Albus Dumbledore

Rochelle August 26, 2015 @ 10:44AM

Albus Dumbledore

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Biographical Details | Temperament and Personality | Physical Traits | Magical Traits | Wand Traits |  Nicknames/Aliases/Titles/Appearances | Organizations/Teams/Clubs | What Happened to Dumbledore After the Fall of Voldemort?What Richard Harris and Michael Gambon Have To Say About Dumbledore | How Dumbledore Changed Throughout The Series | How Dumbledore Differs in the Books and Movies | Video of Albus Dumbledore | Dumbledore Costume

Note: Some of the content in here may contain spoilers from the books, movies, and/or Pottermore.com

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Biographical Details

Name = Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Date of Birth = 1881
Mother = Kendra Dumbledore
Father = Percival Dumbledore
Siblings = Aberforth (brother) and Ariana (sister)
Spouse = None
Children = None
Wizard Blood Status = Half-blood
Hogwarts HouseGryffindor
Occupations = Transfiguration teacher, Head of the Transfiguration Department, and Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Life Status = Deceased on June 30, 1997
Additional Details = Albus was the oldest of the three Dumbledore children. His sister Ariana was viciously attacked by Muggle boys when she was six years old, an event that traumatized and mentally scared her for life and prevented her from being able to control her magic. Their father hunted down and killed the boys who attacked Ariana and was sent to Azkaban, where he died when Albus was still young.

Ariana became prone to fits of uncontrollable magic. Their mother hid Ariana away from the public to protect Ariana. Ariana took great comfort from her brother Aberforth, and he had the ability to calm her down when her magic got out of control. Sadly, Ariana lost control one afternoon when Aberforth wasn’t there to soothe her and she accidentally killed their mother.

Kendra’s death happened around the time that Albus graduated from Hogwarts and he was forced to return home to take care of his brother and sister instead of travel the world with his friend Elphias Doge. Albus resented having to return home and take care of his family and he resented them.

That summer Albus befriended Gellert Grindelwald, the nephew of neighbor Bathilda Bagshot. Gellert was almost as brilliant as Albus and just as ambitious, and the two became close friends. During their brief friendship they hatched a plan to make Muggles subservient to wizards, and their plans required a lot of traveling. Aberforth was against their plans mainly because in meant taking an unstable Ariana with them as they pursued their dream of magical dominance.

Aberforth eventually confronted Albus and Gellert, and the three argued over this matter. Their argument turned into a fight that Ariana was witness to. Aberforth, Albus, and Gellert magically attacked each other during the fight and it ended only when Ariana was accidentally killed. Aberforth never forgave Albus for Ariana’s death. Albus never knew if he was the one who killed Ariana and he was forever haunted by what happened . This one event changed Albus from a man who wanted to take over and rule the Muggle world to the wise man we saw in all the Harry Potter stories.

Dumbledore Quote

I chose the above quote because it means so much more when you consider the fact that Dumbledore’s choice during his youth lead to the death of his sister. I have no doubt that Dumbledore was thinking about his own choices and Ariana’s death as much as he was thinking about Harry’s when he said this to Harry Potter.

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Temperament and Personality

Most of the time Dumbledore was described in the books as a calm, kindly, caring, and humorous old man. He was said to be the only wizard Lord Voldemort ever feared, but it was hard for Harry to understand why this was until Harry finally saw Dumbledore in anger. When angered, Dumbledore transformed into a terrifying man filled with cold fury so intense he seemed to give off heat.

He was uncommonly kind and compassionate. Dumbledore may have envisioned ruling over Muggles in his youth but he grew into a man who accepted Muggles and fought for the fair and equal treatment of Muggles, witches, and wizards alike. He had no patience for people who believed in magical superiority or Pure-Blood status, such as Lucius Malfoy.

Humans were not the only beings to receive Dumbledore’s compassion. Dumbledore made an effort to reach out to any creature and treated them with respect. You can see evidence of this when Dumbledore welcomed house elves Dobby and Winky to Hogwarts and willingly paid Dobby a salary. Dumbledore offered a salary to Winky as well, but she did not accept his offer because it went against the code of the house elf. Winky was a troubled elf who spent more time drunk than working but Dumbledore allowed Winky to stay at Hogwarts despite her inability to properly perform her duties.

Another recipient of Dumbledore’s compassion was Rubeus Hagrid. Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts after being set up by Tom Riddle and Dumbledore arranged with the then-Headmaster Armando Dippet to allow Hagrid to stay at Hogwarts as a grounds-keeper-in-training. This one act of kindness made Hagrid love and respect Dumbledore, and Hagrid would have willingly given his life in his devotion to the Headmaster.

Albus Dumbledore was a man full of wisdom which he passed on effortlessly to those who were fortunate enough to know him. I honestly do not know if Dumbledore intentionally shared wisdom with those around him or if he did so inadvertently while doing what he believed to be the right course of actions.

The Headmaster was well loved and respected by the wizarding community and by many other magical creatures, including merpeople and centaurs. Despite this, Dumbledore appeared to be a bit of a loner. We learned in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that Albus learned from his mother to be secretive at a very young age, and it seems this was a trait he kept throughout his life. I also suspect that he may have suffered from loneliness because he did not have anyone in his life who was equal to his intelligence, and this may have led him to believe that he could not confide in anyone. Or, it could be that he was so deeply hurt by his friendship with Gellert Grindelwald in his youth that he never again allowed himself to open up and trust anyone else. The closest he seemed to come to a friend at Hogwarts was Minerva McGonagall but not even she knew about the Horcruxes that Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were searching for in the final book.

Speaking of respect, Dumbledore’s funeral was overflowing with respect from a variety of species. The sixth movie did not show his funeral, which I deeply regret, but the book went into great detail about how people and creatures all made a point of attending Albus Dumbledore’s funeral. One of the most poignant moments from the funeral was when Fawkes the Phoenix sang his song of mourning and lament, and then disappeared forever from Hogwarts and the series.

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Physical Traits

Race = Human
Gender = Male
Skin Color = Fair
Hair Color = Silvery-white in his old age, auburn in his youth
Eye Color = Blue
Other Notable Traits = Dumbledore was one of many characters in the Harry Potter stories who wore glasses which were described as half-moon spectacles. He also had a very crooked nose and we found out in the last story, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that his nose was broken by Aberforth who punched Albus at their sister Ariana’s funeral. I am sure that Dumbledore could have had his broken nose repaired but I suspect he chose not to because he probably felt that he deserved it and it also would have reminded him every day of what he had lost.

One of Dumbledore’s physical features that was mentioned numerous times in the stories was the fact that he had very long fingers, a trait he shared with Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape.

The last notable feature of Dumbledore’s was his eyes. They were usually bright, mischievous, and twinkling, but Harry often felt that Dumbledore was able to look straight into his soul when Dumbledore looked at him, especially if Harry tried to hide something from the Headmaster. Given that Dumbledore was accomplished at Legilimency (the art of reading someone’s thoughts) it is likely that Dumbledore was searching Harry’s mind when he looked so deeply into Harry’s eyes.

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Magical Traits

Patronus = Phoenix
Boggart = The corpse of his sister, Ariana

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Things You Didn't Know About Dumbledore

Wand Traits

Length = 15″
Wood = Elder
Core = Hair of a Thestral’s tail
Pliancy = Unknown
Maker = Unknown, but possibly Death or Antioch Peverell
Master = Albus Dumbledore
Additional Masters = Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter
Owner = Albus Dumbledore
Also Owned By = Severus Snape, Lord Voldemort, and Harry Potter
Additional Details = The above information is about the Elder Wand. Nothing is known about the wand Dumbledore used before he won the Elder Wand from Grindelwald during their famous duel in 1945.

The core of the Elder Wand contains a single hair from the tail of a Thestral. I searched long and hard for proof that this is what is truly at the core of the Death Wand and finally found the answer on the wonderful Wayback Machine Internet Archive website. Author J.K. Rowling disclosed the core on her website before she created Pottermore.com, and you can see her post about this here (you will be taken to an archived page since this information is no longer visible on Ms. Rowling’s website). Ms. Rowling states that a wand with the hair of a Thestral’s tail can only be mastered by a witch or wizard who is willing to face death.

The ultimate fate of the Elder wand was different in the final book and movie of the series. In the movie Harry Potter broke the wand and threw the broken parts off of a bridge, much to the horror of his friend Ron Weasley. In the book Harry used the Elder Wand to repair his own broken wand (the one he got from Mr. Ollivander before his first year at Hogwarts), then Harry returned it to Dumbledore’s tomb.

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Nicknames/Alias/Titles/Appearances

Nicknames = Dumbly-Dorr (Madame Maxime)
Aliases = None
Titles = Here are all of Dumbledore’s titles, in chronological order

  • Prefect
  • Head Boy
  • Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer
  • Professor
  • Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards
  • Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot

Appearances = None

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Organizations/Teams/Clubs

Organizations = Order of the Phoenix, Ministry of Magic’s Council of Magical Law, Ministry of Magic’s Wizengamut
Teams = Unknown
Clubs = Unknown

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Things You Didn't Know About Dumbledore

What Happened to Dumbledore After the Fall of Voldemort?

The body of Albus Dumbledore was able to rest in peace in his tomb on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his spirit was off on the next great adventure.

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What Richard Harris and Michael Gambon Have To Say About Albus Dumbledore

Richard Harris

Actor Richard Harris was the first of two men to portray Albus Dumbledore in the eight Harry Potter movies. Harris shared on an interview with David Letterman in 2001 that he had concerns about taking on the role of Hogwarts’ Headmaster because he knew he had health concerns, but he did so because his 11-year-old granddaughter demanded that he accept.

Source

Richard Harris was also concerned about his acting legacy. After he took the role as Albus Dumbledore, Harris was worried that, despite a long life as a highly respected actor, he would only be remembered for his part in the Harry Potter movies.

Source

Michael Gambon

Actor Michael Gambon took over the role of Albus Dumbledore after Harris’s death in 2002. I discuss below about how Gambon’s Dumbledore was not the same as the book version. Gambon acknowledged this difference in a 2009 interview where he said his acting was based on the words of the screenwriter, not author J.K. Rowling. It was for this very reason that Gambon chose not to read the books.

One of the biggest complaints of Gambon’s Dumbledore was from when Dumbledore aggressively shook Harry after Harry’s name came out of the Goblet of Fire in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Gambon said that the decision to make Dumbledore act differently from the books was that of the screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates.

Source

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How Dumbledore Changed Throughout The Series

Albus Dumbledore is one of the few adult characters in the series where we get to see who he was before the stories started, though we have to wait until the last book to see his past. I think it could be argued that Albus Dumbledore changed more than any other character, with the possible exception of Severus Snape.

Dumbledore seemed to have always known that he was brilliant and he wanted to grab the world by the tail after he graduated from Hogwarts. The death of his mother changed that and forced him to care for his younger brother and sister. The accidental death of his sister was caused by his actions which were selfish and arrogant. Ariana’s death shook Dumbledore’s belief system to its core and from that moment on he worked very hard to keep his motives pure and truly for the good of others.

The man we saw in all seven books did not change much until the very end. Harry found himself without clothes in a strange version of King’s Cross railroad station immediately following Voldemort’s unsuccessful attempt to kill Harry. Harry met Albus Dumbledore while there and the two of them talked. Dumbledore spoke openly and honestly about many things, and this was the first time we saw him being this honest about himself with anyone. During the conversation Dumbledore admitted that he had been arrogant in his reasons for wanting the Deathly Hallows and that Harry was a better man than he was, which, Dumbledore said, Harry proved by willingly going to his death instead of using the Hallows for selfish reasons. Although there is no way to know if Dumbledore acknowledged his arrogance to others while he was alive, I suspect that he didn’t. It seems that Dumbledore was finally willing to acknowledge all of his flaws in this meeting at King’s Cross.

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Dumbledore Quote

How Dumbledore Differs in the Books and Movies

Of all the characters from the Harry Potter books to be brought to life on the big screen, the biggest disappointment for me was the depiction of Albus Dumbledore. He was played by both Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, but neither of them captured the essence of who the written Dumbledore was. I think if Mr. Harris had survived he would have come closest to capturing the essence of Dumbledore because he presented a calm Headmaster similar to the one in the books.

The book version of Dumbledore was eccentric, patient, calm, and exceedingly kind in most situations. I had a very hard time accepting Michael Gambon as the kindly Headmaster but think he came closest to the written Dumbledore in the final move, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 2. When his Dumbledore spoke with Harry at King’s Cross after Harry was almost killed I could finally see him as the Dumbledore I loved from the books.

I want to make it clear that I do not fault either Richard Harris or Michael Gambon for not being the Dumbledore I expected to see. They were and are both excellent actors. My blame lies with the film directors and screenwriters who chose to make Dumbledore something that he wasn’t in the books.

The best example I can provide that shows this contrast comes from the fourth story, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry was chosen as a Triwizard champion. Here was how Dumbledore handled this situation in the book:

 Example of Dumbledore calm in a crisis

The movie version of this scene was very different. Instead of calmly asking if Harry had placed his name in the Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore pretty much accosted Harry, as you can see in this video that shows this same scene:

Another difference between the book and movie Dumbledores was his eccentricity. In the books, Dumbledore sometimes made statements that seemed to make no sense or were odd. Here is an example of the Headmaster’s unique behavior that left Harry wondering if the Hogwarts Headmaster was a bit mad:

Example of Dumbledore's eccentricities

We never got to see any of Dumbledore’s odd behavior in the movies, and I think that was a loss for us fans because that was also a big part of who Dumbledore was. Albus Dumbledore was a brilliant wizard who did what he wanted or thought was right, regardless of what others might think of him. Yes, we did get to see Dumbledore tell Harry to use Voldemort’s name instead of calling him You Know Who, but that was about it when it comes to showing Dumbledore’s personality.

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Video of Dumbledore

This is a lovely tribute video to Albus Dumbledore. It focuses solely on Michael Gambon’s version of Dumbledore and fits perfectly with the music.

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Dumbledore Costume

I have compiled everything you need if you want to dress up as Hogwarts favorite Headmaster. You can see all the items at the Dumbledore costume.

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Biographical Details | Temperament and Personality | Physical Traits | Magical Traits | Wand Traits |  Nicknames/Aliases/Titles/Appearances | Organizations/Teams/Clubs | What Happened to Dumbledore After the Fall of Voldemort? | What Richard Harris and Michael Gambon Have To Say About Dumbledore | How Dumbledore Changed Throughout The Series | How Dumbledore Differs in the Books and Movies | Video of Albus Dumbledore | Dumbledore Costume 

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