“Tokens from your friends and admirers,” said Dumbledore, beaming. “What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows. ...."

Is not the bold sentence logically inconsistent? If it was a secret then how did the whole school know about it? Some Harry Potter fan enlighten me.

  • 2
    A deletion of '... is supposed to be a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows.' A beautiful ironic comment. Jan 3, 2016 at 13:48

3 Answers 3


He is being ironic.

Due to gossip everyone knows each others "secrets" - so they are not in fact secret at all.

He is ironically acknowledging this phenomenon.


A few lines down you'll find

I laughed at this. Of course the whole school would know. Hogwarts's walls have eyes and ears, I think literally.

So the statement about a complete secret should be taken as amusingly ironic with an overlay of the fay magical narrative of the supernatural. It's impossible to keep secrets (even those one thinks are "completely" so) in a social organization like a school. Everyone (and here everything) knows everyone else's business.

Just for the record, I'm not a Harry Potter fan. I hate Harry Potter.

  • 1
    You and Voldemort both.
    – Dan
    Jan 3, 2016 at 16:52
  • @Dan Who's Voldemort?
    – deadrat
    Jan 3, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    Hmm ... I don't think you want to know!
    – Dan
    Jan 3, 2016 at 18:23

It is a literary commonplace that rumor is readiest to report that which is imparted as a secret to those who are given to gossiping. Thus for instance in the opening scene of Wycherley’s The Country Wife, we find a quack reporting to a rake (who has employed him for this very purpose) on his efforts to spread the rumor that the rake is now impotent, as follows:

I have told all the Chamber-maids, Waiting women, Tyre women, and Old women of my acquaintance; nay, and whisper’d it as a secret to ’em, and to the Whisperers of Whitehal; so that you need not doubt ’twill spread.

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