Interesting Miscellany: Three Bits of Stuff on my Desk

Every once in a while I need to clear my desk of these notes I think you might be interested in. Today’s pile includes the story of a man and magician who has made predictions of exactly how Deathly Hallows will end, the thoughts of a favorite L.O.O.N. who is anything but Loony, and a review of Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader on Amazon I hope you can read.

First, the magic man who knows the ending of Deathly Hallows:
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Wands for the Goblins? Good Point!

eve05 wrote:

I also think that Olivander is in hiding making wands for the impending war, but I think he is fashioning wands for the Goblins, not the elves. Elves have their own source of magic, which is quite powerful… e.g. Dobby overpowered Lucius and sent him crashing down a flight of steps and when”Dobby raised a long, threatening finger”, Lucius “hurried out of sight” CoS pg338

Elves don’t need wands. But Goblins do, and resent not having any.

The Goblin Wars were finally ended only when the Wizards confiscated the Goblins’ wands. The Goblins are still angry with the Wizards for having disarmed them.

DD is preparing for the final showdown with V by seeking allies: he sent Hagrid and Mme. Maxime to the Giants, Lupin to the Werewolves, and Bill to the Goblins.
It has never been explicitly mentioned, but allowing the Goblins to have wands again would be a very strong inducement for their support. Bill is back from his mission, but there has been no mention of its outcome. We only have been told that Olivander and Fortesque, an expert in Medieval history(Goblin history?) are missing.

I would guess that Olivander is making Wands for the Goblins using Fortesque’s knowledge of Goblin History.

I’ve argued at some length (in agreement with the theory’s founder, Travis Prinzi, of Sword of that it is the house-elves who Dumbledore is arming to turn the tables at story’s end with Ollivander wands and I hope you’ll review this thread over at my HogwartsProfessor blog and share your thoughts about it.

There is, of course, no reason that both goblins and house-elves cannot be the heart of Dumbledore’s real army and the wands be his bait to win over the goblins. The house-elves are the more interesting and likely of the two because of their being “the last” among all magical brethren and, hence, the ones most likely to become “first” to satisfy the postmodern theme of the periphery defining the center (not to mention, the amount of space given house-elves versus that devoted to goblins…).

But I love the goblins angle and look forward to reading what you and other readers think about their role in Deathly Hallows.

Snape as Symbol of Christ? Three Reasons Why

Oriflamme wrote:

John, I must thank you. The first time I read one of your articles about Christian Symbolism and heard about your book ‘Looking for God in Harry Potter,’ I was wandering across the net(surfing) for some issue about Snape. I was in a sad mood and this surfing seemed to me an obvious waste of time. Finding Christ in Harry Potter appeared to me like a ‘Sign’ and I do believe in ‘Signs’ in our life. This is a bit ‘pompous’ maybe, but your brilliant analysis helps me to stand the strain.

What about Snape and Christian Symbolism? I like the theory developed by Dave Kopel about Snape as St. Christopher(Reprobus)and I agree that he figures sometimes as a Christ symbol himself (maybe also as a symbol of the Church).

I have a theory about Snape’s childhood. I tried to explain it on the ‘narrative misdirection’ thread (reply 48). My thought is that the young Snape is a victim himself of what could be called a rape of his mind by the Imperius Curse. He walked a long way from wishes of vengeance to the wait of justice with DD(Christ)’s help. But Snape himself, he must help Harry to go further, to forgiveness and mercy(love).

You’re very kind, Oriflamme, and your thoughts and question about Snape are interesting.

I explain in Unlocking Harry Potter that Snape is one of the three Christ figures in the melodramatic scene on the Astronomy Tower and the chase afterwards — and that Snape is a lot more difficult for folks to understand in this role than either Dumbledore or Buckbeak. How is Snape Christ-like?

First, he *is* the Half-Blood Prince. Like it or not, the signature is a pointer to the “Double-Natured King.”

Second, he *saves* Harry’s life from the enormous Death Eater determined to destroy him via the Cruciatus Curse. Only Snape’s invoking the Dark Lord’s instructions causes the near-giant to let Harry loose.

Third, he is much more, perhaps, than those without “eyes to see” can see. Every exchange he has with Harry before being chased off the grounds by the razor claws of Buckbeak/Witherwing are superficially mean-spirited and goading, especially to the child-man who believes Snape has just murdered his mentor. Each exchange, though, on examination is helpful even critical or salutary instruction about what Harry must master in himself and technically in his magic before facing the Dark Lord.

And the whip-like curse that hits Harry in the forehead? Well, if you read Unlocking Harry Potter, you’ll learn why I think Severus is just hitting the switch on Harry’s Horcrux and neutralizing it as a means for Voldemort to monitor Harry’s emotions/perceptions or to survive another destruction of his body. Severus, the master of self-control, doesn’t lose his cool when called a “coward;” he is putting up a show for cover when the Dark Lord explodes about the destroyed Horcrux…

Even if this is way off (as almost all speculation of this sort is bound to be), Severus’ position as the Good Guy surrounded by bad guys who cannot understand who he is until the Evil One is removed — this is a sacrificial part. Snape, taken from afar, is a convincing Christ figure, I think.

I look forward to reading your comments and correction.

Dumbledore’s Original Plan: Narrative Misdirection?

Lord Voldemort practices Ms. Rowling’s signature technique to perfection in Chamber when, as the Riddle-memory, he almost literally sucks Harry into his book, deceives him by restricting what he sees to exactly what he wants him to see, and leaves him convinced of something he would otherwise find hard to believe (I mean, Hagrid as Heir of Slytherin?). He does it again in Phoenix just by not showing himself. Nobody wants to believe he is back, so the *lack* of evidence that he has returned (with some active work by the Ministry and The Daily Prophet, makes the great majority of people come to doubt or lose faith with those they otherwise would never turn against, namely, Albus and Harry.

The bad guys, then, like to use narrative misdirection and they’re pretty good at it. I think, though, they may be two steps behind the good guys.

If the Red Hen is correct (and when she is wrong, even in those rare times, we learn a lot we would otherwise have missed), Albus and Severus have been working together against the Dark Lord since Severus left Hogwarts as a student. Given the shenanigans about *how* and *what* Voldemort learned about the Prophecy after Dumbledore first heard it from Trelawney AND the great likelihood that Snape and Dumbledore have been hunting Horcruxes since Tom Riddle, Jr., left his interview in the Headmaster’s office, how difficult is it to imagine the old guy writing a Rowling-like drama with the Prophecy to buy some time?

For your Comment and Correction:

PROPOSED: That Dumbledore (via Snape) released the Prophecy portion to the Dark Lord (a) to *distract* him from his “taking-over-the-world-thing” long enough for the good guys to gather and destroy his Horcruxes (and with the Potters and Longbottoms safely hidden, this could be almost an indefinite period…) and (b) to plant Severus in the inner ring of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Horcuxes found and destroyed, Severus positioned to kill the vulnerable Voldemort, problem solved.

Except for Black’s bungling, which traps Snape indefinitely in his role as double-agent, that is, until Voldemort returns, gets a body, and the last Horcrux can be safely destroyed (the one on Harry’s forehead…).

I look forward to reading your thoughts about this possible play of narrative misdirection on Dumbledore’s part.

Dickensian Cryptonyms: Is Lockhart a Pullman Stick-Figure?

Probably not.

Over at the Barnes and Noble Book Club (please join the discussion!), a violist admitted not caring much for Mozart — and how this tick gave her some sympathy for the problem Professor Bloom and Ms. Byatt may have in ever appreciating Ms. Rowling’s books. I found her posts and the consequent exchange on that thread both edifying and challenging. Barnes and is great.

In the spirit of “true confessions” on that thread, I have to admit here a blind-spot or taste problem with reading an author many of my friends admire. I have been unable to get past the first chapters of any of Philip Pullman’s books after reading several interviews with him in which he proclaimed his atheism as the true faith — and that C. S. Lewis was a writer children should not be allowed to read because of the transparancy of his evangelical message. (Pullman critics in the UK call him the “UnLewis” because of this opinion, after a character in Lewis’ *Perelandra* called the UnMan. Note the opening of the *His Dark Materials* books being a child in a wardrobe…) I have heard two men I admire, Philip Nel at KSU and Vincent Kling at LaSalle University, both Rowling admirers, sing Pullman’s praises. I just can’t get my head around the disdain Pullman feels for a writer I admire, disdain rooted in a belief that Lewis was a Puritanical, misogynist and allegorical writer. There are plenty of reasons not to like Lewis (Tolkien liked to share these reasons with Lewis and his friends) but Pullman’s seem just an atheist’s prejudices about a Christian artist.

But isn’t my inability to enjoy Pullman’s books, what Nel calls “the Gold Standard” for children’s literature and no doubt more to Professor Bloom’s liking in terms of prosaic aesthetic heights, just the mirrored image of his prejudice: a Christian’s disregard for an atheist’s artistry? I’d love to think it was just a matter of taste, as in not *liking* Mozart, but I’m almost convinced this is a failing more like religious believers who cannot read and enjoy Harry Potter because they still believe in their heart of hearts that the books are gateways to the occult. Maybe this is why I have a hard time getting upset with these folk, even when they call radio stations to tell me on-air that I’m hell spawn. [Read more…]