Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Fuse #8 Production had a post yesterday regarding conspiray theories related to Dumbledore's death in the most recent Harry Potter book. Evidently some folks are hoping that we aren't really rid of him. Fuse links to a post at Petrona that includes the following: "My fellow JKR fans will know that I do not believe Dumbledore can be dead; my view is that Harry has to think that Dumbledore is dead so that Voldemort (who shares part of Harry's mind) is convinced of it. Thus in book 7, Dumbledore will be able to prepare for the final confrontation unimpeded, and also (maybe) help Harry in the quest to destroy the horocruxes."

My faithful readers are probably aware that I couldn't possibly care less about Dumbledore's fate. However, I can understand why Maxine at Petrona would feel the way she does. The Harry Potter plots are dependent upon characters lying. The stories move forward because characters lie, either overtly or through omission. It seems to be acceptable behavior in the Pottersphere. I'm not a Potter authority, but I'm guessing the only character to have noted that anyone lies is Snape. And who cares what he thinks?

Dumbledore, himself, told a whopper in an earlier book. I can't quote you chapter and verse, but in one book there is some kind of contest going on--perhaps between Harry's school and another wizard school. Harry is in some kind of race to free other students who are under water. He has been told that if he fails, someone will die. Dumbledore, himself, set up the rules.

Forgive me for not remembering exactly who. Please, someone who recalls this episode leave a comment.

Harry succeeds at his task, and after he's done, we find out that oh, of course, Dumbledore wasn't going to let anyone die. He just said he would.

I don't recall anyone objecting or complaining about this violation of trust.

The greatest representative of authority in the book lied to other characters and to the readers. To me, this was a big turning point in the Potter Saga--nothing in the world of these books could be believed. Anything that happens could end up being false.

We're not talking "Oh, magic and light! Anything can happen!" here. Writers create a universe when they write a book. They can create any kind of universe they want, but the universe has to have a certain order. There is no order in the Potterverse because you can't believe anything that happens.

Dumbledore has a history of lying, of tricking the people he is supposed to be responsible for. So it's very understandable that readers might believe that he's lying and playing an elaborate trick in this case, too.

Personally, I think it would be incredibly shabby if this turns out to be the case. But I can understand others believing it's going to happen.


Maxine Clarke said...

Thanks for the mention of my post, Gail.
I can see you are not a Potter fan! It is true in the Potter books that Dumbeledore does not tell Harry a lot of things that he could tell him. The incident to which you refer is in book 4, Harry believes that the people under water will die if he doesn't rescue them, but my memory (imperfect) is that it was not Dumbeldore but his fellow schoolmates (eg Ron) who told him that it was incorrect of Harry to have believed this.

In fact lots of people in the HP books don't lie, most notably Harry and most of his friends, Lupin, Sirius, etc. I am not sure that you are right to say Dumbledore actively lies, though I can't put my hand on my heart there, not having read the books that recently.

One of the many recurring themes in HP books are about Harry learning for himself rather than others telling him things. In the most recent book (6), Dumbledore has realised he was wrong to have tried to protect Harry, and spends a lot of the book telling Harry as many details as he remembers about the origins of Voldemort's evilness, and so on.

But at the end of the day, you like the books and enter into their logic, or you don't. Evidently you don't like them, which is fine, but it is also fine for others to like them. I personally do not like children's books, but HP snuck up on me. And, you have to admit, a uniquely large number of other people too, so there has to be something to be said for the books.

Maxine Clarke said...

PS meant to say "do not like reading children's books" -- I do like them! Just not to read myself. I think it is great that there are so many books out there that children love reading, and that this area of publishing is so active.

Gail Gauthier said...

You are right that it is fine for people to like the Potter books. To me, the very best thing about them is the excitement they create in their fans. Sadly, I find myself less and less excited with every book.

Though, I, too, can't put my hand on my heart regarding this issue, I do think Harry lies. In the very least, through omission--he doesn't tell adults about things he's investigating himself. He doesn't tell them about situations that could prove dangerous to himself and others. I can't recall any adult character ever picking up on this.

If he did tell the truth in situations where it seems logical for him to do so, the stories would come to a screeching halt. The plots can't seem to move forward without this kind of behavior.

To me, that seems weak plotting.

However, I don't think the fact that I dislike a book means the book shouldn't exist. There's a large family of Harry Potter fans who live next door to me, very nice, intelligent people. Clearly, they see something in the books that I don't.

Maxine Clarke said...

I don't think that lying is the same as not saying things. What teenager do you know who is open about what he or she is up to?

Harry is portrayed as a resentful and sullen person in books 5 and 6, as he feels he is patronised and treated like a child. He feels that the adults around him, Dumbledore, the Weasleys and their friends, do not tell him anything. Therefore he determines to do things his own way.

I don't think this is weak plotting.

But, as I say, each to his own. Of course the HP books aren't to everyone's taste, and they aren't written for adults anyway.

Gail Gauthier said...

Very true. Adults overanalyzing things.