Why don't the people of Rohan recognize Gandalf's staff?

From this link, (specifically in number 8)

8. NO ONE TAKES GANDALF’S ‘WALKING STICK’

One of the subplots in Two Towers is Théoden’s possession by Saruman with the help of Gríma Wormtongue. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli along with Gandalf the White, head on to Rohan to exorcise Théoden. Before they are allowed to go in, the men demand they remove all their weapons, including Gandalf’s staff. Somehow Gandalf convinces them he is a helpless old man with a walking stick and they believe him.

We later found out Gríma specifically told them to take his staff. Are they fools? Can Gandalf Jedi mind trick people as well?

The worst part isn’t that Gandalf tricks these men to think his staff is just a walking stick. The worst part is when he walks in with his staff exposed, but it is a surprise to everyone when he reveals it to Gríma. It is a blinding white staff. How did no one see it?

So it makes sense to me that the henchmen are fools because they were ordered by Grima Wormtongue to get his staff.

• It's not the reveal of the staff that is the surprise of everyone, it is the reveal from the tattered old cloak to the shiny new white one he'd received from Galadriel. I've downvoted due to a couple gaping premise errors in the reasoning for this question. – Edlothiad Apr 19 '18 at 20:10
• To the best of my recollection, Gandalf's staff is nowhere described in the books as being "blinding white". (In fact, it's described in the door scene as a plain ashwood staff.) If it appears that way in the movie, that's just one of the many ways that person screwed things up. If you read the book, the scene makes perfect sense. – jamesqf Apr 19 '18 at 23:09
• Is it not because the Rohan had already realised that Grima's influence was poisonous to Théoden, but were powerless to do anything about it? However, they would be well aware that a wizard would be able to break the possession, so they simply pretended to not know of the power of Gandalf's staff in the hope that he would banish Saruman and restore their king to them? – Ian Kemp Apr 20 '18 at 7:57
• It seems that the guard, Hama, lets them in because he is not a fool. He himself says that he must trust his own wisdom. He is undoubtedly loyal to Theodin, not necessarily Grima Wormtongue and feels the company are there to help Theodin. – josh Apr 20 '18 at 12:14
• Wow that article on screenrant is a steaming pile of garbage – heathenJesus Apr 20 '18 at 17:14

In the novel a few different reasons are offered;

• Gandalf tries to make himself look old and infirm.

• The Rohirrim place great stock in courtesy and form.

• Gandalf refuses to go inside without his staff.

• The doorguard Háma (mightily impressed by the quality of the company that Gandalf is keeping) feels that the wizard is highly unlikely to use his staff for evil.

The guard still hesitated. 'Your staff,' he said to Gandalf. 'Forgive me, but that too must be left at the doors.' 'Foolishness!' said Gandalf. 'Prudence is one thing, but discourtesy is another. I am old. If I may not lean on my stick as I go, then I will sit out here, until it pleases Théoden to hobble out himself to speak with me.' Aragorn laughed. 'Every man has something too dear to trust to another. But would you part an old man from his support? Come, will you not let us enter?' 'The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age' said Háma. He looked hard at the ash-staff on which Gandalf leaned. 'Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in.'

The Two Towers: Chapter 6 - The King of the Golden Hall

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Null Apr 20 '18 at 17:20
• I think it's worth noting that the movie does seem to conform to this explanation as well. Háma does not appear to think Gandalf really needs his staff for walking; his shift in gaze and his mouth would be associated with a thought like, "Are you kidding me? What nonsense." But he seems to think it's not actually worth arguing over and that Gandalf isn't going to hurt his king with it, for whatever reason he has, and lets them pass. Gandalf then proceeds to feign feebleness for a short walk. – jpmc26 Apr 22 '18 at 15:20
• Likewise from the movie, when the fight breaks out, Háma stops his fellow guard from joining in. See the 1:15 marker. Yeah, he trusted Gandalf. -Edit: Just read the other answers - Credit to jared.dahl on this same point. – OhBeWise Apr 22 '18 at 23:30

Hama is not Wormtongue's man, he is Theoden's.

Hama lets Gandalf in with his staff because he wants Gandalf to save Theoden from Grima Wormtongue and Saruman. Note that after Grima's goon squad attacks the members of the Fellowship, Hama prevents an armed warrior from drawing his sword and joining the fray, letting events proceed to their final conclusion.

Gandalf is a known quantity to the Rohirrim, and obviously Hama has put his hope in Gandalf saving his King. He saw his chance and took it.

• Can you provide a source that suggests that that is Hama’s intention? He seems pretty keen on preventing him before being convinced otherwise. – Edlothiad Apr 20 '18 at 21:03
• @Edlothiad The screenplay has: "I cannot allow you before Théoden-King so armed, Gandalf Greyhame. By order of Gríma Wormtongue." Háma is distancing himself from the order of relieving Gandalf of his weapon, and using the insulting name 'Wormtongue'. In the movie universe, where Gríma has thugs around, and the king is possessed, I think Háma is wondering what he can get away with. – richardb Apr 21 '18 at 10:36

Wizards in Middle-Earth are very rare, Gandalf and Saruman two of five in all of Middle-Earth. The average person in Middle-Earth is unlikely to think of a wizard's staff as anything special. Maybe something you could swing around as a weapon, but not anything magical.

Also, Grima is called Wormtongue for a reason. Many in Rohan do not like him at all, to the extent they listen to him at all, it is because of the influence he has over Theoden.

• I don't think your first point applies...yes, wizards are rare, but neither the movie or the book gives any reason to believe they didn't know with whom they were dealing. +1 for your second point. In the movie, I think that's the only reasonable explanation. – Quasi_Stomach Apr 19 '18 at 18:19
• In the book, Háma makes it very clear that he understands that the staff is potentially helpful to a wizard. – Valorum Apr 19 '18 at 19:03
• 5 may not be many, but one of those 5 has set up permanent residence on the borders of Rohan in the not-exactly-humble, nearly indestructible Orthanc. Some may have noticed. – tjd Apr 19 '18 at 19:58