7/19/14

Theme of Sacrifice in "Harry Potter"

Guest Post by Emily

Hi Book Chewers. First up, I'd like to thank the authors of this lovely blog for letting me guest post today. As any of you who know me will be aware, I have a huge obsession with am a big fan of Harry Potter, so of course I jumped at the chance to take part in Harry Potter month here. 


Recently I've been thinking: what are the defining themes of Harry Potter? Friendship? Yes. Magic? Yes. Belonging? Yes. Good vs evil? Yes. But outside these threads, which describe Harry's own life and friends and the battle they are fighting, there is a broader theme which shows us how the ultimate conquest over evil is possible. That is sacrifice.

Sacrifice is a hugely prevalent idea in the books, so I'm going to make a list (I love lists) of some characters that illustrate this. Please, please, please, for the sake of all that is good, do not read on if you've not read the books. Reading Harry Potter will give you so much joy. Don't spoil it for yourself.


1. Lily Potter

"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead --"
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 9

Lily's sacrifice is in one way the most important of the series. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone starts the night she and James die in Godric's Hollow, and so Harry's story starts there - because his mother died for him he defeated Voldemort once, when he was a baby, and because of the deep magic her sacrifice left in him he was able to finally defeat him again.







2. Dobby (fun fact - a 'dobby' is an old English word for a 'benevolent elf')

"When the torches burst into flame he saw that Dobby had taken it upon himself to decorate the place for Christmas. He could tell the elf had done it, because nobody else would have strung a hundred golden baubles from the ceiling, each showing a picture of Harry's face and bearing the legend: 'HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS!' "
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 21

To me, Dobby presents in microcosm the whole idea of sacrifice: doing something you don't have to for someone you love. As we know from good ol' Hermione, house-elves were oppressed for centuries, and after Dobby was freed he could have walked away from the servitude to wizards that had been so awful for him when he was at the Malfoys'. But he didn't; he loved Harry, and in the end it was him who rescued Harry, Ron and Hermione from imprisonment and death in Malfoy Manor. Dobby's death was his sacrifice for the cause of defeating evil, and for the love of Harry Potter.

"You dirty little monkey!" bawled Bellatrix. "How dare you take a witch's wand, how dare you defy your masters?"
      "Dobby has no master!" squealed the elf. "Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!"

The elf's eyes found him, and his lips trembled with the effort to form words.
       "Harry ... Potter ... "

-- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 23


3. Severus Snape

In my opinion Snape is the most nuanced and best-developed character of the series; we hate him, and we bleed for him. Like Lily, he made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love; because of his love for her he spent years teaching the son who reminded him so much of James, the man who took away the woman he loved; he faced the terror of lying to Voldemort; he endured seeing his colleague, Charity Burbage, murdered before his eyes; and in the end, he embarked on a plan with Dumbledore that meant death for them both. Obviously there are many moments throughout the series where, as readers, we utterly loathe Snape, but in the end he was instrumental in Harry's final defeat of Voldemort. 

"Severus Snape wasn't yours," said Harry. "Snape was Dumbledore's, Dumbledore's from the moment you started hunting down my mother. And you never realised it, because of the thing you can't understand. You never saw Snape cast a Patronus, did you, Riddle?" 
      Voldemort did not answer. They continued to circle each other like wolves about to tear each other apart. 
       "Snape's Patronus was a doe," said Harry, "the same as my mother's, because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from the time when they were children."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 36

[source]
4. Albus Dumbledore

"I was gifted, I was brilliant. I wanted to escape. I wanted to shine. I wanted glory.
      "Do not misunderstand me," he said, and pain crossed his face so that he looked ancient again. "I loved them. I loved my parents, I loved my brother and my sister, but I was selfish, Harry, more selfish than you, who are a remarkably selfless person, could possibly imagine."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 35

In my opinion, the chapter in which Aberforth tells Harry, Ron and Hermione the full story about himself, Albus and their sister is one of the most poignant in the entire series. As you can see from that beautiful (feels-inducing) picture, Dumbledore lived his whole life wracked by the guilt of what happened that day with Grindelwald. Throughout the series Dumbledore is a figure of wisdom and kindness, and this plot twist is incredibly shocking; we realise that, rather than being the man we thought he was, who could do no wrong, he was living constantly trying to appease for the guilt he carried. In the end, Dumbledore sacrificed himself to finally allow Harry to defeat Voldemort; knowing that he could not make up the past and what happened with Ariana, he worked with Snape to allow the final disempowerment of the Elder Wand.

"Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore's death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die undefeated, the wand's last true master!"
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 36


[source]
5. Harry Potter

Truly, this one needs no explaining. 

"You won't be killing anyone else tonight," said Hary as they circled, and stared into each other's eyes, green into red. "You won't be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don't you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people--"
     "But you did not!"
     "--I meant to, and that's what did it. I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 36

In the end, Harry's sacrifice was what allowed him to live - through love he and his friends were saved, and the evil represented by Voldemort was finally beaten.


There - a little overview of sacrifice in the Harry Potter novels. All of these sacrifices were made because of love. And I think it's interesting to note that all of them were necessary for the final outcome of the story.



About Emily

Emily is an English teenager living in Scotland. Her blog is called Emily Etc., where she talks about books, art, and the novel she is supposedly writing. Apart from reading and writing, she loves clothes, baking and dogs. The day this post is published, she's getting a puppy!

7/18/14

Hogwarts Houses: Where Do You Fit In?

by Cait

Part of being in a fandom, of course, is finding where you fit in. In Divergent, we find out our Faction. In The Hunger Games, we put ourselves in Districts. For some reason, it makes us feel more keenly involved.

Harry Potter has one of the most iconic areas to sort yourself: which house do you belong to?


Who hasn't done the quizzes?! Who hasn't gotten proud about their results?! Who doesn't secretly want to know the colour of their scarf?! It's the best part!


So let's talk about the four Houses of Hogwarts. 
And then do the quiz. (Because that's the delicious part.)

Gryffindor crest
Gryffindor

This is obviously THE house to be in, seeing all 3 of our favourite munchkins (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) are in there. (Not even to mention the rest of the Weasley family and Neville and...everybody else.)
Traits: Daring, nerve and chivalry
Colours: Scarlet and gold
Element: Fire



"You might belong in Gryffindor, 
Where dwell the brave at heart, 
Their daring, nerve and chivarly
Set Gryffindors apart." (The Sorting Hat)


Slytherin CrestSlytherin


This is the house for the villains. How very unique. (Villains...snakes? A wee bit cliche.) BUT ANYWAY. Our childhood villain, Draco Malfoy, is a Slytherin. Mostly Dark Wizards come out of their gaggle and they act a bit elite.
Traits: Cunning, resourcefulness, ambition
Colours: Silver and Green
Element: Water



"Or perhaps in Slytherin, 
You'll make your real friends, 
These cunning folk use any means, 
To achieve their ends." (The Sorting Hat)


Hufflepuff crestHufflepuff



Not having finished the series (yet! Give me time! I've had a late start!), I can't give much of a commentary on Hufflepuff except that nothing particularly exciting seems to happen there. The reason for this probably has something to do with their being nice. And books about nice people aren't that interesting. Bring on the badies.

Traits: Loyalty, patience and just
Colours: Black and Yellow
Element: earth


"You might belong in Hufflepuff, 
Where they are just and loyal, 
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true, 
And unafraid of toil."


Ravenclaw



Ravenclaw crest

Again, I haven't much of a commentary yet (I'm up to book #5, in case you're curious) but so far not much has come out of Ravenclaw either. They seem to be nice. They're very smart, so obviously they don't pick fights. I like this house. Intelligent, and wit? Yes please.

Traits: Wisdom, intelligence and creativity
Colours: Bronze and Blue
Element: air



"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, 
If you've a ready mind, 
Where those of wit and learning, 
Will always find their kind."


Now for the fun part! Tell me what house you're in?!

I used the Zimbio Quizz and the Buzzfeed Quizz. And what did I get? What did marvellous me get?!!

Slytherin.

I'm mildly surprised, though I shouldn't be. (Have you been to my blog? World domination is right up there in the header because it's my goal). Ravenclaw is nice because they're intelligent, but let's just say I'm not one for keeping to the text-books. Obviously I'm not kind enough for Hufflepuff. Gryffindor is where the cool people go, so mildly sad there. But Slytherin? I'm with the villains?!!

I'm sorry. I'm having a crisis.

But let me know your results in the comments! And talk to me about the houses (which are your favourites? Despite what you're actually in?) because I haven't finished the series yet, and I'm curious about your opinions!

I'm on book #5, peoples, just give me time

7/17/14

The Creatures of Harry Potter

We've talked a lot about the human characters in Harry Potter in the past, and even the magical items that play major parts in the story. But what about the animals?

Hedwig

I think it's safe to say that without Hedwig, things at Hogwarts would've been a lot different. Harry sent a lot of letters to Sirius during his fourth year, arranging meetings in the fireplace and talking about his scar. Without her, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to communicate with anybody.

Crookshanks

Crookshanks! She pressed the knot on the whomping willow which led them to meet none other than Sirius himself.

"Scabbers"

If it weren't for "Scabbers," Lily and James would never had died, Sirius would never have been imprisoned, and it's quite possible that Neville would've been the "Chosen One" instead of Harry. Weird to think about, huh?

Buckbeak

Sirius wouldn't have been able to escape if it weren't for this winged creature.

The basilisk

Who knows if Riddle's diary would've been destroyed if it weren't for the basilisk's fangs?

Dementors

Ah, the dementors. If the dementors hadn't given Barty Crouch Jr. the kiss, the ministry would know that Voldemort was back, Umbridge wouldn't have come to the school as the DADA teacher, and Sirius wouldn't have died.


Griphook

And finally, Griphook, without whom Harry wouldn't have been able to break into Bellatrix's vault, and the sword of Gryffindor would never have been stolen from him.

Who are your favorite Harry Potter creatures?