Saturday, October 20, 2007


AP reports from New York: Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at at Carnegie Hall.

Fascinating revelation, though I'm not so sure this is good news to the activist gay community. Before there is celebration in the streets, they may want to actually read the final book in the Harry Potter series. We learn in Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore is not the kind and wise old man he has appeared to be throughout the series but is in fact a manipulator and schemer - and a very conflicted one at that. Is this an accurate representation of an archetypal gay person? Or is it a stereotype? As we've written here earlier, it turns out that Dumbledore was - as Jo Rowling has also stated - Machiavellian in his plans for Harry Potter. Even Snape is shocked by the revelation of Dumbledore's motives.

Deathly Hallows does allude that Dumbledore and Grindelwald engage in a deep friendship that is enmeshed and unhealthly. Everyone else is excluded. Their "breakup" leads to the tragic death of Dumbeldore's little sister. Grindelwald becomes one of the most evil characters ever - on par with Voldemort (who later kills him) and again, I wonder how the gay community will feel about that. It is not an idealized relationship by any means, not like the idealized relationships I would hear about during hearing testimonies at General Convention, for example, where everything is blessed and certainly not obsessive and idolatrous.

The article says this:
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."

Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy."
Before Christians jump at this news and take to the streets for different reasons, we should read the book as well. The "love" depicted in this relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is destructive - it costs a girl her life and more. The 1940s wizard battle with Grindelwald parallels World War II and the atrocities committed by the Nazis. The name "Grindelwald" alludes to Grendel, Beowulf's dragon representing evil ("wald" or "vald" is German for ruler - i.e. a ruler of evil). The context of the story in Deathly Hallows is that this relationship was destructive. The character of Grindelwald is unsavory from the very beginning, as though a tempter of evil - and Dumbledore is indeed tempted - a temptation that he lives with for the rest of his life. Is this the sort of literary portrayal the gay community would like to see attached to their image? I'm not so sure. Is it compelling storytelling? Yes, it is.

Dumbledore went on to lead a chaste life, totally devoted to his role as headmaster (another typical caricature, by the way?) and to seeking the ultimate defeat of Voldermort. That was his whole life. In fact, Dumbledore reminds me very much of this guy. Just put a beard on him and you've got our guy. It isn't what we are that matters, it's what we do with who we are that makes the difference. That's what Dumbledore also said - it is our choices that matter and show us who we truly are.

That being said, I am very surprised that Jo Rowling would add the homosexual dynamic to the youthful relationship between the two titanic characters of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, for it reveals the inherent destructive nature of obsession and idolatry, which - if you read Leanne Payne would tell us is at the center of homosexual behavior. It is quite a revelation indeed. Both of these characteristics - obsession and idolatry - were terrible character flaws in Albus Dumbledore (character flaws he readily acknowledged, I might add). Harry Potter's heart was pure and his love for Ginny (who later becomes his wife) was exemplary - it encourages him and made him whole, quite a contrast to what Dumbledore knew in his relationship with Grindelwald. I am just surprised Jo Rowling would want to open up that can of worms.

Here are some more "revelations" that came from Jo Rowling's event at Carnegie Hall last night:
Jo also revealed that Neville Longbottom married Hufflepuff Hannah Abbott and she was to become the landlady at the iconic Leaky Cauldron Pub. She thought that people would find the fact of Neville's living over a pub particularly cool.

Equally large revelations were made concerning Petunia Dursley when Jo answered the question of what Petunia could not bring herself to say when Harry and the Dursleys parted ways before his seventeenth birthday. She would have wished him luck, saying: "I know what you're up against and I hope it turns out okay."

Information on the original Order members was also revealed during tonight's event. Jo related the fact that Remus Lupin, prior to the third book, was unemployable because he was a werewolf and upon his graduation from Hogwarts along with James and Lily, was supported by James using their own money. In addition to this she shed more light on the early days of the Order, saying James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were full time Order members. "Full Time Fighters," as Jo put it.

Jo also went into further detail about the many portraits in the wizarding world and their occupants. An occupant can only move freely to other portraits in their dwelling or to another portrait in which they are depicted. She also revealed that Harry himself made sure that the portrait of Snape made it into the Headmasters Office
Here's more from the transcript:

Q: How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix?

I always knew Molly was going to finish her off. I think there was some speculation that Neville would do it, because Neville obviously has a particular reason to hate Bellatrix. ..So there were lots of options for Blelatrix, but I never deviated. I wanted it to be Molly, and I wanted it to be Molly for two reasons.

The first reason was I always saw Molly as a very good witch but someone whose light is necessarily hidden under a bushel, because she is in the kitchen a lot and she has had to raise, among others, and George which is like, enough... I wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn't have a lot of other talents.

(BB NOTE: Again, this flies in the face of modern cultural teaching when the "traditional homemaker" is the one that destroys the most evil character (second only to Voldemort) in Harry Potter's life.)

Second reason: It was the meeting of two kinds of - if you call what Bellatrix feels for Voldemort love, I guess we'll call it love, she has a kind of obsession with him, it's a very sick obsession ... and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love... the power that you give someone by loving them. So Molly was really an amazing exemplar of maternal love. ... There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together.

How different would the last two books be if Arthur had been killed in the middle of book five?

I think they would have been very different and it's part of the reason why I changed my mind. ... By turning Ron into half of Harry, in other words by turning Ron into someone who had suffered the loss of a parent, I was going to remove the Weasleys as a refuge for Harry and I was going to necessarily remove a lot of Ron's humor. That's part of the reason why I didn't kill Arthur. I wanted to keep Ron in tact ... a lot of Ron's humor comes from his insensitivity and his immaturity, to be honest about Ron. And Ron finally, I think, you see, grows up in this book. He's the last of the three to reach what I consider adulthood, and he does it then [ when he destroys the horcrux] and faces those things. So that's part of the reason. The only other reason I didn't kill Arthur was that I wanted to come full circle. We started with an orphan, someone who lost their parents because of the war. And so I wanted to show it again. ... Even though you don't see Teddy, I wanted to express in the epilogue, that he gets an even better godfather than Harry had, because Sirius had his faults, I think we must admit. He was a risky guy to have a s a godfather. Because Teddy gets someone who really has been there, and Harry becomes a really great father figure for Teddy as well as his own children. I hasten to add that I didn't kill Lupin or Tonks lightly. I loved them as characters...so that hurt, killing them.

2 comments:

Hiram said...

I noted with great interest that, at Bill and Fleur's wedding at the start of Deadly Hallows the officiant (who had led the burial ceremony of Dumbledore) declared that Bill and Fleur were now "bonded for life." I think that this is quite a statement about Rowling's view of marriage -- not at all a casual thing, a lifetime commitment.

Rachel said...

I saw what you wrote about the gay community needing to step back and look carefully at this, and I thought you might appreciate this link to another blogger who, while homosexual, is not pleased
http://elphaba-of-oz.livejournal.com/329705.html