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Harry Potter Plotholes: What Albus Dumbledore Should Have Done to Protect the Sorcerer's Stone?

Updated on February 24, 2017
Freya Yuki profile image

Freya is an avid book reader who loves analyzing the plots, themes and characters of novels like the Harry Potter series.

The Sorcerer's Stone or Philosopher's Stone is the first book in the 7-book Harry Potter series (it's a fantasy story about wizards and magic) by J.K. Rowling.

The stone in question (totally no relation to the stone in the Full Metal Alchemist anime or manga series; those 2 are so different, they're not exactly comparable in the least) is a magical artifact that's said to be able to make anyone immortal or allow them to live forever.

Book 1 of the HP series

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This is where we first find out about the Sorcerer's or Philosopher's Stone. What's so special about this stone that many would want to steal it? Who was in charge of protecting this stone and how come they failed? What should they have done instead in order to keep the stone safe?

 

Naturally, there are many who are after this stone so it's only to be expected that it would be under heavy security to ensure its safety. However, could it be possible that the Sorcerer's Stone wasn't as well-protected as it should have been?

Could it be that the one in charge of protecting it (coughAlbusDumbledorecough) didn't care enough to make sure no harm would come to it or could it be that this person actually wanted the Philosopher's Stone to be stolen as evidenced by the way he handled this matter, which was so incompetent and so far from perfect that it was really like he was inviting people (coughDarkLordVoldemortcough) to please come and steal the stone?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling | Source

Who Are These People? What's Going on?

Let's have a bit of an explanation or short summary for those who may have forgotten what happened or those who may be new to the HP series.

How well do you know book 1 of the HP series? Find out by taking this short quiz:


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For those who already know the basic details or can still remember what happened in book 1, then just scroll further down to see what's up with Dumbledore and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Who's in Charge of Protecting the Sorcerer's Stone?

Albus Dumbledore is the one who is in charge of keeping the Philosopher's Stone safe.

He's the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (though he has many other titles and positions aside from that).

He's old and many people respect him for his supposed knowledge and wisdom.

He's also said to be the only wizard that Dark Lord Voldemort (he's the main villain / antagonist / bad guy of the HP series) was afraid or wary of.

How Did Albus Dumbledore Try to Keep the Sorcerer's Stone From Being Stolen?

Here are the things that Headmaster Dumbledore did to keep the Philosopher's Stone safe (whether these things were effective and/or helpful is another matter entirely):

  • he brought the stone to Hogwarts (yes, he took an important and powerful magical artifact that many wanted to steal and would kill to obtain to a school that's full of curious, little children)
  • he set up traps that were intended to protect the stone and stop it from being stolen

The traps and protections for the stone

Here are the traps or protections that Dumbledore set up:

It Says 'Everything' But There's a Whole Lot More to It Than That

  • the Philosopher's Stone was kept in third floor corridor and everyone was forbidden from going there
  • it was inside a room that was locked but which could easily be opened by the Alohomora spell (this is a spell that opens locked doors)
  • Fluffy, a three-headed dog, was tasked to guard the trap door that led to where the stone was located
  • Devil's snare (a plant that can bind and choke people), a room with flying keys (you need to get the right key in order to open the locked door), a giant chess set (you need to play and win in order to get past this room), a troll (you have to fight this troll to get past it), a room with potions and a ring of fire (there's a puzzle you have to solve so you can pick the right potion that will let you get past the ring of fire), the Mirror of Erised (a magical mrror that shows you your heart's true desires) - these are all traps that are supposed to prevent thieves from getting to where the stone was

All the Traps That Are Supposed to Protect the Sorcerer's Stone Are Beyond Useless

Basically, all those traps are supposed to keep the stone safe and make sure that it won't be stolen, specially not by Voldemort.

Unfortunately, those traps (except maybe for the troll and the mirror but let's not get into that now) were more than useless. They're so useless that no words could possibly adequately describe just how useless they all are.

In fact, they were so useless that three 11-year old kids (cough Harry, Ron, Hermione, the main characters cough) were able to get past them and get to where the stone was.

This is how Harry, Ron and Hermione look like

Harry Potter "Harry, Ron & Hermione Trio" Christmas Card Imported from England
Harry Potter "Harry, Ron & Hermione Trio" Christmas Card Imported from England

Yup, that's right, three 11-year old little kids who barely knew magic (they're just first year students) were able to get past all the traps that were meant to protect the Sorcerer's Stone. That's how effective and useful those traps were.

 

If three kids could manage this, then, naturally, it stands to reason that Voldemort would have an easier time getting to where the stone was.

What in the World Was Albus Dumbledore Thinking?

Haven't you ever found yourself wondering what Dumbledore was thinking or exactly what he was up to when he decided that all that stuff with the traps was the proper way to protect the stone and keep it safe.

Didn't you ever wonder why and how he could have decided that this was a good idea? Don't you want to know what made him think this was actually going to work?

After all, Albus was supposed to be wise, smart and knowledgeable so shouldn't he have foreseen the possible things that could have gone wrong with this plan of his? Shouldn't he have come up with something better?

What Albus Dumbledore should have done to protect the Philosopher's or Sorcerer's Stone in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling?
What Albus Dumbledore should have done to protect the Philosopher's or Sorcerer's Stone in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling?

The Alternative: What Dumbledore Should Have Done

Okay, we just established it. Albus' plan to protect the Philosopher's Stone was so epic fail that it was downright embarrassing. So, what should he have done instead? What's the alternative?

Albus Dumbledore Should Have Kept the Sorcerer's Stone With Him

That's right. Instead of leaving the Sorcerer's Stone somewhere in Hogwarts and relying on useless traps as protection, Dumbledore should have kept the stone with him or on his person all the time.

He could have put it in his pocket or somewhere in his robes, anywhere really, as long as it was somewhere within easy reach of him or somewhere near him or on him.

Do you think that Albus Dumbledore should have kept the Sorcerer's Stone with him instead of relying on useless traps to keep it safe?

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What was stopping him from doing that? What's wrong with doing that?

Can you think of a single thing that could be wrong with this alternative? If you can, feel free to share it via the comments section below.

What Makes This Plan Feasible?

Exactly what is so good about this plan anyway?

The great thing is that this plan or alternative is pretty much fool-proof or, at the very least, it's way better than all the traps and protections mentioned above and this would definitely make it hard for Voldemort to try to steal the stone.

Let's take a look at the benefits of having Dumbledore keep the Philosopher's Stone with him all the time:

  • Seriously, what better protection is there than Headmaster Albus Dumbledore himself?

This is a chibi version of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore
This is a chibi version of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore | Source

Yes, he's old and he looks weak, but you shouldn't underestimate him. He's said to be smart, wise and powerful. More than that, he's also said to be the only one that Voldemort fears. So what's wrong with him personally hiding or keeping the Sorcerer's Stone with him at all times?

  • Voldemort is said to be afraid of him so the Dark Lord would think twice before trying to steal the stone
  • Besides, in book 1, Voldemort was pretty much like some sort of ghost thing that was barely alive (this is why he had to inhabit Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Quirrell's body), which means that Dumbledore is at an advantage since the Dark Lord is currently not at full strength
  • So if Voldemort wants to steal the stone, he really needs to plan. How can he steal it from Albus without the old man noticing or without blowing his cover as possessing Quirrell
  • Furthermore, if the stone is with Dumbledore, then Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (the 3 main characters who also happen to be 11-year old kids who don't know much about magic and spells yet) don't need to endanger their lives trying to protect said stone
  • It should be safe with Albus so they won't have to deal with the traps and protections and Harry won't have to face Voldemort

The 3 main characters of the HP series

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger | Source

What Do You Think?

So, what about you? What's your opinion regarding this matter? Would you consider this a plot hole?

Should Dumbledore keep the Philosopher's Stone with him at all times in order to ensure its safety or was he right in leaving it somewhere in Hogwarts to be protected by traps?

Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions via the comments section below.

Photo credits:

  • Image with added text was modified by Freya Yuki (CC:BY-SA) based on the image by hayashinomura (CC:BY-SA) from deviantArt
  • The red flower in the image is meant to symbolize the Sorcerer's Stone while the figure with weapons is meant to represent the traps that were supposed to protect the Philosopher's Stone

© 2014 Freya Yuki

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      Another 4 months ago

      Nice read, I really love your posts that question many flaws of the serie, OP ! (and the choice of Mami's picture...wished that Dumbledore hided the stone under his hat ? XD)

      I agree with you that the whole business make little sense at all if we think in term of real protection and security. Dumbledore should have the Stone with him (or at least far from Hogwarts, seriously it's a school full of children, WTH ? Why not to paint a mark saying "kidnap and torture children until I give you the stone, haha, NO", but coming from author-self-insert Dumbledore Master of imorality, I'm unfazed.) protected by some powerful spells, not in a mirror that Potter hacked and helped to give it to Riddle (the irony is that the mirror is probably the only real defense in the whole stuff, troll included. Riddle&co were so busy wasting time in front of the mirror desiring something they couldn't have as long they desired it for use [thought I have doubt that Quirrell wanted it for use...]that they would probably failed.)

      It would have been funny in a way and could explain the whole reason behind the choice of protections, if the stone in the mirror was a fake one, a bait, and that truly, Dumbledore have the real one with him all along (and what a way to put everyone in danger just because of a trick). And everything was a stage planned by Dumbledore to test and prepare Harry to is future "mission" (sadly, it's probably true, in the end of PS/SS, Harry himself tell Ron and Hermione in the infirmary that Dumbledore gave him the invisibility cloak and explained how the Mirror works because he wanted him to have a try to face Riddle....disgusting).

    • Freya Yuki profile image
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      Freya Yuki 10 months ago

      @Le Derpz - if Albus Dumbledore did decide to keep the Sorcerer's Stone with him, then why would he decide to go strolling around London or the Muggle World knowing that he had such an important item with him? If he needs to do something in the Muggle World, he could have sent someone to do it for him like how he sent Hagrid to be the one to pick up the stone from Gringotts and baby Harry from Godric's Hollow.

      Also, it seems that Albus is much too busy to be taking strolls around London or even the Wizarding World anyway because of all his jobs and positions. In book 1, aside from being the Hogwarts headmaster, he was also the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, etc. It was only later on that his titles and positions got stripped from him, right?

      Also, if Dumbledore uses the Fidelius Charm to keep the stone hidden with him as Secret Keeper (wrote more detailed posts about this on my blog), then even if he does decide to stroll around the Muggle World, it wouldn't matter because common thieves wouldn't be able to see or even know where the stone is thanks to the charm. Even Voldemort and anyone else who wants to get their hands on it wouldn't be able to thanks to the charm.

      Because the Fidelius Charm is powerful. The only problem with it is if the Secret Keeper isn't trustworthy. But we know that Albus is like the leader of the light, the fight against Voldemort, the dark side, etc, so, with him as Secret Keeper, you can be sure the stone will be safe. It's unlikely he'll decide to join Riddle, right?

      You're right about the Mirror of Erised, and, in fact, I've also written some posts speculating on what would have happened if Harry Potter hadn't shown up there. Because it was only when Harry had shown up that Voldemort was able to get the stone by using Harry to get it for him. If Harry hadn't shown up, then Voldemort would probably still be stuck there, trying to figure out a way to get the stone. So, did Harry end up messing up Dumbledore's plans to keep it safe or what?

      I have to disagree about the miracle bit. The traps were really very easy, which was why 3 first year students who knew very little magic (when compared to full-grown adult wizards) were easily able to get through them.

      And, while Voldemort didn't have his body during book 1 and he was pretty much like a ghost, he didn't go through the traps on his own. He was possessing Quirinus Quirrell at this time, so the 2 of them worked together to get past the traps. I'd also written some posts about the effectiveness and even the ridiculousness of these traps.

      Because they really could have been better. Let's take Severus Snape's trap, for example. The puzzle thing was pretty clever, but why didn't he fill all the bottles with deadly poisons? Why'd he leave the real potions needed there for anyone to find? Imagine if all the bottles were filled with deadly poisons or potions that can incapacitate wizards, what would have happened to Quirrell then?

      Or what about Filius Flitwick's trap? Why'd he leave the broomsticks there? Why'd he leave the proper key there? From all this, it really sounds like they were making things easy for the trio and even Quirrell, which isn't right at all, because wasn't the purpose of the entire thing to protect the stone and keep it from being stolen? So, what's up with those traps then?

    • Freya Yuki profile image
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      Freya Yuki 10 months ago

      @Anonymous - It makes plenty of sense for Albus Dumbledore to keep the stone with him because the goal is to protect the Sorcerer's Stone from Voldemort, right? Albus is said to be the only person the Dark Lord is wary of and the headmaster is like the leader of the light side, the fight against evil, so it makes perfect sense for him to be the one to keep the stone. He's a very powerful wizard and he's the most capable because of his experience and age especially because Harry Potter is still just a kid.

      I think there are ways to keep the book interesting (not to mention more realistic and believable) even if Dumbledore was the one who kept the stone hidden, even if Harry and his friends never encountered the traps.

      So many other things could have happened like Dumbledore being the one to confront Voldemort, like Harry trying to find more info about his parents, etc. Because he and his friends were all still just first year students. They really should not have been involved in something as dangerous as this.

      Speaking of those traps - if the goal really was to protect the stone from Voldemort who is a very powerful wizard who knows lots of dark spells and the like, then how come those traps were all easily disabled by 3 first year kids who didn't even know much magic yet? It's no wonder then that Voldemort was easily able to get to the mirror.

      Speaking of the Mirror of Erised - what do you think would have happened had Harry Potter not shown up there to where Quirrell was? Before Harry arrived, Quirrell was having a hard time figuring out how to get the stone out of the mirror. It was only when Potter had shown up that Voldemort told him to use Harry to get to the stone. What if Harry hadn't been there?

      Would Quirrell be stuck in front of the mirror trying to figure it out until Albus showed up to stop him? Or would Voldemort eventually decide to get Quirrell to bring the mirror with him and have them run away from Hogwars?

      There were so many ways the book could have gone that would still make things interesting without having a bunch of kids who barely know anything about magic get involved. And there were so many more ways for Dumbledore and Flamel to keep the Philosopher's Stone safe from Voldemort rather than just sticking it inside a school that's full of little children.

      If Voldemort had been a bit more evil, he might have tried something like using the kids as hostages to force Albus to hand over the stone or something like that. He might have gone to the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets to use it to attack the kids and get the stone, etc, etc. I wrote more about this and other similar topics on my blog about Harry Potter, so you can check it out there if you're interested.

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      Anonymous 11 months ago

      It would make no sense for Dumbledore to keep the stone with him. If he keeps it with him the book would be BORING! There would be no action. Harry would never meet voldemort in the first book, and they wouldn't go through all the traps that make the book interesting.

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      Le Derpz 16 months ago

      This is a pretty good theory- However, the main problem with it is that, your implying that Albus Dumbledore is impossible to steal from. Remember, some common thief could have simply stolen it whilst he was out in the city, or London. For two, someone could have also just used the invisibility magic to sneak in and steal it. Albus is a regular old-man in the muggles world, after all. He would have absolutely no way to stop some run of the mill thief.

      For two, lets also consider the last trap for protecting the sorcerers stone, IE the mirror, which would stop Voldemort from having any possible chance of stealing it, or any of his companions. If anything, though Voldemort was successful in getting all the way through, unless he went and temporarily brainwashed himself, it would be completely inaccessible to him.

      For three, this also stopped EVERYONE that could possibly have any bad intentions for it to do anything to it. Plus, these traps were designed around teamwork. Something voldemort has very little of, and its a miracle that he ever got through as a ghost.

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