Until The Very End

'You'll stay with me?' 'Until the very end,' said James. 'They won't be able to see you?' asked Harry. 'We are a part of you,' said Sirius. 'Invisible to anyone else.'
‘You’ll stay with me?’
‘Until the very end,’ said James.
‘They won’t be able to see you?’ asked Harry.
‘We are a part of you,’ said Sirius. ‘Invisible to anyone else.’

So here I am, at the end of this. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows earlier this week, and have been wrestling with what to say about it since then. I think the biggest things that I received from this re-read of Harry Potter as an adult is related to the Hogwarts houses. I think it is safe to say that I know understand what people mean when they say “they just know” they have found the right person for them. Granted, I am not in love, but I truly believe the feeling of “just knowing” something could still apply in this situation. Before I get to that, however, I would first like to address Snape, Dumbledore, the Hallows, and my favourite chapter in the whole series.

Let’s start with Severus Snape, who is perhaps one of the most conflicting characters in the series. When I was younger, I think that I felt he was somewhat of a hero when Deathly Hallows revealed his actions in The Prince’s Tale. I do not believe that I feel the same way. He did none of this for Harry, but for his delusion of love for Lily. I am not entirely sure that Snape ever truly loved Lily. I can hear you cry out now, but let me explain.  In my mind, when you truly love someone you would do anything for them. Granted, this ought to mean that Snape begging for Lily’s life would prove his love, but I do not feel it does, given other circumstances. How could Snape ever love Lily if he called her a Mudblood? He hung around people who would later become Death Eaters, and did become a Death Eater himself. How could he stand that, knowing that Voldemort would kill Lily without hesitation simply because she had non-magical parents? Voldemort was actively hunting Muggleborns like Lily, so if Snape truly loved her why would he participate in that?

Not only that, but I think that at one point Dumbledore was right in his opinion of disgust with Snape, when in The Prince’s Tale it showed Snape going to Dumbledore to ask for Lily’s protection. He did amend his statement to ask Dumbledore to hide them all, but that should have been his first reaction if he loved Lily. He should have immediately called for the protection of James and Harry in addition to her own. No matter how much seeing Lily with James may have hurt, true love would mean that Snape ensured Lily’s happiness right away instead of planning to leave the man she loved and her son for dead.

Do I applaud Snape for contributing those memories and helping Dumbledore? Yes, but that does not excuse his deplorable actions and none of it, in my opinion, means that he really loved Lily. I do not know what it is, but it does not seem like love to me.

Moving on, this book is where I remember my overall faith in Dumbledore shatter when I was younger. It’s not black and white by any means, but I do dislike Dumbledore though I can kind of see why he did what he did.

This series does make for a good story, so I don’t know that I would change anything for fear of ruining it. Despite this, however, I do think that I can still dislike the actions of characters, even those on the good side. Dumbledore seems to lie with a lot of ease, which for me is a terrifying quality. Maybe he should not have given Harry all of the information upfront, but I think that changing the way he told him things would have better prepared Harry for the end. For example, I think that Harry should have known about the prophecy much sooner. He needed to know about that. As well, more information about how to destroy the Horcruxes and potential locations would have been quite beneficial. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were very lucky in their quest. It was definitely a fine line and although everything did turn out okay in the end (or as good as can be expected), they could have easily turned out another way.

This does not take into account what happened with Ariana all those years ago. Of course, no one can be blamed for the attack itself apart from Ariana’s attackers, but I think that her death is for sure one giant grey area. Regardless of who actually killed her in the struggle, I think that Dumbledore blindness and love towards Grindelwald was the real catalyst. I cannot fault Dumbledore for love, but I cannot help but wonder about his inklings before. He should have also stood up and gone after Grindelwald sooner. Yes, he was afraid, but something like this should still have warranted more of a reaction from him.

Finally, before I talk about the Hogwarts houses, I want to address my absolute favourite chapter in the Harry Potter series, which contains the only scene that still manages to make me tear up. This chapter is Chapter 34: The Forest Again.

Harry’s walk through the Forbidden Forest is chilling, and the scene with his parents, Sirius, and Remus is almost heartbreaking. I would like to think that his parents were “there” every step of the way for him from that fateful Halloween in Godric’s Hollow, and Harry just could not see them. Maybe they were not physically walking beside or behind him as in this chapter, but they would still be there. Perhaps they were simply in his heart. It is actually hard to find words about this chapter even now. I think that it speaks for itself in a way, and I do not want to tarnish anything for anyone. There are quite a few things I would like to change about the series, but I would never want this scene to be any different. Just as how this is the only scene that still brings me to tears, it is also the only one where I find myself almost speechless.

~~*~~

Everyone has qualities from each of the four houses inside them. No one is one particular thing. Hermione, after all, was nearly in Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor. Neville argued for Hufflepuff though the Hat wanted him in Gryffindor. McGonagall was the same as Hermione. Knowing this is why it makes more sense that Pottermore sorted me into a different house each time I took the quiz. I had different questions, so it is only logical that my ultimate answer would be different.

So why do people end up in the house they do? Thinking about it now, after finishing the series again, I think that the house someone ends up in is based on the quality that they value most out of what they possess. This goes, I think, whether they realize it or not. I also believe that we all have the ability to draw on different qualities when we need them. For instance, I always tried to be the typical studious Ravenclaw whenever it came to research papers or exams in university. I imagine that, if I were faced with a similar situation as the one Lily Potter found herself in, I would make the same decision. Well, there would not be a decision for me. In that situation, there is only one thing I would do: the same thing as Lily.

So where do I think I belong? That is not the right question.

Where do I know I belong?

For years whenever someone asked me, I would always say Ravenclaw. After finishing this re-read…I have to say Hufflepuff.

I do believe that I am intelligent, and I am for sure a bookworm.

But I also believe that I am a loyal individual and I always try to be kind if I can.

My family and my close friends are the most important things (people) in my life and honestly, I would give up my books and everything else if they needed me too. Looking back at the Pottermore welcome message for Hufflepuff, and I am even more convinced.

Another thing that I noticed in this series is during the fourth book when the goblet chose Cedric as the Hogwarts Champion. People generally look down on Hufflepuffs for whatever reason (they should not be), so people find themselves asking “Why a Hufflepuff?” They are not chosen very often, and frankly, neither do I. When I examine certain parts of my life, and me as a person, I realize that I so identify with Hufflepuff and their experience throughout the novels. Unless I am woefully wrong about myself, and I do not believe that I am, I am also a calm person until you try to hurt someone I truly care about—then, you get the badger. Out of all the main qualities we know in relation to the four houses—loyalty, kindness, hard work—the ones Hufflepuff is known for are the ones I value above all else.

I am not ashamed of being a Hufflepuff. Just knowing where I belong, and understanding what led me to know this, is comforting.

There is an interview where J.K. Rowling says that her daughter told her “we should all want to be Hufflepuff.” Rowling cites a significant event in the final book that we now know to be the final battle as her reasoning for the beauty and essence of Hufflepuff. It is why she says Hufflepuff is often her favourite house. I will copy some of the video here, the part you should know about, but watch the video for the whole thing.

There comes a point in the final book where each House has the choice whether or not to rise to a certain challenge, and that’s everyone in the House. The Slytherins, for reasons that are understandable, decide they’d rather not play. The Ravenclaws, some decide they will, some decide they won’t. The Hufflepuffs, virtually to a person, stay, as do the Gryffindors. Now, the Gryffindors comprise a lot of foolhardy and show-offy people, that’s just the way it is, I’m a Gryffindor, I’m allowed to say it. You know, there’s bravery, and there’s also showboating, and sometimes the two go together. The Hufflepuffs stayed for a different reason; they weren’t trying to show off, they weren’t being reckless, that’s the essence of Hufflepuff House.”

It was the only choice. It was the right thing, the loyal thing, to do.

001

Advertisements

Too Old, Too Poor, Too Dangerous

“It was the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high.” -Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
“It was the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high.” -Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

My relationship with this particular novel of the series got off to a rocky start. Before the publication date, I had my Dad preorder a copy for me—I did not have my own credit card at the time—so I knew that it would be coming a couple days after the official publication date because of shipping. Knowing this, I was diligent in avoiding spoilers when I went on the Internet and did not look at anything remotely Harry Potter related during the couple of days before my copy arrived.

One of those days, I was watching a completely unrelated YouTube video and, while it was playing, I scrolled down to see the comments that other viewers had left. This was standard practice for me and I do still do this on occasion today. When I scrolled down I was greeted with what I think was one of my worst experiences with reading a book and spoilers in my whole life. There was a glaring comment proclaiming “Snape kills Dumbledore” staring right at me.

That experience alone is why I abhor spoilers of any kind. While I think that I was able to push the thought into the back of my mind, I never really forgot and as a result, I think that Dumbledore’s death had less of an impact on me. This random person did not completely ruin the book for me, I still loved reading it, but it definitely put a damper on things.

Moving forward, one of the characters I want to feature this time around is Nymphadora Tonks. She was not one of my favourites back during my childhood but now I cannot really understand why. Actually, maybe I can, because what I love from her is not something that I think I could have really understood back then.

She is behaving strangely throughout the entirety of the book—it is perfectly clear that she is very upset about something—depressed even—but it is not explained until the end. At some point, she fell in love with one Remus Lupin but he refuses to be with her because he believe that he is too old, too poor, and too dangerous for her. He feels she deserves someone who is young and whole. In other words, he believes he is utterly unworthy. It is not that he does not return her feelings, because he does.

Dora is an absolute force. She is amazingly kind and completely open-minded. Nothing Remus says to her dissuades her passion. Dora does not care in the slightest about Remus’ lycanthropy. She knows that he is only a danger once every month, and as long as they take the proper precautions like the Wolfsbane potion, everything would be fine. As others point out to Remus, young and whole men do not always remain that way and it matters that she wants him. She chose him. She loves him.

I imagine that, when you love someone like Dora loves Remus, many of the “flaws” fade away. Maybe they were not really flaws in the first place, or maybe because you love them you know ways to help fix real issues. Maybe the flaws do not matter. In any case, I think that the way Dora love Remus is amazing.

Building on this, I want to talk about Remus for a minute or two. I understand where he is coming from in that he is very self-deprecating and self-conscious about the elements of himself that he feels are flaws. I talked a little bit about lycanthropy in my post surrounding Prisoner of AzkabanI Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good—and I think that it applies a little here. There is a shocking amount of prejudice towards those suffering from lycanthropy and I know that this has severely affect how Remus views himself. The prejudice has caused him to look down on himself and, frankly, start to agree with how a large portion of the world sees him and his condition. It is not fair or right at all, but it is the reality he faces on a daily basis.

I think it is also the reality many people in our world face. The opinions of others do have an impact on the way that we view ourselves. I think that is a simple way of putting it, but it is one way. The extent of the impact I mentioned can differ, but it does not completely go away. I know that very well myself, which is why I think that I am taking so much from Remus and Dora in this reread. It is also a major component of why I love Dora so much in this reread. I am so thankful that Remus had someone like her around. He could exist without her, I am sure of that, but existing is not exactly living, is it?

I know that heartbreak is coming around again. I can already feel the sadness and I have not started my reread of the final novel. But I also know that the time I spent with this book and with Remus and Dora…well, I would not change it because I would not walk away in the same way that I will once I am finished.

I am thankful for the two of them.

~~*~~

Note: My Deathly Hallows post will go live two weeks from today as next week I am reviewing Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling).

Something He Didn’t Have Last Time

'What's he [Voldemort] after apart from followers?' Harry asked swiftly. He thought he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before Sirius answered. 'Stuff he can only get by stealth.' When Harry continued to look puzzled, Sirius said, 'Like a weapon. Something he didn't have last time.'
‘What’s he [Voldemort] after apart from followers?’ Harry asked swiftly. He thought he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before Sirius answered.
‘Stuff he can only get by stealth.’
When Harry continued to look puzzled, Sirius said, ‘Like a weapon. Something he didn’t have last time.’
When I was younger, I decided that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was my least favourite of all the Harry Potter books. Not to say that I did not enjoy it, but simply that I got a lot more out of the other ones. Whether that is still the case remains to be seen. Let’s get down to discussing this book.

The first thing I want to—or try to—make sense of is how no one really tells Harry anything. Sure, Dumbledore admits his mistake at the end, but honestly I do not believe that Dumbledore ever really understands the magnitude of what he has done up to this point—especially since parts of it should have been obvious—and escapes any real personal consequences.

Apparently Dumbledore believed that Harry was happier and safer not knowing about the prophecy and what it would entail for his future. He forced Harry to stay at the Dursleys’ for the majority of the summer, when he really should know the abuse that Harry endures there. At the end of this book, Dumbledore makes a comment about Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts for his first year. He says that while Harry was not “as happy nor as well-nourished as [he] would have liked, perhaps, yet alive and healthy. You were not a pampered little prince, but as normal a boy as [he] could have hoped under the circumstances.” Now, I highly doubt that Harry was all that healthy considering we know that the Dursleys would refuse to feed him on a regular basis, and when he did get food it was often things such as a little bit of stale bread and cheese.

Building on this, members of the Order talk about only telling Harry what he needs to know. I fully believe that Harry needed to know about the prophecy. How else could he prepare for the fight that he will inevitably face? When Dumbledore realized what was happening with Harry’s dreams, he should have told him. Harry should have received Occlumency lessons from Dumbledore, and the weak acknowledgement from Dumbledore really does nothing to rectify the error. Snape was never going to treat Harry with anything more than disgust and derision. He should have known that. If he was such as great wizard, what was stopping him from knowing? Frankly, I think that part of it was Dumbledore’s need to have some power over people, though he disguises it quite well.

By the way, I do think that Snape’s disgust for Harry’s father (as well as the other Marauders) got in the way of him teaching Harry Occlumency properly. It takes a lot of discipline and willpower to do, sure, but those are also skills needed to throw off the Imperius Curse. Harry cannot do that, can he? Oh wait, as we all know from Goblet of Fire, Harry does have that ability. I do not mean to say that Harry would have mastered it, after all J.K. Rowling has stated thatHarry’s problem with it was always that his emotions were too near the surface and that he is in some ways too damaged. But he’s also very in touch with his feelings about what’s happened to him. He’s not repressed, he’s quite honest about facing them, and he couldn’t suppress them, he couldn’t suppress these memories”, but I do feel Harry would have been better had he had a better—or at least more unbiased—teacher.

Dumbledore talks about the numerous mistakes he made starting from when he dropped Harry off at Privet Drive. Which begs the question, what gave Dumbledore the right to take a baby from the home and move him to another? Was there no system in place for orphaned wizarding children, or for those whose parents gave them up?

I think that I have to stop myself here. My rant about Dumbledore could go on for a while, and there may actually be one more quip by the end of this, but I do have to talk about other things.

As much as people might focus on Harry in this book, I think that Neville Longbottom goes through a massive change here. He and his grandmother believe Harry and Dumbledore, he joins the DA, works tirelessly to improve his spell work, sees the escape of one of the Death Eaters who tortured his parents, has his secret revealed, and goes to the Department of Mysteries to battle with Death Eaters. He is just as brave as Harry. Just as important. The only thing working against Neville is that he lacks confidence and is intimated easily as a result (see: Snape and Potions). When he receives encouragement? Well, he excels in Herbology, and the support Harry gives through the DA helps him improve.

In addition, the escape of Bellatrix gives him so much determination and ambition even Slytherins would be jealous. I know that I have already eliminated Gryffindor from the “selection” of what house I belong in, but if I were to be a Gryffindor…I would be so lucky to be someone like Neville. You know, I did not pick him as one of my favourite characters when I was young reading these books. Now though, he is definitely up there. I think he and Luna would take the top spots, but we will see by the end of the series.

I did not realize this before, but I think that Order of the Phoenix would be a good book to look at in terms of a character study. You can see how returning characters changed in the face of this wizarding war, such as Sirius Black and Harry Potter, as well as how new characters are portrayed in this version based on their position in the war, like Dolores Umbridge (who, by the way, makes me more uncomfortable than most of the “evil” characters) and Luna Lovegood. Characters, whether they are good or evil in the book, are a major point of interest and concern for me whenever I read. By concern I mean that I want to be invested in the characters in one way or the other (love or hate type of thing) and that they really cannot be flat or “Mary-Sue” like for me to enjoy the book, regardless of the plot. I have had many books ruined because, despite a brilliant premise, the characters just crumbled.

My opinion on the book as it relates to the series as a whole remains to be seen, but I definitely think that I enjoyed Order of the Phoenix more as an adult than as a child.

~~*~~

Now, I told you that I would eliminate another house. I have been sitting on this for almost two weeks now but needed to save it, like I mentioned in my previous post, so that I can reveal (hopefully) in my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows post.

Thus, I can say that I do not believe that I belong in Slytherin. I do have ambition and the other qualities that Slytherins value, but I do not feel that they are my “dominant” traits. I think that, in select cases, I can be quite the Slytherin, but overall I am somewhere else. This leaves Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff in the running. I think on some level, as one of my best friends will know as we spoke about this a few weeks ago, I knew that it would come down to these two. However, I do also believe that I needed this re-read to re-affirm that belief. What is interesting is these are the results of my first two Pottermore Sortings. The only question now is whether I end up with my first result or my second.

Lord Voldemort Had Risen Again

"His hands were like large, pale spiders; his long white fingers caressed his own chest, his arms, his face; the red eyes, whose pupils were like slits, like a cat's gleamed still more brightly through the darkness. He held up his hands, and flexed the fingers, his expression rapt and exultant."
“His hands were like large, pale spiders; his long white fingers caressed his own chest, his arms, his face; the red eyes, whose pupils were like slits, like a cat’s gleamed still more brightly through the darkness. He held up his hands, and flexed the fingers, his expression rapt and exultant.”

This was definitely a crossroads books so to speak in the series. I guess one of the final chapters, The Parting of the Ways, really shows that. But I am talking more than just the turn it takes between two people who should be on the same side in the novels.

I think that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the bridge between the light and the dark in the series. This book is where you really get a sense of foreboding and you just know that with Lord Voldemort rising again that a war is about to break out in the Wizarding World. Although Harry has always been a little more mature than others his age, I think this is the point where he is really forced to grow even more. Granted, we all know that the Order of the Phoenix is basically angsty Harry, but I will get to that in my next post. The first two things I want to address in this book deal with characters and the last one is about a glaring error in what should be (and is) an emotional moment in the book.

I am going to start with one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the book that you do not really realize until you finish reading the novel. I am, of course, referring to the first Defence Against the Dark Arts class of the year where Professor Moody has the three spiders and demonstrates the Unforgivable Curses for the class of fourth years. The Imperius Curse is kind of “scary”, I suppose, because you would lose your ability to think for yourself and the person casting it could force you to do anything. I know many may consider the Killing Curse to be sad because that is how Harry’s mother and father died, but that is not the heartbreaking part.

In this scene, Neville is forced to witness the Cruiciatus Curse—the Torture Curse—which is how his parents, Alice and Frank Longbottom, suffered shortly after Lord Voldemort fell. As we learn later, his parents are in the long term (read: permanent) ward at St Mungo’s Hospital and they do not really know who Neville is. They were tortured into insanity.

Sometimes I do not know what would be worse: to be in Harry’s position or in Neville’s (or their parents’). I mean, it would obviously be terrible to be dead and not watch your child grow up, but would it not be equally (or more) sad to be alive but not really know what is going on? Alternatively, in the case of Harry and Neville, would it hurt less to have lost your parents at a young age and not remember them, or have them be in a long-term ward and be unaware of who you are? I honestly have no idea how to answer these questions.

But back to the scene…the first time I read this book when I was young, I had no idea just how heartbreaking this scene was. Not only do we learn that this was the curse used to torture Neville’s parents…but Professor Moody at the time was an imposter. His real identity? Barty Crouch Jr., one of the Death Eaters who tortured Neville’s parents. Neville is in the same room as one of the people who took his parents from him and he did not know. He was trusting, to an extent, in Moody. I do not know that everyone will feel that this situation is heartbreaking, but to me it is. Neville is a sweetheart and it hurts knowing all of this background. If I were him, I guarantee that I would have wanted some form of revenge in that moment.

~~*~~

The second character I want to write about here is Cedric Diggory. I know that most of Gryffindor house in the beginning does not see Cedric as smart or worthy of glory through the Triwizard Tournament. I understand supporting Harry after he is selected, but why be almost cruel about how they speak about Cedric before the champion was even selected? This mindset extends to readers, in no small part due to the perspective that other characters have of Cedric and his house. They might also dislike him because he got Cho where Harry did not, but he was also the one who asked first! I think that Cedric is quite kind, clearly exhibited in how he tries to get his friends and others to stop wearing the “Potter Sucks” badges. He was also incredibly brave, and by all evidence supplied in the novels, Cedric seemed like an amazing friend to have. I believe it is also worth mentioning that in Prisoner of Azkaban, Cedric wanted a rematch because of what happened with Harry and the Dementors. He knows that, in some respect, it was not quite fair what happened during the match. Fairness is one of the major traits of Hufflepuff house. Not to say that the other houses are not fair per say, but it is not one of the defining elements.

I realize that ending the book with his death involved in Lord Voldemort’s return was a good way to end this book and open the Second Wizarding War. This does not make it any less sad for readers, Harry, Hufflepuff house, and especially Cedric’s parents. I cannot imagine having to bury a child. Parents should not have to outlive their children.

There is something I want to say about Hufflepuff, but I know that it is in a later novel where what I want to say really comes out, so I need to save the bulk of it. I will try, however, to talk about a little bit here. It becomes clearer in this book that Hufflepuff house hardly ever gets glory. They are, by all accounts, the ones who simply put their noses to the ground and get their work done. They do not go looking for as much glory…or maybe they do, but the other houses always overshadow them. Gryffindors—at their extreme—are quite reckless and are home to some show-offs. Slytherins are known for ambition (also Dark wizards, though other houses have them). Ravenclaws are always perpetuated as the smartest.

I think that there is something to be said about how, out of everyone at Hogwarts who entered the tournament, it was Cedric who was chosen as the champion. I am not 100% sure what that is just yet, but there is something there.

~~*~~

There is one last thing that I want to address for this book, though it is in a slightly different vein than previous topics of interest to me. Here, rather, I want to actually point out a mistake in my edition that I never really noticed when I was young. I say my edition because I do own an early version of the novel and I believe that the publisher corrected it later on.

I will draw your attention to the scene now:

“The smoky shadow of a tall man with untidy hair fell to the ground as Bertha had done, straightened up, and looked at him … and Harry, his arms shaking madly now, looked back into the ghostly face of his father. ‘Your mother’s coming …’ he said quietly. ‘She wants to see you … it will be all right … hold on …’ And she came … first her head, then her body … a young woman with long hair, the smoky, shadowy form of Lily Potter blossomed from the end of Voldemort’s wand, fell to the ground, and straightened like her husband.” Chapter 34: Priori Incantatem, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Can you spot it?

I do not blame you if you did not spot it, since I did not notice for the longest time. Think about the order: James appeared before Lily did. But the reverse spell effect was supposed to do an exact reversal of the last spells Lord Voldemort’s wand cast: Wormtail’s hand, torturing, Cedric’s murder, then Frank Bryce’s, then Bertha Jorkins’, before going all the back to Lily and then James. That is the issue: Lily died after James, so she should have appeared before him during this scene. James told her to take Harry and run while he held Voldemort off. I know they did not make it, but the point is that Lord Voldemort had to go through James and murder him first. This mistake, although it does mess up the reverse spell effect, does not ruin the scene in the slightest. I love the introduction that James gives to Lily’s entrance. In my opinion, it was very sweet. I do not go looking for flaws, especially in the Harry Potter novels, but I think that it is somewhat comforting to know that anyone can make a mistake…even J.K. Rowling, whom I consider an amazing writer and one of my favourite authors.

~~*~~

I am going to end this post by mentioning a few administrative things. First, I have actually eliminated another house from my process of figuring out which one I truly belong in, but I will reveal that in the next post, simply so that I can draw everything out until my final post and do the “reveal” then (provided I have it all figure out between the final two. Second, I am trying to figure out a nice notification system for new posts outside of following me on WordPress. I do have a Twitter account where I do post a link, but I am thinking some email notification might be nice. I will make a separate post when I have it figured out. Look forward to a full administrative-type post. I have some exciting things coming in the next few months for this blog and I want to share them with everyone!

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”

Before I get into the bulk of what I want to talk about regarding my read of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I want to let readers know that it is going to deal with some topics that might be triggering for some people. Specifically, I will be talking about my read of depression in this novel, and while I do hope to have a happier tone in certain points, I just want to make sure that I gave an appropriate forewarning. I will talk about my other points first, and I will insert a line in between paragraphs where I will begin talking about my read of depression, should you wish to read as much as you can.

From what I understand, J.K. Rowling used Remus Lupin’s lycanthropy as a metaphor for an individual suffering from HIV/AIDS through the prejudice that the general populace has towards people like him in the books. On any given day, Remus does not pose a threat to anyone and, provided he takes the Wolfsbane potion, he is relatively safe on the full moon each month. His condition in no way changes the kind of person he is. Okay it does in that he feels ashamed about his condition and plays into the prejudice by looking down on himself, but I mean that it does not change his kindness towards others and his ability to teach his student effectively, among other aspects of his character. This is similar, I think, to something like HIV/AIDS—as long as people take the proper precautions are taken, there is no significant danger to others. Despite this, there is documented evidence of a prejudice.

I do also believe that you can make other comparisons to the presentation of lycanthropy in the books, but that would require a lot of additional research so that I would approach the topic in the right way and with care. I believe that Rowling only wrote with HIV/AIDS in mind, but that said I think that what the individual readers gets out of the book, regardless of authorial intent, is still important.

~~~Note that I am now transitioning to writing about depression~~~

“Yeh can’ really remember who yeh are after a while. An’ yeh can’ see the point o’ livin’ at all. I use ter hope I’d jus’ die in me sleep … when they let me out, it was like bein’ born again, ev’rythin’ came floodin’ back,  it was the bes’ feelin’ in the world. Mind, the Dementors weren’t keen on lettin’ me go.” – Hagrid, Chapter 11: The Firebolt, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Depression is not sadness. Sadness, whether it is severe or quite mild, is a feeling and depression is the cold, absence of feeling. Harry Potter readers, if they follow interviews that J.K. Rowling has done, will be aware that she suffered from depression in her 20s (and, from what I gather, it does crop up on occasion, but not to the same extent). I kind of knew that the Dementors stood for depression prior to my re-read of this book because of those interviews:

“The Dementors, for instance, are prison guards who track people by sensing their emotions. They disable their victims by sucking out all positive thoughts and with a kiss they can take a soul while leaving the body alive. I do not think that these are just characters. I think they are a description of depression.

‘Yes. That is exactly what they are,’ she says. ‘It was entirely conscious. And entirely from my own experience. Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced.’

What does she mean?

‘It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It’s a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.’ ”

I took that quote directly from an interview J.K. Rowling did on June 30, 2000 with The Times (UK). You will see that my words prior to this quote kind of reflect that same “absence” of feeling—mostly because that is how the Dementors are described. Their presence drains whoever is near them and only a Patronus Charm, fueled by a happy memory, can repel the Dementor.

Instead of going into Rowling’s personal experience, as you can find lots of information on that on the Internet, I want to move forward to how I read the inclusion of the Patronus Charm. I think that this inclusion is not only integral to the comparison—but very powerful to read as well.

To put it simply, I believe that the Patronus Charm is integral to the comparison because of the difficulty of its casting. But that is a little vague, is it not? From my understanding, battling depression is unlike anything else because the individual suffering simply does not believe that they will ever be happy again, that they have no purpose, essentially. In their eyes, there is no way out. (Aside: I hope I did that justice). This is why the Patronus is so hard to cast—if the Dementors represent depression in the books, the Patronus Charm is what repels and, hopefully, destroys the Dementor. The caster must think of their happiest memory (or rather, one strong enough) to actually cast the spell properly. I do not believe that it is a matter of magical prowess, because if it were Hermione would be able to do it as Harry does. It is a matter of will and the strength of that happy memory. With that in mind, the comparison to depression rings clear as it is beyond difficult to recall happy times on the worst days.

But when they manage to extract a memory strong enough to repel the Dementor, even if it is only for a little while…oh that feeling.

~~~~

Returning to the topic of what house I would be in, I think I have one that I can at least eliminate. While I do think that everyone has qualities from all four houses in them, I also feel that certain qualities are more prominent. With that in mind, I have to take Gryffindor out of the running if only because I never find myself brave to the point of recklessness (or frankly, a “show-off”—I know not all Gryffindors would be this way, but many in the books are). Honestly though, if you were to ask me I am not particularly brave at all. It takes way too much courage and energy from me to actually do things that scare me—if I ever do them.

To end today, I would love to know what everyone thinks about these posts. If you have been revisiting the books, have you seen what I have? Any contradictions? Anything I have left out (I know there is something)?