Lord of the Rings: Why Did Saruman Hate Gandalf?

Although he was officially labeled a “disturber of the peace” by hobbits in the Shire, Gandalf was one of the most likable characters in all of The Lord of the Rings. Only a select few characters found a reason to dislike the Grey Wizard. However, Saruman the White, who was supposed to be his ally, found a reason to resent Gandalf, and it had everything to do with pride and a Ring of Power.

The most notable scene that Gandalf and Saruman shared occurred in The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo had just begun his quest when Gandalf went to Isengard to ask the council of the White Wizard. There, he informed Saruman that Sauron’s One Ring had finally been found in the Shire. Immediately concerned, the White Wizard expressed his desire to ally with Sauron, but Gandalf refused, which commenced a battle between the wizards that Saruman easily won. At that point, Saruman saw Gandalf as an enemy, but Saruman’s disdain ran far deeper than Gandalf’s refusal to join Sauron.

RELATED: Lord of the Rings’ Darkest Theory Gives Gollum’s Name a New Meaning

At the very end of the First Age, the Valar entered Middle-earth, and in the War of Wrath, the Valar destroyed Morgoth, his forces and his strongholds. During the battle, though, much of the world was changed. As a result, the Valar swore to never directly interfere in the events of Middle-earth for fear of destroying it. So, when Sauron -- one of Morgoth’s former lieutenants -- emerged in the Third Age as a substantial threat, the Valar chose to oppose him with more subtle actions. Thus, the Valar sent five powerful Maia to Middle-earth to be the Istari.

In the guise of wizards, Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast and two blue wizards entered Middle-earth to oppose Sauron, but they were forbidden from directly interfering with force. Their mission, which aligned with the Valar’s oath, was to rally and encourage the free people of Middle-earth in their fight against the Dark Lord. For a time, the wizards did their jobs, but that soon fell apart. The two blue wizards seemingly disappeared; Radagast retreated to spend time with his animals, and there was a conflict between Gandalf and Saruman. In fact, Saruman’s grudge against Gandalf actually went back to when they first entered Middle-earth.

RELATED: Lord of the Rings: Could Smaug Have Destroyed the One Ring With His Fire?

Gandalf was the last wizard to appear in Middle-earth. When he arrived at the Havens of Mithlond, he was greeted by the Elf Lord Cirdan. He quickly recognized that Gandalf was a Maiar and that he would be the greatest of the Istari. So, Cirdan gave him Narya -- the Ring of Fire -- to use in his mission of opposing Sauron. Gandalf kept Narya a secret from almost everyone, but somehow Saruman found out and resented him for it.

Saruman believed that he was more powerful, and thus, he should have been given the ring. Ironically, the first part of his claim was actually correct. As an associate of Aulë, the Valar’s master smith, Saruman was stronger and more powerful than Gandalf. Cirdan, however, recognized something other than sheer power. In Gandalf, Cirdan saw the wisdom of Manwë, who was the King of the Valar. In fact, Gandalf was said to be the wisest of all the Maiar. Thus, Cirdan looked to the future and gave Narya to the one who would use it best. In the end, Cirdan was correct because Saruman betrayed the Istari and joined Sauron while Gandalf accomplished his purpose.

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About The Author
Blake Hawkins (384 Articles Published)

Blake Hawkins has written TV and movie features and recaps for CBR since March of 2021. He writes about everything from NCIS to Stranger Things to The Walking Dead and everything in between. Mostly, though, he most enjoys writing about Star Wars. In fact, as recent graduate of Greensboro College's honors program, Blake wrote his thesis on Star Wars and its religious connections. He now lives with his family in Lynchburg VA and is an avid outdoorsman. Feel free to contact him by email at [email protected], or find him on Facebook.

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