Before I continue I’m going to give some warning for those who still haven’t read the Harry Potter books. If, like me, you like to be surprised when you read something new – leave now
This post is a follow on from my earlier Harry Potter theory about RAB.
So, let’s start with the obvious…
Is Dumbledore really dead?
There are people who seem to think that Dumbledore hasn’t died and is actually still alive and kicking. I disagree. Whilst the arguments on sites like DumbledoreIsNotDead.com appear to be based in truth, they could be reversed to explain that yes, he has gone.
There is a book called ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ – you can read a decent summary here – which explains the hero’s journey, also known as a monomyth. Essentially what this is, is a template for heroic adventure; a structure that heroic stories generally follow.
Often in heroic stories the mentor of the lead character dies before the hero has the final confrontation with the ultimate evil. This is seen time and time again, famously in films like Star Wars (Obi Won killed by Vader – “Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”), and the Lord of the Rings (Gandalf dies – resurrected, but the hero doesn’t realise this after the quest is complete). There are reasons for this as well. If Dumbledore isn’t dead then he will feel compelled to help Harry in the final battle, likewise Harry will feel he has to protect Dumbledore. The death of the mentor is generally the turning point, the catalyst, it turns the reluctant hero into the ‘enthusiastic’ hero. The death of the mentor is also the signal that the hero has learned everything he needs to, Harry now knows how to defeat Voldemort – he just doesn’t realise it.
So he’s gone then..?
I don’t think so. Is he dead? Oh yes – but we’ve already seen him once, in a painting, in the headmasters office. We’ve seen the paintings do some pretty cool things, and Dumbledore’s is bound to be special. Harry said he won’t be going back to Hogwarts as a student, and I don’t think he will, but I can’t see the entire book being devoid of the school that has been his home for the last 6 years.
somebody else had spoken Snapes name, quite softly. “Severus…” The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading. Snape said nothing, but walked forward and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. … Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face. “Severus… Please…”
Before he dies Dumbledore begs Snape to do … something. Whether he was pleading for his life, or pleading for Snape to kill him, which is another post entirely, Dumbledore knew that death would follow shortly.
Dumbledore – gone but not forgotten…
Dumbledore is clearly one of the most important characters in the entire series, there are a number of things he has said and done that still need to be resolved…
He said my blood would make him stronger… He said the protection my mother left me — he’d have it too. …he could touch me without hurting himself, he touched my face.
For a fleeting instant, Harry though he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes.
There has been speculation on this quote in a number of places, so I figured I’d throw something else into the pot. What if something in Harry was turned into a Horcrux, and now Voldemort has had some of it returned? When Goblet of Fire came out we new nothing about Horcruxes, but there is nothing to say that there hasn’t been any references to them in past books. I must admit that I don’t think this theory is particularly likely, but Harry has obviously passed something of himself over to Voldemort, and Dumbledore has a pretty good idea (knows?) of what it is.
Maybe the sharing of blood has something to do with this?
“She doesn’t love me,” said Harry at once. “She doesn’t give a damn –” “But she took you,” Dumbledore cut across him. “She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother’s sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you.”
“I still don’t –”
“While you can still call home the place where your mother’s blood dwells, there you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort. He shed her blood, but it lives on in you and her sister. Her blood became your refuge. You need return there only once a year, but as long as you can still call it home, there he cannot hurt you. Your aunt knows this. I explained what I had done in the letter I left, with you, on her doorstep. She knows that allowing you houseroom may well have kept you alive for the past fifteen years.”
The following quote, from the Order of the Pheonix, means nothing to me, but the moment I read it I knew (erm thought) it had some sort of significance that hasn’t been explained yet.
Dumbledore now swooped down upon one of the fragile silver instruments whose function Harry had never known, carried it over to his desk, sat down facing them again, and tapped it gently with the tip of his wand.
The instrument tinkled into life at once with rhythmic clinking noises. Tiny puffs of pale green smoke issued from the miniscule silver tube at the top. Dumbledore watched the smoke closely, his brow furrowed, and after a few seconds, the tiny puffs became a steady stream of smoke that thickened and coiled in the air…. A serpent’s head grew out of the end of it, opening its mouth wide. (…)
“Naturally, naturally,” murmured Dumbledore apparently to himself, still observing the stream of smoke without the slightest sign of surprise. “But in essence divided?”
Harry could make neither head nor tail of this question. The smoke serpent, however, split itself instantly into two snakes, both coiling and undulating in the dark air. With a look of grim satisfaction Dumbledore gave the instrument another gentle tap with his wand.
- Details about Dumbledore at the Harry Potter Lexicon
- Quotes by and about Albus Dumbledore
- What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and What We May Be Able to Foresee