Chiastic Structure of the Novels?

Two very thoughtful men have weighed in on the chiastic structure of the Harry Potter books, a theory I think I first heard at Nimbus 2003. In brief, it is the idea that the novels are something of a circle or loop in which books 1 and 7, 2 and 6, and 3 and 5 are each a paired set and book 4 the “turning point” with elements of the three sets. The Red Hen has been discussing this sort of thing for some time with the rest of Fandom.

Pastor Joe Thacker has given his version a decidedly alchemical look and HogPro All Pro “Merlin” the Seminarian has pulled out all the stops in his exegesis over at Muggle Matters, which began here in 2006 and continues here this summer (scroll down to Thursday, June 14th: “The 3-4-5 Insanity Chiasm in the Harry Potter Series”). Both versions are worth your time, if only to begin (or review?) your thinking about how the books work as a series or one unit.

Contrary theories are welcome and will be posted, time allowing!

The Order of the Phoenix film: A “Trailer for the Book”?

I was scheduled last week to be the moderator of an Enlightening 2007 panel discussing the Order of the Phoenix movie. This, of course, put me into something of a panic; I know nothing about movies beyond what my mother taught me (“Sit quietly in the the theatre during the film, Alan, and try not to drop too much popcorn. It’s very hard for the nice man who works here to sweep up.”)

Fortunately for me and the people listening to this panel discussion, I have a friend who is both a Harry Potter maven and a professional screenwriter. Janet Batchler not only has a batch of great movies she and her husband Lee have written to her credit, she also teaches this celluloid magic craft at USC. I wrote Janet for help with questions for the panel. Being the charitable woman she is, I received these brilliant ideas via email almost immediately.

Thank you, Janet!

Yesterday, she gave me permission to post them here. I urge you to read Janet’s notes about the movie over at Quoth the Maven and then post your thoughts about the movie and answers to the questions below in the comment boxes here. [Read more…]

“Harry Potter and the Dubious Hullabaloo” — The Red Hen Speaks

Joyce Odell, the Red Hen, has posted this fascinating theory that the spoiler text now available on many internet sites is actually a Joanne Rowling inspired if not written product to keep real spoilers from appearing during Potter Week. Ms. Odell has locked up her Red Hen Publications site from any changes now lest she be accused of having seen the foe/faux manuscript online so this appears on her never-before-used Live Journal page. [Read more…]

Guest Essay5: “If the Wand Chooses the Wizard…”

From Beth Priest, HogPro All-Pro, old school:

One question I’ve been puzzling over for ages: If the “wand chooses the wizard,” then why on earth did Voldemort’s wand choose him? since it’s got a tail feather from Fawkes! Apparently there have only ever been two such wands in existence. (Where they made at the same time? And on what occasion did Fawkes decide to donate two of his feathers for such a purpose? Did Dumbledore have anything to do with those wands being made? And why were there two?)

It’s just always seemed very odd to me that a wand, seemingly so connected to a bird of beauty, rightness, and power, a bird symbolic of resurrection, a bird connected so deeply to a powerful Gryffindor, would choose an orphan boy with a penchant for cruelty and a huge fear of death who also happens to be the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin. Decidedly strange. Remember when Harry first chooses his wand; or rather the wand chooses Harry? Red and gold sparks actually fly out of it! It’s hard to imagine that green and silver sparks would have flown out of Tom Riddle’s wand, made with the same core. Unless….

Here are my two ideas. One is a new idea for me, and the other is an old one I’ve played around with for a while. [Read more…]

PDay Minus Five: Prediction #3 “Mistaken Identities”

Monday of Potter Week and we’re up to the third Five Keys Prediction for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This one will cause a lot of eyeball rolling and dilatory disputation, if the latter is possible when much of Deathly Hallows has supposedly been posted online, because the subject of “Mistaken Identities” is not a “no-brainer,” especially when it comes to naming names.

Here, then, is my disclaimer about these predictions.

I’m not a brilliant writer of fiction as is Ms. Rowling and I am not a wizard. When I make predictions, consequently, I’m not doing this with the serious intention of hitting bulls eyes. I’m firing at a target in a dark forest, and, while the target is fixed, not moving, I can’t see it and I don’t know where it is. I’ll be delighted and as surprised as anyone if I am correct in the details of any of my predictions. Outside of a few “hits” in the past (Snape as Half-Blood Prince, Ron and Ginny as “Quarreling Couple,” Death of Dumbledore, weather predictions, etc.), all my plot point predictions have been wrong.

Why do I bother?

My intention in making these predictions is to illustrate the Five Keys that open up or “unlock” Harry Potter for the serious reader. I’ve tried to make the best-guesses fun and engaging, even credible because they are detailed rather than formless generalities, but they’re just mind-grabbing illustrations of the Five Keys. The specifics are almost certainly wrong but the Five Keys the predictions exemplify are very valuable (read Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader to see what I’m talking about!).

Back to “Mistaken Identities.”

In the “Hero’s Journey” chapter of Unlocking Harry Potter, I detail the repeated cycles, patterns, and story points that Ms. Rowling uses in most every book. One of the most interesting of the story points that she uses is “Mistaken Identities.” The existence of Polyjuice Potion, Animagi, and simpler Transfiguration spells mean that Hogwarts School specifically (and the Wizarding World in general) is not a place where you can be sure the person you’re speaking with or just seeing is the person you think you’re seeing or talking to. [Read more…]