Gandalf the Grey.

A wizard of the Istari order, Gandalf the Grey—later, after his death during a battle with a Balrog, Gandalf the White—is a dominant figure in the two remarkable screen trilogies, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Admirably portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen, he also provides some memorable lines. Here are a few from the first trilogy.

When questioned by Galadriel about adding Bilbo Baggins, a Halfling, to the company of the dwarves: “I don’t know. Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”

Quite the literal fellow! When Bilbo says “good morning” to Gandalf, his reply is most humorous. “What do you mean? Do you mean to wish me a good morning or do you mean it is a good morning whether I want it or not? Or perhaps you mean to say that you feel good on this particular morning. Or are you simply stating that this is a morning to be good on?”

When Bilbo tells Gandalf that he has never used a sword: “And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”

Gandalf the White.

Bilbo rues leaving his handkerchief behind in the Shire as the adventure begins. Gandalf’s reply: “You will have to do without pocket handkerchiefs, and a great many other things, before we reach our journey’s end, Bilbo Baggins. You were born to the rolling hills and little rivers of the Shire, but home is now behind you. The world is ahead.”

Impressed by Bilbo’s transformation during the journey: “You’ve changed, Bilbo Baggins. You’re not the same Hobbit as the one who left the Shire.”

Thorin Oakenshield makes ready to throw Bilbo off the ramparts of Erebor, to which Gandalf replies, “If you don’t like my burglar, then please, don’t damage him! Return him to me!”

In the last lines of The Battle of the Five Armies, which links the two trilogies, a now aging Bilbo hears a knock at his door and says, “No, thank you! We don’t want any more visitors, well-wishers, or distant relations!” To which Gandalf calls out, “What about very old friends?”

Gandalf-isms abound in The Lord of the Rings, which we’ll explore next week.

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