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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 2)

That's what we do here sometimes, we play the "what if" game! That's part of what this site is for!

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on November 27, 2007 4:34 PM

I don�t think that Dumbledore was attracted to Riddle sexually AT ALL! I think that this was simply another case of Dumbledore seeing the best in people once again. He saw that Riddle had some flaws but he also saw the enormous s and ability in Riddle. I think that Dumbledore might have also seen some of the power issues, that he expresses that he has in DH, in Riddle, and therefore thought that if he tried to mentor Riddle, he could be changed. Dumbledore made a mistake there of course. The difference between them was that Dumbledore was wise enough to see the problem within himself. Riddle was not. Though we have no evidence to assume that Dumbledore ever was a "bully" or tried to control people we do know that Dumbledore had his followers. Doge for example was described as someone who wasn't extremely bright but "worshiped at the feet of Dumbledore" as expresses by Aberforth. Even though Dumbledore never tired to take control he certainly could have. I am sure there were many like Doge that would have been more than eager to join up and follow Dumbledore (and even Grindelwald later). When you look at it this way Dumbledore and Voldemort are similar in many ways. The difference was that Dumbledore had the wisdom to see the problem that he could have with power, and choose not to take it. Not out of fear for himself, but for others. This took one Dumbledore had the capacity and the ingness to love. Something that is constantly said that Voldemort NEVER had. This brings us to one of the main themes of the Harry Potter series; Love has to power to change the world.

Posted by Davis from Nashville, Tennessee on November 27, 2007 4:41 PM

Just a thought, was Voldy also ? He has not shown any inclination towards the female gender but liked snape. Any thoughts?

Posted by parvati from india on November 28, 2007 04:21 AM

All the way through the entire series, Dumbledore kept pushing the concept of love being so powerful that it could overcome any obstacle. I think he believed that the love between him and Grindelwald was strong enough to persuade Grindelwald away from the dark arts - perhaps it would have, had Dumbledore's sister not d that way.

I also think that when Dumbledore went to see Riddle, it was not so much a case of seeing the best in him, as (a) acting on the instructions of the headmaster of the time, and (b) hoping that however bad and/or mixed up Riddle was, that Hogwarts would provide a nurturing environment for him to be sorted out. Tom Riddle, Severus Snape and Harry all came from similar miserable unloved backgrounds.

I think what JK did, was to show that no matter how bad the starting point, the way you developed was largely dependent upon the people around you, and the way they treated you. Snape was ridiculed and despised from the very first train journey to Hogwarts. How different would his story have been, if Lily had loved him instead of James? Or if he had been put into Gryffindor and found some decent friends? It seems to me that he didn't so much choose the wrong friends, as was grateful for anyone who would be his friend. In the end, it was his love of Lily, and Dumbledore's belief in his ability to change and help put things right, even at considerable risk to himself, that made him question, and then change, his allegiance to Voldemort. Riddle seems to have been beyond help, by the time he got to Hogwarts, but if his mother had chosen to fight for her own life, and then to give Tom a decent upbringing, perhaps his story would have been different. Harry, in complete contrast to either of them, was fortunate enough to meet Ron and his family at the start of his first journey to Hogwarts. Before that, even, Hagrid had shown concern for him, even buying him his owl, Hedwig, as if he (Hagrid)were a favourite uncle. Ron's parents almost adopted Harry; in short, he was shown love and concern from his very first introduction to the world of wizarding.

I wonder, if either Snape or Voldemort had received the overwhelming support that Harry did, whether they too would have fulfilled their potential to do good.

Posted by waterbaby from London on November 28, 2007 05:48 AM

Yes, there is a difference between thought and action, but when you say that Dumbledore would have been influenced by Riddle's attractiveness, then you are saying his actions are affected by his thoughts, that Dumbledore was a slave to his desires.
As a young man, Dumbledore may have been attracted to Grindelwald, and may have acted on it. I think he probably did. Grindelwald may have had similar feelings, or he may have used Dumbledore at the time. Whatever happened was between contemporaries, not a teacher and a prospective student who was young enough to be his son and not yet mature.
I agree with Siena that it is an insult to Dumbledore to infer that he had thoughts of sexual attraction toward a student, which then influenced his actions to repeat the mistakes of his youth.
Anytime someone is in a position of power, whether it is a teacher/student, business man/secretary, doctor/patient relationship etc, what is there to stop thoughts from becoming actions? Not much except for the powerful person's own moral compass. I believe Dumbledore viewed Riddle as a troubled boy who had the brilliance to become very powerful, as a student in his care, not as just a handsome boy. He could recognize Riddle's attractiveness, as we all would, as Harry did, but it did not cause him to overlook the rest of what he saw in Riddle.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on November 28, 2007 06:18 AM

I think that Dumbledore took a certain interest in Tom because he wanted to ensure that Tom didn't turn out like Grindelwald. He failed, of course. I do not believe that Dumbledore had the attraction to Tom as he had had with Grindelwald.

Posted by Andromeda from London, England on November 28, 2007 07:59 AM

I do not think that Dumbledore was drawn into Riddle as he was to Grindewald for the reason. If it is commented that Dumbledore would have liked Dumbledore as he was similar to Gindewald. Why would he? Grindewald brought about his sisters , he ed many people. Why would anyone be drawn to someone because they were like that? I think that Dumbledore went to Riddle to prevent that developing in him. Quite obviously he didn't succeed. I think that Riddles attractiveness had nothing to do with it.

Posted by Mark Campbell from N.Ireland on November 28, 2007 1:21 PM

I think even if Dumbledore did know that Tom Riddle would become the most evil of all he would have asked him to come to Hogworts, maybe because all wizards were given the chance to go to school or, maybe because he knew Riddle would have a hard time keeping his evil tendencies under control as did Grindlewald and Dumbledore wanted to keep a eye on Riddle or... He wanted to study him and see what would develope, how evil he could get. I think Dumbledore wasn't dumb, He saw in Tom some of Grindlewald traits. But remember Dumbledore was drawn to power something Grindlewald and Riddle both had even at their young ages. Grindlewald was thrown out of school at age sixteen; and I like to think he was the one who ed Dumbledore's sister. Riddle ed his father, grand-parents,moaning mrytle and created his first horcrux at age sixteen. I also think that Dumbledore was also drawn to both Grindlewald and Riddle because of their evil power. I thinks something about their power fascinated him. But I don't think he was sexually attracted to Riddle.

Posted by Pamela sue from Ark on November 28, 2007 4:11 PM

Really, honestly, I don't believe Dumbledore's sexual preferences have to do anything with his choosing of friends or students. I think he's beyond all that... maybe I'm being na�ve, but that is my point of view.

Posted by Ari on November 28, 2007 5:11 PM

I don't know. It seems a stretch to me to think that Dumbledore was attracted to Tom Riddle in any way, even professionally. As a teacher at Hogwarts, Dumbledore "interviewed" the prospective student, Riddle, and put together a composite profile of the boy from what he already knew about Tom and what he was told at the orphanage. That, together with his evaluation of Tom when he met him personally might have piqued his curiosity and interest but, I don't believe we ever are led down the same path that JKR leads us in her description of Grindelwald. The one thing we do know for sure was that Dumbledore was not attracted to Riddle's character (or lack thereof) to the point that not only did he watch Riddle's behavior and intereactions with others but even Riddle knew Dumbledore didn't trust or like him as much as the other teachers.

I don't think JKR would have made it so clear that Dumbledore didn't trust Riddle if she was trying to draw a parallel with his attraction to Grindelwald. With Gellert, Dumbledore was attracted to him and presumably trusted him and liked him. He didn't like some of Gellert's ideas and wanted to change them but that is very different than not liking someone's personality and basic character. Given time, Dumbledore might have been able to change Gellert's ideas but one individual cannot really change another's character.

Posted by Hannah on November 28, 2007 9:19 PM

Thank you Patty for your comment. Further to your thought that Dumbledore would have surely used his moral compass at all times when dealing with students, even IF (something I doubt very much) he was attracted to a particular pupil. Furthermore I think that it very well possible to find someone attractive without even THINKING about that person in a sexual way. Dave mentioned actors in his comment; well, I do find that Brad Pitt is a very attractive man but he doesn't appeal to me sexually at all. Another male actor, on the other hand, certainly does. Both actors I find equally attractive! The same applies for two collegues of mine. Also, I am a woman and I do admire women who have a certain style - but their attraction to me is everything but sexual! It is more like an inspiration to me, I would maybe like to dress like her, etc. Or a good-looking person inspires me to take his/her picture.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on November 29, 2007 08:47 AM

I do not think outer appearance or attraction or whatever you may call it influenced Dumbledore's behaviour towards Riddle. Remember: Riddle was 11 when they first met.

If the dark enemy in this story was not Tom Riddle, but Miranda Riddle, we would not talk about such possibilities. And if Rowling had not said Dumbledore was , we wouldn't make a fuss about it either. Dumbledore is a teacher and wants to help children, that's it. Even if he sees strange tendencies. We all are touched if we deal with young, poor, intelligent orphans, no wonder that good hearted Dumbledore is.

Yet, as someone has stated above, he remains sceptical and never trusted Riddle as much as the other teachers. So in fact Riddles later development is not Dumbledore's fault, but destiny and Riddle's . What other possibilities than taking Riddle to Hogwarts were there for Dumbledore? the boy on the spot? Leave him and let him develop his strange abilities without guidance? Don't think so...

What about parents whose grown child commits . Can they be responsible for that?

Posted by Monika from Germany on November 30, 2007 07:16 AM

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