Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three Unforgivable Characters: Albus Dumbledore

Order of Merlin First Class. Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.


The name itself, in the Harry Potter world, exudes greatness.

Perhaps from a literary point of view, he serves as the “wise, old man”, (a concept which I learned from our Humanities I class in UPLB) who guided Harry throughout his stay at Hogwarts and laid the way for him to fully claim the title “The Boy Who Lived”.

But within the Harry Potter series, he goes beyond such mere stereotyping. I personally like the way he constructed his statements. He may be saying something fierce but he could deliver it smoothly. But at certain times he gave allowances for his emotions to show, like when the Dementors attacked Harry during a Quidditch game (in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Perhaps ultimately, after reading through the whole series, two things emerge as the ones which make Dumbledore a magnificent character for me.

The first one concerns power. It was gradually revealed in the book that he was in fact destined for greatness. But through a series of unfortunate events that happened within his immediate family, his ascent was forestalled and later somehow corrupted through his association with the great wizard Grindelwald. I don’t think he has fully divulged his regret (and subsequent self-reformations, if I can call them that) for having a skewed perspective on power. But he has left the reader a quote which somehow gives us an idea of how he handled power since his sister’s death and his defeat of Grindelwald:

It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.
(from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

He even advised Harry (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) on the concept of tyranny which situated his view on Voldermort’s desire for power.

The second was the way he chose to defeat Voldemort. Of course he was not the one who finally killed him. But he opted to go down the basics, so to speak, and sought first a firmer understanding of Voldemort’s past – Tom Riddle’s past. And this he passed on to Harry. He could have been there at the end of the series were it not for a single slip when, while searching for Horcruxes, was overwhelmed by discovering one Deathly Hallow. He died eventually but not before laying-out to Harry Potter the itinerary towards achieving the knowledge (or should I say wisdom?) and skills needed to defeat the Dark Lord. This was not immediately picked up by Harry and his best friends but they later understood Dumbledore for withholding some facts and truths from Harry. It is still fitting to describe him as omniscient and omnipresent as he is still felt up to the last book. Giving Ron the Deluminator and Hermione the book ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ was an act not only wise but also strategic as this further guided them towards what they initially thought of as an independent task of finding and destroying the Horcruxes.

It is particularly difficult to squeeze in a small entry everything about him. The purpose of this anyway is to share my thoughts on how I see him. Nothing would beat being able to read the books and the things about him.

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