In The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf returns after killing the Balrog he says that "I am Saruman." . Why did he say that? Are the names' meanings defined like below?

Saruman means White Wizard

Gandalf means Grey Wizard

If this is true than why does he say in the next sentence that "I am Gandalf the White"?

  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/38733/…
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 1 '16 at 11:50
  • 5
    "I'm Batman" was already copyrighted. Oct 3 '16 at 16:22
  • 2
    Saruman does not mean "white wizard" and Gandalf does not mean "grey wizard". That is what those characters are (their roles, I guess you could say), not what their names mean. Oct 3 '16 at 16:34
  • Yes and KutuluMike clear it very well in answer Oct 3 '16 at 16:36

You need to listen to the entire line of dialogue or you won't understand the meaning. What Gandalf says is:

Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been.

He clearly is not claiming to be the same person, or even to have taken Saruman's name. He's claiming that he is the wizard that Saruman was supposed to be when they were sent to Middle Earth.

The five wizards were sent to Middle Earth for a reason, and given "orders". Saruman was chosen to be the leader of that group, and to make sure that the others did not stray. He was also expected to be the one to help the people of Middle Earth fight Sauron. Obviously, he didn't do any of those things.

So, after Gandalf died fighting the Balrog, he was sent back to Middle Earth to take Saruman's place, and to do Saruman's job for him. In essence, Saruman had been "fired". There is a strong implication that Saruman was stronger, or had additional power, that Gandalf the Grey did not have. But now, as Gandalf the White, he was Saruman's equal, or even the greater of the two.

In other words, Saruman had a role to play, and he failed to live up to that role. Now, Galdalf has returned to Middle Earth to be that person instead. He was trying to explain to his companions what Saruman -- who used to be a close friend to Gandalf -- was "supposed to be", before he was corrupt, and assure them that he (Gandalf) was going to make up for Saruman's failings.

  • Thanks you for details . I have to refresh my memory by watching it again.. Oct 1 '16 at 12:35
  • Love this explination! How about the fact that gandalf forgot his name? Where dI'd he go where time stretchs so and the dead can be reanimated?
    – Mike
    Jan 11 '17 at 16:18
  • 2
    Don't forget, Gandalf isn't his name, it's just what people call him. We are likely supposed to imagine he's been back to Valinor where he came from and been given a new assignment. He just arrived back in Middle Earth and is still getting his bearings.
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 11 '17 at 18:16
  • While it is not entirely clear, I think the wizards were sent in a "handicapped" form (they are lesser gods or angels) and subject to the hardships of the world. But I got the impression that "Gandalf the White" was sent back as himself (Olorin) without these limitations, which is why he must "relearn" things he once knew and why he remembers much he once had forgotten.
    – Yorik
    Jan 11 '17 at 20:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .