A Two Towers question – Gandalf vs Sauron

Steve Melisi

New Member
I know we’re a long way from The Two Towers, but I need help! I’ve come across something that I’ve never encountered before in all my many readings of the trilogy.

In The White Rider, Gandalf says this of the Ring:
“Very nearly it was revealed to the Enemy, but it escaped. I had some part in that: for I sat in a high place, and I strove with the Dark Tower; and the Shadow passed.” (p 484)
Later, when talking of seeing Treebeard at a distance, he says:
“I did not speak, for I was heavy with thought, and weary after my struggle with the Eye of Mordor.”(p 488)

What is he talking about???

The implication, I think, is that Gandalf intervened when Frodo sat on Amon Hen and saw the Eye looking for him. Yet there is no reference in The Breaking of the Fellowship to anyone but Frodo fighting to get the Ring off his finger. If not that, then when and how did Gandalf have his “struggle with the Eye”?

What makes this even more confusing is that later, in The Palantir, Gandalf speaks to Pippin of his desire to look into the Stone: “Had I done so, I should have been revealed to him myself. I am not ready for such a trial, if indeed I shall ever be so.” (p. 581) The “him” of course would be Sauron.

Did Gandalf just contradict himself? He says he cannot handle “such a trial” and yet he seems to have already endured such a “struggle.”

Can anyone assist me in understanding this?
 

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
The implication, I think, is that Gandalf intervened when Frodo sat on Amon Hen and saw the Eye looking for him. Yet there is no reference in The Breaking of the Fellowship to anyone but Frodo fighting to get the Ring off his finger.
In the last chapter of the Fellowship it says:

"...Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to him mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!"

I think the "Fool" bit is a dead giveaway that this is Gandalf - he is the "other point of power" here.
Did Gandalf just contradict himself? He says he cannot handle “such a trial” and yet he seems to have already endured such a “struggle.”
Here Gandalf has had a struggle for sure, but it was NOT a direct confrontation with Sauron, vying for mastery of a Palantir. He was vying with Sauron only for influence over -- or perhaps just for communication with -- Frodo, and that's a lesser struggle, evidently, though it was nevertheless hard enough to "weary" him. It's not much of a contradiction, if any at all.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I always looked at it in a similar way to Data wins his game against Kolrami in the Star Trek TNG episode "Peak Performance" - by playing for the stalemate.

Gandalf isn't trying to force Frodo to take off the Ring - he suggests it, but doesn't exert any power over Frodo. Sauron is trying to force Frodo to keep it on, to directly exert power on Frodo. Gandalf is trying to keep Sauron away from Frodo (playing for the stalemate), and counting on Frodo being able to take off the Ring on his own.
 

Steve Melisi

New Member
I hear you, Jim Deutch. I think i always thought of that other voice in Frodo's head as being the better part of himself, telling him what he should do. I never picked up Gandalf's references in the White Rider or if I did, never connected it back. Which then makes the reference to the Palantire make sense too. Whew -- I hate to think how long i would have had to sit on that question if i'd had to wait til Corey got us to The Two Towers!

Of course the larger question is, how was Gandalf able to insert himself into the situation of Frodo with the Ring at Amon Hen? It was 12 days after his rebirth, and so maybe he was still in Lorien and he was with Galadriel at her Mirror and saw it and used his new powers to get himself into the mix. Okay, I can see that too. Whose with me?
 

Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
FYI read The Quest for Erebor in Unfinished Tales for JRRT’s thoughts on Grey vs. White. It’s post LOTR and ‘unfinished’ but interesting nonetheless
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
When the Wizards were sent to Middle-earth, they were incarnated into actual flesh-and-blood bodies, and as a result they forgot much of their lives as Maiar in Valinor. They also had far less power than before, and were more vulnerable to confusion and corruption.

When Gandalf the White was restored to life, he was restored by Eru rather than the Valar, and I think he was sent back as a powerful Maia, with only a physical seeming, a fana, instead of a real body. And if he had been without his native Ainu telepathic powers, he regained them.

And, interestingly, his personality doesn't change hugely after this transformation.
 
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