Wizarding Culture

Best Suited To Power

Best Suited To Power

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.  Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”

Albus Dumbledore explaining why he declined several times to become Minister of Magic (DH35: King’s Cross)


This sentiment is the antithesis of what Quirrell tells Harry at the end of his first year.

"There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it...." (PS17)

While Quirrell expresses that those who do not seek power are simply weak, Dumbledore suggests that those who seek power are often ill-suited for it--which one might consider a type of weakness.

Ambition is not an inherently bad characteristic--on the contrary, it propels people to pursue great things that can often benefit the common good.  When Hermione starts S.P.E.W., she is seeking the power to effect change for house-elves--not just power itself.  The problem is selfish ambition--people like Voldemort who seek power at any cost.

As Sirius reminds Harry in OP14, "...the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters."  Even Dumbledore once fell into that gray area in between.  In this conversation with Harry in the King's Cross limbo space, he is praising Harry for "wear[ing] well" the mantle of power that has been thrust upon him, and he contrasts Harry's success with his own temptations by the Deathly Hallows and the (less enticing) post of Minister of Magic.


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Tags: ambition circumstance curious leadership power success surprise