My case against Albus Dumbledore

Writing this feels a bit odd, mainly because it was the last project of sorts that I had started before I left you for a long while. However, you couldn’t have known that. It feels good I am supposed to finally finish this whole project and share it with you. When I started I knew this would be a big project spanning over several posts and truthfully, I do not even know how many people would be interested. Sometimes I live in a bubble thinking that everyone likes what I like to some extent. They hardly ever do ironically enough. What I did not know at the start was how this project would pan out. Especially how many notes I would accumulate and the absolute disaster of plot holes I would stumble upon. Here I was with stacks of notes different scenarios going through my head that spanned from Harry being missing for hours to James and Lily being mourned at least a full day before they were dead. I digress because that is just too horrid to think about.

If you have grown up with Harry Potter you will be well aware of Albus Dumbledore. The headmaster of Hogwarts. Over the books Harry seems to feel that Dumbledore is a good person, he is kind if a bit odd but overall simply good. In the later books, he becomes a strong leader of the war, and Harry is devastated when he dies. He even feels bad in the later series when he is angry or upset with Dumbledore himself and his actions. When I first read the story I felt as Harry did, Dumbledore did the best he could and he was good even if he was frustrating at times. I thought Dumbledore was smart, and that he acted to the best of his abilities.

In the end, all that happened to Harry and everyone else either couldn’t be helped or was for the betterment of society or rather ‘for the greater good’. Sure, some things were bad or questionable. But surely Dumbledore did those things because it all fitted into this greater plan. It was needed and necessary and it was therefore good or good enough. After a recent re-read, some fanfic reading, and a whole lot of introspection I am here to present my case against Albus Dumbledore. I feel it’s time, especially being more Lily and James’ age, instead of Harry’s to sit down and reflect upon the actions of the great headmaster of Hogwarts.

What is considered canon?
I feel the need to explain some of my process as it will help you understand how much work was put into this. I didn’t try to cut corners or assume things. I wanted to be able to back up every single shred of evidence against Dumbledore with canon. I will still conclude and make connections but this way of working makes you able to go back to the material and look for yourself before agreeing or disagreeing. So, let us start on this fascinating journey.

We can make this long or short but the canon I will follow is the following:

– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (PS)
– Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (COS)
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (POA)
– Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (GOF)
– Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (OOTF)
– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP)
– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows* (DH)

I have the British print version not that it matters but just for you to be aware. In the past, I have read all the books in Dutch. This is how I knew the original story, this doesn’t have any impact (the translation is very well done bar some names) on this post but I did want to add it. The audio version I am familiar with is the Steven Fry version. The movies will not be considered canon, if or when something from the movie is used to underlie a point made in the original canon I will let you know. What I mean is when something is explained differently or shown in the movie it will not undercut the written word. In addition, the cursed child is not considered canon by me and will thus be not considered canon in this post. I can give a whole heap of reasons which I will give some a bit later on. The posts and stories on Pottermore/The Wizarding World will not supplement the original canon as it doesn’t have to, a book should be able to stand on its own. Other books or films (i.e. the Fantastic Beasts series, and the Hogwarts-related books) will not be considered at all in this post. With the latter being that I haven’t read those and again the series should be able to stand on its own. Also, I do not think it’s needed as none of them are called ‘Albus Dumbledore was great and you (as in me) are wrong’. Also, even if Dumbledore was the absolute sweetest best person on planet earth it does not negate his actions towards everyone in the time Harry knew him and before that. You can be sweet as pie at every stage of your life but if you kill someone in cold blood you are still a killer. Actions have consequences and we can take a look at some of those actions today. In addition, NOTHING the author has said on Twitter, in interviews, or anywhere else will be used as an opinion worth more than anyone else’s opinion. Having said that, this post will be my opinion alone based on the canon. I do urge you to look into it yourself but I tried my hardest to be impartial and just simply lay out the facts. It’s no use saying the author explained it on Twitter or somewhere else as I simply don’t care. A bit more on that later.

*To me, the original canon opens on page 1 of book one and closes at the end of page 613 of my copy of the very last book (this excludes the chapter 19 years later). Because it doesn’t add anything and it frustrates me to no end to think about this chapter. For this series, I did read it again and it didn’t add anything so I didn’t have any relevant notes on it.

Navigating the references
I will not use direct quotes unless stated with the use of “” because I have no reason to type over a whole book in my spare time. It will give you the gist of what it says though but copyright is a thing I do not want to deal with. This is a commentary on the book not a re-read of the book. Besides this I will refer to the books as the abbreviations stated above between brackets, the first number will be the chapter of the book the second will be the page number. This way you will find what I want to underline. In addition, I will not use references to back up everything such as Harry lives as the Dursley’s this is not a scientific paper and I do not feel the need because you are familiar with canon. If you ever doubt where I found something feel free to ask below. An example of a reference is (PS:1,3), I say something about the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone found on page 3. I do admit that some things play out differently in the books than in the films and with some bits, I was a bit confused as I had taken the film version as what must have happened in the book. An example of this is the third book where the whole scene with Sirius, Remus, and Pettigrew happens, Snape is unconscious for the whole scene, and there is also no howling in the woods by Hermione. The children are saved solely by Sirius Black, which changes dynamics and ideas in my opinion. But we aren’t here to talk about him.

The Cursed Child

Here is the thing, The Cursed Child wasn’t originally written by the author. It goes against the original canon (i.e. having a time turner when those were destroyed, Harry having a random blanket from his youth). As far as judging it as a story written by people who are not the author (also known as Fan Fiction) it’s really bad. It’s simply not good. It doesn’t only go against what we know of the world, of its limitations, and to be fair of the law and what is allowed. It also goes against what we know of our heroes. All the characters in this story are so different from the people we have come to love over all these years. When you read a story you pour yourself into it. Not always but for me, with this one, I did. We all have our own set of heroes. We have our own Hermione, Ron, and even our own Harry. I love my Harry he is great but he is different from yours and that’s fine. Yes, they overlap they have to but my Harry is mine alone. Having said that my Harry would never do the things the cursed child Harry does. But canon Harry striped of all the ways I love him, all the little things that make him mine still would never treat his family the way they are described. None of the characters in The Cursed Child even feel remotely like their canon counterparts. I say this because I didn’t get the story from the screenplay book. I went to the play, and I was left unimpressed with the story. I saw this story in the best possible way, in the way they wanted it to be told and it was bad. I love theatre, it’s the best thing. I went a lot as a child and to me, there is nothing more magical than good play. I have gone to plays in London before and they are amazing. For this one the budget and the scenery are great. The play itself, and how it was set up were amazing. The cast was great. The story just simply sucked so bad I have no other words for it. I was sitting there bewildered as to why all these people were so weird. They were all acting so different than how I know them. Ron was the closest to his character but to his movie version which truly we should all agree was not good. I was constantly bewildered as to why people were doing or saying or acting in ways so out of character (even with the time travel aspect). Sometimes I even wondered who the person was supposed to be. Now for theatre that is bad, you should be able to tell easily. It felt like a punch in the nose to have a story you loved as a kid botched on every single level. If this had been written as fan fiction I would have just simply not read it. Also, the idea that Bellatrix Lestrange was only truly in the inner circle not because she was an amazing fighter or a good strategist or someone that would just throw out the best dark curses. No, she was according to these people part of this group because she was an object of desire for the leader of the organization (I am unclear if it was painted as truly a relationship or more just a sexual arrangement but it does not matter). To me, this is a level of sexism people aren’t talking about because she is the bad guy or well girl. Do I like her character? No, not really but she is interesting that is for sure but she is an awful person. I do however believe a 1000% that she would have earned her place on her merit, not her sex appeal. The idea alone that Voldemort would have fathered a child is also laughable and does not go with his canon character at all.

The place of fan fiction
Fan fiction is a great way to talk about your characters, to learn more about the world. About the stories. We view roughly 7 years of a boy’s life when he is hunted by a madman with a cult following hell-bent on killing him in his pursuit of never dying. While he is running around trying to live and learn magic with a piece of soul stuck in his body after being neglected and abused for 10 years. That’s the story we know, that is the story we follow but it’s not the only story to tell. It’s Harry’s interpretation of the world he lives in. A world where there is a war on, where he has 2 friends and a handful of acquaintances. There is more to Hogwarts, to Harry’s past, and to the wider Wizarding world than Harry ever cared (or maybe more accurately was able) to explore. That is what fan fiction does it picks up somewhere we haven’t been yet. The years after the war, the years when Lily and James found each other. But these stories also play a big game of what if. What if Harry had had time to explore his sexuality, what if someone rescued him from the Dursleys, what if he looked or acted differently, what if his parents never died, what if he had taken the hand of Draco Malfoy on the train? It makes the world bigger, it expands, and it ignites. The end of the series to me was and is a great letdown. It feels in a sense that we stuffed these people in a cupboard and brought them out for one last hooray. And truthfully it feels as if we are not the only ones meeting these kids for the first time but Harry is as well. I value stories that pick up after the war, the exploration of Harry. Him learning to be himself, to mourn his losses to learn how he should be treated. I hope so much more from him. War, neglect, and abuse change you, and I think that my Harry would have had a lot of healing and growing up to do. Nowadays we focus more on mental health and it shows so deeply at the end of the series that we never did. A mentally healthy and happy Harry probably wouldn’t have named his children after the two men who did him so incredibly wrong for all those years. Or after his death parents as first names. The type of media and name to live up to even without the last name Potter being attached is immense. Now reading the story as an adult leaves me sometimes deeply unstratified. But I’ve not been let down more than by Albus Dumbledore.

One person’s opinion

Let me be very clear. No, I do not care what the author or anyone else says for that matter. Yes, she wrote the canon but it’s up to us the reader to evaluate that. To see if we agree with our younger Harry. Would your Harry, your Hermoine, and your Ron view their past differently after the war? Mine would and this is why I am here today to show you what my Harry would have done (he is smart, you see). It is up to us to evaluate what canon is, what we read between the lines but we sometimes have to be honest. Harry is not a reliable narrator as he is for 1. eleven and also 2. he has a piece of soul stuck in his body 3. he has never known parental love after being one year old. 4. Harry has inherited a trusting nature that did not serve his parents well in the past. So, let us go and judge his view as simply that, one little boy’s view. Let us look at the action, let us asses together if it was all for the greater good. This is also why Twitter opinions and other resources where the author has stated things about canon aren’t important in this review. If it was that important, it should have been clear in the book. You cannot retroactively make your book different.

The timeline and wanderings

I have debated what timeline I would put this in. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed especially while tackling Voldemort’s childhood. I have decided to go through the story as it has happened. We learn a lot about Dumbledore and his actions later in the series but we can look back and add it in. That is what we will do. So, the real timeline and not just the one we know. It gives us I think, a much-needed inside to step away from an 11-year-old’s point of view. We get to know a lot about Albus Dumbledore after he died yet, it has already happened. The same is true for the first war, a lot of things happened when we find out it was at the very least 11 years ago. We are taking everything Harry knows and putting it in the order of it happening for the most part. We are going to start at the beginning and work our way through, I assume you read the books and are familiar enough with the story to follow along. We will look at Albus’ upbringing, we will have a side quest to look at Tom Riddle’s family, and then we will dive into Dumbledore’s failure to give Tom Riddle his first chance. Then we have a real talk about the first war. Then finally I’ll make the case about the crimes against Harry Potter which will span over several posts so without further ado, let’s go.

The upbringing and profile of Albus Dumbledore
I feel totally like Reeta Skeeter here but what do we know about Young Albus?
Albus Dumbledore was brought up by his parents Percival (until he was 10) and Kendra Dumbledore (until he was 18). Alongside his three years younger brother Aberforth and four years younger sister Ariana. When Ariana was six she was attacked by muggles, which caused her to suppress her magic, which in turn led to it being let out in a very dangerous way (bursting out of her, attacking everything and everyone) (HPB:28,460). Albus’ father Percival Dumbledore then attacks these three Muggle children in such a way that it leads him to Azkaban to die there. The family then moved to Godric’s Hollow, where they lived a very secluded life. In school and later in public life Albus never revealed to being anti-muggle as his father was assumed to be, so he wasn’t or he hid it well. He won ‘every price’ in school* (Baranbus Finkely Prize for Exceptional spell-casting, British Young representative to the Wizengamot, Gold Medal winner for Groundbreaking Contribution to the international alchemical conference). He was head boy, prefect, and had good marks (HPB: 18, 289). In his life Albus tried to surround himself with powerful people by corresponding with them i.e. Nicolas Flamel, and Bathilda Bagshot, he wanted papers he wrote in school published. After Hogwarts, he planned to take a trip around the world with his friend Dodge, but his mother died before he could leave. Before the summer was out, so had his sister. The sister he had resented taking care of by his admission (HPB:35, 584). He let his friends think he wasn’t proud or vain. (HBP: 2, 13-16). He however describes himself as gifted and brilliant, he wanted to escape his circumstances to shine. Above all else, Albus Dumbledore wanted glory (HPB: 35: 585).

*Interesting to note that none of these prizes or competitions were even advertised while Harry was in school. Alchemy wasn’t even a subject one could study. I know that some have a low view of Harry’s intelligence but Hermione also didn’t win any of the above-mentioned prizes and neither did Draco Malfoy who would have loudly told Harry all about it the moment he won anything. 

Albus and Grindelwald
I cannot stress this enough we only use what we learn in the original canon.
In the summer after finishing Hogwarts Albus meets Grindelwald, and both boys decided they wanted to change the world together. They wanted to show themselves to the muggles and rule over them while being all-powerful. A way to achieve this all-powerful status would be by collecting and owning all three of the deadly hallows. They corresponded day and night, became the best of friends, and made plans to ruin excuse me rule the world. Then there was a big fight, as Aberforth plainly told Albus he had to be better and take care of their sister. No one knows who caused the final blow, but Grindelwald, Aberforth, and Albus all fought to kill or severely harm because Ariana died and no one knew who did it. Then Albus didn’t see Grindelwald again until everyone was dying wherever Grindelwald was making havoc (most likely mainland Europe) and begging for help. Thus, Dumbledore sat back and did nothing at all until everyone was desperate and he didn’t have a choice anymore. (DH: 35, 587). It’s interesting because protecting his family against Grindelwald or caring for his sister went the same way, he wouldn’t do anything until there was no other option that would make him look decent. In his war, Grindelwald used a mark that was the symbol of the deadly Hallows (or what I would assume to be the Peverell family crest*) and he used the words “for the greater good” on his prison. This is so clearly a reference to Nazi Germany that the casual way it is referred to makes me a bit ill, we learn that Albus said it first (and often enough) since Dodge wouldn’t say Dumbledore always worked towards the greater good otherwise (HBP: 2, 13-16 AND 582). When thinking about gaining the Hallows in his youth Dumbledore says to wants to talk to his parents to lift the burden on his shoulders, yet later he says he wanted it for very different reasons to talk to his parents and sister. Interesting way to praise that as I do not find it that different at all but that is neither here nor there (HPB: 35, 585, and 588). I find it noteworthy that the duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald took place in 1945. In 1997 Grindelwald is still alive and sane enough. Meaning that the duel wasn’t one to the death and most importantly that Grindelwald’s jail does not hold Dementors. Which arguably makes it more humane than Azkaban.

*It is on the Gravestone in Godrics Hollow, meaning it meant something to the family. Making a funky sign for something you were gifted or made yourself is a bit odd. But might be possible, I think it already was or later became the Peverell family coat of arms as that makes a lot of sense for it to be on the gravestone. Also, what are they learning in history for Hermione who has a lot of o’s to not know the symbol on sight?

Interim – somewhat muddled timeline
Dumbledore becomes the transfiguration professor after the death of his sister. We do not know how much time he studied to become a teacher but we can assume it takes a while. We know at least in 1938 he was a professor and in addition he was deputy headmaster. He has also repeatedly been asked (apparently) to become the minister but he wanted ‘no power’ as he knew he wouldn’t handle it well.

That is where we leave it for today, in the next post we will dive a bit deeper into Tom Riddle’s life and upbringing. Most importantly we look at the impact Dumbeldore had on the creation of Lord Voldemort.

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