Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Loki the Trickster in Tolkien's Works

After our class on Tuesday I was reading a book on the Mythologies that inspired Tolkien’s work and it suggested that there is, in fact, a very prominent Loki character in his books: Gandalf! At first I was skeptical but she makes a good case. 
The book is called “Myth and Middle-earth” by Leslie Ellen Jones. She outlines several similarities between the two characters: Gandalf’s love of fireworks and Loki’s association with fire and magic, both characters propensity to set events in motion and then remove himself from the situation to let it take its course, often showing up at the last minute to fix things (or meddle them up more). Certain races are skeptical of Gandalf, seeing him as a figure who consistently starts trouble. Jones argues that he is a more good guy version of Loki, but inspired by Loki nonetheless. 

Thoughts on this? 
(She also connects Gandalf to Odin and most of all the wizard Merlin.)


Varda said...

I think this parallel between Loki and Gandalf makes sense if one removes the aspects of "bad and good" in regard to the characters. Loki and Gandalf both remind me of the classic annoying friend whose actions can be irritating but whose presence is still necessary and, in the case of Gandalf especially, idolized. Loki and Gandalf do exhibit an admiration of fire, and they both tend to catalyze events without actually participating in those events all the time. In this way, also, we can think of JK Rowling's Dumbledore, because he is constantly putting Harry into situations without necessarily providing much help or explanation. At the end of the series, certain characters ask Harry why he follows the word of a wizard who won't even tell him where to start or what to do once he reaches a destination. Gandalf and Loki both strike me as similar to this. They are incredibly vague and yet somehow incredibly important.

Estë said...

I agree with you completely. I thought that Gandalf was a very interesting character to relate to Loki, mostly because none of us in class would have associated one of the good guys like Gandalf with one of the (mostly/vaguely) bad guys like Loki. But there is certainly an argument to be made for the similarities between the two. They are both crucial to their respective storylines.

Ossë said...

I never would have considered Gandalf as a Loki-figure, but it sounds like the author had some good points! Now that I think about it, I can see how Gandalf could be at least partially inspired by Loki. I think the main difference between Gandalf and Loki is in their intentions. Loki seems to cause trouble and do bad things for the fun of it, but Gandalf actually wants to see evil defeated. I also agree with Varda about Dumbledore being similar to Gandalf; I was actually thinking the same thing. Both wizards seem to let the characters they mentor do dangerous things with minimal preparation or explanation. However, I think this helps the characters grow. The characters (Frodo, Bilbo, Harry) have to become more confident and independent, and in the end, they succeed (for the most part).