THIS EDITORIAL IS ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY FILLED WITH SPOILERS
Potter fans everywhere were recently devastated by the death of a favourite character. Since the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, debates have raged. Was the death planned? Is the death final? What will Harry do now? In this editorial, we will try to answer these questions and more.
As every HP fan already knows, this is a topic that readers are very passionate about. Arguments for both sides will be written and when all is said and done, members of The Snitch will have an opportunity to weigh in and let everyone know what they think. On that note, let�s get started.
Why did Dumbledore die?
The better question is: Why do authors kill their characters? Typically, it is done to serve the story in some way. Death is used to further the plot, to add shock value or excitement, to allow growth in another character, and sometimes to create a twist. In the fantasy genre especially, the wizened character/mentor often dies before the end of the story. The fact is, Dumbledore HAD to die to make the story play out the way it was meant to, otherwise JK wouldn�t have killed him.
Did Dumbledore �plan� his death?
The answer to this is probably not. Even if Dumbledore wanted witnesses to his death, he would have never chosen to die in front of Harry. He simply would not have subjected Harry to such a traumatic event. If he planned the location of his death, it would have happened somewhere else. On the other hand, it can be argued that Dumbledore knew of the plot to kill him. He admitted as much to Draco, and there is vague evidence that he knew about Snape�s unbreakable vow. See more on that below.
What does Dumbledore�s death mean?
To Voldemort and his followers, Dumbledore�s death signifies relief. With him gone, baddies everywhere will know a little less fear. However, if Dumbledore will return as many fans think he will, then he has given his enemies a very false sense of security. Dumbledore may just be the last surprise in the fight against Voldemort.
To Harry, Hogwarts, and the Order of Phoenix, Dumbledore�s death is devastating. The Hogwarts Headmaster was everyone�s hero. As the ultimate white hat, he was moral inspiration for the entire wizarding world. Dumbledore made Hogwarts safe. Dumbledore organized and led the Order in the fight against evil. Most importantly, Dumbledore gave Harry the guidance, knowledge, and protection that he has needed to become the wizard that he is needs to be. Dumbledore was one of the most important figures in the series. Removing him creates a sense of uncertainty that has never existed so strongly.
More than anything, Dumbledore�s death means that Harry must carry on alone, which is hard to imagine but very appropriate to this coming of age tale. We�ve watched Harry grow from a skinny, scared eleven year old into a powerful wizard in his own right. And with Dumbledore gone, fate forces Harry�s hand. He must use his acquired maturity and go after Voldemort, because nobody else will. The entire world is relying on him. He is truly the chosen one.
Did Dumbledore know about the Unbreakable Vow?
Snape is the wrench in this mystery. Without knowing his motives and his true alliance, it is impossible to answer this question. Many people suspect that Snape is still fighting on the side of good. While just as many, think that Snape is evil through and through.
There is no ironclad evidence available to support the �Dumbledore Knew About the Unbreakable Vow Theory�, but there is good speculative evidence. Hagrid told Harry, and Hermione about an argument that had occurred between Snape and Dumbledore. Hagrid hear Snape say that Dumbledore took too much for granted and maybe he, Snape, didn�t want to do it anymore. It�s not completely clear what �it� was, but one guess is that it had something to do with the Unbreakable Vow.
During the last of Harry�s lessons, Dumbledore is emphatic that Harry must understand what the prophecy really means. Dumbledore expresses a clear urgency and agitation that he has never shown before. This makes the reader (or at least me) suspect that he realised time may be running out. He realised that if he didn�t make Harry understand at that moment, he might never have an opportunity to do so. This point definitely argues against Dumbledore�s return, but it does possibly support the �Dumbledore Knew About the Unbreakable Vow Theory�.
Why did the Killing Curse affect Dumbledore differently?
Previous victims of the Avada Kedavra curse did not die in a spectacular fashion. Basically, they just dropped over dead the second the green light hit them. Dumbledore, however, was thrown into the air and over a wall. See the excerpt below:
�Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. "Avada Kedavra!" A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape's wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry's scream of horror never left him; silently he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air. For a split second, he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he slowly fell backward, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight.�
This is either a huge clue or a fabulous red herring. If it is a clue, one could argue that Snape never actually performed the Avada Kedavra curse. He said the words, but the words alone mean nothing. The imposter Mad-Eye Moody proves this in Book Four when he tells the DADA class:
�Avada Kedavra's a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it -- you could all get your wands out now and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I'd get so much as a nosebleed.�
There is no denying that Snape is a powerful wizard. That said, perhaps he is powerful enough to verbally cast a fake spell and at the same time use non-verbal magic to cast an actual spell (The actual spell being something that tossed Dumbledore into the air and out of sight; the fake spell being the killing curse.) If this theory holds water, we must question why Dumbledore appeared dead afterwards. A possible answer: Snape, being a potions master, brewed the Draught of Living Death for Dumbledore. The Draught, mentioned in Book One and Book Four is such a powerful sleeping potion, it makes the drinker appear dead. When Dumbledore was thrown over the battlements and out of sight, perhaps he had time fish into a pocket, find the Draught, and drink it before he was seen again.
What is the deal with Fawkes?
In Book Five, Fawkes saved Dumbledore during the duel at the Ministry of Magic by eating a jet of green light. In Book Six, Fawkes doesn�t make an appearance until after Dumbledore�s death. Why doesn�t he save him this time around?
During the chapter �Phoenix Lament� Fawkes trills a beautiful and comforting song. Was it meant to be a last farewell to Dumbledore, a healing song, or was it simply meant to be a comfort for Dumbledore�s surviving friends.
After Dumbledore�s death, Harry has the feeling that Fawkes has left Hogwarts. Where did he go? Will we ever see him again?
Why did Dumbledore burst into flames?
At the funeral, Dumbledore�s body (we assume it�s Dumbledore�s body, but the body is wrapped not exposed, so we really shouldn�t assume too much) bursts into flames and is then encased by a white tomb. Was this a fantastic bit of magic or something more? Everyone at the funeral seems surprised that it happened, making it appear as though this is an unusual occurrence.
We all know the myth that surrounds the phoenix. They die in flames and are reborn again in the ashes. Dumbledore has always been closely associated with the phoenix throughout the books. Does this mean he has phoenix tendencies? Harry thinks he sees the briefest glimpse of a phoenix in the smoke that rises from the tomb and into the sky. Huge clue or red herring?
What does the portrait mean?
Towards the end of Book Six, Harry sees Dumbledore�s portrait in the Headmaster�s office. We know from previous experience that all of the former Hogwarts Heads (except Umbridge) are featured on the wall. Do you have to be dead before you have a portrait? I always thought so, but there is no actual proof of this. In any regard, does this mean that Dumbledore will be available to provide wisdom and advice in Book Seven, if only in portrait form?
Is Dumbledore really dead?
I had an opinion at the beginning of this editorial, but in my attempts to show both sides of the coin, I have somehow managed to thoroughly confuse myself. What do you think, fellow Snitchers? Is our beloved Headmaster gone for good or will he be back? Post your thoughts on the comment board. I�m eager to hear what you all think! You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or respond with your own spiffing editorial.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading!
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