Guest Post: Thoughts on Snape and Horcruxes

Friends at Scribbulus sent me this exchange, which, to use the language of the Pontifical Council on Culture about Twilight, certainly borders on the “excessively esoteric.” The dialogue, however, stretches the conversation about Horcruxes in a direction I wouldn’t have taken and thought you might find interesting. I especially enjoyed the aside about Severus Snape. For your comments and corrections, then, a dialogue between ‘Rotfang’ and ‘Caltheus:’

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From Rotfang
To Caltheus

“I had to share this with you because it involves DH, wandlore, and the ‘Still Got Your Wand In A Knot? essay we did (scribbulus 21). Oh, and something else, unrelated, about Snape (purely a guess).

I was reading DH again, as one does, and it made me look at the essay on wandlore again, and something I re-read finally made the penny drop.

Harry’s soul fragment had to be destroyed by Voldermort (“And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential” DH p.551) for another reason, one that I failed to set out in detail in the wandlore essay.

Only Voldemort could stop his own soul fragment from repeating exactly what it did at Godric’s Hollow and latching itself onto another host (p550)!!

The soul fragment behaves like a ‘free radical’ (Chemistry), exactly the opposite to a Horcrux. If you destroy the Horcrux vessel you destroy the soul fragment within it, as they are both interdependent. But, if you destroy the host to which the free soul fragment has bonded it leaves the host and looks for another host to inhabit or bond with!!

And, here’s the clever bit, if Voldemort destroys the host he destroys the soul fragment too.

Why?

The Avada Kedavra spell delivered by the original soul is the only way the soul fragment could be made redundant and unable to survive in the physical world.

How?

Because the killing curse delivered from the original soul sends a clear destructive message to the soul fragment that it is no longer wanted or needed. It no longer has a purpose!!!

When I was writing the essay I knew there was something missing and that I might be right for the wrong reason. But this answer, which you may have figured out ages ago, has the mark of Rowling’s love for symmetry. The soul fragment is the perfect opposite to the Horcruxes. The Horcrux is a fixed soul fragment and immortal, the soul fragment in Harry is free and immortal, immortal in the sense that the soul fragments all live after death, once destroyed they pass on to another realm of being.

And that was what gave the game away for me. I couldn’t figure out the metaphor Jo used in DH p566: “it [the soul fragment] lay shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath.”

Only Voldemort’s own killing curse could have made it redundant by making it “unwanted.” If anyone else had killed Harry, the soul fragment would have fled Harry’s body and “latched” itself onto another living being.

Jo explains the process via Ron’s question to Hermione on p90 when Ron asks of Horcruxes: “why can’t the bit of soul in it just go and live in something else?” … [Hermione] “whatever happens to your body your soul will survive, untouched…But it’s the other way around for a Horcrux. The fragment of soul inside it depends on its container, its enchanted body, for survival. It can’t exist without it.”

In other words Ron was describing what a soul fragment free of its soul-encasing enchanted container would do (i.e. Voldemort’s soul fragment in Harry), it would: “go and live in something else.” (p90)

Oh and, re Snape: Alan Rickman said at the New York Premiere that Jo had told him something about Snape that he would never divulge, though it was only something small. I’m pretty confident, after hearing the academics talking on Potter Pundits about the Gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe called the Italian; that the monk Schedoni, who is both villain and saviour and eventually dies, fits Snape’s description; that I know what the secret something is: Snape was a celibate. He never had relations with anyone else, he was totally consumed with Lily.”

——————————————-

From Catheus
To Rotfang

“Okay, this was good and it distracted me to the point of hitting send by accident. I liked all this a bunch, it seems true.

A few things I thought of while reading it that aren’t necessarily related but could be… a couple essays we put out in one of the issues were about each of the fragments of a soul being specific parts of the human soul – like arms and legs are parts of the body, perhaps the soul has parts. Did you read the one on chakras? There are seven chakras and I do believe that Jo intentionally tore voldemort’s soul into the seven parts that seem to fit with the chakras.

The one that fits with Harry is the third eye chakra – the one that gives you special intuition – inner knowledge, and such, just like it gave Harry on Lord Voldemort. Here’s a link to the symbol for it: http://healing.about.com/od/chakraimages/ig/Chakra-Symbols/Third-Eye-Chakra.htm – I guess it parallels, in a way, Moody’s eye. Right? The essay on the chakra stuff indicates that Voldemort destroyed his ability to do each of the things that he lost in the soul ripping process. If the third eye was his intuition and Harry gained it when LV lost it – well it’s a mighty risky thing to just have loose floating around and able to attach to anyone it comes across. And just like Moody’s magical eye, it could be taken and used by someone else, Moody’s eye was loose and didn’t die when Moody died.

I think she puts these layers in quite intentionally and I believe this is one of them. Notice how the Ajna chakra has a bit of the hallows symbol to it? And even the idea of Moody’s eye and the cross and the tree where it was buried are reminiscent of the parts of the hallows symbol itself. And another thing, Harry was the one that buried Moody’s eye, made a really big deal about how that was important, and it was Harry that had to put Voldemort’s third eye chakra soul part to rest. It all fits together so well – so carefully.”

—————————————-
From Rotfang
To Caltheus

“Brilliant!!! The malfunction of the chakra giving headaches corresponds to when Harry’s scar gives him terrible pain, and the position of the scar corresponds as well of course. The fact it also gives Harry insight into V’s mind also fits, as does the point about intuition and shamanic seeing. It’s brilliant Erin.

I’ll try and find the shamanic essay but if you could give me a month, issue number, or link that’d really help me. This was one of the last pieces of the wandlore essay I figured out, and wanted to share!! Just love Jo. There’s no question about the effort she put into the series, or that it is genuinely brilliant. What a time to have lived through!! The birth of such an amazing piece of creative writing by a genuinely lovely person, so warm, insightful, and compassionate.

I spend a lot of my research time trying to figure out what people’s motives are and what the next likely step is, having to deconstruct things in order to get at the answers. The amount of thinking and work that went into this series was mindnumbing, and the mind that pieced it all together, is very very special.”

—————————————-
From Caltheus
To Rotfang

* “Here’s the issue number for the chakra essay: Issue 22 March 2008 – What is the crux of a soul? by hilde pols

“The thing with the soul parts, well at first I didn’t think Jo did that on purpose, but having researched yoga and also reading a book called Alchemy: The science of the cosmos; the science of the soul by Titus Burkhardt – well, I realized that it can’t have been an accident that the Horcruxes correspond to the chakras. I mean, I suppose it could be subconscious work – from God, kinda thing – but more likely than not, it was planned.

I’m fairly sure it makes sense to think of the soul as a spiritual body with different aspects that need to be attended to for your health. And this brings us to a real cool notion – the idea that parts of our soul, when sick, can cause our material bodies to be sick as well. So a heart sick person could have heart disease or breast cancer – this is the location of that chakra, chest and breasts. And a person who feels they can’t get their voice heard might have throat chakra illness… such as voice problems or sinus trouble…

I wonder if Lord Voldemort – who clearly did the exact opposite of what we ought to do as human beings – was deconstructing his soul piece by piece, soul organ by soul organ. So, sure, he could live forever that way, but it would be such a cursed life that it would certainly not be worth it – and it really brings home the notion of the Buddhists – that illness and disease is a reflection of the spiritual areas we need to focus on in our lives – that physical and spiritual illness are one.”

Comments

  1. Very interesting. The only thing that bothers me about their theory is the bit when Rowling said tht New Ageism left her cold. And isn’t that where the chakra theories fit? I don’t think she would use something that’s that prominent in the story if it leaves her cold.

    And interesting thoughts about Snape. I do hope that Alan Rickman someday tells what it was that Rowling told him. I think it’s more likely that she told him why Snape was loyal to Dumbledore – his love for Lily and remorse over her death. I think that much comes out in the way Rickman plays Snape, the expressions in his eyes show that kind of anguish.

    Pat

    P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  2. Titus Burckhardt speaking about the relationship of Chakras and Alchemy is not New Age thought. And I’m willing to bet that Ms. Rowling read Burckhardt’s Alchemy or Mirror of the Intellect.

  3. Hi Eeyore, I think that Chakras are not so much New Ageism, more like Old Ageism:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra

    “Much of the original information on Chakras comes from the Upanishads (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads), which are difficult to date because they are believed to have been passed down orally for approximately a thousand years before being written down for the first time between 1200–900 BCE.”

    Calling Voldemort’s ‘familiar’ Nagini is also a reference to ancient India. Nagin is the female of naga, half-man half-serpent creatures worshipped in the Hindu pantheon.

  4. Further references to Hindu religion / mythology: Padma and Parvati

    “Parvati Patil’s twin’s in Ravenclaw, and they’re identical. You’d think they’d be together, wouldn’t you?”
    —Hermione Granger (from GoF)

    The Padma Purana is a Hindu religious text (one of eighteen Puranas). The fifth part of this text is written in the style of a conversation between Shiva and his spouse Parvati and deals with indispensable knowledge about religion.

    Parvati appears to have a myriad of characteristics!

    http://www.iloveindia.com/spirituality/goddesses/parvati.html

    It is probably too much of a stretch ….. but maybe Padma is in Ravenclaw because her name refers to an intellectual source of knowledge?

  5. Thanks for all the information. I’ll have to look at the links later. Once again, I should have done a bit of research before posting.

  6. Rotfang, lovely theory. Only problem is that “it (the soul fragment)”was NOT the soul fragment (formerly in Harry), but what was left of Valdemort’s own soul after he’d mutilated it so badly. Jo made that clear in answering one of the questons that arose immediately after the publication of novel 7. So I don’t think the fragment died out of Harry from rejection, but from what LV did to the “container” with the Avada curse.

    And yes, I found that part of the book very confusing too.

  7. KJArt. Dumbledore (DH p530) describes the piece of soul in Harry as “a fragment of Voldemort’s soul.” True, the fragment was torn unknowingly from Voldemort because his previous experiments, “ripping”, had made his soul “unstable.” (DH p89)

    Harry did not die. The Avada Kedavra did not work. Yet the soul fragment was left “unwanted.” If Harry was a Horcrux and he had not been destroyed the soul fragment would have remained intact within him. Rowling made it clear Harry was never a Horcrux. So Ron’s comment remains true: the bit of soul can ‘just go and live in something else.’ The reason the bit of soul in Harry did not is that it was Voldemort who destroyed it by his own curse thereby making it “unwanted.” Rowling believes in choice, by using the Avada Kedavra curse on his own soul Voldemort unwittingly commanded its destruction. This is a clear metaphor: by choosing to destroy Harry, Voldemort was literally choosing to destroy a part of himself.

    Rowling stated she believed in the immortal soul. So Voldemort’s soul fragment continues to exist in a suffering deformed form post death.

  8. rotfang, technically Voldemort has nothing but a fragmented soul. Even what remains in Voldemort himself is a fragment because it has been torn so many times, so Dumbledore could easily have been referring to either. For my money, he’s talking about the fragment still in Voldemort.

  9. AdamR. Dumbledore is explicit (p550-1): “the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself on to the only living soul left in that collapsing building. Part of Lord Voldemort’s soul lives inside Harry … while that fragment of soul, unmissed by Lord Voldemort, remains attached to, and protected by Harry, Lord Voldemort cannot die.”

    That was also why, I argue, Dumbledore was so insistent Voldemort kill Harry (“Voldemort himself MUST do it” p551), because the soul fragment, unlike those that are dependent on the Horcrux vessel, is free to repeat what it did at Godric’s Hollow, and “latch itself” onto another “living soul”, except and unless Voldemort by his Killing Curse rendered it “unwanted(p566).”

  10. rotfang, I suppose whether it was the soul fragment in Harry in the mystical King’s Cross or the soul fragment remaining in Voldemort we can assume something similar awaited the fragment of soul in Voldemort. Regardless, I acknowledge what Dumbledore said in what you quoted and respectfully think it does not conclusively demonstrate the bit of Voldemort at King’s Cross was the bit in Harry. DH is equally explicit that Voldemort enters into the same state (coma, faux-death, real death, whatever) that Harry did in the forest. That’s just as strong an argument that the bit of soul was actually the bit that remained in Voldemort. I happily grant you that you’re absolutely right in the theory that Voldemort had to kill his own soul fragment in Harry, though I always assumed the reason it had to be done was that Voldemort could not really die until all the horcruxes were destroyed; Harry was an (accidental) horcrux; thus, the soul-fragment in Harry had to be killed before Harry could “go after” Voldemort and finish him for good.

  11. Arabella Figg says

    At first I thought it was the soul fragment in Harry which was in King’s Cross. I’m not a theorist, but I came to the conclusion that it was the joined fragments of Voldemort’s soul come together in eternity (“I’ve seen what you’ll become”), and that this pathetic entity was so damaged that it really was, in the end, no larger than one of the fragments.

  12. ArabellaFigg. That’s the way I figure it. Harry saw the fragment of Voldemort’s soul that had been within him, in the King’s Cross scene, only because it had been separated from him and destroyed at exactly the same time as Harry was rendered unconscious by Voldemort’s Killing Curse.

    AdamR. Although I like the idea that Harry’s and Voldemort’s souls shared a moment together at King’s Cross having both been knocked unconscious at exactly the same time it cannot be Voldemort’s final piece of soul Harry saw. True, they would look the same, as Harry points out, and Rowling herself has said in an interview, but Voldemort’s final soul fragments remained untouched within Nagini and Voldemort himself.

    The soul fragment in King’s Cross was “something that is beyond either of our help” (p567), and “unwanted, stuffed out of sight.” (p566) In other words a perfect description of Voldemort’s soul fragment in Harry following its “destruction” (p567) from Voldemort’s own Killing Curse. If it were Voldemort’s soul it would be “wanted” and it would also be capable of “putting itself back together”, through “remorse” (p89). Also, note Harry says to Voldemort: “I’ve seen what you’ll be”, he did not say I saw what you are. Voldemort could still have saved his soul but as Hermione pointed out: “I can’t see Voldemort attempting it (experiencing full remorse), somehow, can you?” (p89)

  13. Arabella Figg says

    To make this clear Rotfang, you’re saying the KC fragment was only the one in Harry, not a coalesence of the six soul fragments already destroyed/killed (excepting NaginiCrux and Voldy’s remnant)?

    Orignally, I thought it was only the Scar fragment at KC, but have entertained the possiblity that it was the destroyed six fragments coalesced together. I would think they would have to join, all being part of the same person’s soul. I believe this is why Harry said “I’ve seen what you’ll be.”

  14. Arabella Figg. Correct. The KC “unwanted” soul fragment is from Harry and it is only there in KC because it had been attached to Harry. It is, in effect, temporarily at Harry’s “party” (DH p570), as Dumbledore puts it.

    I believe that when Harry tells Voldemort “I’ve seen what you’ll be” (DH p594) he is describing what will happen to Voldemort’s final “part of his … maimed and diminished soul” (HBP ps 470 & 475). Harry understands in the final confrontation scene that all Voldemort’s soul “parts” (HBP p470) have been destroyed, including the one Harry saw at KC, leaving only the ‘maimed and diminished’, actually the final eighth, soul part, within Voldemort, left.

    Rowling wanted to portray just how awful soul splitting was, and that it was irreversible for someone like Voldemort. She has Hermione describe reversing the process: “the pain of it (feeling true remorse) can destroy you.” (DH p89)

    In other words there is no chance Voldemort’s soul parts could have re-assembled without his first having gone through such a process, so, assuming all that is true and makes sense, what Harry saw at KC could only have been the soul fragment buried within Harry before Voldemort destroyed it with his own Killing Curse. It could not have been a ‘coalesced’ soul because Voldemort had not felt any remorse. He had split his soul into 8 parts for eternity, with even his attempt to split his soul into 7 parts having failed (Rowling’s final twist v Voldemort).

  15. rotfang, there is a lot of plausability in your theory and I’m going to have to go back and re-read the book, but one last devil’s advocate moment. You said you liked the idea of Voldemort and Harry “sharing” a moment in King’s Cross. I think this is still a likelihood. After all, since book one, Harry and Voldemort have been “sharing a moment” through the common connection of the bit of soul in Harry. They are tied to one another through the scar. The fact that the bit of Voldemort’s soul in KC is “beyond” their help, again, can go either way. Voldemort has always been beyond help; he had the opportunity for remorse and repentance, but the fact that he was Voldemort, and the fact that his soul was diluted, tell us that while remorse could have been offered, it could not really have been acted upon. Voldemort simply didn’t have that ability.

    That the soul fragment in KC is “unwanted, stuffed out of sight,” is indicitive of how Voldemort has always treated his soul. He claims to value it because he wanted to protect it through Horcruxes, but the act of making a horcrux tells us that he didn’t really value it for all that. He ripped and tore it into seven/eight pieces, and “stuffed them out of sight” in the Horcruxes themselves, because he really didn’t want a perfect soul in the first place. Souls mean humanity, souls mean love of the Other. And if there is anything Voldemort cannot abide, it is love. So he destroyed and diluted his soul intentionally, to reduce the emotional connection to others that an unsullied soul can give.

  16. I’m looking for Hermione’s comments on remorse, using your pagination (I’m assuming the comments are in DH). I’m not finding it, so I’m wondering if there are there different paginations for the book? Is the remark in “The Ghoul in Pajamas” chapter?

    I have been tending toward rotfang’s interpretation of the soul fragment in the Kings Cross chapter. Though it’s true that Voldemort is also knocked out when he “kills” Harry, it makes more sense to me that this is the soul fragment that was in Harry largely because (as rotfang mentions), this is Harry’s party. But also because Harry is experiencing himself whole, without the scar. So regardless of whatever technical mechanisms may be involved, just that very basic fact would indicate to me that the soul fragment stuffed out of sight is the fragment that was previously manifested in Harry’s scar.

  17. colinsmith. Apologies I’m using the uk version, and yes, it’s Hermione talking about Horcruxes in ‘The Ghoul In Pyjamas’ chapter after she confessed she accio’d the book on Horcruxes from Dumbledore’s office.
    I agree with you the fact that Harry is finally whole is crucial too. He is finally free from the soul “fragment” (p550; uk) that had tormented him for so long. I think your point reinforces my arguments too. Thank you.

    To clarify and sum up:
    AdamR. Yes, Devil’s Advocate is sometimes a necessary position to take but I believe it flawed for the following reasons –
    1. Dumbledore says: “Lord Voldemort use tin cans or old potion bottles to guard his own precious soul? You are forgetting what I’ve shown you” (HBP uk p471) Dumbledore is clear Voldemort valued his soul. And again: “Voldemort would have chosen his Horcruxes with some care.” (HBP uk 471)
    2. Voldemort valued his soul parts because they were what made him “immortal.” (HBP uk 470)
    3. No soul part was ever “unwanted” by Voldemort for precisely that reason. Hence the soul part referrred to in KC can only refer to that part of soul that Voldemort himself unwittingly ‘destroyed’.
    4. This in turn confirms Dumbledore’s insistence to Snape that Voldemort alone attempt to kill Harry, as only Voldemort could, with certainty, destroy the soul part resident in Harry. If Harry had been attacked by someone else there was always the risk as Ron accidentally-on-purpose pointed out that it could “just go and live in something else.” (p90 uk; classic Rowling clue)
    5. Hermione and Harry both say that Voldemort could, through feeling remorse, redeem and reclaim his soul (DH uk p89 and p594 “it’s your last chance”). It would destroy him physically but it was still possible. This is in keeping with Christian tradition: Genuine and heartfelt remorse and repentance do lead to redemption of the eternal soul.
    6. The part of soul in KC was separate, out of sight, and alone as well as “unwanted.” Only Voldemort could have redeemed this soul part he himself had destroyed (in the sense of cut off). Hence Dumbledore says twice in KC that neither Harry nor he “can help.” (p566-7) As a Christian Rowling’s position (I think) is clear, however wholly improbable it is that Voldemort would choose to repent or feel remorse, the option to do so, was, even right up until his final moment, open to him. Just because he chose not to take it does not mean that it was not there. Choice is central to the whole series, whether for good or evil.

  18. Thanks, rotfang, for the pointer to Hermione’s comments on remorse. I found it in the US version.

    BTW, I think the summation of your analysis nails it. Showing the option to choose remorse/repentance to the very end reminds me of a similar moment at the end of Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. It’s been a (very) long time since I read that book, but I clearly remember that the most evil character in the story has an opportunity to repent even at the last moment. And he rejects it.

  19. ccollinsmith. Interesting pointer to That Hideous Strength, thanks for that. I like the Professor Frost character who self-destructs, apparently by setting himself, and a lot more, on fire. Part of my essay on wandlore for Scribbulus suggested that part of Rowling’s use of the Elder Wand is as a parable on evil’s self-destructive nature. So it all fits nicely from my point of view.
    C.S. Lewis is obviously incredibly influential and important to Rowling. But, not being a Literature or Classics major, or interested in fiction generally since my teens, I’ve missed out on all the endless references to his and others works, which is a pity. Luckily Rowling has at least rekindled some interest for me in it all, along with the BBC documentary on ‘Planet Narnia’ by Michael Ward. Mind blowing stuff as well as fun.

  20. rotfang… sorry to take so long to get back! Glad to give you That Hideous Strength. It’s what I was thinking of certainly when the issue of remorse came up.

    I’ve re-read the Narnia books in the past few years. I haven’t read the Space Trilogy in quite awhile. But I definitely picked up on echoes of Lewis in Rowling.

  21. ccolinsmith. Thanks for the feedback. I think listening to Potter Pundits will give us all quite a few more clues to explore too.

  22. Arabella Figg says

    rotfang, I agree, and meant to comment earlier, that remorse has to be a valid option for Voldemort, or it is merely been a red herring and such a thing is too serious for that.

    Though Harry realizes how insane Voldemort is, he still offers remorse, so he believes it to be possible, though Voldemort must “try” for it. Voldemort’s grandiosity, though, makes him unwilling to destroy his prized mortal body.

    But had remorse for Voldemort not been a real possiblity, it would have been as useless as a bit of broken junk in The Room of Hidden Things.

  23. Arabella Figg. Yep. As Dumbledore says to Harry: “You had accepted, even embraced, the possibility of death, something Lord Voldemort has never been able to do.” (p569 uk DH) Voldemort could only have been prepared to consider remorse if he believed that he truly faced death and its accompanying judgement. He never believed he would be defeated, he could not face the idea he could ever die, and as Dumbledore added: “if he had been able to understand, he could not be Lord Voldemort, and might never have murdered at all.”

    Rowling would never have Harry, at the climax of the whole series, tell Voldemort to consider remorse unless it was a vital, elemental, choice available to him.

  24. rotfang & Arabella Figg –

    Last week on a forum, the issue of Voldemort and the extent to which his lack of nurture determined him came up. One poster wrote:

    I think that by the time he turned 11, the damage was done. He had already developed his desire to dominate, to control, to inflict pain. Even if Riddle was placed in a loving home, he’d have learned to conceal his darker nature, but still act on it. In my opinion, he needed a family from the start. His only hope would have been to have a mother who would have raised him right, instead of festering in his own hatred.

    My response, I think fits in with the discussion you’ve been having about remorse as an authentic option:

    I would tend to disagree that Riddle was so damaged (either by nature or nurture) that he could not have taken a different path. I don’t see any evidence, actually, that the text ever argues for determinism or fate. It argues for choice and free will.

    Harry had no loving home, no mother to raise him right. And he even had a piece of Voldemort’s soul living inside him. Yet, Harry turned out okay. Part of that was due to his mother’s sacrifice. But part of it was because of the choices Harry made. Nurture does not seem to be a crucial factor.

    So that brings us to nature. Was Voldemort’s nature so marred that only nurture could have contained it? The text indicates that choice is always a bigger factor than nature. There is always a choice – even up to the last minute of a character’s life. A character (like Voldemort) may have made so many horribly bad choices that his soul is marred and he becomes resistant to making the right choice. But the text never argues that characters have no choice but to be who they are. The damage that is done can always be mitigated… if the character chooses remorse.

    If Voldemort was utterly incapable of choice from at least the age of 11, then it’s more likely that he was a complete sociopath. And if he was a sociopath, then no amount of nurture, even by the most loving parents, could ever cure him. But the text never treats him as a sociopath. It treats him as someone who has allowed himself to become marred. He has allowed himself to destroy his soul.

    I’m not saying that it’s not sad that he was left orphaned on the day he was born. And I’m not saying that he did not sustain damage from that. I’m saying that the text makes the case that damage can always be undone if the character chooses to undo the damage. There are points of contrast to Voldemort in the text – other characters who have made horrible, soul damaging choices and yet who turn around – either in a huge way (like Severus Snape) or in a small way (like the Malfoys).

    If Voldemort was just a victim of lousy upbringing and a bad nature, then Harry’s admonition for him to try to find some remorse is completely pointless. And I really don’t think the text is encouraging us to think it is.

  25. Rowling says in ‘A Year in the Life’ documentary that Voldemort “qualifies extravagantly for acts of evil,” having killed “cold bloodedly, for personal enjoyment, or personal gain”, a “creature” or “being” who believed he could make “himself immortal by killing other people.”

    In this context it is unlikely that Voldemort would ever have accepted, or even considered for a nano-second, remorse. But, it does not follow that remorse was not an option. It was improbable, stunningly unlikely, barely conceivable, but, not impossible. The reason I think it has to remain possible is because Rowling clearly believes it to be so. If she did not, she would never have Harry offer it as “all you’ve got left.” (p594 uk)

    Rowling sticks steadfastly to her belief that remorse, repentance, and redemption, remain available no matter what the circumstances or the individual concerned. If, the individual refuses to accept that choice then they face the consequences. In Voldemort’s case it was to suffer in “the form of a small naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed looking … shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath,” presumably for eternity. (p566 uk)

    That’s why I think Harry offered Voldemort one last chance to redeem his soul, as a witness to its potential fate he felt bound to warn Voldemort of the consequences of his actions, even though he, Harry, knew better than anyone Voldemort would choose to reject it. Voldemort had chosen his path, and stuck to it. However, it does not follow that no other path existed. In fact I would argue that Harry’s offering Voldemort “one last chance” is further proof that Rowling believes redemption to be immanent.

  26. rotfang – I could not agree more. Well done!

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