Harry’s heart of gold

Une fois n’est pas coutume, j’ai écris un court essai sur Harry Potter, et en particulier sur Harry, que je trouve de plus en plus badass chaque jour. Je l’ai écrit en Anglais, parce que j’ai lu les livres en anglais et que ça sort mieux comme ça, mais j’ai aussi fait une traduction que vous pouvez lire ici.

‘He accused me of being “Dumbledore’s man through and through”.’
‘How very rude of him.’
‘I told him I was.’
 Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Behind Harry, Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harry’s intense embarrassment, he suddenly realized that Dumbledore’s bright blue eyes looked rather watery, and stared hastily at his own knees. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.
‘I am very touched, Harry.’

When I read that article about Dumbledore’s manipulation skills, I was kind of down. I never thought of him as a bad person and thinking that man’s concern for other people were only based on whether or not they were useful to him is chilling. And I think he never expected to love Harry, but then he genuinely did. I think him being so touched by Harry’s loyalty is proof that he cares deeply for the boy. And how could you not, when you meet someone like Harry James Potter?

Dumbledore has a court of very loyal people around him. Snape, Hagrid, Lupin, Trelawney, MacGonagall, Mad Eye, Shaklebot… All those people trust him because they owe him. Dumbledore earned their trust and loyalty after doing them a big favour. For some, it was a job opportunity, or being accepted and considered important even though they’re outcasts.

But oddly enough, Harry’s trust comes from virtually nowhere. From the moment he held his first ever Chocolate Frog Card to the moment he is greeted by Dumbledore’s soul in Kings Cross, Harry’s always idolised his headmaster.

His capacity to love really is magical, when you look at all he’s been though, and how little he resents Dumbledore for keeping him in the dark for so long and manipulating him.

‘You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!’ said Dumbledore loudly. ‘The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you  the only way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches. Harry, have you any idea how few wizards could have seen what you saw in that mirror? Voldemort should have known then what he was dealing with but he did not!’

And not only did Harry see the way to fight evil in the mirror of Erised, but when faced to his mortal enemy, on the verge of finishing him, still gave him one last chance to repent himself. To mend his damaged soul.

I think Dumbledore is truly amazed by Harry’s capacity to love. Not just because it gives him the desire to get revenge on Voldemort, but also because in spite of everything that Dumbledore has done TO harry, Harry still sees him as one of the persons he trusts most in the world. Let’s put things in context. When harry says « I’m Dumbledore’s man through and through. » we’re in the sixth book. And he says it again in the seventh book when he receives Dumbledore’s will.

At that point of the story, Harry isn’t kept in the dark like when he was just a boy admiring Dumbledore on the chocolate frog card. He knows because of the prophecy, that Dumbledore always planned to raise Harry as the man who would kill Voldemort. He could have placed him in any wizarding family and allowed him to live his life, but instead, he kept him at the Dursleys for 11 years under a charm protection help by his mother’s blood. 11 years of abuse he is responsible for. Harry also knows that Dumbledore is more or less responsible for the deaths of all the people Harry loved most in the world. For his parents’ death, especially for Sirius’ death. And yet Harry forgave him, and never stopped trusting the man with the half moon spectacles. I think that is something Dumbledore really doesn’t understand, because Harry’s trust isn’t something that he got out of manipulation. He receives it genuinely, in spite of the fact most of what Dumbledore does is making Harry’s life more difficult to the day. And all that « for the Greater Good« …

I have a theory that when Dumbledore heard the prophecy. Like Voldemort, he took it very seriously. I think Dumbledore didn’t believe he could finish Voldemort himself, because he suspected him to have one or more horcruxes. Maybe he saw in the prophecy a way to step away from the difficult task ahead. And that’s why he didn’t insist on being Lily and James’ secret keeper. I mean frankly, if Dumbledore had been secret keeper to them and to the Longbottoms, Voldemort would have never marked Harry (or Neville) as his equal and thus making him the one who had to finish him. Dumbledore helped mark Harry as the man who had to kill Voldemort out of cowardice, and I think he feels guilty about that more than anything. And a reason why after being responsible for ALL THAT, he’s amazed to see the admiration and trust in those green eyes. Harry’s capacity to love knows no bound. This power is stronger than any of Dumbledore and Voldemort’s powers combined. My point with all that is that, at first, I felt down thinking about Harry’s dedication to Dumbledore, but in the end I think that’s yet another proof that this boy really is the strongest wizard alive. It warms my heart.


Un commentaire sur “Harry’s heart of gold

  1. I’m not sure I agree with either your premises nor your conclusion.

    I don’t find it surprising at all that Harry would immediately and unconditionally give his trust to Dumbledore. Harry has a deep yearning for a father figure – a yearning that is never satisfied – this is a recurrent theme throughout the series. He is fascinated, to the point of idolization, by who James was, until he finds out James was a bully – and he takes it as a personal betrayal. He adopts Sirius as a surrogate father, puts him on a pedestal too, and – well we know how that goes. It’s the same sentiment that makes him look up so strongly to Dumbledore despite all of Dumbledore’s flaws. (By the way, I don’t think it’s true that Dumbledore didn’t manipulate Harry into trusting him. By choosing his childhood circumstances, he pretty much ensured that Harry would grow up without a father figure and would be begging for one the day Dumbledore showed up in his life).

    Harry is far from perfect, far from being all-love all the time. He is short tempered, sometimes violent and even cruel towards those who hurt his friends, whithout taking any time to consider their personal circumstances. For example the way he snobs Draco – just a kid his age – right from the start? That shows some seriously selective empathy.

    Thing is, Harry is pretty much the Gryffindor archetype – he chooses to be. He chooses to become the living embodiment of bravery and chivalry. Harry is a paladin, in other words, and the higher power he chooses to serve is Hogwarts and its living personification Dumbledore. But a paladin (mostly) isn’t driven by an internal force like love. He is guided by an externally-imposed code of conduct. What makes paladins such powerful righteousness-wielders is also their weakness: their loyalty make them perfect objects to manipulate.I really believe that by the time Harry understands that Dumbledore is playing him like a pawn, he has also accepted to be that pawn, to serve as part of a plan that he does not understand – or needs to.

    Maybe Dumbledore admires Harry’s unwavering loyalty. Maybe he pities it a bit, because he has also grown to love him. In either case, I find that the fact that both characters are flawed, and the complicated feelings and interactions that result from these flaws, are what make the story interesting. I don’t think I would have read through a saga starting with « Jesus and the philosopher’s stone », would you have?


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