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The Repeating History of Dumbledore

by David Haber

When we first meet young Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I believe J.K. Rowling is wording descriptions of events with it in mind for us to see similarities between Tom Riddle and Harry. But now that we know the end of the story, and now that we know more about Dumbledore himself, I have lately been thinking more about similarities between Tom Riddle and Gellert Grindelwald.

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Reader Comments: (Page 3)

Voldemort was one of if not the most powerful dark wizard of all time. While knowing little would have held him back he would definitely have searched for others similar to him (wizards). Even without a wand he would have torched the fact about wands out of them and would have surely gone to the best shop olliviander's and purchased it.

He would have easily stole or earned a lot of money and from there buy many books, stu them to become as great as he was in the series. He would have applied for the defence against the dark arts teacher as before and may not have been denied the job.

In short, he would have found the chamber of secrets and either opened it or used it for future plans, that could possibly be his base. He would have still met other dark eaters similar to himself who would become his eaters and from there it could have been better worse or very similar to what happened in the series. It would be an interesting book if written about.

Posted by Alex B. from London on November 30, 2007 1:08 PM

I know Dumbledore likes to see the good in people, but for Tom Riddle in particular, I think it is more likely that Dumbledore wanted to keep an eye on him, maybe even 'tame' him. He probably thought -- or, at least, hoped -- that he could prevent Tom from becoming what he did. The unfortunate reality is that he couldn't.

Posted by Katie T from California on November 30, 2007 5:58 PM

To try and quote Dumbledore (without having the text in front of me) - it is our choices far more than our abilities that show us what we truly are.

Using the quote I think that Dumbledore's choices in life show that he believes there is good in everyone - and perhaps, whilst not actively trying to change a person he tries to coax them in the right direction and 'choose' the right path.

However, I do see an extremely valid point with the concept of Tom Riddle reminding Dumbledore deeply of his perhaps one true love Grindelwald. In the battle in the Ministry at the end of OotP Voldemort seems surprised that Dumbledore does not seek to him. Although technically Voldemort cannot be ed (as Dumbledore knows) it is within Dumbledore's powers to reduce Voldemort back to a state of nothingness - yet he chooses not to. Perhaps feeling he is battling yet again with Grindelwald; Dumbledore's choice to not go further is indicative of misguided love - and the consequences it brings.

Posted by Orlando from England on December 4, 2007 02:57 AM

What an excellent site this is. I love the diagnosis of Riddle as psychopath, and discussion of Dumbledore's moral compass and other excellent points...

There are differences between the Dumbledore Grindelwald relationship and the Dumbledore Riddle relationship. Dumbledore and Grindelwald are equals...they are the same peer group: same age, of equal intelligence, attracted to eachother as equals. They are free to interact with eachother in any consenting way they choose. And they do I'm sure. Dumbledore tried as Grindelwald's equal to change his ideas for the better. I disagree that you can't change people essentially. Look at Snape...he obviously did change with time...coming to use his powers to heal others rather than to hurt them as he grew older...and under Dumbledore's influence. And, as someone else pointed out, Grindelwald was able to love and hence felt remorse in his old age. He was not psychopathic in the way Voldemort appears to have been. Dumbledore might have gone after him earlier if he hadn't loved him...but who knows.

Dumbledore's relationship with Riddle is different. Riddle is an eleven year old boy when Dumbledore meets him, and Dumbledore is a teacher (in a position of authority over Tom). Dumbledore would probably have gone to see Tom as part of his job. All magical children seem to be given the opportunity to attend Hogwarts and Tom is no different. We can't deny someone an education just because of what they might do with it. No-one could have seen at 11 what Riddle would become. I think Dumbledore was attempting to guide Riddle away from evil...hoping he could influence his ideas for the better perhaps and keep an eye on him at the same time (excellent point about the Statute of secrecy). But he was well aware of his true character...and wasn't taken in by Riddle at all. Dumbledore's relationship with Tom was as Teacher to pupil with the responsibility on the teacher's part that that entails and I'm sure he acted impecably. There may have been similarities between Grindelwald and Riddle...but there were also important differences.

Dumbledore is not responsible either for what Tom became or for failing to change Grindelwald's ideas. After all, Tom, Harry and Snape all came from difficult backgrounds and their choices made them what they became. This is one of the themes of the books...that we have choices...we can choose what we act upon. Dumbledore is not responsible for Riddle's choices or his inability to love. If Dumbledore hadn't brought Riddle to Hogwarts and had the chance to learn about him, Harry would not have known his enemy as well as he did.

"It is not how you are alike, Harry, it is how you are not"

Posted by Joe from England on December 4, 2007 04:07 AM

I agree with Joe from England that Dumbledore's thinking was probably more in the line of it not being his right to deny someone an education just because of what they might do with it. I don't think Dumbledore ever trusted or even liked young Riddle but didn't see it as his place to judge.

Posted by Bnickel from IL, USA on December 6, 2007 07:15 AM

I definitely disagree that Dumbledore was attracted to Tom Riddle because of his good looks. Since JK announced that Dumbledore was , everything seems to be analysed in this light, but a person's doesn't influence every decision they make or how they respond to every person they meet.

To suggest that a then adult Dumbledore would react to an 11 year old boy because he was attracted to his good looks is ridiculous - as a straight female I am not attracted to eleven year old boys, so why would Dumbledore be attracted to Tom Riddle? There is a MASSIVE difference between being and being a closet paedophile, which is what this article seems to suggest.

Posted by Helen from Manchester on December 6, 2007 10:15 AM

It's just NOT what I was suggesting, and I really don't understand why everybody thinks I was.

Physical attraction is everywhere and part of everything. This doesn't have anything to do with sex, either desired or acted upon. But do you deny that it's the "cute kids" in orphanages who get adopted first? There's nothing sexual about that, but its true. When we meet a new friend, even when a straight man meets another straight man, there is a physical attraction first, and then the friendship either succeeds or fails when the two people learn more about each other. But the physical comes first, you say to yourself, that looks like someone who would be fun, etc.

That's what happened between Dumbledore and Grindlewald. Whether there was ever physical sex between them is debatable and the topic of a different discussion. But something attracted them to each other initially, and if you look at it in a certain way, the same dynamics that could have attracted Dumbledore to Grindelwald could also have existed between Dumbledore and Tom Riddle.

Attraction. Not sex. OK?

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on December 6, 2007 11:36 AM

no, Dumbledore just had a tendecy to see the good in people, just like Lilly. Dumbledore is not an idiot, he's one of the people who learns from his mistakes, that's why Riddle says that Dumbldore wasn't fond of him.

Posted by Harry's Godfather from Somwhere with Lupin and James in Hogwarts on December 6, 2007 9:53 PM

Orlando from England!
i also wondered abt that battle thing and dumbledore not reducing voldemort to the same "without body" stage by using AK curse, after reading OOP. but after some thinking i came to the conclusion that only dumbledore knew that voldemort can not be ed (not even harry at that time) and if he tries and voldemort flies than it'll be a "public secret" that once again voldemort cud not be ed. his eaters this time start finding him immediately, perform dark magic of resurrection and bring him back and that destroy Dumbledore's plan forever as everyone now 'll know that voldemort is immortal. the same kind of thing happen even if dumbledore does not let voldemort fly and keeps him as a prisoner (in any form) the world'll know. however the question remains what was dumbledore trying at battle which i think that he was bargaining (while protecting harry surely) for time as fudge and aurors were on their way and may be if aurors cud capture him (which i doubt) he would be sent to azkaban (where undoubtedly they would not be able to kim him longer) or subjected to dementor's kiss.

Posted by swati from INdia on December 7, 2007 12:00 AM

I think that yes Dumbledore gave Riddle a chance to be bad but do you not also think that he would have found a way to dominate anyway? I mean he was what 12 and he already had the orphans under his thumb. For all we know there may have loads of kids like Riddle who'd used their powers for bad but then turned good when they were given a chance. It's just unfortunate that we only hear about the ones who become the most evil wizards of all time.

Posted by Ruth from Scotland on December 7, 2007 12:03 PM

Your article suggests that Dumbledore could not help himself, that his attraction to a handsome, powerful boy was stronger than his good judgement. That is the part that makes me uncomfortable.
Where is the Dumbledore who chose to believe Hagrid over Riddle?

Posted by Patty from Quincy MA on December 7, 2007 3:56 PM

I really like the way you wrote this Dave, you always come up with more things to talk about!

Wow, those are some heavy questions. It really does make you think if things would have turned out differently if Dumbledore hadn't given Grindlewald or Riddle a second chance.

Posted by Rashida from Northants, England on December 8, 2007 12:31 PM

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