Will Dumbledore Lose His Identity in “Crimes of Grindelwald”?
There has been a great deal of excitement since the Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald trailer was released. Certainly, there’s an abundance of scenes and scenarios to geek out over. Despite my excitement as a Harry Potter fan, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the changes made to Albus Dumbledore’s history. Yes, it may be possible that he was once a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, but I feel it may be stripping him of his unique identity as a Hogwarts professor – and a wizard.
Dumbledore’s tenure as a Transfiguration teacher seemed to be the perfect fit for his character. Transfiguration is an intricate, highly academic subject that requires discipline and nuance. We’ve seen Harry Potter struggle with advanced Transfiguration concepts throughout the Harry Potter series, from turning a hedgehog into a pincushion to changing one’s eyebrow color. Learning how to transfigure yourself into an animal as an Animagus is an arduous process requiring the wizard or witch to hold a mandrake leaf in their mouth for a month, creating a potion from the leaf, and drinking it during a lightning storm. If this process wasn’t enough, the person attempting the transfiguration must hone the skill with an enormous amount of practice.
Dumbledore has shown fantastic feats of transfiguration that cater to his academic background. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore showcases his transfiguration skill when he duels Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic’s atrium by changing the fountain’s statues into sentient protectors of Harry – a skill copied in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 by Minerva McGonagall during the Battle of Hogwarts. Transfiguration was a bond McGonagall and Dumbledore shared. Their relationship was sometimes vital to the survival of Hogwarts. Sharing a subject conveyed their similarities and loyalty to one another.
I know what you’re thinking. What about Dumbledore’s obsession with the Dark Arts as a young man? What if he hasn’t quite grown out of that phase yet? Dumbledore intentionally avoided the Dark Arts and positions of power after losing his sister, Ariana Dumbledore, due to his affiliation with Gellert Grindelwald and his dark obsessions. Wouldn’t Dumbledore, especially in a time where his youthful indiscretions were still fresh, steer clear of the subject that caused him so much grief? He had the same thought process with Severus Snape for years by not allowing him to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, afraid of the possible temptation for Snape. Dumbledore has always shown an affinity for Transfiguration. In Dumbledore’s obituary, Elphias Doge mentions Dumbledore’s early interest in Transfiguration:
Several of his papers found their way into learned publications such as Transfiguration Today, Challenges in Charming, and The Practical Potioneer” (DH 17).
It’s interesting that he contributed academically to Transfiguration, Charms, and Potions, but there was no mention of an academic inclination for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dumbledore made great strides in his work as a scholar, including the 12 uses of dragon’s blood, a discovery for which he seems to have used his expertise as a potioneer. Dumbledore isn’t a Gryffindor who operates on courage and good luck like Harry, Sirius Black, James Potter, and sometimes even Remus Lupin; he’s an analytical thinker (much like Hermione Granger), meshing natural talent and bookish ways.
Finally, the boggart lesson in the trailer was a little contrived. Don’t get me wrong – I’m ecstatic with young Dumbledore’s casting. Jude Law looks promising as a young Albus. In some ways, I enjoyed the callback since I absolutely love Remus Lupin as a character and professor, but his method of teaching the Boggart-Banishing Spell was unique to his pedagogical methods. Lupin’s hands-on teaching techniques brought a fresh perspective to Hogwarts. It was a distinct part of his character that made us love him more.
Dumbledore should have his own individual lessons that breathe life into his character. He shouldn’t be rehashing Lupin’s lesson (which suggests Lupin copied from him since it’s a prequel) in the same classroom and with similar camera shots. I was hoping to see more fantastic feats of transfiguration from Dumbledore. I’m sure he would have a quirky approach to teaching the subject. The Harry Potter books already delved deep into Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons. We haven’t seen as much from Transfiguration; it could have been a new, exciting aspect of Hogwarts. Maybe we’ll see Dumbledore switch to Transfiguration in the future films; I just hope his established history isn’t completely disregarded. Regardless, Crimes of Grindelwald is bound to be great. I just hope Albus Dumbledore, one of my favorite character, stays true to his book counterpart.
What do you think of Dumbledore’s career change? Let us know in the comments!