MBTI: Gandalf- INFJ
There’s really so many options for the wisest of all Middle-earthlings. While many believe him to be INTJ, there’s not enough logic and coldness to his character to be of the Rational group. He’s similar to Jedi in many respects; wise, powerful, caretaker of those weaker than him.
As before, “wise” is a key word when it comes to Idealists, none more so than INFJs, the Counselor. I’m closing any debate!
It should be noted that, also like Jedi, Gandalf is shown to have an affinity for weaker beings. Gandalf’s befriends the Hobbits; hairy-footed midgets nobody else thinks twice about. INFJs have the ability to see the potential in others that many ignore. So while everybody else is telling Gandalf that somebody else needs to take the ring to be destroyed, or that Bilbo is the right thief for the job, Gandalf sees beyond the timid and weak shell- even when the Hobbits themselves don’t see it.
This is partially due to Ni. Seeing the overarching scheme of things, Gandalf makes his decisions based on what’s best for everyone in the long. But doing things solely best on what would be best in the long run is more of an INTJ’s way of thinking, while Gandalf’s auxiliary Fe is what has him not only choosing the weakest of Middle Earth’s inhabitants for the most important jobs, but giving them just the right information and wisdom they need to keep pushing though. An INTJ says “Just do it already.” The INFJ says “You need to do this.” And add in a few more encouraging words that would fit nicely as some LOTR fan’s only tattoo.
In Unfinished Tales by Tolkien, he describes Gandalf as the “greatest spirit and wisest” and says that “warm and eager was his spirit, for he was the Enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments grey as ash, so that only those that knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within.”
Rationals are known for their love of knowledge and intelligence, but it’s the Idealists that prize wisdom in life. It’s not enough to know the technical details of something or to be an expert on something without being able to properly pass that knowledge on. Gandalf’s purpose on Middle-earth in the first place is not to do things for everyone and protect them from any bad thing that may happen, but to instruct them of how to handle those situations.
His existence could be summed up with the old adage of “teach a man to fish…” Gandalf is clearly more likely to teach someone to fish than he is just give them the thing.
It’s also interesting that it’s noted that “only those that knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within” as INFJs can be hard to get to know. In conversation they may even be forgotten if the group has even a single extravert as they like to think on their words so thoroughly that by the time they decide on what they’re going to say, the group has moved on, topically. It’s this nature that may have some confusing them for ISFJs.
Certain situations like this can also lead to more frustrating moments for the type as they can have a hard time expressing themselves when interactions don’t feel the friendliest to them. Tolerating those that the INFJ sees as stubborn, arrogant, rude, etc. is not something they do very well so while they may not say it, it’s written all over their Fe faces and they can’t hide it.
But if you can find a subject of interest to the INFJ, their eyes light up and conversation can go all night. As solitary as Gandalf is, he’s also shown to appreciate the company of others by his visit to Bilbo the night the dwarves met for their quest to defeat Smaug. He wasn’t rushing to get business started but enjoyed the time beforehand as well as anybody else there. This also goes for Bilbo’s birthday at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Compare all this to Saruman’s INTJ- cold, calculating, powerful and reasonable. So reasonable in fact that he sides with Sauron for fear that he’d be on the losing side otherwise. It wasn’t out of a sense of dread that his morality decays but…it just made sense to side with the team that has the best players. Not all INTJs would be so cold in their decision to turn from good to bad, but that’s not necessarily how Saruman would see it in the first place, though it’s obvious to us and obvious to Gandalf.
“Tell me, friend, when did Saruman the Wise abandon reason for madness?”
While INFJs may hold their tongue, part of the reason is often times due to being bluntly honest if they were to say anything at all. In fact, Gandalf is meant to be what Saruman would have been had he not turned to the dark side, so to speak. An interesting look at the difference between the two lead Ni users.