The Epilogue

Note: Hogwarts Professor John Granger explains the Epilogue’s context, alchemy, symbolism, and themes, in his book The Deathly Hallows Lectures, and also in a great wrap-up essay that’s a must-read. This post concludes our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows readthrough.

“All was well.”

When the story ended with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, triumphant, exhausted, filthy, and grieving with their loved ones in the rubble at Hogwarts, I had questions.

Were they ultimately okay?  Did they just survive or did they thrive?

When we first meet Harry Potter, he’s a friendless, abused orphan forced to live on the periphery of the only family he knows, and his only experience of love is seeing what passes for it demonstrated in excessive and harmful ways in the spoiling of his cousin. His heritage is kept from him, and his emerging and mysterious abilities mystify him and enrage his aunt and uncle. No one cares for Harry, influences him for good, or shows him how to negotiate his way in the world in a positive or healthy manner.

Harry’s life changes dramatically when he learns his identity as a wizard and goes to Hogwarts, where he makes friends and becomes part of a community, the most magical thing to ever happen to him. He learns that, in harmony, friends, even rivals, can accomplish great feats together, and that unselfish love is the most powerful force of all.

Below Hogwarts at the end of his first year, Harry meets his parents’ murderer, Lord Voldemort, and learns two important things: Voldemort is a parasite, and he doesn’t understand love. While indwelling his willing host, Professor Quirrell, Voldemort is unable to touch Harry, who is infused with Lily’s love. He flees, abandoning Quirrell to die, and must find another host to accomplish his ends. Although we don’t know this yet, the Dark Lord has, in addition, created an avenue to immortality through Horcruxes.

And it is in the Horcruxes that we understand the significance of the Epilogue. As they play a critical role in our heroes’ character development, it’s illuminating to look at who destroys them and when, and how this matters to those we see on Platform 9 ¾.

Voldemort’s Horcruxes–soul lockboxes—symbolize the Dark Lord’s obsession with and fear of death, self-pity, and desire for human immortality; a desire so strong that he will murder, torture, and suck the life others to gain it; in his world there are only enemies, flunkies, and himself. Believing he can be both human and divine, he divides his soul and becomes completely inhuman, the antithesis of life. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that every Horcrux destruction involves an affirmation of humanity and life.

Harry destroys Riddle’s diary Horcrux at the end of his second year, during his confrontation with Riddle and the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets. In fury at the Dark Lord’s parasitic use of Ginny and at his plans to regain power, Harry scorns Riddle’s fantasies about himself, claims his mother’s protective love, proclaims his allegiance to Dumbledore, and receives Fawkes, the Sorting Hat, and the Sword of Gryffindor, using the last to fatally stab the Basilisk. Pierced by a venomous fang, the dying Harry breaks it off and stabs it into the heart of the diary. Unlike Riddle, Harry’s soul is intact and pure, reflected in his continuing choices for good, despite having some Voldemort implanted within. (By the way, Harry’s impregnating the Sword in Basilisk venom makes it a surefire weapon of Horcrux mass destruction.)

Dumbledore destroys the Resurrection Stone Horcrux ring with the Sword of Gryffindor, after succumbing to the temptation to use it. This weak and foolish act with the cursed ring sets in motion Dumbledore’s own death, leaving Harry without a mentor, the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the remaining Horcruxes, or vital information. Dumbledore’s use of the Hallow/Horcrux is tied to his deepest shame, and is the crux of his most penitent confession to Harry at King’s Cross. Although only mortal injury from the ring halts Dumbledore’s pursuit of his dead family, he chooses life and humanity by destroying the stone with the Sword, using the time he has left to learn more about Riddle and work to defeat him.

Ron destroys the locket in Harry’s presence, after abandoning his friends out of jealousy and simmering insecurities that have roiled within him for over six years. Instead of shaming Ron, Harry offers him the Horcrux to destroy. By retrieving the Sword, Ron has earned the right to wield it, but Harry’s offer also does more than words to affirm to Ron his equality, and worth. In sticking the Sword through his fears and resentments, Ron puts to death mistaken perceptions that have been destructive to spirit and relationships. No longer consumed with his importance, or seeming lack of it, Ron develops initiative and leadership during Harry’s Hallows obsession. He executes the retrieval of Basilisk fangs from the Chamber of Secrets to destroy remaining Horcruxes, even mustering up some rough Parseltongue. Ron also takes a cue from Harry’s generosity, and instead of grabbing more glory by destroying the cup, offers it to Hermione to destroy. With this and his consideration of the House Elves, Ron wins Hermione’s complete admiration, and is a hero equal to anyone. Interestingly, Ron is the only pureblood wizard who knowingly destroys a Horcrux.

Hermione destroys the cup in the Chamber of Secrets with a Basilisk fang. Hermione has given much to Ron over the years, and he finally does something worthy of her, stepping aside for her right to vanquish a Horcrux. Hermione has always remained faithful to Dumbledore’s plan to destroy Horcruxes, even when Harry is sidetracked by the Hallows, Ron has left, and she is cruelly tortured by Bellatrix. It’s important that she share this experience with Harry and Ron, and I only wish we could witness the scene and learn if she suffers any temptation from the Horcrux. But I’m guessing that Miss Granger dispatches it efficiently and without fuss, and without Hogwarts, A History.

Crabbe’s Fiendfyre destroys the diadem in the Room of Requirement.  Crabbe and Goyle are out of control, disobeying Draco’s order, and the flames become out of control, too. “Below them the cursed fire was consuming the contraband of generations of hunted students, the guilty outcomes of a thousand banned experiments, the secrets of the countless souls who had sought refuge in the room” (DH 632). As kingdoms, represented by the diadem and the ancient room of hidden things, pass away, the old dark reign of Wizarding World ancestral prejudice is also passing away. Sadly, Crabbe dies of his own handiwork, although Harry and Ron risk their lives in an attempt to save him.

Voldemort himself unknowingly destroys the accidental Horcrux lodged in Harry’s scar. The arrogant Dark Lord has so died to life and humanity that he can detect nothing of himself in another human being. Believing that killing Harry is his ticket to eternal glory as a powerful god, Voldemort instead creates for himself a wretched eternity in which he’s unlamented, uninteresting, and forgotten.

Neville Longbottom, the faithful soldier fulfilling Harry’s command to kill the snake, slays the Horcrux Nagini with the Sword. Neville’s  grandmother has made an idol of her injured son, and consequently has raised Neville to believe himself worthless. With a deep sense of inadequacy, boosted by his grandmother’s scorn, Neville is the despised loser at school, the butt of cruel pranks. Yet Neville always exemplifies courage and nobility, and constantly proves himself a worthy Gryffindor. In beheading the snake, a symbol of corrupting falsehood and distortions, Neville also slays forever the cruel and twisted narrative about himself.

Voldemort was so very wrong. The Horcruxes weren’t the future. Instead, all along, they were the past, he was the past, representing the arrogant, brutality and divisiveness of an order that denied those deemed “other.” The Horcruxes emotionally, intellectually, and physically dismembered their self-willed creator, now a revolting, inhuman fragment.

What a contrast to the men, women, and children on Platform 9 ¾.

Our beloved characters are leading happy, constructive lives, and remain fast friends. They have recovered from, or made peace with, their traumas, have married, and have children. Hogwarts has survived for succeeding generations, and the Hogwarts Express takes children to school every fall where they will sit under the Sorting Hat, suffer Peeves, learn from Hagrid about magical creatures, and repot mandrakes with the coolest and most popular teacher in school, Herbology professor Neville. All is well.

Ron’s confidence and sense of humor still shine, and he lightheartedly jokes about his secondary status to Harry while affectionately bickering with Hermione. Draco, sending off his son Scorpius, gives a polite, “curt nod” to the Potters and Weasleys. Teddy Lupin, orphaned in the Battle of Hogwarts and godfathered by Harry, is close with the Potters and is developing a romance with Bill and Fleur’s daughter, Victoire. All is well.

Harry so esteems Albus Dumbledore (who misled him) and Severus Snape (who tormented him) that he’s named his second son after them both, tying together in a name wisdom, heroism, bravery, and, symbolically, two Houses with historic enmity. When Albus Severus expresses his fear of being sorted into Slytherin, Harry reveals something he’s never revealed to his children before: that he might have been Sorted into Slytherin, and that the Sorting Hat takes choice into account. It’s fine to be a Slytherin, he reassures his boy, just like “the bravest man I ever knew.”

Most important, Harry—neglected, ignored, and unloved for his first eleven years—has a normal, affectionate, happy family, to whom he’s not the lonely child who lived under the stairs, the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, or the famous sacrificial hero who defeated Voldemort. To them he’s just Dad, loved, trusted, and treasured for himself. What was taken from him as an infant has been restored in abundance, and Lily’s legacy lives on through the eyes of her child and grandchild. Unlike his father and other male mentors in his life, Harry is a good role model, without haunting burdens or immaturity. Unlike their father, Harry’s children are free to be children without fear or condemnation, to act out their personalities, to find understanding and comfort.

As Harry, wearing Fabian Prewett’s old watch, waves goodbye to Albus, he’s a peaceful man. And his scar pains him no more.

All is well.

About Deborah Chan/Arabella

Deborah Chan, previously “Arabella Figg” I read the first three Harry Potter books in 1999 to see what the fuss was about and was hooked. After participating at HogwartsProfessor.com for several years, and then here at the pub, I joined the Blogengamot in 2009. I enjoy discussing and writing about the books I love, and particularly enjoy looking into characters' psychological and emotional motivations. My husband Rick and I live in Spokane, WA, where I’m a columnist for our newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. Our cat Casey Rose is my gravatar. Butterbeers all around!

60 thoughts on “The Epilogue

  1. “I’m guessing that Miss Granger dispatches it efficiently and without fuss, and without Hogwarts, A History.”

    HAHAHA! Great point about Hermione deserving the chance to destroy a Horcrux. She’s all kinds of wonderful.

    Also, I loved what you said about Neville. Loved it. I just adore Neville. :)

    And I appreciate the point that Harry is “just Dad” to his family. That’s one of the things I liked about Ginny, too; once she got past her early embarrassment, he became “just Harry”, whom she loved and was perfectly capable of standing up to if she felt he needed it.

    I’m kind of sorry this read-through ended. Right now I want to re-read through the whole set…it’s been too long. They’re just. So. Good.

  2. I looked at the last chapter (36) of the book as a huge V-I resolution in a symphony of struggle between two divergent keys. When it finally ends in a big Major C – I’m satisfied. The epilogue is a denouement, somewhat unnecessary, but taken in for what it’s worth. Mr. Granger brought up some great points in his essay – some loose chords were resolved ie, Harry’s relationship with Snape and Harry’s forgiveness of Albus. But I really saw Harry’s forgiveness of Albus resolve that chord in chapter 35 at King’s Cross. The fact that Severus was given a paragraph and a namesake in the epilogue did not really satisfy. It was a weak resolution in my opinion.

    And strangely – all was well – rang a bit hollow. There is still a divide, albeit much less, between the keys. A tolerance between the ideologies of the Houses as opposed to a complete union. Ron still has his prejudices, Draco still has his, supposedly. Albus fears Slytherin. Obviously Harry still had not told little Albus the story of why he has Severus as his middle name. So, weirdly, harmony still had not been achieved – and still, Severus’ deeds are uncelebrated publicly. All was well for Harry – but was it really well for Hogwarts and the rest of the Wizarding World?

    For the teen shippers the epilogue was a fantasy of couplings. For them it was a resounding C major chord. For me the epilogue didn’t end in C major like Chapter 35 where the good fight was won – but more like a half cadence into G. Things are better – but still somewhat dissonant. Related, yes – resolved no.

  3. Love the musical analogy.

    IMHO, the story should have ended with Harry wondering if Kreacher would get him a sandwich. It was satisfying for two reasons: return to normalcy – what could be more prosaic and safe than a sandwich – and wonderfully Pukka Sahib (It’ll be a cold day in India before those house elves get their independence.)

    The Epilogue was a bit of a pander to those who like their t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Yes, yes, every Jack gets his Jill, and many are the children thereof, continuing the schoolyard rivalries of yore.

    But I do like the last line. It brings us back to the only thing that really matters: Voldemort is gone. All the rest is secondary, Dumbledore, Snape, Sirius, Lupin, and even poor Fred.

  4. Alright. No big fires like the one I accidentally started some time ago. Only a little one. Of course certain parties have probably grown to expect a ‘little fire’ from me. Otherwise I wouldn’t be Bellatrix Lestrange. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    The end is sickening if we stop to think about it. First of all, after all the talk ‘against bigotry’ throughout the saga, Ron shows bigotry against the son of my nephew Draco. (Even without having known him, he wants his daughter to beat my nephew’s son in everything.)

    Why should the children who never even knew each other continue the fights of their parents? Shame on you Ron!

    And Ron makes some anti ‘pure blood comments.’ Is he forgetting that he is ‘pure blood’ and his friend Neville is ‘pure blood?’

    Bigotry seems to be called bigotry when it’s against ‘mudbloods.’ But against ‘pure bloods,’ it’s alright. ‘Good guy hypocrisy!’

    Second of all, in a way, JKR is still promoting a bit of hatred for my nephew Draco. She could have AT LEAST had Harry (who is suppose to be good) offer a few kind words to him.

    How different is Harry from my nephew Draco? They both have their friends and stick with them. Oh! Wait! Yes! There is a difference! My nephew Draco seemed to be a bully, but he got cold feet and upset at the thought of someone actually getting hurt. And he was being threatened supposedly.

    Harry appears to be a nice guy, but he doesn’t seem to have problems killing. (Oh, and that 2 faced Dumbledore gives him an assassination order, and he follows it without even thinking.) Dumbledore, Harry, I’m going to scratch your faces off!

    Well, the fairy tale end probably had to be there. I’m sure most people wanted to see Harry end up with Ginny, and Ron end up with Hermione. (In my opinion, Ron is being punished, but we’ll avoid my dislike of Hermione.)

    But this is my biggest gripe with it. So, Voldemort is suppose to represent evil. (We know how I feel about that.) But keeping the feelings of my heart out of this, let’s pretend I agree that Voldemort is evil.

    Evil is destroyed and everyone is happy? OH PLEASE! I am a witch and thus not in the traditional religious system. But even I know evil is never destroyed! Oh, it sometimes retreats now and then, but it always returns in one way or another. Good, evil, there NEVER is one without the other. In fact, trying to destroy evil usually comes with DISASTROUS results.

    The ending is so artificially sweet, full of hypocrisy, and absurd concepts, that it makes me want to barf. Blah!

  5. While Aberforth sweeps up the hairballs, I feel the need to point out that the party who’s most likely to suffer in that marriage made in hell (and alchemical parity), is the divine Ms. H.

  6. Here’s the thing about the Hermione and Ron pairing:

    1) I can understand a woman who marries someone who is not her intellectual equal if that man carries a quality she values otherwise. Like if that man is extraordinarily good, kind, honest, loyal, and appreciates her in all ways and always. I’m not sure Ron has met all those requirements.

    2) I can understand a woman who marries a man who is not her intellectual equal but is inexplicably irresistable to her. He doesn’t need to be extraordinarly handsome in a conventional way (althought it helps) – just something about the way he moves, or speaks, or laughs, or loves. I’m not sure this has been conveyed to me in the books with regards to Ron. I don’t find him physically attractive in a way that I would consider overlooking other flaws. Call me shallow – but I would be able to put up with a lot if the guy looked like a young Brad Pitt.

    So I too have a problem with the Ron/Hermione relationship. I just don’t understand it. It just hasn’t been explained to me adequately.

  7. Sigh. I suspect I’ve been called ‘a cat.’ Maybe I should explain something.

    I don’t like Hermione because it’s not enough for her to study and improve herself. It’s like she has to educate herself so she can tell everyone else how stupid they are.

    I consider her the opposite of Snape. Snape is a lot smarter than he lets on to be. But he generally only pulls out his knowledge when there’s a reason to. Remember, one time even Harry and Ron were enjoying it when Snape asked her: “Do you enjoy being an obnoxious little know it all?”

    An especially annoying moment is in “Goblet of Fire.” Hermione has the stupidity to tell Harry and Ron they should start writing down everything she says from now on.

    What is there NOT annoying about Hermione? Granted I’m a little biased. But try removing the ‘preconceived ideas’ as to who is ‘good’ and ‘who is bad.’ Hermione is obnoxious and annoying.

  8. Excellent write-up, Arabella, and a beautiful conclusion to our read-through (which we obviously dragged on way too long). I’ve waffled back and forth on the Epilogue, and I think I’m pretty firmly in the camp of liking it. A lot. I’m sympathetic to the concern of not seeing a “stronger” Hermione in the end, but I think the Hermione we’ve been given for seven books, and especially in the last book, speaks for herself and gives us plenty of reason to think that she’s having a very powerful and influential career.

    I think it’s easy to get distracted by certain parts of the Epilogue. “All was well” means, of course, that all was well with Harry, which is what Rowling is really getting at. The other characters, even Ron and Hermione, and all other issues in the book are entirely peripheral to her Epilogue. The Epilogue is there to say, “Look at this boy who went through so much. He’s ok. He’s genuinely ok. He has a family. He loves and is loved. He is well.” And after really finally getting to know like Harry in book 7 (personal reading experience), I’m glad for that.

  9. Well, I had a good comment but lost it while trying to preview it. So, short version. I agree, Travis, that the Epilogue is more about the conclusion to Harry’s personal story & struggle rather than a commentary on the wizarding world at large.

    I think Rowling may have engendered some of the dislike towards the Epilogue by all her extra-textual statements of how great everything became in the 19 year interim & then none of that seems to be reflected in the Epilogue. However, since I always take her extra-textual statements with a grain of salt, they never bothered me & I’ve always liked, nay, even loved the Epilogue. Still do.

    Great write up, Arabella! Thank you!

  10. Thank you, Travis and revgeorge! I worked hard on this.

    We must remember that, like the rest of the story, we are seeing events unfold through Harry’s perspective, and he is in the moment on a September morning, a harried moment. He’s not thinking of Ron and Hermione’s marriage and careers, or Neville or Luna or Draco, or the politics of the Wizarding World, or a hundred other things. He’s busy getting his kids to Platform 93/4, and thinking about them going off to Hogwarts, especially his sensitive son, Albus. And having some personal reflections. From Harry’s perspective at this point in time, all is well.

    I’d be very interested to learn what you think of my connection of the Horcruxes to the Epilogue. Coming up with perspective caused me to think about both in a new way.

  11. Arabella — I absolutely love your walkthrough of the destruction of the Horcruxes and their connection to the epilogue.

    I didn’t like the epilogue much when I first read it, but I have come to appreciate it. (I also feel the writing is not as good as the books became, largely because JKR wrote it before she reached the end of the books…. so it meant something more to her than it does to the rest of us. Similar to the ending of “Lost,” which the writers wrote at the beginning of the show, and didn’t change to accommodate the changes that happened during 6 years.)

    I also felt, especially after reading your essay here, that one of the lovely things about the epilogue is that it, like the Horcruxes, is also about immortality… the normal “immortality” that one gets through having children….. (or, as Stephen Sondheim would say, “Children and Art.”)

    Beautiful work, Arabella!

  12. Thank you, Red Rocker.

    Janet, yes, yes, yes! Thank you for your great thoughts. The Epilogue is also about immortality. If I’d had time to sit on it awhile, I’d likely have developed that more. I was getting at it with dead Voldemort being “unlamented, uninteresting, and forgotten,” but you’ve taken it further.

    Voldemort wanted immortality, but he chose the wrong kind of immortality, one that guaranteed ignominy, because it’s in being fully human that we fully reflect the divine, in love and connection, and in passing on the blessing and heritage of life. The more Voldemort locked himself away from humaness, the more inhuman he became. And the more isolated.

    Compared to the happy interconnection and life we see on Platform 9 3/4.

    It makes me wish there was a reason to develop this essay further.

  13. Extremely well done, Arabella. While I devoured the Epilogue on the first reading, mostly to assure myself that Ron and Hermione did end up together, I almost wish JKR left it out. After seven books, we know these character so well, and it is difficult to jump to their 36 year old selves and not experience all of the changes with them. So, in that sense, it is jarring.

    But I do love that the kids don’t care who Harry is, or Uncle Ron, or even why cousin Ted is an orphan. It’s all just family to them, because Voldemort chose wrongly in the end- he chose immortality instead of love, not realizing that love is the only immortal power (for the purpose of this story).

    And keep your thoughts and notes on this chapter, Arabella. You never know what can happen to an idea after it germinates for awhile.

  14. Ditto on all of the compliments to Arabella for this wonderful post. I, too, especially loved your thoughts on how good humans can achieve genuine immortality. The comments here remind me of something from Aristotle’s De Anima:

    “For the most natural of all functions for a living thing . . . is to produce another thing of the same sort as itself . . . in order to share as far as it can in the everlasting and the divine” (415a27-30).

    And perhaps your developed thoughts on all of this will be part of an upcoming next volume of Hog’s Head Conversations, which many of us are eagerly looking forward to!

  15. Maybe I need more clarification. I’m not understanding what you mean Arabella. Are you saying that having children made Harry Potter immortal by the fact that his progeny carry on through his DNA?

    Genuine immortality? I’ve never heard of that. I’m not sure I agree that immortality comes through progeny or art. For numerous religions, especially Christianity – that is an odd notion – if immortality came through either progeny or art – then why did Christ die on the cross at Calgary? For Buddhists and Hinduism – why try for Nirvana? For scientific fact – the world will eventually be swallowed by the sun and all progeny and art (assuming they survived extinction by an asteroid impact in the future) will be turned into dust. All progeny and art will be gone – dead – nada – zip. No great, great, great etc. grandchildren carrying your DNA. No statue of David, no Mona Lisa, no symphony, even Shakespeare – gone. Not immortal. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Everything is mortal except God and one’s soul.

    Horcruxes or progeny or art do not make anyone immortal. I think that was one of the point of the books. Acceptance of Death.

  16. Michelangelo and Leonardo and even Shakespeare I could understand. And even Beethoven’s music will stop echoing through the galaxies one of these millenia. Even Bach. The Cello Suite #1 will wind down and even the memory of Yo-Yo Ma will be a sigh amongst the nebula. But Mozart?

    I think you are mistaken, Blogger Bennu. The day might come when we might no longer be able to hear the Queen of the Night exclaim “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” or listen as the Countess sighs “Porgi, amor, qualche ristoro”, but somewhere out there, someone will be listening still. This I know.

  17. I think one of my biggest problems with this conclusion is that it gives the impression that evil can be defeated and destroyed. (I have my opinions as to who is really evil here, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s pretend I agree that Voldemort is evil.)

    Anyone who knows anything about ‘evil’ knows that it never dies, and it is never really defeated. Oh, it may retreat for awhile. But it can never be destroyed. It always returns in one form or another.

    In traditional religion, God and Satan are both immortal. Good, evil, there never is one without the other.

    Harry accepts mortality? It may be more accurate to say he accepts: “The system.” He follows Dumbledore blindly even when Dumbledore is less than honest. I also feel Dumbledore has really made himself ‘God’ by trying to destroy Voldemort’s soul. (And of course like the monkey, ‘Harry sees, Harry does.’)

    Granted, my position makes me a little biased. But think about it. Harry is given a good hand, and he basically lets Dumbledore and other members of ‘the system’ play it for him.

    I have to admit, Voldemort has my love for several reasons. Think about it. He was dealt a very tragic and poor hand. Even though he was dealt a poor hand, he flipped the tables and did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. He not only achieved power outside of the system, but he achieved immortality. Voldemort really rose from his ashes.

    Dumbledore is content to let magic decline into little pc holes. Voldemort wants magic to live to it’s full potential. I can’t help but feel he keeps himself immortal because he sees the decline of magic if he dies.

    Granted, all 4 houses have their good points. But it is VERY INTERESTING that Dumbledore’s most honest, trust worthy, and valuable friend Snape is of Slytherin. (Who of course Dumbledore leaves to the wolves eventually. I still say Snape is too good for Dumbledore.)

    One is even entitled to wonder if Voldemort knew and recognized the dishonest aspects of Dumbledore.

    So, Voldemort is someone who hates Muggles? Why wouldn’t he? His mother was left by a Muggle. So Voldemort doesn’t like Dumbledore? When does Dumbledore ever give the gift of ‘straight talk?’ (Not even with his most loyal friend Snape.)

    Voldemort knew that if he was going to turn his luck around, he had to act on his own and not depend on winning the favor of the 2 faced Dumbledore. How could he even think of love? His father left him, and his mother killed herself.

    If Voldemort scorns love, it may very well be because it was a gift he could never have. (Not even from his parents.) Sigh. It may even be why he taunts me for having feelings for him.

    It’s more accurate to say Harry accepts being a ‘part of the system’ while Voldemort feels the only greatness comes from shattering one’s way out of the system.

    The moral of the story seems to be: “Stick with system, and we’ll get along just fine. Go out of the system and I will destroy your soul and kill you.”

    JKR makes it look like Harry wins because he understood the power of love. Well guess what? At least Harry got it! How easy to understand and use it if you have it. Voldemort never had love! So how could he understand the power of it? He probably saw it as a weakness because somehow he lived his life without it!

    I think Arabella backs up her views in interesting well written ways. But I hold a contrary view.

  18. I think Dumbledore has subordinates, peers and allies, as exemplified by Harry, Slughorn and Snape. I don’t think he really has friends.

    And I don’t see him as a system kind of guy. He sees himself as above the system (sort of like Voldemort, if you think about it) but unlike Voldemort, he can definitely work the system when he wants to.

    The thing about Dumbledore is that as the most powerful wizard of his time, he has a choice: to rule or to protect. He chooses the latter. Voldemort, as second most powerful, chooses the former.

  19. Alright Red Rocker.

    I’ll grant that the 2 faced politician Dumbledore probably sees himself as above the system but that he can work in it if he wants to. You have a point.

    Is Dumbledore the most powerful wizard? I’m not so sure. He makes a stupid mistake that leads to his slow and inevitable death. And all because he tampered with a device of Lord Voldemort. (the ring) So, by a sheer accident, Voldemort ended up in a way defeating Dumbledore. I think we could argue Voldemort is the most powerful wizard.

    One of my biggest gripes with JKR is that she is hypocritical in her morals. She wants to say ‘love’ is the greatest power there is. And that Voldemort fails because he can’t understand this. Well, let’s think about this!

    Voldemort was never shown love! How can he understand it? Dumbledore is suppose to be a symbol of good, but even he brushes Voldemort off. There’s NEVER a convincing: “Let me help you!” from Dumbledore to Voldemort.

    Granted Harry grew up in the abusive Dursley home. But he’s more than loved at school.

    Correct me if I’m wrong. But it seems that JKR intentionally denies Voldemort love. Then she scorns and rebukes him for having been unable to understand or value it. I may add that she also taunts him for it. (SO, she denies Voldemort love and then taunts him for failing to understand something he wasnever given! That’s like denying a man food and then taunting him, and later killing him because he’s hungry, and found a way to live without eating!)

    While I’m here, first she says he was mentally ill. Wouldn’t it play with anyone else’s mind if he was deprived of affection and love? And then she tries to say there was no helping him. So, let me get this straight. She afflicts Voldemort with sadness. Then she says he was mentally ill. So now he has to be destroyed. What ever happened to free will? What ever happened to good wanting to save (or at least try to help) someone?

    The epilogue is so full of hypocrisy it makes me sick. It seems the moral of the story is if you are born with a good hand dealt to you, and have the gift of love bestowed upon you, you can fall in the ‘system’s favor,’ and if you obey and keep within the system of certain gifts you’ll have a happy ending.

    If you are unlucky, dealt a bad hand, and are not given certain gifts, you won’t be able to stay in the system, and if you try to survive outside the system, the system will see to it that you are destroyed.

    Oh, and Voldemort has to be punished because of what his mother did? Poor Merope just wanted to be loved, and she used a love potion. Alright. Maybe that is ‘questionable love.’ But how disgusting that Voldemort has to be punished and ‘bear the sins of his mother.’ Oh, and does JKR have any feelings about how Voldemort’s father Tom just left him with no thoughts for his son? Forced or not, Voldemort WAS Tom’s son, and he did have obligations.

    JKR has her VERY WARPED ideology and some of the rewards and punishments are disgusting.

    If we forget who ‘we’re suppose to like,’ Voldemort is easily the most admirable character. (Except for maybe Snape.) Voldemort was dealt a poor hand in life. He rose from it. He did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. He became the arguably most powerful wizard in the world. Immortality was in his grasp. And we can even argue that he refused to watch the potential of magic decline into pc holes.

    Dumbledore is NOT very nice. He gives favor where he chooses. If people obey, he grants them rewards. And if he decides someone isn’t worth his time, he’s marked for death. Does Dumbledore even care that he left his most loyal friend Snape to the wolves? He could have AT LEAST told certain parties like Harry and Minerva that he wanted Snape to kill him.

    Examine JKR’s ideology in a more object manner, and you can see how disgusting it really is. I know someone’s going to call me a ‘cat’ for this. So I’ll beat them to the punch.

    MMMRRREEEOOOWWW!

  20. Red Rocker, I love your Mozart response to Bennu’s excellent questions. Yes, Mozart is exquisitely divine, those notes are the music of the heavenly spheres!

    Back to Bennu’s questions, though, I’m struggling with how to articulate the sense (perhaps more metaphorical) of immortality that at least I had in mind in light of Arabella’s post. I suppose that what’s immortal in a way is creation–the creation of love, value, family (with birth and Naming), things of enduring worth–that pervades the Epilogue. Voldemort’s not interested in creating, but in destroying, so that’s how he gets it all wrong on the immortality front. He destroys himself and those around him. L’Engle says it better than I can, in the “Metron Ariston” chapter of A Wind in the Door:

    “The Echthroi are those who hate, those who would keep you from being Named, who would un-Name you. It is the nature of love to create. It is the nature of hate to destroy.”

    Voldemort chooses to destroy, to un-name, which is what’s so evil about him. He chooses to initiate violence, force, unjustified killing (i.e., murder). And it is a choice. Yes, he had a bad hand dealt to him, but so have lots of other people, many of whom do not choose evil. It’s always up to each one of us. The good guys are the ones who defend life against such a negative force–yes, even if it means killing in self-defense, which is justified killing. And, more deeply symbolically, the good guys need to wrestle with whatever “shreds of Voldemort” exist inside each of them (though perhaps not Luna Lovegood, who seems to be among the few unmixed characters on the good end of the spectrum).

  21. Cbiondi, I’d agree with you that Luna seems to be born free of Original Sin. Not sure I’d make the parallel between love and creation and hate and destruction. I’m also thinking of the Robert Frost poem, “Fire and Ice”:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Or as I see it, both Grindelwald/Dumbledore and Voldemort could have brought down the world, although for different reasons.

    Bella, I think that you’re posing an interesting question: did Tom Riddle’s maker (i.e. the author) stack the odds so heavily against him that he was predetermined to turn out the way he did? Problem is that in a story, unlike real life, a character’s fate is 100%predetermined. To protest that the author dealt a character a losing hand is asking for fairness in a context where fairness is irrelevant.

    How I would ask the question is whether Harry’s final (and only) offer to Tom Riddle to experience remorse (in order to save his soul) was a genuine opportunity for him. And as I have previously said, I don’t think it was. At no point in the story had Riddle ever taken someone else’s advice. At no point was there any indication that he would view Harry as someone whose advice he would value. But beyond that, this was not the story of Tom Riddle’s redemption. As I see it, Harry’s offer was the author’s way of showing that Riddle was beyond redemption. To go back to the immortals, think Don Giovanni rather than Ebenezer Scrooge.

  22. Hi CBondi.

    I might be able to go along with your self defense theory under different circumstances. And these different circumstances lead to JKR’s shortcomings on morality.

    Dumbledore never made any convincing efforts to help Voldemort. He just brushes him off as a lost cause. (Kind of how he brushes Snape’s reputation and safety off after he has the indecency to ask Snape to do his ‘dirty work.’) I would love to scratch Dumbledore’s face off.

    How different is Voldemort from the ‘good guys?’ The ‘good guys’ don’t want to help Voldemort. They simply want to destroy his soul and kill him. And the reality is, it was kind of a ‘stupid phrophecy’ that scared Voldemort into taking drastic measures if he wanted to survive. Who wouldn’t try to survive if they felt this threatened?

    What it really boils down to is that Voldemort was dealt a bad hand, in a very questionable and corrupt system. And he is doing his best to survive.

    Another bit of hypocrisy is that we learn that certain curses are ‘unforgivable.’ Oh, but it’s ok if certain people use them. JKR is a major hypocrite. She makes all these rules of ‘morality.’ But if the ‘supposed good guys’ break them, it’s ok.

    A blatant example is that we are told that ‘killing is the supreme evil.’ But in the same breath, Dumbledore is telling Harry to perform an assassination.

    I have more respect for Draco Malfoy than Harry. My nephew Draco APPEARS to be a bully. But he gets nervous at the thought of someone actually getting hurt. Harry is just the opposite. Harry parades himself as a good guy, but is willing to perform an assassination because Dumbledore tells him to. ‘Monkey see, monkey do.’

    Self defense is self defense. But this is an ordered assassination. Self defense is when someone attacks you and you defend yourself. A planned murder does NOT equal self defense.

    Self defense is how Myagi protects Daniel in the “Karate Kid” film. And notice Myagi doesn’t kill. (Even in Part 2 where the people were trying to kill Daniel.)

    JKR basically deals Voldemort abad hand; then she claims he’s mentally ill; then she claims because he’s mentally ill, he’s incapable of choice. So after giving him a bad hand, saying he’s ill, she says he has to be killed. Dumbledore is SUPPOSE to be so good, but he makes himself God. He decides who to help and who to brush off. He decides who will live, and who will be killed.

    JKR is just as bigoted as she claims her bad guys are. She doesn’t allow Vernon Dursley to grow. She always makes Slytherin an object of scorn. She also keeps coming up with ‘unconvincing’ ways to makes us see that Voldemort has to be killed. I may have respected her views a lot more if she had allowed Vernon to grow, if she had given the house of Slytherin one or 2 nice guys. And if she hadn’t purposely deprived Voldemort of the very things she tants him for not having.

    ‘The supposed good guys’ are conveniently given what JKR promotes. And she scorns, rejects, and sets up to die anyone who has the misfortune to have been deprived of what JKR says is needed. She basically wants to justify a murder. (While claiming that it’s the greatest evil there is.)

    Voldemort doesn’t reject help or love. He’s never offered it!

  23. Hi Red Rocker.

    We must have sent at the same time.

    I’m glad you to some extent see my point. It seems you also agree that Harry’s ‘remorse’ offer is kind of an empty spite coming from JKR.

    We’re getting into commenting inside the book vs commenting outside the book now. (Commenting outside generally allows for a more complete discussion.)

    It’s just my opinion (granted I’m a little biased) that JKR keeps stacking the deck against Voldemort so he can’t repent (at least in her eyes). Or maybe even that JKR does her best to turn Voldemort into a flat 2 d villain so she can justify killing him to herself. (When she’s supposedly trying to write a moral story.) Shame on you JKR!

    Think about it. Voldemort prefers to work alone because that’s all he ever was! (JKR, you are more naughty than people claim I am!) He was left by his father, and his mother killed herself. He was raised in a cold orphanage. He probably numbs himself to love because even as a child he was deprived of it. He has this fear of death undoubtedly over the loss of his mother. Even in the system, he’s made to feel alone. How else would most people react?

    It’s like JKR enjoys dealing Voldemort a bad hand, and then punishing him for the bad hand he was dealt.

    Personally, I would have liked to have scene a tv series after Voldemort had been resurrected in “Goblet of Fire.” It would have allowed a lot of time for fleshing out of the characters and given us a less contrived and rushed story.

    These are just ‘unofficial things we should consider.’

  24. Red Rocker, I agree with you about how a Grindelwald/Dumbledore pairing could have destroyed the world as badly as the Voldemort path does. For me, that revelation in the storyline was kind of like finding out the the Vorlons were much more mixed than was originally thought in the showdown with the Shadows (in the SF series “Babylon Five”). The wedge seems to be driven in by hate, fear, desire for more power and control than we have or ought to have–things that few are free of. However, Dumbledore realized this about himself in enough time to stop himself and know that he couldn’t be trusted with power. It was his awareness and admission of error that redeems him (and others), though his lapse with the Resurrection Stone doomed him.

    Bellatrix, I’m a bit puzzled by your calling Harry’s confrontation with Voldemort “ordered assassination.” Dumbledore was training Harry to survive (or be willing to die in) any confrontation with Voldemort, who relentlessly pursued Harry for seven novels in order to kill him. This seems parallel to Mr. Miyagi’s training of the Karate Kid. And in fact, Harry doesn’t kill Voldemort–he never shoots an AK at him, so I do see this scene as an act of self-defense. Voldemort precipitates his own death by his insistence on destruction rather than remorse and redemption. This metaphorical representation of self-death through hate and violence is explored extensively by better writers than I, so I won’t belabor the issue here (see the work of Travis, John Granger, Joseph Campbell, etc.).

    Also, Rowling does–even through the prodding of Harry by Dumbledore–grant Slytherin House some of its due. It’s Harry (through whose eyes we experience the saga) who is resistent to seeing whatever humanity exists in Slytherin and Snape–at least until the end when he somewhat gets past that and even includes Severus’s name in his son’s name. What better way to celebrate Snape than to Name him in a life you have helped to create? (Granted, many here would have wanted to see more of Snape and more justice rendered to his character, but we ought not forget the homage that was paid to him in Rowling’s storyline.)

  25. Hi cbiondi.

    Well, to answer your question, I see the ‘destroying of Voldemort’s soul’ as something Harry really doesn’t have any right to do. And Dumbledore does in fact use the words: “…anyone wishing to kill Voldemort…” He doesn’t seem to use the word ‘defend.’

    I don’t like how JKR puts evil on the defensive. Something that just doesn’t seem consistent with the battle between good and evil.

    I know what you’re saying about the ‘final curse’ that backfires. But in my belief, that’s just JKR’s attempt to ‘keep Harry clean.’ Oh, and the big thing is that Harry is suppose to accept mortality? Well, he doesn’t seem to want to hang around after he is at ‘King’s Cross.’ CHEAT! CHEAT! CHEAT!

    JKR gives what I would like to call ‘selective grace.’

    The book doesn’t even really give Voldemort the dignity of a final fight. In fact, I kind of see the destruction of Voldemort’s soul as kind of, well… a…4 lettered word that starts with’r’ and ends with ‘e.’ I don’t know if that 4 lettered word would be allowed here. I’ve been called naughty before, so I’ll play it safe.

    I would have found it ‘fabulous’ if JKR had granted Harry 1 or 2 friends from Slytherin. (Token good Slytherins. Even if just for show.)

    Think about it. JKR is just as violent as bigoted as she claims Voldemort is. She enjoys poking fun at Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. She enjoys making a joke out of Vernon Dursley. She makes Slytherin an object of scorn. She makes Snape (probably the most honest trustworthy man in the story) an object of scorn. She leaves him to the wolves after having done Dumbledore’s dirty work. She crosses the line of decency with the concept of destroying someone’s soul. And she creates that vile and indecent image of a disfigured child in agony. And she writes mental illness off as something that has to be destroyed.

    It boils down to the fact that in trying to show ‘how bad’ Voldemort is, JKR shows these exact same violent and bigoted aspects in herself.

    She deals Voldemort a bad hand, then on purpose she deprives him of everything JKR claims to uphold, and then she punishes Voldemort because he was dealt a bad hand.

    I don’t deny the ‘token hommage’ to Snape. But it seems to be a normal failing of the masses. Treating someone horribly when they are alive, and then trying to make it up to them after they are dead. A little ‘too little’ on the ‘too late’ side.

    Not trying to start any fires. But would you rather I be dishonest? My contrary views are in fact what make me Bellatrix Lestrange.

    But hey…we’re all friends here. Nothing wrong with asking each other to explain our opinions a little.

  26. I don’t have a lot of time at the moment to respond at length and hopefully will be able to do so more tomorrow. But I’ve been following this conversation and at present, I need to say two things: (1) Bellatrix, you are raising a few interesting points that we’ve raised here before, namely, does Voldemort ever really have a chance to be anything other than what he was? That’s a good discussion. Some of your points I’ve agreed with (like wanting to see more Slytherin redemption, a few Slytherins staying behind for Battle of Hogwarts, etc.).

    (2) On the other hand, statements like “Voldemort is easily the most admirable character” are beyond absurd. I know you’re showing up here “in character” as Bellatrix, but statements like that just can’t go unchallenged. “Dealt a bad hand” or not, there is nothing admirable about destroying one’s soul by killing countless people, dehumanizing one’s self to keep one’s body alive while destroying the lives of others. Whatever Voldemort’s life circumstances, if you’re really prepared to conclude anything about Voldemort is “admirable,” even his skill at self-preservation, then we’ve reached a point of moral confusion beyond what we’ve ever seen in these discussions before.

    And let’s be plain: This is a very friendly place, but very few, if any, would be “friends” with someone like Bellatrix LeStrange. Not many of us here deliberately befriend murderers, people who practice torture and bigotry, or people who support the Hitler of the Wizarding World.

    If we’re following your character here, then I’m calling the Aurors. Bellatrix should be in Azkaban – where, I might add, dementors would no longer torture prisoners if someone as horrible (in your opinion) as Dumbledore had his way.

  27. Hi Travis.

    Well, I would like to say there are 2 sides to every dispute. And I feel I am supporting Voldemort’s side of the story. But of course I don’t mind hearing the other side of the story. Not looking for a war. I just feel Voldemort’s side of the story should have ‘equal time.’

    Some people have their extreme ‘pro Harry Potter’ and ‘Pro Dumbledore’ views. I have my ‘pro Voldemort views.’

    An objective observer may say that ‘the truth is somewhere in the middle of the extreme opinions.’

    I guess I admire him for flipping the tables despite his poorly dealt hand. You have to admit that it’s not many people who can rise above such a poorly dealt hand.

    A weakness in JKR’s style is that she seems to enjoy bringing out extreme absurd aspects of the human condition such as in Vernon Dursley and then taunting them. I have an aunt who hates me. But I’m sure if she had had to raise me, we would have softened towards each other after 17 years.

    I’m sure you would admit that I have a point when I say JKR deprives Voldemort of anything she values, and then taunts and scorns him for not having what he was deprived of.

    I trust we’re all friends here. I’m not trying to start a fire. I’m just saying there are 2 sides to every story.

    I guess I’m a little biased. But calling Voldemort the ‘Hitler of this world’ is a bit too strong in my opinion. In my opinion, he’s driven by sadness and fear.

    I’m sure I’m speaking with my heart here. But I think Voldemort sees everyone else around him as a threat as well as hostile. If he had had an opportunity to grow up with just a fraction of the love Harry has, and if he had not been exposed to that terrible prophecy, he wouldn’t have been so driven by his fears.

    The way I see it is that Voldemort is frightened because he sees the world around him as hostile, and he is basically following his instinct to survive.

    Call it the sentiment of my heart for the hated and the unloved. I do cry for Voldemort.

  28. Voldemort is a fictional villain who serves a purpose for the author. Vernon D. is also a fictional device. Bullies and villains have existed in hero driven literature since the beginning of time. If one dislikes the way an author treats a villain – there’s nothing one can do about it except not read the book.

    Bellatrix is no Eva Braun, but Voldemort is just like Hitler. He wanted to abolish mixed blood witches and wizards and turn muggles into slaves and rule both the Muggle and the Wizarding World solo. The biggest facist out there. To cry for Voldemort takes a boat load of denial. Either that – or you’re in agreement with his ideology.

    So Bellatrix – are you a racist? Are you into torturing into insanity those who do not agree with Voldemort? Are you into murdering your cousin for Voldemort’s ideas? Are you into enslaving people because of what they’re not? Are you promoting a dictatorship? Are you a facist? Would you enjoy seeing the mass extinction of an entire race? Would you AK them one by one – or would you gas them in groups? Would you murder a child for Voldemort?

    It looks like no matter how much you cry for Voldemort – or love him unrequitedly – or understand his condition – you have to ultimately answer these questions.

  29. The last comment would have had more impact if I had spelled fascist correctly – both times.

    Note to myself: spellcheck when one is riled up.

  30. Hi Bennu.

    Well, bullies and villains exist. True. But I think when they are so extreme that they have no redeeming value, they cross the line and become absurd exaggerations of the human condition. There is some good in all of us.

    My aunt and I avoid each other. But like I said, if she had had to raise me, we couldn’t have hated each other all these years. It’s only the human condition that we would learn to accept and maybe even love.

    It’s the human condition that we eventually want to move past our dislikes. And I think JKR enjoys taking the human condition away from certain parties so she can taunt them and make them objects of scorn.

    Oh, Bennu, I thought of all people you would understand the tears from a woman’s heart for the hated and the unloved.

    I’m just saying that I honestly feel Lord Voldemort is driven by sadness and fear. (From the lack of love.) (From a cold system.) etc

    And I honestly feel he sees the world around him as hostile.

    Granted my heart makes me a little biased, but I honestly feel he is driven by his sadness from lack of love, and he is driven by his fear in a world that he sees as hostile.

    There are two sides to every story. And I do feel Voldemort’s side of the story deserves equal time.

    It’s easy to love the official good guy. But it takes a certain strength to have a heart that cries for the hated and the unloved. Just something to think about Bennu.

    In some ways, JKR is just as bigoted as she claims Voldemort is. She takes the human condition away from anyone she wishes to taunt. She could have softened Vernon after so many years. And she could have given Slytherin a token good guy. (Maybe Cedric from “Goblet of Fire” would have made a good token Slytherin.) And I do find it strange that she often makes Snape (the most honest, trustworthy, and honorable character in the story) an object of scorn.

    I’m a woman who needs to find a place in her heart for the unloved.

  31. Oh, Bennu, I thought of all people you would understand the tears from a woman’s heart for the hated and the unloved.

    When it comes to evil – regardless of personal history or human condition – I am almost as cold-hearted and ruthless as one could get. I’m afraid if I were Harry, I would not even have gone through the charade of giving Voldemort the chance at remorse. I knew by book 6 that Voldemort was incapable of remorse or rehabilitation by that time. Though I might have offered him these words…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnMLGkj91Og

    When it comes to any of the sadistic, torture-loving, sycophants of despots – regardless of personal history or human condition, I have no pity or mercy.

    When it comes to the virtuous underdog – I am a warrior in their service.

  32. I do enjoy that Bellatrix, has given us a look at contrasts, with her exquisive Role-Playing in light and dark (please forgive me) by playing “the devils-advocate”. Your many protests I am reminded of is, …. The woman doth protest too much,… —Hamlet
    I salute your enthusiasm dear Bellatrix, for the sake of making this final discussion a grand bang-up ending in our HP Deathly Hallows read-through series. Yes, we know that every character needs a worthy foil.
    Bellatrix your fellow Slytherin house member Prof. Horace Slughorn aptly stated …there is no light without the dark, so it is with magic (I) strive to live within the light.

  33. Again Thanks,
    Arabella Figg (Deborah), I loved your posting, I commend your due-diligence with this Farewell to the Deathly Hallows at least this time around. I heartily agree with other’s comments before that you should definitely continue and bring us an essay for future publication on this topic, thank you for your top-notch insights (no pressure — no worries). regards

  34. Ok. Bennu.

    I guess you don’t share my feelings on this matter. But you have to admit that JKR does seem to deprive Voldemort of love so she can later taunt him for not having it. On a side note, I may even dare say he’s been so deprived of love that he can’t even see mine.

    Except Nagini: Nagini is the one creature he loves. And in a way, she is not only a mother to him (giving him milk at his resurrection), and then kind of a wife. He gives her part of his soul.

    Well, maybe I am ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ to some people. But you have to admit there is logic in my stand. Does this ‘woman protest too much, or does she bring out some untold truths?’

    One time someone called me a ‘naughty naughty girl.’ But I think that term applies to JKR for reasons I have stated in this discussion.

    Just remember there are 2 sides to these disputes, and the defense should get equal time with the prosecution.

    I appreciate your kind words R. Ross.

    Dear Bellatrix Lestrange thanks you. I may be an insane witch. But I still have a heart that cries for the hated and the unloved.

  35. Bellatrix, I think your “logic” is confused and confusing. J.K. Rowling didn’t have to do anything nice or kind for Voldemort. He’s a character in her story. In the “real world,” there are people like Voldemort who have been deprived of love by the choices of others, but then turn and choose to hate and murder for self-preservation. No, Tom Riddle, Jr. did not have the same start Harry did, or the same first year of nurturing. But he did have the same school, some of the same teachers, and many of the same opportunities as Harry.

    But even if he hadn’t had any of those things, Rowling owes none of her characters a chance at love. She’s telling a story that reflects the tragic things that happen in our world. There are people like Voldemort, who put themselves beyond hope.

    You’re going to find that I’m not very excited, Bellatrix, about the idea of giving racism, bigotry, and murder “equal time.” You are a lying, murdering, insane witch who is trying to justify the greatest of evils by calling it “love for the hated and unloved.” Nonsense. You love the distorted and self-serving, who trod underfoot the truly hated and unloved (Muggles and Muggleborns) for personal gain and power, for a Nazi-like ideology.

    Whether or not Voldemort is a good villain, a fully-developed character, or whether or not there are holes in Rowling’s plot and treatment of themes through character are all fair discussions. But we can have them on a literary level without professing love for evil and calling racism torture and murder “survival” and “admirable.”

    We’ve kindly discussed the the counterpoints you’ve raised here before, and we can continue to do so. We’ve never done so while expressing love for evil, and we won’t do it now.

    I don’t think Aberforth would tolerate that in his bar, and neither will I, if we’re stepping into characters here. I’d suggest it’s time to shed the “Bellatrix” personality and join the discussion as a reader of HP, or find a place where hatred, torture, and murder are excused and justified.

  36. Sigh.

    I’m not trying to be ‘naughty’ here.

    I just feel that sometimes to understand a work of literature, sometimes we have to cross examine and see things through the eyes of different characters.

    If you look at people like Shakespeare and great others, these writers are not usually without sympathy for their villains. And their failings are a little more understandable. Take poor Macbeth or poor Claudius from “Hamlet.”

    I’m just saying I don’t think JKR really is fair to her ‘villain’ Voldemort. Granted, I’m following my heart, but I honestly do feel that Voldemort is driven by sadness and fear and that he sees the world around him as hostile. In school that was of course called ‘writing your papers outside the book.’ As opposed to ‘inside the book’ where there is no author, and everything is taken as real.

    Well, if you don’t like the term ‘equal time,’ we can say ‘understand before we hate.’

    I promise I’m not trying to start a fire. I’m just trying to underline that it’s best if we can at least understand why an antagonist feels the way he does. (Something I had to do quite a bit in school.) We often had to understand the antagonist. (Even if we didn’t agree with him. But I have a woman’s heart that would often find some tears for the often disliked.)

    What I would do (often when I finsihed a book for school) would be that I would read the chapters only where a certain character thought or spoke. And that way I could understand him more. Voldemort was no exception.

    I’m just saying I feel every character deserves a bit of understanding.
    I try not to make historical comparisons because that can bring out some real preconceived opinions. (Often not civil.) But I suppose that’s what history class is for.

    One time I had to write a paper over because I let too much venom for a certain character get in the way.

    I will say many of my teachers loved me for bringing out often unraised issues. I think one teacher hated me. But most of them loved me.

    Just trying to make my style of writing here a little more clear.

  37. Late returning to the discussion here.

    First, I’ve always loved the epilogue. From the first read. I’ve guessed this was because I expected–nay, hoped–Rowling would end her story with the comic perfection with which it began. A comedy of a certain variety takes the protagonist into unqualified satisfaction and happiness at the end, and Harry Potter was first and foremost set up to be this sort of tale. The issues canvassed in the story were given second place to the natural story arc.

    As a reader with a natural distaste for agenda, I might have hated her guts for the rest of my life if she’d reversed that. :P

    The word comic is important. J.K. Rowling is a caricaturist, perhaps the best I’ve ever read in fiction. Caricature is an art form that allows the artist to simplify and distort in order to pull out certain resemblances and make them striking, even humorous. There’s nothing evil or deceptive about this; it’s simply a style of art with its own rules and tricks.

    Nearly every one of Rowling’s characters is a caricature. Ron and Hermione, especially in the earlier books. Arthur and Molly Weasley, start to finish. McGonagall. Luna. Neville. Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Voldemort, every last one of the Death Eaters, and the Dursleys. They don’t reflect life with mirror perfection; they reflect certain truths with playful accuracy.

    As Ron might say, it’s brilliant. :)

  38. Hi Arabella.

    I guess we just feel differently here. I see this techniques of ‘extreme exaggerations’ as a way of JKR taking away the humanity of certain characters she wishes to taunt.

    She claims to uphold humanity, but then takes it away from people she wishes to taunt. As you know, I have an aunt who hates me. I see her as hostile. But I’m sure she sees me as hostile.

    I just don’t buy concepts of ‘good and evil.’ I prefer to say we are governed by circumstances, and then someone with victory and hindsight writes the rules of good and evil.

    Even where I’m concerned, I don’t think I’m evil. I was taught to have my views as a child. And then I’m sent to prison for following what my parents taught me. And to top it off, my love for Voldemort is unreturned. If the reason for my insanity seems unclear, I feel it’s because I’m insane for several reasons. (Following my upbringing, sent to prison where the prisoners are tortured and deprived of even a happy thought, and then having my love for Voldemort unrequited.)
    I see myself as a tragic character who lost her sanity and has a heart that can’t stop crying.

    I honestly feel JKR knows it’s easier to hate someone if you take away their humanity and choose not to understand them. But careful reading overrides that technique.

    But hey, you’re entitled to your opinion. We’re all friends here. It wouldn’t be so exciting if we all felt the same way.

  39. Agree that many of JKR’s characters are caricatures. Some are more nuanced – or become so throughout the books. Voldemort remains black and white throughout – with a brief lapse into 3D in HBP, especially in the scenes with Slughorn, Dumbledore and Hepzibah.

    Agree that Hermione and Ron are caricaturish in the beginning. They both evolve, howevever, Ron later than Hermione. Interestingly, Hermione becomes much more 3D in the movies, while Ron remains more caricaturish.

    Arthur and Molly and the twins remain caricatures. As does Vernon. As do Crabbe and Goyle. I really can’t differentiate most of the Death Eaters, so I’d have to agree that they are caricatures (but not very well drawn ones). All the members of the Malfoy family become 3D in HBP. Although Bellatrix does sometimes present as over the top, for me she remains one of the more interesting characters.

    The analysis is complicated by what happens to the different characters in the movies. The acting is so good – from Rickman, Lynch, Felton down – that many characters who are broadly configured in the books become more nuanced in the movies. I guess that’s what acting is all about.

  40. I appreciate the wonderful elaborations and kind words on the Horcruxes and the Epilogue, giving me even more to think about. Over the weekend, my husband and I enjoyed discussing the subject further.

    As he pointed out, the Horcruxes/Epilogue are about the meaning of community. It took community (with love as the glue) to destroy the Horcruxes and defeat Voldemort. Harry couldn’t do all this by himself, and thankfully, recognized it early on. All the adults on the platform had played critical roles (along with others not there), but together. Whereas Voldemort, who rejected love, created a mockery of community by dividing himself up in his Horcruxes, forsaking any other kind of connection.

    Excellent point, Jenna, about the comic arc. I see the “family” on the platform as the reverse of the Dursleys.

  41. Bennu, in answer to your question @16. It’s not the passing of DNA that we live on (although that is one way). Each time we love, give, encourage, sacrifice, mentor, etc., we extend ourselves and live on in those we do those things for. In those connections we “pass on the blessing and heritage of life.” We do this in community.

    Voldemort went about the wrong way of gaining immortality, and in doing so he did choose “the wrong kind of immortality,” one that would be gained at the expense of others. Instead of choosing life, he chose solitariness and parasitism–the wrong reality–and made a god of his own immortality. It’s when we value others above ourselves and are willing, like Harry, to surrender our mortality for them, that we choose life–the right reality–and gain immortality, even if only in the hearts of others.

  42. Bellatrix, if that were all you were doing, as I said, we’d be fine, as we’ve had these discussions here many times before. I’ve asked kindly that the role-playing, Voldemort-loving aspect of your contributions here be dropped. That has not happened. I admit to initially being intrigued by the role-playing and was hesitant to make any judgment call on it. But at this point, almost every thread goes immediately off-topic with a defense of Voldemort and the point of view of a cruel, murdering, torturing Death Eater. The Blogengamot has convened and unanimously agreed on a new rule for the blog:

    The Hog’s Head main blog is not a place for character role-playing. This distracts from the conversation that happens and invariably takes us off-topic. If you want to show up to The Hog’s Head as a character from the books, please take it to the forum.

    This rule has been added to the Discussion Rules. Failure to abide by this will, as with all other rules, result in the one-warning, then suspension and banning. Further comments made “in character” will be immediately deleted.

    To be clear, Potter-inspired screen names are fine. Showing up “in character,” however, is for the forum, not the main blog.

    Thanks.

    My apologies especially to Arabella, as well as to all other commenters, for letting this excellent post and thread become distracted by this matter.

  43. Thank you very much, Travis.

    I meant to say in my comment @45 that the “wrong kind” of immortality that Voldemort chose was earthly immortality. Voldemort didn’t value the spirit, and so he didn’t value the attributes of the spirit, the finest being love. Because he didn’t value it, he didn’t bother to pursue or understand it.

  44. Arabella,

    One thing you did especially well in this piece is illuminate the maturing of each character and the character’s relationships with each other, and how that’s crystallized in the moment each destroys a horcrux. This really struck me as you described Ron’s victory over insecurity and jealousy. Even your suggestion that Hermione did it without Hogwarts, A History makes me nod and agree, yes, she too grew beyond total dependance on books, beyond her own insecurities.

    And as you connected this all with the epilogue, I got to thinking. She’s right. The epilogue captures a moment at a train station, at THE train station. Isn’t it natural that way. What do people do at train stations? Tthey come and go, they transition, they embark, they return. All of HP is about embarking, discovering, growing, and returning, and embarking again. It is all about the maturing process of life. That life is worth living, so worth living that it is worth dying for. That life must never be compromised, as Volde did, to avoid death. That is to negate the real essence of life.

    The train station typifies this element of life: separation, life continuing on even when you are apart from those you love, their love being with you always. My random thoughts spill over each other now. It seems to show how in a way, though the ‘drama’ ended, Harry continued living and growing and loving as he had from the beginning, and new generations arose to do the same. And isn’t that what all our lives are about? And in the midst of that, through the eternal love of God, all is indeed well.

    Beautifully written, Arabella! I raise my butter beer to you.

  45. I see what you’re saying now, Arabella. In other words, the immortality of the soul. Like I said – only God and one’s soul are immortal according to many different religions. Tom Riddle divided the one thing that could give him immortality into tiny pieces – and his “soul” was destroyed by Hermione, Dumbledore, Ron and Harry – and finally he destroyed his only remaining piece of soul all on his own. He had no idea the soul was so important to immortality. And chose – what you call “earthly immortality” which led ultimately to his mortality.

    He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
    Matthew 10:39

  46. I enjoyed your thoughts, WickyWackyWun. I think JKR’s choice of the train station for the Epilogue was extremely intentional for those reasons you pointed out. We are not supposed to take the Epilogue that seriously, because it is a snapshot of families in transition, of life just happening and the point being- Harry can take his kids to the Hogwarts Express without looking over his shoulder in fear, he and Draco still have a parallel life and will be connected once again, at least for the next 7 years, Ron and Hermione can appreciate each other without fighting- all these little things add up to “all is well” with the characters we love.

    But great conversation, really. This is why I love the Pub.

  47. Sigh.

    I can’t change who I am. Maybe it’s better for everyone if I just leave quietly.

    I was just trying to explain how I honestly felt after careful reading.
    I will miss you, but it appears I’m starting too many fires.

    I enjoyed many of our chats. I will miss you, but it appears that I’m causing too much trouble.

    I wish you luck with your site.

    Ms. Lestrange wishes you well. Goodbye.

  48. Umm, Bella.

    Of course you can step outside of your character voice. You did so in one of your comments (#40 above). I was delighted (and a little bit surprised) to hear you do so.

    I don’t speak for any of the other bloggers here, but when you so determinedly stick to the Bella voice, it makes me despair of engaging you in dialogue, because everything seems to be filtered through the Bella sensibility.

    I for one would be very happy if you could continue to engage in dialogue with the rest of us – as yourself.

  49. WickyWackyWun, I love your points about the train station and transitions. There’s a very “circle of life” feel to the Epilogue, a sense of renewal, a Lewisian sense of “further up and further in.” By rejecting connection, Voldemort removed himself from that circle, treading a straight-line to annihilation.

    I just thought of a reverse example of this: the cold, solitary Anton Ego in Ratatouille, who, through a remembrance of childhood and mother’s love, repents and reenters life through love, and connection.

    It could have been done.

    PotterMom05, I love this explanation of the Draco/Harry moment on the platform, and what it signifies. A reconnection has been made, and hopefully, once the awkwardness passes, some kind of better relationship is possible, mirroring the one with Dudley.

  50. I don’t think Voldermort could have been reintegrated into the world of connectedness. Not only did he not have old memories to remind him of what that felt like, he had killed too many people to be accepted back into society. He didn’t need them, and they certainly didn’t want him.

    The parallel with Ego doesn’t hold for another reason: Ego’s most important value was his love of good cooking. That was his connection to Remi (and to many of the other characters). That is what made the ending possible. I don’t think Voldemort shared any values with the people left standing on Platform 9 3/4.

    I think a better case for rehabilitation would have been Snape. He would have been welcomed back as a hero, and a place would have been made for him as the legitimate Headmaster of Hogwarts. He and Harry could have been friendly, if not friends. He might not have stood on Platform 9 3/4 with the other parents, but he could have part of the circle of life, the crusty but essentially good Headmaster waiting for the kids at Hogwarts.

    That would have been quite plausible, imho.

  51. Yes, Ego is a weak illustration, Red Rocker. I like your Snape rehabilitation comparison very much. Despite his sourness and bitterness, Severus did share many values with those on the platform, and I’m happy he was represented in name by Harry’s child. I like to think Harry had at least one conversation with Snape’s portrait, telling Snape how he valued him, and that his reputation as good guy was made plain to the Wizarding World. That Harry had named his son after him, a son who will at some point be in the Headmaster’s office and come face to face with the men he was named after.

  52. It’s a lomg time since you first posted this Arabella but may I add heartfelt congrats on a wonderful essay. Like so many others have said your discussion of the characters and the Horcux was terrific, illuminating. And your explanation of the value of The Epilogue insightful.
    When I first read the Epilogue it felt like a piece of candy after a very heavy and scrumptious meal…sugary and unnecessary, like Oh…that’s so nice.
    Several months later I went to the funeral of an elderly Uncle who had fought in World War 2. He’d done some pretty amazing things in that war at an age not much older than our heroes. Then he came home and got on with his quite ordinary life, he’d found a job – nothing special, gotten married, had kids, gardened, gone to the footy, played golf and bowls and in time delighted in his grandkids. He was no one special and to look at him you’d say just an ordinary man. Except he had this backstory of courage and bravery. It got me thinking that perhaps the epilogue wasnt sugary and sweet after all. It was simply a reminder of how ordinary our heroes really were and how commonplace in our world is that combination of ordinariness and bravery when called upon.
    So I no longer think The Epilogue unnecessary

    1. Darcy58, thanks for weighing in. I really appreciatevthe insights youre offering on various posts. I suggest checking out the link above at the beginning of this post for an even greater appreciation of the Epilogue. (And if you like, I wrote about the importance of Harry’s Hallows/Horcruxes struggle in Chapter 22.

      Ordinary heroes who do extraordinary things when called upon, and then return to ordinary lives–yes. I love the story about your uncle.

      When I reread the series last fall, I realized that I’d left out an important person on the platform also shaped by a Horcrux–Ginny. When we meet Ginny, she’s struggling with her identity as the youngest Weasley and only girl. She’s so shy and lonely at Hogwarts that she turns to an unknown source of comfort–Tom Riddle through his diary–and is possessed by him. Why Ginny might have been driven to this I won’t go into here, but after the Horcrux experience, she develops into a strong, confident person more than up to the challenges she must face in Voldemort’s defeat.

  53. Arabella
    Firstly: thanks for the compliments, encouragement like that will have me continue to offer up my thoughts.
    Secondly: How do you make someone’s name in bold when responding to them?
    Thirdly: I’ll read that essay you recommend.
    And finally: Yes, Ginny was indeed shaped by a Horcrux, and her dealings with it set her on a path of powerful growth (though given that she was stealing her brothers brooms from an early age I’d say she was always going to be strong and independent ). When I think of the two couples on Platform 9 3/4 I think of two equal pairings who went through something extraordinary together, and who all remain close because of that shared experience. The pairings that take the next generation to Kings Cross aren’t surprising really: I imagine if one were to explore the lives of men and women in Britain who fought in World War 2 there would be plenty of examples of people who met at a young age, went through the war together and stayed firm friends – indeed became partners/spouses – afterwards because of that.
    One of the other things I think is implied in The Epilogue – although it’s only one line – is that the bond between Ginny and Hermione remains a strong one: ” ‘He doesnt mean it’ said Hermione and Ginny”. It’s there throughout the series although always in the background, much of it by quick reference and suggestion – Hermione’s advice to Ginny on how to handle her crush on Harry; Ginny and Hermione sharing rooms at the Burrow and at Grimmauld Place; Ginny’s knowledge of who was taking Hermione to the Yule Ball. It is perhaps one of the great unexplored friendships in the Books, and in The Epilogue JKR ties it up -snapshots its importance – with that one line. Which is what she does with much of those five pages – so much is conveyed, and not just factual information. We get perspectives on character growth right up to the very end.
    And now I’m thinking about Hermione and Ginny…may have to muse on that some more…wanders off, singing
    “Now, there was a time
    when they used to say
    that behind ev’ry great man,
    there had to be a great woman.
    But oh, in these times of change,
    you know that it’s no longer true.
    So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen,
    ’cause there’s something we forgot to say to you.
    We say, Sisters are doin’ it for themselves,
    standin’ on their own two feet
    and ringin’ on their own bells.”

    Hmmm…

    (the lyrics are, for the young ones here, from that sensational anthem ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’ by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart aka The Eurythmics. You can see it here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pu0Fn1oRN4&feature=fvwrel )

  54. To bold names, do the following without any spacing:
    put < b > name < / b >

    You can do the same for italics using the letter “i”. You can also Look up HTML tags to find more.

    Although we don’t get much on it, I too love the friendship between Hermione and Ginny.

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