Ink Black Heart and Deathly Hallows: The Heart is Not About Emotions and Affection but the Human Spiritual Center

I have two quick points to make tonight about Rowling’s use of the word “heart.”

First, she revealed in Deathly Hallows that the heart is not about emotions and relationships per se but the human spiritual center. In Hallows, the critical moments in the transformation of Ron Weasley and Harry Potter are described with repeated references to their hearts and the light and darkness within and around them. More than Half-Blood Prince or the ‘Hairy Heart’ in Beedle the Bard, this is where we find the clearest references to what it means to have an ‘Ink Black Heart’ and how to overcome it.

Second, this use of the heart as the home of the noetic faculty or ‘Spirit’ is in keeping with traditional teaching across the great revelations, especially Christianity, though a great departure from prevalent Valentine’s Day sentiments about the heart as the metaphorical home for affection and emotion. Harry and Ron’s illumined hearts after their time in inky blackness in Deathly Hallows are signs of their enlightenment and self-transcendence, not emotional or affectionate accomplishment.

More after the jump! [Read more…]

The Sword Hidden in a Frozen Pond ‘Dissolution’ and ‘Deathly Hallows:’ Literary Allusion and Reinvention?

I gave a talk to students at the University of Louisville last week in which, almost as an aside, I asserted that the pivotal chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ‘The Silver Doe,’ was the best and most important chapter in the Hogwarts Saga. The Arthurian, alchemical, and Estecean Christian symbolism make it a one-stop introduction to everything brilliant in the series; that it is the story-turn in the series finale’s meaning-laden ring structure is just an ‘extra.’

My favorite part of the chapter is Ron Weasley’s description of how Dumbledore’s Deluminator enabled him to find Harry and Hermione on the run. The combination of light, heart, Christmas, and name tokens here and their deployment as set-up to Ron’s victory over the two-eyed Locket Horcrux (and his own transformed vision, cf. Matthew 6:21-23) reveals Rowling as a traditional allegorist in the tradition of Spenser, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Coleridge, and the Inklings.

I suspect, though, that others think of Harry’s descent into the pool to get the Sword of Gryffindor, the Locket’s attempt to strangle him, and Ron the Baptist appearing ex machina to raise the Boy Who Lived from a near-certain death by drowning as ‘The Silver Doe’s defining moment. (Did I mention the albedo-photismos qualities of this chapter?) I get that choice. High drama, plenty of action, a real Big Screen life-saving sequence. The Lady in the Lake sword-deliverer story in a snow-scape. This chapter has it all.

That being said, I want to share a passage from a 2003 novel that was a very big hit in the UK, one I think it more than credible that Rowling read at the time of its publication. If you don’t see the parallels with ‘The Silver Doe’ chapter’s sword in the frozen pond scene, I think you’ll need to read it again. It’s nothing like plagiarism or theft but a brilliant re-invention and re-purposing of another writer’s work, even perhaps a hat-tip to a like-minded author. The book is C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution, the connection with Rowling is through P. D. James, and the parallel scene and compare-and-contrast discussion with Deathly Hallows’ pivotal chapter are all to be found after the jump! [Read more…]

Deathly Hallows Tenth Anniversary (2) Looking Back and Looking Forward

From the Deep Vaults, a half-hour’s ride with Griphook into the bowels of Gringotts!

As I explain (sort of!) in the video above, in the run-up to the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ten years ago , I made a prediction each day for seven days. How did I do? I’ll let you be the judge.

The Seven Predictions

The day after the finale was published, I started posting discussion threads. In a week or so we were up to thirty. For a taste of that ‘day of release’ excitement, these conversations are a convenient short-cut.

The Thirty ‘Deathly Hallows’ Threads

And then there were the longer posts about what made Deathly Hallows great. I made lists of some of those posts much later in 2007 as a poor man’s ‘Year in Review.’

The 2007 HogPro Greatest Hits List ; Alternative: Top ‘Potter Stories’ in 2007 List

To loop this back to the beginning above, how about some silly speculation? In March, 2007, we learned the title of the last book and we saw its Scholastic cover for the first time. For laughs, check out the best guesses of the best thinking from the best Potter Pundits with respect to what the title and covers were about…

March 2007: ‘The Meaning of the title Deathly Hallows’

March 2007: Thoughts about the Deathly Hallows Book Cover

And don’t forget the video’s message! If you want to receive weekly VLOGS or information about next month’s four free Potter Pundit online classes, you have to sign up for email notification. Sign up for the pdf in the ever recurring Pop Up box (now just as you exit) or head over to and share your email address today.

Happy Anniversary, All-Pros! Thanks for liking this post and sharing your thoughts in the comment boxes below!

Good Friday Mailbag: A Trip to King’s Cross with Harry

In observance of Catholic and Reformed Christian ‘Good Friday,’ I thought a trip to King’s Cross was in order. I know I speak for the HogwartsProfessor staff in wishing those believers observing the Christian holidays in their various denominations an edifying experience of the Lord’s sacrifice and a joyous celebration of His Resurrection.

This question comes from a student at Augustana College who attended a retreat at Stronghold Castle where I spoke last weekend on the subject of Ring Composition in Harry Potter:

Hi, I have a couple of questions for John Granger that I did not get to ask him at the retreat.

My first question it that if the idea of rings is so prevalent in so many books, than why isn’t it taught at schools? I just think that it is weird that this idea could be in so many different books but not be taught.

The other thing is, we were having a discussion on Voldemort either being the embodiment of pure evil in the series or is Voldemort Harry’s shadow that he has to overcome in himself? [Read more…]

Mailbag: King’s Cross Gaffe in Deathly Hallows Lectures

It would hurt to learn what a doofus I am if readers were not so wonderfully kind in presenting my mistakes in their letters to me. I give you this note from Bill Davis about my Harry Potter’s Bookshelf and Deathly Hallows Lectures as a case in point. He wrote (and I share this with his permission):


I just read “The Deathly Hallow’s Lectures” and “Harry Potter’s Bookshelf”.  I found them to be quite interesting.   However, in both books (and I suspect some of your other Harry Potter books),  there are frequent references to King’s Cross tube station.   You stress the significance of this being an underground location.

[Read more…]