “escapism.” So Bakhtin goes on to say that “The poetic metaphors in these lines (‘as an infant’s dream,’ ‘as the moon’ and others) in no way function here as the primary means of representation (as they would function in a direct, ‘serious’ song written by Lensky himself); rather they themselves have here become the object of representation, or more precisely of a representation that is parodied and stylized.” So if we were to deny the author’s right to create novelistic images of another’s style within the novel itself, we are denying the author his or her right to allow the characters to both represent themselves and another. So the metaphors from Lensky’s song are Lensky’s objects of representation-they could represent love, hurt, another person, anything. But the important thing to remember is that these metaphors and any other utterances from Lensky operate on his terms despite them being created by the authorial voice.
By this, we are to understand, as was pointed out in my previous essay, that one of the main reasons for writing fiction is for the author to represent him/herself. And to do this the author may use any number of mediums such as a dialogue between two characters, or a portrayal of certain events such as wars. But one must be careful not to pigeonhole Rowling or Tolkien into a specificum (Latin for “artistic representation”) such as “Romanticism” or “Fundamentalism” or “Victorianism” and so forth because to do this would be to destroy their purpose in representative writing. Simply put, authors like Tolkien and Rowling are writing for themselves.But one must not take this to mean that the authors do not wish their creative offspring to not be pleasing to its future readers. Indeed, heteroglossia is a descriptive technique, not prescriptive; one simply cannot say that authors sit down to write according to the prescription (or technique) of heteroglossia. Instead, it should be understood at the outset of this essay now that heteroglossia is a means by which we readers and critics may describe the work of such authors as Tolkien and Rowling.Furthermore, this essay will seek to understand why Gandalf and Dumbledore are vocal extensions of their respective authors. We will also want to understand how these wizened wizards’ voices interact with and mutually interanimate (to use Bakhtin’s words) Aragorn and Harry’s voices. Questions we will seek to answer are: What significance do these characters have? What archetypes, myths, and histories do they represent? And finally: How do they reflect their respective authorial voices? Now that we have a well-built foundation of Bakhtinian thought, it is time to move forward to the first author: J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien is a much more sophisticated, much more complex, and indeed a little bit more antiquated than Rowling. Furthermore, Gandalf’s persona-and his Talisman of Identity-has, I will argue, inspired Rowling’s rendering of Gandalf’s successor: Dumbeldore.
II. Tolkien and the “Imperishable Flame”
Confligent venti diro sufflamine et sonitum inter sidera conficient: “The winds shall clash together in a dire blast and that thunder shall bounce between the stars.” Such is the power of wizards. Merlin, the most famous wizard of all time and lore, is also an enigma. He is-to most-a myth, but his name has spawned the greatest mystical and spiritual archetype seen in history. His name, and thus every individual magician, sorcerer, philosopher, warrior, and wizard’s name reverberates through the passage of time. His name creates such a percussive force within our minds and souls: “The winds shall clash together…that thunder shall bounce between the stars.” Stars, like glory, are virtually incandescent, and can only, in the end, destroy themselves. The persona of Merlin has also given rise to the creation of his successors, and even though these successors were created by the minds and passions of writers, they are nonetheless archetypes of hope, wisdom, and power. But what does the name “Merlin” mean and who was he?
In fact, it is actually a title, not a name. According to the scholar Norma Lorre Goodrich’s book entitled Merlin, the Romans were given: “1. A praenomen: or first name, 2. A cognomen, family or last name, 3. A nomen, or middle name indicating his gens (clan), and sometimes if a man was very distinguished, and 4. An agnomen, which was a surname often bestowed as a title of honor, or fondly as a nickname.” Goodrich believed that the name “Merlin” was an agnomen, and thus either a title of honor or a nickname. Middle Ages writer Geoffrey of Monmouth gives this name a Latin etymology: “merul+inus or merula= ‘blackbird,’ meruleus= ‘colored like a blackbird,’ or merula solivaga= ‘a wandering bird, solitary, not gregarious.'” If this is to be believed, then our preconceived notions of wizards should be confirmed; have we not always seen wizards wandering to and fro? J.K. Rowling said of her creation of her wizard: “Dumbledore, which means “bumblebee” in Old English…seemed to suit the headmaster, because one of his passions is music and I imagined him walking around humming to himself. And so far I have got names from saints, place-names, war memorials, gravestones. I just collect them — I am so interested in names.” This image of a buzzing, wandering, pacing old man harks all the way back to Merlin, whose honorary title came from a wandering and solitary bird. Tolkien was inspired by his philological background and deep knowledge of ancient Norse myths. In a letter he wrote during 1946, Tolkien described Gandalf as an “Odinic Wanderer.” Let us delve a little deeper into the significance of “wanderer.”
Tolkien biographer Tom Shippey entitled one of his chapters “The Silmarillion: The Work of his Heart“ because the Silmarillion was the text which gave birth to and expanded upon everything from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien began conceiving of his mythopoeic work all the way back in 1916 “by now on convalescent leave from the trench fever contracted on the Somme.” Now what does the Silmarillion say about the individual we came to know as Gandalf? Well for starters the word Gandalfr in Old Norse is an amalgamation of the words gandr (“wand/magic”) and alfr (“elf”). Tolkien was very, very clear about what and who Gandalf was but without giving too much away. In a letter written in 1954 Tolkien calls him an “angel incarnate” and also commented that the reason he has an older man’s body was to limit his earthly endurance. When the world was created by Iluvatar, he also created the Valar and the Maiar, uniquely powerful guardian spirits (though not all become pure) who oversaw the creation of Arda and indeed took part in shaping and governing it, too. In the Valaquenta Tolkien describes Gandalf, but at the dawning of the world goes by another name: Olorin. There is a beautiful description of how the early manifestation of his spirit took root in the hearts of Arda’s inhabitants, who were chiefly elves at this point: “for though he loved the Elves, he walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them, and they did not know whence came the fair visions or the promptings of wisdom that he put into their hearts.” An image of a cloaked and robed old man gliding through ranks of elves kindling hope comes to mind. This is our focal point in the study of Gandalf and later with Dumbledore. How does Gandalf’s presence-and his counsel-kindle hope and inspire courage in his allies? We will be focusing specifically on Gandalf’s later travels during the Third Age of Middle Earth and on his leadership role within the Fellowship. Most importantly, why and how did Tolkien enable Gandalf to be the carrier of hope through language? Not only will it be important to see how Gandalf speaks with his pupil characters Frodo and Aragorn, but it will also be worthwhile to examine how Tolkien writes about Gandalf.
Through my study of the Silmarillion, Tolkien’s Letters, and Tom Shippey’s biography of Tolkien, I have surmised that the essence of hope is contained in what Tolkien calls “the Imperishable Flame.” In a passage from the Ainulindale, Iluvatar sends forth the Imperishable Flame into the Void that comes to be the world Arda: “Therefore I say: Ea! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.” Fire has always been seen as a life-giving, heartening substance. Prometheus stole fire from Zeus to give to mankind, and from that act they learned how to both respect and fear the gods of Olympus. But the fire did more than give life. Indeed fire kindles hope in a being’s spirit. Fire leaps up roaring, spitting, and warming in the spirit of a being and gives heat to the cold that was bred by the Void. Gandalf’s mission and purpose for living was to give counsel and kindle hope. His Talisman of Identity was the Ring of Narya given by Cirdan the Shipwright. This ring, being one of the three given to the elves by Sauron the deceiver, enabled Gandalf to roam the lands of Middle-Earth as a bringer of hope. As always with Tolkien it is his deft manipulation of language which consistently creates a sense of “hope” or “fear” throughout his legendarium. It is not so much that he points out that Gandalf is directly kindling hope in the inhabitants of Middle Earth so much as it is the mere suggestion, or whisper that he is. As many who have suffered through dark times could tell us, hope is often conveyed through whispers, borne on gentle winds from unexpected places. Soon we will explore just what Gandalf does and says that conveys the majesty and hope that Tolkien wanted of his wizard.
Gandalf has the uncanny ability to hold his listeners raptly. Nothing that the wizard does or says is needless or useless-in fact, one could even say that much of the story unfolds through the wizard’s words and deeds. Gandalf is a plot mover because he is constantly moving within the realm of Middle Earth. Take chapter three for example, “Three is Company”: “Then one evening, at the end of June, soon after Frodo’s plan had been finally arranged, he suddenly announced that he was going off again next morning. ‘Only for a short while, I hope,’ he said. ‘But I am going down beyond the southern borders to get some news, if I can. I have been idle longer than I should.'” This excerpt alone should tell the reader that Gandalf is a busy and much needed individual. He is in constant motion because he knows that he is instrumental in finding out about ring lore, gossip, and news from the Dunedain and their chief: Aragorn. Gandalf’s presence at Bilbo’s 111th birthday party in the year 3001 marked the start of the wizard’s most important quest. Between 3001 and 3018, Gandalf had disappeared into the wilds of Middle Earth to find out about Bilbo’s magic ring. In the late spring (April) of 3018, Gandalf finally returned to Bag End to inform Frodo of the peril that now lay before all of Middle Earth: Bilbo’s magic ring was indeed the One Ring of Power. The entirety of Tolkien’s chapter entitled “The Shadow of the Past” deals with the lore of the One Ring and Gandalf’s perilous quest to discover the truth. The story unfolds from Gandalf’s point of view and his speech is markedly ominous, foreboding, and antiquated. Shippey says of Tolkien’s ability to craft voices that “the continuous variations of language within this complex chapter [The Council of Elrond] tell us almost subliminally how reliable characters are, how old they are, how self-assured they are, how mistaken they are, what kind of person they are.” This is what I dealt with in my previous essay on the Council of Elrond, but for the purposes of this essay, we should take away from Shippey’s astute observation that Tolkien’s characters are living, breathing, and narrating this story-most especially Gandalf. So what kind of person is Gandalf? For starters, he is a very wise and profoundly deep advisor. When he returns to Frodo at Bag End in early April of 3018, he tells him the lore of the One Ring:
“In Eregion long ago many Elven-rings were made, magic rings as you call them, and they were, of course, of various kinds: some more potent and some less. The lesser rings were only essays in the craft before it was full-grown, and to the Elven-smiths they were but trifles-yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. But the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, they were perilous. ‘A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible: he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Rings.'”
Gandalf has now informed the main hero of the quest of the peril that awaits the bearer of the One Ring of Power. So this is Gandalf the Storyteller, Gandalf the Wise, Gandalf the Informer. But where is our Gandalf the Hope-Bringer? After the full telling of the One Ring’s tale, Frodo somberly remarks: ‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it. We should be very hard put to it, even if it were not for this dreadful chance.'” This ‘dreadful chance’ is a reference to the One Ring which has by happenstance fallen into the hands of Bilbo’s successor Frodo. It is dreadful because it is a terrible weapon, but it is a chance to dispel a great evil by destroying the One Ring without its maker knowing. Notice how Tolkien uses Gandalf as a vessel for the telling of his story? And it doesn’t end there. Gandalf’s magnus opus of storytelling is in his telling of his travels and travails before meeting at the Council of Elrond. So how does this all reflect Gandalf as a kindler of hope, and how is Gandalf an extension of Tolkien’s authorial voice? In my essay entitled “Seek for the Sword That was Broken,” I concluded that Tolkien’s voice was Providential: “When Iluvatar saw Melkor trying to make his own melodies, he simply began a new theme that would take up where the other one left off. So it is with Tolkien’s quest-narrative.”
Tolkien was able to choose how he wanted his characters to represent himself, just as Iluvatar was able to choose the first theme to propound to his Ainur. Iluvatar says of men that “These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.” Thus Tolkien did with his novel. It is of special significance, then, that Tolkien created Olorin-Gandalf’s old Maiar name-because he endowed Gandalf with the special power of fire. Tolkien wanted his wizard to roam Arda with the ability to kindle hope in elves, men, hobbits, and dwarves so that they might repel the Shadow because he was the wisest of the Maiar. His ring, Narya, was his Talisman of Identity-living beings came to know Gandalf by his inspiring presence, his counsel, and his mysterious conjuring. Gandalf is known for his heartening admonishments, such as when he counsels Faramir in the Return of the King: “Do not throw your life away rashly or in bitterness. You will be needed here, for other things than war. Your father loves you, Faramir, and will remember it ere the end. Farewell!” In a moment of warmth on a mirthless day, Gandalf prophesizes that Faramir is worth more than is known to him, and kindles hope in a moment of great despair by reminding him that Denethor loves him. In a moment of understandable doubt, some soldiers of Minas Tirith exclaim “Mithrandir! Mithrandir! Now we know that the storm is indeed nigh!” when Gandalf and Pippin arrive in the city. As a devout Catholic, Tolkien probably wants to remind us here of Mark 6: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” To this exclamation of doubt, Gandalf replies “It is upon you! I have ridden on its wings,” to say that this fight does not belong to those who have doubt in their hearts. This is Gandalf’s purpose and it is indeed a great reflection upon Tolkien’s creation of him as the wisest of the Maiar. If we are to understand Tolkien’s authorial voice as Providential, then the voice of Gandalf is very close to the authorial voice, as it mirrors Tolkien’s. Before we move on to Dumbledore, there is one last topic remaining: the relationship between Gandalf and Aragorn.
Gandalf met Aragorn for the first time in 2956 (according to Tolkien’s calendar) in the wilderness. This friendship quickly became a partnership and mentorship in many ways due to Aragorn’s great significance as the last remaining heir of Numenor, Men of the West.
Since Tolkien did not write about the first meeting of Gandalf and Aragorn, we must move forwards in the narrative to the “Council of Elrond” chapter. As I detailed in my previous Tolkien essay, Boromir speaks before Aragorn, as he is the representative of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. A steward is a caretaker of the throne, much like a bishop-episkopos in Ancient Greek-is an overseer of Christ’s flock. Boromir recounts a dream that he has to the Council of Elrond: “In that dream I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered, and of it I heard a voice, remote but clear, crying”:
Seek for the Sword that was broken:In Imladris it dwells;There shall be counsels takenStronger than Morgul-spells.There shall be shown a tokenThat Doom is near at hand,For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,And the Halfling forth shall stand.
There are many important things to note in this passage. For starters, Tolkien, as a linguist, chooses particular words that are loaded with ironic meaning. Secondly, Tolkien chooses to convey the potential disaster of the world-and the hope that may avert it-through a dream. Thirdly, Boromir, in ideal circumstances, would be considered a soldier and subject of Aragorn’s, if he were king. This dream, like the Council itself, also sets the master-plot in motion. Tom Shippey discusses this in his biography on Tolkien explaining that the whole chapter is a map for the plot. Before we talk about the voice in the dream, I should also point out that the ‘pale light’ is the leadership of Aragorn, and the hope that his enchanted race of men brought across the sea from Numenor, long ages ago in Arda. Lastly, as I pointed out in my previous essay, Tolkien makes his authorial voice known here when he writes ‘remote but clear,’ for that is the voice of the author, according to Bakhtin. Remember Bakhtin said that the author is ‘omnipresent in the novel’ but with ‘almost no direct speech.’ Tolkien is also reflecting the voice of his created creator, Iluvatar, when he designates that the voice is ‘remote but clear’ because Iluvatar only initiated and propounded the theme for the creation of the world; he let the created take part in creating. Tolkien has executed a master stroke in doing the same for his characters.
The poem here is a clear statement of Tolkien’s master plot-but what does it mean, and how is it important to Gandalf and Aragorn? Matthew Dickerson writes about the word “doom” in particular: “The word ‘doom’ is ‘loaded,’ Dickerson says. ‘In its Anglo-Saxon roots, it refers simply to a law. Yet it can also connote a judgment or sentence passed down, a destiny or fate laid upon one, or some terrible thing waiting to happen. It is also one of the root words of freedom, or ‘free-doom.'” Interestingly enough, the word ‘doom’ has acquired negative connotations since its Anglo-Saxon ancestors uttered it. When Aragorn responds to Boromir, he says “The words were not the doom of Minas Tirith,” “But doom and great deeds are indeed at hand.” By this Aragorn means that important choices and their consequent results are nigh. The broken sword symbolizes the past and defeat, but its preservation also symbolizes the hope of it being reforged. Gandalf’s following comment encompasses the symbolism of the sword: “There is indeed a wide waste of time between the River and the Mountain, between the loss and the finding. But the gap in the knowledge of the Wise has been filled at last. Yet too slowly.” Gandalf speaks of his own wanderings throughout the wilderness to discover the identity of Bilbo and Frodo’s ring and understand the whole of its history, but he also speaks of the present dilemma. Should the Council now deem it necessary to embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, the ‘gap in the knowledge of the Wise’ will be used prudently. If the Council decides not to destroy the One Ring (but it does decide to do so), then all will be in vain. Gandalf is wise enough to see that there is still hope to be found in the Sword That was Broken and in the newfound knowledge of the One Ring. Then the narrative returns to Boromir and Aragorn, the past and the future leadership. Boromir says “Mayhap the Sword-that-was-Broken may still stem the tide-if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men.” To this arrogant and audacious challenge Aragorn replies “Who can tell? But we will put it to the test one day.” Aragorn shows his wisdom and temperance learned from Gandalf here. Gandalf remains silent throughout the dialogue between Boromir and Aragorn, as if to induct Aragorn into his rite of passage for the throne already. There is one crucial moment, but it comes a little later on in Moria, that shows this.
The crucial moment in the relationship between Gandalf and Aragorn comes during their escape from the orcs of Moria. They are flying from an unknown evil when Aragorn hesitates after Gandalf commands him to lead the company “right and downwards” towards the Bridge of Khazad-Dum. “‘Do as I say!’ said Gandalf fiercely. ‘Swords are no more use here. Go!'” After a long and perilous journey downward, Gandalf makes his final stand on the bridge to halt the progress of the Balrog, an ancient evil from the world’s beginning, and an equal of Gandalf-the Balrog is also a Maiar. “You cannot pass…I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass,” says Gandalf. Gandalf also makes it clear that he is a servant of one of the rings of power, Narya, ring of Fire; this is his declaration of identity in a moment of crisis Aragorn, like we will discover of Harry, cannot obey a command that contradicts his virtues, and so shouts “He cannot stand alone!” while running back to the bridge to stand with Gandalf. As the bridge crumbles and the Balrog falls into the stygian abyss, Gandalf is pulled down with it after saying “Fly, you fools!” With that, the wizard is gone and the moment for Aragorn to assume the role of leader has come. “Come! I will lead you now!” Aragorn says to the shocked company. After they escape the orcs of Moria, the company halts to grieve. The first to speak and break the torpor is Aragorn: “Alas! I fear we cannot stay here longer…Farewell, Gandalf!…What hope have we without you?” Gandalf, as Tolkien makes clear, is the symbol of hope for the Fellowship. Now that he is gone, Aragorn turns to the Fellowship and says “We must do without hope.” Just as Harry will come to cope with Dumbledore’s death and accept the perilous quest the wizard leaves behind (along with the mantle of leadership), Aragorn now has to do without the hope, the leadership, and the inspiration of Gandalf.
In conclusion, it is hopeful that we have produced one direct way of viewing created characters and their almost real impact on other characters within the novel. Most importantly, we have noticed how their trials and tribulations may impact us while reading. Both of the wizened wizards we have just observed have met, trained, taught, and initiate younger proteges, and left them at a moment of helplessness and despair, thus leaving them with a final test. The test is something that every young and inexperienced man or woman must face: to do things afraid and find triumph, or to fall into despair and fail.
Sources used: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien/The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (2004 and 2001 editions respectively, published by Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books respectively); Mikhail Bakhtin’s “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse from The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays.” Norma Lorre Goodrich, Merlin (Harper Perennial, 1988). Tom Shippey J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. Michael Jahosky “Seek for the Sword” (not published, just cited); Matthew Dickerson Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in the Lord of the Rings (Brazos Press, 2003).
 Bakhtin, Mikhail. From the prehistory of novelistic discourse.
 Bakhtin, 127.
 My paper on Tolkien using Bakhtinian methods.
 Goodrich, Norma Lorre. Merlin. (Harper Perennial, 1988): 85.
 Goodrich, 8.
 Goodrich, 22.
 Barnes and Noble Online Interview with J.K. Rowling on March 19, 1999.
 Letter No. 107.
 Shippey, 227.
 Letter No. 156.
 Tolkien, Silmarillion: 22.
FoTR, 67. Emphasis mine.
 Shippey, 76.
 Jahosky, 24.
 Shippey, 77.
 Dickerson, 89.
 Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. “The Sorting Hat.” (Scholastic, New YorK: 1998): 128.
 Tolkien, J.R.R. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. The Silmarillion. “Ainulindale: The Music of the Ainur.” (Random House, 1977): 3.