13

At the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore tells Harry about the prophecy, he says to him:

"He saw himself in you before he had ever seen you, and in marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as he intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville's parents, ever achieved."
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 37

But, if you count the last encounter between Harry and Voldemort, at the Ministry, it's actually five times, not four.

  1. Voldemort's attempt when Harry was 1 year old
  2. In the first book, when they fight over the stone
  3. In the second book, when Harry meets young Tom Riddle
  4. In the fourth book, when Harry joins V's rebirth party
  5. The fight at the ministry, in the previous chapter

So why did Dumbledore say that it was four times? Which one did he leave out and why?

8
  • 4
    probably doesnt count the horcrux
    – Himarm
    Nov 27 '16 at 19:51
  • 1
    I reckon he means Harry at one as it was that event which equipped him to survive. Nov 27 '16 at 20:05
  • 4
    Consider that Harry didn't have Voldemort's powers when he survived his attack as a 1yo (it was his mother's sacrifice that did it). Ergo, Voldemort's attempt when Harry was a 1-year-old doesn't count. So, Dumbledore's count of four times is correct. J.K Rowling isn't so bad at maths after all. Nov 27 '16 at 20:18
  • 1
    Because JK Rowling is bad at math.
    – Zanon
    Nov 27 '16 at 22:56
  • 1
    @HarryJohnston You may be forgetting that Voldemort briefly possesses Harry after the Dumbledore duel. In the movies, Harry makes a cheesy statement about love and friendship. In the books, Harry welcomes death as an opportunity to see Sirius again, and this love is what expels Voldemort - it's the connection they have which allowed Voldemort to tamper with Harry's mind in the first place, but, ironically, the love Harry feels keeps Voldemort, who detests love, away from his mind. So, their deep connection protects Harry's mind from Voldemort (which is ironic). Nov 28 '16 at 12:13
32

Harry survived his encounter with Voldemort as a 1-year-old because of his mother's sacrifice, not because of the powers Voldemort transferred to him (which is what Dumbledore is talking about in the quote).

"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realise that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever."
—Dumbledore regarding the power of love, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17, The Man With Two Faces

"[Voldemort] gave you powers, ..., which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville’s parents, ever achieved.”
—Dumbledore explaining Voldemort's transferral of power into Harry, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy

So, Harry survived 5 out 5 encounters with Voldemort since birth, at the time of Order of the Phoenix, 1 of which (the first) was thanks to his mother's sacrificial love magic, and 4 of which were thanks to the powers Voldemort transferred (as Dumbledore describes in your quote in question).

Consider that Harry didn't have Voldemort's powers when he survived his attack as a 1yo (it was his mother's sacrifice that did it). Ergo, Voldemort's attempt when Harry was a 1-year-old doesn't count. So, Dumbledore's count of four times is correct. J.K Rowling isn't so bad at maths after all.

Conclusion:

But, if you count the last encounter between Harry and Voldemort, at the ministry, it's actually f̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶s̶,̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ four.

  1. V̶o̶l̶d̶e̶m̶o̶r̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶e̶m̶p̶t̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶H̶a̶r̶r̶y̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶1̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶o̶l̶d̶
  2. In the first book, when they fight over the stone
  3. In the second book, when Harry meets young Tom Riddle
  4. In the fourth book, when Harry joins V's rebirth party
  5. The fight at the ministry, in the previous chapter

Note: It would be reasonable for readers/audience, out of universe, to assume that Riddle's Diary, being a horcrux, is not the true Voldemort, and thusly it doesn't count as one of the four, but keep in mind that, in universe, Dumbledore, certainly during this conversation with Harry in Order of the Phoenix, doesn't have a particular technical discernment between true Voldemort and "non-true"/Horcrux Voldemort, especially when talking to his student, Harry, at this point in the story. Moreover, there is evidence in this screenshot of the Chamber of Secrets book that confirms that Dumbledore refers to The Diary, or the culprit of that year's events, as Voldemort, meaning that it stands to reason that during his Order of the Phoenix conversation with Harry, he would include Harry's encounter with The Diary as one of the four escapes.

9
  • 2
    Doesn't Dumbledore specifically say (in HBP) that it was the diary and the way the fragment of Riddle's Soul acted, not really being just a memory, that started him on the Horcrux train way back in Chamber of Secrets? He found the Horcrux (ring) after the end of OotP and destroyed it, so it's practically inconceivable that he didn't know Voldemort was involved with Horcruxes when he made this statement. What he didn't know until HBP was the scale (and he says as much) - Slughorn's memory fragment confirmed the important of Seven as a number.
    – DariM
    Nov 28 '16 at 3:04
  • 2
    Having just read the relevant chapters, I have proof that your comment is completely correct, @DariM, and there is no confusion about it. He not only knew about Horcruxes, he suspected Tom Riddle's diary was one. Not only that, he inferred (by the way it flippantly put itself in danger) that there were more than one horcrux with Voldemort's split soul fragments. Here is a screenshot of the relevant part of the HBP book (Chapter 23, Horcruxes) Nov 28 '16 at 11:06
  • I would argue that the encounter when they met in the first book was also due to love as it was that protection on Harry that was preventing Voldemort from touching him. Nov 28 '16 at 11:57
  • 1
    @AntonyD'Andrea At first glance, it's a good argument, Antony. Dumbledore even tells Harry about the love magic right after the event you refer to. Will look into it, see what I find (my answer serves to logically discount the 1yo encounter as one of the four, since the encounter precedes the transferral of power, but your argument, thus far, still stands). Nov 28 '16 at 12:03
  • 1
    @Acccumulation the diary was already there and sending the Basilisk through Hogwarts. When Harry hadn’t the mark, the originator stayed untouchable. We don’t even know whether and when someone recognized the threat as a Basilisk if Harry didn’t speak Parsel. So it’s fair to say that it enabled him to succeed, while you’re still right, it also brought him into danger. But that applies to all confrontations, as they all are the result of the first one. But thinking about it, it’s definitely not correct to say that the mark saved him on the 2nd, it was again Lilly’s sacrifice which saved him.
    – Holger
    Nov 18 at 9:31
1
  1. Does not count, because it was due solely to his mother's love, not Voldemort's powers.
  2. Also does not count, because he did not use any powers to escape Quirrel-Voldemort; he used only his hands, which Voldemort was unable to touch due (again) to his mother's protection.

That leaves (3) and (4) and (5) as candidates. Let us count

  1. In the sense that he needed Parseltongue to escape Voldemort along with Ginny, who would have died if he didn't enter the chamber of secrets.
  2. Clearly counts due to the reverse spell effect, which worked only because Voldemort's soul fragment in him made the twin wand choose him. Let us also count
  3. Since his connection to Voldemort via the soul fragment caused his emotions to be overwhelming to Voldemort and hence force Voldemort to release him from mind control.

So your list actually has only 3 escapades facilitated by having Voldemort's powers. Maybe the author might not have been thinking carefully in saying "four times"...

2
  • If I remember correctly, the chase happened after Dumbledore made that statement, so it can’t be included in his count. But I think, Dumbledore didn’t care about correctness regarding each escape, he had the bigger picture in mind.
    – Holger
    Nov 18 at 15:18
  • @Holger: Whoops, you are right; I'll remove that incorrect candidate.
    – user21820
    Nov 18 at 15:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.