Doing Dumbledore’s Dirty Work: Is Newt Another Student Dumbledore Betrayed?
In the new Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer, Grindelwald taunts Newt Scamander by saying, “Do you think Dumbledore will mourn for you?”
This line, and in fact the whole trailer, echoes Harry Potter’s experience with Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore takes Harry in as his favorite student, protects him, and shows faith in him and his abilities. He then sends Harry out to kill a dangerous wizard with very little preparation, all the while planning and expecting for Harry to meet his death.
The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer gives us an indication that this may not be the first time Dumbledore has used and betrayed a student. The trailer starts with Newt admitting, “I’m scared, Professor Dumbledore,” and Dumbledore replying, “Everyone is scared of something.” This personal conversation suggests a level of intimacy between the two that would go beyond a normal teacher-student relationship. Years later, Dumbledore asks of Newt a nearly impossible task: to take down the most powerful Dark wizard of all time. He says, “I can’t move against Grindelwald. It has to be you” and then Disapparates without giving any more information. Grindelwald’s taunt suggests that Newt, like Harry, is starting to doubt whether Dumbledore really cares about him or his safety.
Does Dumbledore have a history of befriending favorite students whom he then convinces to fight his battles for him? There is some evidence of this in the Harry Potter series itself. When Harry meets Aberforth in the Hog’s Head, Aberforth seems to understand his situation so well it is almost eerie. Harry says that Dumbledore left him a job to do, and Aberforth replies, ”Did he now? Nice job, I hope? Pleasant? Easy? Sort of thing you’d expect an unqualified wizard kid to be able to do without overstretching themselves?” (DH 561). Aberforth seems quite familiar with the type of job that his brother tends to assign his young protégés. Aberforth later says, “Funny thing, how many of the people my brother cared about very much ended up in a worse state than if he had left ‘em well alone” (DH 563). One of the people he is talking about is surely his sister Ariana, but there are clearly more. Could Newt be one of them?
Until the movie comes out, we can’t know for certain how much Newt’s experience with Dumbledore mirrors Harry’s. But even from the trailer, it is clear that Dumbledore has gained Newt’s trust and used it to encourage Newt to fight the battle against Grindelwald for him. What will become of Newt now that Dumbledore has entrusted him with this mission?