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10 times Dumbledore nailed it with kindness


I came to the Harry Potter books late in life. I was in my early 40s when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published and to me, at that time, they were books meant for children. And although I have never actually left my childhood, my literary tastes were somewhat more mature. The books never came up on my reading radar. I’ve seen the films of course, many times. In my household I can hardly avoid them, my whole family, including my wife, are huge fans. But I never really understood the intricate depths of the plot lines. The complexity of the characters, the deeper meanings of the texts, or the interconnectivity of the story lines. I would be frequently met with eye-rolling incredulity at my inability to latch on to what was happening, to be told that what was just played out on my screen was because such-and-such occurred in The Goblet of Fire. Or so-and-so did something in The Order of the Phoenix. Even when these things were explained I frequently failed to grasp the salient points.

So in order to better understand the films, and to earn the respect of my now grown up children, I decided to read the books. All seven of them. I was struck, beyond the genius of the writing, by the kindness and compassion of Albus Dumbledore. I straightaway recognised him as a father-figure (why hadn’t I seen this in the films?), and was frequently brought to a halt by the brilliance of his very quotable pearls of wisdom, reading them over and over, savouring the deep succulence of the sentences.

As all Harry Potter fans know, J.K. Rowling’s creation Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was the greatest wizard that ever lived, but he may well also have been, in my opinion the wisest, kindest, and most compassionate character in literary creation.

Along with Hagrid, Rowling created Dumbledore to fill the father-figure role that Harry lacked. With his own father murdered before Harry had chance to know him, and unloved and abused by the Dursleys as he grew up, Harry yearned for, and found in Dumbledore and Hagrid, the combination of the perfect father figure.

In an essay written for Rowling explained their roles: “These two men, both hugely important to Harry, seem to me to represent two sides of the ideal father figure he seeks; the former is warm, practical and wild, the latter impressive, intellectual, and somewhat detached.”

But why two father figures? Did she polarise the strength and wisdom of the ideal father-figure to simplify matters for her young readership. Warmth in one character, wisdom in the other. The clue, it seems, was in their names: Rubeus (red) and Albus (white). Red is the colour of fire and blood, and associated with energy, danger, strength, power, determination, passion, desire, and love. White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity – the colour of perfection.

She wrote: ”To convey their opposing but complementary natures: red meaning passion (or emotion); white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm and physical man, lord of the forest; Dumbledore the spiritual theoretician, brilliant, idealised and somewhat detached.”

Among all the guiding characters in his life – Molly and Arthur Weasley, Professor McGonagall, Hagrid and even, it turned out, Snape – Dumbledore is Harry’s greatest mentor. He is the person who spends the most time teaching and guiding Harry through his time at Hogwarts; helping him with his wisdom to grow into a strong, and powerful wizard capable of facing his destiny. And he is the one who has the kindest, most compassionate words for Harry throughout the series. Below are ten of the kindest phrases spoken by Dumbledore that teach us a great deal about life outside J.K. Rowling’s world of magic and mystery.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“Soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“You fail to recognise that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Just like your mother, you are unfailingly kind: a trait people never fail to undervalue, I’m afraid.”
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

“Do not pity the dead Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


What’s your favourite kindness quote? Let us know in the comments box below.

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