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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 03:54 am (UTC)
Dumbleedore does give Tom a choice. He tells him that he can come with him to Hogwarts but in choosing so must return all the items he has stolen. He also tells him he has been, "using [his] powers in a way that is neither taught nor tolerated at our school." and should he make the choice to come to Hogwarts, he will have to refrain from doing so.

Tom, obviously, accepts the conditions but from his future actions we can say, had no intentions of abiding by them.

There is a choice made.

Also, Dumbledore does not tell anyone at all about Tom's previous tempermental history. He gets a fair second chance when he arrives at Hogwarts, the teachers love him moreso because of the "selective" information they have been given by Dumbledore - that Tom is just an orphan, a very clever, gifted, handsome one at that.

Another choice been made.

Dumbledore gave Tom the chance to start over, and although Tom took it, he USED it to suit his own purpose. This therefore, comes down to abusing trust, power and making BAD choices.
Magpie: Good point.sistermagpie on January 17th, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)
That's pretty much the way I see Dumbledore acting as well. To give a second chance you have to be asked for one--or at least see an opening to give it. Snape apparently came to DD and asked fo rone. Draco didn't come for a second chance but the situation on the Tower was an obvious opening. I'm not quite seeing where Tom was refused anything. He was given a fair chance at Hogwarts despite Dumbledore not liking him, Dumbledore didn't seem to have interfered with his education.

Is not giving him the DA job not giving him a chance? Even if Voldemort wasn't really just trying to get into the school for his own ends, not giving him that job wasn't much of a big deal. He wasn't asking for any kind of chance, he was just making a demand.

So to me it seems like Tom never asked for a second chance, and Dumbledore gave him one anyway (by giving him a chance at Hogwarts) and he refused it. Maybe he didn't handle Tom as well as someone else might (especially a psychiatrist), I don't think he fails to give him a chance.
cc5changclaire5 on January 23rd, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
to give a child a choice not only involves giving him freedom to do as he chooses, the child has to be shown that there are multiple choices.

if TR were adults in all those situations, then I agree that DD was at no fault. However, TR was but a child, a very troubled and problematic child, but a child nontheless. So, only providing him an environment where he *could* develop whichever way he chooses is not enough. To see a problem inside a child but do nothing about it, is in effect, taking away the child's chance of being rid of that problem.
focusf1focusf1 on January 24th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
I think that Tom was given multiple choices. He could stay at the orphanage or he could go to Hogwarts. If he went to Hogwarts he would have to chose between giving back stolen belongings and stop hurting others.

To see a problem inside a child but do nothing about it, is in effect, taking away the child's chance of being rid of that problem.

I agree, but sociopathic Tom was a wealth of charm on the outside - who knew what was going on in the inside? As most fictional sociopaths (can't comment on RL as not an expert) are portrayed as integrated, charming and easy people, I am not surprised that Tom managed to hide his "real" self pretty well.