That darned Troll! Who let it out of room #3? What's it doing in room #5?! Must have been (not Daniela! Surely not!) Quirrell... Yeah, that's right (sounding convincing, like Hagrid)... Quirrell and his Halloween diversion... Say! *eyes opening wide* I think I'm getting an idea! The Troll diversion: you remember it, I suppose. Quirrell let a Troll inside Hogwarts, a Troll that had no business being in the school, or in a girls' bathroom... The Troll is in the wrong room! Rowling told us so on Halloween... perhaps in order to hint... that there will be a Troll diversion in the order of the clues, something missing/moved from its proper place... and if the Troll were in #3, maybe everything would make sense again... no, not everything, actually, except for some of the rooms: I have pointed out before that there are no perfect parallels, but many imperfect ones: in their totality, the clues may reach a kind of cumulative meaning, like the lines in Snape's riddle. Or else, the unconscious Troll might be removed altogether from the clues, like nano suggests, so that the last Book is left without a clue... This Troll really is a spine in people's sides, isn't he? If my memory played a trick on me, perhaps it was a hint from my subconscious, the subconscious that is a bit cleverer than the conscious...
A couple of "corrections"/additions (more later): this Troll "mistake" (intentional on Rowling's part, unintentional on mine) actually doubles the discoveries:
In Book 5 = task #5 = Troll, I might consider that the Troll might be Grawp or the giants in general... which is an additional discovery (nano points out in the thread that like the Troll, giants come into the plot in OotP). But does that mean I won't see chess in Book 5? No. And even, I still think we can compare the foul Troll with the rat Pettigrew (maybe the little finger found on the ground = the huge Troll: "Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides" says Snape's riddle... is this a stretch? Peter is the supposed "corpse," supposedly already dealt with by Sirius). I might even let Grawp play a kinder role than the Troll... maybe he's more like Fluffy... You notice, my numbers are all over the place now, "bang out of order."
The Flying Keys moving to #3 would not make a difference in my own conclusions, except add the key. I had found that flight was particularly important in PoA, and was even puzzled by this doubling of the flight theme (it also seemed to fit with the kids' flight/fight experience with the two Trolls.)
Now, Voldemort is absent from one of our books, and the Troll is absent (i.e. the challenge) from one of our tasks, even if they are not aligned at number 3... (or aren't they?). There is no danger in task #3 (the keys). Nor is there in task #5 (the unconscious Troll). Look carefully in those two rooms... and find: where is(n't) Voldemort? Perhaps these "mistakes" are meant to make us start seeing double... (even triple). Those number themes that interest me, the twos, the threes, the sevens, are meeting it seems.
A couple of Rowling's "mistakes":
The chessboard of room #4: a perfect parallel for Book 4? No way! No book (of the ones we've had so far) does a more perfect job of illustrating chess than Book 5, as I showed in my first editorial: and sacrifice, too, is best illustrated and felt in Book 5 (not to mention the Queen(s): Bellatrix, and Umbridge: that transfigured toad!: as for the sacrifice: someone very close to Harry dies, a true older equivalent of Ron: Sirius, also a knight like Ron in his own way, mounted on Buckbeak, adventurous and daring, of noble descent).
The flying keys in room #3: There are many metaphorical flying keys in PoA (the Time Turner key to a riddle, which flies through time, flying Buckbeak who gives "la clé des champs" to Sirius (French for flight, escape (literally: the key to the fields) (Rowling did major in French & Classics), and Wormtail, the key to the Marauders' traitor riddle, who also flies away at the end (see my summary of the thread ideas below for Buckbeak and Wormtail). But a real, concrete flying key appears in GoF, Book 4, the flying Portkey, which takes us straight to the climax of the story and literally moves Harry from one open-air "chamber": the maze, to another open-air "chamber": the cemetery.
No, I don't really think these are "mistakes." They are "skeleton keys," one might say: the kind of keys that open multiple doors: some smaller doors, and some bigger doors.
Why these "moving stairs"? Remember my moving stairs, that architectural metaphor for connecting ideas hidden in Hogwarts? Apparently there are more of them than I thought. The point is to try to think outside the box. Doesn't Rowling point that out in her books? Remember why Ron and Harry flew the Ford Anglia to school? Because they didn't think outside the box! That is, Harry forgot he had Hedwig. And why did Sirius die? Painful, but true: someone didn't think outside the box (poor Harry! I would have broken that two-way mirror, too!)
The very inspired threaders in the Chamber of Secrets were looking for perfect parallels. There are a couple of exceptions:
zen 110: "They could be out of order...": Book 4 has some Devil's snares [Moody and the cup], Book 5 has Sirius' sacrifice, Book 3 has a traitor [the hidden poison of task #6] and Book 2 has something like a search for a key in task #3: "the trio was searching for whoever opened the chamber of secrets, there were a lot of people they thought it could be but no real clues to lead then into the right direction, just like with the keys how there were a lot of them and they had to find one that matched the door, they had to find a person who matched all the evidence they had."
Implicitly, I think, crooshanksguy's observation allows for a mix-up to take place in the rooms, and just as with time travel there are strange results, like the transfer of power from the future/past Harry to the present Harry, going back and forth between the rooms may transfer clues between them, dangers and solutions.
These are surprisingly few threaders allowing for rearrangement of the seven tasks... It is true; some things do fall inside the box. Many ideas come from drawing perfect parallels between the tasks and the books. That is how I got a lot of ideas. That is how the brilliant thread summarized later on here got started. By equaling, unlike me, task #5 (Troll) with Book 5, one threader (fea) discovered that the teacher, Dumbledore, not Harry, deals with Voldemort, like Quirrell dealt with the Troll (Say: the Voldemort/Troll parallel stays put). Nevertheless, Voldemort is presently dangerous, unlike the Troll, so the parallel is not... perfect. Some things just go outside the box. That is, we can't rigidly insist that task #1 = (perfectly) Book 1, task #2 = (perfectly) Book 2, and so on.
To illustrate the pitfalls of looking for perfect parallels, I'll go back to Books 4 and 5 and tasks #4 and #5. (Yes, perfectionism can be limiting... perfect aunt Petunia is a bit... well... *Now, that's better* says Tonks when she sees Harry's room [stars stand for imperfect quotes]). The threaders were trying so hard to find chess and sacrifice in Book 4, that they missed them in Book 5, because they were not looking there! All because of a certain preoccupation with a certain number (4), which led to a preconception about order. So readers were more likely to see Ron as sacrificed because he is not in the tournament in Book 4 (see the thread: I lost who said it), than to see Sirius as sacrificed and a figure of Ron in Book 5 (with the exception of zen110 who made the parallel Ron/Sirius). Not that looking for chess and sacrifice in Book 4 didn't give interesting results (and I won't look down on the discovery of poor underdog Ron either: it prepares his image for Book 5): the sacrifice of Cedric and the appearance of the Death Eaters, so many faceless transfigured chess pieces: see clearacel: "I think that the fact that there are faceless chess pieces is more representative of GoF, since this is really the first time we see the Death Eaters. At the end of GoF, we see pretty much the start of the war, which I believe the chess game itself represents." But Clearacel makes an excellent point about Cedric's sacrifice: "I don't think Ron's sacrifice is representative of Cedric's sacrifice. Remember that Ron's sacrifice in the chess game was very important for Harry to move on to checkmate. Cedric's death was very anti-climatic. 'Kill the spare.'" Moving forward from Clearacel's comment, this killing of the "spare," for those of you who play chess, does it not make you think of losing that first pawn in the beginning of a game? Now, the chess game starts at the end of Book 4, but it truly materializes, board and all, big pieces and everything, with the sacrifice of an important piece, in Book 5. To us readers, Cedric was really more the ghost of a character (we even see his 'shadow'): Sirius, on the other hand, was real. Cedric's body is recovered, but his soul is lost to us. Sirius' body is lost, but his soul still haunts us. Chess and an even greater sacrifice may materialize again, beyond Book 5. But I think it reached a bit of at least a visual climax in Book 5: remember Dumbledore transfiguring the fountain brethren, like McGonagall transfiguring the chess set: which makes me wonder: will McGonagall replace Dumbledore in Book 7, since Dumbledore replaced McGonagall in Book 5? I think you all know the answer is... yes. Pairs switching places.
Perhaps J. K Rowling wanted us to do a bit of reordering... not too much, but a little bit, a bit of disorder to stimulate the imagination... and then rearrange the potion phials until we reach the certainty of having solved the riddle (if certainty is what she had in mind for us...). Among the riddles I was pointing out in my last editorial, I didn't consider that the seven tasks might themselves pose a riddle: "The Riddle of the Seven Tasks" to imitate Snape's "Riddle of the Seven Phials." (There is another thread discussing DADA teachers and Snape's riddle of the seven phials). What is solving Snape's riddle if not determining the meaningful order of the phials? It's not obvious what the first, second, third... phials hold. It is not then perhaps perfectly clear what the first, second, third... clues in the first, second, third... rooms hold about the first, second, third... books. That remains to be determined by looking at the clues together and playing especially on the themes of doubling and pairing between them (and switching.) I quote below Snape's riddle (thanks to sealjoy). Pay close attention to the double structure (and then surprise, three: but that's another editorial, proving less inspiring to write now... I need some time for that one):
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Now, on to the onerous but dutiful (and perhaps helpful and, now looking back, interesting to read) task of pointing out the discoveries of my fellow readers. I have picked out what seemed to me the best comments, edited them and organized them by task (if you want to see complete threads, the source is the best place to go). I only mention each idea once, so whoever got it first (or I saw first) gets mentioned. I hope this organizing will make some things jump out and make it easier to tie further knots, for those interested... There are some very insightful ideas here! To indicate my own ideas, I write (me:).
Task #1 Fluffy: the least talked about task of them all...
A few threaders mentioned Cerberus, guarding the entry to the underworld, the Hades, a form of Hell (me: Ancient Runes...).
Task #2 Devil's Snare: slightly more popular (wait 'til we get to #6)
fea pointed out that "When Harry falls in the plant, he considers it good. The plant stopped their falling... it's a good plant, isn't it? He doesn't notice that it's trying to eat them... Exactly like Tom Riddle"; she also indicates about parallel with CoS: "[Harry] falls through the trapdoor a long time, as the way down to the Chamber was long. The plant is a living monster, as the basilisk. The plant is defeated with fire, the phoenix is a fire creature..."
*I put little stars because I think these two are onto something very interesting...
Task #3: Flying Keys:
fea: no danger: "It's the only task where Harry isn't in mortal danger. And Sirius was never a real danger to Harry. It's also Professor Flitwick's task, and we know he is the nicest professor of the staff..."; flying: "The task has to be done on a broomstick. Not only Harry receives a Firebolt in the third book, it's also the only book in which we 'see' the entire quidditch competition"; keys: "For us [me: us refers to Spanish threaders, I think: contact fea for more] the flying key is Wormtail. Wormtail was hidden during 12 years, looking exactly like any rat. The key is hidden between a lot of keys, and it's not easy to find nor catch (ask Crookshanks how easy it is to catch Scabbers...). We could even say that the key has the feathers crumpled on one side, and Scabbers has a missing finger (and all the hand, later) [me: I'm thinking forward of Hedwig's crumpled feathers in OotP]. It's an old-fashioned key, something from the past, like Wormtail. And it's made of silver, like his new hand. But the most important thing is that if Peter Pettigrew wasn't found in PoA, there wouldn't be a return of Voldemort in GoF. Wormtail is the key to make it happen."
Task #5 The Troll: threads are about as absent on this task as the Troll itself was absent
MundungusFletc: "The troll is excellent for OotP; there is nothing for Harry to do. In OotP Sirius is not in danger, Harry didn't have to do anything but he acted nonetheless."
Task #6 Snape's Riddle of the Phials: now the fun starts in the Thread room
fea: we'll find "the truth about Severus Snape"; and "the most important thing on HBP will be logic"; and "one of the most important things of this task is that there isn't a way back."
Most threaders looked for parallels between characters and the seven potions:
fea: the 7 quidditch players are an equivalent of the 7 potions: 3 chasers (they bring the attack of the team) = 3 poisons / 2 beaters = 2 wine / 1 keeper = 1 potion to turn back / 1 seeker = 1 potion to go forward
Task #7: Mirror of Erised
lupislune: "I don't think Harry will defeat Voldemort by direct contact. I think Harry will do something to somebody that will directly be the demise of Voldemort."
And a nice conclusion from daveydee:
daveydee: in Book 7, "Harry will [...] see himself as he truly is."
Everyone agrees that the Seven Tasks of the PS/SS contain clues for what is to follow in the Seven Books. But perhaps we need to realize that like Snape's seven phials, the Seven Tasks are also arranged in a form of riddle. As the moving stairs of Hogwarts, they may take us straight to our destiny, but also forwards, and backwards. Whoever solves the riddle may best see what is to come. I am not sure that I personally have the key to it yet: moving the Troll was one (involuntary) idea, looking at moving stairs another, searching for doubles and triples another, but... I haven't reached that feeling of certainty: I wouldn't put my hand in the fire... or drink poison on it. Not just yet. Then again, maybe there is no perfect riddle, just a creative mess: you know, a matrix.
And in the end:
nano says: "I think I remember Jo saying somewhere that all keys lay in the first book" (me: did she? where?) and fea (on Rowling's fear of not being able to publish the remaining series): "So, she decided to leave something of the story on The Philosopher's Stone. Something to remember. Something so Harry won't be lost..."
And, on the history of the number 7, a bit of Ancient Runes by petruchio:
"Seven is and has been for a very long time considered mystical by many religions and societies. Consider the following: Seven deadly sins / Seven virtues / Seven Valleys of Bahá'u'lláh (Bahai) / Seven Harthos (Ancient Egyptian) / seven-gated holy city (also ancient Egyptian) / seven days of creation (Judeo-Christian religions) / seven chakras (Hindu)": "Numerology (mostly considered to be bunk by scholars but still clung to as an effective way of divining the future) places seven very high in importance, along with the numbers six and three. Strangely enough, these numbers are also considered very powerful magically in the ancient Egyptian dogmatic system."; "Oh, one more thing: C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia (my favorite magic childrens' book series besides HP) had seven volumes as well. Interesting, no? Of course, Lewis was a Christian scholar and writer as well (see The Screwtape Letters for a great example), so he probably had that in mind when he wrote them."
I hope you have enjoyed this selective rendition of the thread, along with my own redoubled insights into the Seven Tasks. May you pick up the torch and move forward towards guessing with even more certainty what is coming!
And I am turning to other pressing tasks... like cauldron bottoms... no, really, something else, equally interesting, but not Harry Potter, and that has a few professors frowning upon it at the moment, like at a particularly stubborn snail...
You can contact the author by emailing her here.
March 2003 - The cover art for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is released in the United States and United Kingdom. It was the first cover to create lots of hype in the Harry Potter fandom, because at that point fansites were flourishing.
Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have.
Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 21, Page 459
If a muggle spotted Hogwarts, they would just see an old ruin with a sign "Keep out, dangerous building."