For Millennials. By Millennials.
Let’s face it – when Gandalf supposedly died in the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, all our hearts sank. And when we saw him come back to life, we were almost out of this world. However, I’m sure you noticed that Gandalf the Grey and White felt like two different people. And the truth is that they were very different from each other. Let us explain why.
What you first need to know about Gandalf
Before we dive into the differences between the two, you first need to know who Gandalf really was. His journey began as one of the Maiar, which was a race of beings that assisted the creation of Arda (Earth). Of course, that meant they had incredible power as well and were sent to help Middle Earth fight against Sauron.
Even though Gandalf was extremely powerful, he chose to roam around for thousands of years in Middle Earth in his grey robes in humility. Throughout this time, he made plenty of friends among elves, dwarves, men, and hobbits. And during this time, he kept teaching and learning knowledge. All the while, he was also gathering knowledge on Middle Earth’s arch-nemesis, Sauron. And all that knowledge helped him beat the dark lord in Lord of the Rings.
Now, we know that Gandalf supposedly died at the end of Fellowship of the Ring while fighting Balrog. But, that wasn’t the case. Instead, he returned in The Two Towers, but this time as Gandalf the White. However, he never felt the same. He was now more powerful than ever before, sent back by the god Eru to Middle Earth to continue his mission. And the first change we saw was Gandalf’s staff, clothes, and hair all became white. But, there were a lot more changes in him than just that.
What was the difference between the Grey Wizard and White?
Firstly, when Gandalf returned as Gandalf the White, he had a lot more knowledge and wisdom than before. He had all of his memories with him too, but that much wisdom changed him as a person. Before, we saw Gandalf smoking pipe with Hobbits and doing a fireworks show for Bilbo Baggins. But, ever since he returned, he became more cautious and reserved. The actor who played Gandalf, Ian McKellen, himself said that Gandalf the White was less funny and not down-to-earth. So, there was a big personality change.
Secondly, Gandalf’s white robes and staff also depicted his promotion as head of the wizards. This was after Saruman the White betrayed the forces of good and the order to join hands with Saruman. As a result, Gandalf became the leader of the wizards.
Thirdly, Gandalf the white was more generous when it came to using his powers. In The Two Towers, he quickly used his powers to overcome King Theoden of Rohan. Moreover, in Return of the King, he was faster and more capable of using his white staff.
Now, these powers and wisdom did make Gandalf the White more formidable. However, it also made him far less fun and different from the Gandalf the Grey that we so dearly loved. Just like Frodo and Bilbo, he lost a part of himself in the battle against Sauron that he may never recover. But, we could get to see his more cheerful side in the Lord of the Rings Amazon TV show, which is set back in the era when he was still a Maiar. So, hopefully we might get to see our dear old cheerful Gandalf again!