So Albus Dumbledore. You know the guy. Kindly wizard mentor, often compared to Gandalf.
He’s now at the top of my Harry Potter shitlist.
Why? Because after thinking about it, he’s pretty much the most detestable manipulator and quietly hypocritical mentor figure I can possibly imagine.
First, let’s start with this Tumblr post, which got this ball rolling:
That last line hit me like a load of bricks, because holy shit it’s true.
But then I realized it’s actually worse than that.
He really did KNOWINGLY CHOOSE to leave Harry with an abusive family instead of adopting him off to another Muggle family who would have wanted him and, if nothing else, might have treated him with the most basic levels of common decency we afford to human beings. The Dursleys effectively locked Harry in a broom closet for ten years. TEN. YEARS. That’s not even the worst thing they did to poor Harry. Far from it. That’s just the tip of that iceberg. And when they realized he wasn’t allowed to do magic outside of school? Oh boy. It actually emboldened them and made the abuse worse than it had been before. Why? Because nothing teaches an abuser they’re hot stuff like realizing that the person they’re abusing literally is prohibited by law and cultural morality from fighting back.
Why would Dumbledore do that? “Because they’re the only family he has left”? Bullshit. That’s hardly any real defense. Family can be found or made — you’re not just saddled with your blood relatives, which oh by the way is PART OF THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOKS. Later, JK tried to handwave things by saying “oh but magical protections over the Dursleys herp derp”, but her explanation was flimsy at best and there’s very little reason that similar protections couldn’t have been established over another Muggle household by a wizard as powerful and skilled as Albus Dumbledore.
And it’s not like he didn’t know horrid the Dursleys were in advance. Minerva scouted for him and told him as much. AND HE STILL PUT AN INFANT CHILD ON THEIR DOORSTEP.
Dumbledore knew from the outset how horrible the Dursleys were and STILL left Harry with them. He didn’t just LEAVE a child in an abusive household, he PUT THE CHILD THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, KNOWING FULL WELL IN ADVANCE HOW ABUSIVE THEY WERE and how much they were going to hate him.
And Harry goes on to idolize this man as the father he never really had (until he met Sirius) and by and large treats Dumbledore as an infallible leader because, essentially, Dumbledore was the first real authority figure to be nice to him on a regular basis. That’s HORRIBLE, and a tactic used by abusive parents to get the kids on their side in real life. I know. I’ve seen it happen to my best friend when we were growing up. His dad plied his loyalty by buying him toys and treats and set up his mother as a horrible and abusive person because she a) wasn’t well skilled for parenting to begin with and b) asked him do his chores, as if asking was somehow a horrible thing. In this way, the dad turned his son into a perfect disciple and it ruined him for life, and ruined his mom’s life for damn near 20 years until she finally found someone else who helped her generally stay alive despite her baggage.
And that is essentially what Dumbledore did to Harry, but worse. WAY WORSE. He ensured that Harry grew up in a toxic and consistently harmful environment where he was always being put down and tormented (not all that dissimilar from a certain Voldemort figure, really) and then “rescues” him and plays favorites and gives him all sorts of positive attention and “get out of jail free” cards to buy his loyalty. It didn’t work so well when he tried that with Tom Riddle, but I guess he just got lucky that his second Laser Guided Tykebomb turned out better than the first. Oh, and he kept sending Harry “home” to his abusive family at every available opportunity, in effect reminding Harry why “Harry Needs Dumbledore”, which he couldn’t do with Tom, who grew up in an orphanage and so had no home he could be sent back to. Guess that’s why Harry worked out in the end.
And let’s not forget that no matter how Dumbledore actually felt about Harry, let’s not forget that he was raising Harry to essentially die at a time and place of Dumbledore’s choosing — Harry is the final Horcrux after all, and in order to kill Voldemort, Dumbledore knew Harry was going to have to die. It’s a plot-contrived miracle Harry survived to have kids of his own. If Dumbledore didn’t give a rat’s ass about Harry, well then, I think we can safely say that he’s a manipulative sociopath (sociopaths are indeed often very charming and good at ingratiating themselves with people). But let’s think about “but what if he really did care about Harry’s well-being?”. Assuming he actually cared about Harry, this actually manages to make things somehow even worse because this makes him a damned monster.
Because Harry was never “the Boy Who Lived” or even “surrogate son” to Dumbledore. Not even a student. He was an asset from day one. Ultimately, no matter what dear old Al had to say about it, Harry really meant no more to him than an M1 Abrams tank or a Navy Seals team means to the American Department of Defense; in the end there was just no possible end to Dumbledore’s plan that didn’t involve Harry getting killed at some point near the finish line. If he didn’t care about Harry and simply acted like he did, that’s callous and ever so slightly abusive. If he honestly cared but did it anyway, that’s high octane cruel and unusual abuse and really shows that nothing is more important to Dumbledore than beating Voldemort, not even love for the children under his care.
To raise a child as a soldier meant to die in battle with said child feeling like your conditioning is true compassion or even love is beyond sick and is easily the most disgusting thing Albus is shown to do.
AND HARRY NAMES HIS SON AFTER THIS GUY.
But hey! Let’s not stop the Hogwarts Express while it’s still rolling! Dumbledore’s done a lot of other horrible crap too!
1) Tried all that with Tom Riddle, the direct descendant of Salazar “LET’S WEED OUT AND KILL ALL THE IMPURE BLOODLINES” Slytherin, in the first place, only for it to blow up in literally the ENTIRE UNITED KINGDOM’S FACES. Twice!
2) Put a True Believer Death Eater, Snape, in charge of Slytherin House, which precipitates their descent into Always Chaotic Evil territory by the time Harry is enrolled. After Professor Slughorn takes over, the Slytherins almost IMMEDIATELY start getting better, pretty handily indicting Snape’s bad leadership, and Dumbledore’s by proxy, as the primary factor in Slytherin’s bad behavior. 30 years after Dumbledore and Snape’s deaths, Slytherin house is STILL dealing with the fallout of this decision.
3) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by keeping the Sorcerer’s Stone in the school, not acting on the knowledge that Quirrell was at the very least working for the enemy, and generally leaving the fate of a whole country (if not the world) in the hands of a eleven year old child who had just found out about magic less than 12 months prior and pitting him against Quirrell, who was by any standard a master-level sorcerer in several fields that could be fatal against a seasoned duelist, never mind an unprepared and undertrained child. No matter how capable or gutsy the child, that’s just plain cruel.
4) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by not evacuating the school ASAP when the Chamber of Secrets and the monster within turned out in fact to be VERY REAL, and staunchly refuses to do a damn thing about it until Minerva pretty much forces him to at the last minute.
5) Risks the lives of the entire student body by instating Rubeus Hagrid as the instructor for Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid. A guy who has a well established and verified track record for three things of note: finding flesheating, fire/poison spitting monsters utterly adorable, raising said monsters, and losing track/control of them. Hagrid’s a great guy and definitely someone you can count on when the chips are down, but Draco Malfoy is actually pretty correct when he pointed out that maybe Hagrid wasn’t prime teaching material — even if he was a snide bitch about it. Sure enough, this decision pretty directly lands the school in hot water with the government shortly afterwards, and who knows who else might have been injured or killed because other students didn’t share Hagrid’s rapport with all things beasty.
6) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts when he somehow fails to notice that Alistair Moody, a man he’d known for ages, was being impersonated by a Death Eater. Come on Albus. Even Draco Malfoy, who had never heard of Polyjuice Potion, questioned Crabbe and Goyle’s identities when Harry and Ron impersonated them. AND HE WAS A CHILD AT THE TIME. I thought that Dumbledore was supposed to be wise. Oh by the way, this DIRECTLY results in Voldemort’s resurrection by Pete the Traitor. Nice.
7) Risks the lives of the entire student body and faculty of Hogwarts by pretending to give a damn about the innocence of Draco Malfoy. In reality, he was only playing a stupidly overcomplicated gambit against Voldemort.
You see, Dumbledore put on a Horcrux which brought him close to death in and of itself. After realizing that he must not be “defeated” (otherwise the power of his wand will go to the one who defeated him), he devised an elaborate scheme to get Snape to kill him. That way Voldemort would never be considered as having “defeated” Dumbledore, preventing Voldemort from tapping the full powers of the Elder Wand. But Dumbledore makes it sound as if this is somehow to preserve the innocence of Draco Malfoy, who’s already pretty damn corrupted at this point just by virtue of who his father is. No, that’s just a clever lie so that nobody catches on to what you’re actually trying to do, Dumbs. As we’ve already found out, Dumbledore doesn’t actually give a damn about the innocence of his students, simply the role they have to play in his machinations.
Oh by the way, his death enables Voldemort to invade Hogwarts, take over the Ministry of Magic, Break the Masquerade that keeps Muggles unaware of the Wizarding world and gets a metric fuckton of people killed. All so he could deny Voldemort a wand that Voldemort assumed was just a legend at the time (and probably wouldn’t have ever known the truth about if Dumbledore had lived) and also to kill Voldemort in the most overwrought, over dramatic, and over complicated manner possible, a victory his plans unnecessarily ensured he’d never live to see.
Never mind a suicide, or better yet, teleporting the damn wand to the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench on the down low and then living to die of old age — either one would have broken the power of the wand forever, which was his goal. Dumbledore deliberately opted to go out in a way which caused as much collateral damage as possible.
NICE JOB BREAKING IT, “HERO”.
All of this could have been thoroughly avoided if literally any other Hogwarts staff had been the one to recruit Tom Riddle that day, or if literally any other Hogwarts staff had been the one to actually have run Hogwarts. In short, effectively everything bad that happens in Harry’s story ties in some way back to one or more of Dumbledore’s decisions. The whole series is pretty much his fault in some way.
Screw Gandalf. As a coldly logical, scheming and manipulative yet suspiciously nearsighted chessmaster, Dumbledore has more in common with Saruman the White! The only difference is that, of the two, Dumbledore achieved virtually everything he set out to do, which is what happens when you’re nominally the hero instead of a straight up villain.
Too bad his role wasn’t completely occupied by Minerva McGonagall, who is in reality every bit the flawless mentor, reasonable authority figure, and loving parental role model that Harry thought and JK Rowling pretended Dumbledore was.
Voldemort wouldn’t have made it past Book One with her in charge.
Now, none of this is to imply that Dumbledore is a failed mentor; he actually gives a lot of good advice over the course of the books, and is very good at kindling hope in others. He’s terrific at inspiring kids to fight Evil. It is however flat out telling you that the specific instance of Evil that he’s inspiring the kids to fight is entirely his fault to begin with, for which he recieves no comeuppance at all during or after his life, instead going down in wizarding history as a hero.
You know, for fixing problems he created in the first place.
Really, writing this has convinced me that all the trauma Harry endured could have been simply prevented by the presence of Child Protective Services instead of Albus Dumbledore at one key point in wizard history.
The more you know, I guess!