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March 4th, 2006


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11:36 pm - My remedial "History of Hogwarts" course is over
I've finally gotten around to reading all the books in the Harry Potter series.

A few weeks ago I decided to start reading them all in order, starting with the the first one. I'd already read the first two books in the series and had seen all four of the movies as they had come out, so I already knew some of the storyline. I'd heard that unlike the first movie, the later ones diverged more from the books, leaving out quite a bit along the way, and was rather curious to find out the missing bits for myself.

I've finally finished the last, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", and I've a few thoughts on the series as a whole -- at least as written so far.

First off, I like the character development that I've seen for the most part. There are a few characters that have quite a bit of subtlety to them, although there are also quite a few that seem fairly one-dimensional.

Unfortunately one of the one-dimensional ones is the protagonist of the series, Harry Potter.

He started out as an arrogant twerp and has basicly remained so throughout the series, from what I see. He is self-satisfied, smug and in his own way as much of a know-it-all as Hermione Granger. He makes constant assumptions about others, often based on his own prejudices, many of which are later proved wrong. He also shows astoundingly little empathy for others, being constantly wrapped up in himself. During the course of the series he amply demonstrates that every character fault that Professor Snape has accused him of having he does indeed possess in abundance -- and that even when these flaws are brought to his attention, he does little or nothing to correct them, often preferring instead to attack those who seek to correct his ill manners and bad behavior. He does this with friends such as Hermione as well as teachers such as Snape -- particularly with the latter, who he seems to take great pleasure in treating with disrespect. He seems utterly incapable of fathoming that he might actually be WRONG.

Snape, however, is a very well-drawn character -- quite complex, with layer upon layer to his personality. I freely admit to finding him fascinating. His double-agent role and what he must do to maintain it while dancing on the knife's edge of danger and the circles within circles within circles of his personality and motivations are a joy to behold. He is easily my favorite character of the series, even moreso than Neville Longbottom, another well-drawn character with hidden depths who unlike Potter has grown through the course of the books.

One of the more fascinating parts of the series to contemplate is exactly why Severus Snape does what he does. There are glimpses into his past in "The Order of the Phoenix" -- stolen insights into his character and the events that shaped him into the man he grew to be. Given their shared history of being the victims of bullying, one might think that Harry might have more empathy for his teacher and try to understand better his very-well-justified dislike of Harry's father and god-father, but Harry seems incapable of even saying "sorry" after he deliberately snooped into Professor Snape's memories -- ones that he specificly did NOT want Harry to know about. Harry didn't even have the good manners to apologize for his trespass, for that is EXACTLY what it was. Instead he continued to dislike and belittle publicly a man who had repeatedly tried to protect him and teach him and behaved honorably towards him at all times, despite little gratitude from Potter, much less respect.

It takes a strong man to put up with a rotter like Potter, yet Snape did so, protecting him again and again and again, even at the end of "The Half-Blood Prince". I would not be at all surprised to learn that part of this behavior had something to do with the relationship between Severus and Harry's mother Lily, due to a few interesting things tossed in, seemingly at random. Given that even the events at the end of "The Half-Blood Prince" may not be what they appear to be from a surface reading, I can't help but wonder how Rowling will get Professor Snape out of the corner she seems to have painted him into . . .

The way I see it, Snape is soooooooooo NOT a coward . . . OR a traitor . . .

He may in fact be the bravest damn person in the entire book.

I can't wait for the last book in the series, for then I think Severus Snape will finally get the respect I believe he so richly deserves.

"The name's Snape -- Severus Snape . . . "


severus Snape Fan

I ♥ Severus Snape


(The fact he's also a brilliant chemist has nothing to do with my fangrrrrl-ishness. Nothing whatsoever. Really.)
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: "A Window to the Past" -- Harry Potter & the PoA soundtrack

(53 seeds eaten | Eat a pomegranate)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:woman_ironing
Date:March 13th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)

Onward Christian so-o-oldier-ers!

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!

Yep. What with the torturing, murdering, plotting to take over the world etc etc, Harry is so like Voldemort it's uncanny. And that temper...!

But Stan should certainly be freed. The Ministry, hmmm, good side or bad? What? D'you mean it might be more complicated than that?
[User Picture]
From:courtaud
Date:March 13th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Onward Christian so-o-oldier-ers!

(Link)
Yep. What with the torturing, murdering, plotting to take over the world etc etc, Harry is so like Voldemort it's uncanny. And that temper...!

More than his temper, his way with the Dark Arts, which he performs too easily.

I'm not asking for another Frodo, but I don't like teenagers wishing for someone's death. Nor whatever-agers. I was hit on the head with Lord of The Rings when I was too young.

Also, in the precedent war, the Aurors 'on the side of light' killed and tortured too. I agree that this is the way of the world, but again, we were talking about the side of the light.

I think that the Ministry is on its own side. It is a weak government but a nasty one, harassing the weak and bending over for the mighty. It uses the panic caused by Voldemort's rising to further its authority, and I believe that Scrimgeour has the same agenda that Barty Crouch Sr had, only he is more cautious.
[User Picture]
From:theentwife
Date:March 13th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Onward Christian so-o-oldier-ers!

(Link)
More than his temper, his way with the Dark Arts, which he performs too easily.

I'm not asking for another Frodo, but I don't like teenagers wishing for someone's death.



Harry's killing spree


Agreed. Harry is far too willing to toss Unforgiveable Curses at people for my liking. He has a very vengeful side too, as seen at the Dursley's -- he certainly seems to enjoy terrorizing them as a way of "getting back" at them for their prior treatment of him.

I think that the Ministry is on its own side. It is a weak government but a nasty one, harassing the weak and bending over for the mighty.

Sounds like "politics as usual" to me . . .


Persephone
[User Picture]
From:courtaud
Date:March 14th, 2006 09:36 am (UTC)

Re: Onward Christian so-o-oldier-ers!

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Agreed. Harry is far too willing to toss Unforgiveable Curses at people for my liking.

I liked ever less his eagerness to try the Half Blood Prince's hexes on unsuspecting fellow students and defenseless Squibs.

Before the 'incident' with Draco in Mirtle's bathroom, "he was considering trying it out on McLaggen next time he came up behind him unawares." And Sectumsempra is labeled clearly "for enemies".

In his sixth year, Harry is just like his dad! Hexing people all around 'because he can', almost killing another student, and getting off with a ridiculous punishment. Only I don't know if James crept on his victims from behind.

[User Picture]
From:theentwife
Date:March 13th, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Onward Christian so-o-oldier-ers!

(Link)
Harry is so like Voldemort it's uncanny.

It's not just uncanny -- it's a Plot Point.

And an important one too.

(Yes, I realize you were probably being sarcastic there, but you are more correct than you may have realized.)


Persephone
[User Picture]
From:woman_ironing
Date:March 14th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)

A matter of life and death

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Is it really fair to say Harry is like Voldemort? Harry is certainly connected to Voldemort; Voldemort changed Harry's life irrevocably when he orphaned him and tried to kill him, Harry continues to be in danger from Voldemort, and he may even be one of Voldemort's horcruxes. They are connected and their connection is vital to the story but can it really be said that they are alike? The defining characteristics of Voldemort are will to power and absence of love. Harry has shown that he has a strong will but it's not will to power - more like will to prevail or die trying. Harry has friends he loves and who love him, and he can feel empathy even for those he believes to be his enemies.

Harry makes mistakes, he is reckless but he is in an extreme situation, and paradoxically he needs to be reckless to survive. (Just like a Seeker needs to be reckless in order to catch the Snitch.) This doesn't make him like Voldemort, or into a new Dark Lord in the making. Voldemort, in fact, is anything but reckless.

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