Tag Archives: Voldemort

The Olympics have begun!

Standard

Before I get into this post I feel I need to apologize for my very inconsistent blogging lately. I’m going to lay the blame on summer and the craziness that always seems to attach itself to the season. I’m trying to get back into a routine, but with several big events still to come for me there is a good probability that I will miss another post here and there. But enough of that, let’s talk about the Olympics!

This past Friday night the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games aired. Talk about a frustrating night! If you’ve been following my blog, you know how excited I was for this event, and I almost missed it.

We were getting new cable and internet installed and the people who were supposed to install it were running late. Several hours late. Someone else was finally sent in and was able to get everything installed in record time, but we still missed about the first 15 minutes of the opening ceremonies.

I have no idea what kind of set up was given for the scene from Abraham Lincoln: Orc Hunter that we came in on, so I’m not entirely sure what it was supposed to represent. I had accidentally seen a few tweets from people who were watching it live earlier in the day who joked that it looked like Hobbiton, so all I could think of was the Shire and the fires of Mordor (eventually I will go back and watch the beginning). All joking aside, though, the scene was absolutely beautiful and I did really enjoy what I saw of it. And, of course, when I later learned that the grassy knoll they left out the entire time represented Glastonbury my nerd heart did a little jig.

I absolutely loved the section with the children and British literature. I squealed like a crazy person when Jo came out and read from Peter Pan and the gigantic Voldemort may have been the creepiest thing ever. But even aside from the Harry Potter moments, everything about this segment was fun and there were a ton of references that made me smile.

I’m not that big into music, especially music from before my childhood, so the digital journey section with all the music was not as exciting for me as it probably was for other people. I did, however, enjoy the dance numbers and I thought that the engineering of all the different components was quite impressive. The highlight for me, though, was when they slipped in the sound of the TARDIS during Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We may not have gotten the Doctor lighting the torch, but at least we Whovians got some kind of a nod.

Which brings me to the torch lighting – how cool was that?! First of all, that was a really neat gesture to have the younger generation of athletes light it. And second, that was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. I can’t even imagine how amazing that looked in person. Well done, London!

And now we are well into the first week of the 2012 Olympic games and there have already been some incredible achievements. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings continue to dominate in beach volleyball as they fight for their third Olympic gold medal, there have been victories (and disappointments) over at the pool, and for the first time since the “Magnificent Seven” did it back in 1996 our female gymnastics team won the gold. Yes, there has been much to cheer over and we haven’t even reached the halfway mark. I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!

Have you been watching the Olympics? What did you think of the opening ceremonies? What have been the most exciting medal wins for you? Let me know in the comments.

 

He Who Must Not Be Named

Standard

Hey everyone! I hope that all of you had a fantastic holiday. I certainly did and can’t wait to tell you all about it later this week. :)

My regular blog post for today will be coming out a little later on, but first I have something really fun to share with all of you. The wonderful Debra Kristi invited me to write a guest piece for her “Immortal Monday” blog series. I was incredibly honored to be asked and jumped at the chance to accept her offer.

For my post, I was able to write about one of my most favorite topics, the Harry Potter series, this time in the form of He Who Must Not Be Named. Be sure to pop over and check out my take on The Dark Lord’s bid for immortality. In case you are not convinced yet, I will give you a little teaser:

You Know Who, He Who Must Not Be Named, The Dark Lord, Tom Riddle, Voldemort – he goes by many names, but no matter which one you use nearly everyone will know exactly who you are talking about. In her Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling created one of the most complex and unforgettable villains around. The thing that has always fascinated me the most about Voldemort is, even though he has the stereotypical “bad guy” goals (take over the world, make everyone bow to his will, etc.), those do not serve as his primary driver. The thing that propels him forward in his bid for power, rather, is an overwhelming compulsion to defeat death. He wants to be immortal.

http://debrakristi.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/immortal-monday-%E2%98%85-he-who-must-not-be-named-%E2%98%85-guest-post-by-jessica-oneal/

 

The Characters of Harry Potter: Harry

Standard

This is the last week in my “Characters of Harry Potter” series. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. In case you have missed any of them, so far I have covered Ron, Hermione, and Neville. Even if you didn’t know from the title of this post, it would probably not be too hard to guess who I will be discussing today.

HARRY JAMES POTTER

One of the things that I love so much about the Harry Potter series is that J.K Rowling was able to create such a large cast of characters that I got to know and love. There are so many that I absolutely adore and have probably referred to at some point in time as my favorite. But I can only have one actual favorite character. For me, that character is Harry.

I am very aware that I am in the minority with this opinion and, to be honest, I don’t care. Harry, just like every other character that Jo created, is flawed in many ways. There are times when I want to smack him or hide my head in shame at his behavior, but I still love him. From the moment we first meet him in the small cupboard under the stairs he took my heart in his neglected little hands and never let go.

I tend to have a bit of a bleeding heart for those who face injustice and, goodness, Harry faces more than his fair share of injustice. From neglect bordering on abuse at his home to constant scrutiny and judgement by his peers to the bullying of “Professor” Snape to countless false accusations by peers as well as authority figures, Harry is plagued by unfair situations. In spite of all this, however, he somehow manages to to keep a surprisingly level head and never stops in his quest to defeat evil.

Ironically, the book that seems to turn people away from Harry the most is one that makes me love him more than ever and is my second favorite in the series: Order of the Phoenix. The Harry in this book is often referred to as ALLCAPS!HARRY in the fandom. If you have read the book, it is not hard to ascertain why. After fifteen years of being bullied, ridiculed, and forced to face more life or death situations than most adults Harry is finally fed up. He is frustrated and angry, which tends to boil over from time to time in a speech written in all caps. Yes, he frequently directs that anger towards the wrong people; yes, he is a bit more rash than usual; yes, he whines and complains about things a good deal; but you know what? I probably would have done the same thing. In fact, I would have been way worse.

After everything he had been through – living with the Dursley’s, facing Voldemort in the back of his teacher’s head, everything in the Chamber of Secrets, the fiasco with Sirius, competing in the Triwizard Tournament, watching a friend be murdered in front of him, seeing Voldemort returned to a body, being forced to battle Voldemort in the certainty that he would not survive – he is left feeling abandoned, attacked by Dementors, and threatened with getting expelled from Hogwarts.

When he is finally rescued from the Dursley’s he finds out that he is being lied about and defamed by the government and the media. He barely escapes being expelled from Hogwarts only to arrive at the school that is supposed to be his safe haven and be faced with Dolores Umbridge. Just the mention of that woman’s name makes my blood pressure rise. She is evil and I am not ashamed to say that I hate her. So much. She makes Harry’s day to day life hell. I challenge anyone to have to deal with her the way Harry did and not get a little grumpy and whiney.

I could go on listing out all the things that Harry has to face, but I won’t – I think I have made my point. Any normal person forced to deal with all the things Harry is would lose their temper on occasion, too. The fact that he does makes Harry more human, more relatable.

It is so difficult for me to read through all of his struggles, but I do and I root for him with every fiber of my being. I join him in the rollercoaster of emotions that he feels throughout the entire series. When he finally makes it to the end of Deathly Hallows and begins to triumph I am barely able to contain my joy. After seven long books of struggle after struggle after struggle he is able to show everyone that he is capable, despite all of their doubts and cruelty.

No matter how many times I have read Deathly Hallows, I still sob through the scenes where people stand up for Harry. My absolute favorite scene is when they are in the Great Hall and Voldemort has told them that if they turn Harry over no one has to die. Pansy Parkinson stands up, points to Harry, and yells for someone to grab him. One by one the students at the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff tables stand up and point their wands, not at Harry, but at Pansy. Harry is described as being “awestruck and overwhelmed” (490-491). Every time I read this scene I can’t help but cheer as tears run down my face. All the events and torment he has been through from the beginning of the series run through my mind and I feel just as awestruck and overwhelmed as he does. People finally realize they need to Support Harry Potter.

How do you feel about Harry? Do you find him whiney and annoying or do you understand where he is coming from? Let me know in the comments.

*Page numbers from the UK editions.

The Characters of Harry Potter: Neville

Standard

We are now halfway through my series looking at the characters of Harry Potter. So far we have looked at Harry’s ever faithful sidekicks, Ron and Hermione. Today we are going to look at a character who, though important and much loved, had a smaller role to play in the series than the members of the trio. Let’s dive right in.

NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM

Neville is, hands down, one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter. He is one of the characters who is there from beginning to end and shows more growth than the vast majority of those around him. I love to look at the Neville we meet in Philosopher’s Stone and compare him to the one we see in Deathly Hallows. The chasm between those two Nevilles is so great it is hard to believe that he was actually able to traverse it; such is the genius of J.K. Rowling.

When we first meet Neville he is a shy, timid boy who is constantly bullied by students as well as teachers (*cough* Snape *cough*). I was one of the lucky people to gain early access to J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website, which included a great pool of exclusive content and backstory that she wrote up for us. One of my favorite tidbits that she revealed was in regards to Neville’s sorting. She said that he and Hermione were the closest in Harry’s year to cause a hatstall (rare instances when the hat takes more than 5 minutes to sort). She writes:

In Neville’s case, the Hat was determined to place him in Gryffindor: Neville, intimidated by that house’s reputation for bravery, requested a placing in Hufflepuff. Their silent wrangling resulted in triumph for the Hat.

I don’t know why, but I really loved this bit of information. It really illustrates how Neville thought of himself and tended to underestimate his abilities. (Note: I do not think that Gryffindor is in any way a better or more prestigious house than Hufflepuff. I am just pointing out that Neville underestimated his ability to be brave and to be a leader.) Yet even by the end of Philosopher’s Stone Neville took his first baby step on his road of growth when he stood up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione (198*). And that act won Gryffindor the House Cup (221).

When we first learn more of Neville’s sad backstory in Goblet of Fire and later in Order of the Phoenix, his character takes on a depth that I never saw coming. One of the most touching scenes in the entire series, to me, is when we see Neville visiting his parents in St. Mungo’s. I doubt Jo could have ever imagined the tidal wave of conspiracy theories that would be elicited from what was actually just a heartwrenching illustration of the Longbottom tragedy through a simple bubblegum wrapper. We had already been told that Neville’s parents had been tortured to the point of insanity, but it was not until this sad interaction between Neville and his mother that we truly understood what that meant. (Order of the Phoenix, 453-455)

When those who were responsible for his parent’s condition, namely Bellatrix Lestrange, break out of Azkaban it really hits Neville hard and this is where he begins his transformation in earnest. He goes from being one of the worst spellcasters in their DA meetings to “working harder than anyone else in the room” with”his plump face screwed up in concentration”. He improves so much that when Harry teaches them shield charms only Hermione masters it faster than him. (Order of the Phoenix, 488)

Through the remainder of Order of the Phoenix and then Half-Blood Prince Neville continues to become bolder and more confident so that by the time Harry and company return to Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows his transformation is complete. When we see him for the first time he has a “battered visage” and talks about torture and acts of rebellion against those doing the torturing as though it is nothing. We learn that shy, timid, mediocre Neville has become the leader of the rebellion in Harry’s absence to the point where the Death Eaters want him dead. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I cheered out loud for our round-faced Neville. (Deathly Hallows, 460-464)

His shining moment, of course, comes when everyone thinks that Harry is dead. Voldemort stands there with all of his Death Eaters presenting Harry’s dead body in triumph, and what does Neville do? He charges out of the group after Voldemort! Then facing Voldemort alone and unarmed he responds to Voldemort’s offer of switching sides with a resounding, “I’ll join you when hell freezes over. Dumbledore’s Army!” And then when Voldemort puts the Sorting Hat on his head and lights it on fire, Neville pulls out the sword of Gryffindor and kills the final Horcrux. (585-587) I have never had such a huge grin stretched across my face while simultaneously having tears streaming down my cheeks as I did through all of this. Even after reading this book at least 10 times, I still have the same emotional reaction as the first time. That is just how good it is.

To go from the Neville I just described in Deathly Hallows and look back at the way he started in Philosopher’s Stone is nothing short of shocking. The changes and growth that occur in him, and occur organically, are extraordinary and one of the biggest joys of the series to watch. There is just something about him that is so endearing I can’t help but love him. Neville Longbottom is an inspiration and I am so glad that Jo saw fit to introduce us to him.

What do you think? Did you enjoy the journey Neville took over the course of the series? What is your favorite thing about his character? Least favorite? Let me know in the comments.

*All pages numbers are from the UK editions.

The Ever Present Question: Is Severus Snape Good?

Standard

A recent article showed that in a poll of 70,000 people the character of Severus Snape beat out all other Harry Potter characters to win fan favorite. Considering how many characters there are in these books and that the poll listed a Top 40 the fact that Snape pulled in 20% of the votes is quite impressive, but not all that surprising. After spending close to 8 years visiting MuggleNet on a daily basis I have seen first hand how much fans adore Severus Snape. I do not get it.

Snape is a jerk. Plain and simple. I get the whole idea that he was in love with Harry’s mother and every time he looks at Harry he is reminded that she chose another man over him and that she is now dead, but that is no excuse to treat Harry, who is a child, the way he does. From his very first Potions class Snape singles him out and unfairly picks on him to the point where Harry is convinced that Snape “hated him” (Philosopher’s Stone, 101*).

If Snape was only horrible to Harry I might have been able to force myself to overlook it, but that was not the case. In the very first book we are told that Snape “‘can turn very nasty’” (104) and likes “hardly any of the students” (105). Throughout the series we are forced to watch as Snape bullies his students time and time again, especially insecure Neville Longbottom. In Chamber of Secrets – keep in mind Neville is only 12 – Snape ridicules him at the Dueling Club saying that he “causes devastation with the simplest spells” and that they would be “sending what’s left of [his dueling partner] up to the hospital wing in a matchbox” (144). He says this in front of nearly the entire school! Then in Prisoner of Azkaban Snape forces Neville to feed his poorly brewed potion to his pet toad with the expectation of it poisoning the toad, the only reason it doesn’t is thanks to Hermione’s help (95-97). Just a few pages later Neville’s boggart takes the form of Snape showing us that he fears Snape more than anything else and even this incident results in Snape “bullying Neville worse than ever” (107).

There are so many examples of Snape’s cruel nature throughout all 7 books that it is impossible to list them all, but I think it is clear that Snape is not a nice man. But he was working for Dumbledore, he was helping Harry, he was brave and good! This is the kind of thing I see written all the time. Yes, in the end Snape was working for Dumbledore not Voldemort. Yes, he was very brave and risked his life daily to help bring Voldemort down. But does that really make him good?

When we finally learn the truth about Snape’s loyalties and love for Lily Evans (Harry’s mother) in Deathly Hallows, rather than feeling sympathetic for him I was more disgusted with him than ever. The only reason he stopped being a Death Eater for Voldemort was because of how Voldemort interpreted the prophecy.  When he goes to Dumbledore for help his only concern is for Lily. He doesn’t care that Voldemort wants to kill Harry. When Dumbledore asks him why he doesn’t just ask Voldemort to spare Lily in “‘exchange for the son’” Snape says that he has! It is only after Dumbledore shows his revulsion at this that Snape says to “‘hide them all, then. Keep her – them – safe.’” (543-544)

Later, when Dumbledore is telling Snape that Harry has to die Snape looks “horrified”. Dumbledore is naturally surprised by Snape’s show of outrage and asks him if he has started to care for Harry to which Snape shouts, “For him?” and shows that it is still Lily for whom he cares (551-552). The only reason Snape has been trying to protect and help Harry is because he is Lily’s son and Lily died to protect him. Even when Dumbledore tries to comfort Snape in his grief for Lily by pointing out her son lived Snape’s response is “with a tiny jerk of his head, Snape seemed to flick off an irksome fly.” (544)

In the end was Snape fighting against Voldemort? Yes. Was he brave? Yes. Was he good? No. Snape was a cruel man who cared for no one other than Lily Evans. If ever I become unsure I ask myself one simple question: If Voldemort had chosen to go after the Longbottoms instead of the Potters would Snape have still been a Death Eater? Every time the answer I come up with is “yes”.

What do you think? Do you agree with me or think that I am too hard on Snape? What makes you like or dislike him? Let me know in the comments!

*All page references come from the UK editions of the books.