The Strong, Silent Type

Perhaps it’s because my son can’t get enough of the animated Hobbit and Return of the King movies from the late ’70s, but as I sit to write this post about heroes, three immediately come to mind:

  • Gandalf
  • Aragorn
  • Samwise Gamgee

Why these three? Because when it comes to heroes,  I prefer the strong, silent type.

Gandalf, the wizard who single-handedly took on a Balrog, moves through both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books with quiet strength. After escaping his imprisonment by Saruman, Gandalf’s friends ask where he’s been. The answer he gives is the equivalent of, “Oh, I got stuck in traffic.” He’s powerful. He’s wise. He’s humble.

Through much of The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn, son of Arathorn and heir to the throne of Gondor, is known to his companions as the dangerous and rugged ranger, Strider. He keeps to himself, says only what needs to be said, and isn’t afraid of battling a glut of orcs to fulfill his promise to protect the ring and its bearer. Strong. Quiet. Humble.

Samwise Gamgee, hobbit gardener and friend of Frodo, is the unlikeliest hero of the lot, but his character arc is amazing when you think about it. He moves from being afraid to leave his home to carrying the burden of the ring to save Frodo’s life. Sam steps up when needed and willingly gives of himself for the sake of others. He is quiet. He is certainly humble. And he’s stronger than anyone knows, even himself.

Sure, I like heroes who barrel onto the scene and take out the bad guys. But when I think through my favorite books, it’s always those more subtle heroes who stand out as my favorites. I’m just a sucker for the strong, silent type.

How about you?