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Related: Did Dumbledore ever trust Hagrid with his life?

‘How is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?’ [Professor McGonagall] eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.

‘Hagrid’s bringing him.’

‘You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?’

‘I would trust Hagrid with my life,’ said Dumbledore.

‘I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,’ said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, ‘but you can’t pretend he’s not careless.’

Philosopher's Stone - page 16 - Bloomsbury - chapter one, The Boy Who Lived

Even Hermione implies Dumbledore's faith in Hagrid is well known around Hogwarts:

‘Oh, come on, Hagrid, you might not want to tell us, but you do know, you know everything that goes on round here,’ said Hermione in a warm, flattering voice. Hagrid’s beard twitched and they could tell he was smiling. ‘We only wondered who had done the guarding, really.’ Hermione went on. ‘We wondered who Dumbledore had trusted enough to help him, apart from you.’

Philosopher's Stone - page 169 - Bloomsbury - chapter fourteen, Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback

From eagerly introducing an Acromantula into Hogwarts, to bringing Fluffy onto the school grounds, to hatching Norbert ("The baby") Norwegian Ridgeback and practically burning himself and his hut to the ground as Norbert quickly grows, to bringing Grawp to Hogwarts, to inventing Blast-Ended Skrewts, to appearing intoxicated in front of Harry, Ron, and Hermione ... putting it lightly, it's fair to say Hagrid does not always exercise good judgement. Yet, Dumbledore says he would trust Hagrid with his life.

Why is this? Why does Dumbledore trust Hagrid with his life?

Dumbledore is not infallible and does make mistakes -- I think Dumbledore would be the first to admit this about himself. So, what does canon tell us about why Dumbledore would hold such great trust in Hagrid? I'm interested in a canon-based answer from the books, Pottermore, or J.K. Rowling interviews that would further explain Dumbledore's trust in Hagrid. Answers made within the spirit of canon are also welcome. I am not necessarily asking for examples of Dumbledore entrusting his life to Hagrid, as that question has already been asked (see above), although I'm eager to read any information that explains why Dumbledore trusts Hagrid so implicitly.

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    Trusting is not always something rational and anyway Dumbledore always sees the best in every person. – idmean Aug 18 '14 at 14:00
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    To be fair, some of your examples of Hagrid's "poor judgement" were probably done by Dumbledore's request. After all, the Philosopher's Stone needed additional protections, and the maze needed additional challenges. – Brian S Aug 18 '14 at 14:42
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First of all, there are 2 distinct meanings/contexts to the phrase "Trust with one's life":

  • Literal meaning.

    You trust someone to be successful in preventing you from dying. This implies both that the person won't hesitate to defend your life - AND has the skill and ability to defend it.

    As you noted, given Hagrid's tendency not to be the sharpest tack in the drawer and questionable judgement (We'll leave raising monsters aside, as everyone has a weird angle; and simply remember that he inadvertently spilled top secret information to Harry and Co. at least twice, and to Quirrell in a pub - how to put Fluffy to sleep), one can question if he's that trustworthy overall.

    On the other hand, Hagrid was not without resources (giant strength and magic resistance), and a mission that requires a Bruiser/Barbarian character class just might be better off with Hagrid even if he isn't a Rogue or a Mage, to borrow RPG terminology. There are cases in life where HULK SMASH!!! is pretty much the only tactics required.

  • Figurative meaning.

    You have a great trust in person, more specifically that they would not betray your trust; to the point that you are willing to assign the highest "trust" value to them - and "trusting with one's life" is the usual way to express that high value since your life is generally the most important thing to you.


Now, there are 2 things that may have influenced Dumbledore saying what he did:

  1. First, he may have misinterpreted McGonagle's "trust" in the second sense, and responded in that same second sense/context, to reassure her that Hagrid has his trust.

    As we see from Minerva's subsequent quip, she actually meant the first context; but whether that was how Dumbledore understood her, is not made clear.

  2. Alternate explanation: he DID know that it's somewhat dangerous to trust Hagrid, BUT, Hagrid was not without resources (giant strength and magic resistance) and Dumbledore didn't anticipate that the mission required guile and stratagems. Just brute force.

    Also note that he was NOT nearly as confident as he made himself appear to be in his remark to Minerva, as right next we see this:

    'Hagrid,' said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. 'At last. And where did you get that motorbike?'

    'Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir,' said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorbike as he spoke. 'Young Sirius Black lent it me. I've got him, sir.'

    'No problems, were there?'

  • your final point about dumbledores confidence. from my take of that piece he does trust Hagrid completely, his relief is not that"Hagrid made it and didnt mess up" its "no death eater or other attacked Hagrid or Harry". – Himarm Aug 2 '16 at 0:08
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What did Dumbledore mean by "trust"? I would contend that Dumbledore was simply referring to Hagrid's loyalty to him. Thus, when he says that he would trust Hagrid with his life all he means is that He believes that Hagrid is loyal enough to have the best interests of Dumbledore's life in mind. But that doesn't mean that Hagrid would be his choice of help in any given situation. It means that Hagrid would be his choice in a situation where the primary factor is loyalty.

Consider what the response would be if someone would have asked James Potter why he was making Sirius his Secret-Keeper. He might say "I trust Sirius with my life". But if James needed a complicated brain surgery (or the wizarding equivalent) would he appoint Sirius as his surgeon? Presumably not. This is because in the former case he is entrusting his life to loyalty, which Sirius has; in the latter case he needs to entrust his life to medical skill, which Sirius does not have.

Dumbeldore is presumably well aware of Hagrid's strengths and weaknesses. He knows that when he needs loyalty he can go to Hagrid, and when he needs certain other things he can't go to Hagrid. In this particular case what he needed was loyalty (someone who would unquestioningly follow his orders even though they might not be in accordance with normal wizarding procedures, and even if obstacles come up along the way). Indeed when Sirius tried to take Harry, Hagrid insisted on following Dumbledore's orders and bringing Harry to the Dursleys.

None of the examples mentioned in the question are cases where Hagrid demonstrated any lack of loyalty to Dumbledore. In fact, knowing Dumbledore he probably didn't even care that Hagrid did any of those things.

The only instance that I can think of where Hagrid did something that would be construed as an actual betrayal of Dumbledore's trust is when in Philosopher's Stone he revealed how to get past Fluffy. And even in that case I don't think it was a true betrayal. All Hagrid told the hooded stranger was that he had a three-headed dog that could be put to sleep by playing it music. I don't think Dumbledore ever told Hagrid that he can't talk about his three-headed dog; Dumbledore simply borrowed it to station on the trapdoor. In fact, Dumbledore didn't really need that protection, and, in accordance with my answer here, he probably only asked Hagrid to help in order to make him feel useful.

If Dumbledore truly had a secret that he didn't want leaked to anyone, he probably wouldn't trust it to Hagrid, not because Hagrid was not loyal to him, but because Hagrid might get tricked into revealing it. But then again Dumbledore didn't really trust his true secrets to anyone.

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