The Discussion Post – Dumbledore, saviour or just as bad as Lord Voldemort?

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and leader of the light – or just a man with too many names and titles who despite dressing up everything as for the greater good really wasn’t any better than Lord Voldemort?


This post is a direct result of a twitter conversation I had with several people, Liv and Charlotte being the main culprits – Disclaimer I’m a Severus Snape fan and I think he was treated appaulingly by Dumbledore so I may be a little biased… But just what is it about Dumbledore that makes me think he was just as bad as a genocidal maniac? Let me tell you…

Exhibit One – He Kept Secrets For No Reason

Dumbledore could have shared so much information with other – but he chose not to. It’s something I don’t think you could ever make me understand, Dumbledore liked to appear all knowing, I get that, he liked all the recognition and renown he received after turning on Gellert Grindelwald and defeating him, he wanted to be the hero again. I imagine he was rather devastated when Harry survived and became the hero of the first Voldemort war, even so I almost get that. The bit I will never understand is how during the Half Blood Prince he put on the cursed ring and knew he was dying yet he chose not to share everything he knew with The Order, instead he went to his grave having given three teenagers the barest of hints and sending them off on a wild goose chase in the hope they figured it out. Would it really have been so difficult to simply tell everyone about the Deathly Hallows and the fact they actually existed rather than leaving Hermione a book of fairy tales and expecting her to figure it out? It’s almost like he’d decided if he was dying and couldn’t be the hero he didn’t really care if Harry and the Order or Voldemort won, he certainly had the opportunity to make life much easier for them and for whatever reason he chose not to take it.

Exhibit Two – He Left Harry In An Abusive Home

We all know that Harry had a terrible upbringing, living in the cupboard under the stairs and basically acting as a maid for his aunt and uncle so why did Dumbledore leave him there?


Right from the very first evening McGonagall raised concerns about the Dursleys describing them as the very worst sort of muggles. If we were to give Dumbledore the benefit of the doubt for that first night, to believe that he truly believed that Lily’s sacrifice created a protection that required Petunia to keep active a) do we really believe that in the ten or so years between that autumn and Harry starting Hogwarts not once did he check up on him and think to say something to the Dursleys or move Harry somewhere else, we all know he had Arabella Figg keeping an eye on things. b) Even if for some reason Dumbledore completely ignored him for those intervening years what is his excuse once Harry arrives at school? I don’t believe for a second that Poppy wouldn’t have picked up on the fact Harry hadn’t been properly fed and looked after growing up during one of his many visits to the infirmary – Plus the fact Harry would have been perfectly capable of sharing the truth with him.

Then you have the fact that and the end of the Goblet of Fire when Voldemort is brought back using Harry’s blood he’s able to touch him again without pain, bye bye protection! And yet despite all the trauma of seeing his classmate murdered and the man who murdered his parents regain a body Dumbledore still sends him back to the abusive household! You’d think knowing what he does about Voldemort’s childhood he’d be a little bit concerned about leaving a potentially powerful wizard in a neglectful and abusive environment, he’s lucky Harry didn’t end up on the dark side, then again Harry falling into the shadows would definitely take some of the shine off his hero status – and hey what’s one more dark wizard to defeat if it makes you look good?

Oh and don’t get me started on the fool leaving a toddler wrapped in a blanket on a doorstep one night in November. For starters it’s November! It’s not exactly warm, and secondly Harry is a toddler, what’s to stop him waking up and wandering off? The most powerful wizard in the world and he couldn’t cast a disillusionment charm and ring the bell just to make sure he was taken in okay?

Exhibit Three – He Left Sirius In Azkaban

This one bugs me too, Dumbledore is head of the Wizengamot but he just leaves Sirius to rot in prison. So Dumbledore really doesn’t know that it was Peter Pettigrew that took on the role of secret keeper for Lily and James Potter? I find that kinda hard to believe, but again giving him the benefit of the doubt I still don’t understand why he didn’t push for giphymeasures that would have quite easily proven Sirius’s guilt one way or the other. A simple reversal spell on Sirius’s wand at the time would surely have shown he wasn’t responsible for casting the spell to ‘kill’ Peter, and blow up the street, even without that surely giving Sirius a trial and making him take Veritaserum would have proven his innocence? But hey Sirius goes free and he’s in a position to fight for his rights as Harry’s godfather, Harry doesn’t have to grow up in an abusive home and end up seeing Dumbledore as the caring grandfather figure that rescues him for most of the year – children are so much easier to mould if they think you’re their saviour.

Even if for some reason he found himself unable to intervene the first time around what about after Peter’s escape at the end of the trio’s third year? He couldn’t call for a new trial? They couldn’t take Harry and Hermione’s memories to prove to the rest of the Wizengamot that Pettigrew wasn’t actually dead? Again I guess it is much easier to leave the status quo, Harry at the Dursleys rather than staying with his godfather.I’m sure Sirius would have had some things to say about Harry being raised as a sacrificial lamb, much easier to keep them separate, and if keeping a man like Sirius cooped up rather than clearing him and letting him walk around as a free man makes him reckless to the point he ends up getting himself killed so much the better – One less person to influence Harry in ways he doesn’t approve of, result right?


Yup I said it I’m blaming Dumbledore for Sirius dying.

Exhibit Four – He Let The Marauders Bully Snape

I have issues with the boys will be boys attitude that exists in the world in general – the XY chromosome combination isn’t a built in excuse for them to misbehave. Now Dumbledore I’m sure thought he was justified in having a boys will be boys attitude, he may even have tried to argue that Severus gave as good as he got and was equally responsible, however I’m not sure four against one could ever be argued to be a fair fight. Now we reach the main issue, Sirius deliberately lead Severus to the Whomping Willow knowing he would meet a transformed Remus. I’m going to ignore the fact Sirius didn’t think about the consequences of turning his best friend into a murderer because this isn’t an anti Sirius post, but how did Dumbledore let him get away with that? That’s not youthful hi-jinks, that’s attempted murder!

So why did Dumbledore let him get away with it? Was it simple pro-Gryffindor, anti-Slytherin bias? Or was it something more? Allowing them to bully Snape to the point where he snapped Dumbledore successfully managed to separate Severus from his one childhood friend, would Severus and Lily have grown apart anyway as they grew up? Quite probably, but if Dumbledore had put a stop to the bullying they may not have had the major falling out with Severus calling Lily a mudblood. So what does Dumbledore gain from this falling out? Firstly Severus is pushed further into the shadows of Slytherin, growing closer to the group slowly starting to form around a charismatic man waiting to bring honour back to the purebloods, and secondly without the natural growing apart Severus always maintained a level of guilt about the way their friendship ended. He remained devoted to the memory of their friendship, and prepared to do anything to try and keep her safe. Severus Snape successfully moulded into the perfect spy?


So in my closing arguments, Dumbledore allowed his Golden Boys to run rampant bullying Severus, he then left a toddler on a doorstep to grow up in an abusive home. He kept Harry’s one legal alternative family member away from him and instead of sharing information to help the cause he kept it to himself, even once he knew he was dying and wouldn’t be there to be the hero of the hour once again. In fact you could probably argue that Dumbledore is actually worse than Voldemort. At least Voldemort during his second coming was pretty open about being a genocidal megalomaniac who enjoyed the occasional torturing of his followers, he didn’t pretend it was all for the greater good.

So that’s my thoughts on Dumbledore, did I convince you of my case? Let me know in the comments below!


37 thoughts on “The Discussion Post – Dumbledore, saviour or just as bad as Lord Voldemort?

  1. anatomyofabookthief

    Great post! I agree with so much especially with the keeping information to himself, I find it so annoying in Order of the Phoenix when Dumbledore completely avoids Harry the whole year, like, I know we’re told why he does it but to let someone look up to you like a father figure and then just completely drop them with no explanation at all seems really harsh. I think one of my main issue with Dumbledore, too, is that he saw himself as the hero and everything he did was heroic which wasn’t necessarily the case!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bookmurmuration

    This is brilliant. Totally brilliant. I don’t think Dumbledore is as bad as Voldemort – you could argue that everybody has flaws, and Dumbledore never turned his to world domination. That was where he and Grindlewald split. Both were carried away with their own brillance, both had delusions of power, but Grindlewald was prepared to do anything to impose his ideology, where ultimately Dumbledore turned his powers to good … I feel a response post coming on! x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. goldenbooksgirl

    I feel like this really going to affect my next reread 😭😂. I’m not super fussed about Dumbledore either way, apart from his epic escape in OotP. I also hate the boys will be boys attitude (especially as a teacher once sais this to me when I was being bullied 😑😑). Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bookmark Chronicles

    Omg Sarah this is a tough question! I wouldn’t say he’s WORSE than Voldemort since he doesn’t murder people just for the hell of it, tear his soul into pieces and kill witches and wizards who aren’t full blood even though he isn’t either. On the other hand he is definitely over-idolized. The fact that he knew Harry was a mistaken horcrux and didn’t say anything was cruel. And leaving Harry with the Dursleys like you said.
    I never thought about him getting Sirius out of jail though. I didn’t really think it was possible since Pettigrew did frame him pretty well.
    Good discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Krysta

    I think Dumbledore is supposed to be a complex character, one we can’t definitely say is “good” or “bad.” Still, I can see why he did many of the things on this list. Keeping secrets can protect the Order and the people in the Order. They can’t reveal what they don’t know. Telling them he was dying could have also resulted in chaos in the Order or a problem if Voldemort caught wind of a rumor.

    I have always wondered why he left Harry with his abusive relatives. It seems like the protection spell works if Harry is there only for a short time. Why not go to visit long enough to activate the spell and then leave? Still, if you look at how child protective services works, it often leaves children in homes that I would think they not be safe or happy in. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that it can ultimately be more harmful to remove a child from their family than to leave them with a bad family. I’m not a social worker, though, so I don’t really know how this works or what the logic behind it is.

    I think he didn’t get Sirius another trial because he had no way to prove that Peter Pettigrew was still alive. So he wouldn’t have enough evidence for the judicial system to reopen the case.

    Finally, how much does Dumbledore know about the goings on in the school? Can he be expected to intervene in every single case of bullying? Is that even his job or should the other teachers have also intervened since they would have actually been around the students and might have seen something? Why not blame all the teachers for allowing bullying to happen at the school?

    I don’t think Dumbledore is supposed to be a clear-cut character. He lied to Harry and he did seem to be using Harry. Still, I don’t think that he’s on level with a mass murderer just because he’s arguably a poor school administrator, for instance.

    Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah

      Secret keeping, particularly the fact he was dying, yes what they don’t know they can’t reveal, but at the same time Snape knew, the one person who was most likely to face Voldemort was creating the potions than kept Dumbledore alive, He was a smart man, I’m sure if he wanted to pass the information on, even if it was only revealed after his death.

      As for Sirius’s potential retrial, Dumbledore was the head of the high court at the time, and had at least 4 witnesses who had seen Peter alive, in a world where pensieves are used to view memories and truth serum exists I’m not sure eyewitness testimony would so easily be dismissed and ignored.

      The final point is the one I have the most issue with, as headmaster it is completely his job to intervene in cases of bullying, especially if it is as persistent as the marauders were. Yes other teachers should also do their bit to stop bullying but as headmaster he is the captain of the ship, the buck stops with him. That was certainly the attitude taken at my secondary school, which was much larger than Hogwarts would be, there were probably more in my year group that at Hogwarts in total.If he’s not seen to do anything to try and prevent it he’s giving the message that it’s acceptable. Plus the Whomping Willow incident Sirius could have killed Snape, but instead of Dumbledore expelling Sirius, he forbade Snape for telling anyone about Remus. I can understand why he would do that for Remus’s sake but it’s hardly sending the right message in general.I’m not sure you can say allowing bullying to run rampant in the school, just because it’s a Slytherin being bullied, and I genuinely believe if Severus had almost lead Sirius to his death there would have been a very different response, is really just a case of being a poor school administrator…


      1. Krysta

        I don’t remember the exact details of Dumbledore’s reasons to keep his death a secret. However, I can only guess that he thought it would be a problem. Maybe he thought the members would be demoralized or that they would focus on that instead of on defeating Voldemort?

        The weird thing is, truth serum exists but they don’t seem to use it very much. Why couldn’t Sirius taken truth serum in the first place and just said he wasn’t the Secret Keeper? Either truth serum is rare or they aren’t interested in using it. And I’m afraid eyewitnesses wouldn’t be enough for a retrial. They had eyewitnesses to argue that Voldemort was back–as well as a dead body–and the government was uninterested. It’s a key theme of the books that power structures are corrupt and that the government isn’t necessarily to be trusted. Sadly, I don’t think Dumbledore could have easily called for a retrial short of dragging Pettigrew into the Ministry.

        Of course it’s everyone’s job to stop bullying. However, in real life bullying happens all the time because instructors can’t stop what they can’t see. It’s very unlikely many instructors at Hogwarts knew the extent of Snape’s bullying, especially if he wasn’t reporting it. Adult figures in the series tend to be MIA.

        Dumbledore honestly seems to spend most of his time in his office or away on business. It’s hard to know exactly how much he knows about the workings of his school, especially when it comes to what students are doing when they are not in class and not being supervised. Hogwarts doesn’t exactly seem to have cameras or any security footage that could be reviewed. If no one reports what’s happening, I don’t think any adults are going to know about it or stop it. Does that mean bullying was “running rampant?” It’s hard to say.

        However, I think you’re right that it’s part of Dumbledore’s character that he’s not very great at running a school. I mean, he kept it open all year with a basilisk roaming the halls. Who does that? Still, it’s hard for me to see how Dumbledore can be equated to a genocidal murderer.


    1. Sarah

      Thanks! I get why they didn’t want Harry staying with just anyone in the Wizarding World, but I can’t believe there wasn’t a better option than the Dursleys!


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  10. Literary Lattes

    This is such an interesting post! I’ve never really thought about any of these points before but now that you’ve mentioned them, they do make sense. Although I don’t think he is as bad as Voldemort, you’ve made me look at Dumbledore in a whole new light!


  11. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

    We can also remember some of the things Dumbledore did in Harry’s first year. He placed an object with dangerous traps around it in a school full of children, knowing that the Dark Lord would try to retrieve it. When a troll was set loose in the school, he directed the Slytherins to go to the dungeon, where Quirrell reported the troll would be. Let’s sacrifice them. Dumbledore is certainly not all good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I read another post relatively recently that listed a lot of these same reasons for not liking Dumbledore. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say he’s as bad as Voldemort—he doesn’t kill people or try to take over the world—but he definitely has flaws, and a lot of times those get overlooked.


  13. emilythinkssite

    Tooooooo true he never even seemed to care when harry you know, was like 12 and in grave danger like oh yeah I know loadsa stuff you probs should know like how perhaps quirrell is actually like voldemort but oh no I’ll give you your dad’s cloak I basically stole from him to research the deathly Hallows possibly causing you and your family’s deaths oops and I won’t give it back to you for however long, oh imma leave you each year not knowing what the wizarding world is up to in an abusive household


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  20. Catherine

    Late to the party but yes to all of this! I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad person – just cold and ruthless and he uses people shamelessly. He inspires this great loyalty in people but then he uses that to his advantage so he’s got this hold over people and they’re like his little pawns. He never really gets rid of that ‘greater good’ mentality.


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