Obligatory Harry Potter predictions post
Well, it’s now less than two months’ time to the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and everybody and their mother are posting their theories and predictions. And though I have arrived lately to the fun (I didn’t think much of the early books when I read them for the first time, and only became a true fan after the sixth), I don’t want to miss the chance of embarrassing myself with confident predictions that will be shattered to pieces when we read that “the Giant Squid is actually the world's largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and...” (as Rowling has whimsically said)
So, let’s go. There are two main points of controversy among fans: whether Harry is or not a Horcrux, and whether Snape is Good or Evil.
On the first, I am quite sure that he is. Dumbledore’s theory that the snake Nagini is the sixth Horcrux is an obvious red herring; it struck me as dodgy even the first time I read it. Harry being a Horcrux explains too many things:
1) The strange and unnatural scar is likely a mark left by the Horcrux-creating spell, and probably the precise locus where the soul fragment is enclosed.
2) The telepathic connection with Voldemort, which is natural and expected if they share parts of the same soul.
3) The transmission of Parselmouth power to Harry.
4) The fact that Harry could destroy so easily Riddle’s diary in CoS, while the much wiser and abler Dumbledore lost a hand trying to destroy the ring Horcrux. It is likely that the curses with which Voldemort protected the Horcruxes would not act against the same soul they harboured.
5) The fact that Voldemort couldn’t sustain possession of Harry at the end of OoTP. It is likely that something goes screwy if you try to put together again the two disjointed soul fragments.
6) The fact that in HBP Voldemort orders the Death Eaters not to kill Harry, as we know courtesy of Snape.
The way I see things, Voldemort had planned to use the murder of baby Harry as means to create his last Horcrux, as Dumbledore surmised. The spell went wrong thanks to Lily’s sacrifice and Voldemort’s original body was killed (what happened to it, by the way? It was not found. Did Pettigrew dispose of it? It’s difficult to believe he would have cared to.) but the Horcrux was created anyway. Voldemort didn’t realise this at first, and that’s why he implied to the Death Eaters in the graveyard scene in GoF that he had not archived immortality yet; he thought he needed one more Horcrux to have the magical number of seven soul-parts. He still hadn’t discovered the truth by the end of OoTP, when he tried to kill Harry with an Avada Kedavra. He probably figured it out after the failed possession attempt, and that’s why in HBP he switches his attention to getting Dumbledore killed and gives explicit orders that the Death Eaters not kill Harry.
So, will Harry eventually have to sacrifice himself to destroy Voldemort? I’m afraid it is very likely. But Rowling has also said in an interview (upon asked about her religious beliefs) that she is a Christian but that “if she talked too freely about that any intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books”. Putting this clue together with the previous line of reasoning I conclude that we are heading for a resurrection scene. Of course, it may be that she was thinking only that Harry sacrifices himself to save the world, but I don’t really think so. It would be too gloomy an ending, and also contradict the Prophecy. It is more likely that he will intend to sacrifice himself, but somehow only the fragment of Voldemort’s soul is killed while Harry miraculously survives, perhaps after passing by dead for some time. I also think (hope?) it is unlikely that Ron, Hermione or Ginny will take a bullet, although the future looks very dark indeed for Hagrid.
Now, about Snape. The first thing here is that the “Evil Snape” scenario that Harry and his friends accept at the end of HBP does not hold water for a second. There are too many indications that Dumbledore had arranged with Snape that he should kill him if the situation came to a crisis in which there was no other way out. Let’s go through the main arguments:
a) Hagrid overheard a discussion in which Dumbledore ordered Snape to do something Snape seemed to be reluctant to do. This did not receive any explanation by the end of the book. The most reasonable theory is that the order was to kill Dumbledore if it came to be necessary to preserve Snape’s status as spy, and indeed his life, since he had made an Unbreakable Vow.
b) Dumbledore obviously knew everything about the Unbreakable Vow and Draco’s mission; this is made clear both by his nonchalant reaction to Harry’s information about the conversation he overhead between Snape and Draco, and by his conversation with Draco himself in the tower. He knew it from Snape (from who else?) Snape would not have told him about all this if he was really Voldemort’s servant.
c) Dumbledore’s plea “Severus… please…” only makes sense as a plea to kill him. Dumbledore would not have begged for his life, and the alternative theory that he was begging to Snape not to kill him, for the sake of Snape himself, is still unconvincing. If Dumbeldore had believed up to that moment Snape that Snape was on his side, why would he plea not to kill him? He would have expected him to tackle the Death Eaters instead.
d) Snape’s extreme reaction against Harry calling him “coward”, which makes sense if he has just done something very brave.
e) Snape only taunting Harry but not hurting him with any serious curse when he has him at his mercy.
f) We still haven’t discovered the reason why Dumbledore trusted Snape’s loyalty (it is not, as Harry assumed, just remorse on being cause of the death of James and Lily. Dumbledore never said that nor even implied it, if you read carefully.) We must be explained that in Book 7, and from a storytelling standpoint it would be all wrong if we were explained this point that was a key secret for the whole series in a context of “ha, that fool Dumbledore believed this!”
These arguments and other ones have convinced the majority of fans that Snape is “good”, and I have seen many an essay that portraits him as a loyal agent of Dumbledore, courageous and selflessly dedicated to the task of vanquishing Voldemort. I have difficulty picturing him in this heroic role. As he is portrayed in the books, he is petty, jealous, unfair, vindictive, and often sadistic, not only with Harry but with all his students except a few Slytherins. This ambiguity is, of course, the reason that makes him so fascinating.
My view of Snape is that he is an essentially self-centred person who does not live by ideals of good and evil, but simply tries to survive. He may care for a few other people (his concern for Draco seems genuine and not exclusively motivated by his Vow) but he does not care for saving the world from evil or anything like that. I would speculate his strongest desire is to be free from teaching stupid kids and be able to study the Dark Arts at leisure. Not for desire of power, but just because they fascinate him. Snape is not a Dark Arts freak; he is a Dark Arts geek. After signing up with the Death Eaters and seeing what it was all about he changed his mind, because no matter how much he hated and craved revenge on a few people like James Potter and Sirius Black, he did not have a taste for having absolute power over everyone or making everyone suffer. He just wanted everyone to leave him alone. And he was intelligent enough to realise that under Voldemort’s thumb he would be even less free that under Dumbledore’s.
So he sought Dumbledore’s protection to try to get out safely of the Death Eaters gang, and he found he was trapped. Because he was in an ideal position to spy for Dumbledore, and could not refuse his insistence to do so; besides, he could not openly leave the DEs or they would have killed him. So he was forced since then to live as a double agent, a role he didn’t play out of heroism but out of necessity and for which, as an Occulmens, he was eminently suited. In HBP he was under terrible pressure from all sides (Voldemort, Dumbledore and the Vow he made to Narcissa) and finally had no option but to kill Dumbledore, which was where all three sources of pressure pressed towards.
Dumbledore didn’t care to continue living once he had put Harry on the track to destroy the Horcruxes, and thought Snape’s life was much more important than his to provide “inside help” to Harry in his mission. But Snape did not want to be put in this situation. He lost his protector, and is forced to fight alone now playing his role with Voldemort and having to hide from the rest of the world who sees him as a murderer. Moreover, he has (at least, on Dumbledore’s orders) to assist Harry and provide him with the help he requires to play his role as Chosen One and destroy Voldemort. And Snape sincerely and utterly loathes and despises Harry. He has been forced by circumstances and Dumbledore’s plans into a position he never wanted to be in, to play a role which he hates but sees no other option than performing. He is not a “born hero” as Harry is: he has been thrust into a hero’s place against his will. That’s why he could feel sincere hatred and revulsion when he cast the Avada Kedavra at Dumbledore, and that’s why he got into a frenzy at being called coward. He is now unstable and unpredictable. He may still overcome himself and help Harry as Dumbledore wanted, but he may also snap and try to play his own game against both Voldemort and Harry, or even switch sides to Voldemort at the last moment.
As you see, even after having reconstructed his whole story and (I believe!) successfully puzzled out the riddle of his character I am still unable to predict what role will he play on the final denouement and what his end will be. I used to think he would die a noble and “redeeming” death sacrificing himself for Harry, but I realised later that this role or a very similar one is already reserved for Peter Pettigrew. At the moment I am inclined to think he will grudgingly do the right thing, stand on Harry’s side, and that after destroying Voldemort both will be forced at the end to revise their view of each other, admit their respective virtues, and thus take a large step in growing up. (For all his cleverness, Snape is very immature in many ways –witness his petty taunts against Sirius in OoTP, and his behaviour towards Harry in the whole series just on behalf of his father.) This –Harry coming to terms with adulthood in forgiving and accepting a matured Snape- could make an excellent ending if it is played well. But perhaps I am being too optimistic -this would be an ending too rosy for the darkness that has encompassed the series lately, wouldn't it?
Well, I have many more ideas, but you really must be tired of hearing them. What are your own predictions?