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nott theodore

Was Dumbledore good?

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Albus Dumbledore is a really intriguing character to me - I think from the benign, wise figure we see in the earliest books, he really develops and becomes much more human (and I'm not just talking about Michael Gambon's slightly scary portrayal of him in the films :P).  I'm really interested to hear what the rest of you think of him, too.  Here are some questions that I've been thinking about (feel free to ignore them or ask your own!):

 

Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?

 

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?

 

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?

 

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?

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As I have mentioned elsewhere, Dumbledore reminds me quite a bit of de Valera and in the final book when we found out about his history with Grindelwald, I actually put down the book and stopped to ask myself "does he still remind me of Dev?" Two words came into my mind almost immediately; "civil war." Towards the end of the civil war, de Valera apparently said, "the views of Rory O'Connor, which I was so stupid as to support, are now the greatest barrier to peace that we have." Or words to that effect. Can't you imagine Dumbledore saying, "the views of Gellert Grindelwald, which I was so stupid as to support, are now the greatest barrier to peace that we have."

 

The two situations are very different. Dev's support for O'Connor seems to have been more a case of not wanting to split what was already a minority group. Not sure he ever particularly liked him. But the situations do have some similarities.

 

I do think that Dumbledore would have eventually realised what Grindelwald was like and disassociated himself from him even if Ariana hadn't died. Unless of course, he managed to dissuade Grindelwald from his worst excesses, but I doubt that.

 

I think the background makes Dumbledore more human and knocks him off his pedestal a bit. I know a lot of readers already had reservations about him, but Harry didn't and perhaps Harry needed to learn that there was nobody else whose judgement he could 100% depend on.

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I do think Dumbledore was good, but that largely is due to his aims and intentions rather than his means. To borrow from D&D, I think he is a pretty strong representation of the Neutral Good character.

 

To answer your questions in more detail:

 

Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?

 

Right in a moral sense? No. Right in a strategic sense? Yes. I don't think it would've been possible for Harry's journey to be the success it proved to if he had known more earlier.

 

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?

 

From the beginning of...? I assume we're referring to the pact regarding trying to protect Lily. I would say no, because I honestly don't think Dumbledore knew what would end up happening when they went into hiding. Simply because he became aware of the prophecy and the fact that it could apply to Harry didn't mean that everything that followed would proceed as it did and though Dumbledore is very insightful and almost prescient at times, I think giving him that much credit is a stretch. He wanted a double-agent and viewed protection he could offer (relatively) easily to someone desperate for it as a more than fair trade. Now...if you consider that alone manipulation, then I suppose: (1) you're a better person than me and (2) yes.

 

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?

 

This is very hard to say. I like to think the honor of his inner Gryffindor would've come out in the end when the truth of Grindelwald's actual, far less benevolent vision came to light, but love, even infatuation, can lead people to do crazy things and Dumbledore himself acknowledged that he was a sucker for power. Had his sister's death (and the manner of it) not brought things to a head...the Wizarding World could be very different.

 

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?

 

Well...in the sense that JKR intended his character to be much more gray, I think it was absolutely necessary because prior to a lot of the revelations about him we saw him only through Harry's eyes as this infallible sort of hero figure. I don't know that it made him any more relatable to me though in the same sense that finding out about skeletons in the closet of any leader or well-regarded individual doesn't necessarily make you understand them better.

 

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Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?

Some things yes, some things - no. Sirius died because Dumbledore hid things from him that he should have known and Dumbledore admits this. But something like him needing to die because he was a Horcrux - I think yes. I don't think Harry is the brightest or even the most skilled Wizard and he needed so much help to get through anything - but I think if Harry knew too soon, he may not have made the right decisions or did something stupid and screw everything up.

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?

Yes. Dumbledore was disgusted with Snape when he first appeared to him, warning him about Lily. Then Dumbledore mocked him in his grief over her death and used his love and guilt over Lily to help protect Harry. I do, however, feel that over the years they formed a great friendship and trust with one another.

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?

 I think he would have eventually worked things out - but by then, how much damage would have been caused and would things be on the same path they were on??

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?

I honestly found it pointless and boring. So no, it wasn't necessary for his character development and it didn't make him more relatable. I think DD was already relatable. His death would not have been as sad as it was if he was unrelatable.

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Another character I like to discuss, even if I personally don't like him. 

Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?

  Not all information should be given to Harry but to hold Harry in such dark - definitely no! From a strategic point of view, Dumbledore did all by the book and he is, in general, the type of person needed to win the war. But the trick is, he didn't prepare Harry to live but to die so how much Harry knew held a little difference when we think about the grand scheme.  

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?

Definitely and irrevocably - YES! Dumbledore was a master manipulator, he used all he knew about Snape to manipulate him, I will even go far enough to say that his "disgust" by Snape's actions was part of manipulation - one that landed a perfect spy in his lap. From that moment on, if not even from before (we don't have proof of that and my hunch is not a proof) he manipulated Snape. 

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?

Yes, I believe so. With all his good intentions later in life, he loved Grindelwald. And they shared their view of things. If Ariana didn't die he could be more feard than Voldemort ever was.  

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?

Relatable - no. Necessary - not per se, but welcomed. It portrays him more human, more fallible. It also makes a parallel between his character and the characters of both Voldemort and Snape. Voldemort tried to enforce the idea that Albus alone supported in his youth. Snape changed his mind after the death of the loved one, same as he did.

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Dumbledore is, perhaps, my favourite character. It's a credit to Rowling that she was able to pull off such a complicated and powerful character without him either dominating the narrative or (as is the foible of many fantasy writers) remaining inexplicably ambivalent towards the conflict. He is a contradiction; his character demands he be proactive (which means to be the chess-master) but his experiences demand he shrink from power.

Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?

Yes. Harry can be reckless and impulsive and his mind is vulnerable to penetration.

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?

No. Snape asked for a trade; Lily's safety for his services as a double agent. Dumbledore offered safety to Lily but she didn't take it. With Lily dead, Dumbledore gave Snape the opportunity to do right by her.

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?

No. Dumbledore cared too deeply about people to dedicate himself to carnage. He was an idealist and a romantic, not a Dark Lord in training. The idea that there are parallels between his and Riddle's character seems strange to me; Tom had killed a teenage girl before he'd even left school and was singularly motivated by pure egoism (Dumbledore's story is nothing like this). 

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?

It was necessary for the story, since it gave the narrative of the Deathly Hallows greater scope. As for its impact on his character, it was absolutely critical because it explains exactly why Dumbledore is as powerful as he is. That might sound strange but it's one thing to list someone's achievements ("uses of Dragon's blood", "defeated Grindelwald", "only one You-Know-Who ever feared" and so forth) and quite another to create a convincing representation of who a great person was before it all.

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2 hours ago, Simplicius said:

Dumbledore is, perhaps, my favourite character. It's a credit to Rowling that she was able to pull off such a complicated and powerful character without him either dominating the narrative or (as is the foible of many fantasy writers) remaining inexplicably ambivalent towards the conflict. He is a contradiction; his character demands he be proactive (which means to be the chess-master) but his experiences demand he shrink from power...

This. All of this. And what you said below.

I also think Dumbledore had his hand in every cookie jar (ICW, Wizengamot, Hogwarts) to monitor and try and 'fix' the wizarding world at large as best as he could so that something like Grindelwald could be stopped or at least be curbed before being destroyed for good. Dumbledore knows that evil can't be completely wiped out, but be does all that he can to make sure he can declaw and reform society. Despite his best intentions, by holding all these offices and by having all this power, he is ultimately too far-sighted and too for-the-greater-good at times as he must keep all the leaks plugged and coordinate the tar teams, as it were.

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What an interesting thread! Dumbledore is honestly a fascinating character.

 

Was Dumbledore right to hide the information he did from Harry?
Some of it, yes. Some, no. I think he should have been more honest with Harry during OotP, because Harry spent so much of that book figuratively in the dark, and got himself and others into a lot of trouble because of it. Once Harry started asking questions, Dumbledore should have been honest. And I think he realized that (after the fact), which is why we get VOldemort's history in HBP.

But, I'm really conflicted on whether or not Dumbledore should have hid the information about Harry being a Horcrux. On one hand, Harry's just a kid and can you imagine the weight of that kind of knowledge? On the other hand, it's his life and he should be able to know if he wants to. It's kind of like asking someone if they want to know when/how they're going to die. Some people might want to know that, others prefer the freedom and peace of mind of not knowing. I can appreciate what a hard decision this was for Dumbledore to make, but I wouldn't want to be the one making it :P 

 

Did Dumbledore knowingly manipulate Snape from the very beginning?
No? Maybe a little? Dumbledore did often use people as a means to an end, in a way, which is kind of its own discussion - but an opportunity just sort of walked into his office there when Snape begged for a trade and offered information in exchange for Lily's safety.

 

Would Dumbledore have stayed on the same path with Grindelwald if Ariana hadn't died?
I think he would have kept going a little longer with nothing to stop him, but at some point he still would have wanted out. He was very swept up in his plans with Grindelwald, and very ambitious to the point of neglecting other things in his life, but I think Dumbledore's desire to do good for the world is more innate than just being caused by a sort of awakening after Ariana's death. At a certain point I think he would have realized what he was doing and that it wasn't what he truly wanted to be doing - but how much damage would have already been done? It's hard to say.

 

Do you think that finding out the truth about Dumbledore's past was a necessary character development?  Did it make him more relatable?
It definitely made him more human, to learn that he had all this arrogance as a youth, and that he was flawed and had these personal demons and was not always the upstanding, endlessly wise hero Harry saw him as. Characters in that grey area are always more compelling than perfect ones, so I appreciated the truth about his past.

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