As one of the greatest wizards of all time, imagining Albus Dumbledore as anything other than wise and powerful is impossible, to say the least. He’s described as a classic wizard, the kind you’d expect Merlin to look like, with a long white beard tucked into his belt, a crooked nose sitting under his half-moon spectacles, and twinkling blue eyes that both pierce and soothe. Every secret a character had was subject to scrutiny with a single stare, as though he could see right through their lies; any question they had was readily answered from his vast mental catalogue of wizard history. Moreover, he was always two ⏤ no, three ⏤ steps ahead of everyone, even the bad guys.
For those reasons, seeing the most powerful wizard of all time crumble under the weight of childhood trauma in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was painful, to say the least. And it all tied into his discovery of the Resurrection Stone.
Why did Dumbledore go looking for the Resurrection Stone?
The thing is, he didn’t. Initially, he set out to hunt the Horcruxes that he believed Voldemort had created years earlier in his quest for immortality. One such Horcrux was the famous ring of Salazar Slytherin, passed down through Slytherin’s family lineage all the way to Marvolo Gaunt, Tom Riddle ⏤ ahem ⏤ Lord Voldemort’s grandfather. Knowing Voldemort’s obsession with his bloodline to Salazar Slytherin, Dumbledore had a hunch that the ring would be at the Gaunt residence, and so he sought it out. As always, his hunch was correct.
How did he eventually find the Resurrection Stone?
When he arrived at the Gaunt residence in search of the believed Horcrux, he laid eyes on a symbol carved into the face of the black ring and stopped cold. Recognition dawned. The symbol on the ring belonged to the Deathly Hallows.
No doubt Dumbledore’s grip tightened around his wand at that moment, for he himself had one of the three Deathly Hallows already: the Elder Wand, the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny. To have all three Hallows would make a person the master of death. And there, right in front of him, was another: the Resurrection Stone.
To muddle matters even further, the Resurrection Stone in question ⏤ which could bring loved ones back from the dead ⏤ had been violated by dark magic years earlier when Voldemort turned it into a Horcrux. In doing so, Voldemort imprisoned a piece of his soul in it and placed a deadly curse on it to prevent anyone from destroying the ring. Dumbledore, being the wise wizard he was, had the foresight to know this, but the temptation of seeing his late sister again, whose death he so guiltily felt responsible for, was too tantalizing to overcome. In a last-ditch effort to see her again, to alleviate the ache he felt so heavily in his heart, Dumbledore put the ring on and, in doing so, cursed himself and started the chain of events that would ultimately lead to his demise.