About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2019 |
11 min read
Published: Mar 14, 2019
Words: 2019|Pages: 4|11 min read
During times of crisis and fear, people look to and expect authority figures for comfort. After Great Britain entered what would be known as World War two, the populace looked to King George. When the World Trade Center was attacked, the American people looked to President Bush. In both cases, authority figures gave speeches that were memorable and comforting to their people; a true example of a proper response to a moment of Kairos. Soon after the events of 9/11, a British author was writing the fourth instalment of a series that containing a speech that contained several striking similarities. The speech given by Albus Dumbledore at the end of The Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, is a proper response to a moment of Kairos as it seeks to comfort and prepare the students of Hogwarts for the future by honoring the innocent hero who has died, preaching unity against the opposition, and warning them of the hard times ahead.
After a traumatic year in which dark wizards emerged, teachers were held captive and a student who was liked and admired was killed, the Headmaster of Hogwarts needed to comfort his pupils and staff by honoring an innocent, dead hero. This was the first time a character in the book world died whom was well known and liked by all the main characters and many of the books readers. Many speeches following tragic events in reality make a point to honor the victims and heroes that died. For instance on 9/11, former president George W. Bush made a point to honor their sacrifice, saying they were, “the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could,” (Bush). By illustrating the better qualities of the people who lost their lives, he hoped to appeal to the pathos of the audience. Also, this acknowledgment and humanization of the individuals that died will bring comfort to those audience members who have suffered a personal loss, making their loss mean more to the public. The Goblet of Fire was published shortly after the events of 9/11. This could explain why Dumbledore’s opening remarks, “there is much that I would like to say to you all tonight, but I must first acknowledge the loss of a very fine person, who should be sitting here enjoying our feast with us. I would like you all, please, to stand, and raise your glasses, to Cedric Diggory,” (Rowling 721) is so similar to Bush’s earlier statement, but definitely illustrates how speeches given after crisis have similar elements.
By emphasizing Cedric’s best qualities, Dumbledore attempted to comfort his students while honoring their fallen friend. No matter what comes after, everyone present at the speech drank to his memory, acknowledging that this act of comfort was universally received. As one literary critic stated, “it is fitting that Cedric Diggory should attain almost heroic status in his death in Goblet of Fire, and that Dumbledore, in his closing address to the school, should pay tribute to Cedric as exemplifying the characteristics typical of Hufflepuff House,” (Hopkins 27). The characteristics Dumbledore describes Cedric as possessing include being,” a good and loyal friend, a hard worker, he valued fair play,” all of which are commonly associated with heroic or admirable individuals (Rowling 721). By giving Cedric heroic status in his speech, as well as reminding the students of his more human Hufflepuff qualities, Dumbledore acknowledges the scope of the loss the school is suffering and reminds the students that they are not alone. If they need comfort, they are surrounded by people who are going through the exact same thing and understand exactly how they feel.
This is also another example of how 9/11 and other disasters events may have influenced Rowling’s writing when crafting Dumbledore’s end of year speech, particularly when he was attempting to comfort his students. In his address to the nation Bush made a point describe the type of people who had died saying, “the victims were in airplanes or in their offices -- secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors,” (Bush). In Dumbledore’s speech, he also made a point to highlight the truly senseless nature of the setting where the tragedy took place, at a school, and emphasized how similar Cedric was to the students, calling him, “a very fine person, who should be sitting here,” (Rowling 721). By acknowledging these similarities, he ensured that the students felt knew there feeling were justified, dispelling any feeling of guilt they felt over not knowing him well enough to feel sad that he is dead and bringing the students comfort. By paying tribute in acknowledgment, Dumbledore brings comfort to his students and staff and brings them together as a community, but he must also prepare them for what comes next.
Having honored the dead, Dumbledore now attempts to unite the students and preaches how important it is for them to unify and stand together despite their differences in order to prepare for the war ahead and defeat Voldemort. The audience of Dumbledore’s speech is made up of students from three different countries with different languages, customs and cultures. Even in the best of times, unity does not often exist amongst the four houses of Hogwarts where none of those differences exist. As one literary analysis pointed out, “the immediate result of this rare instance of inter-house cooperation is that Cedric is murdered,” (Kornfeld 127). This lack of unity did not help any of those present deal with their grief or the dark days of war that were to come. This is why Dumbledore’s attempts to unite all present are so important; that year at Hogwarts was supposed to be about unity and coming together from the beginning. As Dumbledore points out, “the Triwizard Tournament’s aim was to further and promote magical understanding. In the light of what has happened- of Lord Voldemort’s return – such ties are more important than ever before,” (Rowling 723). If he can bring the students together at what is certainly the darkest moment of their lives thus far, they will have a better chance of living though this war. However, just because he is saying that they must all come together, does not mean that all of the students present will believe his speech applies to them. There are students from three very different types of schools present, one of whom is famous for being notoriously entangled with the Dark Arts. Perhaps that is why he reiterates so persistently that, “every guest in this Hall will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided,” (Rowling 723). He makes a point here to reach out to the Durmstang students who are at most risk of joining turning to the dark arts, some because they believe they have no other choice.
When he gives this speech, particularly when he is talking about unity, Dumbledore knows that this will be his best and for some last chance to reach all of the students present as some of them will be graduating and others will be returning abroad to their own schools and countries. This is why he pushes the concept of uniting and standing together so fiercely. Groups of people around the world are known for not always being as accepting of each other's differences, which explains why he insists that, “differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical,” (Rowling 723). Any past prejudices that exist amongst the students must be erased or at least put aside in order to win the war with Voldemort. Standing together in unity will help the students prepare for the war ahead as well as increasing their chances of survival in the future with more alias. However, Dumbledore must make sure that the students understand what they are in store for in the future.
One of the most important things Dumbledore had to ensure he communicated to the students, was to warn them of the hard times that would come in the near future so they can mentally prepare for the dark days of war. Most of the audience to Dumbledore’s speech did not fully realize what Voldemort’s return truly meant, because they were either too young to remember or not even born when he was active years ago. Very few of them have actually grown up with reminders of that war in their day to day lives, although as Dumbledore mentions, “some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort,” (Rowling 723). However, even the students who have lost family members or grown up without a parent do not know what it is like to live in a country that is actively at war. Cedric’s death was the only experience some of the students have had with the death of someone they actually knew, and it is too early for that reality to hit them. Even then, some see the death as an accident or an isolated act of violence. As one literary critic put it, “only Harry (who sees Cedric dead) and a few like Dumbledore (who have seen death before) realize that the chaotic violence is neither an isolated incident nor a game,” (Pharr 16). In order to ensure that the students are not caught completely unprepared for the coming war, Dumbledore was forced to impress upon them how dangerous the days, months and years ahead would be. He reminded the students that, “we are all facing dark and difficult times,” (Rowling 723) and going into the future assuming that they will not be affected is pointless. However he does not want to terrify the students make them feel that there is no hope for the future.
In an attempt to both comfort and remind prepare them for the inevitable choices they will have to make in the future, Dumbledore then attempted to turn Cedric’s death into a symbol. He advises the students to, “remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is good and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory,” (Rowling 724). He seemed to hope that in the future, the students would be able to gain direction or purpose from this tragedy to guide them in their war efforts. While he impresses the reality of the situation at hand on the student body, Dumbledore also manages to prepare them for war in a way that is appropriate for all present, form the eleven year olds to the seventeen year olds.
Albus Dumbledore’s speech at the end of The Goblet of Fire accomplished everything that it needed to coming from an authority figure after a tragic event. Through his words he was able to comfort his students after the death of their friend and champion. He looked out at a room full children and young adults from different cultures, and made them feel welcomed and united. He did not try to make it seem that the future would be easy, thus ensuring that his students might be mentally prepared for the coming war, and still managed to do so without making the future seem hopeless. The students of Hogwarts could not have asked for a better form of verbal comfort. Everyone has witnessed speeches given by great politicians and authority figures in the aftermath of a crisis. The qualities that Dumbledore’s speech possessed could be found in all of them, comfort, unity and preparation. This makes Dumbledore’s speech a perfect response to a moment of Kairos.
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