Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Hidden Secret of Albus Dumbledore


It’s really a mark of how great J.K. Rowling has mastered her craft, that legions of fans are arguing for weeks on end about whether Severus Snape is a loyal but misunderstood servant of Light and Justice, or else a slimy traitor who should not only be killed in the final book if there is justice, but in an especially prolonged and painfull manner. I should say right here that if by this point you are a fan of the “Harry Potter” series, but have not yet finished the “Half-Blood Prince”, this article would be a ‘spoiler’, so you might want to stop here. Also, if you are not a fan of Harry Potter, or if the name Harry Potter rings no bells, this article will hold little value to you.

With that said, readers of HBP (as the 6th book is usually dubbed in shorthand) are appalled to learn about the death of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School and Harry Potter’s mentor. If the events of the book depict matters clearly, it also happens that Severus Snape, a teacher at Hogwarts specifically protected under Dumbledore’s trust, delivered the kiling blow with a forbidden curse. Snape was last seen fleeing the school, Death Eaters and snotty bully Draco Malfoy in tow. As a result, all sorts of debates have begun concerning the character of Snape’s heart and soul, and more to the point, predictions about what is to come in the pronounced finale to the best-selling series. The essential point comes down to a critical question: Was it Snape’s idea that Dumbledore, or was it actually Dumbledore himself? There seems to be strong support for either position, but I have found an early indicator of Dumbledore’s intentions along this line of thought.

First things first, and by that I mean that a lot of good information can be found in the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone” (American title under Scholastic publisher; all references in this article will be under the American edition), the shorthand for the title is SS. Anyway, the very first words spoken about our man Dumbledore come from Professor Minerva McGonagall, who tells Dumbledore that the only reason Voldemort has any powers that Dumbledore does not, is because Dumbledore is too “noble” (page 11). That significant word is reinforced througout the series, so it strikes me that we should key on it.

Another early reference to Dumbledore shows up when Harry meets Ron Weasley on the train to Hogwarts, and also discovers Chocolate Frogs and Famous Wizards Trading Cards. Harry’s first card is no other than Albus Dumbledore. The card’s detail says Dumbledore is famous for a number of accomplishments and merits, including “the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel.” (page 103). The story brings up this connection later in Harry’s discovery of the significance of Nicolas Flamel, and his search for the hidden stone and its importance to the mystery.

At the end of SS, in wrapping things up, Dumbledore says a number of things which are very important if they are recalled and applied to the context. To Harry’s first question, Albus “sighed very deeply”, and said “I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now.” (page 299). This is important, because it reinforces that there is information we do not receive directly, nor at the time or in the way we wish.

But before that, in the course of discussing the magical stone, Dumbledore says a number of things which need closer attention. In the first place, Albus flatly explains “As for the stone, it has been destroyed.”

Harry immediately realizes that the destruction of the stone will mean the death of Nicolas Flamel and his wife. Dumbledore explains:

“Nicolas and I had a little chat, and agreed it’s all for the best.”

“But that means he and his wife will die, won’t they?”

“They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die.”

(Page 297) It strike me as worth looking at that statement more closely, with a few thoughts.

First, one might wonder why the Flamels are willing to discuss this matter with Albus Dumbledore in the equal footing that they do.

One might note that Dumbledore and Flamel were not merely colleagues in magic, but according to the card, partners in alchemy.

One might consider that Dumbledore’s true age is difficult to know, except that he is very old by all accounts. He has no wife or children, and seems to have little planned for the future.

One might consider that Flamel and Dumbledore discovered how to make the Sorceror’s Stone together, and shared its virtues together. That would explain why Albus spoke with Nicolas; they shared the same fate.

Once the Stone was destroyed, Albus Dumbledore knew he was going to die, years before it happened. In all probability, Snape (who knew a great deal about potions, the Stone, and the events involving them) did as well. Everything after that is details about how it may best be used to accomplish good.

1 comment:

Ebon said...

The bit I find most interesting in this whole debate is that virtually no-one, on either side, thinks we have seen the last of Albus Dumbledore.