Through Harry’s Eyes
I am a frequent and avid reader of all the MuggleNet editorials and columns, but particularly The Underground Lake. I love Brandon’s theories and ideas, and am an avid supporter of many of them. However, there is one point that I diverge from. One of his constant sayings is Hindsight is 20/20. I very much understand where he’s coming from, but that statement isn’t right. In fact, I didn’t realize how wrong it was until just recently. Let me explain.
This year, I’m taking Advanced Placement U.S. History. One of the documents we had to read was an article concerning the commerce of colonial America. The only reason I mention this is because the author brought up a revolutionary point.
In the domain of history a shift in the angle of observation will often bring into view new and important vistas and will create such new impressions of old scenes as to alter our ideas of the whole landscape. In the case of colonial history this statement is peculiarly true. Viewing the colonies as isolated units of government and life, detached in the main from the larger world of England and the Continent, leads us to ignore those connections that constituted the colonial relationship in which commerce played a most important role.
–Charles M. Andrews, The Economy of Colonial America: Commerce
What the author is saying, in a nutshell, is that hindsight is not always beneficial. For instance, those of you who have taken American History as taught in most public schools will know that the most emphasized things in American colonial history are the forerunners of the future country — the emergence of freedom of religion, self-government, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc. However, if you think about it, colonists living in 1750 did not walk around thinking that they would be the starting point for a new country. Patriotism of that kind was still uncertain when the Declaration was written in 1776.
In other words, reading history backwards — knowing how the story comes out — we often read it wrong to our own disadvantage. It didn’t strike me until a few days later, when I was impatiently re-reading the Preview of Season Two of the Underground Lake that it applies not only to history, but to Harry Potter as well.
In a way, hindsight is highly beneficial. It allows us to look at things in a totally different light. We suddenly see the clues that Jo has planted carefully throughout the book, and we can make sense of them, and connect them to the information we learned in the twist at the end.
But it also misleads us, causing us to jump to conclusions that are really not practical, and label points as apparent when theyre really not. How many of us at the end of Book 1 thought it was obvious that Snape was not out to kill Harry? Or that Malfoy was not the Heir of Slytherin? Didn’t we all know in the first place that Sirius Black was never a Death Eater, Karkaroff sure as hell didn’t put Harry’s name in the Goblet, and that those two dementors that attacked in Magnolia Crescent were not just random escapees from Azkaban?
Of course we didn’t. We were all scratching our heads as we read. But now we know. And now is when things start to get messed up.
Take the so-called fake chapters that Jo has planted. In SS/PS, by the end of the first chapter, we already know of the existence of Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Rubeus Hagrid. We know that two people called the Potters were killed by another guy by the name of Voldemort, but most people call him You-Know-Who. This You-Know-Who is very powerful, but Dumbledore was the only person he was ever afraid of. And now You-Know-Who is gone, the Potters are dead, and their infant son named Harry is being delivered to his little-known relatives, the Dursleys. The next chapter opens. Harry is a strange, oddball orphan living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, and his parents were killed in a car crash. Not to mention we hear that a man named Sirius Black has a motorbike that he lent to Hagrid — and Harry won’t hear about Sirius for two more years.
It’s easy to blame Harry for not knowing that Voldemort is coming back in GoF — without remembering that he forgot his dream about Frank Bryce almost instantly, while we have the entire chapter to refer back to. And we want to smack Ron and Hermione for not listening to Harry’s insistence that Malfoy is a Death Eater, not recalling that they weren’t present at Spinner’s End to witness the Unbreakable Vow.
But how does this relate to the release of HBP?
In a thousand different ways. The main point Im looking at is the million points of view were examining as we theorize. For most of the books, were looking through the Harry filter, but by now, we have four whole chapters worth of events that Harry has no clue about. We also are outside the book, re-reading the pages time and time again. We have our own observations in the details Harry sees but doesn’t recognize the significance, outside resources, extra hints and tidbits from JKR, and a thousand new theories a day.
But I’m sure you know this already. What difference does it make that Im just now pointing it out? Compare this to Harry, for instance. He’s just living life as it comes, trying to figure things out as he goes along. And of course, he could benefit from having a chat with any one of us that would warn him about what we think is coming. Most unfortunately, he doesn’t have time for that. This means that even though 98% of our information comes from Harry, a majority of our conclusions are drawn when we pull the information far out of his perspective.
To me, its like the difference between persuasion and manipulation. Persuasion, you present your facts and deviate your arguments from them in a straightforward manner. But when things are presented out of context, it becomes manipulation. We are bringing Harry’s world out of context, and in the process, manipulating him. Yet, somehow I dont think he’ll be logging onto MuggleNet anytime soon to read articles Muggles have written about what his future holds. He’s gotten enough of that balderdash from Rita Skeeter and The Daily Prophet, dont you think?
So no matter what camp you belong to on the subject of Dumbledore’s death, we should be able to all agree on what Harry thinks — that Severus Snape killed him, and ran off to finally rejoin his true loyalties. Although many of us think there has to be something more to Dumbledores reasons for trusting Snape, we must remember that Harry believes Snape just laid down an act of regret for passing the prophecy on.
However much you want Harry to assassinate Voldemort with a bladvak, remember that hes Harry. I’m sure you don’t remember every detail of the last six years of your life — why would he remember that tiny tidbit in his conversation with Bagman over two years ago at the end of Half-Blood Prince?
So, as for those absolutely ridiculous theories? A lot of imagination was involved, I’m sure. But does that make them worthwhile? As for shipping, I lost faith in it years ago, and fanfiction never really flew with me, either.
Face it, guys. This series isn’t about you, it’s about Harry. The sooner we can start really looking through his eyes, the sooner we can start making sense of his world, and what his future might hold.