The Two-Way Mirror #18: DUBBLEDORE!
‘Dubbledore!’ said Neville, his sweaty face suddenly transported, staring over Harry’s shoulder. ‘What?’
Harry turned to look where Neville was staring. Directly above them, framed in the doorway from the Brain Room, stood Albus Dumbledore, his wand aloft, his face white and furious. Harry felt a kind of electric charge surge through every particle of his body-they were saved.
(OotP, Ch. 35 “Beyond the Veil”)1
Now, you probably came to this editorial expecting to read about Dumbledore, and instead, you’ll be hearing about “Dubbledore.” What’s that? Let me say it again: Double Door! I know… it’s like expecting to find a galleon and getting only, well… my two knuts.
In this editorial, I am going to talk about doors and double doors, because I have a hunch there is some importance to them in the novel, and I will begin by speculating on the possible meaningfulness of J.K. Rowling’s deformation of our dear headmaster’s name (it won’t be the first time she did it… and personally I think that “Dumbly-dorr” was also meaningful…)
It is true that it was all painfully funny to hear Neville boom: “DON’D GIB ID DO DEM, HARRY!” (Ch. 35), and it also was a clever way to put a wizard out of action, but was that the only reason that Rowling decided to apply a Death Eater’s shoe to Neville’s lip? The Quibbler says No! It was also to make Dumbledore’s name suggestive of something interesting, very interesting…
In Order of the Phoenix, Rowling does actually speak of literal “double doors,” for the first time, it seems to me, unless you can help me find the instances I missed, and she places an ever so delicate accent on them. For one, in the chapter where the kids reach the Ministry of Magic, “Flight or Fight,” Rowling refers to the gates to the Great Hall as “double doors” (Ch. 33). This seems a bit strange, as in the first book it seemed that both the entrance to the castle and to the hall were a single door (or is this just another Rowling mistake?2). In “Christmas on the Closed Ward,” double doors are mentioned twice, being positioned at the ends of corridors in Saint Mungo’s:
They walked along the corridor through a set of double doors and found a rickety staircase […]
But as [Harry] stepped onto the landing he came to an abrupt halt, staring at the small window set into the double doors that marked the start of a corridor signposted SPELL DAMAGE. [Lockhart] was peering out at them all with his nose pressed against the glass.
(OotP, Ch. 23)
Most strikingly, in this context of double doors, when the healer leads the kids and the escaped Lockhart to the ward where he belongs, we find written above the door to the ward that it is called the “Janus Thickey ward.”
Janus is “the god of gates and doorways, depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions.”3 So the topic of double doors is further emphasized by the very name of this ward, designating a god associated both with doors and with doubles.4 Why would Rowling associate double doors and the name of Janus with these wards in Saint Mungo’s? Is it possible they are here in order to create an echo elsewhere so that when we hear Dumbledore’s distorted name, Dubbledore, we remember those literal “double doors” and pay closer attention to the name of Janus and then see our headmaster’s name as Double-Door?
What to make of this? I can’t help but notice that Dumbledore is framed in a doorway when he is called “Dubbledore” by Neville – the DoM doorway from the Brain Room (Brain Room, very significant for Dumbledore). In fact, all the times that I remember Dumbledore making an impressive appearance (only three so far that I know of) he is always framed in a doorway.
‘And your authority for that statement is… ?’
‘That would be mine,’ said a deep voice.
The oak front doors had swung open. Students beside them scuttled out of the way as Dumbledore appeared in the entrance. What he had been doing out in the grounds Harry could not imagine, but there was something impressive about the sight of him framed in the doorway against an oddly misty night. Leaving the doors wide behind him, he strode forward through the circle of onlookers […]
(OotP, Ch. 26 “Seen and Unforseen”)
These oak front doors appear to be double (they are plural, unlike in the first book where the door to the castle was singular), and Rowling draws attention to them and to their being wide open.
Finally, the first and only other time that Dumbledore makes such an impressive entrance he is again nicely framed in a doorway:
[…] with a great splintering and crashing, the door of Moody’s office was blasted apart- […] Harry, still staring at the place where Moody’s face had been, saw Albus Dumbledore, Professor Snape, and Professor McGonagall looking back at him out of the Foe-Glass. He looked around and saw the three of them standing in the doorway, Dumbledore in front, his wand outstretched.
At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore’s face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined.
(GoF, Ch. 35 “Veritaserum”)
Perhaps I should have included a fourth entrance Dumbledore makes when he goes upstairs in the MoM to save Harry. When he appears, Harry sees him standing before the “golden gates” (Ch. 36 “The Only One He Ever Feared”). This entrance goes together with the one below in the DoM, but it was presented in a less dramatic fashion. Nevertheless, it was an important entrance, as Dumbledore saved Harry from what looked like certain death. So then we have four impressive Dumbledore entrances, each one framed in a doorway, with the last doors being the golden gates of the MoM (a sign of Dumbledore’s royalty?).
When Neville shouts Dubbledore, Dumbledore shows up in the door to the Death Room, that is, the Veil Room. This is the only room that has a door as its main feature of attraction. Is the veil a “double door”5? We have seen on the contrary that the veil is a “one-way” door, but will it prove to be “two-way” in the end? The veil is an intriguing door if there ever was one. I wonder why it is set in such a theatrical room that makes Harry think of an “amphitheater” or a “courtroom.” There is a sunken center, a stone pit, benches, a raised dais, an archway… (Ch. 34 “The Department of Mysteries”). There is even something like a theatre curtain, the “black curtain or veil” in the center (Ch. 34). For some reason, I imagine this being a double curtain, although it is never indicated, because of the way Sirius fell through it. If we walk around the veil, unlike the backstage of a theatre, we see nothing but the same veil and arch from behind. And yet, the way Sirius disappeared inside the veil instead of falling out through to the other side, it is as if he went “backstage.” Neville booms “Dubbledore! DUBBLEDORE!” when Dumbledore enters this veil room. Perhaps that means there is something about this veil that has yet to be revealed – the other side, the double.
There are so many interesting doors in the Harry Potter series! Rowling really applies her imagination to them. The most interesting doors are, of course, at Hogwarts. As Rowling says: “there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending” (SS/PS, Ch. 8 “The Potions Master”). Well, we know which part of the entrance to the kitchens to tickle: the pear – with a giggle it will turn into a door handle. And as to the solid walls just pretending to be doors, we’ve seen some real doors pretending to be walls, such as the entrance to Platform 9 3/4 (which is also described from the other side as an “iron wrought archway“: do you remember the archway of the veil?; SS/PS, Ch. 6 “The Journey from Platform 9 and 3/4”) and the brick wall that opens into Diagon Alley. The entrance to the Gryffindor tower is hidden behind a fat lady painting. And to reach Gryffindor tower itself, the students pass “through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries” (do those hanging tapestries make you think of the veil? [Ch. 7 “The Sorting Hat”]). The hump of the one-eyed witch is another interesting door… And we have, of course, the invisible door to the Room of Requirement – the one that shows up only when you truly need it. As a kind of anticlimax, I’d like to mention the Muggle doors in the Dursleys’ home, not very interesting ones, but they do seem to keep getting locked, and blocked, and boarded up (especially Harry’s!). But another early sort of door that was much more interesting was “The Vanishing Glass” (Ch. 2) from the chapter with the same name, which was a transparent barrier between Harry and a snake, and Harry made it disappear somehow and allowed the snake to pass through… Was that vanishing glass a symbol of Harry’s scar?
Each climax of the series so far has been ushered in by some form of door. The climactic Chapter 16 of SS/PS mentions doors: “Through the Trap Door.” The obstacle course that follows, devised by the teachers to protect the stone, and which in many ways prefigures the other obstacle courses in the series, is all about getting through different doors, including the initial trap door, the third locked door with the flying keys, the double fire door, and a mirror. The mirror was also a kind of door since it could somehow open for someone (Harry) but remained closed for another (Quirrell)…
The “double fire” doors are something I’d like to consider for a moment since I think we’ll understand their symbolism better after reading Half-Blood Prince…
They stepped over the threshold, and immediately a fire sprang up behind them in the doorway. It wasn’t ordinary fire either; it was purple. At the same instant, black flames shot up in the doorway leading onward. They were trapped.
(Ch. 16 “Through the Trap Door”)
The word “trapped” resonates with the “Trap Door” of the chapter title. Perhaps Rowling created this echo in order to make us extra vigilant. This simultaneous springing up of two flame doors fascinates me because the image seems connected to the theme of “double doors.” Are these two paired fire doors a clue of some kind? Now that we know the HBP will involve a prince, and we see that this sixth task has a purple fire door, we might say to ourselves: why didn’t I see the royal thing coming? Purple is the color of royalty! Anyway, at least in retrospect, we see that the sixth task did teach us something about the sixth book. There were a couple of other hints in the first book. A prince wears a crown (at least in our imagination) and there were some interesting purple “crowns” in the first book: Quirrell’s purple turban and Dedalus Diggle’s purple top hat. Incidentally, guess where Quirrell’s purple turban came from: “His turban, he told them, had been given to him by an African prince as a thank-you for getting rid of a zombie, but they weren’t sure they believed this story” (Ch. 8 “The Potions Master”; my emphasis). Has Rowling ever used the word “prince” again in the series up to this point? Look how early she planted her clue. Hindsight is 20/20… It is possible, although I’ll stick to my Dumbledore argument, that our Half-Blood Prince will be of African descent.
We should have paid careful attention maybe to the word prince, because the word “zombie” is right beside it, and Voldemort seems a bit of a zombie to me. The first meaning of the word zombie is that it is a snake god of voodoo cults in West Africa. The second meaning is that it is a supernatural power or spell that according to voodoo belief can enter into and reanimate a corpse. And the third meaning is that it is a corpse revived this way.6 Thus, all the meanings of the word, the snake, the magic, the living dead, can be applied to Voldemort. So maybe snakes are more deeply involved in Voldemort’s “immortality.” Anyway, the African prince didn’t like zombies (even if this is a story fabricated by Quirrell) which is perhaps a hint that our prince will also be in the anti-Voldemort camp… Since the purple turban was a supposed gift for getting rid of the zombie, I wonder if Harry who will vanquish the Dark Lord will receive a noble gift from the HBP.
In the thread 7 tasks, 7 books, there were a few interesting interpretations of the purple and black fires of the sixth task. The posters ‘lupislune’ and ‘grammer’ associated the black fire with the veil through which Sirius fell, and saw it as a symbol of death. ‘Fea’ thought that the black fire might mean the death of Dumbledore, and she also associated the purple fire with Dumbledore as we see him at times wearing purple robes. She thought that Harry would move from Dumbledore’s tutorial to Snape’s and the black veil would indicate this transfer. ‘Lilducky04’ made the royalty connection: “Or wait… purple… the color of royalty??? THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE??” I will make an argument for Dumbledore being represented by the double fire doors and being the HBP, although I could be wrong, given the divergent signs in the books. ‘Ryan MacDougall’ definitely managed to make me wonder about Caradoc Dearborn with his excellent editorial Patterns and Princes. I suppose we’ll learn soon enough!
I gave a few arguments for Dumbledore being the HBP in Heirs and Inheritances. In this editorial, I will only focus on the “double door” argument. The “Double Door” part of Dumbledore’s name could be a hint he is a “Half-Blood” (or Double-Blood: you can see the glass as half-empty or half-full!). It could also be a hint that some “double door” we’ve seen in the books refers to Dumbledore. Perhaps the two fire doors are where we need to look. As I reread the first book, I noticed that at Halloween, when the Troll is let out, Dumbledore lets explode “several purple firecrackers” from the tip of his wand (SS/PS, Ch. 10 “Halloween”). Thus we see purple fire associated with Dumbledore. It is true that “a streak of what looked like purple flame” was also a curse aimed by a Death Eater at Hermione (OotP, Ch. 35 “Beyond the Veil”). That is the tricky beauty of Potterverse. But we have seen the color purple and the element of fire both associated with Dumbledore more than once. His pet is Fawkes, the fire bird. In CoS, Fawkes bursts into a “fireball” right before Dumbledore walks through his office door (Ch. 12 “The Polyjuice Potion”). Dumbledore gives the gift of Gubraithian fire to the giants. He fights with fire in the MoM, and on one of the HBP covers. And fire is in general connected to members of the Gryffindor house: Hermione is excellent at conjuring blue flames. If the purple, fire, and door connections indicate that Dumbledore is our HBP, does that mean the black fire applies to him as well, since the two doors sprang up at the same time?
If Rowling places symbols in her book in order to make us anticipate what is to come, she also places red herrings. It’s sometimes difficult to tell which part of the symbol Rowling wanted us to pay attention to, as there are many details that can be interpreted in divergent ways. I’ll give a few other possible interpretations of these two fire doors. It’s also important to notice that one symbol can have multiple meanings so that all these interpretations don’t necessarily cancel each other out.
On the back of the HBP cover, we see two hands that are connected by the fire element. That part may have nothing to do with Dumbledore since the hands look rather young (less than 40 years old I think, even the older looking one). But the fact that there are two hands, and that fire connects them makes me remember those two fire doors of the sixth task that sprang up at the same time. Maybe the doors signified there will be an alliance between the black and the purple in the HBP, whomever the colors represent (one is likely to be the prince).
7 tasks, 7 books. Considering that the purple door was a way back and away from danger, and the black door was a way forward and into danger, and that the notion of choices was emphasized in that sixth room (the solver of the puzzle had to choose not only the bottle that was not poison but one that would take him/her either forward or back), ‘Blacklabel’ noticed: “There’s also in HBP the heavy theme of choices regarding what’s difficult and what’s easy. It’s possible Harry is presented with an ‘out’ in the form of the Half Blood Prince (purple flames) so that he does not have to face Voldemort to fulfill the prophecy… that’d be easy for him. More difficult would be to move forward to face him and possibly face death (black flames).”
I have wondered if the black flame also has something to do with the black cracked ring on the HBP back cover (some people claim to see purple in the ring but all I see is black). If the black flame reminds us of the black veil, that is, of death, and if the ring is black and cracked (like a double door), and makes us think of (partial) destruction, should we be thinking of Sirius Black? I got this strange idea upon looking at the cracked ring. I think the ring cracked magically when Sirius, the last member of the Black family, died. His death also meant the end of the Black family. The cracked ring makes me think of the veil in the temple that was ripped when Jesus gave his last breath. I find it interesting that once the cracks of the ring are joined, it seems there is a crest with a serpent on it as the poster Harry Potter showed with a picture in the thread Unfogging the Half-Blood Prince Cover Art V2. I’m sure there are other candidates for the honor, but I can put my hand in the fire that the Black family had serpents on its crest. We know they had a heraldic crest: it is on their china, on their silver goblets, and, get this, on a ring: “When Sirius wrested a large golden ring bearing the Black crest from his grip Kreacher actually burst into furious tears […]” (OotP, Ch. 6 “The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black”). Snakes seem to be a symbol of choice for this “most noble” family: “The silver door knocker was in the form of a twisted serpent“; “Both the chandelier and the candelabra on a rickety table nearby were shaped like serpents”; “the bedroom doorknob […] was shaped like a serpent’s head […]” (Ch. 4 “Number 12, Grimmauld Place”).
It is not unlikely that this ring will come to be in Harry’s possession, and that Harry will keep it as a memory of Sirius. What makes the memory even more meaningful is that the crack also resembles Harry’s scar. That way, in the future, Harry’s scar could disappear, but Harry’s identity and the memory of the scar would be preserved in the ring. Like the Dark Mark on the DEs skin that was replaced by the fake galleons in the DA members’ pockets, the scar on Harry’s forehead would be replaced by the crack in Harry’s inherited ring. Such a ring as a keepsake would be a powerful memory. The crack in the ring would be an image of the pain that Harry has suffered. The crack is also a sign of separation. The ring would be very painful, but at the same time, a material memory of someone Harry loved and lost: Sirius. It would be Harry’s choice what to do with the ring. I don’t know if he would pull a Frodo and throw it away. His keeping it could be a positive sign of future unity between Gryffindor and Slytherin (there are serpents on that crest, and he would be wearing them).
To return to my double fire doors, I have considered the possibility that they refer to Snape, since he set the sixth task, but I don’t think he is the HBP and I don’t want him to die… Snape the double door could mean that he is a double spy, but I also have a hard time thinking that. Of course, if we are to read the symbol of the “double doors” carefully, we might remember that in Saint Mungo’s Harry catches sight of Lockhart peering out (“his nose pressed against the glass“) through a window set in “double doors,” and this image seems to allow for an association between spying and double doors, leading to the idea of double-spying. Putting that together with the purple and black fire, we would get something like Snape is spying on the “purple” and the “black” (Dumbledore and the Dark Lord?). Deep down, I think or hope Snape will end up doing the good thing after working through his issues. There are enough Death Eaters out there that are horrible through and through. If Peter has a shot at being saved (but I’m afraid he’ll have to die for the honor) surely Snape ought to have one too, especially after we felt sorry for him in the Pensieve.
But just to give the idea of double-spying at least a bit of consideration, Snape made two sudden suspicious movements in GoF, one of which I haven’t been able to explain to even myself: the second one. The first was to grab his arm when Mad-Eye Crouch talked about spots that don’t come off. The second was to move suddenly when Harry started giving Fudge the names of DEs at the end of GoF:
‘Look, I saw Voldemort come back!’ Harry shouted. […] ‘I saw the Death Eaters! I can give you their names! Lucius Malfoy-‘
Snape made a sudden movement, but as Harry looked at him, Snape’s eyes flew back to Fudge.
(GoF, Ch. 36 “The Parting of the Ways”)
What does Lucius Malfoy mean to Snape? Was that a protective movement on Snape’s part, kind of like trying to stop Harry from giving Lucius’s name? Why would he want to protect Malfoy? Or was Snape trying to stop Harry from making some kind of tactical mistake (i.e. he didn’t want Malfoy to know that he had been recognized?) Maybe Snape is spying on Malfoy? Or did Snape somehow feel guilty? His first movement with Mad-Eye Crouch did seem to stem from the guilt of having the dark mark (it could have also been that the mark gave a real twinge just at that moment; or it could have been the shock of realizing Moody could see through everything, even through Snape’s cloak, all the way to the mark).
But how could Snape feel guilty about Malfoy being mentioned as a DE? Some people might think this means Snape was in the graveyard and that he was worried Harry recognized him too like he did Malfoy. I doubt it. I think Snape is the one Voldemort says will be killed (Karkaroff being the obvious coward, trembling throughout GoF, and Mad-Eye Crouch the obvious loyal one). There are too many questions raised by Snape’s being at the graveyard for it to be a plausible idea. I think Snape’s mystery and present method of spying are something else. Still, Snape’s suspicious movements coupled with Rowling’s warning that we should keep an eye on him given his DE past may indicate after all that something funny is going on. Is Snape a “double door” with split loyalties?
Doors remain an integral part of the obstacle courses in the books that follow. I have discussed some of the doors in CoS in the editorial Heirs and Inheritances. Besides the doors leading to Dumbledore’s office, there was a sequence of doors leading to the Chamber, one of which was a double door. This door was marked by “two entwined serpents” on a seemingly “solid wall” that split when Harry spoke to it: “The serpents parted as the wall cracked open, the halves slid smoothly out of sight […]” (Ch. 16 “The Chamber of Secrets”). The cracking of this wall into two halves with two serpents makes me think of that cracked ring that reveals a serpent (or two?) when we put the halves together. I wonder if these two entwined serpents that become parted are a symbol of two Death Eaters that will split up, allowing Harry to progress. The two fire doors in the first book also marked a splitting between two people, between the one going “forward” and the one going “backward”: Harry and Hermione. But we know they split up only because they were in fact collaborating, like the two hands surrounded by fire are on the HBP cover. Considering this time we have two serpents splitting up, not two fires simultaneously springing up, I tend to think the serpent double door is more likely a symbol of division and the double fire doors a symbol of unity. Maybe Wormtail and Voldemort will be divided and will both slide out of sight (like a lot of us suspect). Are these two serpents that split up possibly connected to the smoke serpent that split into two serpents when Dumbledore said: “but in essence divided“?
In PoA, Rowling presents a truly impressive pair of doors, exposing an unexpected door in a very appropriate place. I am talking about the “back door” to Hagrid’s hut. We find out only in the third book that there is a “back way” to Hagrid’s hut, a “door into his back garden” (PoA, Ch. 16 “Professor Trelawney’s Prediction”). How is it that Hagrid’s hut, of all places, the one described as a single room, still manages to have new doors to reveal by Book 3? Rowling picked well her moment. It is also in PoA that we find there is a “way back” in time. And in fact, the moment when the trio does go back in time is the same as the moment when the original trio went to Hagrid’s hut. The time-turning sequence is centered on the goings and outgoings of this hut and its two doors. (I might mention that another door sealed the time-turning sequence also, the door to the hospital ward that Dumbledore was going to lock.) I remember being surprised by Hagrid’s back door that I hadn’t seen before. That time when the kids were stuck under their invisibility cloak with no place to move and Fudge and Lucius sniffing around, there was no suggestion that they could have slipped out the back way. And suddenly in the third book they can. Then, the back door seems magically to seal again, when the kids are stuck as Umbridge walks in. Hagrid’s hut, with its front door and back door both opening in the third book, becomes symbolic of the two-way movement in time, forward and backward. So space is relative to time in these books… Anyway, it appears that Rowling inserted Hagrid’s second door in this book for a meaningful reason.
Moving on to GoF, surprisingly the tasks do not appear to involve any doors. Perhaps only the dragon task might qualify as such. It tested nerve and courage, and the toughest thing by far may have been just to exit the tent door and face the dragon (no tent door is mentioned, only an “entrance,” but we are painfully aware of it). Otherwise, the doors seem to have disappeared. The open lake in which Harry must dive is unlike the Hogwarts water pipes and their doors to the Chamber. The maze is dangerously door-free, with all manner of nasty creatures moving about. However, when Harry is picked as the fourth Champion, Dumbledore says something very interesting to him:
‘Well… through the door, Harry,’ said Dumbledore. He wasn’t smiling.
(GoF, Ch. 17 “The Four Champions”)
Considering that the first obstacle course of the series took place in the chapter called “Through the Trap Door,” this phrasing of Dumbledore’s, “through the door,” seems important to me. Rowling maintains the door connection between the other obstacle courses and the fourth book. This time we have a real trap door, in the sense that Harry is magically trapped. He has been chosen against his will as a champion, and he must compete. That is why Dumbledore is not smiling. Maybe we ought to have seen the trap and kept our eyes open on all possible doors of the competition.
We find a couple of golden “trap doors” within the maze and they seem to form a pair. The first one is the golden mist through which Harry must step twice. If he doesn’t have the courage to take that second step, he’ll be trapped upside down inside it. This “door” in a sense also functions as a mirror, reflecting the world inverted. The second door is the golden Triwizard cup. It is not technically a door, but a key, a portkey (but a metonymical door because keys open doors7). And in fact, this was the true trap door, the very last step of the tournament. Harry will have to step through this door twice as he did through the golden mist, once into the trap of the graveyard, and the second time out and back to Hogwarts. So the maze, which in itself symbolizes a trap, contained within it two golden traps (traps that contained both the danger and the solution to the danger in one).
With the trap doors of “Stone,” “Chamber,” and “Goblet” (and let us not forget that in PoA, when the trio enters the Shrieking Shack, Ron says as Harry walks through the door: “Harry, it’s a trap-” but that was just a “mousetrap”), by the time we got to the fifth book, the moment we saw the door in Harry’s dreams we should have thought “trap, trap, trap.” In OotP we see nothing but doors, doors, doors. In and out of Harry’s dreams weave these doors from the beginning of the book to its end, especially the first door that is the entrance to the DoM, and before which Harry stands longingly in many a nighttime vision. This return of the door coupled with Harry’s desire to reach beyond it reminds me of Harry’s repeated trips to the Mirror of Erised and his desire to reach the people inside it. The door visions culminate in their materialization and multiplication in the constantly revolving and rearranged 16 doors of the DoM. Here, surrounded by doors on all sides and framed by a doorway, walking into a room with a door into the beyond in the middle, walks Dumbledore, hailed by Neville’s shouts: “Dubbledore! DUBBLEDORE!” It is the context of doors surrounding Dumbledore’s distorted name along with the double doors and the name of Janus mentioned earlier in the same book and the theme of doors and double doors running throughout the series that makes me do a double-take on this name Dubbledore… I think we are supposed to keep our eyes open on double doors.
There is also a “double mirror” in the series that Harry tries to use to communicate with Sirius after he fell through the curtain: the “two-way mirror.” I wonder if this double mirror will prove in some way to be a “double door.” One pair of mirrors that I did not discuss in my last editorial Harry’s Dreams, Part II: Wizard Dreams is that of the first and the last mirrors: the mirror associated with the beginning of the wizard dreams and the one associated with their ending. They were both associated with boxes in which Harry keeps his clothes and things: the wardrobe and the trunk. The first was in the wardrobe: “He turned on the lamp beside him, scrambled out of bed, crossed the room, opened his wardrobe, and peered into the mirror on the inside of the door” (GoF, Ch. 1 “The Riddle House”). The second ends up at the bottom of Harry’s trunk, and we see Harry “throwing his things pell-mell into the trunk on top of the broken mirror.” My question is, why does the first mirror have a door on its back, and the last mirror a window built into it? Is there a symbolic meaning to these mirrors and their connection to doors and windows?
The fact is, we have had mirror miracles in the climax of nearly every book: in SS/PS we had Harry’s reflection in the Mirror of Erised give Harry secretly the stone; in PoA we had the future Harry give the past Harry the courage and confidence to produce a powerful Patronus; in GoF, the meeting of the twin wands of Harry and Voldemort produced the Priori Incantatem effect and the shadows of Voldemort’s victims helped Harry escape. More difficult to identify are the mirrors in CoS and OotP, but they are there. I think the mirror in CoS was Gryffindor’s sword. When Harry is not sure about his identity (whether he should be in Slytherin or not), Dumbledore invites him to look at the sword, as if it were a mirror, to see who he truly is (in fact, the sword is made of silver, like a mirror). The sword appeared miraculously, like a gift, in the sorting hat (which played the role of a door), and helped Harry kill the basilisk. The “miracle mirror” in OotP is even tougher to place, but I think I have found it, too. Harry’s own heart is his mirror. At a time when his identity is more threatened than ever when Voldemort is possessing him, using his mouth to speak, passing on to him his thoughts and feelings, Harry remembers to consult his heart when he thinks of Sirius, and in it he sees feelings that are entirely his own, the hope to see Sirius again. When Harry thus sees himself, in the mirror of his heart, the greatest miracle of the book occurs: he obtains the gift of the power that the Dark Lord knows not. Because of this power, Voldemort departs and leaves Harry alone, though the open “door” of Harry’s mind has not been closed by Occlumency.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent, but I think mirrors and double doors are related to each other because of the phenomenon of doubling which is important to the series. The gift exchange that takes place between Harry and his “reflections” also indicates that these are no ordinary mirrors, but some kind of doors, or thresholds. Harry’s scar is also a mirror, a window, and a door. The scar is related to the phenomenon of doubling, as it is the mark through which the fateful pair of the Dark Lord and the One was forged, and we know this mark involved the creation of certain echoes of Voldemort’s powers in Harry. Harry’s scar has proved to be a two-way street and a double-edged sword. It is one of our double doors.
I would like to conclude my discussion of double doors with a comment on the last two chapter titles of GoF, the book that Rowling said was pivotal to the series. These titles make me think of the god Janus. There are two legendary details I haven’t mentioned about Janus, besides his being represented with two heads facing in opposite directions:
Janus also has a temple at Rome with double doors, which they call the gates of war; for the temple always stands open in time of war, but is closed when peace has come.
(Plutarch, “Life of King Numa”. See Janus.)
Some scholars regard Janus as the god of all beginnings and believe that his association with doorways is derivative. He was invoked as the first of any gods in regular liturgies. The beginning of the day, month, and year were sacred to him. The month of January was named for him.8
The chapter titles are “The Parting of the Ways” and “The Beginning.” It seems to me that when people become divided as the Ministry and the Order are in “The Parting of the Ways,” the symbolic “gates of war” of the god Janus have been opened, ushering in the “Beginning,” over which Janus also presides: the beginning of war. This beginning is also a return of the old war along with Voldemort. The face of Janus looks both towards the future and the past. An echo of the past war is heard in the last chapter of OotP that echoes the last chapter of GoF: “The Second War Begins.” Maybe Neville’s yells of “Dubbledore! DUBBLEDORE!” were an indication that the double doors of Janus are now officially opened. Dumbledore has arrived. Voldemort is coming. The second war has begun.
Considered as symbols of Janus, the numerous doors opening dangerously in OotP, including Harry’s scar (the door that would not close) emphasize the war that is about to start. Harry’s scar, like the double doors of Janus, opens up as the threat of the second war approaches… The Centaurs have read the signs of the approaching war in the night sky, noticing that Mars is bright. But let us not forget Janus. Perhaps, when peace will return, the door that “started it all,” the scar, will finally be closed, as a sign of peace and unity, like the two halves of the cracked ring being reunited. Will the scar be sealed? Dumbledore said “He’ll have that scar forever” (SS/PS, Ch. 1 “The Boy Who Lived”). Is he right? Maybe Harry will have the scar forever but in the form of the cracked ring.
1 I will refer to chapter numbers rather than page numbers from now on, to make it easier to find quotes for readers with different editions than mine. I am also beginning to think that recalling the chapter will be more conducive to remembering the context.
2 Both the entrance to the hallway and the Great Hall are described with the singular “door” in SS/PS but described and/or named as double doors in OotP. Is it possible that the idea of the double door as a symbol came to Rowling later as she wrote? Did she make the “mistake” on purpose, wanting to indicate that a “splitting” occurred later on (as the snake that became two snakes, “but in essence divided?”). I will show that double or doubled doors are meaningful in the series, however.
3 American Heritage Dictionary.
4 Mythology experts please wait until the end for more about Janus.
5 Double doors are doors with two halves, but I believe the author can play with the meaning of double and have a double door mean a door connecting two worlds or serving two functions or being in any other way “double.”
6 American Heritage Dictionary.
7 A metonymy is generally speaking a literary figure in which a part of an object designates the whole. There are many different types of metonymy (part-whole, container-contained, cause-effect, etc.).
8 Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature.