Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by: J. K. Rowling

Chapters 26 and 27

Summary Chapters 26 and 27

Dumbledore makes the ultimate self-sacrifice, giving up his life to protect Harry and Hogwarts. When Harry and Dumbledore first reach the basin of poisonous potion, Dumbledore does not pause before beginning to drink and has the foresight to remind Harry that Harry may need to force the liquid down Dumbledore’s throat. Even though the poison is painful to consume and strips Dumbledore of all of his strength, he finishes drinking it. He then manages to save himself and Harry by conjuring the fire that will push back the attacking Inferi. When they return to Hogwarts, Dumbledore heads straight for the Dark Mark over the astronomy tower and immediately freezes Harry when he hears someone heading up the stairs. Dumbledore uses a nonverbal spell to conceal Harry under his Invisibility Cloak and clearly does not want to risk anyone knowing that Harry is also in the room lest his life be placed in jeopardy. However, Dumbledore’s quick thinking seems to point to his omniscience, as if Dumbledore has known all along exactly what is going to happen and wants to make sure that Harry does not try to intervene in any way.

When Draco beings talking to Dumbledore, he is clearly unsure whether he can proceed with his given task. Although Draco does not seem enthusiastic about the opportunity to murder Dumbledore, the threat of Voldemort killing both him and his family is palpable and real. Slowly, it begins to appear that Dumbledore is actually just stalling Draco and possibly waiting for Snape or another member of the Order to arrive. Meanwhile, whether Dumbledore knows that Snape will murder him remains unclear. It is obvious that Dumbledore would like to prevent Draco Malfoy from being the one to cast the deadly blow, and the reader can only wonder if this is because he has already made arrangements with Snape, much like he made arrangements with Harry, for Snape to be the one to cast the final blow. While Draco stumbles, waiting for backup to arrive, Harry is forced to sit, helpless, under his Invisibility Cloak, just as he did on the Hogwarts Express when Draco caught him eavesdropping. Now the earlier episode can be seen to foreshadow the novel’s climax.