Gabrielle's Search for the Meaning of Life (01-02)
The Way of Friendship (03)
A Definition (04-07)
Gabrielle's Doubts (08)
Lessons Taught (09-14)
Gabrielle's Search for the Meaning Of Life Early in Season 4, Gabrielle began to consider her way of life as ignoble and faulty [A FAMILY AFFAIR (71/403)]. She took Xena on a search for a meaning to her life. When she met Eli, she felt she had found a path more valid than her chosen way of life, the life she led with Xena. She adopted his teachings, which he termed the Way of Love, and tried her best to live by his precepts. Because of this new belief, she refused to lift a weapon when the Romans threatened the Amazons, her Amazons [ENDGAME (88/420)].
Gabrielle is reunited with Xena in A FAMILY AFFAIR.
 Gabrielle uneasily assumed leadership of the Amazons knowing that war was imminent. As the fighting began, she looked uncomfortable in her leader-but-not- fighter role. One could see she was having trouble reconciling the dichotomy between the Way of Love and the truths she saw in her life experiences with Xena.
The Way of Friendship In IDES OF MARCH (89/421), Gabrielle abruptly turned from that path. She killed attacking Roman soldiers as they advanced on Xena, felled by her own chakram. It appeared that she had just sacrificed her soul by abandoning Eli's way. Xena was horrified at Gabrielle's actions, not because they were wrong or uncalled for, but because they were the opposite of what Xena thought Gabrielle believed. Gabrielle felt that she had failed everyone: herself, Eli, and Xena. Regret was evident in her face as she explained to Xena what had happened.
Gabrielle: I had a choice to do nothing or to save my friend. I chose the Way of Friendship.
A Definition Gabrielle never defined the Way of Friendship past that statement. What could the writers have been thinking? Were they trying to say that this Way of Friendship superseded both the Way of Love and the Way of the Warrior? Or is it another valid way of life from which one can choose? In light of their failure to explain this position, the following explanation is offered.
 Gabrielle's proclamation sounded like a lame excuse for failing to live up to her professed beliefs. But was it really? Webster's defines a friend as:
A person whom one knows well and is fond of, an ally, supporter or sympathizer. (1) Synonym - brotherly love
 Gabrielle has always defined her way of life in this light. The first thing she did in the Xena canon was to put her life in danger for Xena's sake [SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)]. She was giving, generous, sacrificing, compassionate, tender, and supportive -- all the attributes we would associate with a friend. Moreover, she exhibited these attributes not only to Xena, but to all the downtrodden they met such as Meleager and the Pomira. Time and again, Gabrielle followed the Way of Friendship. She lived the Way of Friendship in the broadest sense as seen in the following examples.
SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Gabrielle was willing to give herself to Draco's army if they would free the other villagers.
Gabrielle worked with Xena, Hercules, and Iolaus to free Prometheus so that humankind would not perish.
IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124)
Gabrielle rescued a small child from the enemy army, almost dying because of her actions.
THE EXECUTION (41/217)
Gabrielle believed in Meleager's innocence, putting herself in danger for defending him.
ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
Gabrielle refused to allow Xena to abandon the mission of protecting Athens just to save her own life.
 In her relationship with Xena, Gabrielle demonstrated the Way of Friendship in:
SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Gabrielle talked the Amphipolis villagers out of stoning Xena, offering Xena the first real hand of friendship.
Gabrielle admitted to Xena that Xena's faith in her gave her the courage to believe in herself.
LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN (75/407)
Gabrielle risked her life to save Xena in prison, coming within a chakram slice of losing it.
ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
Gabrielle confessed to Xena that she knew their life together could have serious consequences and she willingly accepted that fact, just to stay together.
Gabrielle pledged her loyalty to Xena, to stay with her and help her anyway she could, even knowing that Xena might never be "normal" again.
Gabrielle's Doubts There were other times when Gabrielle allowed her human weaknesses to overtake her. Jealousy, fear, and bouts of self-doubt caused her to veer off the Way of Friendship. When this happened, her relationship with Xena and others foundered, sometimes with disastrous consequences [THE DEBT (52-3/306-307)]. But she always returned to her way.
Gabrielle betrays Xena's whereabouts in THE DEBT.
Gabrielle: Do you think I could have understood the power of selfless love if it wasn't for our friendship?
[THE WAY (84/416)]
Lessons Taught Few friendships have the power to teach this lesson. That this bond of friendship could support something so powerful demonstrated how valuable and developed the idea of Friendship was to Gabrielle. Gabrielle's statement elevated the Way of Friendship far above Eli's Way of Love.
 The Way of Love as taught by Eli kept the practitioner free from the stain of aggression or getting involved in the mess of humanity. To do nothing was a great accomplishment [IDES OF MARCH [89/421]).
 On the other hand, The Way of Friendship demanded that its practitioners become part of humanity's condition, working to improve the lives of others. The concept of selfless love is the foundation for the Way of Friendship.
 Without realizing it, Gabrielle designed a valid philosophy of life. One that could be lived by people less attuned to the spiritual realm. One might say that the Way of Friendship was a higher developed model of the Way of Love.
 There is a certain validity in pursuing the Way of Love, as there is in living the Way of Friendship. These are not mutually exclusive "ways". They are tightly integrated in a service oriented, compassionate way of life. One cannot live the Way of Friendship if one cannot love.
 So what did Gabrielle actually mean when she told Xena that she had chosen the Way of Friendship? In the prison at Mt. Amaro, she admitted to herself and Xena that she knew Eli's way would not work in her life. She regretted following the false (for her) way of Eli. She realized she had not been true to her own belief system. Looking death in the face, she finally recognized, named, and accepted her Way, the one she had been living all along, the Way of Friendship.
ReferenceAgnes, Michael (Ed). (1996). Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus. Macmillan, Inc.: New York, New York.
I am a Registered nurse working in the field of computers, trying to convince nursing that a computer is a good patient care tool. I have published scholarly articles in professional journals. Writing about XWP allows me to write on a topic for which I have a real passion.
I gave up my passion for STAR TREK: TNG for Xena. I am the mother of two wonderful children who make fun of Mom for her passions.
Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), FORGET ME NOT (63/317), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), FALLEN ANGEL (91/501)
Favorite line: Xena: "I have many skills" KING CON (61/315), THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), etc.
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS (105/515)