Episode 196 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

To try and forget troubles for a while:
  • What is Gandalf uncertain about his ability to help? With the quest, or Frodo forget his troubles?
  • It seems that he is referring to Frodo’s troubles, as he attempts to do this by mentioning the fact that he was thinking about coming along to help with the quest when the time comes.
  • What Gandalf seems to be saying to Frodo is to try to forget his troubles without his help.
  • Gandalf also seems to want Frodo to learn how to manage his hope and despair on his own.
  • The Ring will want to play on his feelings, especially despair, to manipulate him to its ends.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any implied criticism of Frodo for his feelings of fear and despair.
Do not count on anything yet:
  • Gandalf’s tentativeness is self-deprecating and seems to be to manage their expectations.
  • This reinforces his hobbitry bantering with Pippin and reassures Frodo that he won’t be alone.
  • That had been Sam’s fear that caused him to speak up, so Gandalf reassures both of them.
  • Gandalf, being a longtime friend and partly a paternal figure, is in a position to be an emotional comfort to Frodo as well as a guide. He is a part of Frodo’s life in the Shire more than a wizard.
  • Frodo had been quite sensitive to the difference between his and Bilbo’s quest, though the feelings that rose up show that he wanted their journeys to be similar, including having Gandalf.
  • Not only does he think that Gandalf will be handy to have around but also connected to family.
  • Note: Even Frodo’s adventure with the Riders is a parallel with Bilbo’s with the trolls, though completely different in tone, which makes the stone trolls appearance somewhat ironic then.
  • This reassurance from Gandalf now turns around the anxieties that the hobbits have had since leaving Bag End, with Gandalf not showing up and needing his help with the Riders.
Frodo’s delight and Gandalf’s bow:
  • Gandalf’s bow is again self-deprecating and echoes his statement to Bilbo that he needn’t bow.
  • Both Gandalf’s and Bilbo’s bows seems like a wry response, though still acknowledging the affection that prompted it, but without taking the compliment or themselves too seriously.
  • They may also be unsure of the seriousness of the prompting, and this is a way to hedge.
  • Gandalf is not habitually humble in speech at all times, but he also knows when to show it.
  • The taking off of hats seems to show an acknowledgement of equals, much like the dwarves.
  • He would also want to maintain the tone of hobbitry, as well as draws the attention away from Frodo and onto himself, which helps Frodo stop thinking about his own troubles for a moment.
  • He may also want to Frodo to think about his quest the same way as Bilbo’s, which succeeded.
  • There is also a sense that Frodo and Gandalf are more on equal footing since Frodo has been changed by his trip to Rivendell and everything that happened to him, both good and bad.
  • Note: There may be a parallel to the moment, according to the narrator of The Hobbit, Bilbo’s greatest moment of courage in choosing to go on in the tunnel to Smaug’s lair, and Frodo’s attempt to move on past his fear and despair so that he can even attempt the quest.
  • Any despair on Frodo’s part would not only be likely given his recent wounding, but present.
Elrond will have much to say:
  • Why does Gandalf interject doubt into his going along with the party? He may suspect that Elrond might not believe that Gandalf is right for this quest and should do something else.
  • Gandalf would not have mentioned his intent to come if the thought it likely he wouldn’t.
  • He does acknowledge that this decision is not only up to him, and he will defer to Elrond.
  • Is it outside of the remit of the Grey Wizard to go along to support the Ring-bearer? Possibly, but since the revelation of Saruman’s treachery, Gandalf need to might step into his role.
  • While Gandalf is not the White Wizard, since Saruman has vacated that role, Gandalf may feel that he needs the confirmation of other members of the Council that it is appropriate to do so.
  • Even the uncovering of the identity of the One Ring should have been Saruman’s job, as Saruman points out as part of Gandalf’s meddling, but Saruman wouldn’t done it otherwise.
  • There is a sense in which Gandalf thinks that role had already been forced upon him by being with Bilbo when he found the Ring on the Quest of Erebor, something within his jurisdiction.
  • This shows a humility on Gandalf’s part, that he wouldn’t just assume this without wise counsel.
  • There is also a chance that he may endanger the party, as he would be visible to the Nazgûl.
  • Note: This is confirmed later in the Pass of Caradhras when he magically lights the fire for them.
  • Elrond may take power and visibility into consideration as a tactical liability in terms of secrecy.
  • It would seem that the White Wizard was intended to travel around guiding the fight against Sauron, and therefore his settling and isolating himself in one place is a sign of his fall.
  • While Gandalf may not be submitting to Elrond’s decisions, but more so is open to his counsel.
  • Including Aragorn implies that he is most involved in the scouting, and his counsel will be valuable in making decisions for the tactical decisions, while Elrond is more strategic.
Your friend the Strider:
  • Gandalf is the only character that refers to Aragorn as “the Strider” with a definite article. Why?
  • It’s possible that Gandalf is unused to the name and makes a mistake or is teasing Aragorn.
  • He may also be turning the Bree-land negative epithet into something more like a noble title.
  • There is a sense that by preceding it with “your friend”, this is hobbitry among the ones there.
  • Bilbo said that he had not heard the name “Strider” and makes a parallel with “the Dúnedan”.
  • We know that the nickname was known to Gandalf as he used it in his letter to Frodo. He may be teasing Frodo about not knowing who Aragorn really was and went along with the role.
  • The use of the definite article, parodying his real titles, lets Frodo know that Gandalf is kidding.
  • Note: As Aragorn will later take the name “Telcontar” for his house, he seems to honor the hobbits’ name for him, and fulfills this as a piece of foreshadowing, truly becoming “the Strider”.