A Harry Potter Theory Suggests Dumbledore Was the First Master of Death
Albus Dumbledore's status as one of the greatest wizards of all time was unquestionable during the whole Harry Potter saga, but his life, particularly his past, extends to very unknown territory, one which the newest Fantastic Beasts franchise aimed to explore. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron and Hermione came to realize that Dumbledore had been in the possession of those three objects, and according to the legend, that would make him a Master of Death.
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A Master of Death is a rather grim name, but it pertains to the moral "Tale of the Three Brothers," a 13th-century legend in Harry Potter. It told how Death had gifted three brothers with magical objects of their will, matching their desires: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. The legend was, however, rooted in the true story of the three Peverell brothers. Xenophilius Lovegood warned that the three "Hallows, if united, will make the possessor the Master of Death." Harry knew the cloak of invisibility was real because it was in his possession, and he was having visions of Voldemort desperately looking for the Elder Wand, which meant the objects did, in fact, exist — and Voldemort sought to become a Master of Death himself.
What It Means To Be a Master of Death in Harry Potter
In Harry Potter, becoming a Master of Death may not have meant immortality as Voldemort so desperately longed for. The moral tale narrated that the possession of the objects made the wielder powerful but still mortal. They were a way to convey an understanding of mortality as inevitable. Ignotus Peverell used the Cloak of Invisibility throughout his life to avoid death until he passed it to his son, someone he wished to protect more than himself. On the other hand, the other brothers failed to understand and manage the power they were given, the same way Voldemort did.
Besides the cloak, which had been in Dumbledore's possession to be passed along to Harry from his father James, the professor also had won the Elder Wand in a legendary duel with Grindelwald. All that remained was the Resurrection Stone, which became his after finding it in one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. With no information of prior wizards that might have held every Deathly Hallow in their possession, Dumbledore, therefore, became the first accounted Master of Death. Perhaps he later strategized a way for the objects to pass to Harry and make him a fellow Master of Death, as he believed his humble understanding of death would overpower Voldemort's desire for immortality.
How Harry Also Was a Master of Death
As revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry only realized he was the true owner of the Elder Wand after defeating Voldemort because he had won the wand from Draco, who, instead of Snape, had been its true owner after disarming Dumbledore. Death had accompanied Harry since he was a child, prophesied to be Voldemort's only nemesis; therefore, he was also the most meaningful candidate to manage the three objects. Dumbledore spent years advising Harry and then sacrificed himself, hoping that his and Harry's profound understanding of death would help defeat Voldemort. When Harry was ready to accept his own mortality, he received the support of his fallen loved ones through the Resurrection Stone and navigated the Forbidden Forest.
One can theorize that the scene that proved they both took advantage of their Master of Death capabilities, even if unaware of them, was the waystation King's Cross scene after Voldemort attempted to kill Harry a second time. In their conversation, Dumbledore suggested that Harry could ultimately decide if he wished to pass on or return to the land of the living. But it also hinted that Dumbledore had the same power, which had allowed him to await Harry's arrival for one last piece of advice. Harry eventually returned so he could face Voldemort, who became much more vulnerable and far from a Master of Death.