How is Gandalf the White a "significantly more powerful figure" than Gandalf the Gray?

  • After his fight with the Balrog of Moria, Gandalf changed:

    Gandalf was sent back as a significantly more powerful figure; Gandalf the White.
    - "Gandalf - Gandalf the White", Wikipedia

    What are Gandalf's new powers as Gandalf the White? What feats could he accomplish that he was not able to perform as Gandalf the Grey?

    Are you asking for a sort of "Gimme the powers' list" thing? :P

    @Alenanno No, a general representation of the power difference.

    Short version - before, he was in an extra-limited human body, after, he regained SOME of the power of the Maiar that he was denied (on purpose) as G. the Gray.

    I think of it as Gandalf "leveling up".

    Wouldn't you normally *lose* levels if your body dies?

    for Gandalf, *What **does** kill you makes you stronger*

    @b_jonas: Think in terms "death removes current debuffs; debuff 'mortal coil' removed."

    Remember in Final Fantasy 1, how half-way through the game all of your classes transform into more powerful versions of themselves? That's Gandalf.

    Nitpick perhaps but it's 'Grey' and NOT 'Gray'. Just like Tolkien was unhappy to say the least that American publishers used the word 'farther' instead of properly 'further' (a sin Peter Jackson is also guilty of) I can't see him using the spelling 'Gray' (or 'gray') and in any case a name is a name and it was 'Grey'/'grey' (which I see is in the body of the question but not the title).

  • dlanod

    dlanod Correct answer

    9 years ago

    Eru, the Authority, sent back Gandalf with additional power, knowledge and wisdom.

    He was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or governors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at the moment of its failure. 'Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done'. Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by the 'gods' whose business is only with this embodied world and its time; for he passed 'out of thought and time'.

    Prior to Gandalf's return, he would not have been able to rescue Theoden by breaking Saruman's spell and inspiring and leading the Rohirrim. Nor would he have been able to face down Saruman, as originally Saruman had been the leader of the Istari and hence more powerful than Gandalf.

    So Gandalf sacrificed himself, was accepted, and enhanced, and returned. 'Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.' Of course, he remains similar in personality and idiosyncrasy, but both his wisdom and power are much greater. When he speaks he commands attention; the old Gandalf could not have dealt so with Theoden, nor with Saruman. He is still under the obligation of concealing his power and of teaching rather than forcing or dominating wills, but where the physical powers of the Enemy are too great for the good will of the opposers to be effective he can act in emergency as an 'angel'

    Gandalf's barring of the Witch-King from Minas Tirith is another example. Previously, he merely aided Elrond's flood in keeping the Nazgul from Rivendell. After his return he was able to single-handedly impede the Witch-King.

    He alone is left to forbid the entrance of the Lord of Nazgûl to Minas Tirith, when the City has been overthrown and its Gates destroyed

    Excerpts from Letter 156.

    Do you have *any* source that states it is Eru and not the Valar that send Gandalf/Olorin back? As far as I was aware, Eru takes a very hands off approach to godhood and does not intervene at all within Arda.

    It's also in Letter 156, stating that because Gandalf "passed out of thought and time", he had to have been sent back by "the Authority" (Eru) as this was beyond the abilities of the Valar.

    @Sardathrion If you read the Silmarillion, you know that the istari are Maiar, and that only Eru Illuvater can return them to life/really interact with them.

    Strictly speaking, they are bound to the world until its unmaking, with the exception of Melkor who was thrust into the void.

    @acolyte: Eru is the only one that can create life. The Valars can (and did) restore several elves to life -- Golorfindel for example. Humans are move beyond Arda and thus cannot be returned -- that is Eru's gift to mankind. Maiar are bound to the world and thus under the control of the valars.

    @Sardathrion I do not think the Valar can _create_ life; the Elves are merely restored to life. Even Aulë couldn't give full life to his Dwarves; it was Eru who gave them sapience.

    Are you sure Saruman was the leader of the Istari? My understanding was that he was head of the white council only.

    Gandalf says Saruman is the leader of his order in the movies, and I believe this is right out of the books. The White Robes are for the leader, which is why Gandalf is contemptuous of "Saruman of Many Colors", and why he becomes the White Wizard himself on his return.

    As Gandalf the white he was far more powerful than Saruman as he was able to break his staff & cast him from the white council. In his previous visit to Isengard as Gandalf the grey Saruman had been too strong for him & had been able to imprison him in Orthanc.

    @horatio Well, minus the prophecy about Morgoth and a new battle, anyway... And Saruman of course was lost also.

    @a_a Correct, White Council. And if it was up to Galadriel it would have been Gandalf but iirc Gandalf didn't want to be head of the Council. Can't say I remember 'head of' Istari ever being mentioned though maybe it has.

    @Oldcat White Council. 'Order' is an invention of the film and so he's referring to the Council. And Galadriel wanted Gandalf but that didn't turn out that way until he returned from the dead. And he was made White more so because of his deed of saving the Company from the Balrog. I don't remember it being said exactly how the colouring worked; Radagast was Brown and the other two iirc were Blue (and mentioned more in the letters). But certainly Saruman was surprised that Gandalf was now White. And furious at Wormtongue for throwing the palantír of course.

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