Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Ariana Dumbledore

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
Ariana Dumbledore
Gender Female
Hair color Blonde
Eye color Blue
Related Family Kendra Dumbledore (mother)
Percival Dumbledore (father)
Albus Dumbledore and Aberforth Dumbledore (brothers)
Loyalty Aberforth Dumbledore

Overview[edit | edit source]

Ariana Dumbledore was the sister of Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore. She died quite young, at approximately 14 years of age.

Role in the Books[edit | edit source]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Deathly Hallows[edit | edit source]

Ariana is first mentioned in Albus Dumbledore's obituary, penned by Elphias Doge, Albus' close friend. Elphias simply writes that she had died just after Albus finished school.

Rita Skeeter also writes about the Dumbledore clan in a tell-all book that is filled with innuendo and scurrilous rumour. Rita claims that Ariana was seldom seen outside the house, and suggests she might have been a Squib.

In conversation with Doge and Ron Weasley's Auntie Muriel, Harry learns that Rita's source, Bathilda Bagshot, had glimpsed but never actually met Ariana. Muriel believes Ariana was a Squib, an embarrassment to the family, though Doge protests she was merely sickly. Muriel retorts that she was never known to have been treated at St. Mungo's Hospital. Muriel also mentions that Aberforth broke Albus' nose in a fight at Ariana's funeral.

Aberforth Dumbledore later reveals the true story to Harry. Three Muggle boys had witnessed Ariana performing magic when she was still quite young. Aberforth says the boys "forced their way through the hedge and when she couldn't show them the trick, they got a bit carried away trying to stop the little freak doing it." What the boys did to her is not specified by Rowling, but the encounter left her emotionally unstable and unable to control magic. Her father, Percival, after attacking the boys in retaliation, was sentenced to Azkaban prison, where he died. The mother, Kendra, fearing Ariana's condition would force her into to being committed to St. Mungo's, kept her daughter hidden. Aberforth was the only one able to control her wild fits.

After Kendra's death, a conflict emerged between Gellert Grindelwald, who wanted wizards to enslave Muggles, and Albus, who believed Muggles should be ruled benignly and felt honour-bound to care for his family. When Aberforth uncovered the other two's Dark scheme a three-way fight erupted and quickly escalated; Ariana, thrown into a fit, was fatally struck by a stray curse. Grindelwald immediately fled to Europe. Neither Albus or Aberforth knew whose curse killed Ariana, though both were forever burdened by their guilt.

While Ariana is never seen, her portrait hangs Aberforth's living room. It acts as the messenger that summons Neville to open the passage which allows Harry, Ron, and Hermione, among others, to enter Hogwarts before the final battle.

Strengths[edit | edit source]

Given that her untrained magic is so powerful, we can safely guess that Ariana would have been a very powerful witch had she been allowed to develop normally.

Weaknesses[edit | edit source]

According to Aberforth (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, UK / Canada first edition p455), when Ariana was attacked by the Muggle boys, "[i]t destroyed her, what they did: she was never right again. She wouldn't use magic, but she couldn't get rid of it: it turned inwards and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn't control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet, and scared, and harmless." From this description, particularly if we assume that magic is largely a mental function, it seems likely that Ariana was brain-damaged at an early age, and was never able to be trained to use her magic properly.

Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]

Ariana had a particularly close relationship with her second eldest brother Aberforth. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Aberforth says, "I could get her to eat when she wouldn't do it for my mother, I could get her to calm down when she was in one of her rages." This leads us to believe that Ariana liked Aberforth the best. Regarding Ariana's relationship with her famous eldest brother, Albus, Aberforth says he, "didn't want to be bothered with her." Albus apparently shut himself up in his room with his books and correspondence, and Ariana, his sister as much as Aberforth's, was his second concern. After their mother was killed in a tragic accident involving Ariana, Albus became slightly more responsible for his sister's care, though that only lasted until Gellert Grindelwald arrived. He was Albus' supposed "equal", and Ariana once again took a back seat. It is likely that Ariana's favorite was always Aberforth, up until her tragic death.

Analysis[edit | edit source]

There are, perhaps thankfully, no details of what was done to Ariana or what the resulting handicap was. From Aberforth's description, it is almost certain that she received brain damage; the description "sweet, and scared," with occasional unpredictable outbursts of uncontrollable rage, could be the description of any number of developmental disabilities in which higher brain centers don't develop, or develop incorrectly. Children with these sorts of disabilities can seem to have almost superhuman physical strength, requiring multiple adults to restrain them from hurting themselves or others. Couple this sort of behavior with the ability to do magic, as has happened with Ariana, and it seems almost inevitable that carers will be gravely injured.

We have heard a rumour, never fully confirmed, that Albus and Aberforth fought at Ariana's funeral, with Albus' nose being broken as a result. It seems more likely that Aberforth, affronted by Albus' grief, which he will have believed to be faked because of how Albus treated Ariana while she was alive, simply hauled off and slugged him, and that Albus neither resisted not retaliated. Albus, of course, felt that ultimately he was responsible for Ariana's death, and quite possibly felt that Aberforth's punch was something he deserved.

Questions[edit | edit source]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. Do you think Ariana Dumbledore liked Grindelwald?

Greater Picture[edit | edit source]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Albus Dumbledore, in the "Waystation", tells Harry that having seen what power once did to him, he never wanted it again, which is why he so steadfastly declined the Minister for Magic post when it was offered. Reviewing the episodes in question, including the duel in which Ariana died, we can see that it is not the possession of power that caused the problems Albus worries about. Rather, it was the seeking of power, by both himself and Grindelwald, that resulted in Ariana's death.