This is kind of a ‘sequel’ from this old question where it ended up as a tangent.

Professor Quirrell spends most of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone pretending to be a nervous, frightened man who faints at the sight of his own shadow. This is particularly clear in the scene that takes place on Hallowe’en:

Harry was just helping himself to a jacket potato when Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the Hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore’s chair, slumped against the table and gasped, ‘Troll – in the dungeons – thought you ought to know.’

He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.

Chapter 10: Hallowe’en (p. 127, Bloomsbury paperback)

Towards the end of the school year (and the book), we find out that this is pretense, and that Quirrell himself let the troll in. As he says, talking about the troll that constituted his part in the protective measurements guarding the Stone underneath Hogwarts:

I have a special gift with trolls – you must have seen what I did to the one in the chamber back there?

Chapter 17: The Man with Two Faces (p. 210)

Now, we know that the Stone has been kept at Hogwarts ever since Hagrid took it out of Gringotts before the school year even began, and it seems at least highly likely—though it’s never stated outright—that the protective measurements various teachers provided to keep the Stone secret were placed around the same time.

In other words, we have Professor Quirrell providing Dumbledore with a fully-grown troll as a protective measure some time during August of 1991, managing to both catch it, neutralise it, bring it down into the dungeon-like underground place beneath Hogwarts, and set it up there.

Then, barely two months later, on 31 October (Hallowe’en), we have Professor Quirrell appear in the Great Hall, so scared by the mere presence of a troll in the school dungeons that he actually faints.

Based on Hagrid’s enumeration of which teachers provided protection for the Stone, it seems reasonable to assume that the teachers (at least the ones who helped with the protection) were aware of who did what for the protection. Certainly Dumbledore himself must have been. So at least Dumbledore, and probably at least some of the teachers, already knew that Quirrell had a certain flair for dealing with trolls.

So why did no one seem to find it odd that Quirrell was suddenly fainting at the mere sight of a troll? (Except Snape, of course, but he already suspected Quirrell before this.)

Or, to put the question on its head: Why did they all believe in Quirrell’s jittery act when they knew how he could handle a troll? (Except possibly Snape, if this discrepancy is indeed what led him to suspect Quirrell to begin with.)

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    I also find it odd that Dumbledore doesn't make the Quirrell is an expert at managing troll/Quirrell was the first witness of a mysterious troll appearance connection.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 23:53
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    I don't remember the exact sequence of events but it is possible that all the protection around the stone had not been placed as soon as the stone reached Hogwarts. the final protection (the mirror) was only added in after the scene where Dumbledore found Harry looking at the mirror at night. It can be assumed that all the other protective layers before the mirror were added after the mirror had been put in place. I can't remember whether this was before or after the Halloween troll scene though
    – user13267
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:15
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    Also, Snape didn't trust Quirrell because Dumbledore himself didn't trust Quirrell; in the last book in Snape's memory he tells Snape to keep an eye on Quirrell
    – user13267
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 4:17
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    I was a fond reader of the HP books, however I always found it odd (to put it mildly) that the plot invariably heaps up tangles and clues throughout the schoolyear, to be magnificently sorted out in a climax in June. As a reader, being asked to put up with that, I am inclined to ignore minor inconsistencies. So, and out-of-universe answer might be that it would spoil all the fun and the rhythm of the series if people around Quirrell put two and two together earlier.
    – anemone
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 7:19
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    And another out-of-universe answer might be that we actually see events through Harry's eyes. He's antagonistic towards Snape, so a lot of attention is given to Snape, and we see him as Harry does. But Harry, as a first year, does not grasp what is really going on among the teachers. Harry does not mind Quirrell much. So I'm putting some of the blindness towards Quirrell down to the usual unreliability of the storyteller.
    – anemone
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 7:23

3 Answers 3


I don't think Dumbledore trusted Quirrell. But it is not clear what made him doubt Quirrell's loyalty to the school.

Dumbledore turned a page, and said, without looking up, “Keep an eye on Quirrell, won’t you?”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, The Prince's Tale

Snape kept watching Quirrell on Dumbledore's orders.

“Certainly. I have a special gift with trolls — you must have seen what I did to the one in the chamber back there? Unfortunately, while everyone else was running around looking for it, Snape, who already suspected me, went straight to the third floor to head me off — and not only did my troll fail to beat you to death, that three-headed dog didn’t even manage to bite Snape’s leg off properly.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 17, The Man With Two Faces

It's just that Quirrell might not have know that Dumbledore had asked Snape to watch out.

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    I’ve just belatedly given you a +1 for this, because your answer does highlight that Dumbledore had his doubts about Quirrell too (though the quoted scene would appear to take place at the beginning of the year and be unrelated to the Hallowe’en incident). It still doesn’t explain why the rest of staff seemed perfectly happy to accept Quirrell’s troll jitters, however, which is really the main crux of the question, and that is why I haven’t green-ticked it. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 14:54
  • @JanusBahsJacquet But did the rest of the staff know that Quirrell provided the troll?
    – tobiasvl
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:41
  • @tobiasvl A belated reply, but as the question says: if Hagrid (who provided Fluffy) knows, why wouldn’t McGonagall, Flitwick, Snape, and Sprout (who provided the other obstacles)? Dumbledore trusts Hagrid, but he trusts McGonagall just as much. Commented Jul 7, 2018 at 12:35
  • @tobiasvl Actually, let me recant that a bit. Perhaps Hagrid didn’t know that Quirrell’s protection was a troll. He does say “O’ course I can’t [tell you what’s protecting the Stone]. Number one, I don’t know meself.” He (and probably also the teachers who helped) knows who helped Dumbledore, but they may not have known what the others did. It would be reasonable for Dumbledore alone to know what all the protections were. Commented Jul 7, 2018 at 16:38

The teachers wouldn't suspect a theoretical wizard would be bold enough to attempt all of the gauntlet. He is very well known for his book smarts not his bravery. As with fluffy I'm sure he had help placing a huge troll in the School without notice. So it is the old saying the devil you don't know in the end.

  • So I guess I'm trying to say that it is there believed perspective of prof q that allowed them to be blind. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 6:53
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    Can you provide any quotes (like the answer above does) to suggest that Quirrell is a "theoretical wizard"?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:16
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    For instance Hargid states : he was brilliant when he was in his books. But took a year for experience. ...was never the same. : Also on pottermore he is described as such. He was an expert theoretical wizard on the dark arts. His lack of real experience is what allows such a weakened voldemorte to take complete control. Though he vaguely tries resisting. Just moved or could give cannon explanation sorry. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:25
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    Also he was originally the muggle studies teacher up to the year Harry arrived, in 91 if I'm not mistaken. So he probably gave off a weak insecure feelings during his whole carrier, I would assume. Hargid dose say ( he looked a little shook, then gain he's always trembling.) Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:31

First imagine a dragon tamer. They are hatched and monitored with great caution. They are caught with difficulty. But once they are secured, they can appoint any weak minded person to do some maintenance work around the dragon cage.

similarly, Quirrell supplies a troll for protection of the stone. It could be because he has some connections from his previous works when he dealt with trolls to write a book. But doesn't mean he is not shit scared of them. Doesnt mean he wants to encounter one in a secluded corridor where it could smash him with one swipe.

Hence, he could provide troll to Dumbledore and still be out of suspicion for fearing them. A zoo keeper can sell a lion to a person and yet be the first one to run in the opposite direction when the lion gets free because he has seen its violence up close.

BTW did Dumbledore ever trust Quirrell?? I don't think so!

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