Today is apparently the 16th anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts and J.K. Rowling tweeted she had a moment of silence and that she hated killing some of those people. Entertainment Weekly had a brief story on this too.
Now, of course, in our Muggle time frame, it hasn’t been 16 years since the battle of Hogwarts but only 7. Still, either way a lot of time has passed under the bridge. Does anyone still have any strong feelings about any of the deaths in the Battle of Hogwarts or for that matter in the entire series?
I suspect some may. The author of the aforementioned piece in Entertainment Weekly concludes her article thusly: If you need me, I’ll be having a moment of silence over my keyboard for Sirius Black, every day for the rest of my life — because, for some of us, that was the most painful Harry Potter death of all.
I know some people who would whole-heartedly concur with that sentiment. What about you? What was the most painful Potter death for you?
Halloween marks the occasion of the death of Nearly Headless Nick (a.k.a. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington), which was caused by having been “hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe” (CoS p. 123).
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We find out in Chapter 12 of Chamber of Secrets that October 31, 1992 is Nick’s five hundredth deathday. Hoping that Harry will attest to Nick’s being impressively frightening so that he might be allowed to join the Headless Hunt, Nick invites Harry and his friends to his Deathday Party. Ron skeptically asks a good question: “Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?” And Hermione characteristically looks forward to what she can learn from the experience: “A deathday party? . . . I bet there aren’t many living people who can say they’ve been to one of those—it’ll be fascinating!” (CoS p. 130).
With Hermione’s inquisitive spirit, let’s have a go at wrestling with Ron’s question. Is there something more going on here than a chillingly gothic setting for the horrors to be unleashed by the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets?
The third essay in the Imagining Better: Philosophical Issues in Harry Potter collection, is “buy viagra in uk href=”http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/341/rp_341_3.pdf”>Harry Potter and Humanity: Choices, Love, and Death,” by Shawn Klein, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rockford College, PA. (He’s also a co-editor of Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts.)
After discussing the central role played by choice, which is best captured in Dumbledore’s famous quotation that it is “our choices . . . that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (CoS p. 333), Prof. Klein explores how Harry’s humanity is best shown in his recognition of his mortality. Harry’s acceptance of his mortality enables him to love and to be a whole person; having a limited life span allows one to realize just how precious and valuable life is. On the other hand, it is Voldemort’s rejection of mortality that undermines his ability to love–either others or himself.
(Coming soon: A guest post by Prof. Joel Hunter on his essay about the Mirror of Erised and existentialism.)
Saw an interesting article from The Telegraph in the UK the other day wherein a scientist postulates that in about twenty years human beings could become immortal. This would come about through accelerating technology such as nanotechnology and a better understanding of how the human body works.
What do you think? In Harry Potter we discuss the desire of Voldemort to overcome and conquer death while the true master of death, Harry, realizes that death can’t be avoided. We’ve been discussing vampires this week on the site, and there is certainly undertones of human mortality and immortality going on in the vampire mythos.
Mull over the article and feel free to share your thoughts on the subject.
Last Wednesday, I found out my paternal grandfather passed away at the age of 88 at 7:30 that morning. My memories of him are sparse and fuzzy — tied to some history before my parents split. I have an odd affliction with memory; nothing serious mind you, just a strange dividing line between what I recall quite clearly after the age of 12 and what seems a starkly vague early childhood. I don’t know if there is a true condition for such a thing, but there it is. At this point, I’m not sure how I feel about my grandfather’s death. My family is not especially close, neither on my mother’s side nor my father’s side. I have aunts and uncles, from both parents, I’ve met only once — most of them, in fact. My mother’s parents passed long before I was born. And I was 11 or so the last time I was around my father’s parents. I’m 29 now.
Perhaps saying something about my character, I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I only had a very short notice and I couldn’t arrange for coverage of my classes or make it to Northern Indiana in time. I did send flowers to my grandmother, and my father thanked me for always “coming through” in times of need — what’s harder for me to swallow was his sincerity. Continue reading
Tolkien and Rowling on death; Gandalf, Aragorn, Frodo death/resurrection; news and commentary
Update for iTunes subscribers: I upgraded my podpress software, and in the process there was a bug that kept iTunes from learning there was a new podcast. The bug should be fixed, and the podcast should be available through iTunes very soon.
You can subscribe to the Hog’s Head PubCast through iTunes, and VOTE for The Hog’s Head for the month of February at Podcast Alley.
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Rowling rarely mentions Tolkien, but I’ve found in the process of writing my book that she has far more in common with him than I had previously realized. Chalk it up to the Cauldron of Story (which is precisely what I do, actually….) In the recent interview for El Pais, translated (with some possible errors) here, Rowling invokes Tolkien on the theme of death:
Q: Solitude, death. We speak of dark things. At its best, literature comes from that.
A: Well, I think it was Tolkien who said that all the important books are about death. And there’s some truth in that because death is our destiny and we should face up to it. All that we have done in life had the intention of avoiding death.
Does anyone know the exact quote to which she’s referring, and is it accurate? She seems uncertain about her quote. This is a happy moment for me, because I just sat down to day to write a section of the book on the theme of death and the links between Tolkien and Rowling. Continue reading
For years, believers in Christ have been captivated and inspired by the resurrection of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Aslan explained that it was the result of the deeper magic from before time. Lewis, of course, was not trying to portray what we might call “pagan” or “occulting” magic. He was using magic as a literary tool, communicating the power and reality of resurrection in the midst of the natural world.
J.K. Rowling has also used resurrection imagery in every one of the Harry Potter books thus far. Here is a brief summary of what we have seen: