Blood status and prejudice

It Matters Not What Someone Is Born

It Matters Not What Someone Is Born

“You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”

Albus Dumbledore berating the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, for placing too much importance on "the so-called purity of blood" (GF36: The Parting of the Ways)


On this particular occasion, Dumbledore is referring to Cornelius Fudge's defense of the Malfoy family and other "old" Wizarding families, whose donations, it is implied, have helped them steer clear of convictions for their involvement with the Death Eater movement.

"Malfoy was cleared!" said Fudge, visibly affronted.  "A very old family--donations to excellent causes--"

"Macnair!" Harry continued.

"Also cleared!  Now working for the Ministry!"

"Avery--Nott--Crabbe--Goyle--" (GF36)

Fudge's disbelief in Harry's story of Voldemort's return is rooted in his fear for his political career.  The Malfoy family has supported him, and he does not have any interest in admitting, even to himself, that he might have been blinded by their smarmy pandering.  It is far easier to believe the lies propagated about Harry by Rita Skeeter--that he is an attention-seeking, delusional boy who has been disturbed by the trauma of his past and his sudden onslaught of fame.

Just before the more memorable quote, above, about "what a man grows to be," Dumbledore makes an even grander accusation: "You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood (GF36)!"   The inclusion of "...and you always have done" makes it clear that Dumbledore has seen Fudge make this mistake before.  For example, he quails under pressure from school governors, i.e. Lucius Malfoy, about taking Hagrid to Azkaban when the Chamber of Secrets is reopened:

"Look, Albus," said Fudge, uncomfortably.  "Hagrid's record's against him.  Ministry's got to do something--the school governors have been in touch--" (CS14)

Dumbledore's primary concern, in the Hospital Wing with Fudge, seems to be with Fudge's disbelief in Harry's story based on an inflated opinion of  pureblooded families, like the Malfoys.  However, it is telling that he continues the reprimand with the more empowering statement, "It matters not what someone is born but what they grow to be" (GF36).  This statement ties his feelings about the meaninglessness of "blood purity" to his earlier well-known quote:

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (CS18)


Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: ambition blood purity born choices free will greatness growing growing up politicians politics