From Book 1, Chapter 2, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien:

Don't tempt me! For I don't wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Don't tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused.

What is the meaning of the phrase in bold?

2 Answers 2


I think he says that he would take the ring out of pity for the hobbit. He talks about the weakness of the hobbit (being a small and fragile creation) which would make him (Gandalf) want to help him out of pity and his personal desire to do good. However, he knows taking the ring would also corrupt him, and only the innocence of the hobbits can carry the burden as they themselves are as corruptible as he might be.


What Gandalf is saying is that he would be tempted to take up the ring to have the power to help other people, rather than because he desires power for personal gain, or for the sake of having power.

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