Who Is Albus Dumbledore?
The reveal of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has given us plenty to be excited about for the next year, but I am most excited at the prospect of meeting young Albus Dumbledore, a man vastly different from the Dumbledore we know and love (or love to hate). Who is Albus Dumbledore? Fortunately, we may have just been given a vital clue in the form of this pair of wands from the Crimes of Grindelwald set.
Clearly, Jude Law’s young Dumbledore is holding the wand on the right, and we know for certain that by the end of this movie series, he will have traded his own wand for the Elder Wand, which currently appears to be in Grindelwald’s hand.
As every Potter fan knows, it is the wand that chooses the wizard. The wand that chose Dumbledore may have a lot to tell us about who he is. Judging by its striking, jet-black appearance, Dumbledore’s wand is most likely made of ebony. This is what Ollivander has to say about ebony wands:
This jet-black wand wood has an impressive appearance and reputation, being highly suited to all manner of combative magic, and to Transfiguration. Ebony is happiest in the hand of those with the courage to be themselves. Frequently non-conformist, highly individual or comfortable with the status of outsider… In my experience the ebony wand’s perfect match is one who will hold fast to his or her beliefs, no matter what the external pressure, and will not be swayed lightly from their purpose.
I can definitely see Dumbledore embodying all of these qualities as a youth. Dumbledore is a respected Transfiguration professor and is on a path toward an epic duel with Grindelwald; that his wand is uniquely suited to both of those things is telling. In the past, his individuality may have manifested as arrogance and superiority, but now that it’s been a couple of decades since the tragic death of his sister, Dumbledore may be more humble and less inclined to show off his brilliance.
That an ebony wand is “happiest in the hands of those with the courage to be themselves” gives me hope that Dumbledore will be portrayed as comfortable with and open about his sexuality. Dumbledore is already known for being true to himself despite what others think of him. Hopefully, young Dumbledore shares that courage and confidence in his identity.
Over the next four movies, there is immense opportunity for Dumbledore’s character to grow as he struggles to confront a man he once loved but who only brought him tragedy. In order to finally win the Elder Wand from Grindelwald, Dumbledore will not only have to gather the courage to face him, but he will also have to prove to the wand that he is the stronger person. Here is what Ollivander has to say about wands of elder:
It contains powerful magic, but scorns to remain with any owner who is not the superior of his or her company; it takes a remarkable wizard to keep the elder wand for any length of time.
Dumbledore and Grindelwald seem to be equally matched in brilliance, talent, and raw power. How, then, will Dumbledore ultimately prove his superiority? He will have to face some hard truths about how much of Grindelwald’s true character his love had blinded him to. He will have to overcome any lingering arrogance or fear; he may have to give up any secrets he is hiding and fully embrace his past, his identity, and the truths of his life. Most importantly, he will have to prove to the Elder Wand that he alone can use the wand’s power to work “for the greater good” as Grindelwald has neglected to do. Only once he has proven his strength will the Elder Wand choose him as its next master.
We know Dumbledore as an old man who had already lived through and learned from his tragic past when we first met him. The Dumbledore we know is committed to working for the greater good and to making the most difficult choices in order to defeat Lord Voldemort for good. But how he became the person we know him to be has always been a mystery, and it is one that I am eager to solve.