MBTI: Gandalf- INFJ

gandalf

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.

Would you believe you could do it if you were these losers?

Would you believe you could do it if you were these losers?

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.”

And then there's Balrog's fire which incinerates everybody.

And then there’s the Balrog’s fire which incinerates everybody.

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.

Bro u r getting blud on my white cloak

bro u r getting Uruk-hai blud on my white cloak

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?”

First day of Wizard school.

First day of Wizard school.

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.

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7 Responses to “MBTI: Gandalf- INFJ”

  1. I think Gandalf is an ENTP. His introduction to Bilbo in “The Hobbit” screams it (he walks up to a hobbit he barely knows and engages him in verbal banter, for the sheer joy of messing with Bilbo and seeing his reactions, then brings a bunch of dwarves uninvited to Bag End) and the trend continues through the rest of the movies. He’s playful, disorganized, overly-analytical, a restless wanderer on a quest for endless experiences and information, loves to banter, and improvises on the fly. He procrastinates at making decisions and lets other people decide for him. He rarely arrives when he’s expected and is easily distracted; he rarely finishes what he starts, but instead chases one idea after another all across Middle-earth.

    Compare his personality and behavior to that of Galadriel — she’s aloof and impossible to get to know well, quietly analytical, easily influenced by others’ emotions, deliberate, content to stay in one place, and has a narrowly focused, specific vision for the future. She’s polite even when being harsh, and purposeful in all her actions. She is the INFJ.

    • Taylor Says:

      Hehe, I’d actually like for Gandalf to be an ENTP, but when you look at him next to Radagast the Brown (at least in the film), the ENTP oddness just isn’t there. Not that you would go solely off of that especially Radagast hasn’t been “officially” typed but I think what we’re dealing with here is a difference of the sexes and races. Galadriel and Gandalf have entirely different backgrounds and pasts to consider, but if you look at how Tolkien describes him as being one where his true strength is only known to those that “know them well” much like the INFJ that often gets mistaken for the ISFJ.

      Compare to ENTP, who has to learn to shut their mouths and talk down about themselves for people to not get the idea that they see themselves as the center of the universe.

      • What about an INTP? I just can’t see an INFJ inviting a bunch of people into someone else’s house and finding it amusing while they’re totally destroying the place. =D

        • Taylor Says:

          That’s funny. I went over INTP before anything else actually, since I can’t help but see wizards as Rational types as a whole, but I just don’t see INTP being as helpful as Gandalf was. At least not in the mentor-like approach that he takes.

          I think that his Ni (and his infinite wisdom) allowed him to know that in the long run, this was the way to do it and Bilbo was going to have to simply get out of his shell.

          • I suppose he could be an INFJ, but I have a hard time seeing him as one 100% — just like you can’t see him 100% of an INTP. He’s too helpful for an INTP, and too distracted and disorganized for an INFJ. Oh, well. He’s Gandalf — we love him even if he does break MBTI! 😉

        • harrei Says:

          Yes, but there was an underlying purpose to that other than watching the poor bastard suffer wasn`t there? He was manipulating Bilbo’s surroundings in an effort to dissuade Bilbo from remaining home alone and forgoing the adventure. As an intuitive, Gandalf is not very materialistic as well, which might also be another factor in his amusement (“i find it interesting how this seems to bother him. They are mere objects.”) . Firstly Gandalf is focused on saving people, so the personal feelings of one hobbit, however endearing, may not seem as significant in the long run.

          • Since rewatching the films, I’ve decided Gandalf is an INFJ after all. It was all about organizing others to fulfill his greater vision for Middle-earth. 🙂

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