The Phoenix Files #4: Seamus Finnigan
By Christopher Stephen
Welcome back to The Phoenix Files! Today, we take a journey through all five books. Everybody ready? Then hold on for a wild ride to chase Seamus Finnigan!!
We first hear about Seamus (pronounced SHAY-mus, by the way, not SEE-mus, as I did) Finnigan, as with many of the characters, at Harry’s Sorting Ceremony. Seamus is stuck between Justin Finch-Fletchley and Hermione Granger (both very important characters, I might add), and it’s easy to pass right over him and miss him (how very convenient). From p. 120 of the American paperback edition of Book One:
Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at others it took a little while to decide. “Finnigan, Seamus,” the sandy-haired boy next to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.
First off, why would it take the Sorting Hat so very long to place Seamus? It didn’t even take a whole minute to place Harry (no matter what the movie shows, it takes less than half a page), and he was “particularly difficult” to place (according to the Sorting Hat in Book Two). That poses the question: where else did the Sorting Hat consider placing Seamus? Surely not in Hufflepuff — Hufflepuffs are usually known for being true friends, willing to stick it out (more Ron-like). Surely not in Ravenclaw — in Charms, Professor Flitwick’s (one of my all-time FAVORITE characters) own class (and he’s the head of Ravenclaw!), Seamus “prods” his feather and sets fire to it. This scene is especially interesting to me because Harry is glad that he got partnered with Seamus “because Neville was trying to catch his eye”. Isn’t that odd? Even Neville didn’t set fire to his feather.
So that still leaves the question: where else would Seamus have gone? I guess the Sorting Hat could have been debating between Slytherin and Gryffindor. If so, this means that Seamus is hiding some great ambition. Ambition to become (dare I say) King, perhaps? For we do know that Seamus is Half-Blood, as he famously says during the Opening Feast of Book One: “I’m half-and-half… Me dad’s a Muggle. Mom didn’t tell him she was a witch ’til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him.” In fact, that’s not the only other time we hear from Seamus at that Opening Feast; contrary to the movie, Seamus is the one who asks Nearly-Headless Nick how he can be “nearly headless”.
In fact, I am not the only one who seems to have noticed Seamus in this chapter of Book One. Galadriel Waters in her first Ultimate Unofficial Guide notices: “We still do not know much about Seamus Finnigan by Book 4 except that when others seem to be losing their heads, both he and his friend, Dean Thomas, have a good grasp of reality… With J.K.R.’s sense of humor, we are wondering what might be awaiting Seamus’s character.” So do I. Personally, I believe the Half-Blood Prince is someone who will be totally new, someone we have never heard of before. However, if it is someone we already know, Seamus has my vote.
Seamus is constantly popping up when we least expect him, and he often times goes overlooked. Throughout Book Two he continues to pop in and out (which is important, since Book Two is supposed to clue us in to Book Six). I believe I’ll leave it to the HP Sleuths out there to look that one up.
Seamus’s most memorable moments, however, occur during Book Five. “Me mam didn’t want me to come back.” To his credit, Seamus does not just take his mother’s word for things; he asks Harry (quite honestly curious to know the truth), “Look…what did happen that night when…you know, when…with Cedric Diggory and all?” But then Harry has to be himself (darn it) and smart off — really getting Seamus riled up. However, after The Quibbler interview, he gets over it (even sending a copy to his “mam”!) and believes Harry.
As for Seamus’s future in the series? Well, that’s for you to decide. Is he the Half-Blood Prince? There is evidence for it and evidence against it (like with all things in the HP world), so you have to decide for yourself where JK is giving red herrings and where she’s planting real clues. Just remember never to take a character’s word for anything, and that includes things seen/heard from Harry’s perspective. We are learning more and more (Book Five really proved it) that Harry is not perfect. In fact, in Book Five, he does some really stupid things (trashing Dumbledore’s office ring a bell?). Therefore, it is tricky to place Seamus in one spot or another. All we really know is that he is friendly (usually) to Harry and Ron, even greeting them at the Quidditch World Cup with his “mam” in Book Four. Convincing Seamus of Harry’s story, especially if he was nearly placed in Slytherin, is important. He could be the “swing vote” or bridge between the Gryffindors and Slytherins, and if Hogwarts is to prevent itself from crumbling “from within”, that means Slytherins, too. And Dean brings Seamus to his first-ever D.A. meeting when it gets busted by Umbridge and her crew, and he nearly produces a Patronus. Obviously, he has the potential to become a powerful wizard as well as a powerful force in the series.
I look forward to your comments on this editorial as well as your thoughts on this subject or any other! Please just send me an e-mail at the address below, and I’ll look at them just as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading! Remember to send your comments to christopherstephened at hotmail dot com and be on the look-out for Folder #5, that of Arabella Figg.