I thought I’d deal with one of the big theories flooding the HP fan world today: Is Remus Lupin really James Potter in disguise?
A lot of people seem to be convinced that this is the case. I’ll present their arguments one by one and answer them accordingly.
Firstly, how this would even be possible:
1) They could have used the Polyjuice Potion.
Okay, let’s sort some things out about the Polyjuice Potion. First of all, it is very difficult to make and Lupin tells us himself in PoA that he never was much of a potions brewer (he needs Snape to make his Wolfsbane Potion, remember?). Secondly, you need a hair of whoever you’re turning into for every transformation, and you need to take it every hour for the effect to last (remember the fake Moody). James is supposed to have been dead for fourteen years in OotP. That is about 122, 640 hours. How would James have got his hands on that much of Lupin’s hair, I wonder? Maybe James in disguise went back to the Potters’ place an hour after Lupin in disguise was killed with Lily and took all his hair after he’d transformed back to himself and then left his dead wife and still-alive kid (I don’t know how long it took for Hagrid to get there) among the ruins to go live Lupin’s life. Yeah, very probable… (said with a very sarcastic tone of voice).
Also, when Lupin turns into a werewolf in PoA and runs into the forest, he stays there a whole night, not being able to take any kind of potion (because he’s going berserk and can’t think rationally anymore). If he’d been James Potter, he would have transformed back to James within an hour and probably been killed, being in the midst of the Forbidden Forest without a wand. In addition, we don’t know if the Polyjuice Potion allows for the one taking it to take over the imitated person’s powers (i.e., werewolf transformation). It seems like it only makes you look (and sound) like somebody else. Take the fake Moody, for example, who had to steal the magical eye from the real one. This indicates that the PP cannot, in fact, mimic specific magical properties of the person you’re impersonating.
2) They could have used a Switching Spell or a Switching Potion.
Firstly, what the heck is a “Switching Potion”? I can’t remember reading anything about that. As for the Switching Spell, it is indeed used to change the appearance of things (e.g., Neville transfers his own ears onto a cactus), but I doubt very much (like with the PP) that it would allow you to mimic the magical properties of any wizard or witch. It seems to me that a Switching Spell would be even more superficial than the PP, changing only the appearance. (What about the voice, for example?)
Next step: what are the arguments supporting this idea?
1) In PoA, Lupin always acts so fatherly towards Harry, and he reacts strongly when Harry tells him about hearing James and Lily’s voices.
This seems to be the main argument. Now, let’s see, why would Lupin react strongly to Harry hearing the last moments of his (Lupin’s) best friend’s life? And why would Lupin be nice to Harry if he wasn’t his son? Because he’s a nice guy and Harry’s his best friend’s son, of course! Stop focusing on this particular argument for a moment and see the whole thing in perspective. Lupin isn’t the only one acting “fatherly” towards Harry. Sirius, Molly and Dumbledore do it to a far greater extent. He’s an orphan, for goodness’ sake! Of course people will feel sorry for him and want to protect and help him. Lupin never fights to be Harry’s favorite person or the person who gets to take care of him more (like Molly and Sirius do). He never openly declares that he loves him (the way Dumbledore does). Lupin teaches him to do the Patronus Charm and worries about him. What is so fatherly about that that people start to think that he must be James Potter in disguise?
2) In PoA, Lupin sometimes seems to read Harry’s mind and to know what he is thinking. So this could mean that he knows Harry very well, kind of like a father would.
I suppose that this refers to p. 140:
“Why, why do [the Dementors] affect me like that? Am I just -?”
“It has nothing to do with weakness,” said Professor Lupin sharply, as though he had read Harry’s mind.”
Lupin’s conclusion to Harry’s worries isn’t anything special in this case. I mean, how many adjectives could you put in that place, “Am I just ”? We also have examples of Lupin misunderstanding Harry, in the scene with the Boggart in the closet, for example, so I don’t really think that they have that great a bond. Compare with Dumbledore, who is often described as being able to see right through Harry. Lupin doesn’t. Also, the reason why a father knows his son well enough to “read his mind” is that he’s been with him all his life. It’s not automatic; you have to spend time with your child to get to know him. Since James hasn’t spent any time with Harry since he was one, how would he know his son?
3) In chapter 17 of the PoA Lupin says “I certainly don’t want Harry dead…” and then an odd shiver passed over his face. Why would he shiver? We know that he was good friends with the Potters and would want no harm to come to Harry, but why would Harry’s wellbeing affect him so personally?
Hmm, a person who shivers at the thought of somebody he likes dying. Yes, that MUST mean that they’re father and son! Think about this: wouldn’t you shiver from the thought of your best friend dying, or somebody else that you really like? Again, compare this reaction to that of another character: Molly’s Boggart turns into a dead Harry and she cries like mad (OotP). That’s a way stronger reaction than a mere shiver, and Molly’s not Harry’s mother.
4) In chapter 5 of PoA: Lupin knows Harry’s name and he doesn’t seem to react to Harry like most other people have, meaning that he doesn’t stare at his scar or mention the resemblance to his dad, or his mothers eyes.
Harry has just fainted because of the Dementors and is feeling generally lousy. Of course Lupin recognizes him — everybody does; but there’s something called “tact,” which means you don’t want to remind people of sad things (such as dead parents) when they’re already feeling bad. And Lupin is a very tactful man (take his treatment of Neville, for example).
5) Lupin’s Boggart turns into a silvery orb, which could be a moon, but it could also be a crystal ball, and he might fear it because it might show that he really is James instead of Lupin.
Considering the fact that Lupin is a werewolf and that he turns into a monster at the full moon, it is a lot more possible and probable that the silvery orb represents the full moon. Sure, Lupin “positively flees” when Trelawney offers him a crystal gaze, but this could be explained by either of the following:
1) Lupin thinks (like the other teachers) that Trelawney’s an old fraud and doesn’t want to listen to her foretelling his death or other miseries.
2) Lupin has other secrets he needs to hide, e.g., the fact that he knows that Sirius is an animagus and that he might be using the tunnel under the Whomping Willow to get into Hogwarts.
11 reasons to why Lupin cannot be James Potter:
1) JKR told us in an interview that we would never see a live James or Lily Potter, and Lupin is a living person, after all.
2) In PoA, Sirius says that the reason to why they didn’t tell Lupin about the change of Secret Keeper was that they suspected him to be the traitor. Why, then, would James trust Lupin more than Sirius? (Remember that it’s said in PoA that James trusted Sirius more than anyone else.)
3) Lupin and James are very different characters. Lupin is described as more careful and rule-abiding while James is described as someone who likes to take risks. The Remus Lupin we meet in the books suits the first character description far better than the second. (For example, if Lupin was Potter, wouldn’t he have let Harry keep the Marauder’s Map after having taken it back from Snape in PoA? Not at the end of the book, but directly after confiscating it?)
4) Lupin’s Boggart turns into a silvery orb (the full moon). James Potter’s would probably not, seeing as he’s not a werewolf.
5) Why would James keep his identity a secret? Voldemort lost his powers; he had nothing to be afraid of. Wouldn’t he reveal who he really was at least to Sirius? In OotP we learn that he’s very confident, likes to be the center of attention and is a bit of a show-off. Denying his identity for 14 years doesn’t really seem to suit him.
6) To change form with Lupin in order to save your own neck at the same time as putting one of your best friends in grave danger seems a very cowardly thing to do. Not in character for James and not in character for a Gryffindor.
7) Lupin doesn’t act half as fatherly towards Harry as for example Molly (motherly in her case, I guess), Sirius or Dumbledore.
8) Harry saw the shadow of his father come out of Voldemort’s wand. The shadows that came out were of the people he’d killed, and I don’t think the Priori Incantatem can be fooled to show someone who was killed pretending to be another person as that person.
9) Lupin is fairly nice to Snape and James and Snape absolutely hated each other. There’s far too little chemistry between Lupin and Snape for Lupin to actually be James. Think of the tension between Snape and Sirius and compare it to the one between Lupin and Snape. The latter are almost best buddies by comparison. Between Snape and James, the tension would probably be even worse than that between Snape and Sirius. It doesn’t fit.
10) If James were alive, would he really let his only son be dumped at the Dursleys’ doorstep and grow up in that kind of abusive environment? He probably likes the Dursleys about as much as they like him.
11) JKR has told us that we’ll NEVER see a live James Potter in the series.
(This trick, to emphasize something by letting the same argument (or sentence, or structure) both start and end a certain part of a text is called “circle composition” by the way. Good vocabulary word for literature classes…)
Voilà, I rest my case. If you still think that Lupin = James and you have arguments to answer to all of mine above, please send me an owl, I’d love to hear that.
Take care, see you!