Could Ernie MacMillan Be on to Something?

by Whitney Caitlin

Before I explain my little theory, let me relate to you exactly how I came to the idea in the first place. I decided to give myself a little project over my winter break. After reading through the new Galadriel Waters book and feeling slightly lost, I decided that I needed to reread the five Harry Potter books to refresh myself on some of the points made in Waters’ guide. Most of my family and friends laugh whenever they see my nose in a Harry Potter book, but J.K. Rowling writes so that you find something new each time you read her books (even if it is for the eleventh time).

I have just finished Chamber of Secrets, and while I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, one passage struck me instantly. After the infamous Dueling Club scene in chapter eleven, Harry finds a group of Hufflepuffs having a very interesting conversation. On page 199 of the US hardcover version, Hannah Abbott asks and Ernie Macmillan responds:

“He always seems so nice, though, and, well, he’s the one who made You-Know-Who disappear. He can’t be all bad, can he?”

“No one knows how he survived that attack by You-Know-Who. I mean to say, he was only a baby when it happened. He should have been blasted into smithereens. Only a really powerful Dark wizard could have survived a curse like that. That’s probably why You-Know-Who wanted to kill him in the first place. Didn’t want another Dark lord competing with him. I wonder what other powers Potter’s been hiding?”

When we first read this, we are immediately on Harry’s side, thinking Ernie to be a complete idiot. But this time, I thought, “Could Ernie be on to something?” Let’s dissect this a couple of sentences at a time.

No one knows how he survived that attack by You-Know-Who.

Even as of Book Five we only have a vague idea of how Harry survived. According to Dumbledore in Book One, it was Lily Potter’s self-sacrifice and love that protected Harry from being “blasted into smithereens.” However, in Book Five, we also see that Dumbledore is not infallible. We all know that as each chapter unfolds, we learn more and more of how and why Harry’s current situation came to be. I predict that this will continue in the next two books and that the “Lily’s love” theory may be amended, but not completely scratched.

Only a really powerful Dark wizard could have survived a curse like that.

I think that most agree that Harry as a Dark wizard would be a theory worthy of “The Quibbler.” However, as I said before, Ernie may be onto something. First of all, I have read many editorials that explain various parallels between the HP series, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. Some of the parallels discuss the temptation of evil and being lured to the dark side. (I’m not very familiar with either series but as I understand it, these theories come from issues with Darth Vader/Anakin v. Luke Skywalker, and the Ring v. Frodo).

I am familiar with Harry Potter’s character, and after rereading only the first two books, I have another sub-theory. It seems that Harry’s newfound… er,… temper, whether you found it to be affirming, disheartening, or simply obnoxious, isn’t newfound at all; it actually has always been a part of Harry’s personality, which seems to have grown with his confidence levels upon leaving the Dursleys.

Before I started this project of mine, I always characterized Harry as a relatively easy-going guy who has quite a bit of stress in his life. However, I think that it is possible that JKR deliberately downplays some of Harry’s outbursts in Books 2 – 4. She usually describes Harry as being “quite angry,” as opposed to quoting Harry in all capital letters as she did in OotP. Remember Harry “pummeling” his pillow in CoS (pg. 197)? Remember the rage he experienced in PoA after overhearing the tale of Sirius Black, which kept him from sleeping? What about in GoF when Harry wanted to give Ron a kick up the (expletive interrupted)? Next time you decide to go through any of the books, take note of how many times Harry is described as feeling angry. Perhaps JKR was doing a bit of foreshadowing; maybe Harry’s temper is a part of his own personality instead of being influenced by Occlumency. Come to think of it, didn’t we see a bit of this harshness in James’ attitude in the Pensive? If my thinking is right, what will the ramifications of Harry’s temper be in the Second War?

Now that I’ve gotten a bit off-topic, let’s continue.

That’s probably why You-Know-Who wanted to kill him in the first place. Didn’t want another Dark lord competing with him.

According to the lost prophecy, these two points certainly follow.


It is true that Voldemort’s spy didn’t hear this part of the conversation; however, he did hear the part saying that Harry (or Neville!) would be the one to bring about his downfall. So, he did set out to kill Harry for self-preservation. The next part of Ernie’s theory is what really jumped out at me.

I wonder what other powers Potter’s been hiding?

Don’t we all? Of course, this quote directly relates to Harry’s ability to communicate with snakes, but is there anything else we don’t know about Harry? Although we had quite a bit of foreshadowing for the importance of Harry’s dream activity leading up to Book Five, I would admit that I had no idea that his dreams would become so…telling. I know that this theme is discussed in Water’s guide. For a non-scar-related dream, think Chapter 7 in SS/PS. Perhaps Harry may have some innate Seeing talent? (As for rebuttals saying that Harry doesn’t do too well in Divination… I think there is plenty of evidence that much of Harry’s talent is innate, and often does not show itself in class, i.e., Potions). And what about Harry’s aptitude for Defense Against the Dark Arts (i.e., Patronus charm, Imperious curse)?

Summing up: Even though upon first glance it seemed like rash scapegoating, maybe Ernie was on to something with his conspiracy theory about Harry?

  1. We don’t have the full story on how Harry survived Voldemort’s killing curse. Was it only because of Lily’s sacrifice or were there other factors?
  2. One would assume that only a really powerful Dark wizard could survive that attack. Harry’s Dark-ness potential could come from all those negative feelings he’s been harboring. As I said before, I realized upon re-reading the second book that Harry has always had quite a temper, and it is not an anomaly of the fifth book, although it did intensify.
  3. What other powers has Harry been hiding??? This is assuredly an issue that will continue to be resolved in the upcoming books.