Dumbledore isn’t present throughout the Chamber of Secrets, as he is suspended for a portion of the film when the Chamber is opened, but he is present for long enough to make some notoriously terrible mistakes (and some great ones, too). Fans are left asking why Dumbledore holds so many secrets, and why he didn’t just tell poor Harry what he should have known from the beginning!
Despite his normal concealment, Dumbledore makes several exceptionally brilliant decisions throughout the second movie, from his first night at Hogwarts to his triumphal return.
5. Not Expelling Ron and Harry
Dumbledore would have been fully within his rights to deport Ron and Harry if they collided with the Whomping Willow on their way to Hogwarts, and Snape seems to want to see that happen. The Headmaster, on the other hand, decides to keep them, refusing to expel them and instead assigning them detentions.
This may appear to be giving them a pass, but it’s clearly done to protect Harry – and to show some compassion for two twelve-year-olds who make a mistake! Of all, Dumbledore needs to keep Harry close because he knows that at some point, Harry will have to die in order for Voldemort to be defeated… but fans won’t know that for a long time! Whatever his motivation, keeping Harry around was certainly a wise option.
4. Defends Harry Against Mr Filch
Because of his poor habit of being in the wrong location at the wrong time, Harry is suspected of being the one to open the Chamber throughout the film/book. When Mrs Norris, Mr Filch’s cat, is terrified, the caregiver is out for blood – and Harry’s! Dumbledore, on the other hand, steps in to calm things down, emphasising that Harry is far too young and untrained to do the kind of magic required to petrify Mrs Norris.
Of course, this doesn’t fully eliminate suspicions, but it helps in the short term – and it definitely benefits Harry in the long run. Of course, Dumbledore could have been a little more outspoken about his assurance that it wasn’t Harry, but his decision to defend him here was sound.
3. Giving Harry A Coded Message
When Hagrid is taken to Azkaban and Dumbledore is suspended, Harry is hidden in the corner under his cloak, which Hagrid notices and Dumbledore notices as well. As a result, both decide to give Harry some cryptic counsel, ostensibly speaking aloud to the air. Dumbledore’s motto is “loyalty to him” and “request for help,” which comes into play when Harry protects him and summons Fawkes with the Sorting Hat and the Sword of Gryffindor.
However, instead of risking giving Harry away when he was hidden, Dumbledore might have made this clearer or talked to him about it when they met in his office. It’s also possible that Harry would have acted the same way if Dumbledore hadn’t spoken up, but on balance, it’s a good thing he did!
2. Gets Hagrid Released From Azkaban
Dumbledore is restored to Hogwarts after Harry saves Ginny and reveals the truth about the Chamber, and one of the first things he does is send an owl to Azkaban to free Hagrid. This was definitely one of his greatest moves, as Hagrid had been wrongfully imprisoned, and given the Ministry’s overall anti-giant prejudice, he could have been left to fester otherwise.
The perplexing thing is that Dumbledore opted to utilise his considerable clout – and the revelations about who actually opened the Chamber – to secure Hagrid’s freedom… but not to get the charges against him withdrawn. Even though it’s evident by this point in the novel that Hagrid did not open the Chamber the first time, he’s still not permitted to continue his magic studies or openly use his wand. It’s possible that this did happen and was just not mentioned in the books, but Dumbledore should have gone further given Hagrid’s demonstrated innocence.
1. Talks To Harry About Slytherin
At the end of this book, Harry speaks to Dumbledore about his suspicions that he should have been in Slytherin; prompting one of Dumbledore’s most famous quotes. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” Dumbledore reassures him; adding that only a true Gryffindor could have retrieved the sword from the hat.
Dumbledore considered telling Harry more about his relationship with Voldemort during this conversation but decided against it for a variety of reasons. Instead, he reaffirmed Harry’s place at Hogwarts and the Wizarding World, as well as his inherent goodness. While no single interaction can be pinpointed as the catalyst for Harry’s future decisions; it is apparent that this had an impact on him. And things would almost certainly have gone off the rails in the future if Dumbledore had made a different decision here; – whether to tell Harry something else or the truth.