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Spinner’s End: Finite Incantatem

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by Lady Lupin As I closed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I truly felt that I had been through the war with Harry and his friends. I was elated, shell-shocked, bemused, inspired, saddened… and numb. It was apparent from the beginning that Deathly Hallows was going to be a very different roller coaster than we’’d ridden before. It brings up so many thoughts and ideas I hardly know where to begin. I pondered how I wanted to address the book here at Spinner’s End, and I have decided that it will probably take more than one article! I have just finished my second reading, and feel that it’s time to make a start unraveling Harry’s triumph (and Jo’s) with all of you. This article will contain initial musings and impressions of the book and its creator. It strikes me that JK Rowling had a monumental task before her with this book: legions of ferocious fans placing varying and contradictory demands on her, not to mention years of fan fiction, theorizing and dissecting of the plot. Also, let us not forget the interviews bordering on interrogations over several years, demanding answers and reading meaning and intention into every inflection, raised eyebrow and “no comment” ... Read More »

Recordatio Via

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by Dementom I was, I am somewhat embarrassed to say, one of the few people in my eighth grade class who enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I had read widely by that age – although mostly children’s fantasy (like the Oz books), comic books, and series like the Hardy Boys – but had never encountered any type of writing like this. Disparate plot points and characters, seemingly unrelated, all turned out to be interwoven and relevant in the end. It seemed like magic to me. On the other hand, it was eighth grade and I was a hapless, scrawny nerd, so, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Fast forward to 2007, and I, like a few hundred million or so other people, am reading Deathly Hallows. I was hoping for a satisfying end to the tale with various loose ends tied up. What I got was something even more: a transcendent tying together of seemingly every detail and character from all of the previous books, and a vital reorientation to the rich thematic material that has marked this series from the first. It is a feat to match any in English literature for ... Read More »

Solving the Riddle of the Sphinx: The Three Voices of Albus Dumbledore

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by Monkshood “What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” It is a man. He crawls on all fours as a small child, he walks on two feet as a young man and then he uses a staff in his old age.- Apollodorus, House of Oedipus III.5.7 In the ancient story of Oedipus, there is a sphinx that guards the city of Thebes. Those who wish to enter or exit the city must solve her riddle or face the penalty of death. The sphinx’s riddle for Oedipus, quoted above, seems unsolvable at first, but as in the case of most riddles, the answer is quite simple. After some thought, Oedipus manages to solve the riddle which results in the death of the sphinx. Free to enter the city of Thebes, Oedipus continues along in his quest to avoid the fate of an oracle’s prophecy about his family. This scenario from the story of Oedipus may seem familiar to fans of the Harry Potter books for two obvious reasons. In Goblet of Fire, Harry must solve a riddle asked by a dangerous sphinx in the Triwizard Tournament, and then in Order of the Phoenix he learns that he is ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #122: Mr. Exion’s Daughters

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by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: TWZRD The first time Spanky woke up after the Battle of Hogwarts, he was in a lumpy bed, under a musty-smelling counterpane, in an unfamiliar room. At first he felt fine, but when he tried to lift his head an all but visible wall of pain and dizziness held him down. Then he tried to move his arm, and that hurt even more. It hurt to take more than a shallow breath. It hurt to speak. He knew little more, for a while. Then, judging by the changing angle of light in the room, he found himself waking for longer periods between shorter and shorter naps. And he came to understand that most of his body was bandaged, his right arm and both legs in splints, and the hand that fed him and sponged his brow belonged to a woman he did not know. He could not turn his head, and she never seemed to lean quite directly over him, but even so, he found it strange how difficult it was to form a clear picture of her face. She never spoke, except to shush him if he tried to speak. On what he reckoned ... Read More »

Tying Up Loose Ends

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by Robbie Fischer A few people might have noticed, and wondered about, the fact that I didn’’t write a “Book 7 Theories” editorial before Deathly Hallows came out. There are two reasons for this. First, everyone and his house-elf was writing them. I figured mine would just be another drop in the ocean, so I decided not to bother. I like to be the first to do something different, rather than the 1,096th standing in line to do the same thing. (By the way, that was my number in the line at Borders the night DH was released.) Second reason: Any ordinarily clever person can prognosticate about a book that is yet to come. It takes an extraordinary genius to make predictions about something after it has already happened. And so, here are my theories about Book 7, after the fact: Question: Was Snape a slimy git, or a hero? This was the topic of a debate at the live MuggleCast in St. Louis, which I attended. I even came to the microphone to explain my theory about this (mostly because my friend Amanda promised to buy me ice cream if I did so). My answer: Snape is a complex character. It’’s ... Read More »

All Was Well

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by David Ganin “All was well.” -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pg. 759, U.S. hardback All of this is true. Like many others, I was, at first, slightly disappointed in the saccharine closing words of Deathly Hallows. When I read them earlier today, they seemed a little too “fairy tale,” a little too shallow, for a book that had dealt so realistically with death, sacrifice, and the importance of love in the real world. They seemed too absolute in their assurance of happiness for a book series that had shown the world to be not just a dichotomy of “good” and “evil,” but a world as we all know it to be: saturated with shades of gray. But I have come to a new understanding of these words since then. In addition to the monumental distinction of being the day I finished the seventh Harry Potter book, today was also significant in the fact that it was the one-year anniversary of the death of a friend of mine, Lee Weisbrod. Lee was killed on July 22, 2006, at the age of 19, struck by lightning while leaving a field where he had been playing soccer. As a side note, on ... Read More »

Egyptian Myths in Harry Potter, Part 2: The Contendings of Harry and Voldemort

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by S.P. Sipal Let me tell you another story about a boy who lived. This one concerns a young man often called the orphan because his father was murdered by an evil lord, who then tried to kill the young orphan as well. Fortunately, the orphan’s mother was able to save his life, and so he grew to adulthood with the desire to avenge his father’s murder and reclaim his father’s position, which the evil lord had stolen from him. Numerous times he faced the evil lord, but neither was able to finish off the other. Finally, after many years of bitter conflict, which caused great trouble in the divided lands, the matter was brought before a tribunal of judges to be determined once and for all. The evil lord and the orphan battled violently to prove themselves in escalating challenges, but the tribunal failed to come to agreement. One great lord remained in favor of the evil lord because he thought the orphan too young and immature for the position of his father. Finally, the orphan proclaimed that he had bested the evil lord in each of the four arenas of combat. He was declared the winner by the ... Read More »

Protecting Peter

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by Kelli Ward-Sturgill I was reading through JKRowling.com a few minutes ago, and something dawned on me concerning Jo’’s answer to the last FAQ Poll concerning “What happens to a secret when the Secret-Keeper dies?” There are two well-known Secret Keepers in the Potterverse: Albus Dumbledore, who protected the location of Grimmauld Place, and Peter Pettigrew a.k.a Wormtail who was supposed to protect the Potters’ location at Godric’s Hollow. One of our known Secret-Keepers didn’t keep his end of the bargain, and we know it wasn’t Dumbledore who betrayed his end of the deal. However, using the fabulous words of our beloved author, here’’s what she had to say about Secret-Keepers: When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them, or, to put it another way, the status of their secret will remain as it was at the moment of their death. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. She continues with: …In other words, a secret (eg, the location of a family in hiding, like the Potters) is enchanted so that it is protected by a single Keeper (in our example, Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail). Thenceforth nobody else –– not even the subjects of ... Read More »

Regulus Black the First?

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by Rowena&Salazar4ever Fan speculation has led many people to the conclusion that RAB is Sirius’’ brother, Regulus. It seems rather unlikely that an 18-year-old student, who just graduated from Hogwarts (where information on Horcruxes was restricted), would have the knowledge to deal with a Horcrux. We all know what it took to get to the locket. I firmly doubt that Voldemort would have given a young, freshly recruited Death Eater the information either. However, looking at the Black family tree, I see another likely choice: Sirius’’s great-uncle, who was also named Regulus. Regulus Black “the First” was born in 1906 to Sirius Black the Second and Hesper Gamp. His paternal grandfather was Phineas Nigellus, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Looking at the Black family tree, there are plenty of people from which he could have learned about Horcruxes. This includes one Herbert Burke who married his Aunt Belvina. Burke is a familiar name to any Harry Potter fan. Herbert & Belvina had two sons and one daughter. It is likely that one of the sons is the owner of Borgin & Burkes. Readers of Half-Blood Prince will also remember that a young Tom Riddle worked at Borgin & Burkes. Could Regulus I have visited ... Read More »

Spinner’s End: Deathly Hallows Divination

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by Lady Lupin Given the myriad of possibilities afoot in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one might wish the help of Sybil’s illustrious ancestor, Cassandra Trelawney, to unravel the clues. J.K. Rowling has given fans tantalizing hints, a lot of probable red herrings, and some questions that have provided fodder for more discussion than some of the world’s most immediate current events. This article offers the humble sleuthings of Lady Lupin. I have listed the questions that seem to be the hottest amongst my readers and have (most of the time) taken a stand with an answer, however unsure I may be. It is largely a recap of my stance on many issues we have been discussing for ages. Mind you, this article comes complete with the caveat that I am fully prepared to wipe the three-egg omelet off my face after Jo has her final say. Will Harry Die? I have stood firm on this one from the start and I shall not waver – No. Harry will not die. While I don’t think JKR is a sentimental woman, I see in her writing a woman filled with hope. I don’t think that woman would kill off her young ... Read More »

Is Harry Potter the Son of God?

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by Abigail BeauSeigneur As we approach the release of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Potter friends and foes alike are in for the surprise of their lives. The story of Harry Potter is, and always was, a Christian allegory – a fictionalized modern day adaptation of the life of Christ, intended to introduce his character to a new generation. When asked whether she is Christian, author J.K. Rowling states: “Yes, I am, which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that [her Christianity] I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’’s coming in the books.”(1) Elsewhere Rowling has told us that “Why Dumbledore had James’’s cloak when he died is crucial”(2); she has also told us that Dumbledore’’s “gleam of triumph”(3) is “enormously significant”(4); but here she tells us that knowing more about ... Read More »

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

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by Maya Consider former Headmaster Fortescue. His portrait (the “corpulent, red-nosed wizard”) was given a speaking part every time we visited Dumbledore’s office in Order of the Phoenix [pp. 473, 614, 821-822; All page references are to the U.S. hardback editions]. He was highlighted again in Half-Blood Prince [HBP, pg. 499]. J.K. Rowling is encouraging us to notice him. But why? Every other former headmaster or headmistress who’’s gotten that much page time has also served some function in the story. Armando Dippet played a part in the diary memory in Chamber of Secrets, Phineas Nigellus was Sirius’’ relative, and Dilys and Everard delivered Dumbledore’s messages. Other than having a brief conversation with Harry at the end of OotP, Headmaster Fortescue hasn’’t done anything or been connected to anyone. Or so it would seem. But what if there’’s actually a delicate, near-invisible spiderweb of clues that suggest Headmaster Fortescue is more important to the story than he first appears? We can best examine that web by starting with one question: Is it possible that Headmaster Fortescue was a descendant of Godric Gryffindor? Exhibit A He had been inside Dumbledore’s office once before; it was a very beautiful, circular room, lined with pictures of previous headmasters ... Read More »

Symbolism of the Phoenix: A Solution to the Question

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by Allie From Fawkes to the name of the anti-Voldemort Order, the phoenix has played an interesting and important role in the first six Harry Potter books. The purpose of this article is to describe the powers of the phoenix and summarize my thoughts regarding its symbolic function in the series. I first began writing on this subject in June 2003, shortly after the Order of the Phoenix release. Although most of the ideas and all of the canon references presented in this essay are mine, I have embellished my original theory with the help of several fellow fans over the past three years; main contributors include my sister, Kristy, and Veritaserum Forums members gwenhwyfar and RABH. I consider this theory a continuous work-in-progress, so please comment if you spot any logical flaws or have additional ideas – I am always ready to make modifications. With that said… I. Powers of the Phoenix “… burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes.” “… can carry immensely heavy loads …” “… tears have healing powers …” “… make highly faithful pets.” (CoS, American hardcover, pp. 207) Bearing these qualities in mind, I have traced ... Read More »

Egyptian Myths in Harry Potter, Part 1: Harry of the Two Ways

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by S.P. Sipal Let me tell you a story of a boy who lived. He was sometimes called the Potter and he passed from death to life by way of seven stages, or gates. Each gate presented him with an obstacle to be overcome, a guardian or keeper. Through spells provided to him, the Potter had to learn the names of each of these guardians in order to defeat them and pass further along his course. His first adversary is a man with an inverted face and who has many shapes. At the second gate he encounters a monster whose tail is long. His third adversary is a nasty creature who lives off sewage. Another has a false face and shifts form. At the fifth gate he encounters a man who has lived on snakes, and at another a creature who controls the prow-line of a boat that he needs. Finally, at the seventh gate the Potter must overcome a monster in serpent form who cuts people down. Along the way the Potter must navigate along two opposing courses that lead him through the underworld of his journey — one by land and the other by water. He is assisted by ... Read More »

Chekhov’s Gun, Dark Horse, and Macbeth

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by Saint_Helga and Dan Estes If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there. (A. P. Chekhov, Gurlyand’s Reminiscences) The Biggest Surprise Hangman is mentioned in the Potterverse way too often to be a mere coincidence. Recently, several essay authors have come up with thorough analyses of hangman clues and claimed that “the Hanged Man” tarot card is going to be an important one for the outcome of the last book. Zarathustra, for example (in the essay The Importance of Borgin and Burke’s) cites the following meaning of the card: This card is used to represent an overwhelming challenge or personal cross to bear, whereby The Fool is forced to let go of his preconceptions and see the world or his challenges with a new understanding. He sees with new eyes and his perspective may be turned upside down or reversed. It represents a paradigm shift in thought. The author concludes that in Deathly Hallows “a great shift in someone’’s perception of another character or set of circumstances” is likely to happen. So, a character is going either to see someone else or to be seen in ... Read More »

The Underground Lake #41: Attack of the Dueling Book Covers Again: The Redux

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by Brandon I am pre-empting the afore-promised “Underground Theory” because of some breaking news. We’ve waited and waited and it arrived. The cover. The precious cover. I’m officially ready. I’m so in the mood now. It’s as if all the HP lights in my brain that had been dormant for five months suddenly clicked on at the same time sending me into a tale spin of creative invention, priming me to muse once more on the wonderful Harry Potter. I decided to dust off my original Attack of the Dueling Book Covers entry, correct my predictions on HBP and add the new section for Deathly Hallows. I, therefore, submit for your entertainment and consideration: THE REDUX: ATTACK OF THE DUELING BOOK COVERS AGAIN! THE REPRESENTATIVE For a Harry Potter book, as with any book, the cover is the representative of the novel as a whole. A good cover must instantly tell a story but not THE story. Careful analysis of the cover, prior to delving into the novel, will allow one’s predicting capabilities to increase exponentially. Before going into my comparing and contrasting, here are a few general comments about the two main versions of novel covers. For books one through four, the American cover is relatively ... Read More »

Wizards vs. Muggles: The Showdown!

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by Taure In 1692, at a meeting of The International Confederation of Wizards, The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy came into effect, and from that point on the wizarding world and the Muggle worlds were separated forever. Many have wondered what could have motivated the act, and how things may have been different had it not happened. Though the statute was passed in 1692, wizards had been removing themselves from the Muggle world long before then. As early as 1362, at a time when witch burnings were common, the Wizards’ Council of the time banned all Quidditch within 50 miles of a town or village. In his popular work, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander notes, Muggle persecution of wizards at this time was reaching a pitch hitherto unknown…it is not the aim of this work to discuss the dark days that preceded the wizards’ retreat into hiding. (Introduction, pg. xv) Are we then to assume, by Scamander’’s phrase, “retreat into hiding”, that the separation of the two worlds was a result of fear on the wizard’s part? Not only is this a rather large hit to take on our wizarding pride, it is rather inconsistent with the ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #121: Madrigal Unchained

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by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: greyniffler Concept contributed by ralucacoldea Spanky’s tale continued… “While Mulligan the house-elf kept my wand pointed at me, Ilona went behind him and untied the hagmaid and Zichri Goode. She also checked the condition of the surviving RMB agents, but everyone was unconscious, perhaps in an enchanted sleep. “I kept the house-elf’s attention on myself by staring him in the eye. I had learned this trick during one of my earliest RMB cases, something to do with a gargoyle guarding a doorway, a gargoyle that could move and attack you, except it was frozen as long as you looked it in the eye. I held Mulligan’s eyes in an unblinking stare; he could not look away. After a minute of this he started to shake slightly, either from fury or from weakness. I have seen people faint after a minute of my basilisk stare. “When Ilona was done, I told Mulligan I wanted a plate of grapes and cheese cubes. He took advantage of being freed from my gaze, and used my wand to conjure up an enormous spiderweb to keep me pinned to my chaise longue. Then he went away to fetch the food. ... Read More »

The Underground Lake #40: The Deathly Hallows Underground Theory

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by Brandon Let me preface this entry by saying that the reason it has been so long since you all heard from me is that I had to stop writing this entry to do a complete reread of the series. When I was younger, this was an easy feat as I really had nothing better to do. Now, I am 21. I’ve had school. I have my plays, and my writing. I therefore apologize for it being so long since I submitted an entry. But I think when you read this one, you’’ll appreciate the wait. In murder mysteries, which I love, there comes a moment right before the denouement (that’s the part where they reveal who did it) where the last victim dies but his or her death leaves the one last clue left to figure out the mystery. Upon seeing the dead body, the detective (because there’s always a detective) says, “very well, I know who did it.” And that kicks us right into the resolution where he or she goes over all the clues so that the assembled party (as well as the reader) knows all the events that led us up to this moment before the ... Read More »

Godric’s Hollow: What Really Happened?

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by Jay Ortiz What do we know of the actual events that occurred at Godric’’s Hollow, stripped of the myths and conjectures added by tellers of the tale who were not actually present? We learned, from Dumbledore, that the Dark Lord was aware of the first half of Sibyll Trelawney’’s prophecy, and for reasons known only to himself decided that Harry was the one described in the prophecy as having “the power to vanquish the Dark Lord.”(52) We know too that Dumbledore learned Voldemort was searching for the Potters and advised them to go into hiding, suggesting they invoke the Fidelius Charm for concealment.(53) James Potter chose Sirius Black to be Secret-Keeper but, at the last minute, Sirius persuaded James it would be safer to select the less obvious Peter Pettigrew.(54) Unbeknownst to Sirius and James, however, Pettigrew had become a spy for Voldemort, and immediately betrayed his trust as Secret-Keeper by informing his new master where the Potters were hiding.(55) And then, the Dark Lord appeared in Godric’’s Hollow. Afterwards, James and Lily Potter were dead, Harry was alive but marked by a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, Voldemort had vanished, and the entire house was in ruins.(56) ... Read More »