The North Tower #18: The Pensieve (2)

by Maline

Hi, everybody! Well, it’s time to tackle the second part of the analysis on the Pensieve. This week we’re getting into what I think are the most interesting occurrences: those of Harry inside the Pensieve.

I got a lot of e-mails this past week (thanks!) and many pointed out a couple of things that I’d missed:

1) Bertha is a couple of years older than the Marauders (Sirius, GoF)
2) The two men on trial with Bellatrix and Crouch Jr., are Bellatrix’s husband Rodolphus and his brother Rabastan (OotP, p. 106), but I’m going to keep the old label “LCU’s trial” anyway in order to spare Nancy more work. 🙂
3) Also, people have pointed out the fact that Florence is the same name as Firenze (only Firenze is the Italian version) and that might give a clue to the mystery of “he” and “Florence” in the Bertha Jorkins scene. I highly doubt that “Florence” is the Centaur Firenze, though, since Florence is usually a girl’s name and it’s “I’d seen him kissing Florence behind the greenhouses… ” so if you want to put Florence = Firenze, then we have a gay inter-species relationship in the series… ;-)… (which would be very interesting I admit, but I really don’t think so… ) My guess would be that “he” is Sirius because a) he describes Bertha as nosy and stupid and seems annoyed by the memory of her, b) he was really handsome and popular in school (OotP) and c) he was a good wizard and fond of hexing people who annoyed him (Snape, OotP). But then again, that’s nothing more then a guess and the evidence is completely circumstantial…

Okay, enough prattle on my part; let’s get on with the important stuff.

III) Harry inside the Pensieve

4) Karkaroff’s hearing (GoF, p. 507-513)
5) Bagman’s trial (GoF, p. 513 – 515)
6) Trial of Crouch Jr., the Lestranges and an unidentified man (GoF, p. 515 – 518)
7) Snape’s worst memory (OotP, p. 564 – 572)

Karkaroff’s Hearing: The first part, “He wanted to touch it /—/ and nobody was talking to anybody else,” is basically a description of the courtroom and how the Pensieve works. This is foreshadowing the scene of Harry’s hearing in OotP, making that scene scarier as Harry remembers these other trials. It also makes the connection between the Pensieve and Tom Riddle’s diary – both memory scenes – without really elaborating on the point (I’ll get back to that).

As for what happens in the three hearings/trials, I’ll analyse them together, because it makes it easier to compare them. Here we go…

Atmosphere and power

It seems that the description of the atmosphere gives a lot of information of the scene as a whole. KH (Karkaroff’s hearing) puts forward a tense anticipation; everybody’s waiting for something unknown (at least unknown to Harry and the reader). The silence is complete. In BT (Bagman’s trial), the atmosphere is light “like at a sporting event” (massive foreshadowing) and relaxed; and finally, in the LCUT (Lestranges, Crouch Jr., Unknown DE trial) the atmosphere is again tense – total silence, broken only by the sobs of the wispy-looking witch who is Crouch Jr.’s mother.

We have here an alternating structure: tense, relaxed, tense (which will be followed again with “relaxed” in the forth scene: Snape’s worst memory). We find the same structure in the attribution of power: KH – Crouch Sr., and Moody dominate and Karkaroff is dominated, being chained to the chair and constantly interrupted. (I don’t really like the word “dominate” and “dominated” in this context, but I couldn’t think of a better one that wasn’t really long, like “holds most of the power” and “holds little power,” so just think of it like that, okay?) BT – Bagman dominates with his charm and the support of the Wizengamot, Crouch has to give in and Moody is quite neutral (cf. his more aggressive behaviour in KH). LCUT – Crouch Sr., dominates, ignoring his son’s constant pleas for mercy, but is at the same time dominated by Bellatrix, whose confident scorn of Crouch and the whole system putting her in Azkaban feels a lot “stronger” and more ominous than Crouch’s mad anger. Bellatrix is compared to a queen: proud and sitting in the chained chair as if it were a throne, completely in control, whereas Crouch, Sr., has lost all control and is spitting with anger (like an animal). We thus have the same structure regarding who is the dominant party: Accuser – Defendant – Accuser (Crouch Sr. vs. Crouch Jr.) – Defendant (Crouch Sr. vs Bellatrix).

I want to compare this to three scenes: Snape’s worst memory (SWM), Riddle’s diary (RD) and Harry’s hearing (HH), because they are all related to these three scenes. SWM because it is of the same type (Harry in Pensieve, HiP), RD because it shares characteristics with HiP and HH because it takes place in the same room.

In each scene we have two sides opposing each other, either Accuser/Defendant or Attacker/Defendant, just like in the court scenes above. Also, the Accuser/Attacker is supposed to be the “good guy”, whereas the Defendant is supposed to be the “bad guy,” in the sense that the “good guy” tries to stop or punish evil and the “bad guy” has been caught doing bad things. I put the two types within quotation marks because it’s a lot more complicated than just dividing people into good and bad. For now, we’ll just state that the “good guys” are the ones who are SUPPOSEDLY trying to do good (Crouch Sr., Moody and Fudge protecting Justice, Tom stopping a monster, James and Sirius giving Snape what he deserves and Lily stopping bullying at school) and that the “bad guys” are the ones who are SUPPOSEDLY bad (Karkaroff, Bagman, Lestranges and Crouch Jr. helping Voldemort, Hagrid keeping a murderous monster at Hogwarts, Harry breaking Wizarding law and Snape being just evil in general) Whether these people fit into these categories remains to be seen…

Every one of these scenes is seen through Harry’s eyes, like the books are in general. It is therefore interesting to note that he identifies (or is identified) with most of the “bad guys.” He identifies with Snape, with his humiliation, having been bullied by Dudley his entire childhood. He identifies with Karkaroff because of his fear of the Dementors and with Crouch Jr. also because of the Dementors, but mainly because of the way his father treats him – a lot like the way Uncle Vernon treats Harry, i.e. like something disgusting. (Crouch Sr. is portrayed much like Uncle Vernon in this scene: roaring, eyes bulging, spit flying from his mouth. Add some red or purple to the colour of the face, and it could be the same man. :-))

Then there are the people with whom Harry is identified (i.e. likened to, without realising it himself). Firstly, Bagman, who gets off from a very serious charge because he is famous, charming and good at Quidditch. PS/SS: Harry gets caught flying a broom, action that was supposed to be punished by expulsion, but instead gets to play on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and is given a new broom. CoS: Harry crashes a car into a magical tree and gets off with a warning. CoS: Harry breaks the conditions of this warning (not breaking any more school rules) and is awarded “Special services to the school” and loads of House Points. PoA: Harry blows up Aunt Marge, runs away from home and gets a nice vacation in Diagon Alley, the Minister for Magic declaring, “Well, we all have a soft spot where [Harry] is concerned.” I could go on… The point is that Harry, as Snape often remarks, doesn’t really respect rules, but breaks the ones he sees fit to achieve the “greater good” (e.g., saving Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, getting to school, buying candy in Hogsmeade…). And he gets away with it because a) Dumbledore really likes him, b) he’s really talented (e.g. at Quidditch) and c) he’s famous. The Bagman trial is very strongly connected to Harry’s hearing, where we have a prosecutor who despises the person on trial and wants to convict him (Crouch Sr., Fudge), a defendant who is young, talented, a bit reckless and famous (Bagman, Harry) and a third party who holds the actual power and who wants to get the defendant off (the audience and jury, through strength in numbers; and Dumbledore, through domination of the argumentation and self-control).

Secondly, there is the parallel between the uncompromising nature of Bellatrix’s announcement “The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban, we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!” and what Harry says in PS/SS that he doesn’t care about being expelled (which for Harry, at that point, is pretty much the worst thing he can think of), and that he’d rather die than surrender to the Dark side and join Voldemort. They are both extremely faithful to the cause in which they believe, and they’re both very proud individuals, standing up for what they believe and willing to break a lot of rules for the “greater good.” (They just happen to have opposite views on what the greater good is, which is less important.)

On the other hand, Harry doesn’t identify himself and isn’t at all identified with the “good guys”(quite naturally since the identification with the “bad guys” puts him in an opposing position) with two exceptions. He identifies himself with Tom Riddle, looking like him, coming from a similar background and behaving towards Armando Dippet in much the same way as he himself behaves towards Dumbledore at that moment. There is – as Tom later put it – a strange likeness between them. Harry also identifies with James because they look alike, but that’s less interesting – they’re father and son, they’re supposed to look alike. I find it interesting that the only “good guy” Harry really identifies with is the worst guy of them all – soon to be Voldemort… So what could this mean?

Let’s start with a recap:

  1. Harry identifies himself with (James), Tom Riddle, Snape, Crouch Jr. and Karkaroff (not that much though).
  2. Harry is identified with Bagman and Bellatrix

Also, let’s go back to the “who holds the power in this scene” line of thought. Out of these people, Tom, Bagman Bellatrix are “strong” (i.e., dominant, holding power) and Snape, Crouch Jr. and Karkaroff are “weak” (i.e., not holding any power)

In addition, we know that Harry gets completely manipulated by Tom and Crouch Jr., whereas his interpretations of Karkaroff and Bellatrix are correct. This leaves Snape and Bagman, and nobody really knows where they stand. Good, evil or in between? It’s an open question.

Although, we might be able to get some more information through looking at it from another angle. Let’s go back to the graveyard in GoF and Voldemort’s words:

“One too cowardly to return… he will pay. One, who I believe has left me forever… he will be killed, of course… and one, who remains my most faithful servant, and who has already re-entered my service.” (GoF, p. 565)

Only lines before, he talked about the Lestranges, who would be greatly rewarded once Azkaban was broken open. If we disregard my big theory (NT 15) which puts coward = Karkaroff, traitor = Fudge and faithful = Crouch Jr. for a while and compare Voldemort’s speech to the court scenes, we’ll find some interesting parallels.

1) Bellatrix’s claim is promised to be fulfilled.
2) The people mentioned by Voldemort are the same people who are present in the court scenes.

Let’s work with this. Say that Karkaroff isn’t the coward but the traitor, seeing as he betrayed many fellow Death Eaters during his hearing and didn’t come to the graveyard. Bagman fled right after the Triwizard Tournament, supposedly because of his debts to the goblins, but what do we really know? He proved to be a pretty dishonest (not to mention greedy) character in GoF (George and Fred’s money, for example), and the fact that he was acquitted in the Wizengamot doesn’t necessarily mean that he wasn’t guilty. He got off by playing stupid and because of his Quidditch talent. Not very solid evidence… On the other hand again, Moody claims that Bagman has always been “dim”…

This is really difficult. If the coward is Bagman and the traitor is Karkaroff, then there’s a strong parallel between the court scenes and the graveyard scene, the first foreshadowing the second. If so, then that gives a clue to the way JKR uses the Pensieve (and RD (Riddle’s Diary), which is similar): professed innocence in Pensieve scenes equals guilt (Karkaroff, Bagman, Crouch. Jr., Tom), which would then be applicable on SWM, where Snape is a character you feel really sorry for (including Harry) since he gets attacked by James and Sirius without doing anything. This, in turn, would tally with JKR’s cryptic announcement that we “shouldn’t feel too sorry for Snape,” because then Snape would be primarily a DE and only pretending to help the Order… Difficult indeed…

I’m personally really torn between this theory and the one in NT 15 (coward = Karkaroff, traitor = Fudge and faithful = Crouch Jr.) because I really like Snape and want him to be essentially on the “good” side. I also feel that it would be a lot more interesting for the story if the Minister for Magic turned out to be a former DE than if it’s just Karkaroff holding that position. I mean, just imagine the opportunities it would give JKR to create a really good intrigue, involving everybody who’s connected to Fudge (Percy, Malfoy…). I don’t really see what Karkaroff would be able to bring to the story at this point. It’s the same thing with Bagman; it seems like he did his part (as a tool for JKR to advance her story) and that he’s not really useful anymore (especially as one of his main functions was to contrast Crouch Sr, who is now dead). I don’t really object to the thought of Bagman being a DE; he is after all a pretty nasty character. It is possible for him to have been in the circle around Voldemort, having fled from the goblins shortly after Harry and Cedric took the cup together and thus being outside Hogwarts grounds when the Mark burned… I’ll leave you to think about that one.

Okay, I’ll think I’ll stop there for today. I’ll see you guys soon. Take care.