[Show music begins]
Kat Miller: This is Episode 207 of Alohomora! for November 26, 2016.
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Kat: Hello, everybody out there in podcast land. Welcome to another episode of Alohomora! previously MuggleNet.com’s global reread of the Harry Potter series, and now we are, as you know, a topic-based discussion podcast. I’m Kat Miller.
Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard. And this week our guest is Jess. Welcome, Jess.
Jess: Hi, Alison. Hi, Kat. Thanks for having me.
Alison: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell our listeners how you got into Potter, your Hogwarts house, your Ilvermorny house, your Patronus, all that good stuff.
Jess: Well, I got into Potter – I think it’s a pretty common story for people my age – growing up with it. So I think I was seven when the first two books were out, and we got them for Christmas, me and my brother. And then I read the first one and he was never allowed his copy back…
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Jess: … because I wanted to hoard them. And yeah, I just grew up with the series that way, growing up with Harry, which I think is pretty common, and it’s always been a part of my life. That’s why I’ve got my Harry Potter tattoo and went and saw Fantastic Beasts when it came out a few days ago. So yeah, [I’ve been] a big Potter fan for most of my life. Hogwarts House… I’m a Slytherin. I’ve always been…
Jess: Yes, I know. Pottermore confirms, [there have] never been any doubts. I am definitely a Slytherin. And my Ilvermorny House is Wampus, but that means nothing to me.
Kat: Yeah, it means nothing to us too, so that’s okay. I’m curious what part of Slytherin you most identify with.
Jess: Probably [the] think-on-your-feet, more cunning side. I like to think of Slytherins as the street-smart to Ravenclaws’ book smart. So that’s the side I relate to. The more cunning, think-on-your-feet, hustle side, I guess, is what you would call it.
[Jess and Kat laugh]
Kat: I dig it. No, I like that. I like that comparison because I often find those two Houses go together. And I’m not just talking about myself. I’m talking about in general. I meet a lot of Ravenclaw/Slytherins. So that’s cool. I like that. What’d you think of Fantastic Beasts – without spoilers? Don’t worry, listeners. No spoilers on today’s episode, hopefully.
Jess: Well, I cried a few times, so I think that pretty much sums it up. [laughs]
Kat: Did Alison pay you to say that? No, I’m just kidding.
Alison: I don’t want to be alone in the crying.
Jess: No we had a full chat before the show about the moments that we cried in and how sad we are as adult women crying in the theater. [laughs]
Kat: No, not sad. You should be proud.
Jess: Yes, very proud.
Jess: I’ll tell myself that the next time I go […] see it and start crying again.
Kat: You should, you should.
Kat: By opening day, I had already seen it three times and I still got teary, so I understand. Truly, I do. I didn’t cry, but I was very close.
Alison: I broke down during the credits, so… [laughs]
Kat: And it’s funny because our discussion this week is apropos for the Fantastic Beasts stuff that we just learned in the new film because our discussion this week is on Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. However, as I did say, no spoilers. So we actually are going to do our darndest to avoid all of the topics and any suggested theories or basically anything having to do with Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts. We’re not going to talk about it. (1) Maybe some of you out there still haven’t seen the movie, and (2) we think that that’s an entirely separate episode. So we’re going to save that for later, but I will put out a blanket spoiler warning because we are going to do our best, but sometimes things slip. We’re not perfect. We can’t help it.
Alison: But this week – before we get started on talking and avoiding spoilers – we want to thank our Patreon sponsor, which this week, for this episode, is Lauren Sinclair. So thank you so much, Lauren!
Alison and Kat: Yay!
Alison: [claps] Customer claps. You too, listeners, can become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month, and we continue to release exclusive tidbits for our sponsors. And all you have to do is go to patreon.com/alohomora.
Kat: And we just added this super cool new perk, which… It’s funny. I haven’t looked to see if anybody has claimed it yet, but Michael is so graciously donating his time, and he will read a chapter of Harry Potter to you in the voices.
Alison: [gasps] I forgot about that.
Kat: So you can sit on Skype or Google Hangouts. I know. And you could listen to Michael read Harry Potter. Whatever chapter… If it’s just you, if it’s just one person, then you get to pick. He’ll pick otherwise. But it’s really cool. It’s only $15 a month, which Michael gets most of that money himself and the rest goes back into the show because he is donating a lot of time and stuff. So go check that out. I feel like I am probably going to do that perk for the month of December because Michael Harle time is always a good time. [laughs]
Alison: Yeah, I’m going to have to go sign up for that one too.
Kat: But for now, I guess we will jump into our discussion on Professor Dumbledore. And as we always do, we [would] like to give our overall impressions and then some focus questions because I feel like Dumbledore is one of those people we could have a week-long discussion on because there'[re] so many aspects of his personality and his arc before, after, and during the novels. So Al, what do you want to explore on Dumbledore today?
Alison: I am looking at Dumbledore as the archetype of the mentor. That’s the role he fills, especially if we’re thinking about Harry Potter in the sense of the hero’s journey cycle and the hero’s journey archetype, which it fits very, very well. And so the way she’s used Dumbledore as this archetypal mentor, but she’s made him more multi-layered than that. So I want to look at how he’s still fitting while subverting the archetype.
Kat: And that’s perfect because mine is basically the exact opposite, and I want to look at Dumbledore’s human side and the side that makes him less so this grand wizard that everybody looks up to and wants to be and wants to take after, but this very really human and very real and personable character that we can all relate to in some way. So that should be fun. Jess, what do you think about Dumbledore? What are your thoughts?
Jess: What I want to explore this episode is just Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s goodness, and is he a good person? And are his actions toward Harry justified in the greater context of ethics and the story itself?
Kat: Oh boy. That’s a deep one. That’s going to be fun. [laughs]
Jess: It’s a multipart episode.
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Kat: Yeah, very much. Wow. I feel like we pitched three of the biggest parts of Dumbledore’s personality.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: Okay. We will try to keep this to some sort of reasonable length here and I guess dive right in. So I figured we’ll go over just two very small important facts about Dumbledore. For those of you [who] don’t know, he was born in 1881. We don’t know the exact month or day, but the Lexicon guessed either July or August of that year. So he’s a summer baby. July or August of 1881 is when he was born. And as we all know, he died in May of 1997, which was in Half-Blood Prince. Before he was a Headmaster at Hogwarts, he was a Transfiguration teacher, and he did get to the school sometime before 1938 because that is the year that Slughorn started. So if you think about the timeline of the new things that we’re in, it totally makes sense because Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1926, and yes, no spoilers, but Dumbledore starts at Hogwarts 12 years after that, so…
Alison: He’s already at Hogwarts by that point, right? Because of things that happen that were in the trailer. So can we just say them? [laughs]
Jess: Well, there’s mention of Albus being a teacher at Hogwarts in the movie.
Alison: Yes. [laughs]
Kat: Right. Oh, that’s funny because the Lexicon doesn’t know. And I trust the Lexicon over absolutely everything other than Jo herself. The Lexicon didn’t have an exact start date. They did say sometime before 1938, so right… Huh.
Alison: So he’d been there probably for some time, I would assume, by 1925 if you consider that Newt was out and about for a year before the movie starts. So he’s been there since at least then, but it sounds like he almost didn’t have enough sway yet.
Kat: Right. He leaves Hogwarts in 1899, so he would’ve been 17 in 1899 – 17 or 18 depending on when he was born. So yeah, I don’t know how soon after one graduates they would hire at Hogwarts, but he could be there by the 1920s for sure. We already touched on this. Well, I eluded to it. We brought up Jo already, and Jo has said many, many, many times that she is Dumbledore and Dumbledore is her. And so I thought this would be a really fun place for us to start because what does that mean for Dumbledore’s arc, and what do we learn about Jo through Dumbledore? I feel like that is such a… I don’t know if the word is “brave” but bold thing.
Kat: Yeah, for an author to say, “I am this person and this person is me.” How do you guys feel about that?
Alison: I think it helps explain the feeling we get sometimes that Dumbledore is playing puppet master. Because if you think of Jo as obviously writing, manipulating, figuring out what’s happening through all of this, if she’s equating herself with Dumbledore, then maybe that’s why we get the feeling sometimes that Dumbledore knows more than he lets on or he allows things to happen. Because then he’s almost the author of this whole scheme that’s going on, and so it’s an interesting line to cross. It’s not self-insertion but almost like self-insertion into your own work from a writing point of view where he becomes a character in the story, but he also becomes the one writing the story. So he creates this weird, fuzzy line where you’re not quite sure. Sometimes he’s wholly just the character, sometimes you feel like he’s not, and it makes for an interesting view of who he is.
Jess: I know she said it a few times, but do we have any greater context as to the time she said it? Because it is a really heavy thing to say.
Kat: Not that I can think of off the top of my head.
Jess: You guys said [it’s] a bold thing to say, and I wonder if she says it somewhat flippantly or lightly, as in she is the puppet master that controls all the characters and she’s just making the link [between] her and Dumbledore somewhat lightly. Because if she does mean it quite genuinely and sincerely, we know that Dumbledore is quite a dark character, and that’s a pretty heavy thing to throw out into the world. So I wonder if there’s really much depth to that quote or whether it’s something she just says to be funny.
Alison: [When asked,] “Does Dumbledore speak for you?” she says, “Oh yes, very much so. Dumbledore often speaks for me.” Okay, before that she said, “I find that all the time in the book, if you need to tell your readers something, just put it in her.” She’s talking about Hermione. “One is Hermione, the other is Dumbledore. In both cases, you accept… It’s plausible that they have… Well, Dumbledore knows pretty much everything anyway, but that Hermione has read it somewhere.”
Jess: Okay, so she’s making that analogy, and she uses them for anything that needs to be told that can’t really be shown, I guess.
Alison: But the wording of that is interesting. Because she’s answered that question, but [when asked], “Does Dumbledore speak for you?” she says, “Oh yes, very much so. Dumbledore often speaks for me.”
Kat: So then we have to ask ourselves, is Dumbledore a legitimate character? Is he somebody who[m] we can look at as anybody other than the author? I mean, it sets such a weird precedent. If Dumbledore knows all and is all and speaks for Jo… [laughs] I think I like to picture him and Jo… I very much believe in the theory that Jo was picked to write this and it’s a biography of Harry’s life.
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Kat: And I like to picture her and Dumbledore sitting in a coffee shop together or at a desk in her office or something and he’s telling her all about the story. Granted, he’s dead, so maybe she’s talking to his portrait. Or maybe she’s talking to Harry. I don’t know. But I very much subscribe to that theory, because how else does she know all this stuff?
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Jess: Because it’s obviously very real. [laughs] But yeah, that is an interesting analogy she makes, but to me, it reads more like she uses him as an excuse to be a bit… not lazy with her writing, but I’m sure if you’ve ever written something, you’ve got this little wedge – a piece of information – in there, and there’s not just a way that it flows, so she banks that the reader will assume, “Well, they know everything.” So that’s how it reads to me.
Kat: Since we’re on the vein of Jo and things that she has and hasn’t told us and all that… And Alison, you brought this up when you were looking up that quote. Most of the stuff, when you look up J.K. Rowling and/or Dumbledore, is you get all the stories about when she announced at the event that Dumbledore was gay. And so I feel like we would be remiss not to talk about that, at least briefly, and besides the obvious reason that “Who cares? It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t change his character in any way; he is who he will always be, regardless if he’s gay or not,” why that wasn’t either said outright or made more apparent or any of those things, why she felt the need to say it if it wasn’t in the novels. Again, besides the obvious, because obviously, diversity and inclusion and all of that is incredibly important, but what do you guys [think]? Do you have thoughts?
Jess: Yeah. See, this is what frustrates me as a reader – chiefly as a gay reader – is that I think that it does matter to his character, particularly in his development with Grindelwald. Because if it really was a matter of it doesn’t matter to the story, then that’s absolutely fine. But it did have a tangible impact on the story, on Dumbledore’s behavior with Grindelwald, and then that carries through to his adult life and the way he acts with Harry and the way he carries himself. Because at least from my understanding of what Jo has told us post books, the reason he was so infatuated with Grindelwald was [that] he was either in love or lust with him, and that’s one of the reasons he was so susceptible to these ideas. And the reason he was so badly hurt by Grindelwald [and] the whole situation with Ariana is [that] he was in love with him. And I think the reason she didn’t tell us is just because (a) it wouldn’t have been acceptable at the time and (b) maybe [she had] a more narrowed view of what was important to a character and their development and what she thought a large children’s base would be ready for. But yeah, that’s what particularly frustrates me [because] I do think it’s important to his character. If someone said that Crabbe was gay, that probably doesn’t need to be included because…
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Jess: Well, actually, it may explain why he follows Draco Malfoy around, but…
Jess: If it had literally no impact on the story, I’d be much more easy to forgive it. But it does just really needle at me a bit because it is important to his backstory. And I think that would’ve been an interesting and brave thing for her to explore particularly.
Kat: I totally and wholeheartedly agree with that in a lot of ways and in everything that you said – why she should include it and why she probably didn’t. And I also get excited. And again, no spoilers here – keeping this very generic – but I think we’re going to get to explore that in Fantastic Beasts. It hasn’t been confirmed where the story is going, although everybody can pretty much assume that the last movie is going to end up in 1945 with Dumbledore fighting Grindelwald. That’s probably where it’s going, from all of the interviews and everything you’ve seen. That’s not spoilers, guys; that’s all out in the world.
Kat: It’s all there. And I do remember… I believe it was at one of the round tables that I attended at press week. One of the other outlets I was with asked the Davids (so David Yates and David Heyman), “Is Dumbledore going to be gay when we see him?” This is definitely a spoiler, so you should skip forward 20 seconds or so if you don’t want to hear the next part. I’ll give you a second. Okay. So Dumbledore is definitely in the second movie – that’s been totally confirmed – and they said, “No comment.” So I don’t know what that means.
Jess: It’s not going to be like pansexual Deadpool, is it? Where it’s like, “Oh yeah, he’s totally pansexual, but it’s never mentioned.” [laughs]
Kat: I hope not. I have a feeling that Jo wouldn’t have put it out into the world if that wasn’t something she was okay with exploring and ready to explore should the opportunity arise.
Jess: Yeah, I agree. I think, especially looking at the tone of Fantastic Beasts, it really does read as an adult movie. So I don’t think there’d be as much hesitation around exploring that than maybe if it [were] the original Harry Potter series.
Alison: But I think when it is explored, it’s going to be more about the pain and the betrayal that came afterward more than anything, if that makes sense. Since we’re at that point, the biggest way I see this happening is, I see them getting into their big showdown fight and Dumbledore is like…
Jess: … “Kiss me, Grindelwald.” [laughs]
Alison: … giving a speech. No! [laughs] No. But Dumbledore is like, “Why are you doing this? I loved you.” And maybe they get into a verbal argument as well as a physical altercation.
Kat: Oh my God, if he said, “I loved you,” the world would explode.
Jess: I would explode. [laughs]
Alison: And I’m thinking of a scene in something. Oh! I’m thinking of Star Wars[: Episode III]. [laughs] I’m thinking of “I don’t know you anymore. You’re going [down a path] I can’t follow.”
Jess: “You’re breaking my heart.”
Alison: Yeah, I’m thinking of Padmé and Anakin, and that’s how I almost see this coming up. I don’t know. That’s where I see it coming up in this, but the reason I don’t think it fits into why she didn’t put it into Harry’s story is because it’s Harry’s story, and the whole reason we have Dumbledore’s backstory is so Harry can work through those emotions of “Dumbledore wasn’t perfect; he didn’t tell me this. I’m not quite sure if I know him,” so he can work through that doubt and make that decision on his own to continue the mission. And so we didn’t necessarily need everything in Dumbledore’s background, but we got enough deep nuggets in his background to knock Harry off balance, if that makes sense.
Jess: Yeah, I do agree. I think as much as I wanted it – and I think it could be totally justified to be included because of how it interacts with Dumbledore’s backstory – you do run the risk of derailing the plot. So logistically, I understand why it was cut because it really doesn’t… Unless Harry has some sort of epiphany for Ron…
Jess: … I’m not sure – or Voldemort [laughs] – how that’s going to be particularly…
Jess: … useful in promotion to him. I’m spanning so many fan fics. I can just hear them starting.
Kat: I’m not sure that Harry would choose Ron if he had to choose anybody.
Kat: I’m not sure he would choose Ron, but…
Jess: Forever pining for Cedric Diggory.
[Jess and Kat laugh]
Jess: So I understand.
Jess: Logistically, it’s just not possible because it would derail the story, and it’s really in no way helpful to Harry overcoming Voldemort. I think as far as removing it, she has a pretty good justification as to why.
Alison: But I think it is definitely going to come up in Fantastic Beasts. I think it’s going to have to because it’s such, I think, a motivation… I mean, Dumbledore even says, “I think that’s why it took me so long to go confront him” because of everything that happened that summer with Ariana, with their plans. And I think there’s a hint there of Dumbledore’s own feelings; he couldn’t face them. And so I think it’s definitely going to come up, and it’s definitely going to be a major part of that story when we see it from this perspective that we’re going to see in the next few years.
Kat: Plus, I feel like the general public would be really, really, really, really, times a thousand pissed if that [weren’t] explored, because Dumbledore is such an iconic character and he stands for so many things that are just and beautiful in the world. Granted, he is not a perfect character, and we will obviously get there, but he is a figurehead for a lot of people, and he does stand for a lot of things that are right. And I think that the world in general would be really pissed if he [weren’t] openly gay in the movies when we do eventually see him, which we assume we’re going to. So…
Alison: I still wonder about openly, though, because if we’re thinking of the time period, it was not…
Kat: Well, openly for Dumbledore. And don’t forget, the wizarding world, as Jo has said, doesn’t care about that stuff. So that’s obviously very different [from] wherever, whatever time zone and country we are in at that time because yes, being gay 100 years ago is very different than it is now, never mind even 15 years ago. It’s very different, so Dumbledore, as I mentioned, is a figurehead for… A lot of people use him as a positive force, I suppose, when they’re thinking about things, and I thought it would be really fun if we had a look at some of Dumbledore’s most famous quotes and the ones that felt… What I want to do is I want to read a quote and then I want to explore what part of his life or his past may be feeding this quote, because he’s very insightful, and he’s definitely one of those people because of everything that he has gone through. He takes everything that he has learned and the pain and the joy — what little joy he’s had — and really puts it into his present and his future to help himself learn more about himself and the people around him, so I thought if we examined the quotes through the lens of Dumbledore’s current and past, it could be really insightful and fun. Since we’ve definitely never done this type of thing before, we’ll see how it goes, but the first one here is quite literally from the first page of the first book, and the quote is…
Alison: Ehh, it’s a couple [of] pages in.
Kat: Oh, is it?
Kat: Oh, it’s just the first chapter. I was remembering the bibliography for it and only listed the chapter, not the page. My fault. And the quote is “Voldemort had powers I will never have.” And obviously, the obvious one is magic, but what else? What else could Dumbledore be talking about?
Alison: I think he’s talking about death. [laughs] I’m going to be really morbid this whole time because looking at almost all of these, I think one of the most formative things of his life was Ariana and her death and his realization that came with that and that whole summer of searching for the Deathly Hallows, of making these plans for “the greater good,” and I think that’s part of this. I think even at this point, that early, I think Dumbledore knew somehow Voldemort was messing with powers of mortality and he was trying to find a way to come back, and he wasn’t sure what it was yet, but I think he at least hypothesized Voldemort will be back, Voldemort is not dead even though it seems to everything, all sense of logic, he should be dead. And so that’s the power I think he’s talking about. I think he’s talking about Voldemort. He’s guessing Voldemort has this power over death, but Dumbledore has never had that kind of power over death. He couldn’t save his mother. He couldn’t save his sister.
Kat: He couldn’t unite the Deathly Hallows.
Alison: Yeah, he couldn’t unite the Deathly Hallows. I think Dumbledore doesn’t even think he’ll ever be able to save himself. This is weird, wow. I’ve never put this into words before. I think Dumbledore thinks he’s doomed from the very beginning. I can talk about why as we go through. I get the sense that, especially as this war was happening, Dumbledore knew he was going to be a fatality in this war, and so he was building up everything he possibly could to then take down Voldemort with him.
Jess: Yeah, I definitely agree with what you said, and I think… so this is stemming on from that, talking a bit outside of magic. Even just the referring to his conviction in his mission, I imagine there were plenty of times Dumbledore hummed and hawed and doubted what he was doing, particularly with the nature of the acts he was doing and how they affected other people, and that level of conviction from Voldemort I don’t think can be underestimated. And the contingencies he had in place to make sure it came through. Because I’m sure Dumbledore didn’t have the level of… not confidence, but yeah, I think “conviction” is the right word and steadfastness to reach the goal that Voldemort had, and being willing to burn everything in your path to get to what you want is not something I think Dumbledore has, and I think that probably intimidates him.
Kat: Hmm. Okay, so basically, he doesn’t have the cajones that Voldemort has…
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Kat: … to go down the path of least resistance, basically.
Alison: Maybe, maybe.
Jess: That’s one way to put it, yeah.
Alison: The arrogance to think, which he could be seeing from a different perspective. He could be seeing it as confidence or something else but the arrogance to feel so assured in his plans.
Jess: Yeah, and I think that that probably intimidates him.
Kat: So then, okay, thinking about that, keeping that in our mind, the second quote here, also from Sorcerer’s Stone, it says, “[The truth] is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
Alison: Ariana. Particularly this one.
Kat: Okay, not everything can be about Ariana. Or is it?
Alison: No, no, no. It’s not. [laughs] This one just happens to really shout at me because when he’s talking to Harry later, and again, when he’s talking about why he took so long to go confront Grindelwald, and he says, “I think I was afraid of the truth. I was afraid to know which of us actually killed her.” And that’s where I think that comes from, is the truth of who killed his sister would have set him free in some ways, I think, but I think it also was a toss-up. It would’ve either set him free, I think, and made him feel a little bit less guilty, or if it had been him, he would’ve felt so entirely guilty by that truth that I think it would’ve utterly destroyed him. So the truth is going to be one of these two things in that situation for him, and I think he starts approaching all sense of truth that way, and so he’s careful about where it comes from.
Kat: Then what does that say about him in regard to Harry that he couldn’t tell him the truth for so long, knowing…? You can’t say that quote and then keep things from Harry for five more years, which is what he does.
Alison: Hmm. I don’t know.
Jess: I think he can. I think that actually feeds right into that way of thinking. If he holds the truth in such high regard and it needs to be treated with great caution, then I think he may see it as dropping a bomb on Harry. It’s this great weapon that needs to be treated with respect in the same way that he sees love as a weapon, and the truth is a very powerful thing, and he needs to be careful and think through the options before he goes shooting his mouth off with things that he can’t take back. So I think it actually does feed into that mindset of why he kept things from Harry so much because he was so cautious about when to let things out because he knew the [effect] the truth would have.
Kat: Hmm. Don’t we think that the truth could have helped Harry? If he had known sooner?
Alison: Oh yeah. Duh. Sorry. That sounded rude. Yes, I definitely think it could’ve, but I also don’t think Harry was ready for it.
Jess: And I don’t think Dumbledore thought that way. I think that, for someone with such tight control over the strings, he wanted to think through and probably had a lot of doubt about what he told Harry. So I absolutely think the truth could have helped him, but I don’t think Dumbledore necessarily saw it that way.
Kat: So then let’s pretend for a minute – we’re going to jump back – that Dumbledore is J.K. Rowling in this instance. How does her decision to keep these secrets from Harry – and ultimately, from us – [affect] how we read? And how we think about Dumbledore’s choices in this moment?
Alison: I think it goes back to subverting the mentor archetype. The mentor is just supposed to drop in, dispel wisdom, tell you what’s going on, and then go. And he comes in, and he tells part of the truth, and we think we have the whole picture because we’re trusting him as the mentor archetype to give us the whole picture, but then we find out he doesn’t. And I think that it makes us question everything else, then. What does he know, what does he not know? What is Harry going to know? How is Harry going to deal with this information?
Kat: Okay, so do we know enough about Gandalf so we can talk about him for a moment? Obviously, there are obvious comparisons there, besides the whole “they’re tall and thin and wear robes and are wizards.” Whatever. Because Gandalf does the exact same thing. And Alison, you were talking about the archetype. Are they essentially the same character?
Alison: I think Dumbledore is a little bit more instrumental in the rest of the plot. Because when you look at the hero’s journey cycle, the mentor comes in quite early and then is gone. Usually. And that’s what Gandalf does. He comes in, he gets him started, he gives him the information they need to know at that moment, and then he’s gone. And I mean, he pops back up later but in a different character cycle, I think, though, more than Frodo’s hero cycle. But Dumbledore is there throughout the whole thing. And he’s what Harry bases a lot of his choices on. And so he becomes almost even more important at the end of the cycle, where Harry is going up to his biggest challenges, he’s going up to his lowest points, and now, all of a sudden, what he’s built the rest of the steps in his hero’s journey cycle on, which is Dumbledore, in a lot of ways – and what Dumbledore has told him – starts to shift. And he feels like it’s crumbling beneath him. And so it completely unseats Harry at a point where he should be going in for the final battle, and it shakes up the whole pattern, which is an interesting thing to do for something that follows it so closely everywhere else.
Kat: Yeah, it was definitely a twist when she ended up killing off Dumbledore and then brought him back in this interesting and new way, which I’d certainly never experienced in a series before.
Alison: Yeah, because he’s not quite Gandalf actually coming back. He’s just…
Kat: … a learned version of his own portrait, right. [laughs] He’s a shadow of his former self, basically. The next one here is an interesting one. I wasn’t quite sure if I should include it in here because it doesn’t… Okay, I’ll just say it. This is [in] Chamber. So he’s talking to the Minister. It says, “I want it understood, Cornelius, that Hagrid has my full confidence.” And Dumbledore, as we know, trusts very few people fully and completely. Obviously, Snape is one of them, for reasons we know. Hagrid is another, and I would say probably McGonagall, although obviously, he doesn’t tell McGonagall or Hagrid most of the things that Snape knows. So what is it about Dumbledore’s character and his personality and his past, I suppose, that allows him to trust people? Because… I don’t know. If I had been through what he went through, I think I’d have a hard time caring about anybody, quite honestly.
Jess: I do wonder if it’s not so much a matter of genuine trust, but rather Dumbledore’s confidence in his ability to control their actions. So you look at people like McGonagall and Hagrid. They’re very loyal people, and he reads that in their personalities, so he can trust the fact that they will act a certain way, not necessarily that he will trust them with information or his own personal story. So that’s how, just in the context of Dumbledore as a greater character, I read that.
Alison: I think it highlights how Dumbledore sees people. Because I think he frowns at Fudge when he says this, doesn’t he? And so I think it highlights, okay, Dumbledore trusts Hagrid, but he obviously doesn’t trust the Ministry, the supposed authorities, the supposed people who are supposed to be in charge. Which is often a theme in Rowling’s writing, of having some skepticism of what people in authority tell you. But I think this one just really highlights the difference between Fudge and Dumbledore too, in some ways, where Fudge says, “Well, we have to do something.” And Dumbledore says, “Okay, but you’re not doing the right thing. You shouldn’t just do something just to do something. That doesn’t work. That doesn’t help. You need to be doing something for the purpose of actually trying to solve the problem.” Which might come from his search [for] the Hallows and what he learned from that because he talks about “We knew we needed the Wand because that was supposed to be a powerful weapon. We wanted the Stone to create an army on Grindelwald’s side and to take responsibility from Dumbledore.” And then he says, “And the Cloak, we never really thought about it. We only just thought about it because you needed to put them together.” So they weren’t looking for the Cloak for the right reasons, and so they didn’t succeed. I think. And when he finally got the Cloak, he didn’t have it for the right reasons, and so he didn’t succeed. And so I think it goes into that idea of “What are you doing, and what is the intent behind it? And how does it help get us to a certain point?”
Kat: Wow, Alison, that was so deep. I didn’t expect to get that from that quote about Hagrid!
Alison: [laughs] I didn’t expect that to come out of me, wow! [laughs]
Kat: Wow. 20 points to Hufflepuff. Good for you.
Alison: Thank you, thank you.
Kat: I think the next quote that I want to bring up is probably one of his most famous. And this is the book one, remember, not the adapted one for the film. And the quote is “You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?” Okay. This one can be about Ariana. But can it also be about his mom?
Alison: Yes. I think it’s both his parents.
Kat: Yeah, I really think that this one is about Kendra a lot. And as much as he loved his sister, I think that he had some unresolved issues with his mother that I think… He regrets the fact that he never got to deal with those issues, I think. And this quote always makes me think of Kendra when I hear it and listen to it under the Dumbledore umbrella, so to say.
Alison: It makes me think of just how tough it must have been for him after his mother died. And I mean, I’m sure he went home, he tried to take care of Ariana, and I’m sure, in that first while when it was so hard and he didn’t know what he was doing and he didn’t have his mother’s guidance and she’d been succeeding for years at that point. And then, all of a sudden, he was there, he didn’t know what he was doing, this wasn’t what he thought he was supposed to be doing, and I think that was a time of great trouble. And so he started trying to draw back on his mother and what she had done and how, maybe, how he could channel that to help take care of his sister at that time. And I think that probably stayed with him forever.
Kat: I mean, how could it not, right?
Alison: Yeah. I mean, that’s why he goes looking for the Resurrection Stone, right? That’s why he wants it. He wants it so his parents can come back and that burden will be lifted from him in some way.
Kat: Does his father die in Azkaban? Refresh my memory.
Alison: I think so, yeah.
Jess: Well, I supposed I see it as a reflection of Jo where… Dumbledore as well. We know that there are religious tie-ins to the book, and I think that’s her coming through, probably, in one of the more stronger parts.
Kat: Especially in regard to her mother, right? I think that’s very valid here. And this is a great example of Dumbledore speaking for Jo, I would say, and vice versa. The next one is a fun one, very interesting. I think I know what y’all are going to say about it, but we’ll see. The quote is, “Curiosity is not a sin. But we should exercise caution with our curiosity.” Go for it. Not even going to set you up because I know what you all are going to say.
Alison: [laughs] Someone else go first because I’m just going to be a broken record. It’s the Deathly Hallows!
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Alison: Jazz hands! [laughs] How does Aberforth say, “He got swept up in the vision of hunting for the Hallows, of being this great leader, of this whole fantasy of he and Grindelwald leaders of the wizarding world, of the whole world”? He became curious [about] what it was they should do with that, why they should do that, what Grindelwald’s plans were. Then that lead him to quite a bit of trouble, so… [laughs]
Kat: See? Along the same vein, for me, I think that this is more about the curiosity in a person and letting yourself be swept up in the love of somebody else and losing your identity because you take on everything that that other person loves. And you’re doing it because you’re so curious and you want to be a part of their world so bad[ly] that you’re harming yourself even though you don’t realize that you’re doing it. And that’s something that’s incredibly scary, to me, anyway.
Jess: I mean, what I’m getting from all these quotes is just how incredibly cautious Dumbledore is [laughs] and how much his past has sort of shaped the way he approaches life that everything needs to be thought through and calculated before you can make a decision.
Alison: It’s very interesting to think about [that] he was a Gryffindor at school. And Gryffindors are usually a bit more reckless. And I can just see him going from this reckless Gryffindor in his school days, this major life event happening, and him just going all the way to the other extreme of calculate, analyze, plot out, manipulate everything because you don’t want to get to the point he was at that summer. And he does not want to be that anymore.
Jess: That’s why I will always maintain that Dumbledore is a Slytherin because [laughs] he fits in so perfectly, in my opinion.
Alison: Well, that is the opposite, right? It’s the opposite of Gryffindor. It’s the other side of the coin. And so he just shifts over to…
Jess: But it’s funny to think of how there’s this dark quality between who he was and who he is of this fine young boy [who] was borderline reckless and ready to dive in feet first, and now, he’s this wise, old man [who] really has been hardened by his past and hardened by the world, and I’m interested in – to bring it back to Fantastic Beasts – if he is portrayed in the films and how he’s talked about in the films, if they’re going to sort of highlight that side of him that was perhaps more playful and more impulsive.
Kat: I’m sure, because, as Alison said, as far as we can tell – because we don’t know much about his personality as a younger man – he was definitely more playful and open and free, almost, in a way, before all of that happened.
Alison: [chants] Flashbacks! Flashbacks!
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: That’s actually a perfect segue into our next quote because this next one I really wanted to put in here because I think it’s good. It’s a good one. And it’s actually from the end of Goblet of Fire. And the quote is such:
“Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
So wait, let me reread this with some names change, okay?
“Remember Albus. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Gellert Grindelwald. Remember Albus Dumbledore.”
Alison: Oh snap!
Kat: [laughs] Come on! How could that not be more about him?
Alison: No! I think you’re right. I think you’re right. And I think it’s the antithesis of the greater good. It’s “what are you doing things for,” and he’s saying, “Remember this one boy who was all of this but accidentally came across someone who was doing bad. And we could just leave this one boy, let him go, for the greater good, but what would that do for us now?”
Jess: Really just encapsulates how many innocents are lost in times of war, especially when you do have the power to change things and it can be much easier to sit back and not make a decision, but you have to keep in mind – and Harry in particular, who is known to follow his impulses and potentially make selfish decisions [and] he needs to remember – that not everyone had the choice to involve themselves; some people were just taken. And I think that that’s really important to remember when you’re going through the seventh book, in that some people don’t have the option to involve themselves. Some people just get in the way and are essentially collateral.
Alison: In that case, you could replace Cedric with Ariana. It gives a name, it gives a face to… Because if you read that letter in Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore writes to Grindelwald, anyone who might be this collateral damage is just… they’re nameless, they’re faceless, they don’t matter; the greater good matters more. But now you put a name, you put a face to it… There'[re] psychological studies that show that soldiers, in war and stuff, have a harder time killing if they know details about the other side, and anyone, really. I mean, if you get to know on a personal basis someone who’s in the “other” – the general other – from some point view you have, it becomes a lot harder to hate, to dislike, to openly oppose. And so it’s remembering the individuals that makes the difference, that makes you go for what is actually right.
Kat: Yeah, I’ve read several studies, actually – since you pointed that out – that says that if you’re in some sort of hostage or shooter situation that you should talk to the person and tell them facts about yourself, your age and […] your family and your love and your pets and all that stuff because yeah, it personalizes it. So I do think… That’s funny. I hadn’t thought about that in the context of Ariana, but I like it. That changes that entire scene if you think about it as Dumbledore looking back at his own life just as much as he is trying to remind everybody about Cedric.
Alison: Because all it takes is one personal connection, I think, and then your whole mind/view changes. Your whole perspective changes.
Kat: Speaking of perspectives changing, let’s move on to the next book here; we just have a few quotes left. And this one is Dumbledore speaking to Lord Voldemort – Mr. Tom Riddle – and he says, “You are quite wrong. Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.”
Kat: Go ahead. You can say it.
Alison: [laughs] Everything goes back to this one event!
Kat: Is it easy for us to just make those connections or is it because that’s the only part of Dumbledore Jo really gives us?
Alison: I think that’s it, honestly. I think some of this could also be talking about the guilt Dumbledore feels from not only just this summer but everything [else too]. The Order of the Phoenix, James and Lily, everyone who died [in] the Order in that first war, everything that went wrong up to that point, even maybe… In this book, I think, he talks about one of his greatest weaknesses was, he cared about Harry. So maybe even the fact of he looks back and goes, “Oh crap, what did I do to this boy? I left him in an abusive situation. I haven’t given him much help in some cases. I’ve let him go into danger. Oh dear, [laughs] I may have done some things that are bad.” And like I said, I think Dumbledore doesn’t put much value on himself, on his own life. So the guilt and the problems he’s caused for other people, I think, are things that he sees as worse than death. His own death he wouldn’t care about.
Kat: And he doesn’t. He proves that. He proves that many times over, yeah.
Alison: Exactly. He doesn’t care about his own life; he doesn’t care about his own death. It almost makes me wonder, especially listening to the last episode, if Dumbledore had some depression and maybe some suicidal tendencies.
Kat: Oh, I don’t think that’s debatable. I think that’s real.
Alison: Yeah. Where it’s almost that mindset of “everyone would be better off without me.” And so he’s trying to set it up so that all the information he has that he’s figured out can get out there so people can figure it out, but then he’s out of the way and not causing problems that he sees that he causes for other people. And that, I think, is his “worse than death.”
Kat: Being a liability?
Alison: Causing pain and damage to other people’s lives that I think he thinks – even somewhere just in the back of his mind – are better than him. As a person.
Jess: Yeah, I think Dumbledore lives with a lot of shame, overwhelmingly, is what I get from him, is that he’s very ashamed of not only his actions but who he is as a person [as well] because he feels they have informed those actions, and I think this conversation with Tom really separates the difference between the two in that Tom Riddle can’t remove himself from the equation. He is at the center of his own universe. It’s almost solipsistic. Whereas Dumbledore almost can’t see the value in himself except to serve other people in a way to not feel so much shame. So it’s really quite a telling quote when you think about how they both view themselves within the world.
Kat: I love comparing the two characters of Voldemort and Dumbledore because I feel like they share the same views on so many things, but the ultimate way they go about either reacting to them or implementing them is totally opposite. And I always find it so interesting to think about the two of them – just like you were saying, Jess – the way that they see themselves in the world. I’m not sure I’m getting my point across, but I know what I’m trying to say, so I guess that’s what matters.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Alison: No, I think I get where you’re coming from.
Jess: Yeah, Tom could never see himself in relation to others whereas that’s the only way Dumbledore sees himself. I think, going back to my earlier point of the power that Voldemort has that Dumbledore doesn’t, is, again, that conviction within oneself almost independence to view “my way is the right way” and having the conviction to follow through with that, whereas Dumbledore really does see himself in relation to everyone else and what everyone else is doing and thinking and how it [affects] them. Yeah, so I agree, Kat. They have similar views on what’s wrong with the world but different ways of fixing it. It’s like the Trump v. Bernie movement [laughs] of Harry Potter.
Kat: [laughs] Oh yeah! I was just thinking that; that’s so funny. Right, okay, moving on from that before we get into that terrible topic…
[Alison and Jess laugh]
Kat: … the last one I want to bring up here, I think, is… Everybody says it. We turn to it in times of tragedy and all of this… and I think this one… [sighs] Okay, I want to hear what you guys have to say, so the quote is this:
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love.”
Now, given the context of everything that we’ve spoken about with Grindelwald and all that, Dumbledore – as far as we know – had unrequited love. As far as we know, Grindelwald did not return that to him. But Dumbledore had lots of other kinds of love and he’s very clearly speaking about himself a little bit here. He’s also speaking about Voldemort. I think he’s also speaking of Snape in this moment, even though Snape himself felt he had love, it was unrequited also, in a way, because it was a very different kind of feeling that Lily had for Snape. So I’m really curious to see how you feel about this quote and what you think Dumbledore is truly talking about here.
Jess: Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is when Harry sees him after he’s been hit with the [Killing Curse] by Voldemort, yeah?
Alison and Kat: King’s Cross, yeah.
Jess: Yeah. So I actually read this in not so much a romantic love with Grindelwald but more in a familial love with Ariana and his mother, so he’s saying, “Do not pity the dead,” and for all intents and purposes, he’s dead at this point, and given what we know about Jo’s religious beliefs, I think we can assume that he was reunited with Ariana and his mother, and potentially his father, in the afterlife. So I think that that’s more the way I read it. It wasn’t anything to do with Grindelwald. I think he would probably be past it at one hundred-and-whatever years old, but it’s all about living without that familial love, which is what Voldemort never had. Voldemort never had that. Voldemort is the one he pitied because he never had that love from a family.
Alison: I agree with you. I think he’s saying something we all know: Life can suck. Life is hard. I mean, Hamilton: “Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder.” It’s hard sometimes to keep going, but I think that’s one of the things we learn from Harry Potter; it’s what Harry learns, is that it is love of all kinds that gets you up in the morning, that gets you through the day, that gets you through hard times. It’s all kinds of love. It’s romantic love, it’s familial love, it’s the love of friends, it’s the love for the world you live in, it’s the love for the future that you can see, it’s the love for people in the past, and it takes all kinds of love to get through something as hard as life. And I think he’s saying, “Pity everyone who has to go through that hard thing of life, but pity those especially who have an even harder time of it because they have no support network, they have no people out there who can hold them up when they feel like they can’t hold themselves up.” And the dead are past that. The dead don’t have to worry about that anymore, but the living do. And love is the only thing that gets you through.
Kat: So upon [the] first reading of this quote, we’re all meant to believe that he’s referring to Voldemort because Harry is looking at the Voldebaby, the fetus, whatever that thing is…
Kat: … when Dumbledore first says this to him. And we’ve talked about this before: Is Voldemort – or Tom Riddle – pitiable? Is he a product of his environment and all of that? So going off of what you just said, Alison, Tom Riddle had those things but chose not to accept them. So is he pitiable? And this is in the context of Dumbledore. How do we think Dumbledore looks at…? If this is the way Dumbledore is suggesting people live and how Harry view others and move forward with his life and the world, how does Tom Riddle and Voldemort fit into that?
Alison: I think he does pity him, actually. I think it doesn’t excuse anything he did, but I think there’s some pity there, and I think Harry finds that pity too, in that he offers a chance, he offers a choice, to turn back and accept it, but Tom Riddle won’t.
Kat: But Tom Riddle had that support system. He did have love from some people.
Alison: Exactly! But he pushed it away. And so Harry offers him that choice at the end. He says, “Feel. Accept everything around you.” But Voldemort won’t do it. He pushes it aside, and so I think Harry has got some pity for him.
Jess: Yeah, and I think there'[re] two sides to love, isn’t there? There’s someone [who] has to be willing to give the love and you have to be willing to receive that love. And I think that’s probably something Dumbledore struggled with later in life. And I think that’s where the pity comes from, that he doesn’t have the capacity to feel love, to feel worthy of love, both Dumbledore, to an extent, but Lord Voldemort… He doesn’t have the capacity to feel that because he doesn’t think of other people’s opinions or thoughts or feelings when it comes to himself. He just doesn’t have that capacity, and I think the pity comes from… I think the other quote that’s on here – speaking of segues – about being able to love despite everything that’s happened to you. Voldemort doesn’t have that anymore. He was burned pretty badly by life in the beginning, and he just doesn’t have that place in his soul anymore to receive love, and I think that’s where the pity comes from, not being able to physically accept that love, and that’s really sad.
Kat: Do we think Dumbledore still has that capacity?
Jess: I think that’s probably very wilted, if it is in there, but yeah, I think that’s probably why he does pity Tom, because he can see himself in him. There'[re] a lot of comparisons you can make between Voldemort and Dumbledore. And I think that’s probably something he struggles with as well, is the ability to feel worthy of love in any form it comes in.
Kat: Do we think that that’s mostly because of Ariana? Or his mother? Grindelwald? Where do we think that that shame – almost – and unworthiness come from?
Jess: Well, yeah. It’s hard – like we talked about before – when we’re making these analogies because that’s all we have on Dumbledore: his time with Ariana and what happened with his mother. So it is rather difficult to make that leap, I think, as to why he might feel that shame, but I think it probably plays a big part in it. I mean, he is a massive overachiever – to put it lightly – and he never seems to gloat or feel any… Not pride. I think he does feel pride in his achievements. And you can see the way it comes through in some of the ways he winks and jokes about things, but he never really has that arrogance that can often come with being so smart and so well accomplished. And I think if he [were] arrogant, he would probably be a bit justified in being so. So I think it probably is a result of what happened with Ariana and his mother. And he’s spent his entire life trying to make up for that, and he doesn’t. It’s never something that goes away until, in death, he sees them again, and he is alleviated of that guilt.
Kat: He should’ve allowed himself to – I guess – forgive himself much, much earlier in life.
Jess: Yes, and I completely think that. And I think that maybe would’ve shaped the way he maybe handled Harry. And that if he could forgive himself for what he did, he wouldn’t see the need to have such tight control over everything, and then maybe he would’ve let Harry in a bit more on the truth and to work things through with him rather than trying to figure it all out inside and then delegate as [he] see[s] fit. So yeah, I would agree with that.
Kat: Wow. When you really pile this all on top of each other, it gets very heavy.
Kat: But in a very almost-beautiful way, until you put Harry into the equation because the choices that [Dumbledore] made – as we talked about and have been talking about – directly affected Harry’s entire experience at school, outside of school, [and] everything that happened with Lord Voldemort. Ultimately, I don’t know how I feel about the way Dumbledore handled that whole situation, how long it took him to tell Harry certain things, how he omitted certain things. [sighs] We’ll get there in a minute, but I really want to talk about Dumbledore keeping Snape’s secret for so long. I don’t personally know if that was the right choice. I don’t know. [Do] you guys have thoughts on that?
Alison: As much as I don’t like Snape, as much as I don’t think it was really love, I think Dumbledore owed him that much. To be able to keep that secret, that was important, I think. And I think it was a sign that Dumbledore could find something good, even in Snape. And he would hold on to that and not just let it out to everyone because I think that would taint it somehow for both Snape and Dumbledore in that “you are trusting me with this, so we can have a little back and forth of ‘I will trust you with something great as well.'” Does that make any sense?
Kat: Yeah. It was like Dumbledore was keeping the secret almost as a little talisman for himself as well.
Alison: Yeah. Maybe he got some inspiration from it of love. Even unrequited love, or love that you feel is love that maybe the other person doesn’t, can still help you do great things, and people don’t have to know about that necessarily. But your own personal motivation can come from that.
Kat: [It] can come from anywhere, really. Right. So okay, since we have Snape in the conversation now, we’ll just go there. Time and time again, we forgive Dumbledore for his shortcomings. And yet at least most of the hosts on this show – I can’t speak for everybody, of course – [have] a hard time forgiving Snape for his. What is it about Dumbledore, about either the way he carries himself or interacts with people or his past or whatever, that allows us to feel more empathy and goodness from him that allows us to continue to let him off the hook? And not everybody, obviously, lets him off the hook, but the majority of us – I would say – overlook Dumbledore’s faults because of his past, whereas… I don’t know. Maybe it’s 50/50 with Snape.
Jess: Regardless of how you feel about the goodness of the things Snape did for the war and for the Order, he was still mean. He was still really mean to children. We never see an example of that from Dumbledore. We only ever see Dumbledore [as] nice and polite or ferociously passionate about defeating a Dark wizard. And I think that’s the same thing that we find likable about each other and people around us: that [they’re] nice. It really comes down to that. Are they a good person at their core as opposed to just their actions? And what are their intentions behind their actions? So I think that’s why people feel they can give Dumbledore a pass and maybe hold Snape to a slightly stricter standard.
Alison: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. That’s why I don’t forgive Snape. Because he let his bitterness eat at him so much that it turned him into a terrible person and he was horrible to other people, whereas Dumbledore might have been a little bit more productive with the shame and guilt he felt and didn’t let it turn into that bitterness. And instead, he projected it outward in a more way of “Okay, I’m going to use this as a motivation to rid the world of this evil” rather than letting it fester inside of him and turn into Snape’s bitter, angry, dark outlook on life, which then shoots out of him. And letting it explode out of him and just be nasty to people around him.
Jess: I don’t know where this came from or whether I made it up in my head or whether it was something I saw on Tumblr. I don’t know, but there was a nice little quote about Neville, and it’s when he was a teacher and he would always treat Scorpius Malfoy with respect and be kind, despite the fact that his father was awful and bullied him or something to that effect. And I think that that’s a perfect example of what we wanted to see from Snape and what would [let us] forgive him: if he could separate his own issues and actually treat his students the way that they deserve to be treated as individuals.
Kat: So I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment here because everybody who listens to this show knows how I feel about Snape. Did Snape do what he did more for the greater good than Dumbledore? Because Dumbledore, in a way, is doing everything that he did completely out of guilt. Obviously, [Snape is] doing it [not only] because of his love or whatever he had for Lily but also because Dumbledore is asking that of him. [Do] you guys know what I’m trying to get at here? Are their intentions a little backward here yet almost the same in their difference?
Alison: I don’t think so because I think when Dumbledore uses his guilt, it’s not necessarily to redeem himself. I feel like Snape, when he uses his guilt and decides he’s going to do this, somehow thinks he is redeeming himself in Lily’s eyes then, whereas Dumbledore – I think – is looking more toward the future, and he’s not saying, “How do I redeem myself?” He’s saying, “How do I make the world better for the future?” and “How to do that is to get rid of this evil.” But Snape is looking too much in the past, and that is where their biggest difference there comes from.
Kat: But they’re both letting their pasts inform their current and future decisions.
Alison: Yes, they’re both being driven by it, but I think it’s what they’re trying to change by that drive from the past, and I think Snape, in a lot of ways, is trying to change the past and something that he can’t change. But Dumbledore is instead saying, “The past is in the past. I’m going to change the future now. I’m going to make it better.”
Jess: Yeah, I would agree with that, and I think you’ve just got to look at the way that they act. Snape isn’t trying to make the world a better place. If he [were], he’d start with himself. He’s not trying to make the world a better place for other people. It’s some weird, selfish reasoning that he wants to redeem himself in Lily’s eyes, like you said, Alison. But I think Dumbledore approaches it more [in] “How do we ensure this doesn’t happen again?” like you said, for the future more so than specifically related to him trying to prove that he was worthy to be Ariana’s big brother or something like that.
Kat: Okay, so then does Dumbledore end up being more helpful in his death? Did he almost create more problems with everything he tried to do in life? And when he just let himself be and let his story and let Harry discover who he was without mitigating the problems or trying to lead the narrative in a certain direction, was Dumbledore then more helpful after that point?
Jess: That’s why Dumbledore confuses me a little bit, because he seems to blur the lines between being too involved and being completely detached from Harry. So do I think he helped the situation more in his death? No, because I think he went about it incorrectly from the get-go. It’s really a confusing part of the way Dumbledore interacts with Harry when he almost gives him little glimmers of being almost like a father figure to him and then completely separates himself and says, “No, we must stick to the mission, and I can’t get too attached to this boy.” So yeah. No, I don’t think he helped things by dying. But maybe in the context of how he had handled things up to that point, it might have helped Harry grow as a person, which I think is what the death more served to do. Harry got to grow as a person and reaffirm his belief in Dumbledore’s mission separate of the influence of Dumbledore. But I think that’s more of a narrative device than anything within the story of Dumbledore.
Alison: I think Harry got the truth, the real truth, faster afterward. But I think the reason Harry was ready for it, in some ways, was [that] he had lost his last crutch of that adult who could help him, give him guidance. And so once he lost Dumbledore, he lost that last someone he could turn to for help and guidance, and so he just had to step up and be ready to take whatever the truth was going to be, the complete truth, and deal with it. And I think he finds that hard for a while in Deathly Hallows. He finds it difficult to not have someone who can lead him and guide him. But Harry has to lose that, and he has to step up in order to complete the mission, in order to destroy Voldemort. I don’t know if I would say that Dumbledore was necessarily more helpful then in death, but I think he had to die for Harry to be able to complete what he had to do.
Kat: Right, just as Sirius and Hagrid and ultimately Lupin [and] Fred. Just all of those people fueled Harry’s inner fire, so to say, and gave him the strength and bravery that he needed. Because as much as Harry was brave, doing what he ultimately did was probably more than any Gryffindor has ever had to handle ever. No, not probably. Definitely. Most definitely. So ultimately, Dumbledore. Closing thoughts? I know we’re all very excited, moving forward, to look back, so to say, and get to see more aspects of Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts films. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to finally see him. But how do we feel about this book Dumbledore? This Dumbledore that we see? There’s quite a divide in the fandom. A lot of people really worship him and love him, and a lot of people think that he was just a total jerk. So I’m somewhere in between still. I’m not quite convinced he was 100% good for Harry. He was definitely more good for Harry than bad for Harry, but in a lot of ways, there [are] a lot of things he could have done differently that would have been helpful to Harry, not just in his journey but in life [as well].
Jess: Yeah, I would agree. I think that’s what the Harry Potter series does so well. Rarely do we come across a character that is completely one-dimensional. I think Dumbledore is probably one of the most multi-layered characters in the whole series. I definitely agree with you, Kat. I’m somewhere in the middle, and I don’t think that he should be worshipped blindly or despised entirely because I think the answer is somewhere in the middle, as most of us are. Jo does such a wonderful job of humanizing issues throughout the Harry Potter series, and I think it’s a good reminder to readers and a good lesson to readers to keep that in mind when judging people. People have reasons for why they do things. Should that be taken into account when you’re judging them? Probably. So yeah, I definitely lie somewhere in the middle as well with where Dumbledore sits.
Alison: He fascinates me still. And I think, like you said, it’s a reason we keep going back to him: because he is so multi-layered. I mean, he becomes such a real person because he’s so layered. It’s almost like looking into an actual person’s eyes. He’s so layered, but we don’t quite know everything, but you can start peeling back these bits, and he’s so gray. And I think that’s such a masterpiece of writing. That here we have this figure, who is the mentor. He is the one Harry looks up to. He is the wise hero of our hero, and yet we see that he’s so human. He’s building things off of experience and a hard life. And yet he is trying to build something else in the future. It’s such a beautiful thing. I don’t know. I’m always just so fascinated by Dumbledore because of this.
Kat: It’s funny. Every time you say Dumbledore, you could just insert “J.K. Rowling” into there, and everything you just said would be so valid.
Alison: That’s true. That’s true. And maybe I should take a lesson then and learn. Remember, your heroes are human too. I could probably apply that to you. “To her,” not “to you.” To you, Jo. Yes, to you, Jo. I could apply that to you.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: Obviously, she’s listening. She just answered another question of ours about Apparition, so obviously, she’s listening.
Alison: She did?
Kat: Yeah, on Twitter. I feel like she had already answered it.
Kat: I don’t know. It wasn’t that long ago. She didn’t answer us directly.
Alison: No, I know. But I guess I missed it.
Kat: It was a question about intercontinental Apparition.
Alison: Oh yeah, but we knew that already.
Kat: Yeah, I had a feeling that we did.
Alison: So I think he is one of the masterpieces that comes from these books, and I think Dumbledore is one of the reasons why these books are going to last the test of time.
Kat: Hear, hear. I agree with that completely. No matter what you think of him, pretty much everything he says can be applied to some part of your life in some way. A positive experience, a negative experience, a relationship, whether loving or abusive, which I think definitely, in a way, the one with Grindelwald was, ultimately, no matter how Dumbledore felt about it. So I feel like we could most certainly have 12 more episodes on Dumbledore that were five hours long and we would never run out of things to say. I’m looking forward to discussing him again and also really hearing what the listeners have to say because we unpacked a lot here. There’s a lot of information, a lot of quotes, and a lot of things to discuss. And I know that you will come up with some really cool rebuttals to some of the things we said today.
Alison: But as we are going to let you go off to do that, go get on your computers and type, we just want to thank Jess for joining us today. Thank you so much for all of your input.
Jess: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.
Kat: Oh, good. We are so glad. We love having listeners on the show. I remember when we first started and we were like, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to do this? This is going to be so hard, and what if everyone who calls in isn’t interesting and has nothing to say?” But everybody is always so wonderful, and Jess, you are absolutely no exception. So we thank you very much. Absolutely. No, for sure.
Jess: Too kind. And I would encourage listeners, if they’re considering doing it and they’re not sure, definitely do it. Because I was one of those people. I’ve been listening to Alohomora! since the very beginning of Alohomora! years and years ago. It has taken me until now to finally do it. So I definitely encourage everyone to apply.
Kat: Oh, thank you. Good, because we hear that a lot, like, “Oh, man. I really want to be on, but I’m so scared.” It’s just having a conversation with friends. That’s all. And then other friends listen to it. That’s all. And I guess, speaking of snakes, our next topic is one we’ve all been really looking forward to. It’s going to be so much fun. I don’t know.
Alison: Oh, I’m so excited.
Kat: I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the first in a series of episodes because there’s no way we can only do this topic once.
Alison: I know.
Kat: It’s Sortings, guys.
Kat: So we’re going to be talking about the Sorting process, the Sorting Hat, and probably some characters. So definitely be on the lookout for that. That will be out in two weeks’ time. But in the meantime, head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com. Leave your comments on this episode, and then you can hear your comments later on the recap episode. So go do that. Please.
Alison: If you want to join us on our Sorting episode or any of our episodes that are upcoming, make sure you check out our “Be on the Show!” page on alohomora.mugglenet.com. You can go up to our topic submit page and make sure you are suggesting some great topics for us to talk about. We want to talk about what you’re interested in [and] what you want to hear us talk about, and we want you to join us. So you don’t need anything fancy, just a set of headphones, a microphone, and a recording program of some kind, and you are all set to join us. So let us know what you think. Join us and come talk to us.
Kat: Yeah, I’m sure Jess can vouch for how easy it was. Right?
Jess: Super easy.
Kat: Yeah. There you go. Good girl. We didn’t pay her to say that, just for the record.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: In the meantime, while you are contemplating your nerves and sending in an audition, you can contact us on Twitter @AlohomoraMN, [on Facebook at] facebook.com/openthedumbledore, [or] our website, as you know it, alohomora.mugglenet.com. And don’t forget, you can always send us an owl over on audioBoom at alohomora.mugglenet.com. Please keep your message under 60 seconds and you could hear yourself on the show.
Alison: And while you are on our website, make sure you jump over to our Patreon, patreon.com/alohomora, where you can sponsor us for as low as $1 a month. And you keep us going, so we want to thank everybody who has sponsored us. We are working through our list of sponsors for episodes, so you should hear your name soon. And if you haven’t or if you haven’t signed up to be a Patreon and want to hear your name, go there right now. Go sign up.
Kat: Yes, and thanks again to Lauren for sponsoring this episode. Thank you. Thank you.
Kat: And with that, we’re going to say adiós, amigos. I’m Kat Miller.
Alison: And I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 207 of Alohomora!
[Show music begins]
Alison: Open the me, the Albus Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]
Kat: Hello, and hello again, everybody out there in podcast land. This is Alohomora!, the… That was really, absolutely terrible.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: Let’s start that over again. I don’t know where I was going with that.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: It was so bad.