Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 61

We’re once again looking to you all with this week’s Question of the Week. Noah has taken up a question about the master of Hogwarts himself – Albus Dumbledore.

In this chapter, Dumbledore mentions to Karkaroff finding a room full of chamber pots that he never knew about. Can we assume this is the Room of Requirement, and if so, did Dumbledore really not know about the room at this point? Or is he not being completely truthful with Karkaroff, thereby partially cloaking his school’s secrets, just like the Durmstrang Headmaster?

Leave us your response below & we just might read them on the next episode of Alohomora!

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  • Mike Kazmierski

    I like to think that the magic and enigma of Hogwarts transcends even Dumbledore himself. Hogwarts is so old and wrapped in magic both ancient and modern that it is impossible to fully comprehend. I’ve always thought of Hogwarts as another character in the book – things like trick staircases, secret passages, Peeves, the collection of talking portraits, the ghosts, its grand architecture, and even its motto (Never tickle a sleeping Dragon) – all seem to suggest an entity that is mischievous yet grand and powerful. I don’t believe the Marauder’s Map even shows all of Hogwarts’ secrets – I think the castle’s secrets change and evolve over time and even then it was limited to the extent to which the four had explored the castle.

    I don’t know for sure that the chamber pot room is the Room of Requirement. You have to pace back and forth in front of the entrance to reveal it – would Dumbledore have been doing that if he was on his way to the bathroom? That being said, I’m willing to bet that he does indeed know about the room and that he was impressing Karkaroff with the mysteries of Hogwarts. In that sense, we have an obligatory J.K. Rowling Genius Moment for another instance of excellent foreshadowing!

  • ArchdukeSeverus

    The room Dumbledore finds is definitely the room of requirement. Harry assumes this later (OOTF) and he isn’t proved wrong so we are supposed to assume the same. I think that Dumbledore has guessed what the room of requirement is but he might not know enough about it to find it again because it sounds like he has only had one experience with it. Because of this he isn’t really lying at all to Karkoroff. If he does know more about it than he is letting on I can see why he wouldn’t tell Karkoroff of its true nature as Karkoroff may try to use it to gain an advantage in the tournament or for some other malicious means. Finally I think that Dumbledore mainly mentions it to entertain Harry as he glances at Harry as he says this. Of course this could be a way for Dumbledore to try tell Harry about it and get him curious but their isn’t really much reason for him to do it right now. Even if Dumbledore did lie we can’t pretend that he hasn’t done that a lot.

  • elizabeth melas

    I tend to think that Dumbledore is trying to conceal or seclude the existence of such a room. O n the other hand, he did not know about the Chamber of Secrets, or rather of its location. This is quite an enigma, and I apologize for being so indecisive. May I just thank JK Rowling for creating, such a thought provoking book series.

  • Saiyangirl

    To answer this question, I’d like to quote a much later book – Deathly Hallows. Chapter 31, The Battle of Hogwarts: “Tom Riddle, who confided in no one and operated alone, might have been arrogant enough to assume that he, and only he, had penetrated the deepest mysteries of Hogwarts Castle. Of course, Dumbledore and Flitwick, those model pupils, had never set foot in that particular place, but he, Harry, had strayed off the beaten track in his time at school – here at last was a secret he and Voldemort knew, that Dumbledore had never discovered.” Harry is confident that Albus had never discovered the full scope of the Room of Requirement, and because of how this is written, I believe Rowling herself is too. The mention of Flitwick and Dumbledore as model pupils is simply too poetic and perfect a juxtaposition with students like Riddle and Potter to be caused by Harry’s POV alone. I therefore believe that the “incident with the chamberpots” was a one-time thing for Albus, but that he may have intended to both amuse and encourage Harry to find out more when mentioning it in GoF.

    • Dan Sharp

      The above quote is refering to the “Room of Hidden Things” which is just one of perhaps thousands of rooms that the “Room of Requirement” can manifest. Dumbledore may well have know about the RoR but not about the RoHT. I do like the idea that Albus was encouraging Harry to be a little Riddle-like and explore Hogwarts secrets fully, of course he doesn’t know about the Map yet.

  • WatchSky181

    I wholly subscribe to the notion that Dumbledore is telling this story for Harry’s benefit, and indeed guesses more about it than he lets on — he is remarkably close to the mark in what he does say as it is. As such he definitely wants Harry to investigate. I don’t know that Dumbledore does know about the magic of the Room Of Requirement, but unlike the Chamber of Secrets (which I see being used as an example of Dumbledore’s fallibility with regards to the hidden magic of Hogwarts), the room is clearly widely known. Not only are there hundreds of students who access the room of hidden things (who may or may not know of the room besides this “incarnation”), but also is it not stated that it is known in its true capacity to the House-elves in general (I can’t recall if Dobby is alone in his knowledge of it or not)?

    Furthermore, with regards to the idea of the Room of Hidden things, how did the vanishing cabinet get in there? We know that the vanishing cabinet was on the first floor when Fred and George shoved Montague into it: “He never managed to get all the words out, due to the fact that we forced him head-first into that Vanishing Cabinet on the first floor.” and Dobby tells us that the Room is located on the 7th floor opposite the tapestry depicting the attempt of Barnabas the Barmy to teach trolls ballet. Presumably Draco didn’t move the cabinet himself up all those floors – that would have been mightily suspicious! Do we assume that it was moved by teachers in which case surely Dumbledore would be aware of this? I suppose that the room would already have been known about thanks to the DA at this time so in GOF Dumbledore might well have been unaware of this. But it would seem to invalidate Harry’s assertion that Flitwick and Dumbledore would not have known about the room by the time of DH – surely it would have crossed Dumbledore’s mind to investigate once he knew of it.

    I suppose Umbridge would have potentially overseen the movement of the cabinet with Filtch and so maybe the teachers never knew, but the portraits are liable to gossip so I’m sure it would have gotten back to the teachers some how.

    In any case, as has been mentioned, just because Dumbledore didn’t know about the room of hidden things specifically doesn’t mean he didn’t know of the Room of Requirement generally.

    Having argued against myself now, I think Dumbledore probably has a good idea of what the room does at this time, and knows about it by the time he starts investigating Horcruxes, hence it seems like a colossal oversight by Dumbledore not to investigate something so close at hand given his conclusions on Riddle. Perhaps he simply lacked the time before his death (though how hard is it to pop up to the 7th floor? – maybe he was avoiding it so as not to panic Draco?) or thought that he’d be better off pursuing ones Harry had no chance of getting himself (like the Cave). I think that would be my conclusion – Dumbledore had an inkling but decided Harry could come to the same conclusions so spent his time tracking down the Horcruxes that would have eluded Harry. What an astonishing puppeteer! How can you guys dislike him?

    /end word vomit

    • Dan Sharp

      Even if Albus knew about the Room of Hidden Things he would not have known exactly what he was looking for. Was it the Cup, or the locket, or some other item of the other two founders? The RoHT is huge and filled with centuries worth of junk. Remember, it’s not until Harry gets Slughorn’s true memory that Dumbledore knows for sure how many horcruxes he is looking for and he never knew that the Dark Lord found the diadium, or that he had time to hide anything at Hogwarts.

      Why would the portraits gossip about the caretaker moving a cabinet to another part of the castle? On the surface it seems like a fairly uneventful thing.

      • WatchSky181

        Well he thinks Riddle used something of Ravenclaw’s, which as Harry concludes can only be the diadem and he also thinks Riddle used the job interview to hide something at Hogwarts. Being reasonable, if Harry can figure it out of this meagre information I’m 100% sure Dumbledore could have done so too. The only addition Harry had to was that something definitely was hidden at Hogwarts.

        While I note your point, Filtch manually hauling a large cabinet up 6 floors would, I feel, raise significant mirth to render it a talking point. I also think, given the issues caused by the cabinet, some notification of its removal and storage would be known.

        • Elvis Gaunt

          Harry did not deduce that Riddle had hidden the diadem in the Room of Requirement. He remembered seeing it there in his 6th year when he went to hide Snape’s old potions textbook.

        • Dan Sharp

          Just re-read the Horcruxes chapter of HBP to check that it is never said by Dumbledore that he knew or even thought the Dark Lord used the interview to hide a horcrux. I got the impression that he thought Lord Voldemort had wished to search the castle for relics to use. This was the real reason for his interest in the DADA job. Of course it could just be left unsaid by Albus just as he failed to tell Harry how to destroy Horcruxes.

          Harry didn’t only have the addition of a horcrux being hidden at Hogwarts. He also knew that it wasn’t the locket, or the cup, or either of Gryffindor”s relics (the sword and the Sorting Hat). So, I think, that IF Dumbledore knew about the RoHT that he might have intentionally not searched it and concentrated on discovering other places first so that he would have a better idea of what he was searching for in the RoHT. Although, I think Saiyangirl’s comment below trumps that idea anyway.

  • Honeydukes Empire

    Maybe Dumbledore was just trying to incite Harry’s curiosity to have him go out and find the room. There are two reasons for this: Harry could use the room to prepare for the tournament, but Dumbledore doesn’t want to outright help him cheat and just wants to push him in the right direction. And second of all, he just wants to have Harry learn to figure things out for himself. Also, Dumbledore could have been showing Harry that he isn’t all-knowing because he doesn’t want Harry to feel Dumbledore is equipped with all the answers in the future.

  • Subjective Unicorn

    I am sure that the mentioned room is the Room of Requirement. In the book 5 when Dobby tells harry about a “come and go” room, Hermiony is suspicions and Harry tells her that he heard about this room from Dumbledore at the Yule ball. So YES it’s definitely the room of requirement.
    Also as Saiyangirl mentioned before in the 7th book Harry precisely stated that he think that Dumbledore never knew about the room of requirement, otherwise Dumbledore would find the diadem earlier.
    About Dumbledore winking to harry, maybe he hints that Harry needs a place like that to think about the secret of the golden egg. IMO the wink was an encouragement for Harry’s exploration of the castle.

  • Subjective Unicorn

    About the dress robes. On the photo of this question of the week Professor McGonagall is wearing something more of a dress, or better to say a robe modified into a dress. It is similar to what I would imagine all of the girls to wear. But then how would Fleur not fit into hers? We do not get much about the robes from the books, but I think they should be very loose. It might be also just one more point to her exaggeratingly complaining character.

  • PhoenixFeathered1

    First, I do think it is the room of requirement. Dumbledore said that ‘he had an exceptionally full bladder’. I at least have had the experience of needing to go to a rest room and going back and forth over an area trying to decide where the nearest is. It seems perfectly plausible he may have done the same thing.

    Second, I do believe that Dumbledore at this point in time may have not known precisely what the room was but he may have made one of his “guesses”. He nevertheless should have realized it the next year when Harry was using it for DADA meetings. We know Dumbledore was keeping a close watch.

    Thirdly, I think he was trying to tell Harry about it, but not for any particular reason. He probably did just think it was an amusing story, and if he had a suspicion that it could be the room of requirement, then perhaps he thought Harry could have some use for it in the future, so it couldn’t hurt for Harry to know.

    Finally, with the assumption that Dumbledore did realize it was the Room of Requirement there could be a few reasons that he did not check there for a horocrux. Lets face it, Dumbledore had his hands full. He may have been trying to manage everything else and searching for the other horocruxes he had a better idea of where they were located so that It may not have occurred to check there. Harry thinks something along these lines in book seven.

    Then the other possibility is that it did occur to him in book six, but he still didn’t check because Malfoy was in there so much. We know Dumbledore went out of his way to make sure it was not suspected that he knew Draco was trying to kill him. Whether that would extend as far as avoiding the place Draco was working even if it might contain a horocrux I’m unsure. He did leave a lot up to
    Harry to figure out.

  • thebandthatneedsnointroduction

    If Dumbledore knew about the Room of Requirement, surely he would have been able to prevent the Death Eaters from entering Hogwarts in Half-Blood Prince. It is clear he didn’t know about the vanishing cabinet or its location. He had to ask Draco how it happened and is genuinely surprised that Death Eaters have entered the castle despite the additional protections he had arranged.
    Also in HBP, Dumbledore guessed that Voldemort had an ulterior motive for visiting Hogwarts when he was interviewed for the DADA post, but could only suggest the type of Horcrux he had hidden (something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s) rather than any potential locations.
    Perhaps as a supremely capable wizard Dumbledore did not often need assistance, except when the call of nature was strong!

  • Olivia Underwood

    Knowing Dumbledore I think he is talking about the Room of Requirement. He loves being secretive and yet he always leaves clues all over the place, often right under people’s noses. I guess he loves seeing ignorance in the eyes of people he loves and despises: it’s his form of entertainment in the crudest sense, no matter who the casualties are!

    “I prefer not to put all of my secrets in one basket, particularly not a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort.”

    “Which I do on your orders!”

  • Jake Pontzer

    I think it is important to look at the wording that Jo used to describe this occurrence.

    “…it may only appear at the quarter moon–or when the SEEKER has an exceptionally full bladder” (GoF US 418).

    Maybe this is a stretch, but Harry IS literally a Quidditch SEEKER, so Dumbledore may have worded it this way so as to get his attention. As for the “full bladder”, this could be a metaphor for Harry’s pent-up aggression in Year 5 that he yearns to release. Perhaps Dumbledore can see that he will have the issues with his emotions as he does in year 5? Harry would need a place to release his aggression constructively, and the Room of Requirement is a perfect place for it.

    But I think the narration in the next paragraph is more important and more revealing.

    “…Harry could have sworn Dumbledore had given him a very small wink.”

    This can be compared to the famous line from “Parting of the Ways” (Chapter 36, US Page 696) in which the narrator says

    “For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes.”

    In both of these instances, there is an ambiguous meaning. Jo wrote them this way as a place for readers to look back in future books to see what they missed. This is exactly what this is. I think Dumbledore might have been trying to send a message to Harry with this wink..

    Additionally, eyes are a very important part of the series (I.E., Harry has his mother’s eyes). So the fact that Dumbledore’s eyes were a key piece in these two occurrences make them even more interesting. Do eyes have a special magical quality? This is a bit of a tangent, but it obviously connects these two situations.

  • PondsandBowties

    I believe that Dumbledore was aware of the room of requirement, but did not know its entire capabilities. I cannot imagine that after having gone to school, taught, and led Hogwarts for at least 65 years that he would not have gone exploring and found it. I do not think people can see the exact same room as other people though (with the storage room as an exception) without going together such as in the DA, which is why I do not think that he knew Tom had placed the diadem within the room. Tracking the movements of the room would be impossible, and it would have been simple for Tom to have slipped by and tossed it into the room without Albus noticing him. With Karkaroff, I doubt Dumbledore completely trusts him, so he was brushing the tale off in front of him. Dumbledore was at the trial, and most likely knew that he was a true death eater who had managed to get out. Snape would have most likely told him who the inner circles were, and I have a feeling Karkaroffs name came up at least once. As for the wink at Harry, I think that was Dumbledore simply being Dumbledore- for all he knows, Harry heard nothing, but since he caught his eye, he tried to make him smile.

  • Pig-desk

    Dumbledore totally knows what the room of requirement is, I’m sure he has discarded many things in it including the for mentioned self relieving. He is playing coy but at the same time giving Harry a bit of useful info. Sorry I can’t elaborate more, I mean it’s Dub-Master D he knows everything.

  • James Mahoney

    Hey, this is GhostHeart from the forums, and well I’m extremely late with answering this, I’ll do it anyway.

    We all know how manipulative Albus Dumbledore can be, but for some reason his story here just rings truthful to me. Maybe I’m just naive, but I actually take his word regarding this matter.