Why Did Dumbledore Ignore Harry in the Fifth Book?

One of the most complex characters in the Harry Potter series is the wise and grand headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore. Many find it difficult to understand his decisions, including ignoring Harry in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

In the fifth book, Albus Dumbledore ignore Harry Potter to protect Harry and the Order of the Phoenix’s secrets. He was aware of a connection between Voldemort and Harry but not to the full extent. He thought that by ignoring Harry, Harry would not become a tool Voldemort could exploit.  

Although both the movie and the book portrayed Dumbledore’s seemingly neglect of Harry during the latter’s fifth year, many find that it was not adequately resolved in the film. In this article, however, I’ll explore why Dumbledore did so. Keep reading to find out. 

What Happened in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Before we know the true reasons why Professor Dumbledore ignored Harry, we must first understand what was happening in the fifth book. There is quite a lot of detail in this story, mainly because it is the longest in the series at 870 pages

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry had nightmares. These would make him realize that he could see into Voldemort’s mind. Later on, Voldemort would let Harry see things, leading Harry and his friends to charge into the Ministry of Magic’s Department of Mysteries.  

The fifth book begins with Harry Potter in Privet Drive, already feeling frustrated from being left in the dark and ignored by Dumbledore after he had revealed that Voldemort was back. Amidst those frustrations, he and his cousin, Dudley Dursley, would be attacked by dementors. 

Harry would cast a Patronus to protect them, but it would lead to a trial for illegal use of underage magic. Dumbledore was present at the trial to defend Harry.

At the trial, Dumbledore first ignored Harry in an obvious manner. Harry had tried to catch his attention to no avail. 

After being cleared of charges, Dumbledore would leave immediately, with no word said to the student he had come to defend. This feeling of neglect would persist for Harry throughout the year. 

Towards the end of the book, Harry realizes he can look into Voldemort’s thoughts. He would have a vision that Voldemort had abducted Sirius Black. 

He and his friends would rush to the Department of Mysteries, hoping to save Sirius, only to find out they had fallen into a trap. They would be rescued by members of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society found by Dumbledore to fight Voldemort. 

However, the whole encounter would cost Sirius’s life. After going through such an ordeal, only then did Dumbledore explain to Harry why he had left him in the dark.   

Dumbledore’s Reasons for Ignoring Harry in the Fifth Book

After the members of the Order and Dumbledore rescue Harry and his friends from the Department of Mysteries, Dumbledore lets Harry take a Portkey that would lead to the headmaster’s office. There, Harry would vent out his guilt, and later on, Dumbledore would admit that, despite the wisdom his old age should have brought, he had made mistakes that came at a cost.  

In the fifth book, Dumbledore explains that he ignored Harry to protect Harry from being used by Voldemort. He had realized that there was a strong link between Harry and Voldemort. He even had Harry take Occlumency lessons to protect Harry’s thoughts better. 

Protect Harry From Being Exploited by Voldemort

An excerpt from the fifth book reveals Dumbledore’s fears about the link between Voldemort and Harry. The headmaster had thought that should Voldemort become aware of such a connection (which Voldemort did), the Dark Lord would exploit Harry to get through to Dumbledore. Here is the specific passage: 

“You see,” continued Dumbledore heavily, “I believed it could not be long before Voldemort attempted to force his way into your mind, to manipulate and misdirect your thoughts, and I was not eager to give him more incentives to do so. I was sure that if he realized that our relationship was — or had ever been — closer than that of headmaster and pupil, he would seize his chance to use you as a means to spy on me. 

“I feared the uses to which he would put you, the possibility that he might try and possess you. Harry, I believe I was right to think that Voldemort would have made use of you in such a way. — I thought I saw a shadow of him stir behind your eyes. . . . I was trying, in distancing myself from you, to protect you. An old man’s mistake . . .”

Dumbledore was also afraid that the Dark Lord would possess Harry and taunt the headmaster into using Harry as a sacrificial pawn to get to Voldemort. Thus, Dumbledore ignored Harry, which left Harry confused but unaware of anything, ultimately preventing Voldemort from using Harry to leverage. 

Protect the Order of the Phoenix’s Secrets

The Order of the Phoenix was founded to fight the dark side. It was crucial to keep it and its plans a secret, especially from the force they were fighting. 

Thus, most of its meetings were held behind closed doors with spells to protect against eavesdroppers (the Weasley kids and Harry). Dumbledore was afraid that any information that goes to Harry, whether indirectly or directly provided, could be accessed by Voldemort through the link and compromise the Order and its plans. 

Did Dumbledore Regret Ignoring Harry in the Fifth Book?

Dumbledore regrets his mistake of ignoring Harry and keeping Sirius in Grimmauld Place by the end of the book. He also admitted that it was an error to let Severus Snape teach Harry Occlumency, knowing both resent each other. He would then explain everything to Harry. 

The headmaster would try to amend his mistakes by explaining to Harry why Harry has to go home to Privet Drive every year and about the prophecy involving Harry and Voldemort.

Final Thoughts 

Members of the Potterhead community are constantly debating Dumbledore’s wisdom. Some find that his decisions to leave Harry at Privet Drive and keep him in the dark are not signs of wisdom and may even be manipulative. 

But it can be seen that his choice to ignore Harry during Harry’s fifth year was made on a genuine concern for Harry’s wellbeing. However, it was a mistake that the headmaster admitted. 

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