Seriously, do I need to introduce Gandalf? If you don't know what books he was in, and who the author was, you are not old enough to be reading blogs and I'm going to tell your mother that you are sneaking around on the internet again. (Just kidding. Skip to the end of the post for the details if you need them).
You know when you fill out profiles about yourself and the "who is your hero" question comes up? Well - I list Gandalf here. The "If you could meet any person in all of history" question? - I've answered "Gandalf" to that one, too. Even though he isn't historical. But he is iconic.
What makes Gandalf a compelling character?
I wish I had time to re-read a certain trilogy overnight to answer this question (one can never re-read these books too many times). But here's a few ideas.
He is wise, but flawed. He speaks in riddles and rarely gives a straight answer. He knows how to break spells that bind kings, and yet none of his spells could open Moria's gates. For that, he had to wait until his common sense finally kicked in.
He is mysterious, and he has a temper. We have no idea how old he is. We have only a vague idea where he comes from. Small eavesdropping hobbits are afraid he will turn them into into toads or worse things. He can wield both a staff and sword and face demons and wraiths with heartbreaking bravery. He can rage "You fool of a Took!" and it makes us smile.
The guard still hesitated. "Your staff," he said to Gandalf. "Forgive me, but that too must be left at the doors."Compelling characters engage you emotionally. They make you care about them. Sometimes they make you laugh, sometimes they frustrate you with their stubbornness, sometimes they keep you guessing. But the GREATEST characters are those who will give up everything for what they believe in. Gandalf, with Aragorn and a few other leaders, stood in front of the Black Gate, their forces hopelessly outnumbered by Sauron's, in the slim hope that the distraction would buy Frodo and Sam the time to accomplish their quest.
"Foolishness!" said Gandalf. "Prudence is one thing, but discourtesy is another. I am old. If I may not lean on my stick as I go, then I will sit out here, until pleases Theoden to hobble out himself to speak with me."
The greatest characters are faithful to the end, and though they may not start out on the right track or they make a few wrong turns along the way, by the end you are 100% behind them because somehow you know they'd be 100% behind you.
Who's your favorite compelling character?
For those of you who haven't googled him yet, Gandalf is one of the main characters (though the not the primary hero) in both the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Btw, Wikipedia has some interesting facts about where Tolkien got his idea for Gandalf, where the name Gandalf comes from, and what his original name was before it was Gandalf (thank goodness he changed it).