Reality Conditions

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Obligatory Harry Potter predictions post

(Warning: this post contains huge spoilers for all the already published Harry Potter books. And perhaps for the seventh as well, though I’d rather wish not, and be surprised…)

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?

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10 Comments:

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    EQUATIONS, DIFFERENTIAL

    By Blogger Ash, at 5:30 AM, May 29, 2007  

  • I do not think Harry will die, he does realize he is the last horcrux towards the end and HE and LV have a final battle and somehow when he kills LV he extracts the Horcrux out of himself because the Horcrux can not live with so much love inside which is probably why a person should not be a Horcrux.
    Snape is definately evil. I thought that from book 1. Anyone that can be that bad to a student, he was angry be/c he was the fall of the "Dark Lord" Only people who were on LV's side would call him that. Snape will not sacrifice himself, I don't even think Peter will. Snape will probably kill Peter. There is a reason why he is a sneaky rat.
    As for someone who does magic late in life...Dudders. But I am not sure if he will protect Harry or if the family will kick him out of the house before he is of age.
    I don't think JKR has it in her to kill HP, RW, or HG. But maybe one or more of the weasleys?
    I am hoping that Minerva lives, but I think Lupin and Moody may die...Poor Tonks, I really wanted them to hhave a chance...I Cant wait till the book comes out!!
    HARRY LIVES...LV DIES...SNAPE IS EVIL

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:33 AM, May 29, 2007  

  • Yours is the best (i.e. closest to mine) prediction I've seen online. I wanted to add a few points for thought: 1. I think there's something connected with Harry's mom and Snape. Remember when their potions teacher in book 6 (i forgot his name) kept telling Harry that his potion solutions reminded him of his mom? Harry was using Snape's book. Perhaps Snape had a mad crush on Harry's mom, and gave her this book as well when they were back in Hogwarts. Snape seeing Harry with his mom's eyes and the rest looking like Snape's bully must've really eaten at him, which is another reason he despised Harry, but I think in the new book will be another reason he will protect Harry -- because of Harry's mom.
    2. I agree that Snape isn't on Voldemort's side. I think that the reason Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him wasn't so much about the 'snape has to keep his death eater disguise', it was that Dumbledore didn't want little Malfoy becoming a killer. He knew that Malfoy would be toast if he didn't do it, but he couldn't let that be something Malfoy did -- Malfoy's still just a boy. Snape agreed that if anything like that happened, he wouldn't let Malfoy commit that crime, that he'd do it for him. That confirmed Snape's agreement with Malfoy's mom, protecting Malfoy, and allowed JKR to show Snape's ultimate loyalty, by killing Dumbledore. The scene was shown from Harry's point of view, which made it seem more like Dumbledore was pleading for his life, but he was actually pleading for Snape to kill him so that Malfoy didn't have to.
    3. Neville, Neville, Neville. What was this whole thing about him possibly being part of the prophecy. So he isn't 'the chosen one', but why did Dumbledore even mention him? Why did JKR write that? I know that Voldemort made a self-fulfilling prophecy, but still.....I think there will be more to this Neville thing in book 7. If anything, I think Neville (longshot) is a horctux, OR (more likely) Neville does something nobile and self-sacrificing. I think Neville will be one of the main characters who dies. He's wonderful, innocent, sweet, noble, someone we can sympathize with, but we won't be completely messed up if he dies, like we would if Ron or Hermoine dies.
    4. Honestly, I'd rather Harry die than Ron/Hermoine. I guess because Harry always seemed marked for something like that, and Ron/Hermoine are just loyal friends, and it's unnecessarily tragic for them to die. But I don't think Harry, Hermione or Ron will die (mainly because that would totally suck, and that I am a Ron/Hermoine shipper), so I'm banking on the 'main' characters who might go will be: Voldemort (duh), Snape (nobile sacrifice, perhaps?), little Malfoy (after he becomes good of course), Neville and perhaps another good guy like Hagrid (that would suck too), Luna, one of the other Weasleys or someone else from the order of the phoenix. hmmmm...

    Anyway, god speed, hope you like the book!! I hope those nasty spoilers arent true and that JKR writes a really wonderful, moving, exciting, titillating, and redemptive final chapter. Thanks for your input!!

    By Anonymous yea!, at 3:41 AM, July 17, 2007  

  • This is an excellent piece of literary criticism. I made some predictions of my own but they were far more nebulous.

    You're right about Pettigrew, of course. Dumbledore spoke of the consequences of Harry having saved his life.

    I think you'll turn out to be very close on Snape as well. He's obviously a very complex character and after all "the world isn't divided into good people and death eaters." I can see the possibility of some sort of reconciliation between Snape and Harry, as you mentioned. However, I can't quite see Snape as being quite so selfish as you make him out. It makes sense that he sought a way out and that's way he went to Dumbledore, but I think he has a certian amount of personal honor, however poorly developed, that made him keep his contract with Dumbledore at the last moment, that made him take the Unbreakable Vow in the first place.

    By Blogger Alana Asby Roberts, at 3:42 PM, July 17, 2007  

  • Ooooooooh..... I did have lots of my own theories, but over the last few days I have read sooo many other amazing ideas I'm all confused!!!

    Snape: I'm really not sure. I kinda agree with your theory. I have a shrewd idea that he will turn over to the good side (god that sounds cheesey). I TOTALLY agree with yea! that there is a connection with Snape and Lily Potter. The thing with the pensive in OotP is highly relevant to his character.

    I also agree that Dudley will show magical powers, but this won't be that relevant to the plot.

    Wormtail is gonna have to repay that debt to Harry, possibly by self-sacrifice. My guess is he trys to attack Voldemort but being a crappy wizard he gets killed.

    The "Harry is a a Horcrux" theory isn't working for me. Doesn't make sense.

    As for deaths... well Harry isn't going to die ( at least I don't think so). You don't write a huge long series only to kill your main character. The whole book is about good over evil, and love, so I don't think she really could kill him. Voldie will get it. I HOPE Ron won't die, but if one of the trio gets it, it'll be him (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!). Lupin/Hagrid could possibly be for the chop, though that would be soooooo sad.

    A Weasley will die. Not Molly, 'coz she has to be really heart-tearingly sad about it. Not Fred/Gorge, 'coz they are too funny. Not sure about Ginny. Possibly Bill or Charlie. Hopefully Percy.

    Neville is gonna be a really important character. He might just die.

    Snape, whether good or evil, will die. If he's evil, I like the idea of Lupin killing him. If he's good, sacrifice type-thing.

    Malfoy will be pretty important too. So will Lily Potter. All the attention has been on James so far, but I think Lily will be HUGELY important!!!

    I really want to see Dumbledore's brother (Aberforth or somthing)in this somehow, for the sheer hell of it, but I'm not quite sure how that will work.

    I really hope Harry will return to Hogwarts, 'coz I LOVE that place.

    Anyway, great theories guys. But we'll probably all end up wrong, with JK throwing in some ridiculous twist at the end!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 AM, July 19, 2007  

  • Here is my prediction (I haven't read book 7 or any of the spoilers, so no risk of reading): Harry will definitely die because the only ending that makes sense is that Harry is, ultimately, reunited with his parents and other departed loved ones. There will be a remaining portrait of Harry, probably w/ his parents, that resembles him exactly except that the scar on his head is missing. Harry's mission from the day his parents were killed was to kill LV. (Harry probably is a Horacrux, but I'm not sure about that.) Once he kills LV - in whatever way he must do it - he is freed from the hero's task and can go to where he has always longed to go -- back to his family, his parents -- maybe passing through the Veil as Sirius did. As a final note, although I have been assuming that Snape will die in book 7, somehow, I am less sure of that now. Snape is definitely not on LV's side and will help defeat LV, but I'm not so sure he won't survive it all. I think Herm and Ron will live. Hagrid's probably a goner. Next to his parents, Sirius and Dumbledore, who does Harry love most? Hagrid. I'm afraid Hagrid's wearing the red shirt in Book 7 (maybe Hagrid will be the DADA prof in book 7 -- Hah!!)

    By Blogger Janet, at 8:24 PM, July 19, 2007  

  • OK, I've been looking for a place to post my predictions just so they are on record. You've got a great analysis so this saves me a lot of time!

    1. Like you said.

    2. Except that Snape betrayed Voldy, and will betray him again, **because he loved Lilly Potter**. Which is also why Dumbledore trusted him absolutely.

    3. You are right that Harry is a horcrux, and this happened when Voldemort's horcrux spell when his AK backfired. I bet that the horcrux-making spell requires Voldy to mark the horcrux victim, then kill him/her. The killing bit got messed up and Voldy's soul went into Harry rather than the horcrux. The mark was Harry's Scar. Conceivably just the scar could be the horcrux, but either way, removing or de-enchanting the scar is the way to de-horcruxify Harry without killing him. We might well *think* he has to die at some point, but then someone will figure out the trick for beating the scar.

    Other random predictions:

    People who will bite it: Voldy, Snape, Mad-eye Moody, Slughorn, most/all death eaters (Bellatrix at the hand of Neville), Kreacher (just after finishing his part in the plot of course), Voldy's snake, Pettigrew, some other minor Order of the Phoenix and auror-types

    Notables who will live despite speculation they will die:
    Harry, Hermione, the main Weasleys (minor Weasleys may get it, esp. the oldest brothers), Hagrid (why does everyone think Hagrid will get it?), Remus & Tonks (because JKR is a shipper. Ditto for Ron & Hermione, Harry & Ginny, even Hagrid and what's-her-name probably), Draco


    People who will betray Voldy in one way or the other at key points: Snape, Pettigrew, Draco (or Draco may betray Lucius).

    People who will betray Potter: Kreacher (& Harry will be saved by Dobby), the poor guy in the Order of the Phoenix

    Unexpected help for Harry: Above betrayers, Kreacher, Neville in some clever prophesy-fulfilling way, Dumbledore (in writing or painting or some such), Sirius (mirror or even something more -- his death was not standard and the HP5 movie dropped a big fat hint that he was coming back), Regulus Black (whether dead or alive)

    Plus in the grand concluding battle between good and evil that will almost certainly happen before/during the Potter/Voldy showdown, the following will help battle all the nasty baddies: Grawp, the centaurs, the house elves. Some bad forest critters but Hagrid's buddies will help the good guys. Probably dragons on both sides (why else have a Weasley working on dragons all this time). Probably in a battle surrounding Hogwarts or something. All of this building up of allies on each side hasn't been going on for no reason. The coolest would be if Voldy takes over Hogwarts as a fortess and the good guys have to assault it to get Voldy or the last Horcrux.

    Probably Hogwarts will be closed as a school during the book, and in the "happily ever after" bit at the end Harry and friends therefore to spend one more year at Hogwarts, in peace for once. Remus or Harry becomes the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

    By Blogger Nick, at 8:06 AM, July 20, 2007  

  • PS: Oh yes, almost forgot -- the "Z" scar is clearly actually a "V" with a flourish...we'll know in 24 hours I guess.

    By Blogger Nick, at 8:37 AM, July 20, 2007  

  • Oh, and Dumbledore's phoenix will appear and save Potter's tush once or twice.

    By Blogger Nick, at 8:42 AM, July 20, 2007  

  • Thanks to all who have commented! I'm afraid I was avoiding reading the comments in the last days for fear of spoilers and leaks. Now I have finished the book, and though of course I will not reveal the end, I will say that though there were a couple of disappointments (especially with how Snape was handled) the book generally lived up to expectations and even surpassed them on two or three counts.

    By Blogger Alejandro, at 10:42 PM, July 21, 2007  

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