Thursday, July 19, 2007

Will Harry Potter Die...And Rise Again?

In my previous post, I mentioned Abigail BeauSeigneur's Mugglenet editorial, Is Harry Potter the Son of God? In fact there is an interesting discussion concerning this editorial over at Sword of Gryffindor. Abigail argues (she is not the first person to argue this, check here) that there are many similarities between Harry Potter and Jesus Christ and that Harry is the Christ figure in the novels. What is important to this discussion here is the scenario she paints for the climax of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, namely that Harry Potter will sacrifice himself by going into the Veil (probably dragging Voldemort along with him) and then conquering death by appearing on the other side (she theorizes that the mysterious room in the Department of Mysteries a.k.a. "the love room" might be connected to the Veil). This, she argues, is tantamount to a resurrection.

The concept of Harry dying and rising again minds me of a piece I wrote on January 13, 2005 and submitted to Mugglenet. I had hoped that they would publish it on their Editorial page but unfortunately they never published it. They receive hundreds of submissions and mine just did not make the cut. It was a small theory I had based on different messages in the first novel concerning Harry's ultimate fate. Looking back I probably should have tweaked this editorial here and there and expounded on some points. I'm not sure if this theory is strong enough, although it does remain a possibility. However I want to submit here for consideration so enjoy:

Recently as I was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, my thoughts went to the question of whether Harry will live past the seventh novel or die at the hands of Voldemort. I believe that the first novel offers conflicting clues concerning this question giving the impression that the ambiguity of Harry’s fate is intentional.

Consider Harry’s words to Ron and Hermione after he served detention (along with Hermione) with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest:

Firenze saved me, but he shouldn’t have done so….Bane was furious…he was talkingabout interfering with what the planets say is going to happen….They must show that Voldemort’s coming back….Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort kill me….I suppose that’s written in the stars as well (p. 324).
Harry’s words here points back to Professor Trelawney’s prophecy, which he did not find out about until his fifth year:
…and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…
The prophecy is conditioned that either Harry or Voldemort will die in the future. Harry’s perspective that his death was written in the stars based on Bane’s reaction to Firenze saving “the Potter boy.” I cannot help but think that this was a deliberate clue given by J.K. Rowling herself.

There are, however, other clues that Harry will survive past Hogwarts. Consider Hagrid’s words to the Dursleys regarding Harry, “Seven years there and he won’t know himself” (p. 73). Or how about these next two quotes?

In years to come, Harry would never quite remember how he had managed to get through his exams when he half-expected Voldemort to come bursting through the door at any moment (p. 326).

It was the best evening of Harry’s life, better than winning at Quidditch, or Christmas, or knocking out mountain trolls…he would never, ever forget tonight (p. 382).
The important word here is ‘would’ and for good reason. William Strunk wrote in The Elements of Style that ‘would’ is “commonly used to express habitual or repeated action” but is often too general in its usage. ‘Would’ is not as precise regarding the future as say ‘will’ but there are many possibilities with ‘would,’ one of which is that Harry will survive past Hogwarts based on what the rest of the sentences say, i.e. “in years to come” and “never, ever.”

Ultimately I believe that Harry’s destiny is that he will die…but will come back to life. That is why Rowling is ambiguous in the clues in book one. Think about it. Every theory on Harry’s death focuses on Harry sacrificing himself for the Wizarding world making him a Christ figure. This idea is not so far fetched because J.K. Rowling in fact downplays her Christian beliefs because “If I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader – whether ten or sixty – will be able to guess what is coming in the books.”

However we forget that while Jesus Christ was crucified, the story goes that three days later he was resurrected. If Rowling is a Christian then she will certainly bring Harry back to life since the Resurrection is at the heart of that faith. She is also a big Caravaggio fan, whose “Supper at Emmaus” painting (where it shows a risen Christ) is her favorite. This certainly explains her ambiguity in the first book and throughout the novels concerning Harry’s fate. Why did Professor Trelawney predict Harry’s death until his fifth year where in front of Professor Umbridge, she said that he will live to a ripe old age? Will she change her mind in Half-Blood Prince? Further proof that Harry will live again is provided in a clue in where else but the first novel. After Harry passed out or went unconscious after battling Quirrell, he woke up three days later. Does that remind you of anything?


Maureen said...

Yay! That explains what the centaurs did and didn't do in Book 7. Thanks bunches!

dmk said...

well, well, well, you were spot on!