Dumbledore is a troubling character to me. Would you like to talk about my feelings about Dumbledore? Let’s talk about my feelings about Dumbledore.
On one hand, I love him. Sorry not sorry? I just love how he goes around breaking rules and doing nonsensical things and saying things that make no sense – Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Twit! – seemingly just to throw people off and make them think he’s losing his wits in his old age. But is he? NO HE IS NOT SIR OR MADAME. Dumbledore is still very much on top of his game (well, until HBP). He’s a stalwart defender of good and appears to be at least a leader – if not the one single leader – of both the original Order of the Phoenix and the “new” version. Whether going up against his old childhood friend (crush? lover? Has JK ever clarified that?) or a former student, he gives no quarter to the “forces of evil”, so to speak.
But that refusal to give quarter also makes him kind of…ruthless. He pretty openly manipulates Harry and continually puts him in danger – not just the danger inherent in being the Chosen One, but danger because he doesn’t know anything. He lets Snape terrorize students on the OFF CHANCE that he may eventually be useful as a spy again (because lets be serious, Harry’s first year was NOT Snape’s first year, and Snape wasn’t ONLY mean to Harry. He was a dick to every student who WASN’T in his House)(And yes I realize that Dumbledore always expected Voldemort to come back and never believed he was actually dead, but there wasn’t any real proof of this and even so doesn’t really excuse letting a teacher BERATE BELITTLE and BULLY students).
Dumbledore is OBVIOUSLY good, and his slightly befuddled Gandalf routine helps it be easy to love him. But his ruthlessness makes me wonder how close he was to choosing the other side.
In the same vein as my post about The Potters, I have a lot of questions about Neville Longbottom’s parents. They also defied Voldemort 3 times – was it public, or was it more personal? How did the Death Eaters get a hold of them?
But, as someone pointed out to me on my Potters post, we are reading this story through the eyes of Harry & his generation, and you can’t know much about your parents and their life before you were born even if they’re hale and healthy throughout our childhoods. We’re free to speculate on what they were like based on what people tell us & what we know about them, but we can never know if it’s real.
But even without knowing much – or anything – about the Longbottoms, they fill an important role in the story. While Harry is a war orphan, Neville isn’t – and in some ways, he has it worse. Because he sees his parents, and has to see them not remember or recognize him. They provide proof that there is a fate worse than death – and that there are worse things than being an orphan. As much as Draco is almost a perfect foil of Harry, Neivlle is in some ways as well. He is the Harry that could have been – if Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy differently, Neville and Harry could have easily switched places, with Neville and his parents standing up to Voldemort directly and Harry and his parents left to bottle the Death Eaters. Except that Neville was raised in the wizarding world, not the Muggle world.
It begs the question: if the Chosen One had been raised in the Wizarding World and aware of his status, how would things have shaken out differently?
This post is not about Harry Potter. I do, on occasion, think of other things. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled HP fest shortly.
The story of Setalle Anan breaks my heart. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT SETALLE ANAN.
Setalle Anan was an Aes Sedai who was burned out. That means she lost her ability to channel the One Power, probably due to drawing too much upon herself or while studying ter’angreal. Understand this – being burned out (or stilled, or gentled, or whatever you want to call it) is the WORST POSSIBLE THING that can happen to a channeler in this universe. Multiple characters who have the ability consider the fact that they’d rather die than lose their ability. Several characters vomit at the suggestion that it could happen to them, or upon seeing it happen to one of their associates. IT’S A TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE FATE. And when it happened to Setalle, the White Tower simply put her out and expected her to crawl into a corner and die quietly.
The White Tower is an organization that is well known for meddling and manipulation. It’s mentioned by a few characters through the series that once a woman has ties to the White Tower, it isn’t through with her until she’s used up. It’s generally understood that once you become attached to the Tower, it’s for life. No backsies, homie. So that’s what makes it such a GROSS BETRAYAL how they handle women who are burned out. Just…thrown out the door. Bye. Go die somewhere. But the existence of Setalle Anan suggests that they DON’T (always) just go die – they go and forge lives for themselves and try to forget that they were once among the most powerful women in the world. They just try to be…normal again, after having been extraordinary.
It makes me so incredibly sad to think of the dozens – hundreds? – of women who had dedicated their lives to this organization, were INJURED in its service, and then tossed aside like worthless garbage because they were lacking the ability they once had. Their brains were the same; their memories intact – but they were simply tossed aside like so much refuse because of what they no longer had. Breaks my heart.
For two characters who loom so large over a story, we know so very little about Lily and James Potter. As in, just about everything we know about them came through the filter of other characters. We first hear of them through Aunt Petunia, who clearly harbors some anger. Then Hagrid provides some balance, but we don’t learn much. The bulk of what we learn about them came from Snape and the Mauraders. We don’t get to know Lily and James on their own terms – which makes sense, since they died before the story began. BUT THAT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.
I want to know e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g about them. I want to know who Lily’s best friend was, and if she learned enough about the Houses to have a prefencce before arriving. I want to know how Sirius and James and Remus and Peter all became friends. I want to know what James’ childhood was like as a privilaged, pureblood wizard. I want to know how their friendship grew and what relationship Lily had with them. I want to know about their wedding and when Lily became pregnant with Harry.
What I’m most interested in is their time in the Order. I want to know when Lily and James defied Voldemort, and how – was it private, did he approach them privately to join him? Or did they simply stand in opposition to him publicly, announcing to the world that they think he’s a dick? What compelled them to be so strongly opposed to Voldemort – I mean, obviously the guy sucked but was it personal? How did Lily deal with being pregnant when there was a war to be fought? Did she step back, or did the rest of the Order have to force her to take it easy? I have so many questions and they all pretty much boil down to the same thing: What HAPPENED?
Obviously, I think about Harry Potter a lot. It’s like my mental safe space, where I can relax and unwind when I’m stressed out. It’s my mental happy place, where I can retreat when things are overwhelming. But mentally spending so much time in this space means I sometimes end up with more questions than I ever expected to have when I first picked up these books. Mostly these are general questions about the wizarding world. Hopefully one day I’ll be a super famous writer and JK will come across these questions and give me THE ANSWERS I NEED. (and if someone who is not JK has CANON answers, feel free to set me straight).
- Where does magic come from?
- Does magic exist outside the witch or wizard, or is it all internal?
- Is there a finite amount if magic in the world (I.e does the wizarding population remain stable or grow with the world population??)?
- Where do magical creatures come from? Are they related to non-magical creatures that are similar to them?
- Do mixed races – hippogriffs, centuars – come from actual mixed race sex or are they separate from their parts?
- Are all wizards equally strong, and the differences a matter of mental strength, or are some actually stronger in magic than others?
- Is magical strength genetic or random? Can you BECOME stronger through practice? Where does the strength come from??