Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Chapter 18

By J.K. Rowling

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Chapter 18

The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

  • It's the next morning, and Harry is full of a dull despair. The loss of his wand is his greatest injury yet; only he really knows just how special that holly and phoenix feather wand really is. He stows the pieces of the wand in the secret-hiding moleskin pouch Hagrid gave him.
  • As his hand brushes the Golden Snitch in the pouch, he feels a surge of rage at Dumbledore for not telling him everything – really, for not telling him anything.
  • Hermione brings him a cup of tea and some morning reading – Rita Skeeter's book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, which she found in Bathilda's house, with a personal note from the author inside.
  • In the book, Harry finally discovers the identity of the handsome young thief, in the same picture he saw before of young Dumbledore with the mystery boy. To his shock, he finds that it's Gellert Grindelwald, the Dark wizard that Dumbledore would famously defeat many years later.
  • Harry and Hermione are intrigued and horrified.
  • Harry starts reading, and finds himself at a chapter called "The Greater Good." Skeeter's book details Dumbledore's life post-Hogwarts, when he had to cancel a trip traveling the world to come home and look after his younger brother and sister after their mother died.
  • Skeeter recounts what Dumbledore got up to that summer, according to testimony she cheated out of Bathilda Bagshot (who she magically forced to tell the truth, using Veritaserum). Dumbledore apparently fell into a close friendship with Grindelwald who, at the time, was a brilliant but troublesome young man who'd been expelled from the Durmstrang school of magic, and was visiting his aunt, Bathilda, in Godric's Hollow.
  • Dumbledore and Grindelwald became besties practically overnight, and spent their days in deep discussion. Shockingly, Skeeter reveals that a lot of this discussion was about how wizarding kind were superior to Muggles and should rule over them for the greater good. Wow – that doesn't sound like the Muggle-loving Dumbledore we thought we knew…
  • The honeymoon doesn't last, though, and Grindelwald flees their relationship and the country after Dumbledore's sister, Ariana, dies under mysterious circumstances. The cause of death is unknown, but Skeeter implies not-so-subtly that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were somehow to blame, citing a fight at Ariana's funeral between Dumbledore and his brother, Aberforth, in which the younger brother broke the older's nose.
  • Skeeter darkly hints that Grindelwald and Dumbledore might have been up to no good, and that poor Ariana was perhaps a victim of their attempt to change the world "for the greater good."
  • Harry and Hermione are taken aback by this – should they doubt everything they've ever thought about their beloved Dumbledore?
  • Hermione comments that "For the Greater Good" eventually became Grindelwald's motto, when he was attempting to take over the wizarding world.
  • Harry and Hermione get into a fight; Harry seems to have lost his faith in his former mentor, despite Hermione's belief that Dumbledore really did care for Harry.

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