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Dr. Dumbledore Will See You Now

Dr. Dumbledore Will See You Now

I have to get something off my chest. I’ve been letting this build up for a long time. Finally, I just have to say it.

Dumbledore was 110% right to be secretive with Harry. All the time.

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There, I said it. Do you want to know why? The man has gotten too much hate for too long because he didn’t hand Harry every single answer he needed right away. But here’s the thing: Harry would have been in a much worse position if he had.

After some light research, I have come to the conclusion that if Dumbledore were a Muggle he would have been as revered in developmental psychology as Jean Piaget. Maybe. They may have done brunch a few times. Anyway, he knew what he was doing.

J.K. Rowling stated in a 2003 interview with MSN, “Dumbledore is a very wise man who knows that Harry is going to have to learn a few hard lessons to prepare him for what may be coming in his life. He allows Harry to get into what he wouldn’t allow another pupil to do, and he also unwillingly permits Harry to confront things he’d rather protect him from.” I think a lot of Dumbledore’s wisdom can also be applied to psychology if it was not already derived from some light Muggle reading he had on his desk.

According to the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, the psychological development of the adolescent includes the development of beliefs, values, and what individuals want to accomplish in life. Adolescent development can be broken down into three major categories: early, mid, and late adolescence.

Early

During early adolescence, typically the range from 11 to 13 years old, the primary concern of individuals is to make use of their newly acquired logical thinking skills and ability to make rational judgments. Cool. Does anyone remember Harry’s totally rational thinking outside of the Shrieking Shack when he overheard the [misinformed] story that Sirius betrayed his parents? Super reasonably, the 13-year-old decided to go after a man who managed to escape a wizard prison and kill him. This totally would have been a great time to talk about Horcruxes, right? “Oh, by the way, Harry, I think this diary you stabbed with the Basilisk fang last term was actually an object used to preserve Voldemort’s soul. There’re a few more we need to find.” Without hesitation, Harry would have spun off in a whirlwind of curses trying to eliminate Horcruxes with no further information necessary. “What did you say about this one, Professor? Don’t touch it?! Oh. Too late for that…”

Mid

Moving into mid-adolescence, in the range of 14 to 15 (getting really mature here), the individual becomes more adventuresome and experiments with different roles to find their relationships with themselves, groups, and the opposite sex. They begin to grapple with the ideas of their parents and develop self-dependence. Ah, yes. The hormone-filled year of the Yule Ball. J.K. Rowling knew exactly what she was doing throwing a school dance in during the trio’s fourth year. Well played, Jo, well played. While Harry was indeed thrust into the Triwizard Tournament against his own will, can anyone truly claim he did not absolutely revel in it? Flying around dragons, escaping the clutches of mermaids, and fighting through a ridiculous maze for the ultimate prize of fame and glory. Yeah, he totally hated it. This would have surely been the perfect time to bring up those pesky Horcruxes. “Sorry, Professor, but you’re going to have to worry about that yourself. I am a little busy figuring out what this stupid egg is for. AND I don’t have a date for the Yule Ball yet. Seriously, you could not have told me this at a more inconvenient time.”

Now, going on 15 when Harry was developing a sense of responsibility and looking for a place in society may have worked out better. But then Dumbledore wouldn’t have been giving Harry the space he needed to develop those traits. Remember, this is a stage when individuals are challenging the beliefs of their parents and other adult figures; the less Dumbledore impresses upon Harry in this time, the less he has to disagree with him on. Harry was forming his own opinions, and in the process he formed Dumbledore’s Army and provided realistic Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons for his friends. A necessary arrangement in the grand scheme of things.

Late

The final stage of development, late adolescence, characterized by anyone 16 and older, is when individuals have a better sense of identity and their place in society. At this stage in their life, they typically have a consistent view of the world and have distinguished between their fantasies, realities, and aspirations. At this stage in their life, they know what they want to do and are probably already working to achieve it. After witnessing the death of Sirius in the Department of Mysteries, Harry’s goal in life was set. The death of his parents set the tone for his entire development, but the trauma of experiencing a loved one’s tragic death in his adolescence gave Harry a purpose. I believe that is why Dumbledore chose to introduce Harry to the Horcrux mission in his sixth year. He was [almost] ready for it.

However, Harry still had a lot of growing up to do. David Elkind presents the theory of adolescent egocentrism, which asserts that adolescents go through a stage of self-absorption. During this stage, individuals are only able to see the world through their own perspective. Harry spent almost his entire sixth year at school fixated on Horcruxes and badgering Dumbledore to take him to find more. Dumbledore recognized that Harry needed to slow down and fully understand his mission from all vantage points before jumping headfirst into it. He prepared Harry by showing him his acquired memories related to Voldemort in the Pensieve. Harry didn’t understand it at the time because he was so enveloped in the destruction of Horcruxes, but these trips down memory lane became imperative to Harry’s search later on.

Another consideration for Dumbledore’s secretive nature would be Harry’s abandonment issues. Harry lost his parents as an infant, a friend at 14, his godfather at 15, and Dumbledore at 16. We saw Harry’s reaction to seeing his parents in the Mirror of Erised. He longed for their company. Could you imagine if Dumbledore had given Harry the Resurrection Stone outright? He would have turned it thrice in his hand and slipped into the madness that befell the Second Brother. Instead, Dumbledore chose to hide the Stone and encrypt the Golden Snitch with a message for Harry: “I open at the close.” Dumbledore actually set things up perfectly for Harry to learn on his own when he was ready. Harry didn’t need Dumbledore to tell him “The Tale of the Three Brothers”; he needed to learn the significance of the Deathly Hallows. By piecing the story together, Harry understood his visions of Grindelwald and Gregorovitch. If Dumbledore had simply sat down with Harry one day and told him the story of Death, he would have quickly logged it away into an unused corner of his mind.

When Harry meets Dumbledore at King’s Cross station, he discovers that he is not angry with Dumbledore at all. He has been frustrated for months over a search he felt ill-prepared for, but coming face-to-face with the man who “failed” him proves to have a different effect. Harry realizes that everything Dumbledore did was for the right reasons.

That is why I have been frustrated for so long with fans who hate on the old Headmaster for his “poor timing” with information sharing. Dumbledore knew exactly when the best times would be to lead Harry to an answer and when to allow Harry to come to conclusions on his own. Yes, many people died while Harry was trying to figure things out on his own. But who would have lived if Dumbledore had revealed these secrets to Harry at the wrong time?

It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Hate on Dumbledore all you want, but I think Dumbledore made the right choices when it came to Harry.

DUMBLEDORE

Agree? Need a little more Dumbledore? Disagree? Need more information? Check out more Dumbledore stories from the awesome people here at MuggleNet!

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  • http://www.mugglenet.com/ Felicia Grady

    Thanks for the fresh perspective! That was an interesting read. I grew up reading the books ages 7-15, so Harry was always 2-4 years older than me. I never harbored any ill will toward Dumbledore in how much he chose to tell or not tell Harry. It’s only now that I’m reading and discussing as an adult that I’ve formed a negative opinion of Dumbledore. As the average age of the fandom ages, I wonder if we’re all projecting ourselves onto Harry, no longer able to remember what it felt like to be so young.

  • Gwen Srigley

    I agree on the awsomeness of JK in the reasons that Dumbledore kept the truth from Harry, but wasn’t Dumbledore trying to figure it all out himself? He didn’t know for sure that Tom was Making horcruxes until he saw Slughorns thoughts in the pensieve.

    • UmbridgeRage

      He knew for sure when Harry showed him the diary in CoS. He suspected before that.

    • Alan Johnson

      Dumbledore was still trying to figure some things out, but it’s revealed in the books that he knew or “guessed” much of what had and would happen (further lending to the recent “God” comparisons). Dumbledore witnessed the prophecy and later suspected that Voldemort would come back after he disappeared in Godric’s Hollow. After the Chamber of Secrets, we’re later told Dumbledore suspected horcruxes. In the years leading up to Half-Blood Prince, we’re led to believe Dumbledore set out to find all he could about the young Riddle. By the beginning of year 6, Dumbledore already knows about Voldemort’s horcruxes and suspects not only that there are 7 but also the objects the horcruxes are likely to be based on his understanding of Riddle. That year, he slowly reveals memories to Harry so that Harry can piece together the story and find answers himself. When they view Slughorn’s unaltered memory, it merely confirms Dumbledore’s suspicions that there were 7 horcruxes. To be fair, without having read the books and with only the movies to go on, movie Dumbledore (Michael Gambon)–in stark contrast to book Dumbledore–is sometimes agitated, lost, and as in the dark as Harry.

  • Catherine Tjan

    I have to say that him keeping things from Harry was the least of my issues with him, on that point I almost agree with you. What I found horrifying about Dumbledore, that isn’t addressed in this article, is that he left an infant with his ‘family’ and never checked up on him for 11 years, never made sure that the Dursleys were okay raising a magical child, never seemed to wonder why the letter was addressed to the cupboard under the stairs, and why (aside from the totally ridiculous “love” protection) Dumbledore sent him back to them summer after summer. I also find Dumbledore’s treatment of Sirius, Hagrid, Snape, and Remus horrifying for a multitude of reasons. I think that your article was well written and you weren’t wrong, but I think you also picked the least of Dumbledore’s faults to discuss.

    • UmbridgeRage

      The “totally ridiculous “love” protection” is what saves Harry’s life in the first book. Would have been a very short series if Dumbledore had not left Harry with the Dursleys

  • Nicki Feldbaum

    I quite agree with you about the horcruxes, but I really think that Harry should have been told about th prophecy much earlier. Harry, to put it blatantly, was an average/below average student. Had he known that he would NEED his skills, perhaps he would have tried harder in school. Or if he at least grew up used to the idea that he would eventually face Voldemort in a show down (leaving out the nightmare-inducing “either must die at the hand of the other”), he would have been more used to the idea when the time came.

    • Jane Bloggs

      I don’t know from where you’re getting the ‘Harry was an average/below average student’ because it’s not supported by Any of the Canon whatsoever.

      example 1:

      at eleven, was described by his teachers as ‘bright’

      at the same age, according to the Sorting Hat: “Not a bad mind, either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes” and “You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head”

      mastered the challenging Patronus Charm at thirteen and proceeded to teach it at fifteen

      resisted the Imperius Curse at fourteen and soon learned to throw it off completely, even when cast by the incredibly powerful Voldemort

      also at fourteen, learned to cast a powerful Accio Charm

      at fifteen, was training other students

      at the same age, under extreme stress, tested as ‘exceeds expectations’ or ‘outstanding’ in every subject that required actual magic (including the dreaded Potions)

      at sixteen, became a star Potions student simply by following superior instructions

      example 2:

      Realized Hermione would not know about the troll because she was in the bathroom in PS

      Recognized that Lockhart was a fraud right off the bat at age 12

      Deduced that the girl who died in Tom Riddle’s memory was Myrtle

      Recognized how tense/anxious Ginny looked and realized she knew something about the Chamber

      Recognized how weird it was that Fudge was being lenient on blowing up Aunt Marge and later connected it with them worrying about him and Sirius in PoA

      Realized (before Hermione) that Dumbledore wanted them to save Buckbeak as well during their time turner shenanigans

      Deduced that every champion besides Cedric would know about the dragons in GoF

      Picked up on Draco’s “dogging around” comment

      Recognized the difference between his actual dreams and the ‘visions’ which helped save Arthur Weasley’s life

      Heard Kingsley whisper, felt something shoot past him, saw the blank expression in Marietta’s eyes and put two and two together, something Umbridge, Fudge and Dawlish couldn’t perceive

      Recognized that the ring on Dumbledore’s desk (and remembered Dumbledore was wearing this ring when they retrieved Slughorn) was the ring Marvolo showed Ogden

      Noted how weird Slughorn’s tampered memory is with the dense fog

      Noticed that Malfoy kept disappearing from the Marauder’s Map and eventually realized he was using the Room of Requirement

      Put two and two together about Ron and the love potion

      Realized Regulus was RAB

      Perceptive enough to realize Ron had to be the one to destroy the locket

      Also perceptive enough to realize he had to open it with Parseltongue

      Recognized that his Invisibility Cloak matched the description of the cloak in the Deathly Hallows story

      Noticed things about Luna’s room that made him realize Luna hadn’t been in her home in weeks, catching Xenophilius Lovegood’s lie

      Connected the dots of The Grey Lady’s story from the “Albania” clue and realized Voldemort had found the diadem and had hidden it at Hogwarts when he tried to get the DADA job

      Remembered he had seen the diadem in the Room of Requirement before

      Realized that Draco had become the true master of the Elder Wand, not Snape, the night Dumbledore had died

      Realized that this made him the true master of the Elder Wand after his skirmish with Draco at Malfoy Manor

      example 3:

      He was the best at Defence Against the Dark Arts in his year

      He received 5 Exceeds Expectations, 1 Outstanding, 1 Acceptable, ! Poor and 1 Dreadful. The Acceptable was for astronomy, which went badly because they witnessed a commotion on the grounds bc the ministry were trying to take Hagrid away, which led to Professor MCgonagall being stunned and Hagrid disappearing. His two favourite teachers were in danger and it was happening DURING the exam so it’s safe to say that it wasn’t very fair to expect him to do brilliantly. The Poor was for divination, which we all know was crap 90% of the time. And the Dreadful was for History of Magic where he collapsed in the middle of it.

      So if you take all that into account, his results were pretty damn amazing

      He was constantly faced with extremely high pressure, stressful and dangerous situations but almost always managed to think clearly and come up with unconventional ways of making it out alive

      For example, having the sheer willpower to keep his eyes closed while a gigantic killer basilisk attacked him, figuring out that he had to destroy the diary to kill Riddle right after he almost died AT THE AGE OF 12

      He had to solve all the ridiculous puzzles Dumbledore threw at him with hardly any info for example

      Like figuring out how he was supposed to save Sirius and Buckbeak in PoA, figuring out that the hallows were real and that the elder wand was what Voldemort was after etc etc

      He was able to cast a corporeal patronus at the age of THIRTEEN when it was a feat many older wizards couldn’t accomplish

      and more.

      so Again, there’s far more canon evidence of harry being slightly above average smart than the contrary.

      (unless it’s the ill-reasoned argument that because he’s not like Hermione’s level genius smart, he’s a idiot. which, Hermione is the Exception, Not the rule- and even so Harry beat Her, brightest witch of her age, when it came to defense against the Dark arts class/exams, which considering the type of awful professors they’ve got Except for Lupin, is pretty impressive )

      so yeah, real tired of the ‘harry’s not smart/an idiot’ BS argument

  • frffr

    Of course Dumbledore didn’t talk about the prophecy, he knew that it was a terrible (and quite lazy) plot device and tried to keep the readers away from it as long as possible.

  • Alan Johnson

    Exactly! It always frustrated me when readers and even some characters in the books criticized Dumbledore for not doing everything for Harry. Harry would have been weaker for it. I hated it in movies DH1 and DH2 when they took away Harry’s choice between Hallows and Horcruxes, which he struggled with for long stretches in the book. In the book, after becoming obsessed with Hallows which distracted him from his mission to find and destroy Horcruxes, Harry saw an opportunity while at Shell Cottage to try and beat Voldemort to the Elder Wand. However, in that moment Harry also comes to realize why Dumbledore withheld all of that information from him–why he had to discover and decide for himself. In the end, rather than chasing immortality for himself, he chose to stay the course, to make Voldemort mortal once again, and eventually to face his own death in the process. In the movies, Harry faces no such Horcrux-Hallows dilemma and makes no such significant choice–things merely happen.