Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Aberforth Dumbledore
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Hair color||Long, white (original color unknown)|
|Related Family||Albus Dumbledore|
|Loyalty||Order of the Phoenix|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Role in the Books[edit | edit source]
After an article in the Daily Prophet exposes his half-Giant ancestry, Hagrid hides in his hut, refusing to teach or perform his duties. Dumbledore consoles Hagrid by mentioning that his brother was once attacked by the media, apparently for practicing unnatural charms on a goat. Dumbledore praises his brother for keeping his head held high, though claims, perhaps jokingly, that he wonders if Aberforth can actually read.
When Harry first enters the Hog's Head Inn, he notices a certain goat odor, and that the proprietor looks familiar. Although his name is never mentioned, we assume the owner is Aberforth, who serves Butterbeer to the students attending the first Dumbledore's Army meeting secretly being held at the inn.
While in Hogsmeade, Harry, unnoticed, recognizes the barman from the Hog's Head Inn talking to Mundungus Fletcher outside the Three Broomsticks. After the barman walks away, Harry realizes Mundungus was attempting to sell stolen loot from Grimmauld Place, the house he inherited from his godfather, Sirius Black, and is now the Order of the Phoenix Headquarters. Harry attacks Mundungus, who Disapparates.
In Dumbledore's memory, we see Dumbledore telling Tom Riddle that the barman has informed him that Nott, Rosier, Mulciber, and Dolohov are waiting for him in the Hog's Head. This is one of the many things that makes Dumbledore suspicious that Riddle had another motive for this meeting.
Harry sees the Hog's Head's barman (Aberforth) attending Dumbledore's funeral.
In Elphias Doge's obituary of Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth is mentioned as being Albus' younger brother. Unlike his brilliant sibling, Aberforth generally preferred dueling than debating to settle disputes. The obituary mentions that Albus, Aberforth, their mother Kendra, and sister Ariana once lived in Godric's Hollow.
Rita Skeeter writes in the Daily Prophet, that at Ariana's funeral, Aberforth reportedly broke Albus' nose. Though he is intermittently mentioned in Skeeter's tell-all book about Albus Dumbledore, little more is learned about Aberforth.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron Apparate into Hogsmeade village, setting off a caterwauling alarm that alerts Death Eaters to their arrival. As Dementors, sensing fear, rapidly close in, Harry casts a Patronus to repel them. A door creaks open behind, and the Hog's Head barman waves the Trio in. The barman then convinces the Death Eaters that he accidentally set off the alarm, and it was his goat Patronus, not Harry's stag, that they actually saw.
Harry recognizes the man as Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus' younger brother. Aberforth wants them to escape the village the next morning, believing the Order of the Phoenix is finished and Voldemort has already won the war. Those still fighting are only deluding themselves. When Harry refuses, saying he must complete Dumbledore'e mission, Aberforth berates Harry for following his brother, and asks if he knows the entire truth about him. Harry, already doubting Dumbledore's intentions, is unable to respond.
With little prodding, Aberforth relates the true story about their childhood. Their six-year-old sister, Ariana, was observed performing magic by three Muggle boys who then beat her. She was left permanently damaged, unable to control her powers, and periodically experienced raging outbursts and wild magic. Their father, Percival, attacked the Muggle boys in retaliation. Fearing the truth would permanently commit his daughter to St. Mungo's Hospital, Percival never explained his actions to authorities. He was arrested and sentenced to Azkaban prison, later dying there. To escape the notoriety, their mother, Kendra, moved the family to Godric's Hollow, keeping Ariana hidden. One day, while Aberforth was out, Ariana's magical outburst killed Kendra. Albus, forced to return home, bitterly resented having to abandon his grand plans to instead care for Ariana while Aberforth completed school. When Gellert Grindelwald, a young Dark wizard, arrived in Godric's Hollow, he and Albus quickly became close friends. Their relationship soon cooled, however, over differing views on how to rule wizards and Muggles.
When Aberforth wanted to leave Hogwarts and care for Ariana, believing Albus resented her as an encumbrance, Albus insisted Aberforth finish school. Gellert, meanwhile, believed Ariana should be jettisoned, considering her a drag on Albus' lofty goals. After Aberforth learned Gellert and Albus' plan to rule wizards and Muggles, a three-way duel erupted, and Ariana was fatally struck by a stray spell. Gellert quickly left the village, of course. It was never known whose curse killed Ariana, but Aberforth always blamed Albus for the tragedy.
Harry intends to complete Dumbledore's mission, with or without Aberforth's help to get inside Hogwarts. Bowing to the inevitable, Aberforth addresses Ariana's portrait, and she disappears down a long, dark tunnel, soon returning with another figure; the portrait swings open, revealing a passageway; Neville Longbottom steps out.
Neville reports that re-enforcements are arriving, dismaying Aberforth, then leads the Trio to the Room of Requirement. When the last few allies arrive through the tunnel, Aberforth is reportedly quite upset by all the traffic. Harry, later wandering Hogwarts' halls, runs into Aberforth, who complains about Slytherin students having been evacuated; once free they will only help Voldemort. Harry says releasing them is what Albus would have done.
Aberforth is briefly glimpsed throughout the battle, and he offers encouragement to Ginny when she Jinxes some Death Eaters. When Tonks asks if he has seen Remus, Aberforth says he was dueling Dolohov.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
Aberforth appears to be highly intelligent and possess extraordinary magical talent. This would have paled in comparison to the brilliant Albus' prodigious gifts, however, and likely made it difficult to follow his brother to Hogwarts, living in his shadow.
Although Aberforth apparently preferred settling arguments by dueling rather than debate, Albus later tells Harry that Aberforth was infinitely wiser than he. Aberforth also showed more maturity and responsibility, even at an early age, putting his family's needs before his own, and caring for his sister and mother. Albus, before his mother's death, shirked family responsibilities by hiding behind his academic pursuits, and remaining cloistered in his room whenever he was home from Hogwarts.
Unlike his brother's more cool, logical demeanor, Aberforth's pugnacious personality, as well as accusations that he had performed illegal charms on a goat, may have derailed any opportunity to pursue a prestigious career path, leading him to instead own and operate the Hog's Head Inn. He has adapted relatively well to his lower-status circumstances, however, and does a brisk trade at the inn, even after Death Eaters have occupied Hogsmeade village.
Aberforth is gruff nearly to being almost wordless, though he openly protests when his pub is threatened with closure. From the way he defends his inn from the Death Eaters' challenge, he likely knows that some of them conduct extralegal activities there and would want to avoid losing such a convenient meeting place. He may even be subtly promoting the pub's more unsavory activities in a ploy to keep it open.
Aberforth is never explicitly seen using magic until the seventh book, in which he successfully performs the Patronus Charm and a Stunning Spell powerful enough to take out Augustus Rookwood.
Harry describes Aberforth of giving him a piercing look similar to that of his brother. Though unconfirmed, this may imply that Aberforth, much like Albus, is skilled in legilimency. Given his role as a spy, this is certainly possible.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Aberforth's magical abilities are likely powerful, though he is less adept than his brilliant brother, who few could ever equal. This likely affected Aberforth's self-confidence and motivation while studying at Hogwarts, probably laboring under teachers' exaggerated expectations that he must be as talented as his brother.
Aberforth lacked Albus' cool logic, and usually reacted to situations emotionally, and without always considering the long-term consequences. His rather cynical nature had caused him to consider the war with Voldemort lost, even before it was over.
Although Aberforth knew Albus' true nature better than anyone, and that he had briefly succumbed to Dark magic's influence, he stubbornly refused to acknowledge the good man Albus had chosen to become, how he used his powers to better wizard society, and how he took over Ariana's care so Aberforth could continue his studies at Hogwarts. Aberforth's animosity apparently resulted from lingering resentment and jealousy over his brother's many accolades, Albus' bitterness at having to forgo his goals after their mother's death, and also for his role in their sister's accidental death.
Clearly, Aberforth's unnatural attraction to goats is a weakness, one that has hindered his progression through life.
Albus once suggested Aberforth may be unable to read, though he was likely joking while attempting to cheer up a despondent Hagrid.
Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]
Aberforth is the second of three children: Albus is the eldest, and Ariana was the youngest. Aberforth had a special rapport with Ariana, being the only one who could make the magically and mentally-impaired young girl obey instructions when their mother, Kendra, could not. He keeps her living portrait in his quarters at the Hog's Head Inn.
Having witnessed his brother's brief attraction to Dark magic and the resulting consequences, Aberforth has perhaps a more jaded view of Albus than others do. Unlike the image that Albus always carefully cultivated, Aberforth sees him as someone who kept secrets and manipulated others for his own benefit, particularly Harry Potter. Their earlier conflicts may have been as much about Albus' refusal to assist his family as it was about any jealousies over one brother outshining another. Albus and Aberforth remained rather aloof following their sister's death, though they were apparently cordial during their adult lives, and lived relatively close to one another for many years, Albus at Hogwarts and Aberforth nearby in Hogsmeade village. Albus occasionally visited Aberforth at the Hog's Head Inn, sharing a drink with him. While Aberforth had blamed Albus for causing Ariana's death, he may have come to the realization that his own hot temper also contributed to the tragedy.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
Since his first appearance, Aberforth's political affiliations had seemed neutral, perhaps by design so that neither side could claim his allegiance, or, after the war, seek reprisal, allowing him to continue his business unimpeded. It is learned that he was once an Order of the Phoenix member, and supposedly continued opposing Voldemort. When the need arrived, he willingly supported Dumbledore's Army by sending them supplies and using his pub as a gateway for Potter allies to get in and out of Hogsmeade. Despite cynicism regarding his brother, and a belief that Lord Voldemort has already won the war, Aberforth puts aside his personal misgivings and agrees to help Harry so he can complete Albus' mission. He later joins Harry and the other allies in the fighting at the castle.
Questions[edit | edit source]
- How does Aberforth's magical abilities compare to Dumbledore's?
- What might be meant by Aberforth's "practicing inappropriate charms on a goat"? (Note: Aberforth's Patronus is apparently a goat.) As you answer, bear in mind the target audience for the book where this concept is introduced is Harry's age (14) or younger, and answer in terms reasonable for that age group.
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
Aberforth seems quite familiar with Mundungus and his wares' quality and provenance when the two are seen haggling in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we are told that Mundungus had been banned from the Hog's Head, which implies a fair degree of familiarity. It is safe to assume that the abortive transaction that was observed near the Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is not the only such exchange. It is uncertain when Mudungus sold Sirius' magic mirror to Aberforth, though it is possible that happened during the encounter we had witnessed. As Mundungus is hawking stolen wares to any passer-by in Diagon Alley, it is pure luck that the enchanted mirror, with its communication channel to Harry, fell into the hands of a Harry supporter, rather than a Death Eater or Voldemort sympathizer.