At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we learn that Harry Potter is the first person to become the Master of Death because he possessed all three of the Hallows - the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility. However, it seems that some people think that Harry wasn't really the first, that Albus Dumbledore was. Holy cow! Did I completely miss something this important in my many readings of the books?
How Does Someone Become The "Master Of Death"?
The first time I heard that Dumbledore might have been the first Master of Death was after I read an article written by someone who claimed that it was Dumbledore, not Harry, who was the first to have all three Hallows. This is an interesting idea, but is it true?
Before I can determine the accuracy of the statement, I first need clarify what makes someone the Master of Death. According to author J.K. Rowling, the only way to master death is to possess all three Hallows at the same time. Did Dumbledore at any point have all three Hallows? Let's consider them one at a time.
The Elder Wand - We learned in the final Harry Potter book that the wand owned by Dumbledore throughout all seven books is the Elder Wand. He was owner and master of the Elder Wand and had it in his possession until just before his death, when Draco Malfoy forcibly ejected it from his hand.
Did Dumbledore have the Elder Wand throughout the series? Yes.
The Resurrection Stone - We learned in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince that Dumbledore suffered an injury that badly damaged his wand hand. We learned in the next and final book that he injury was caused when Dumbledore put on the Gaunt ring, a ring that was made from the Resurrection Stone. The ring was a horcrux and cursed, and Dumbledore was slowly being killed as a result of the curse. Severus Snape was able to temporarily bind (or "stopper") the curse, giving Dumbledore almost a year of life that he otherwise would not have had. He had ownership of the Resurrection Stone for roughly a year before his passing.
Did Dumbledore have possession of the Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone at the same time? Yes.
The Cloak of Invisibility - The third Hallow was one that was passed from one generation of Harry's family to the next, until Dumbledore saw it and borrowed it from Harry's father, James. James was killed shortly after Dumbledore borrowed the cloak, so Dumbledore kept it in his possession until Harry came to Hogwarts. Dumbledore anonymously returned it to its rightful owner during Harry's first year at Hogwarts. From that time on, the cloak remained with Harry.
Did Dumbledore have possession of the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and Cloak of Invisibility at the same time? No.
Did Dumbledore Borrow The Cloak of Invisibility From Harry?
Wow. I have absolutely no recollection of this happening. How many times did Dumbledore borrow the Cloak of Invisibility? I thought it was just once, when he borrowed it from James. Had I completely missed what the article writer claimed while reading the books some eight times or watching the sixth movie a similar number of times?
I watched the cave scene from the sixth movie in my effort to determine if Dumbledore borrowed the cloak a second time. Did he? Nope.
Next, I turned my efforts to the book. I have all seven Harry Potter books on my Kindle, so I fired it up, chose, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince", then did a search for the word cloak. Cloak is mentioned a total of 100 mentions in the book, but none of these 100 instances was due to Dumbledore borrowing it.
I went back to the author's post and reread it. That is when I saw that she put the phrase "to look ahead" in quotes, which made me think that she was quoting text from the book. I then searched my kindle for the phrase "to look ahead." Want to guess how often those three words in that exact order occur in the sixth book? Anyone? Zero times!
What About Harry?
Okay, so now we know that Dumbledore never had all three Hallows at the same time. But, what about Harry? Did he?
Did Harry have possession of the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and Cloak of Invisibility at the same time? No.
The only time Harry had the Elder Wand was at the very end of the series, after Voldemort was finally defeated for good. Harry held on to the Elder Wand long enough to repair his wand, which had been destroyed during the battle with Nagini at Godrick’s Hollow. Wand maker Ollivander had believed that Harry’s wand was damaged beyond repair, but Harry wondered if the Elder Wand would be powerful enough to fix his wand and found that it was. (This was in the final book but not in the movie.)
The only other Hallow that Harry had when he also had the Elder Wand was the Cloak of Invisibility, the only Hallow Harry had during most of the series. Harry had purposely dropped and lost the Resurrection Stone just hours before he came into possession of the Elder Wand.
This means that, like Dumbledore, Harry never had all three Hallows at the same time. And, yet, Dumbledore thought that Harry was the true Master of Death. Dumbledore told this to Harry during Harry’s time at the clean King’s Cross station, the one in his mind, after Voldemort’s second failed attempt to kill Harry at the end of the series.
How Could Harry Have Been The “Master Of Death” Without Having All Three Hallows At The Same Time?
Per Rowling's definition, Harry wasn’t the Master of Death, but it is my opinion that Dumbledore was right, that Harry was despite not having all three Hallows at the same time. How can that be?
It is my opinion that what Dumbledore meant when he declared Harry the true Master of Death had to do with intent. If you read the books then you know that Dumbledore wanted all three Hallows for either power or personal gain.
Dumbledore wanted the Elder Wand in his youth so that he and Grindelwald could dominate Muggles. He wanted the Resurrection Stone when he was older so that he could apologize to his family for his selfish actions. As for the Invisibility Cloak, I don’t think he wanted it so he could hide, but simply because it was one of the three Hallows
Now, let’s look at Harry’s motives. He used the Invisibility Cloak for fun and personal gain, but that was because Dumbledore anonymously encouraged Harry to use it in this way, and because he was very young and had no idea what it was.
It wasn’t until Harry was 18 that Harry had the remaining two Hallows, and he was a very different person by this time than he was when he got the Cloak. Harry fully understood what each of the Hallows was by this time and he respected them. He had no desire to use the Hallows for power or personal gain, nor was he tempted to. This, to me, is why Dumbledore called Harry the true Master of Death, and I agree.
Oh, and for those of you wanting to read the original article, you can at "Dumbledore: Master of Death!?".