Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 18
In the eighteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the identity of the “thief” is revealed and everything is a billion times more confusing than ever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 18: THE LIFE AND LIES OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
Is it ok to admit this? I have no idea what the fuck is going on.
I don’t mean this in the traditional sense. So far, for the past six books, I’ve never been able to figure out those final moments of the climax. I am rarely able to piece together the strings of narrative and plot into a cohesive picture. Actually…thinking about it now, that’s actually pretty strange, considering I spend more time thinking and ranting about the small details than most people do. Perhaps because I do that, I don’t get to ever see the big picture. I spend so much time in this book, I don’t see the forest for the trees.
Whatever, that’s not the point here. I actually like that I’m unable to figure out any of the master plans for these books. It makes them more fun and allows me to sort of excuse some of the flaws or bad writing because the experience is so enjoyable. I don’t consider what I’m experiencing now to be bad writing necessarily, but this is beyond normal curiosity. I plain do not understand this.
When I saw the title of this chapter, I was hoping that we’d spend a great deal of time with the various moments of Rita Skeeter’s book to shed light on the various details that are, so far, unconfirmed rumors. And while there was some of that, the introduction of the “thief” to the narrative…look, I’ll just say it this way. I am confused.
So the “thief” is Grindelwald. The Dark Wizard Dumbledore destroyed years again, gaining him the reputation as the one wizard who should be feared. And when Harry saw the photo of the boy again and read the caption, identifying him as Grindelwald, I merely scratched my head. What? I don’t get it. Why did he steal from Gregorovitch? HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO THIS STORY AT ALL.
My head. It hurts.
We get to read a (brief) chapter of Rita’s book and, while it seems to be confirmed that Bathilda Bagshot was alive and herself during Rita’s interview, the entire passage doesn’t clear up anything at all. It makes me understand everything even less than I understood it before. I think part of it is a symptom of Rita’s writing, which is actually a pretty fantastic parody of how celebrity gossip is written. The main feature of this style is that Rita poses questions as pseudo-facts, suggesting that there is more to a story, but never bothering to answer her own questions.
- This dreadful coffin-side brawl, known only to those few who attended Ariana Dumbledore’s funeral, raises several questions. Why exactly did Aberforth Dumbledore blame Albus for his sister’s death? Was it, as “Batty” pretends, a mere effusion of grief? Or could there have been some more concrete reason for his fury? Grindelwald, expelled from Durmstrang for the near-fatal attacks upon fellow students, fled the country hours after the girl’s death, and Albus (out of shame or fear?) never saw him again, not until forced to do so by the pleas of the Wizarding world.
Neither Dumbledore nor Grindelwald ever seems to have referred to this brief boyhood friendship in later life. However, there can be no doubt that Dumbledore delayed, for some five years of turmoil, fatalities, and disappearances, his attack upon Gellert Grindelwald. Was it lingering affection for the man or fear of exposure as his once best friend that caused Dumbledore to hesitate? Was it only reluctantly that Dumbledore set out to capture the man he was once so delighted he had met?
And how did the mysterious Ariana die? Was she the inadvertent victim of some Dark rite? Did she stumble across something she ought not to have done, as the two young men sat practicing for their attempt at glory and domination? Is it possible that Ariana Dumbledore was the first person to die “for the greater good”?
Note how she never addresses anything she brings up? It’s a way to trick people into thinking she is pursuing the “truth.” She’s actually just a lazy, irresponsible writer.But let’s talk about Dumbledore’s letter to Grindelwald:
- Gellert —
Your point about Wizard dominance being FOR THE MUGGLES’ OWN GOOD — this, I think, is the crucial point. Yes, we have been given power and yes, that power gives us the right to rule, but it also gives us responsibilities over the ruled. We must stress this point, it will be the foundation stone upon which we build. Where we are opposed, as we surely will be, this must be the basis of all our counterarguments. We seize control FOR THE GREATER GOOD. And from this it follows that where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more. (This was your mistake at Durmstrang! But I do not complain, because if you had not been expelled, we would never have met.)
I’m calling it now: That letter, as awful as it seems, is taken out of context. As soon as I started reading Rita Skeeter’s analysis of it, I thought it seemed mighty presumptuous to make the conclusions that she did. And I think we will learn at a later point that there was more to this letter.
Perhaps, though, it’s just my willingness to want to see Dumbledore in a positive light. (Could I seriously stop being Hermione, tyvm). She does grasp for any sort of explanation for all this that exonerates Dumbledore, but Harry isn’t having it:
- “Anyway, it’s — it’s an awful thought that Dumbledore’s ideas helped Grindelwald rise to power. But on the other hand, even Rita can’t pretend that they knew each other for more than a few months one summer when they were both really young, and —”
“I thought you’d say that,” said Harry. He did not want to let his anger spill out at her, but it was hard to keep his voice steady. “I thought you’d say ‘They were young.’ They were the same age as we are now. And here we are, risking our lives to fight the Dark Arts, and there he was, in a huddle with his new best friend, plotting their rise to power over the Muggles.”
I can’t ignore the parallel Harry sees in this, and I can’t help but admit he’s kind of right. I’m tortured by this. This chapter doesn’t make me feel better about anything we’ve learned about Dumbledore, and I feel like I’m no closer to the answer than ever before.This is painful.