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Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

“Welcome!” he said.  “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts!  Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words.  And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”

“Thank you!”

Albus Dumbledore "Is he--a bit mad?" (PS7)

Commentary

These are the first words Harry ever hears Dumbledore speak, since his parting "Good luck, Harry" when leaving him swaddled on the Dursleys' doorstep.

"Everybody clapped and cheered.  Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not."

It's a strange introduction to a wizard of Chocolate Frog card caliber, and it is understandable that Harry would ask Percy Weasley if Dumbledore is "a bit mad."

The simplest and most plausible explanation for these words is that Dumbledore decides, quite literally, to say "a few words."  He wants the new students' first impression of him to be of generosity and consideration and surprise; he will not keep them from their banquet and overwhelm them with information when they are already hungry and awestruck, but he wants to keep them interested for the real speech after the feast.

Could there be a more elaborate explanation?  Of course there could.  Albus Dumbledore is awfully cunning for a Gryffindor, and he has a knack for influencing impressionable students.  It is plausible that the simplest explanation--that Dumbledore is a seasoned speaker and educator, and he knows how to get through to his students--is the most accurate.  While the older students seem to take Dumbledore's words in stride, suggesting that perhaps they are on to the tactics of the eccentric wizard by now, Harry enjoys the eventful feast.  The thrills of speaking to a ghost, eating magically summoned food, and growing acquainted with his new peers are only slightly dampened by the pain in his scar that he attributes to a glance from Snape.  Harry feels "warm and sleepy" by the time Dumbledore rises to speak again, at which point silence falls throughout the hall--an indication that the students are indeed prepared to listen.

--AK

Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: eccentric feast mad madness welcome words

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