Gandalf vs. Dumbledore: Wizard Smackdown!
In the past decade, the silver screen has brought some of the most epic wizards to life for millions of people throughout the world. Whether or not they have actually read Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, there can’t be many people who can claim ignorance as to who Dumbledore and Gandalf are.
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry has dedicated his life to protecting the world from evil wizards. During the reign of Lord Voldemort, he established the Order of the Phoenix. He plays an integral role in protecting Harry Potter and training him to defeat the Dark Lord, and ultimately gives his life – an act which was essential in securing the final demise of Voldemort.
Gandalf the Grey was the last of the Istari wizards in Middle Earth. Entrusted by the Elf Círdan with the Ring of Fire to aid him in his labors and that he might “rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill.” Gandalf establishes the Fellowship of the Ring in order to defeat the evil Sauron and destroy the One Ring. Gandalf dies in a duel with a Balrog, protecting Frodo and other members of the Fellowship. Revealing his true identity as a Maiar, or demigod, he is sent back as Gandalf the White to lead the Fellowship to victory.
As a wizard, Dumbledore’s magical abilities are unrivalled by those of anyone else in his world. He is also a master alchemist and was the person who discovered twelve ways that dragon’s blood can be used. Rather than needing the invisibility cloak, he is able to become invisible using his own magic spell. Additionally, he can conjure Gubraithian Fire and do a number of other spells that not only serve to protect himself and others, but also that can inflict injury during a duel. Additionally, he can aparate from one place to another in a single instant, which is a big time-saver if he wants to travel anywhere or even go across the room.
Dumbledore’s wand is one of the most well-recognized wands in existence because of the power that it grants its owner. Having won it by defeating Grindlewald, one of the most dangerous dark wizards of all time (second only to Voldemort), this wand is said to make its wielder invincible during any duel.
Dumbledore’s wisdom also gives him a distinct edge. While he may not be all-powerful, he definitely has an acute intellect. He has vast experience with magic, which gives him knowledge of spells and enchantments. He is also well acquainted with human nature, which allows him to predict what his pupils, associates, and enemies will do. With his great understanding, he is able to tutor young wizards and help them achieve their highest potential. He also knows that the greatest power is love, which cannot be imitated by any spell or bit of magic. In the Harry Potter series, he is the embodiment of all that is good and true.
In the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is the essence of power. Having originally been an immortal spirit, he takes the form of Gandalf the Grey when he is entrusted with an important mission. As an Istari, he is almost a god, which means that he is innately more powerful than any human or other mortal creature. While Gandalf did die in his fight with a Balrog, he comes back to life even more powerful so that he can finish his mission as Gandalf the White.
Although Gandalf is all powerful, he does not actually fight Sauron himself because his ultimate purpose is to assist the living in achieving their freedom. Through his wisdom, kindness, and power, he is able to help mortals reach their potential.
Gandalf has two main implements with which he fights: his staff, and the sword. He is able to use his power whether or not he has either of these tools. He can create and control fire, create magical objects, and control non-magic objects. His great mental powers allow him to know and alter the will of others.
While he is a great wizard, Dumbledore is far from perfect. He admits that he has, on occasion, allowed his emotions to get the best of him. Also, he is tempted by a great desire for power, which is evident in his desire for the Hallows. When he was young, he put his own education and other pursuits above his family, leaving his mother to care for his sister, Kendra. This ultimately caused the death of his mother.
Dumbledore’s penchant for keeping secrets may also be a hindrance to his own happiness and success. He displays a certain pride in the way that he dealt with Harry Potter, withholding information that could be quite useful, and insists on completing certain tasks on his own without accepting valuable help or advice from others.
Finally, his carelessness in putting on a cursed ring would have ultimately proved his demise, even if he hadn’t asked Snape to use the Killing Curse on him. This moment shows that Dumbledore, while wise and analytical, is not all-knowing.
Gandalf also seems to have an overwhelming trust of others, which may be why he was fooled by Saruman and trapped in the tower of Orthanc. He also is tempted by a desire for power, which is why he asks Frodo not to give him the Ring.
Both of these wizards had great power in their realms. While each of them assisted in the defeat of their enemy, they played the role of wise confidants and guides. Which one is truly a better wizard? Opinions vary significantly from person to person, but one thing is for sure; they are both great characters who are vital to the plot and overall meaning of their stories.