The Big Picture

  • Dumbledore’s seemingly kind and caring persona in the Harry Potter series might as well be a facade, as he seems to manipulate and enjoy the misery of others, including Harry Potter.
  • Throughout Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore shows a lack of empathy for his students, particularly Harry.
  • In a cruel twist, Dumbledore takes away the House Cup from Slytherin, causing devastation to the students and revealing his true nature.


Listen, no one wants to admit it, but Dumbledore is kind of a sociopath. While watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it quickly becomes apparent that Dumbledore (Richard Harris) is not the kind, elderly man that we all make him out to be. As a matter of fact, he is actually a manipulative monster. Throughout the history of the Harry Potter books and films, the Fantastic Beasts movies, and the various bits of backstory that have trickled through to fans, Albus Dumbledore has been presented as a lovely legendary figure in the Wizarding World. But if you pull back the curtain a bit, or even just look at the obvious, then you’ll come to find that the headmaster of Hogwarts is a bad, bad dude.

Albus Dumbledore might be one of the most powerful wizards of all time, but he’s an even greater actor. Wait a minute, a thespian? Of sorts — precisely. Dumbledore has forever put on the image of being a loving and thoughtful guide to the young wizards coming into Hogwarts, but that is all a mirage. It’s obvious straight out of the gate in Sorcerer’s Stone, before Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) even begins his first year of school. Between dropping him off at his abusive aunt and uncle’s home (and never rescuing him from them, despite watching over him the entire time), laughing at the misery of his students, eating their food, and reveling in Harry’s gloom, the first Harry Potter film does more than enough to show Dumbledore’s dark side.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

An orphaned boy enrolls in a school of wizardry, where he learns the truth about himself, his family and the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.

Release Date
November 16, 2001

Director
Chris Columbus

Cast
Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Saunders Triplets, Daniel Radcliffe, Fiona Shaw

Rating
PG

Runtime
152

Main Genre
Adventure

Why Does Dumbledore Leave Harry With the Dursleys?

The very first scene of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone does more than enough to set the stage for the kind of man that Albus Dumbledore truly is. In the opening scene, we find him dumping off the most important child in the history of the Wizarding World at his abusive Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s (Fiona Shaw and Richard Griffiths) home, two people whom everyone knows have rejected Lily Potter’s (Geraldine Somerville) magical ways.

Of course, there’s no way that Dumbledore could have known how terrible Petunia and Vernon would be, but he sure never stepped in to take Harry anywhere better in those 11 years that he lived with them! He allowed the Boy Who Lived to live under a staircase, get pushed around by his relatives, and live off of scraps for a large majority of his childhood, all while he could have been living among the wizards in total safety and prosperity. I suppose you could make the argument that he was keeping Harry as far away from the Wizarding World as possible so that he would be nowhere near Voldemort or any dark witches and wizards, but knowing Dumbledore’s true dark side, this was probably all out of negligence. I can see him laughing the entire time, too. It wouldn’t take long for Albus to prove himself as someone who finds a lot of enjoyment in the misery of children.

Dumbledore Gets a Kick Out of the Misery of His Students

As the movie trucks along, Harry really starts to thrive at Hogwarts. He comes into his own in Gryffindor, is in the starting lineup of his house’s quidditch team, and even finds himself making a couple of great friends. He isn’t cured of his tragic history, though. About halfway through the film, Harry comes across the Mirror of the Erised. As he looks into it, he has a vision of his dead mother and father, and it’s as if they’ve been watching over him this whole time. Harry stays sitting in front of the Mirror for a lengthy period, so long that we lose track of exactly what time it is. Then, it turns out that Dumbledore has been standing in the back of the room the entire time, watching over Harry as he longs for his dead family members. Dumbledore just lets this kid linger in what is likely one of the most depressing moments in his entire life and doesn’t intervene one bit! Who knows how long Albus was standing back there, enjoying the fact that Harry was feeling so alone at this moment? I bet he was eating magical popcorn the whole time, cackling in between the kernels as tears streamed down Potter’s face.

Towards the end of the film, when Harry wakes up in the school infirmary after his battle with Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart), Dumbledore continues to show that he cares for no one but himself. He starts out making a light joke about the fact that the whole school already knows of Quirrell’s evil motives — a revelation that would likely terrify and unsettle the students and their parents. Seriously, he delivers this news with the lightest, butteriest, most joyful tone possible. You’d think that Dumbledore said something like “Harry, wake up, the waffles are ready!”, not “Hey Harry, everyone at school knows that one of our teachers was a child murderer. So comical!” What a maniac. Can you imagine learning that you were at a school, or your kid was at a school, where a teacher wanted to kill one of the students? Very funny, Albus. Then, on his way out, Dumbledore picks his gnarly decrepit fingers through Harry’s candy and ends up finessing a little piece for himself. He obviously doesn’t care that Harry is recovering and needs all the juice that he can get out of those Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans. At least this monster didn’t get the toffee flavor that he wanted — he deserved ear wax. He laughs it off, but I hope it stung like hell.

Dumbledore Takes the House Cup Away From the Slytherins in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

The most glaring and despicable moment of them all is one of the film’s last. The students of Slytherin erupt in sweet victory as they are awarded the House Cup. Dumbledore lets them bask in the biggest moment of their year for a second, then pulls the rug out from under them hard and slowly digs the knife deeper into their glory. Albus takes the House Cup away from them, awards Gryffindor additional points, and eventually grants Harry’s house the House Cup. What a monster. The Slytherin kids leave the school year devastated in the wake of their loss. All the while, Dumbledore cackles atop his head seat as the kids throw their hats in the air and the Slytherin children cry on the inside. It’s a moment of mixed emotions in the legacy of Hogwarts. I doubt the barometer of emotions has ever been so varied as it was at that moment, nor will it ever be again. An entire house’s worth of kids felt like the kings of the world, only to be knocked down a thousand pegs and be reduced to dust while another house’s legacy rose to the heavens. I hope that laugh was worth it, Dumbledore, but I can see right through you.

As Harry Potter continued to grow up, Dumbledore’s sociopathy began to mellow out. Thank God, because he was completely unhinged in Sorcerer’s Stone. By the time Half-Blood Prince rolls around, you can’t help but love Dumbledore. That being said, maybe he just got better at his craft. Maybe he continued to make us all believe that he was a good guy, when really, he had the most malicious intentions possible and continued relishing in the pain of others. All of that being said, one thing is for certain — Dumbledore might have gotten better with age, but he was and will always be a sociopath.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is available to watch on Max in the U.S.

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