I wish I had time to do a lengthy study on all of Harry’s dreams, because I bet they’d reveal a good deal to us. I plan to, eventually. For now, I want to revisit a dream Harry had his very first night at Hogwarts after being sorted into Gryffindor:
Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very strange dream. He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told the turban he didn’t want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully – and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it – then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold – there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scholastic, 130).
Let’s unpack this; there’s a lot here.
Specific Elements of the Dream
He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him – We know that Quirrell ends up being the evil one, and that he was hiding Voldemort under that turban. In the book’s climax, Voldemort speaks to Quirrell from under the turban, and then the turban is removed to reveal the Dark Lord.
telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once – The Sorting Hat’s placing of Harry in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin is a key point in the books, significant enough to be repeated in Chamber of Secrets. It is the earliest example, and a central one, of the lesson Harry must learn about the importance of his choices.
because it was his destiny – It is no accident that Rowling would employ this language here, since we learn about prophecies, fate, and choice from Half-Blood Prince. It is clearly Voldemort who puts stock in the prophecy and makes the choice to mark Harry, but Dumbledore explains to Harry that prophecy or not, he would go after Voldemort.
Harry told the turban he didn’t want to be in Slytherin – The choice theme is key.
he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully – This sounds vaguely like his experience with the scar. (Or is it just me?)
then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape – If the above is a scar reference, the pain in Harry’s head as he tried to take the turban off would easily lend itself to the appearance of Snape in the dream, since just hours earlier, Harry had experienced scar pain when his eyes met Snape’s for the first time.
Snape, whose laugh became high and cold – “High and cold” is how Voldemort’s voice/laugh is always described.
there was a burst of green light – Harry’s flashbacks to the night his parents died includes the high and cold laughter and the burst of green light (avada kedavra).
We also get from this dream the first inkling of a mental connection between Harry and Voldemort, since Harry gets a glimpse of Voldemort’s very plan of hiding in Quirrell’s turban.
Parsing it Out
What does it all mean? And what does it have to do with horcruxes? Aside from this dream being a brilliant set-up for many of the series’ key themes, it just might be a pointer to the Harry’s-scar-as-horcrux theory. Let’s make a few pertinent observations and ask some questions:
This is no random dream. Certainly one could parallel Harry’s conversation with the Sorting Hat to Quirrell’s turban and make sense out of that; but it seems too deliberate for coincidence (though JKR might just be going for playful irony). But add the (possible) veiled reference to the scar, the plan (hiding under Quirrell’s turban) and point of view (join Slytherin, destiny) of Voldemort himself, and the “high, cold laugh,” and then tie that to the memory of the night Voldemort went after the Potters (green light), and you just might have our first reference to Harry’s scar being a horcrux.
So let’s put together a dream interpretation and relate it to horcruxes: Voldemort shares Quirrell’s body and hides under the turban, but in the dream, it is Harry who is wearing the turban, pointing to the strong connection that exists (and that we learn about in Order) between Harry and Voldemort. Harry, had he remembered the dream, even gets some insight into Voldemort’s plan. Harry makes the choice to not obey the turban and go to Slytherin [parallel between Sorting Hat and Turban] and tries to remove the turban, but experiences pain [parallel to scar pain] when he does so. Malfoy derides him, but Malfoy soon turns to Snape [in association with the scar pain], who laughs like Voldemort [who would also be associated with scar pain]. We get a quick glimpse of Avada Kedavra [are we getting the theme of “scar pain” here?], and the dream ends.
If You Could Read My Mind…
If you think I’m really stretching here, ask youself this question: how on earth would all of these thoughts, including the revealing of Voldemort’s secret plan (hiding in Quirrell) make its way into Harry’s mind? In fact – and I think this is an incredibly relevant question – how is there this strange mental connection between Harry and Voldemort in the first place? It does seem to lend support to the Harry’s-scar-as-horcrux theory.
Then again I could be crazy, and Rowling might have just been employing a healthy dose of irony.
Update: LaShawn Barber has bounced off this post to discuss the dream as well, and I appreciate her comments, so go read them! I tried to comment on her site, but I’m getting an error message, so here’s a quick clarification: I’m not entirely convinced that this is evidence for Harry’s scar being a horcrux. I was initially quite opposed to the idea. Discussions with John Granger have pushed me in the other direction, however, and I thought I’d work the idea out and see where it gets me. But let’s just say that if the Harry’s-scar-as-horcrux theory were the dropoff of a great big cliff, I’d be hanging onto the edge by one hand.