Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter Must Die!!!!!

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

I bet that got your attention. Actually, I harbor no particular ill-will towards Harry Potter, that was just a shameless attempt to get people to read this. Though, rest assured, I do think J.K. Rowling should knock him off in her seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter odyssey, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which hits bookstores in about two hours. The New York Times and other papers have apparently illicitly obtained copies in advance and have printed reviews spoiling the endings. I have nothing but contempt for spoilers and have not read or sought out any spoiler details. However, I have been thinking about what the Deathly Hallows was likely to contain and I do have a few predictions.

Dumbledore and Snape

1) Albus Dumbledore: He's Pushing Up Daisies

Yep, let's face it, he's dead and not likely to be coming back. I know some people still refuse to accept this, but it's the truth. Rowling said, point-blank, "He's dead." That's good enough for me. There was something very fishy about the way he died (see below) in the "Half-Blood Prince," but he's still dead. From a writer's standpoint, what good would a revived or resurrected Dumbledore be? He served as Harry's mentor and protector all these years, but the common theme in any myth is that the apprentice cannot stay under the master forever. The master must be removed from the story so that the apprentice can realize his destiny (think how Obi-Wan was killed off in Star Wars, for instance). There is so much that Harry will have to accomplish in book 7 and so many loose ends to tie up that I doubt Rowling will go the trouble to complicate things more by bringing back Dumbledore (or Sirius, for that matter). To Albus, I wish you a fond farewell.

2) Severus Snape: Good Guy

The first time I read book 6, I was floored when I read the scene in which Snape kills Dumbledore. Despite all the clues Rowling had been dropping throughout the book (and in previous books) about Snape's malignant ways, I had refused to see it. Still, I find it hard to accept, though I think there are compelling reasons to doubt Snape's treason.

Earlier in the book, Hagrid reported to Harry and Co. that he'd heard Snape telling Dumbledore that he'd changed his mind and was no longer willing to do it anymore and Dumbledore told him firmly that Snape had promised to it, and so he would have to anyway. Do what? Hagrid assumed Snape was no longer willing to teach at Hogwarts anymore, but that seems unlikely since he'd never before expressed a willingness to leave Hogwarts. What else could Snape and Dumbledore have been arguing over?

At the beginning of "Half-Blood Prince," Dumbledore is severely wounded from destroying one of Voldemort's horcruxes. Snape is able to stop the spread of the poison, apparently, but Dumbledore's hand is dead from this point on. Not to belabor the obvious, but a Snape committed to killing Dumbledore hardly would have saved his life. He could have withheld the appropriate treatment and everyone else would have thought that Snape had tried his hardest, but his hardest just wasn't good enough.

To the contrary, what if Snape wasn't really able to save Dumbledore at all? What if the poison was beyond the powers of Snape to repair? Remember how Snape had bragged about his ability to do many seemingly-miraculous things, including "stopper death"? While I'm not sure what "stoppering death" would entail exactly, my guess is that Snape was able to slow the spread of the poison, to give Dumbledore more time before it finally killed him.

Why would Dumbledore need more time? Because he had to tell Harry everything he knew about Tom Riddle/Voldemort and his horcruxes, so that he could carry on the fight after Dumbledore was dead. It is interesting that it is only in book six that Dumbledore all of a sudden reveals all of this to Harry. After having Harry under his wing for five years, only now does he get down to business, when his mind is concentrated by his impending death. Dumbledore clearly knew his time on Earth was coming to an end (indeed, perhaps it already had, and Dumbledore was in some sense dead, a "walking dead" if you will, during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts even before the final confrontation on the Astronomy Tower, though I consider this less likely.) Thus when Snape Avada Kedavra'd Dumbledore, he wasn't killing Dumbledore so much as removing the "stopper" he'd placed on death (or alternatively, assuming Dumbledore already in some sense dead, Avada Kedavra would not have "killed" the already technically-dead Dumbledore).

All this was perhaps prefigured in the very first HP book, when Dumbledore revealed that Nicolas Flamel and his wife needed the elixir of life to "set their affairs in order" before they passed on. It stands to reason Dumbledore needed time for the same purpose as well. (I must admit I was not the first to come up with the "stoppered death" theory, so
credit where it's due.)

Alternatively, Dumbledore's death may have been necessitated by the fact that Snape had taken an Unbreakable Oath to help Draco accomplish his task to kill Dumbledore. Snape, I think, agreed to this because doing so would help him gain favor with the Dark Lord, and allow him an opportunity to betray him at a later date. He was also probably acting under Dumbledore's orders to do this, though that's not perfectly clear. In any case, Dumbledore trusted Snape for some reason, though no one else seems to know why.

Snape was a master occlumens and could have shielded his thoughts from Dumbledore (or Voldemort) but Dumbledore trusted him anyway. Snape probably swore an Unbreakable Oath to help Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix back when he started at Hogwarts. The two oaths are mutually exclusive, meaning that Snape's life would have been forfeit. If Dumbledore ordered Snape to kill him, however, he would have been helping Draco fulfill his task while at the same time being completely faithful to the leader of the Order of the Phoenix. Perhaps Dumbledore saw some good that Snape could accomplish this way and considered the cost of his own life to be worth it. Who knows which theory is right? Either way, Snape is a "good guy," of some sort anyway.

The clearest evidence of Snape's "goodness" is that in Snape's flight with the Death Eaters from the castle, he cast no deadly spells at any of the Order or any of the children. When Harry tried to attack him, Snape cast away the curses without casting any deadly ones or even seriously injurious ones back at Harry. Instead, he gave Harry advice on how to cast spells properly, advice such as casting word-less spells. While the advice was couched in the language of mockery, it was still advice Snape was under no obligation to give his foe. Finally, when one of the Death Eaters tried to cast a Cruciatus curse at Potter, Snape stopped him, saying, "Potter belongs to the Dark Lord." But wouldn't Voldemort have been even more pleased with Snape if he'd not only killed Dumbledore but killed or brought Harry Potter back with him? Something doesn't add up here, a lot of somethings.

Not to mention the fact that Snape put his three most closely-held memories in the Pensieve in book 5, and Potter saw one of them (it was Snape being picked on James Potter and his gang and Snape then lashing out at Lilly Potter, an act for which he clearly felt terrible later.) Snape was furious when he caught Harry, but he had no idea what memory he'd seen. My point here is this: if one of the other two memories was about continuing to serve Voldemort as a double agent, wouldn't he assume the worst, that Harry had seen his betrayal of the Order? Instead, he seemed merely embarrassed that Harry had seen him weak and vulnerable. All the evidence seems to point to Snape being good.


Well, I went on at greater length there than I had meant to. A quick note about horcruxes: Voldemort apparently made six horcruxes so that his soul would be divided into seven pieces, seven being a magical number. It appears those horcruxes were Tom Riddle's Diary (destroyed), Slytherin's ring (destroyed), Slytherin's locket (found by someone known as R.A.B. who I imagine is Regulus Black, as he is the only character I know of with the initials R.B.; the locket may not have been destroyed as Kreacher is mentioned in book 5 as having secreted away a number of Dark Magic artifacts, including a heavy locket that could not be opened....) , the Hufflepuff cup, and two unnamed objects (though I suspect his snake Nagini is one of them, as he seems to possess her at times).

The big question is whether Harry himself is a horcrux. To create a horcrux, one has to commit murder, so it's quite possible Voldemort intended to create another horcrux after the murder of James and Lilly Potter, along with their son. Presumably, somehow during the confrontation, Voldemort unknowingly turned Harry into a horcrux. This would explain why Harry has so many of Voldemort's characteristics (such as being a parseltongue) and why Voldemort and Harry have some kind of mental link. It might also explain Harry's scar;
Orson Scott Card thinks that the scar itself is the horcrux, but I am operating under the assumption that horcruxes have to be preexisting objects (for example, the diary) rather than objects created during the casting of the horcrux spell itself. Either way, it seems that Harry is indeed a horcrux, which means that the horcrux within himself must be destroyed before Voldemort can be destroyed (which may very well entail Harry's death, though I suspect he will find a way to destroy it without killing himself).

To finish, I will merely compile a hit list of characters I think are likely to die in book 7, though I could be completely wrong (and in some cases, I hope I am.)

The List of Doom

-Voldemort: He's the main bad guy, so unless evil triumphs, Voldemort is the only sure casualty.

-Wormtail: He still owes Harry that life-debt, so he will help Harry at a crucial moment, betraying Voldemort and most likely dying in the process. I don't think anyone else has commented on it, but I am intrigued by the similarities between Wormtail and Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings. Both are sniveling, pathetic creatures who slavishly serve their respective dark masters. But Wormtongue in the end gets so fed up with being treated so badly by Saruman that he betrays him, literally stabbing him in the back, before himself being killed. I don't know if Rowling has even read the Lord of the Rings, but I can't help but think that the similarity here is deliberate.

Snape: He will also "betray" Voldemort at some point (he actually betrayed him long ago), though he might not die in the process. I'd still bet he doesn't outlive Voldemort though.

Draco Malfoy: Who cares? He's a relatively minor character who is a coward, to boot, so I don't imagine it much matters whether he lives or dies. My bet is he tries to run from the Death Eaters and pays the inevitable price.

Hagrid: He was an important character early on (serving as a mentor to Harry), but not recently. His character doesn't have much to do, so he could safely be axed, yet he is a beloved character, so his death would be felt deeply by the other characters and fans alike. I'm afraid he's a goner, though I'd like to be proven wrong.

Arthur Weasley: Molly Weasly has worried about one of her family being struck down from the beginning. The Weasley's are a large family and are all engaged in the struggle against Voldemort. It would take a miracle for them all to emerge unscathed. Arthur and Bill have both had brushes with death, and it seems likely that was foreshadowing for what is to come. My money is on Arthur dying, though I hope he doesn't, because he's always been one of my favorites.

Harry: He might not have to die, but one theme running through the series seems to be the self-sacrificing hero (think Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore). It would almost be out of place for good to prevail without self-sacrifice. Perhaps the others who will die to bring down Voldemort will mean that Harry won't have to die himself. I lean towards death. At least that way, Rowling won't have to write about him again. It's also hard to imagine him living happily ever after with Ginny in the aftermath of defeating Voldemort. Again, I'd love to be proven wrong, though. After all the kid's been through, he deserves a happily-ever-after.


Scott said...

This post couldn't have been timed better, for me at least. I've read through all of the previous 6 books but, as I tend to do with good books, did so too quickly and have forgotten major parts of several of the books. I've been looking for synopses and this post managed to remind me of several key events and has reawakened my memories of the books.

I haven't read Deathly Hallows yet but I too agree with you on Hagrid's eventual death and the pattern of self-sacrifice. I can easily picture Hagrid going out in a blaze of glory as he's always served as the protector for Harry and his friends.