We all know Dumbledore as a saintly, caring wizard mentor to Harry. That comforting smile, that wise beard, those kind eyes…
But is he actually far more ruthless than we thought?
A Harry Potter fan took to Reddit to argue that Dumbledore has time and time again been willing to let someone else to die in order for his plan to succeed – for things to be better overall. While he is not cruel, the theory goes, he values his cause higher than individual life.
The evidence? In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it was Dumbledore who made sure that the Order of the Phoenix got Harry to safety, but he must have known the Seven Potters plan (using Polyjuice Potion to disguise several members of the Order as Harry) would likely result in someone else’s death.
The Order’s leader, Alastor Moody, and Harry’s owl, Hedwig died in the escape, and George Weasley also lost an ear.
Had he let the Death Eaters think Harry would be moved to safety on a different day (say, by feeding information to them through Snape), Alastor, Hedwig and Weasley’s ear may have survived.
The theory above adds that it was a good thing that Dumbledore was so single-minded, because it allowed him to defeat Voldemort through Harry, by keeping him alive at all costs. But that same single-mindedness meant he was also willing to sacrifice everyone else in order to save Harry. Is that really a price worth paying?
In contrast, Harry opposed the Seven Potters plan because he was worried about endangering others, and in the end was happy to sacrifice himself for others. The death in his own family made him realise what it meant to lose a loved one, no matter the cause.
“He also was well aware of what those who died would not get to experience,” the fan writes. “How many times did he wish his parents could see his Quidditch matches? So Harry would never sacrifice anyone for the ultimate goal.”
This set him at odds with Dumbledore’s vision for him.
It’s an intriguing, if controversial, theory, and arguably makes Dumbledore even harder to understand – which, of course, is the point of a character like this.
“Dumbledore’s plans and motivations are more complex than what a lot of people want to believe,” explains one comment. “It’s not black and white, there would always be casualties on both sides. He did what he did in order to ensure as little deaths as possible, and to give Harry the best chance to finally defeat Voldemort.”
Can you justify Dumbledore’s actions?