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

Gandalf was sent back as a significantly more powerful figure; Gandalf the White.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandalf#Gandalf_the_White

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?

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Are you asking for a sort of "Gimme the powers' list" thing? :P –  Alenanno Mar 18 '12 at 23:46
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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. –  DVK Mar 19 '12 at 4:25
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I think of it as Gandalf "leveling up". –  sunpech Mar 19 '12 at 6:26
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for Gandalf, What does kill you makes you stronger –  DavRob60 May 11 '12 at 12:54
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@b_jonas: Think in terms "death removes current debuffs; debuff 'mortal coil' removed." –  SF. Dec 25 '12 at 22:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 64 down vote accepted

Eru sent back Gandalf with additional power, knowledge and wisdom. Prior to his return he would not have been able to rescue Theoden by breaking Saruman's spell and inspiring and leading the Rohirrim, nor face down Saruman, as originally Saruman had been the leader of the Istari and hence more powerful than Gandalf. Gandalf's barring of the Witch-King from Minas Tirith is another example. He merely aided Elrond's flood in keeping the Nazgul from Rivendell prior to his return. After his return he was able to directly face down and stop the Witch-King.

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 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'

From Letter 156.

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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. –  Sardathrion May 11 '12 at 7:34
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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. –  dlanod May 11 '12 at 7:47
    
@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. –  acolyte Jan 31 '13 at 18:07
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@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 Feb 1 '13 at 7:37
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@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. –  Andres F. Dec 30 '13 at 7:10

Gandalf the white is more powerful because the whole story is about the fall. The fall from grace, wisdon, loyalty...anything. Anything that sets the creator apart from the sub-creators, ie-Eru from Valar, Maiar, elves, men, etc. All the main characters experience a fall of some kind, some repent some don't, thus we observe the duality of good vs evil as polar expressions of divinity. This is a recurring theme. As Gandalf's "fall" is based on a sacrifice to the higher good (Eru), his re-embodiment is a divine blessing for the benefit of the sub-creators. He cannot conquer, only inspire. He cannot force anything to his will but he can use force to preserve the will of others. He is, in a sence, Eru! The Valar and Maiar are "the offspring of the thought of illuvitar". Which we can take to mean, aspects of the divine self. Gandalf the White is God, embodied and Sauron is mearly dancing to the divine tune. Gandalf's greatest power is his ability to know how Sauron will react. If you knew all the moves your opponent would make beforehand, could you really lose at chess? No. The overall message is the choice of the sub-creators to follow the wisdom of the creator. Frodo is the hero who trusted, had faith in, Gandalf. As is Sam, Aragorn, Theoden and even Butterbur. Who trusted Sauron?

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Gandalf is overall more powerful as Gandalf the White. He is far more charismatic and has some limited foresight. He was able to defeat Saruman, breaking Saruman's power over Theoden and breaking his staff after the Ents took Isenguard. However, he was not all-powerful, seeing as the Witch-King of Angmar broke Gandalf's staff. Still, he is obviously more powerful, since, as Gandalf the Grey, he was defeated by Saruman, then he later broke his staff and cast him from the Istari and the White Council.

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Gandalf was sent back by , I assume, the Valar, who sent him in the first place. This is because he had not yet finished his task, which was to oppose Sauron and save Middle-Earth from him. The fact that he was sent back as a white wizard, instead of a gray, would tell you something if you had done your research. The "wizards", or Istari, are ranked by color of their robes. Saruman has white robes because he is the most powerful. Gandalf has grey, because he is less powerful, but still one of the most powerful, possibly the second most powerful of the five. When he was sent back to Middle-Earth as a white Istari, he gained a significant amount of power that came with the rank, or the other way around, however you see it. So, it is expected that he would be more powerful after his return.

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Hi @DMG007! You're probably getting downvotes because of the aggressiveness of your answer, and also because you don't cite any references for your assertions. –  Andres F. Jan 31 '13 at 2:33
    
@AndresF. he's also wrong. The Valar didn't send him back, only Eru has that power. –  acolyte Jan 31 '13 at 18:08
    
Have you got any proof? –  MadTux Mar 10 '13 at 8:18

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