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Old 10-30-2007, 03:46 AM   #1
Melilot Brandybuck
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Gandalf's powers

In "The Shadow of the Past" Frodo warns the eavesdropping Sam that Gandalf will turn him into a spotted toad. Further in the chapter, Gandalf tells Frodo that if Sam doesn't keep his mouth shut, he really would turn him into a toad.

Can Gandalf really turn people into other things? Is this in his power, or is he just using these threats to frighten gullible hobbits who don't know any better? It seems that if he did have this power, it would have come in very useful during their quest.
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Old 10-30-2007, 05:54 AM   #2
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I suspect he's bluffing (of course, we can't know for sure!). Gandalf's powers are angelic, an instrumentality of Divine will; and, given Tolkien's later writings on the internecessity of hroa and fea in mortals, I can't imagine him approving the radical alteration of an Incarnate's physical body as an upright act. Warping and twisting rational beings seems to be Morgoth's and Sauron's province.
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Old 10-30-2007, 09:52 AM   #3
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I believe this is more of a threat to the gullible Sam than any true ability to turn a person into another creature. Had Gandalf had that ability, he simply could have turned all of them into innocent birds and flew away on their quest, totally invisible to the eyes of their enemies.

Merry
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Old 10-30-2007, 09:57 AM   #4
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Can Gandalf really turn people into other things?~Melilot
No, he can't, but Sam doesn't know he cant; and that's the important thing.

Also, I think there was a bit of confusion as it was Frodo who told Sam if he didn't keep quiet then he hopes Gandalf would turn him into a toad. But Frodo knew Gandalf would not harm Sam, yet again, what's important is that Sam doesn't know that.
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:47 PM   #5
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Yeah...
First of all Gandalf wouldn't turn our dear Samwise into a toad or anything, even if he did have the powers, because he is a kindly wizard.

Second, Gandalf probably doesn't have those powers also maybe because he possessed the elven Ring of Fire and his main power was fire.

Thats my opinion
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:34 AM   #6
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Second, Gandalf probably doesn't have those powers also maybe because he possessed the elven Ring of Fire and his main power was fire.

So when Gandalf threatens to roast Butterbur and melt the butter out of him - this he could have really done...
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Old 11-02-2007, 02:49 PM   #7
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Pippin may not have thought Gandalf was such a nice guy!

Gandalf probably did not have the ability to change people into different things, especially if it was against their will. I think this is kind of like the way that the Nine Riders operated: it was just said by Gandalf as a method of engendering fear in others.

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Old 11-25-2007, 12:10 PM   #8
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Yet Ulmo turned Elwing into a bird...
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:47 PM   #9
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Yet Ulmo turned Elwing into a bird...
Ulmo was not Gandalf. And Elwing was not Samwise in the circumstances. Gandalf was an Istar, i.e. Maia in limited incarnate form with limited powers, Ulmo was a Vala and one of the Aratar, and Elwing was turned to a bird to be saved (and it had probably something to do with what she represented, i.e. the unity of the two races). I would hardly see anything comparable in here
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:54 PM   #10
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I was talking about the possibility of an Ainu turning an Incarnate into another creature, not of what the Incarnate meant. As we don't know at any rate the power of Gandalf (and we know that Lthien, for instance, did amazing things with her power; and that Elwing, her offspring, devised wings for herself), we can't say for sure whether he could do that.

There's even the theory of Radagast granting Beorn the ability of shape shifting (though I don't agree with this, believing that he was born with that power).

However, I think is had more to do with the "awareness" of the spirit. Otherwise Morgoth and his agents would have only to turn their enemies into ants. As Elwing was about to die, I think this was possible.
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cesar.ewok View Post
I was talking about the possibility of an Ainu turning an Incarnate into another creature, not of what the Incarnate meant. As we don't know at any rate the power of Gandalf (and we know that Lthien, for instance, did amazing things with her power; and that Elwing, her offspring, devised wings for herself), we can't say for sure whether he could do that.
In my opinion, Gandalf felt safe enough to accept Frodo's words/say what he said himself, precisely because it was outside of his powers - which would make his words empty threats, used simply to convey a point. His words were, to him and the others, a paper tiger - otherwise, it would be a stark violation of his standing orders as an istar:
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Originally Posted by Tale of Years, Appendix B, RotK
It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear.
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Originally Posted by The Istari, UT
[The Istari] were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men and Elves by open display of power, but coming in shapes weak and humble were bidden to advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding all those whom Sauron, should he come again, would endeavour to dominate and corrupt
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:30 PM   #12
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I was talking about the possibility of Gandalf being able to do that, regardless his forbiddance to act so.
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:42 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cesar.ewok View Post
I was talking about the possibility of Gandalf being able to do that, regardless his forbiddance to act so.
Yes, I am aware of that . However, if he truly was capable, he would try to downplay Frodo's words, not underline them with a threat of his own - considering the strings attached to his mission.

To me, this is the simplest explanation - the alternatives being that he was able and: either willingly disregarded his commands (highly unlikely) or he played hide-and-seek, betting that the others would take his words as a joke, even though he was a known wizard, actually capable.
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Old 11-29-2007, 07:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Melilot Brandybuck View Post
It seems that if he did have this power, it would have come in very useful during their quest.
Honestly, I dont see how it would have really helped their quest. The only instance that I can think of where this power would have come in handy was if he had turned
Frodo into a bird to fly into Mordor. Which would have been ridiculous. Frodo would have dropped out of that smoky sky with black lungs before even reaching the Cracks of Doom.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:38 PM   #15
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Gandalf does have powers and he can make fire. He is a Maia of the air, so I don't think he could change Sam into a toad. Also Frodo is laughing in this scene, so we know that Gandalf can't really, or at least would never, even if he had the power.

But I do wonder... how did he interrogate Gollum?
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:35 PM   #16
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He is a Maia of the air
Huh? What's that supposed to mean?

There is no such classification as far as I am aware, and even if it were (somewhat through the Valar), Gandalf is said to belong to Nienna and Lrien (am I right?). I don't know about them having anything to do with air, however.

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But I do wonder... how did he interrogate Gollum?
First by kind words, then by hard words and at last intimidating him by performing fireworks.

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Originally Posted by Shadows of the Past
I endured him as long as I could, but the truth was desperately important, and in the end I had to be harsh. I put the fear of fire on him, and wrung the true story out of him, bit by bit, together with much snivelling and snarling.
I imagine it very similar to what Gandalf did to Bilbo Baggins when he persuaded him to give up the Ring. Just instead of Gandalf growing up to the ceiling imagine flames rising around him. Otherwise the scene could have looked pretty similar, I believe.
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