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16 January 2007 @ 03:09 pm
Dumbledore's Failure  
I was reading Red Hen's Out On A Limb (I want to be Red Hen when I grow up! : ) and noticed in her discussion of what we know about Dumbledore something rather interesting.  As she points out, Dumbledore is big on second chances, and as she also points out he doesn't give one to Tom Riddle.

Now Red Hen notices that this is not in character for Dumbledore and comes up with two alternatives:
A. Dumbledore is acting out of character because that's what JKR needs to get the job done.
B. Something happened during that conversation that we don't yet understand, but will make Dumbledore's actions make sense.

I'd like to posit a third theory.  Dumbledore is acting in character, but in character for the Dumbledore of yesterday.  There's a huge hole that is Dumbledore Before Harry.  An even bigger one for Dumbledore Before Voldemort.  And from what we know of the accomplishments of Dumbledore, the Harry filtered version that's a mix between Santa, Disney's Merlin, with hints of Gandalf peaking out probably wasn't always the person he was.

So what do we know?  Dumbledore meets young Tom and is turned off within two minutes of conversation. Granted Tom's not all that likeable of a kid, and anyone who's dealt with unsavory characters can see that Tom's got a glowing neon warning sign flashing on and off over his head.  Dumbledore can see that Tom needs watching, not just for his own sake, but to protect others.  And Dumbledore does watch, but he does not shepherd.  He provides Tom with no guidance.  He sees an eleven year old in trouble and washes his hands of him.

What else do we know?  The Dumbledore of the present is known for being a trusting, guiding, redemption hound.  You were a rake, no problem, Dumbledore will give you a second chance.  Joined the Death Eaters, but now you're sorry; come to Hogwarts and teach (or come to Hogwarts for the TriWizard Tournament.)  Spent all year trying to kill me, and almost off two of your classmates; I'll hide you and your mom!  Practically get one of your classmates killed by tricking him to get near another one when he's totally out of control (and, as a side note, practically turn one of your buddies into a killer); no problem, finish out the year as if nothing happened.  Try to torture my pet student and get tricked into the Centaur's forest by your own greed; I'll go save you!

By the time we see him Dumbledore seems almost pathological in his need to give people second chances.  He's so trusting he routinely puts other people at risk.  After all, it's one thing for Hagrid to routinely bring his students into contact with critters that will kill them if given the chance; no one ever accused Hagrid of having an overabundance of brains.  But Dumbledore is supposed to be brilliant.

Other writers have bandied about the theory that Dumbledore's lack of care is the final nail in the coffin of Tom Marvolo Riddle.  I tend to disagree with this idea, but what if Dumbledore does not? 

Perhaps, in the Cave, Dumbledore's "It's my fault." mantra is his confession that he believes that if he had taken Tom under his wing he could have nipped the budding psychopath, and fostered the charming rose underneath.  Perhaps the potion allows him to see a vision of a future with Voldemort in charge.  Perhaps Dumbledore's "Not the Children." and "Kill Me." is part of a conversation he is having with the Voldemort in his head.  Perhaps I'm just tilting at windmills here...

But it is a pretty good reason for why Dumbledore forgives all these days.

focusf1focusf1 on January 17th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
I want to be Red Hen when I grow up! Join the queue!

And Dumbledore does watch, but he does not shepherd.

I personally believe, that Riddle becoming Voldemort, is not Dumbledore's fault, nor do I think that he could have done anything to prevent it from happening. I think that when we first encounter the young Riddle in the orphanage, he already has the makings of a sociopath/megalomaniac. There was an interesting essay on here a few weeks back (maryj59?) in which a discussion on young Tom really got to the core of things. In it the ideas went back and forth about Tom and was he a ready-made sociopath, or did others make him what he is? My view is, the inbreeding in his family gene-pool and the history of tempers and violence was already prevalent in Tom when Dumbledore went to meet him.

What I see in Tom when I first read about him is that he has made himself a victim of his circumstance (being orphaned and left in an orphanage). And ALL he sees in the future is how to gain a weapon (power) and how to use it against others. And thats exactly what he gets - he gets magic. And what a power to have and be able to use! In being given something, he was given the jackpot of all things.

In the discussion the parallel of Harry/Tom also came up. Harry, in a very similar situation (orphaned, no love) chose not to be a victim. Despite having been shown no love by his relatives, he saw the introduction of magic as an escape to better himself. Not as a tool to use over those who oppressed him.

And Dumbledore does watch, but he does not shepherd.

I think it all comes down to: It is our choices, ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

When Tom got to Hogwarts he would have been treated like every other kid, if not with more revere because he was such a handsome, orphaned, and exceptionally gifted young boy. I doubt anything bad happened to him at Hogwarts that could be blamed for him turning into Voldemort. I think Dumbledore is blameless, really no one is to blame but Voldemort himself. (This may have come out of me because I love Dumbledore and I can see no wrong in him!)

I would love to know if there was a prophecy made that saw the rising of Voldemort happening....Maybe that would be some inside knowledge that Dumbledore may have had.
bewarethesmirkbewarethesmirk on January 17th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
Perfectly expressed!
kerylrkerylr on January 17th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC)
Another prophecy would fit well with Red Hen's 'What are we missing from this picture?' line of thought. Something along the lines of.. "You will know the Dark One for he will question your motives, and try to force truth from you..."

I fall into the camp that does not think that Dumbledore's rejection of Tom sealed his fate. Mainly because he got to Hogwarts and was loved by everyone but Dumbledore. His teachers think he's great, the other students flock to him. He's popular, gets achievement medals, becomes Prefect. (Does anyone know if he was Head Boy? Probably.) If there was any chance of redemption for Tom it would have happened when he went to school and found himself surrounded by people who had nothing but happy positive feelings towards him. But that's my thought process and it's informed by years of pop psychology. Dumbledore's is probably different.
focusf1focusf1 on January 17th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
Maybe its me but I don't see anything wrong with Dumbledore keeping an eye on Tom and maybe distancing himself slightly from him. With what he knew about Tom from the "wierd" events which happened at the orphanage, hanged rabbits from rafters, abuse of fellow orphans in caves etc I can see exactly why.

No one else but Dumbledore knew all this about Tom, which at least means he gave the boy a fair second chance to atone and learn to be accepted. A chance Riddle chose to abuse, I might add. I think we get confused by Dumbledore haters sometimes. Yes, Dumbledore is accepting, but he's not stupid. Harry always says that there is not much that Dumbledore does not know, maybe he had a 6th sense about Tom.

Yep. Riddle was Head Boy, the trio found his name on a list of past Head Boys in CoS.

*off to catch up on RH's latest*
★★ Gabriel Artisan ★★house_illrepute on January 18th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
When Tom got to Hogwarts he would have been treated like every other kid, if not with more revere because he was such a handsome, orphaned, and exceptionally gifted young boy. I doubt anything bad happened to him at Hogwarts that could be blamed for him turning into Voldemort. I think Dumbledore is blameless, really no one is to blame but Voldemort himself.

Didn't Rowling say that the part of Hogwarts was her own commentary on the typical British boarding school (at least during her school years)...?

Maybe this is part of her belief that you DON'T treat everyone the same? And, could the way he handled Harry be the result of him realising this 'simple fact', if indeed it is a fact?

I mean, Dumbledore didn't learn of Tom's craziness as a child when we did (in HBP); he'd known it for a long time. Do you really think treating a child with obvious mental problems as if he's regular Joe Blow Hufflepuff the correct way to go about things?

If your child was attacked in school by a kid and you found out that the professors -- or at least one professor -- knew about it, would you abide the excuse of 'well, it's about choices... and we were treating him like we treated everyone else?'

Ultimately, I agree that we are mostly to blame for how we behave, what we do, and the decisions that we make... but, unless some new information comes about in HP:DH that we don't already know, it's safe to say that Dumbledore was negligent in handling Riddle, who was already showing signs of being a psychopath by his 11th birthday.

'I'll be watching you...'


I like Dumbledore, too. But I like him because he is NOT the all-wise, all-knowing sage most people think he is. He is a human with magical powers, who made many mistakes. He made mistakes with Riddle... He made mistakes with Harry. The only mistake he didn't make was in giving Snape a second chance, methinks.
ctrent29: pic#120456675ctrent29 on September 30th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
Hmm . . . how convenient. And it gives Dumbledore a good excuse for his unwillingness to even try to help Tom.