Weasley is Our King
K2K: The Curious Dual Role of Ron in the chess game
What is so interesting about this game is that Ron actually plays *two* roles. He is both the Knight, fighting in the war, and the metaphorical player, giving the orders, when, as we all know, Dumbledore is the one calling the shots, directing the troops in the larger game (the war). Dumbledore is the metaphorical chess player in the war on the side of good. If he is a piece in the game (and he most certainly is), he is the King. However, in the game the trio plays, it is RON who directs all the action. It is Ron who is the metaphorical player. How do we reconcile this?
Rowling gives us the answer in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
Weasley is Our King
The metaphorical player in the game of chess is the King. His actual physical moves are limited, but if he is taken out of the game (checkmate), the game is over. Kings are leaders, they give the orders, and they direct the war, just as Ron does on the chess board. However, catchy little ditty by an unctuous Slytherin aside, Ronald Weasley does not, on the surface at least, appear to play the part of the King in the series.
Several people have pointed out how odd it was that Ron didn’t make Harry or Hermione the King in the chess game. Not only does Ron have to keep himself along with Harry and Hermione safe, he has to also make sure the King isn’t taken out, otherwise the game is over. Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to defend three pieces instead of four? Yes, of course it would, but prudence was not JKR’s intent. Her intent was to construct a metaphor.
Some might argue that if the chess game in PS/SS is a metaphor for the Second War, then the King should properly be Harry since without Harry, the game is lost. We do not believe this to be the case. While it seems as though Harry is the one who must defeat Voldemort, Dumbledore has a back-up in Neville. Neville is the other Black Bishop. While Dumbledore tells Harry that the Prophecy is most definitely about him, we think this is deceiving.
We’d like to point out that only Harry and Neville were seen to handle the Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries. We think this was deliberate. We’d also like to point out that Neville was indeed marked, if indirectly, by Voldemort when his followers attacked Neville’s parents scarring Neville in another way altogether. Neville is plan B, and therefore Harry is not the King. He is one of two Bishops. We do believe it is Harry who will ultimately defeat Voldemort (be the piece that takes the White King, as that is how the chess game played out), however, to the game as a whole, he is NOT the King piece — the game piece — this piece is Dumbledore.
If JKR’s authorial intent was indeed to use the chess game as a metaphor for the series as a whole (and obviously, we believe that was her intent or we wouldn’t be writing this), she assigned the roles in the game to specific characters with a purpose.
Harry could not be the King because he is not the King. Same for Hermione. Someone else in the series already plays this role – the leader, the guy running the show, sacrificing his Pawns and Knights when he must, the metaphorical player pitting his pieces against the forces of evil. Of all of the characters we have met so far, the character who most symbolizes the King in chess is Albus Dumbledore.
Yet… this is the very same role Ron plays in the chess game as player and leader, while simultaneously playing that of the Knight. Rowling herself tells us Weasley is Our King… what on earth could this possibly mean?
If the chess game in PS/SS is a metaphor for the series as a whole, and the pieces the characters play a metaphor for their roles in the series, how do we reconcile the fact that Ron Weasley plays, not only the role of the Knight, but also that of the King – the same role played by Albus Dumbledore in the larger war? Pretty simple, really — Albus Dumbledore is Ron Weasley.
Rowling is rather predictable in how she introduces various magical concepts to us. She never springs anything on the reader. For instance, we are introduced to the concept of Animagi in chapter one of PS/SS in the form of McGonagall who can turn into a cat, only to have this very same concept used once more in Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA) with the Maurauders and in Goblet of Fire (GoF) with Rita Skeeter. We are introduced to the polyjuice potion in Chamber of Secrets (CoS) with the trio’s fruitless attempt to prove that Draco Malfoy is the Heir of Slytherin, only to later have it revealed to be crucial to the plot of GoF with Barty Crouch Jr. posing as Mad Eye Moody. We are introduced to the properties of the phoenix in CoS, and we see them displayed once again in GoF. In CoS, we are introduced to the house elves and their plight, and these downtrodden magical beings take on even more importance in GoF and Order of the Phoenix (OotP). In OotP, we meet a Metamorphmagus… does anyone want to bet against a repeat of this one?
We could go on (parseltongue, prophecies, dreams, magical moving portraits, chocolate frog cards, chess, etc.), but as observant readers already know, JKR doesn’t simply use these concepts and toss them aside — she recycles.
In PoA, we are introduced to the concept of time travel with the Time Turner. So far, we have yet to find another example. It would be unlike JKR to introduce us to something (especially something so big) and not bring it back into the plot with even greater significance. She has given us a subtle reminder of time travel with the time room in the Department of Mysteries in OotP. In a 2000 interview, when asked if Harry would travel in time again, JKR’s answer was ‘Not telling!’ Time travel is coming back… and it will be instrumental to the plot. What does this have to do with Ron, Dumbledore and the chess game? Everything.
Ron, our loyal Knight, will become a time traveler. He will be sent back in time to some point in the 19th century to live out the rest of his days at Albus Dumbledore, our venerable King. The exact mechanics of his journey in time are unclear, though we do believe it is unavoidable, and that it will in fact be the very move that enables Harry’s eventual defeat of Voldemort (the checkmate) and that it will also have something to do with the White Queen (Bellatrix). Though you may think us a couple of nutters for making such an outrageous claim, we do indeed have evidence. Lots and lots of evidence.
1. Uncanny Resemblance
We often joke about how unobservant Harry is, and though he hasn’t made the connection we have, he does indeed dutifully describe for us both Ron and Dumbledore’s appearance. Harry describes both Ron and Dumbledore as tall, thin and possessing a long nose (though Dumbledore’s has been broken a couple of times). These three characteristics are repeated by Harry when he meets either of these two characters for the first time in almost every book.
Dumbledore is described as having long fingers, while Ron is described as having large hands and feet. Unless Ron is a mutant, having large hands would also mean having long fingers. Dumbledore is very, very old with white hair when we first meet him, but when Harry visits a fifty years younger Dumbledore in Riddle’s diary, he is described as having auburn hair. In other words, Dumbledore was once a redhead just like Ron. While we know Dumbledore has sparkling blue eyes, JKR has very curiously neglected to have Harry mention Ron’s eye color for five whole books now. We know nearly everyone else’s eye color, including Arthur Weasley’s (blue), but we don’t know that of Harry’s best friend.
Dumbledore’s one other key characteristic, the scar above his left knee, is mentioned in the first chapter of PS/SS. While Harry hasn’t noticed any tell tale scars shaped like the London Underground on Ron, we do indeed know from PoA that Ron has sustained a serious injury to his left leg. Though JKR curiously, and very pointedly, dances around which leg exactly it is that Ron has broken, we have determined that it is indeed his left leg. When Sirius conjures the manacles and attaches Peter to Ron and Lupin, he attaches Peter to Ron’s left side. If you are injured and using only one crutch, you would, of course, use the crutch on the side of your injured leg. Sirius shackled Peter to Ron’s injured side – his left.
2. How sweet it is…
Though on the surface Ron and Dumbledore seem to have little in common, they both have a great love for sweets. When we first meet Dumbledore he offers a lemon sherbet to Professor McGonagall. When we first meet Ron he introduces Harry to the wonderful world of wizarding candy. In PoA, he goes into a blissful trance describing to Harry and Hermione the wondrous confections to be found at Honeydukes, the magical sweets shop in Hogsmeade. In CoS we learn that Dumbledore likes to use the names of sweets as his office password. In PoA, Ron suggests to Hermione that they bring Harry back some Cockroach Clusters from Honeydukes. In GoF, when Harry returns to the castle to alert Dumbledore of Crouch Sr.’s strange appearance on the grounds of Hogwarts, he must guess the password to Dumbledore’s office. He goes through a whole list of normal sweets, but to Harry’s disbelief, the password ends up being, you guessed it, Cockroach Clusters.
But that is not all… In the last chapter of PS/SS, Dumbledore tells Harry that he lost his taste for Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans after eating a vomit flavored bean in his youth. There is one problem with this… Bertie Bott was born in 1935. While Dumbledore is over 150 years old, and for him, ‘youth’ is a relative term, he could not have possibly eaten a Bertie Bott Every Flavor Bean until the 1950’s, most likely even later, making him well over a hundred years old. Even in Dumbledore terms this is hardly his ‘youth’. Before anyone makes the brilliant observation that the Bertie Bott card isn’t canon, be sure to read the statement from Wizards of the Coast concerning their collaboration with JK Rowling on the making of the cards posted to The Leaky Cauldron.
Dumbledore really does seem to know ‘pretty much everything’, even for a very wise old man with an army of pictographic spies.
In PS/SS, he knows precisely what Ron saw in the Mirror of Erised and exactly why Ron saw what he did. He tells Harry that there are other ways of being invisible, but are we to believe that Dumbledore was really waiting around every night for Harry to show up in front of the Mirror? He either knew exactly when to show up, or he was there the first time as Ron. When Harry asks Dumbledore what he himself sees in the Mirror, Dumbledore tells him he sees himself holding a pair of socks. What is it that Ron’s mother is always giving him, but he never appreciates? Socks.
Dumbledore also knows the exact moment to show up and save Harry from Quirrelmort. In fact, Harry leads us to believe that Dumbledore orchestrated the entire thing. Now, we know Dumbledore lets Harry do some things he wouldn’t let an ordinary student do, but isn’t keeping a Pawn of Voldemort around for an entire school year a very dangerous thing to do? Why yes it is… unless of course Dumbledore knew that everything would turn out okay in the end.
In CoS we learn that Dumbledore never really trusted Tom Riddle, even before the murder of Moaning Myrtle. In the Chamber scene, Riddle tells Harry that Dumbledore never liked him as much as the other teachers. When Fudge comes for Hagrid and Lucius for Dumbledore, Harry and Ron are hiding under the invisibility cloak. Dumbledore knows exactly where they are and gives Harry a message. Not only that, but does anyone else think it odd that Dumbledore wasn’t worried about what might happen to Harry after he leaves? Once again, Dumbledore sets Harry up to complete a very dangerous task. Either Dumbledore is truly mad, or he knows how it all turns out.
In PoA, Dumbledore very readily accepts the innocence of Sirius Black. One might come to the conclusion that he knew Sirius was innocent all along. In fact, many have. The only testimony he hears comes from Sirius himself (a convicted felon). He has already made up his mind to send Harry and Hermione back in time before they get a chance to tell their side of the story. When Harry and Hermione do go back in time, you will notice that every single thing happens in exactly the same way both times. There was never a time through in which Buckbeak was killed or Harry didn’t cast his Patronus. JKR is even very careful to put in the door slamming from the second time through in the first time through. Yet… it is Dumbledore himself, as his ‘first time’ self, who ends up saving Buckbeak – he distracts everyone inside Hagrid’s hut so that Harry and Hermione can make off with Buckbeak. Later, when Harry tells Dumbledore about Trelawney’s prophecy, Dumbledore is not in the least bit phased. In fact, Harry is surprised he can take it so calmly. In addition, Dumbledore seems to be very adamant about Peter getting away being a ‘good thing’. Oh sure, Peter owes him a life debt, but Dumbledore is just a little too convinced that it is all for the best.
GoF is a special case. Though we do find one really huge piece of evidence of Dumbledore’s ability to know what he really shouldn’t, we think that this was one of the times that Ron/DD may have actually tried to change the course of events. He goes to great lengths to prevent the younger students from entering the Tournament (the age line). He goes to great lengths to find the most trustworthy DADA professor possible (for only one year, and as a special favor) – Mad Eye Moody, someone he knows really, really well. Still, in the end, we believe the end result was exactly the same (except, perhaps, the death of Cedric).
So, what are we left with? Crouching Death Eater, Hidden Moody. When Dumbledore discovers that Moody is an imposter, he shows up with Snape and McGonagall in Moody’s office. He tells McGonagall to go fetch Padfoot. He tells Snape to go fetch Winky and some Veritaserum. Oh wait… go fetch Winky? How did he know to fetch Winky? Barty Crouch Jr. still looked like Moody. Perhaps Dumbledore really is a super genius, and figured out there had to be a connection to the Crouches. However, Crouch Jr. was thought to be dead and Crouch Sr. was present with Moody the night the names came out of the Goblet. Oh wait, you say, perhaps Dumbledore suspected Crouch only began impersonating Moody AFTER Halloween. Or maybe, just maybe, he was able to figure out that Crouch Jr. wasn’t really dead between the maze and Moody’s office. Maybe… but he tells Harry ‘you never knew the real Mad Eye Moody’. Everything else aside… this is something he could not possibly know with any certainty.
In OotP, Dumbledore knows from the very beginning to avoid Harry’s gaze. While three years have passed for us, only one month has passed for Harry and Dumbledore. How does Dumbledore know when to begin avoiding Harry? He avoids his gaze from the very first time they meet in the courtroom (despite telling Harry later that he sensed something behind his eyes – he never looked Harry in the eye, something Harry was exceedingly peeved about). This is BEFORE Dumbledore knows about the dreams. This is BEFORE the attack on Arthur Weasley. Dumbledore absolutely can not know that Voldemort is already in Harry’s mind. Later on, when the attack on Arthur does take place, Dumbledore knows the precise questions to ask Harry about the nature of the attack. We now know that Dumbledore is a Legilimens, however… Dumbledore could not have used this on Harry as he could not make eye contact for fear Voldemort would ‘spy’ on him. Speaking of which… the issue couldn’t have been spying as such. After all, Harry is still observing Dumbledore. He still hangs out at Order headquarters. He still knows the identities of most of the members of the Order. While he is left largely in the dark (with disastrous consequences), he still observes much that would be useful for Voldemort and his followers. Dumbledore does, however, give us a hint as to what it is he doesn’t want Voldemort to see:
“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.” (US OotP Ch27 pg 828)
Now, we do know that Dumbledore really loves Harry. He tells him as much in that same scene. However, it is curious that JKR would emphasize (by placing it between dashes) the phrase ‘or had ever been’. It is not as simple as Dumbledore not wanting Voldemort knowing his true feelings for Harry and therefore be able to use them against him. After all, Voldemort now knows that, and his not knowing that ended up putting Harry and even more danger (the possession in the MoM). No, the significance is in the phrase ‘or had ever been’. The truth is, as far as Harry is concerned, they really aren’t any closer than Headmaster and pupil. Why was the line referring to a past relationship? Harry’s relationship to Dumbledore has been constant all through the series. Dumbledore orchestrates hoops for Harry to jump through, Harry jumps, they chat about it at the end of the school year. We believe this ‘had ever been’ refers to Dumbledore’s prior relationship to Harry as his best friend Ron. Dumbledore, of course, would not want Voldemort to know of this prior relationship because that would make Ron a target as well, messing up EVERYTHING. Without Ron, without Dumbledore, the game and the war are lost.4. Foreshadowing
Ron makes it very clear on several occasions that he hates the color maroon. Could it be because he will eventually be ‘marooned’ in time?
In OotP, Ron is nearly strangled by some purple wizard robes while cleaning up Grimmauld Place. Who do we know wears purple robes? Dumbledore, of course.
Socks are a running theme throughout the series. They are used as symbols of freedom, redemption and love. Ron, however, doesn’t ever really fully appreciate the socks his mother gives him. In PoA, he tosses them aside to gush over Harry’s Firebolt. In GoF, he gives his Christmas socks to Dobby. Socks are also seen attached to Molly specifically – she is seen fussing over socks, looking for socks, folding socks, packing socks. And if Molly wasn’t mother figure enough, Tonks tells Harry her own mother has this special knack for magically folding socks. In fact, the first time we see Harry, he is in his cupboard, looking for a pair of socks (though he has to knock the spiders off of them, not having a mother to fuss over them for him). Dobby is set free with a sock. Hermione knits socks for the house elves. Dumbledore, the man who clearly has all of the fame, power, respect, possessions and wisdom one could hope for in a lifetime, sees himself holding a pair of wooly socks in the Mirror of Erised. If you read this scene with Dumbledore being Ron in mind, it takes on a whole new and really huge significance Ron indeed becomes greater than all of his brothers, yet as an old man, he is still wistful for those socks his mother gave him and he never fully appreciated.
Ron’s vision in the Mirror of Erised is rather curious. He sees himself as Head Boy, Quidditch Captain and holding both the House and Quidditch cups. We know that Ron has this uncanny knack for predicting the future. If, indeed, he is a Seer as many suspect, might he able to see his future in the Mirror? As of OotP, he seems to be on his way to this future – Prefect (it’s the first step towards Head Boy!) and he is on the Quidditch team. Currently, he plays Keeper, a very appropriate position for a Knight, guarding a castle. If he does indeed end up becoming Quidditch Captain, he would also get to play out that dual role once more on the Quidditch field – Knight, as Keeper and King, as Captain.
In a few different places in the series, Ron is shown to hero- worship Dumbledore. Of all of these scenes, the most striking is at the end of PS/SS where Ron is extremely impressed with Dumbledore’s orchestrating the rescuing of the Stone.
“D’you think he meant you to do it?” said Ron. “Sending you your father’s cloak and everything?””Well,” Hermione exploded, “If he did – I mean to say – that’s terrible – you could have been killed.”
“No, it isn’t,” said Harry thoughtfully. “He’s a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don’t think it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It’s almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could…”
“Yea, Dumbledore’s off his rocker, all right,” said Ron proudly.
In OotP, Draco composes a lovely song – Weasley is Our King. If that isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. One line in particular is given significance by Draco. He is heard singing it loudly during the game by Harry, and Draco later quotes it in italics – born in a bin. While Draco likes to make fun of Ron’s poverty, the phrase has a double meaning. ‘Bin’ is also a prefix meaning ‘double’ or ‘two’ – think ‘binary’. Was Ron ‘born’ twice? Leading a double life? Is Draco trying to tell us something important?
Movie!Canon, but worth mentioning anyway… in Dumbledore’s office on the CoS DVD, there is a hidden Easter egg that reveals a portrait on the wall of two wizard chess masters. One wizard is in red, the other in green. The floor beneath them is checkered like a chess board. As the camera pans towards the picture, ominous music is played. In another part of Dumbledore’s office, there is a portrait of Dumbledore (there are two Dumbledore portraits in all) where he is depicted in maroon robes standing next to a chess set.
Fancy a game of Chess? Part 3Chess Pieces & Play
Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.
back to essay2 US Chamber of Secrets: Ch 13 Pg 245
Dumbledore’s description from Riddle’s Diary
They didn’t see another person until they reached the entrance hall, when a tall wizard with long, sweeping auburn hair and a beard called to Riddle from the marble staircase.
back to essay3 US Sorcerer’s Stone: Ch 6 Pg 93
Ron’s 1st Description
She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.
back to essay
4 US Order of the Phoenix: Ch 4 Pg 62
Ron’s most recent description
‘Let him breathe, Hermione,’ said Ron, grinning as he closed the door behind Harry. He seemed to have grown several more inches during their month apart, making him taller and more gangly looking than ever, though the long nose, bright red hair and freckles were the same.
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well — give him here, Hagrid — we’d better get this over with.”
back to essay
6 US Prisoner Of Azkaban: Ch 17 pg 335
Ron breaks his leg
All they could see now was one of Ron’s legs, which he had hooked around a root in an effort to stop the dog from pulling him farther underground — but a horrible crack cut the air like a gunshot; Ron’s leg had broken, and a moment later, his foot vanished from sight.
back to essay
7) US Prisoner Of Azkaban: Ch 17 pg 377
Evidence of which of Ron’s legs is broken
“And two of us should be chained to this,” said Black, nudging Pettigrew with his toe. “Just to make sure.”
“I’ll do it,” said Lupin.
“And me,” said Ron savagely, limping forward.
Black conjured heavy manacles from thin air; soon Pettigrew was upright again, left arm chained to Lupin’s right, right arm to Ron’s left. Ron’s face was set. He seemed to have taken Scabbers’s true identity as a personal insult. Crookshanks leapt lightly off the bed and led the way out of the room, his bottlebrush tail held jauntily high.
back to essay
8) US Sorcerer’s Stone: Ch 17 Pg 300
Vomit Flavored Bean
” …I suggest you make a start on these sweets. Ah! Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomitflavored one, and since then I’m afraid I’ve rather lost my liking for them — but I think I’ll be safe with a nice toffee, don’t you?”
back to essay
9 US Prisoner of Azkaban: Ch 10 Pg 197
Mention of Cockroach Clusters:1
“How about these?” said Ron, shoving a jar of Cockroach Clusters under Hermione’s nose.
“Definitely not,” said Harry.
Ron nearly dropped the jar.
Harry had walked right past the stone gargoyle guarding the entrance to Dumbledores office without noticing. He blinked, looked around, realized what he had done, and retraced his steps, stopping in front of it. Then he remembered that he didn’t know the password.
“Sherbet lemon?” he tried tentatively.
The gargoyle did not move.
“Okay,” said Harry, staring at it, “Pear Drop. Er – Licorice Wand. Fizzing Whizbee. Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans … oh no, he doesn’t like them, does he?… oh just open, can’t you?” he said angrily. “I really need to see him, its urgent!”
The gargoyle remained immovable.
Harry kicked it, achieving nothing but an excruciating pain in his big toe.
“Chocolate Frog!” he yelled angrily, standing on one leg. “Sugar Quill! Cockroach Cluster!”
The gargoyle sprang to life and jumped aside. Harry blinked. “Cockroach Cluster?” he said, amazed. “I was only joking. …”
‘But Dumbledore says he doesn’t care what they do as long as they don’t take him off the Chocolate Frog Cards,’ said Bill, grinning.
back to essay 12) US Sorcerer’s Stone: Ch 12 Pg 213
Dumbledore’s knowledge of Ron’s desires
“So,” said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Harry, “you, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised.”
” I didn’t know it was called that, Sir.”
” But I expect you’ve realized by now what it does?”
“It — well — it shows me my family –”
“And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy.”
” How did you know –?”
“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” said Dumbledore gently.
“So Black was the Potters’ Secret-Keeper?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
” Naturally,” said Professor McGonagall. “James Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding himself… and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters’ Secret-Keeper himself.”
US Sorcerer’s Stone: Ch 12 Pg 201
Ron’s presents from his Mom
“Every year she makes us a sweater,” said Ron, unwrapping his own, “and mine’s always maroon.”
“Sir — Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?”
” Obviously, you’ve just done so,” Dumbledore smiled. “You may ask me one more thing, however.”
” What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
” I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.”
” One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
“Another sweater from Mum… maroon again… see if you’ve got one.”
“What’s that?” said Ron, looking over, a freshly unwrapped pair of maroon socks in his hand.
Only when Fred and George dropped in and offered to attach it to his forehead with a Permanent Sticking Charm did he wrap it tenderly in his maroon socks and lock it in his trunk.
Mundungus redeemed himself slightly in Mrs Weasley’s eyes by rescuing Ron from an ancient set of purple robes that had tried to strangle him when he removed them from their wardrobe.