Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ghost?

The library is haunted.

My children's program room is in the basement of the old library, which was built in 1912. And I know what you must be thinking, but the room has a lot of windows and is actually quite cheery. And despite the fact that it's an ancient building, I've never felt uncomfortable down there, or thought that it was creepy.

So my assistant K and I were down there going through the old filing cabinet (which, by the way, has an annoying habit of locking itself. No one knows where the key is, but sometimes it miraculously unlocks itself and allows you to get in it. Still have not figured this out.) We had just finished a program about half an hour before, and we had shut the stereo off (or so we thought). And so we were just sitting there, when all of a sudden the stereo comes on. By itself. We were a little surprised. And we were even more surprised when we realized that the song it started playing was not Track 1 on the CD, but Track 2. And then it played Track 7. So I went to check it out and found that it was on Random. K and I were sure we had turned it off, and we were also positive that neither one of us had set it to Random.

Very strange.

So I went upstairs to tell everyone about it, and they were all like, "Oh, it's just Carmichael." Carmichael is apparently the resident ghost of whom I was unaware of up until now. I guess the alarm on the children's desk goes off by itself sometimes when there's not anyone there and no books nearby that could have set it off. And Carmichael doesn't refer to anyone in particular, it's just a name they gave it. And now whenever anything weird happens, they all just blame Carmichael.

I'm not really sure what to make of it. When it comes to ghosts, I'm kind of on the fence belief-wise. I've never had anything happen to me that would make me a firm believer. But I've also heard enough stories from other people that I respect, including my maternal grandmother, that I don't want to dismiss it entirely out of hand. Sometimes I'd like to think it's real, and other times (like when I'm in bed after foolishly watching a scary movie or reading a ghost story) when I'd really prefer to think that it's just all made up.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The End of Harry Potter

I just finished the last Harry Potter book this morning. And it was wonderful. I'm still in that dream-like state you get in after the end of a really good book, the state where Harry's world still feels more real to me than my own. And I'm reluctant to leave that world. It's so sad to know that it's all over.

My predictions were, on the whole, pretty good. Although not everything turned out the way I thought it would. Still, I was dead right about one thing, wasn't I? So permit me to say: Told you so.

Right now, I think I'm going to go and read it again (or at least read until my sister comes back and demands I hand over the book to her so she can finish it), and postpone the crashing in of reality for just one more afternoon.

*************************
Well, it's a couple of hours later, my sister has left with the book, and reality has arrived. I feel very weird. I have been depressed after the end of a book before, I have felt emotionally drained before. But I have never felt so completely without purpose. I literally did not know what to do with myself. I sat on the couch and stared. I had been looking forward to it for so long, and now it's over... And I don't know anyone else who's finished reading the book yet, so I can't even go over the gory details. I think I will do a couple of posts about the book, but I'm going to wait a bit until everyone's read it, so I won't do any spoilers. And I think I'm going to have to read it again, especially that last bit, because it all got very complicated, and I'm not sure I understood everything. So if anyone reads this and wants to dish about the book, let me know. In the meantime, I have found that listening to the podcasts over at mugglenet.com has helped quite a bit. In one of the podcasts, they mention that the bookstore they're in has set up a Harry Potter Help Line. And laugh if you want, but considering how I feel, I would not be surprised if the end of Harry Potter sets off an epidemic of clinical depression.

Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity, now that the whole book thing is out of the way, to bitch about the new movie. I'm feeling quite bitchy right now actually, and I think it's just one of the symptoms of the Potter withdrawal that I'll be going through over the next little while.

So I thought the movie sucked.

Oh, all right, it didn't suck. I actually quite enjoyed most of it. And I liked it even better the second time I watched it. And even better the third. And the good thing about this movie is, so far every time I've watched, I've caught something new, something I hadn't noticed on previous viewings.

From what I can tell, it's mostly the people who've read the books who have a problem with the movie. My mom hasn't read them, and she thought the movie was good. But you take the longest book and make it into the shortest movie, and something's gotta give, right?

So let's first talk about what went right. Luna Lovegood. I thought she was awesome in this movie. Her scenes were well-written, and I think you actually got to know her quite well in the movie. Dolores Umbridge. She was perfect. You really, really wanted to kill her in the movie. She's so evil, and so creepy too, all dressed in pink with kittens on her walls, and then torturing children for the fun of it.

So here's what I think sucked about the movie. I really think that they didn't put enough emphasis on the importance of the prophesy. I don't think it was clear why Voldemort wanted it, and I don't think there was the same sense of shock when Harry finally finds out about his destiny. I mean, I think we all knew what was coming, that Harry would end up facing Voldemort someday, but in the book I think we felt more of what Harry's feeling, that he has to face Voldemort, that it's inevitable.

I also felt that the scene at the end where Harry is talking to Dumbledore about Sirius' death and the prophecy, was all wrong. I loved the scene in OOTP when Harry went around smashing stuff in Dumbledore's office and yelling at him. I mean, Dumbledore has been ignoring him all year, he just saw his Godfather killed, Harry feels that it's his fault that Sirius died, and now he's just also discovered that he is the one who has to kill Voldemort. And in the movie he just sits there, looking a bit glum. Come on people. He should be showing a bit more emotion than that. And speaking of emotion, can we talk about Dumbledore's? Or rather, his lack of it? He supposed to love Harry almost like a son. And that's why he hasn't told him about the prophecy. In the movie, Dumbledore says, "I cared about you too much", but it doesn't seem like he cares at all. Let's compare that to the book, shall we?
"I feel I owe you another explanation, Harry," said Dumbledore hesitantly. "You may, perhaps, have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess...that I rather thought...you had enough responsibility to be going on with."
Harry looked up at him and saw a tear trickling down Dumbledore's face into his long silver beard.
I love that part in the book. But in the movie, I just don't see the empathy, the caring. And I don't think we've seen it in any of the last three movies. Richard Harris was Dumbledore. Michael Gambon just doesn't capture it. And I'm not saying it's the actor's fault. It's the fault of the writers and directors as well. The new Dumbledore captures some of the power of Dumbledore, I thought the battle scene between him and Voldemort was quite well done, but that's all he is. Power. The real Dumbledore we know and love from the books cares about people a great deal. And he is also a very fun person, with a quirky sense of humour he exhibits often. The Dumbledore I know, for example, would never yell at students, "Don't you have studying you should be doing?". And he would never, ever, lose his temper in front of a student. I hated that scene in the GOF movie, when he grabs the front of Harry's shirt and yells at him "Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?". Dumbledore can be extremely grave and serious when he has to be, but he has never been so angry that he loses control of himself.

Oh, and what about Harry and Cho? That kiss??? Like, how unnatural is it to kiss someone and not touch them anywhere else? I mean, they don't have to grope each other, but just even resting their hands on each other's shoulders or back would have made it better. And then in the movie, it's Cho who betrays Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge. Now I actually didn't have a problem with that. A movie just can't have as many characters as a book can, cuz it's too hard for people to keep track. It would have taken quite a bit of extra time to introduce Marietta, Cho's friend. Hermione mentions, after Harry and Cho's kiss, that Cho is upset because Umbridge has been threatening to sack her mother from the Ministry of Magic. If they'd left that as the reason that Cho crumbled under pressure, then it would have been okay. They could've had a scene where Cho says, "Please don't be mad at me Harry! They were threatening to sack my mum!" and then Harry would say, "Ron's Dad worked at the ministry too. And he didn't rat us out." There. End of story. Cho should've been stronger, but she wasn't, because she cared about her mum more than she cared about Harry or the Army. You wouldn't hate her, but you would understand why Harry was a little pissed. But oh no, they just had to bring veritaserum into it. Snape mentions that Umbridge used the last of his veritaserum interrogating Cho, and then Harry, Ron and Hermione all look at each other horrified, because they realize that they've been angry at Cho when she didn't have a choice. But we know that Harry and Cho can't get back together again because he's got to get together with Ginny in the next one. And so Harry ends up looking like a jerk. And that sucks.

Anyway, those are the main reasons why I had trouble with this movie. I think 3 and 4 are better made. Let's hope they do better with the 6th one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter: Final Predictions

So Snape is really good, and Harry may or may not be a horcrux. But what else is going to happen in Deathly Hallows?

Basically, Harry has to go and hunt down the horcruxes, destroy them, and then kill Voldemort. There are supposed to be 6 horcruxes. Harry destroyed the first one, Riddle's diary, and Dumbledore took care of Gaunt's ring. That leaves four which Dumbledore has theorized include the following:
Horcrux #3: Slytherin's Locket
Horcrux #4: Hufflepuff's cup
Horcrux #5: Something of Ravenclaw's or Gryffindor's
Horcrux #6: Nagini the snake

Of course this list may not be quite correct. For example, the first one, Slytherin's locket, may have already been destroyed. The mysterious RAB may have already done some of Harry's work for him, as indicated in the note he left in the fake horcrux:
"To the Dark Lord:
I know I will be dead long before you read this
but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.
RAB" (HBP 569)
The identity of RAB is almost certainly Regulus Black, Sirius' younger brother who was a Death Eater. According to Sirius, Regulus "got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out. Well, you don't just hand in your resignation to Voldemort. It's a lifetime of service or death" (OOTP 104). Lupin remembers that "Sirius's brother Regulus only managed a few days" (HBP 103) before he was killed. So were those few days enough to steal the horcrux and destroy it? Assuming, of course, that RAB is actually dead. No one ever says whether they saw Regulus' body, or if he just disappeared. In any case, I suspect that Harry will find the locket at 12 Grimmauld Place. One of the objects found in the cabinet they were cleaning out there was "a heavy locket none of them could open" (OOTP 108) and Slytherin's locket is described as "a heavy gold locket" (HBP 196).

I have also wondered about the last horcrux, supposedly Nagini the snake. Dumbledore thinks that this may be where Voldemort has recently chosen to hide the last seventh of his soul since he failed to create the last horcrux on the night of Harry's death... or did he? If you buy into the Harry-is-a-horcrux theory, then does that mean Nagini is actually the seventh horcrux, and Voldemort's soul has been divided into eight? Or was Dumbledore mistaken and is Nagini not a horcrux at all? Another thing to consider is that Voldemort knows that one of his horcruxes has been destroyed. Dumbledore tells Harry that "When Voldemort discovered that the diary had been mutilated and robbed of all its powers, I am told that his anger was terrible to behold" (HBP 474). For Voldemort, the idea of having his soul divided into the magical number seven was very important. So, if he knew that now there were only six pieces of his soul left, would he then try to create another horcrux? Or would that still be considered dividing it into pieces of eight, even if one piece was destroyed, and therefore less magical? There may yet be some changes to the list of horcruxes.

As for where Harry will go, I mentioned that the locket will most likely be found in 12 Grimmauld Place, the house which Harry now owns. Harry has also mentioned that he will be going to Godric's Hollow, the place where his parents last home was. I have often wondered about the name, Godric's Hollow, Godric Gryffindor. And we don't know much about Harry's father's family, other than that they were pure-bloods. Could Harry be the heir of Gryffindor? It would kind of make sense, that the heir of Slytherin and the heir of Gryffindor have a final showdown, so many centuries after the first rift between their houses occurred.

And of course Harry will go back to Hogwarts. He has said that he won't, and maybe he won't go back for classes, but I think at least one of the horcruxes will be hidden there. Dumbledore has remarked that "Voldemort was, I believe, more attached to this school than he has ever been to a person. Hogwarts was where he had been happiest; the first and only place he had felt at home....the castle is a stronghold of ancient magic. Undoubtedly Voldemort had penetrated many more of its secrets than most of the students who pass through the place, but he may have felt that there were still mysteries to unravel, stores of magic to tap" (HBP 403).

There is another possible hiding place that I thought of, though I got it from looking off of one of the cover illustrations for the new book, so it's kind of cheating. In the picture, Ron, Hermione and Harry are tumbling through a circular opening into what looks like a mound of treasure. Could Voldemort have hidden one of his horcruxes in a vault in Gringott's? It sounds horribly obvious, but there it is.

So we know Ron and Hermione will be accompanying Harry, but who else will make an appearance in the book? Obviously, Luna will be back. And Ginny as well. I think Harry made a mistake in breaking up with her at the end of Book 6, because they love each other, and that is Harry's strength. He shouldn't be trying to distance himself from his friends, even if his intention is to protect them. And of course, Neville, who will have a huge role to play. He is, of course, the other boy to whom the prophecy may have referred to at one point, causing some people to speculate that he really is the chosen one and it will be him that has to kill Voldemort in the end. I don't know about that, but I do think that a confrontation between Neville and Bellatrix Lestrange is inevitable. He will avenge the torture of his parents, or die trying. Another character who may possibly return is Victor Krum. If he does, I foresee a potential love triangle between Ron, Hermione and Victor, which may finally force some feelings out into the open.

And what of Sirius? He's supposed to be dead, and Dumbledore has told Harry several times that there is no spell that can bring back the dead... but the purpose of the mysterious archway into which Sirius fell has never been explained. I think there's a possibility that we will see Sirius again. And Dumbledore? Once again, I have to say that I do think Snape really did kill him. But I also note that Dumbledore has been strongly associated with the phoenix throughout. When the phoenix dies, it bursts into flames, and is then reborn again from the ashes. At Dumbledore's funeral, his casket is engulfed in flames. I'm not saying that there'll be a baby Dumbledore wandering around in Book 7, but I think maybe, in some form, we will hear from him again. [and I must put in a little note here to thank my Dad who pointed out to me the association between Dumbledore and the phoenix]. And even if Dumbledore doesn't come back, there's always his brother. Moody points him out in a picture of the Order of the Phoenix: "That's Dumbledore's brother Aberforth, only time I ever met him, strange bloke" (OOTP 158). If Aberforth is still alive, and strange bloke or not, if he's even half as talented as his brother, he may be able to help Harry out in some way.

And the bad guys? Cuz they'll be there as well. Harry's old nemesis Draco Malfoy will be back again. I think that he will redeem himself and end up saving Harry's life or something. And I think Draco will also survive. He'll be one of the ones to carry on after the final battle's done. Severus Snape will also have an important role to play. Harry's going to try and kill him, but I think Severus may end up saving Harry as well. I also think Snape is going probably going to be one of the ones to kick it. Harry will finally hear his story and find out that Snape is on his side, and then Snape's going to die. And then there's also Peter Pettigrew. He's going to have an important role to play, possibly in the final battle. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry decides to spare Pettigrew's life. Dumbledore says, "Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt. When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them... and I'm much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter. This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me... the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew's life" (POA 311). So I think that Pettigrew may also end up dying for Harry, to make up for the fact that he betrayed Harry's father.

So, what about the final battle? How will it all end? Will Harry die?

Right from the beginning, before we even know about the prophecy, Harry's fate is already looking grim. In the first book, when Harry encounters Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, Firenze the centaur intervenes and saves Harry's life. Firenze is then rebuked by the other centaurs: "Remember Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?" (PS 187). Then when Firenze leaves Harry, he says to him "Good luck, Harry Potter...The planets have been read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times." (189). It's possible the centaurs have merely read what the prophecy says, that Harry will one day have to face Voldemort. But they're not sounding very hopeful, are they? Harry himself says later on, "Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort kill me...I suppose that's written in the stars as well" (190). So what do the centaurs see? Can they see Harry's death? If so, is it possible, as Firenze says, that they may be wrong?

The prophecy isn't much help either. It says "either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives". Now that doesn't necessarily mean that Harry will die, but it doesn't mean he'll live either. Either must die, so one of them's got to. But it doesn't say anything about one of them surviving for sure.

If you believe that Harry's a horcrux, then his chances of survival go down even further. One thing that we know for sure is that all the horcruxes must be destroyed before someone kills Voldemort. If he is killed and even one horcrux still exists, then it will be the same thing all over again as the night he tried to kill Harry. So, let's look at the possible scenarios:
Scenario #1: Harry realizes he's a horcrux and decides to kill himself, or has someone else kill him. Then someone else will have to finish off Voldemort for him. The most popular contender for this position is Neville Longbottom, as he is the other boy who could have been the chosen one. I personally don't think this will work. First of all, Neville could have been the chosen one, but he wasn't "marked" as Harry was. Harry is the chosen one, and it's GOT to be him and Voldemort in the end. Nothing else makes sense.
Scenario #2: Harry and Voldemort kill each other at exactly the same time, so Voldemort and his final horcrux are both destroyed. It's possible, but I think it's pretty unlikely.
Scenario #3: Harry realizes he's a horcrux, but someone figures out a way to destroy the bit of Voldemort's soul without killing Harry. This one I like pretty well. Though when you look at what's happened to the other horcruxes, I'm thinking it's going to be difficult to destroy the soul without also destroying the vessel. Riddles diary got pierced with the fang of a basilisk. And I don't know what Dumbledore did to Gaunt's ring, but it ended up with a huge crack down the middle. Still, it's possible, and this way Harry still gets to face Voldemort in the end.

And how will Harry get rid of Voldemort? Voldemort is the most powerful wizard on earth now that Dumbledore's gone. Dumbledore himself says that "Without his Horcruxes, Voldemort will be a mortal man with a maimed and diminished soul. Never forget, though, that while his soul may be damaged beyond repair, his brain and his magical power remain intact. It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort, even without his Horcruxes" (HBP 475). Harry is fairly talented, especially in Defence Against the Dark Arts, but he can't hope to defeat Voldemort in a regular wizard's duel. Dumbledore has said to Harry again and again that it will be his ability to love, his ability to feel emotion that will help him the most. Dumbledore tells Harry that "the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength" (OOTP 726). At one point, Dumbledore mentions something about a special room in the Department of Mysteries: "There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from posession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you." (OOTP 743). When Harry and the others were in the Department of Mysteries and they were in the room with the revolving doors, there was one door that none of them could open. Could this be the mysterious locked room, the one that holds the power of love? And if so, will Harry be able to somehow use this force against Voldemort? Something else which may come to play an important role is the fact that Harry's blood now runs through Voldemort's veins. When Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort said "my blood would make him stronger than if he'd used someone else's...He said the protection my - my mother left in me - he'd have it, too. And he was right - he could touch me without hurting himself, he touched my face. For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore's eyes."(GOF 604) What the significance of this is, I cannot say.

And I also cannot say if Harry will survive. Even if he's not a horcrux, there's no guarantee. And if he doesn't, I won't necessarily mind, as long as she does it right. I've read children's books before where one of the main characters dies, most recently Ptolemy's Gate. And in that one it was excruciatingly sad, but at the same time, it was inevitable and felt, somehow, right. In any case, I'm sure I will cry, even if Harry doesn't die, cuz it will all be over.

So, those are my last predictions. Anyone else?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Is Harry a Horcrux?

I've really gone back and forth on this question. And I think it's because I'm a little bit biased, simply because if Harry is a Horcrux, I really hate what it does to his chances of survival. And I do want Harry to live. But whether or not I want Harry to be a Horcrux is completely beside the point. So let's take a look at the facts, shall we?

It all comes down to the night that Voldemort tried to kill Harry. Harry's mother dies trying to protect Harry, and in Voldemort's words: "My curse was deflected by the woman's foolish sacrifice, and it rebounded upon me." (GOF 566) Harry is left with a small scar on his forehead, but is otherwise unharmed. The scar, however, has proved to be much more than skin deep. It serves as a link between Harry and Lord Voldemort, a link that has never been satisfactorily explained.

From the beginning, Harry could sense through the scar when Lord Voldemort was near. Eventually the scar also began to hurt when Voldemort was angry. Dumbledore tells Harry "It is my belief that your scar hurts both when Lord Voldemort is near you, and when he is feeling a particularly strong surge of hatred.... Because you and he are connected by the curse that failed. That is no ordinary scar" (GOF 521). No ordinary scar indeed. The connection becomes even deeper after the Dark Lord regains his body, and in Order of the Phoenix, Harry begins to sense a range of emotions from the Dark Lord, as well as sharing Voldemort's thoughts and visions. Snape tells Harry that "The curse that failed to kill you seems to have forged some kind of connection between you and the Dark Lord... when your mind is most relaxed and vulnerable - when you are asleep, for instance - you are sharing the Dark Lord's thoughts and emotions" (OOTP 469). Perhaps the most disturbing instance of this occurs when Harry witnesses the attempted murder of Arthur Weasley. He sees the attack as if he himself were the snake biting Mr. Weasley.
Snape has an explanation for this as well: "You seem to have visited the snake's mind because that was where the Dark Lord was at that particular moment... He was possessing the snake at the time and so you dreamed you were inside it, too" (OOTP 470). Later on in Dumbledore's office, Harry experiences a disturbing urge to attack Dumbledore: "At once, Harry's scar burned white-hot, as though the old wound had burst open again - and unbidden, unwanted, but terrifyingly strong, there rose within Harry a hatred so powerful he felt, for that instant, he would like nothing better than to strike - to bite - to sink his fangs into the man before him -" (OOTP 419). Harry later says "it was like something rose up inside me, like there's a snake inside me" (OOTP 425). Is there something inside Harry, some evil thing fighting to get out?

It would definitely seem to support the Horcrux theory. Except that in Half-Blood Prince, the scar abruptly stops hurting and Harry can no longer sense anything from Voldemort. Dumbledore explains that "Lord Voldemort has finally realised the dangerous access to his thoughts and feelings you have been enjoying. It appears that he is now emplying Occlumency against you" (HBP 61). If the thoughts and feelings had been coming from within Harry, from a piece of Voldemort's soul, then Voldemort employing Occlumency wouldn't stop them. So there's no evidence to support that Harry has a horcrux inside him. And if you really want to believe that, then I suggest you stop reading here. Because that's not the end of the story.

While the emotions Harry was feeling were coming from outside himself, it is the connection between him and Lord Voldemort itself that is allowing those emotions to reach him. When Dumbledore is talking to Harry about the Horcruxes, one possibility he suggests is that Nagini the snake is a horcrux. He bases this on the fact that the snake's behaviour is rather strange and that Voldemort "seems to have an unusual amount of control over her, even for a Parselmouth" (HBP 473). This seems to suggest that the Horcrux would create a connection between Voldemort and the snake that would allow him to control her more. Sound familiar?

The other part we're forgetting is that Harry is not just experiencing Voldemort's thoughts and emotions. He has also inherited some of his abilities. In second year, Harry discovers that he is a parselmouth. He can talk to snakes, an ability that Voldemort was well-known for. Harry wonders why he has this ability in common with Voldemort in this telling conversation with Dumbledore:
"You can speak Parseltongue, Harry, because Lord Voldemort - who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytherin - can speak Parseltongue. Unless I'm much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I'm sure..."
"Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?" Harry said, thunderstruck.
"It certainly seems so." (COS 245)
Voldemort put a bit of himself in me... Sounds like a horcrux to me. It is one thing to have a connection to someone else's mind, it is quite another to transfer your in-born abilities to them.

So let's, for now, assume that Harry is a Horcrux. How did it happen? As Dumbledore indicates above, Voldemort surely did not intend to make Harry a Horcrux. But he did intend to make one that night: "if my calculations are correct, Voldemort was still at least one Horcrux short of his goal of six when he entered your parents' house with the intention of killing you....I am sure that he was intending to make his final Horcrux with your death" (HBP 473). So how is a Horcrux actually made? Slughorn explains to Riddle that "Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: he would encase the torn portion...There is a spell" (HBP 465). So to create a Horcrux, one must first kill someone, then encase the torn part of the soul inside an object using a spell. Without knowing more about the spell, it's really hard to say if the procedure could have happened by accident. Is the spell something that you set up ahead of time, and then at the moment of killing set into motion? And then there is the larger glitch in this little theory: to set up a Horcrux, you have to kill. Dumbledore thinks that Voldemort was going to use Harry's death, NOT the death of his mother or father, to create the final Horcrux. But Harry didn't die that night. No death = No Horcrux. Or is it possible that merely the intent of killing Harry was enough to rip Voldemort's soul? Again, without knowing more about how the spell works, it's hard to say.

Another question to consider here is why doesn't Voldemort realise that Harry is a Horcrux? He obviously doesn't know that Harry is a Horcrux because he keeps trying to do him in, and surely he wouldn't do that if he knew. We do know that Voldemort cannot sense Horcruxes after they have been separated from his body. Harry asks Dumbledore that exact question:
"Does Voldemort know when a Horcrux is destroyed sir? Can he feel it?"
"I believe not. I believe that Voldemort is now so immersed in evil, and these crucial parts of himself have been detached for so long, he does not feel as we do." (HBP 474)
But would Voldemort feel it when a Horcrux has been newly created? Would he not feel his soul being torn and sealed away? Would he not realise that the spell had been performed? One could argue that in the shock of the rebounding curse and him losing his body, Voldemort could have overlooked the fact that another piece of his soul was missing. Or perhaps he realised it was missing, but thought the spell had gone as planned and went into the intended object, and not Harry. Or maybe he does realise that Harry's a horcrux and is simply willing to sacrifice a bit of his soul in order to be rid of his prophesied nemesis.

Another question to consider is if a piece of Voldemort's soul could actually reside comfortably in Harry's body. In Order of the Phoenix Voldemort takes possesion of Harry's body. But he cannot remain because Harry begins to think of the people he loves. As Dumbledore says, "That power [to love] also saved you from posession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests." (OOTP 743). If Voldemort couldn't stand to stay in Harry's body, then how could a piece of his soul?

In Order of the Phoenix, after Harry has the dream about the snake attacking Mr. Weasley, there is an odd little scene where Dumbledore consults some of his instruments. We don't hear the question Dumbledore asks, but a serpent made of smoke appears:
"Naturally, naturally," murmured Dumbledore apparently to himself, still observing the stream of smoke without the slightest sign of surprise. "But in essence divided?"
Harry could make neither head nor tail of this question. The smoke serpent, however, split itself instantly into two snakes, both coiling and undulating in the dark air. With a look of grim satisfaction, Dubledore gave the instrument another gentle tap with his wand: the clinking noise slowed and died and the smoke serpents grew faint, became a formless haze and vanished." (OOTP 416)
I really wish that I understood this part better, because I think it's key to understanding the nature of Harry's connection with Voldemort. Two serpents, in essence divided. Does Dumbledore mean that Harry and Voldemort are divided, even though they were sharing the mind of the snake? Or does he mean that Voldemort is divided, one part of his soul in his own body, the other residing in Harry's? Does it support or contradict the theory of Harry as a Horcrux?

Which brings me to my next question: If Harry is a Horcrux, then why doesn't Dumbledore tell him? Surely Dumbledore would know. After the snake attack on Mr. Weasley, Mrs. Weasley remarks that "Dumbledore seems almost to have been waiting for Harry to see something like this" (OOTP 434). Dumbledore seems to understand what the connection between Harry and Voldemort means. But he never mentions the possibility that Harry is a Horcrux. And after the end of Order of the Phoenix he said he was done protecting Harry. But maybe he has his reasons. Maybe it's not about protecting Harry, but just realising that this is something that Harry needs to find out on his own and come to accept.

So, final word. Is Harry a Horcrux? Well, there are some fairly large holes in the theory, as I have pointed out above. And yet there is strong evidence that would support it. The connection between Harry and Voldemort has never been adequately explained otherwise. But I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced. What do you all think?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

The new Harry Potter book will be out on July 21st, and of course everyone is speculating on the contents of the seventh and final book. In fact, if you do a search on the Internet, you will come across hundreds of predictions about how the story of our favourite myopic hero will end. And so, being completely obsessed by Harry Potter myself, I couldn't await the arrival of the end without writing down my own predictions for the seventh and final book. I don't claim to be an expert, despite having read all of the first six books at least three times. I know there's still stuff I've missed. I mean, my God, there are people who've written books trying to predict the contents of Deathly Hallows, and I'm probably not going to be as thorough as they were. Before you read on, please be aware that I will be revealing key plot elements in the series that may ruin your enjoyment of the books if you have not yet read all of them. You've been warned.

Now, I had originally planned to write about several aspects of the HP Books, but I realized my post was getting absolutely ginormous, so for this first post, I'm limiting myself to one topic (which is quite long enough as it is, thank you very much). I will do other topics in other posts later on this week. Maybe. If I have time. If there's nothing good on TV. So, to the first topic, one that, after the ending of the last book, is probably on the top of everyone's mind:

Snape: Whose Side Is He On Anyway?

I have to admit something here: I love Snape. That's right. In fact, I think he's a sexy beast. The potions master we all love to hate is probably my absolute favourite character in the whole series. His true loyalties have been in doubt since the very beginning. Time and again, Snape has fallen under suspicion only to be found innocent in the end. He treats Harry horribly, but has also saved his life. Our feelings about him have gone up and down like a yo-yo on a string. And then came the end of the sixth book, and two words have once again forced us to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about him. Avada Kedavra. Is that the final word? Has Snape finally shown his true colours?

The short answer is no, Snape is not evil, but...it's also more complicated than that.

Let's go back to that night at the top of the astronomy tower where Harry watched Snape murder Dumbledore. It's hard to believe it actually happened, and one possible theory is that it didn't. Somehow Dumbledore survived and Snape only made it appear that he'd killed Dumbledore, thereby fooling the three Death Eaters, saving Draco and Dumbledore from death and keeping his own cover. That would be lovely, wouldn't it? But I don't think it's true. First of all, Dumbledore would've had to survive not only the Avada Kedavra curse, but then the additional fall of hundreds of feet from the top of the tower to the ground below. That's a tall order, even for Dumbledore. Second of all, even if Snape and Dumbledore had been able to fake Dumbledore's death, they had no warning and therefore no time. McGonagall later says "I don't think he knew they were there before Filius told him, I don't think he knew they were coming" (HBP 575). Although they both knew that Draco was trying to kill Dumbledore, Draco would not tell Snape exactly what he was up to, and I believe this caused them to underestimate Draco's abilities. Dumbledore disarmed and completely helpless was probably not what Snape expected to see when he got to the top of the tower. Finally, after Dumbledore falls from the tower, the Body-Bind Curse is lifted from Harry, and Harry knows "that it could have happened only because its caster was dead" (HBP 568). There is no doubt in my mind that Dumbledore is dead. But how could Snape have killed Dumbledore and still be on the same side?

The thing is, Snape was in a very difficult position. When he made the Unbreakable Vow, Snape promised three things: to watch over Draco, protect him from harm, and, if it seems Draco will fail, to carry out the deed that Draco was ordered to perform (HBP 41). Snape is faced with either fulfilling his promise, and killing Dumbledore, or else dying himself. Now, if Snape had chosen to die himself rather than kill Dumbledore, it may have shown a noble spirit, but a lack of intelligence. In addition to Draco, there were three other Death Eaters plus the werewolf at the top of the tower. If Snape had died, those four would have been quite willing to finish the job and probably more than a match for Dumbledore in his weakened state. Snape's death would have then been entirely without purpose. Snape really did the only thing he could. By killing Dumbledore, he fulfilled the vow, kept his cover and ensured that at least one of them was still alive at the end of the day.

Secondly, not only did Snape not have a choice, but I believe that Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him. If Snape was a good little spy and told Dumbledore about the Unbreakable Vow, then Dumbledore would have seen the situation just as Snape did. At one point Harry hears Dumbledore begging Snape:
"Severus...
The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading....
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
"Severus... please..." (HBP 556).
Harry thinks that Dumbledore is pleading for mercy, but that just doesn't sound like Dumbledore to me. Dumbledore wasn't afraid of death. He himself has said that "to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure"(PS 215). I think that Dumbledore was in fact pleading with Severus to kill him. The revulsion and hatred that Harry sees on Snape's face may just have been that Snape was angry with Dumbledore for making him do it. Earlier on, in fact, Hagrid overhears a conversation between Snape and Dumbledore:
"I jus' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he - Snape - didn' wan' ter do it any more....it sounded like Snape was feelin' a bit overworked, tha's all - anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him. An' then he said summat abou' Snape makin' investigations in his house, in Slytherin." (HBP 380).
Now it's possible that Dumbledore was only talking about Snape's work as a spy for the Order of the Phoenix. But it's also possible that Snape was upset that Dumbledore had told Snape to kill him, should it prove necessary. I realise this is a bit of a leap, but there is some evidence that I think gives it some weight. First of all, the way Dumbledore had been telling Harry absolutely everything about Voldemort, holding nothing back. It's almost as if he knew that he wouldn't be around for much longer. And finally, the fact that Dumbledore gave Snape the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. No teacher that had that position has lasted more than a year at Hogwarts. Dumbledore knew about the curse, and yet gave it to Snape anyway. He must have known Snape would have to leave at the end of the year.

But is that indeed what really happened? Snape may not have had a choice about killing Dumbledore, but how do we really know where his true loyalties lie? Dumbledore is the only one who seems to actually trust Severus. Several times Harry asks him how he knows Snape is on their side, and Dumbledore refuses to answer. Everyone else only trusts Snape because Dumbledore does, and they trust Dumbledore's judgement. As Lupin says, "Dumbledore trusts Severus, and that ought to be good enough for all of us....It comes down to whether or not you trust Dumbledore's judgement. I do; therefore, I trust Severus" (HBP 311). But Snape is an accomplished Occlumens: "The Dark Lord, for instance, almost always knows when somebody is lying to him. Only those skilled at Occlumency are able to shut down those feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and so can utter falsehoods in his presence without detection" (OOTP 469). Dumbledore is himself skilled at Legilimency: "I am a sufficiently accomplished Legilimens myself to know when I am being lied to" (OOTP 733). But suffice to say that if Snape can lie to Lord Voldemort and get away with it, he can also lie to Dumbledore. Dumbledore, however, isn't stupid. He knows he can't tell if Severus is lying, and so must have some other reason for trusting him. As McGonagall says, "He always hinted that he had an iron-clad reason for trusting Snape...Dumbledore told me explicitly that Snape's repentance was absolutely genuine" (HBP 574). Dumbledore therefore seems to know something about Snape that no one else does, something that would convince him that Snape was really on their side.

We know that Snape was, indeed, a Death Eater at one point in his life. And it is here that it becomes critical to establish a time line. We learned from Trelawney that it was actually Severus Snape who heard the first part of the prophecy that night at the Hog's Head Inn and told Voldemort what he had learned. At this time, Snape was also seeking a position at the school on Voldemort's orders so that he could spy on Albus Dumbledore. According to Dumbledore, "He was still in Lord Voldemort's employ on the night he heard the first half of Professor Trelawney's prophecy" (HBP 512). However, in one of Dumbledore's memories, he also says that "Severus Snape...rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort's downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk" (513). So Snape was still on Lord Voldemort's side when he heard the prophecy, but became a double agent at some point between then, and the night of the attack on Harry. It is also known that Harry's parents knew that Voldemort was after them: "Dumbledore had a number of useful spies. One of them tipped him off" (POA 152). It is my belief that Snape was the useful spy in question and that he was the one who told Dumbledore that Voldemort was after the Potters. It was at this point that Snape changed sides and when Snape shared this information, Dumbledore knew that he could trust him. One can only imagine the wrath of Lord Voldemort if he ever finds out that Snape attempted to save the Potters. But what could have motivated Snape to betray his master?

Dumbledore says that Snape "had no possible way of knowing - which boy Voldemort would hunt from then onwards, or that the parents he would destroy in his murderous quest were people that Professor Snape knew, that they were your mother and father....You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realised how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned" (HBP 512, 513). Harry of course does not believe this, and with good reason: Snape hated his father, and it is very unlikely that Snape would have felt very sad about his death. However, James once saved Snape's life, and "When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them" (POA 311). The exact nature of this bond is not clear, but may have motivated Snape, at least in part, to attempt to save James' life in turn. But I believe that is only half of it. Snape's true motivation comes not from Harry's father, but Harry's mother. I believe that Snape was secretly in love with Lily Evans. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of textual evidence for this. Just more of a feeling I get reading between the lines. The only interaction we see between Snape and Lily is in one of Snape's memories. James and Sirius are bullying Snape when Lily comes up to them and tells them to leave him alone. Snape's response is to say "I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her" (OOTP 571). But I don't think this was indicative of his true feelings. For starters, Snape was already hanging around with a group of future Death Eaters who would not have accepted Snape liking a Muggle-born. Secondly, Lily kind of emasculated Snape by standing up for him. Silly though it is, I think a lot of guys would have been at least minorly annoyed at being rescued by a girl. We know that both Snape and Lily were good at potions, so maybe they bonded over the fumes of a hot cauldron. Whether Snape's love was ever reciprocated by Lily, I couldn't say. But we do know the end result: Lily didn't end up with Snape, she ended up with James, Snape's nemesis. That's gotta hurt. It could partially explain why Snape's so crabby all of the time, and also why he hates Harry so much. Harry is a constant reminder of Snape's broken heart. I also think that Dumbledore knew Snape loved Lily, and it is why he continued to refuse to tell Harry why Snape could be trusted, even after Harry found out it was Snape who heard the prophecy:
"Professor...how can you be sure Snape's on our side?"
Dumbledore did not speak for a moment; he looked as though he was trying to make up his mind about something. At last he said, "I am sure. I trust Severus Snape completely" (HBP 513).
Harry would have found the idea of Snape and his mother disturbing at the very least, and Snape would have been furious that Harry knew something so personal about him.

So those are my thoughts. I could be completely wrong of course, and if you think I am, feel free to call me out. We'll know soon enough. And if that's the case, I shall promptly delete this post and deny all knowledge of ever having written it. Ha. Of course if I'm right, you'll never hear the end of it.