The Phoenix Files: Albus Dumbledore: The Blue-Eyed Headmaster
An Original Essay by Alma (Mcpherson)
I don’t want to delve into some details of Dumbledore’s psyche or appearance, as I think that the most important and most telling hints about this character are the things that are most commonly used to describe the Headmaster. His peculiar name and his penetrating blue eyes seem to tell some interesting information on this character. Eyes, for one, tell us many things about people, and not just their temperament or character. They can also give some hints to the future, so I will start with them:
Dumbledore’s blue eyes show us the immense tranquility and wisdom of the headmaster. The color has some highly magical abilities such as the gift of invigorating body and soul and the ability to calm, depending on the current need. Blue also protects from the “Evil Eye” represented by red. With the help of blue minerals when performing hydromancy (a type of divination) it is possible to get accurate prophecies. That might mean that Dumbledore is a “catalyst” when it comes to prophecies. Does it mean that there will be one more prophecy? Two seem to be enough, but who knows?
Blue minerals were supposed to help relieve headaches. Dumbledore seems to be on the right track already, helping Harry to prepare for the final duel against Voldemort and thus help the boy to get rid of the painful scar connection.
There are many collective symbols of blue and green. In some Asian languages, these colors don’t even have separate words. The border between the two colors is somewhat blurred in Ancient Greece as well. For example, the goddess Athena is associated with green, but also with blue. These collective symbols might point to the fact of a natural bond between Harry and Dumbledore.
Blue and red (Voldemort’s eyes) together symbolize the end of world, the Judgement Day. Blue represents in this allegory the great flood, and red the destructive power of fire. We’ve already seen Dumbledore using water to imprison Voldemort. Let’s wait for You-Know-Who’s turn—especially now, when we know that fire is the main theme on the British childrens HBP cover.
The color that separates heavenly blue Dumbledore from evil red Voldemort is the neutral green, so Harry might be a mixture of both of these characters or a “messenger” wandering from one to the other.
The name Albus has also some interesting hidden meanings. The Latin meaning of this name is “white,” but there is another Latin word for this color: candidus. But only the word Albus has importance in alchemy–a very good name for a former Transfiguration Professor. A good example of the meaning of the name is a strong connection to the Sorcerer’s Stone: the traditional “recipe” from the times of Heraclit until the 15th century included four steps. The first one was the “materia prima,” something black from which the four elements (water, fire, earth and air) are made. The second step was the first stage of transmutation symbolized by mercury and the color white. The third step is the color red and resembles the second stage of the transmutation. The final step is represented by gold. This might indicate how close Voldemort came in his quest to reach immortality, his ultimate goal. The second “white” stage of the process is what alchemists wanted the most, but never achieved. This “lapis albus” (latin for “white stone”) was supposedly the most important part of the process, as when someone has achieved this stage, he would have no further problems deriving gold and the elixir of life. It is interesting that Lapis Albus should be the father of red—this might show how much young Riddle has learned from his Transfiguration Professor.
White and red are symbols of opposing elements: water and fire. In alchemy, the combination of these colors, Lapis Albus and red, is called nuptiae chymicae, an alchemical engagement. This mixture is supposed to create the elixir of life. Dumbledore says that there are worse things than death, so this may indicate that Albus knows that without his deliberate help Voldemort will not be invincible and will finally know what is. At this point, it is good to ask if it was really a good idea of Voldemort’s to take blood from Harry. It helped to overcome the protection in the boy’s skin, but maybe if You-Know-Who managed to get blood from Dumbledore, he would be truly immortal without any need of further research into ancient or dark magic.
The color of Dumbledore’s eyes and his interesting name seem to hold some helpful information on his personality, but also on his future. This symbolism of colors and “lapis albus” are just a few pieces of a big jigsaw. I’ve put them on the table and tried to sort them roughly; now it’s your turn to finish the puzzle and create a clear picture.