When Fiction Meets Nonfiction: Wise Words From Albus Dumbledore

by Alicia Sparks on March 8, 2011

Michael Gambon is great, but he'll never fill these shoes. Recognize.

This post is part of the Words Matter 2011 Blog Challenge sponsored by the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

Day 2 Blog Challenge Question:

Words can change history. What speech or document do you believe to be most important? Why?

My answer to this blog challenge question should probably involve some well-known speech or document – you know, one that reached, and continues to reach, the ears of the masses. One that changed lives. One by which we continue to shape our communities, or our governments.

Something like the Declaration of Independence, or Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Maybe Roosevelt’s “Fear Itself,” the inspirational (and inaugural!) speech he gave during the Great Depression.

Or, more recently, perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream.”

These were and are all pretty important, right? Right.

Still, I’ve chosen none of them. We already know they’re important, and most of us have at least an idea of why.

The speech I’ve chosen has definitely reached a wide, devout, and at times rabid audience, but it hasn’t reached quite the fame of some of those others.

This is probably because it was delivered by a fictional character.

That character is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

The speech I chose has no name, but was delivered by Professor Dumbledore to Hogwarts (and the visiting Durmstrang and Beauxbatons) students near the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. During the final leg of the Triwizard Tournament, Lord Voldemort returned in body and, while trying to kill Harry Potter, killed Cedric Diggory. A week later, during the End of the Year Feast, Dumbledore broke the news of Diggory’s death and began his speech:

The Ministry of Magic does not wish me to tell you this. It is possible that some of your parents will be horrified that I have done so – either because they will not believe that Lord Voldemort has returned, or because they think I should not tell you so, young as you are. It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally preferable to lies, and that any attempt to pretend that Cedric died as the result of an accident, or some sort of blunder of his own, is an insult to his memory […]

[…] Every guest in this Hall will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

It is my belief – and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken – that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. A week ago, a student was taken from our midst.

Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory. (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

This is not a happy speech, and there are very few inspirational points within it. This speech is meant to acknowledge a death and the circumstances behind it, as well as prompt the living to set aside the differences, fear, and indecision that could lead them and their loved ones to the same fate. It’s not about running – no, it’s definitely about fighting – but it’s not about rallying, either.

It’s about laying all the cards on the table (well, as many cards as you could get out of Dumbledore at one point – Potter fans will know what I mean :)) and making a choice.

Sometimes, isn’t that the only option we have left? When there’s no leisure left for games, or to wait and see? When we have no more time for hoping it all works out, or that whatever we fear will happen will just, somehow, disappear?

When all we have left to do is take a long, hard look at what we’re working with and decide our course of action?

And who better to deliver such a sobering reality than Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore? 🙂

Miss yesterday’s blog challenge question? Check it out: Choosing The Words That Change Our Lives

Image Source: Wikipedia per the United States Fair Use Copyright Law

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Janice from NAIWE March 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Great quote, Alicia. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but it is pitch perfect for the situation and is a great model for “sober speech about serious circumstances.” I can imagine that more than a few politicians might study it for reference.

James R. Swilley August 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Help comes to those who need it at Hogwarts! That is my favorite line from Albus.

Tim Charles December 25, 2011 at 12:56 am

I always love to read the part when Albus deliver a moving speech about the death of Cedric. I so love that speech.

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