Part I: The Harry Potter Series and its Sources in:

Marion Gymnich, Hanne Birk, Denise Burkhard (ed.)

"Harry - yer a wizard", page 39 - 118

Exploring J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Universe

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4035-5, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6751-2,

Series: Wissenschaftliche Beiträge aus dem Tectum Verlag: Anglistik, vol. 6

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
Part I: The Harry Potter Series and its Sources Laura Hartmann The Black Dog and the Boggart: Fantastic Beasts in Joanne K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Where to Find Them in Mythology and Traditional Folklore I. Introduction Since “[f]antasy is […] an eclectic genre, borrowing traits” from all sorts of sources, among them myths, legends, and folktales, and at times even “blend[s] seemingly incompatible elements within one and the same narrative”, magical creatures from ancient mythology and from folktales can often be found side by side in the numerous alternative universes constructed in fantasy literature and constitute an integral part of the creation of fantasy worlds (Nikolajeva 331). Ursula Bergenthal argues that it is a characteristic of fantasy literature in general to pick up ancient traditions and that rekindling old myths and legends is in fact an essential feature of fantasy literature, which adds to the specific atmosphere created in this genre (cf. 338). In a similar way, Peggy Huey observes that many authors of fantasy novels make use of elements taken from myths, folktales, and legends in order “to add depth and texture to their creations” (65). Statements like these suggest that references to mythology, legends, and traditional folktales are very common in fantasy literature. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Joanne K. Rowling draws on various elements from legends and folklore in order to establish her own fantastic universe in the Harry Potter novels;1 “[l]egends from all corners of the world […] pervade her alternative universe” as Jay Mansfield (n.p.) puts it.2 One could even argue that “J.K. Rowling’s mythical world […] introduces today’s readers to a world grounded in mythology” and traditional folklore; “[i]n doing so, she follows a tradition of other great British authors through the ages” (Huey 65), including, for instance, C.S. Lewis. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001), written by Rowling under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, and its recent film adaptation (2016) further reinforce the significance of the magical creatures of the Harry Potter universe for the latter’s overall effect. Many of the beasts and creatures populating the magical world of the Harry Potter series can be found in the Forbidden Forest, which serves as the abode of spiders, centaurs, unicorns and other creatures, but even Hogwarts with its unknown corners, spots and passages provides enough space for magical creatures to hide in, ranging from a Basilisk to a phoenix.3 In an interview, Joanne K. Rowling commented on her decision to include creatures from many different contexts in the fictional world she has created as follows: 1 Despite the fact that most critics assign the Harry Potter series to fantasy literature, Suman Gupta questions whether Rowling’s novels can indeed be classified as fantasy novels in the narrow sense. Gupta tries to apply Todorov’s definition of ‘fantasy’ to the series and concludes that the genre of ‘the marvellous’ would be a more suitable label for Rowling’s creation (cf. Gupta, especially 55-66). Yet, for the purpose of this paper, I will follow the general consensus and consider the Harry Potter series as fantasy literature. 2 Cf. also Roger Highfield, who points out that “[t]here are many examples of […] creatures […] found in myth and legend that prowl around Harry’s enchanted world” (206). 3 Cf. Mary Pharr, who claims that “Hogwarts itself is a magical locus for magical figures of every degree of sentience and significance” (58). LAURA HARTMANN 42 I’ve taken horrible liberties with folklore and mythology, but I’m quite unashamed about that […] You know, we’ve been invaded by people, we’ve appropriated their gods, we’ve taken their mythical creatures, and we’ve soldered them all together to make […] one of the richest folklores in the world, because it’s so varied. So I feel no compunction about borrowing from that freely, but adding a few things of my own (Rowling, “Living with Harry Potter” n.p.). On the one hand, this statement shows that Rowling is well aware of her use of folkloristic elements and that she has used them very consciously in her novels. On the other hand, she also stresses that she does not just copy these elements but rather adapts them to her purposes. Following the traditions of the fantasy genre, she is often able to modify, broaden or even transform the beasts’ significance, creating her very own versions of more or less well-known beings, which add to the distinctive atmosphere of her novels. Due to the fact that readers “rarely have a moment to consider the wealth of real mythology, folklore, and history that shimmers just beneath the surface” (Kronzek/Kronzek, xiii), I seek to explore the origin of at least two of Rowling’s fantastic beasts in traditional British folktales and how they have been integrated into Rowling’s fantastic world. Owing to the abundance of fantastic beasts in the seven novels, I will only focus on two creatures appearing in the third volume, namely the Black Dog and the Boggart. I have chosen these two fantastic beasts as they, on the one hand, play a very important role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), and, on the other hand, they have not yet been subject to extensive research, being arguably among the comparatively little known creatures in folklore. In the following, I will take a closer look at the two creatures’ origins in British folklore by focussing on their characteristics and symbolic meaning before analysing the creatures’ depiction in Rowling’s novel, their functions and potential reasons for departures from folklore. II. The Black Dog/Grim The Black Dog or Grim is a beast that is well-known in British folklore and beyond. David Colbert claims that “black dogs appear mysteriously throughout Europe and North America” (43). Katherine M. Briggs provides a more specific location for the Black Dog; she points out that the Black Dog is especially common in folktales from Scandinavia and Britain as well as from Brittany, France (cf. “Black Dogs” 3). The creature’s link to Scandinavia and, specifically, to Old Norse mythology is also stressed by Ethel Rudkin, who claims that the Black Dog or Grim “occurs frequently in England and Ireland in places known to be Scandinavian Settlements [sic!]” (131). In fact, the name ‘Grim’ can be traced back either to Old Norse mythology, as Odin’s epithet was Grimr (cf. Simpson/Roud, “Grim” 156), or to the “Anglo- Saxon noun grima, meaning ‘goblin’ or ‘spectre’” (ibid.).Yet, Rudkin also takes into consideration that the Black Dog might have already been known in places on the British Isles before the arrival of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian invaders “and that affinities in both Saxon and Danish beliefs strengthened [the Black Dog’s] cult” (131) in these areas. Even though the origin of the Black Dog is not absolutely clear, one can at least conclude that references to this creature seem to be most common in those areas in Britain that have been influenced by the culture and folklore of (North and West) Germanic tribes. In British folklore, there are two main types of Black Dogs: on the one hand, a being “which is nearly always known as the Black Dog” and is always “a normal dog” that “varies in size from normal […] to enormous”, and on the other hand, a creature “which is generally known locally as the Barguest, Shuck, Black Shag, Trash, Skriker, Padfoot […] and other names” and is able to shape-shift (Brown, 176 ff.). Despite those differences, both kinds are similar in terms of their appearance; Black Dogs in British folklore “are almost invariably THE BLACK DOG AND THE BOGGART 43 large black shaggy ones with glowing eyes” (Simpson/Roud, “Black Dogs” 25). David Colbert adds that “[t]hey tend to be larger than usual dogs”, “[t]hey may vanish in an instant, or slowly fade from view”, and that “[t]heir eyes are almost always described as huge and ‘blazing’”; moreover, they only rarely make a sound or bark (43). So, whether it happens to be a normal black dog or a shape-shifter, the beast is always described as huge and rather frightening, with spectral looks and behaviour and, in many cases, eerie eyes. The fact that not all Black Dogs in folklore have these gleaming eyes can be accounted for in connection with the creature’s symbolic meaning. The meaning of the Black Dog in British folktales turns out to be rather ambiguous. Ethel Rudkin, for example, mentions that in some counties “the Black Dog is looked on as a bad omen, ill luck, disaster or death attending its appearance”, but that especially in Lincolnshire the Dog is not feared at all (130). This also explains why some Dogs are described as huge and furry, but lack the terrifying eyes: they are benevolent Dogs that were not supposed to instil fear and terror in people. According to Mansfield, the story of the Black Dog as “an omen of forthcoming doom, or indeed the harbinger itself has long been told in North Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk” (Mansfield n.p.). George Beahm explains that a “glimpse [of the Dog] means the victim will die in the short term, perhaps in a few months, but a good look means death is imminent” (10). This ambiguity of the Dog’s appearances is stressed by almost all scholars; how the Black Dog is seen – whether it is an omen of death or a protector – depends very much on the region. Black Dogs, in the guise of frightening beasts or guardians, can be found in many folktales, but also in novels and plays written in the last centuries.4 The Black Dog as an omen of death appears in several British folktales, such as “The Collingbourne Kingston Black Dog”, in which the “huge, gleaming green eyes” of the Dog that was said to bring “ill-luck to all who met him and death to the evil-doer” are described (Anon. 48). Similarly, in “The Boy and the Barguest”, the child who encounters the Black Dog dies the following night (Anon. 10). In “Th’ Skriker”, young Adam sees “a figure which he at once knew […] to be the terrible Skriker, believed in those parts to be always a herald of death” (Anon. 19). The terrifying dog is “covered with a shaggy black hide” and has eyes that “blazed like fire”; eventually, Adam’s eldest child drowns (ibid.). However, there are also tales, including “A Good Black Dog”, in which the beast is not at all an omen of death, but a guardian and helper (cf. Anon. 13-14). All of these examples show that the idea of the Black Dog as something frightening, specifically 4 Black Dogs that are described as monstrous and terrifying beasts can be found, for instance, in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: Der Tragödie erster Teil (1808), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1898), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901/02). For the idea of the Black Dog as a guise of the devil luring Faust into a diabolical deal in Faust, see Goethe, especially “Vor dem Tor” and “Studierzimmer”. In Dracula, which is partially set in Whitby (Yorkshire), Stoker mentions a huge dog leaving the ship Demeter (cf. 78). As Yorkshire used to be a Scandinavian settlement, it seems possible that Stoker was inspired by local folktales of Black Dogs as an omen of death. In the novel, the dog is not only an omen of death but also a shape-shifter, as Dracula turns into a dog upon his arrival in England. For a detailed description of the black dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles see Doyle, especially chapter 14. The depiction of Doyle’s hound is very close to that of the Black Dog in folktales. Yet the idea of the Black Dog cannot only be found in fiction, but was also drawn upon by the British politician Winston Churchill to refer to his manic depression (cf. Ghaemi n.p.). In his article on Winston Churchill, Ghaemi talks about the former British Prime Minister and his psychological problems, of which Churchill himself was well aware. He called his inner demon ‘black dog’ and thus used the term to describe the manic phases of his depression, which to him were very threatening. Churchill’s black thoughts brought him, more than once, close to death, since he was afraid of doing something rash and suicidal. LAURA HARTMANN 44 an omen of death, a form of the devil haunting its victim, or, alternatively, a protector have been taken up again and again in British folktales. The Black Dog is a very prominent feature in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which actually combines the two contradictory meanings of the Black Dog which were sketched above. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the first volume in which the protagonist’s godfather Sirius Black, who at times turns into a black dog, appears. Harry encounters the black dog at the beginning at the novel when he is still in Little Whinging. At first, he can only discern “the hulking outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes”, which he does not know to be a dog yet, but which he just calls “a big black thing” (Prisoner 30-31). He compares it to a dog, though, realising that it is much more “massive” (ibid. 31) than any ordinary animal. Similar references to the dog’s size and its looks occur throughout the novel, for instance when Harry recognises the creature on the frontispiece of a book which portrays “a black dog large as a bear, with gleaming eyes” (ibid. 45). The Grim seems to haunt and frighten Harry and materialises from time to time throughout the novel. Harry sees it while playing Quidditch when he suddenly spots “the silhouette of an enormous shaggy black dog, clearly imprinted against the sky” or when he looks out of the window of his dormitory and notices “a gigantic, shaggy black dog” (ibid. 133, 224). At one point, the dog’s “gigantic paws”, its enormous size, its pale eyes, its jet-black fur and its “inch-long teeth” are mentioned (ibid. 245). The depiction of the Black Dog as a malevolent creature suggests that Rowling’s beast closely resembles its counterpart from folklore. Moreover, the black dog in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban combines the two types of Black Dogs coexisting in British folktales, i.e., the animal and the shape-shifter. Rowling made use of competing images of the creature and mixed them to create her own version of the Black Dog: the initially frightening beast that turns out to be an Animagus and a protector rather than an omen of death. The link with folklore is stressed by the fact that Sirius Black/the black dog even bears the nickname ‘Padfoot’, which is often used to designate the shape-shifter in traditional tales. As in many British folktales, the Black Dog in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is considered to be an omen of death by many of the characters. This belief is in particular expressed by Professor Trelawney, who is shocked when she recognises the Grim in Harry’s tea leaves (cf. ibid. 82-83). She explains to her students that the Grim is “‘[t]he giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! […] it is an omen – the worst omen – of death!’” (ibid. 83, original emphasis). At a later point in the novel, Trelawney sees the threatening omen once again in Harry’s crystal ball and maintains that “‘[i]t is here, plainer than ever before […], stalking towards you, growing ever closer […] the Gr-’” (ibid. 220). However, eccentric Professor Trelawney is not the only one who believes in the Black Dog; Ron likewise seems to be convinced that the Grim is a herald of death and thus he is shocked when Harry tells him that he has seen a huge black dog (cf. ibid. 85). Ron even tells his friend that his “‘Uncle Bilius saw one and […] died twenty-four hours later!’” (ibid.). Hermione, in contrast, is convinced that people just “‘die of fright’” when they encounter the Grim (ibid.); in her more rational opinion, “‘[t]he Grim’s not an omen, it’s the cause of death’” (ibid.). Even though Harry tries to dismiss Trelawney’s premonitions and warnings, he starts believing in the stories told about the Black Dog because he realises that his encounters with the Grim have nearly been fatal twice (cf. ibid. 137). Ultimately, however, the black dog turns out to be Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather – a protector. In other words, Rowling uses both variants of the Black Dog and presents the Black Dog as a harbinger of death who seems to be haunting Harry at the beginning of the novel, only to undermine this idea later in the novel, when the threatening dog turns out to have been a guardian all along. Hence, what seems to be threatening and dangerous at first transforms into THE BLACK DOG AND THE BOGGART 45 something helpful and benevolent. Bergenthal convincingly argues that there is a logical explanation (Sirius Black as Animagus) for the supposedly threatening omen which is in accordance with the rules that Rowling set up for her universe (cf. 353). In combining both symbolic meanings of the Black Dog, the novel may potentially achieve several goals. Firstly, readers may realise that appearances may be deceptive and that one should not take for granted what others believe, since other people’s beliefs may be distorted and are invariably subjective, being influenced by a person’s cultural background and individual upbringing (as is the case with Ron or Professor Trelawney).5 Katherine M. Grimes picks up this idea and explains that “for a time, the children believe him [Black] to be evil, as their community has told them to believe this” (94). Thus, secondly, the references to the Black Dog also comment on different ways in which members of the wizarding community deal with legends, myths and superstition. Professor Trelawney and Ron represent those wizards and witches who are familiar with legends and beliefs, as they appear to be deeply rooted in their culture. On the contrary, Hermione, whose parents are Muggles, has maybe not grown up with the very same myths. Furthermore, she is a very rational person and does not at all believe in what Professor Trelawney tells her students. Thus, Rowling emphasises that folklore and superstition are closely related to one’s cultural background and upbringing as well as to one’s own attitude towards the supernatural and mythical. Another possibility of interpreting the black dog in the novel is to link Sirius’ transformations to questions of identity and individuality. Eric Saidel, for instance, points out that Rowling repeatedly addresses questions of identity, i.e., the problem of “what makes [you] who [you] are” or questions concerning “the relationship between one’s mind and one’s body” (23).6 The definition of one’s identity is certainly one of the fundamental issues in everyone’s life, and particularly for children and adolescents reaching puberty, in other words, the primary target group of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Thus, the interpretation of the Animagus Sirius Black in terms of his identity is definitely worth taking into consideration. As the discussion above has shown, the Black Dog, which is well-known from folklore, can be read in a number of different ways in Rowling’s novel and turns into a figure that is extremely versatile. III. The Boggart Similar to the Black Dog, the Boggart is a recurring creature in British folklore. David Colbert explains that Boggarts “are the same creatures known as ‘bogeys’ or ‘bogeymen’ in the United States, ‘bogle’ in Scotland, and ‘Boggelmann’ or ‘Butzemann’ in Germany” (47).7 In other words, the idea of the Boggart is not restricted to Britain. According to the Dictionary of English Folklore, the word “‘boggart’ was a general term for any supernatural being which frightened people” (Simpson/Roud, “Boggart” 29). Colbert further stresses that Boggarts are “said to be mistreated spirits that have become malevolent” (47), though they “usually aren’t 5 This combination of superstition and rational explanation arguably bears certain similarities with the use of the black dog/hound in Doyle’s detective story The Hound of the Baskervilles. 6 In his essay, Saidel discusses the relationship between Sirius Black’s mind and body in much detail. For his interpretation and the application of René Descartes’s mind-body dichotomy to Black see Saidel, especially 24-25. 7 Especially the bogeyman or boogieman may be well-known to children (not only in the United States), as the saying “Be good, or the bogeyman will get you!” (Kronzek/Kronzek 25, original emphasis) suggests. LAURA HARTMANN 46 very harmful”, preferring “to come out at night” to be even more frightening (ibid.).8 A Boggart can either “haunt any pit or well or lonely lane” or live indoors and behave like a poltergeist (cf. Simpson/Roud, “Boggart” 29). If a Boggart lives indoors, supposedly “the only way to get rid of [it] is to move”, which is, however, quite difficult since a Boggart often “move[s] with a household it finds particularly entertaining”, as the family’s increasing frustration and annoyance drive the evil spirit to even more mischief (Colbert 47-48). A further characteristic of Boggarts in folklore is that they “have the power of shape-shifting”, which implies that no one knows what they really look like (Briggs, “Bogies” 23). Consequently, a Boggart might “materialize as a human, an animal, a skeleton, or even a demon” (Kronzek/Kronzek 24, original emphasis). These characteristics explain why Boggarts can sometimes be rather frightening, but, first and foremost, they are annoying and difficult to capture. There are several British folktales that exemplify the characteristics of Boggarts mentioned so far. For instance, in “The Boggart”, which is a tale about a farmer and his family from Yorkshire, the spirit is restricted to the domestic sphere and attached to a particular family (cf. Anon. 24-25). The readers are told that the spirit “caused a good deal of annoyance”, so that the farmer decides to move (ibid.). Eventually, he realises that the Boggart will follow the family wherever they go, which means they can just as well stay where they are (cf. ibid. 25). This tale vividly illustrates how much annoyance this spirit is able to cause, and it stresses the creature’s close connection to a particular family. In addition, “the Boggart never let himself be seen” in this tale, remaining elusive and invisible for its ‘host’ (ibid.). “The Boggart in Top Attic”, which is set in Lancashire, also focuses on a quite annoying Boggart that keeps making noise and frightens the people of the house (cf. Anon. 176-77). Shape-shifting Boggarts occur in stories such as “The Hedley Kow” or “The Picktree Brag” (Briggs, “Bogies” 23). All in all, Boggarts loom large in tales from the British Isles, and it seems to be in particular the elusive nature of this creature that has fascinated people, including, apparently, J.K. Rowling. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the Boggart plays an important role. The first thing readers as well as the pupils at Hogwarts learn about Boggarts is that they “‘like dark, enclosed spaces’” (Prisoner 101). Professor Lupin explains that “‘[w]ardrobes, the gap beneath beds, the cupboards under sinks, […] a grandfather clock’” and similar locations are favourite hiding places of Boggarts (ibid.). The Boggart Lupin is going to present to his students, for instance, lives in an old wardrobe, though he just “‘moved in yesterday afternoon’” (ibid.). During the lesson, Hermione explains that the Boggart is “‘a shape-shifter’” which “‘can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most’” , and Lupin remarks that the Boggart “‘has not yet assumed a form’” as long as it is still unseen, for the simple reason that the spirit “‘does not yet know what will frighten the person’” it will meet the most (ibid.). Thus, even experts and scientists in Rowling’s magical world do not have a clue “‘what a Boggart looks like when he is alone’” (ibid.).9 However, despite these similarities 8 Some scholars emphasise that there are also certain types of Boggarts that are friendly and “household helpers” (Kronzek/Kronzek 24; cf. Beahm 13). Sometimes this distinction is indicated by different terms, but there is no consensus regarding terminology. Kronzek and Kronzek refer to the evil spirit as ‘boggart’ and to the friendly counterpart as ‘brownie’ (cf. 24), whereas Beahm calls the malevolent Boggart of Yorkshire ‘brownie’ and the helpful fairy ‘boggart’ (cf. 13). Moreover, household Boggarts resemble Rowling’s house-elves as they “are easily offended” and can be disposed of by being given clothes (ibid.). For the purpose of this paper, however, I stick to the definition of the Boggart as an evil and mischievous creature that is very difficult to get rid of. 9 Mad-Eye Moody may be an exception to this rule, as he is able to find a Boggart hiding in an old writing desk at 12 Grimmauld Place (cf. Phoenix 154), which sparked animated discussions among scholars and fans. The fact that he is able to see the Boggart can be accounted for in different ways: ei- THE BLACK DOG AND THE BOGGART 47 between the traditional Boggart as it is presented in folktales and Rowling’s version, the Boggart in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban seems to differ at least to some degree from the various versions that can be found in British folklore – or at least she seems to draw the reader’s attention much more to the aspect of shape-shifting, which is the Boggart’s main feature in the Harry Potter series. In British folktales, shape-shifting is significantly less prominent; at best, it is a minor facet of traditional Boggart lore: even though Boggarts frighten people in folktales, they primarily do so by making strange noises or by annoying and pestering their victims and not by assuming the shape of what the victim fears the most. Since legends and folktales are often concerned with people’s fears and anxieties or with things they could not explain, it may be concluded that Boggarts in these stories also try to exploit their victim’s weak point, yet they do so in a different way. Thus, it can be said that in the novel as well as in folktales, the Boggart is some sort of spirit that tries to frighten people by assuming different shapes depending on the fears of the person facing them. One of the major differences between the Boggart in Rowling’s novel and its counterparts in traditional folktales is that it is definitely possible to get rid of a Boggart in Rowling’s magical world. One may even assume that it is not that difficult to do so, since Hogwarts students are confronted with a Boggart in their third year. Professor Lupin teaches his students that it is advisable not to face a Boggart alone, since groups bewilder and distract the creature very much so that it does not know on which of its opponents it should concentrate (cf. ibid. 101). Lupin tells his pupils that he “‘once saw a Boggart make that very mistake – tried to frighten two people at once and turned himself into half a slug’” , thereby losing all its horror (ibid.). He also explains that “‘the thing that really finishes a Boggart is laughter’” and consequently advises his students to “‘force it to assume a shape that [they] find amusing’” by using the spell ‘riddikulus’ (ibid. 101-02, original emphasis). Especially with regard to this last characteristic, Rowling’s Boggart differs from the eponymous spirit occurring in British folktales. By highlighting the transformative power of laughter, Rowling stresses that it is important to face one’s fears, whereas people in folktales are often shown to try running away from the Boggart, and maybe also from their fears. Admittedly, even the folktales imply that running away is not the right way of dealing with fear, as the Boggart, which embodies or causes fear, will always stay with its victims and follow them wherever they go. On top of that, the novel suggests that it is much easier to defeat one’s fears together with friends than on one’s own. Inner strength, friends and the courage to face one’s fears can help to overcome them eventually. IV. Conclusion In the Harry Potter series in general and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in particular Rowling introduces the reader to a wide range of different fantastic creatures, many of which have been borrowed from folktales, myths and legends. More often than not, Rowling has picked up features that can be traced back to older narratives, while transforming the fantastic beasts to a certain extent. The two creatures analysed in this paper show that British folklore has served as an inspiration for her novels, since both the Black Dog and the Boggart are based on beings that can be found in numerous British folktales. In order to create an ther Moody sees through the desk by means of his magical eye and faces what he fears the most, or he really is able to see Boggarts in their natural shape because of his magical eye. However, the first possibility implies that the Boggart knows that it is watched by Moody’s magical eye and transforms into his worst fear even though it is not directly confronted with Moody; whereas the second possibility implies that the Boggart in the desk has not yet had the chance to change its shape as it has not faced Moody directly. LAURA HARTMANN 48 alternative world that is fantastic and still somehow rings true for the reader, Rowling makes use of elements that are fantastic or supernatural, but that are not completely new or foreign to the reader. In this way, she arguably connects the real world with her fantastic universe, making the real world a bit more fantastic and the fantastic world a bit more real. As the discussion above has shown, Rowling borrowed the Boggart and the Black Dog and many of their features from folktales; yet she made a number of significant changes regarding the creatures’ appearance, behaviour or symbolic meaning, which gives rise to complex interpretations of these two beings. After having taken a closer look at the two examples, one can conclude that Rowling, by and large, stuck to the original representations, especially with regard to the beasts’ appearance. It is however obvious that she combined different traditional images and thereby created her own versions of these beings. A case in point is the interpretation of Sirius Black/the black dog as an omen of death bringing fear and destruction and as a guardian trying to help and protect Harry. Similarly, the Boggart is described in many different ways in folktales, some of which have been picked up in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, while the strong emphasis on the Boggart as a manifestation of fear is largely Rowling’s addition to Boggart lore. With regard to the creatures’ symbolic meaning, she tends to use the traditional beasts to address topics that are relevant today. As has been shown above, Rowling employs the Black Dog and the Boggart to discuss questions regarding subjective opinions, choice, identity and fear. Last but not least, the fantastic beasts are one of the ingredients that have appealed to young readers, who are probably fascinated by the appearance of the beasts and their magical powers, but may also learn in an entertaining way how to deal with difficult situations and personal problems by reading about the characters’ reactions to the creatures. By contrast, adolescent or adult readers, who are likely to have more background knowledge, may be familiar with the traditions that have shaped the fantastic beasts and thus may be more aware of the subliminal messages implied by the creatures’ symbolic meanings and their departures from the older (folklore) versions. It is well-known that readers of every age enjoy reading Rowling’s books and may also learn from them. The author’s use of fantastic beasts certainly contributes to this overall effect in many respects. Works Cited Anon. “A Good Black Dog.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 13-14. ---. “Th’ Skriker.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 18-19. ---. “The Boggart.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 24-25. ---. “The Boggart in Top Attic.” Forgotten Folktales of the English Counties, edited by Ruth L. Tongue, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970. 176-77. ---. “The Boy and the Barguest.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 10. ---. “The Collingbourne Kingston Black Dog.” Forgotten Folktales of the English Counties, edited by Ruth L. Tongue, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970. 48-49. THE BLACK DOG AND THE BOGGART 49 Beahm, George. Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter’s World: An Unofficial Guide. Hampton Roads, 2005. Bergenthal, Ursula. Des Zauberlehrlings Künste: Harry Potter als Beispiel für literarische Massenkommunikation in der modernen Mediengesellschaft. Wallstein-Verlag, 2008. Briggs, Katherine M. “Black Dogs.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 3. ---. “Bogies.” A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language: Part B, Folk Legends, edited by Katherine M. Briggs, Vol. 1, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. 23. Brown, Theo. “The Black Dog.” Folklore 69.3 (1958): 175-92. Colbert, David. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts. Berkley Books, 2008. Doyle, Arthur C. The Hound of the Baskervilles. John Murray and Jonathan Cope, 1974 [1901]. Ghaemi, Nassir. “Winston Churchill and his ‘Black Dog’ of Greatness.” The Conversation 23 (2015). Last access: 25 April 2017. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Faust: Der Tragödie erster Teil. Reclam, 2000 [1808]. Grimes, Katherine M. “Harry Potter: Fairy Tale Prince, Real Boy, and Archetypal Hero.” The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon, edited by Lana A. Whited, University of Missouri Press, 2003. 89-122. Gupta, Suman. Re-Reading Harry Potter. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Highfield, Roger. The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works. Headline, 2002. Huey, Peggy J. “A Basilisk, a Phoenix, and a Philosopher’s Stone: Harry Potter’s Myths and Legends.” Scholarly Studies in Harry Potter. Applying Academic Methods to a Popular Text, edited by Cynthia W. Hallett, Mellen, 2005. 65-83. Kronzek, Allan Z., and Elizabeth Kronzek. The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter. Broadway Books, 2004. Mansfield, Jay. “On Etymology and Mythology in the Harry Potter Series of Books.” Last access: 07 February 2017. Nikolajeva, Maria. “Fantasy.” The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, edited by Donald Haase, Vol. 1, Greenwood Press, 2008. 329-34. Pharr, Mary. “In Medias Res: Harry Potter as Hero-in-Progress.” The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon, edited by Lana A. Whited, University of Missouri Press, 2003. 53-66. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Bloomsbury, 2004 [1999]. ---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2003. ---. Interview with Stephen Fry. “Living with Harry Potter.” BBC Radio4, 10 December 2005. Last access: 18 March 2017. LAURA HARTMANN 50 Rudkin, Ethel H. “The Black Dog.” Folklore 49.2 (1938): 111-31. Saidel, Eric. “Sirius Black: Man or Dog?” The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles, edited by Gregory Bassham, Wiley, 2010. 22-34. Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud. “Black Dogs.” A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford University Press, 2003. 25. ---. “Boggart.” A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford University Press, 2003. 29. ---. “Grim.” A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford University Press, 2003. 156. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Oxford University Press, 2008 [1897]. Franziska Becker J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter: A Revival of the Arthurian Legend? I. The ever-present Arthurian legend There are some literary figures who have undergone a process of ‘culturization’, i.e., they appear to have developed ‘a life of their own’, outside the framework of their original texts, having become a part of the cultural memory.1 The legendary King Arthur and his famous mentor Merlin are perfect examples of this kind of literary figure. In the Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) from the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth created one of the earliest surviving accounts of King Arthur, which seems to have provided the template for all successive stories about Arthur’s life (cf. Fulton 44). Geoffrey of Monmouth also offers an account of the young Merlin, who eventually becomes Arthur’s mentor and a wise man and who – similar to King Arthur – is still a prominent figure in today’s literature and popular culture.2 On the basis of Geoffrey’s famous works a large number of stories featuring Arthur, Merlin and various Knights of the Round Table have been written from the Middle Ages up until the 21st century, including Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485), the TV series Merlin (2008-12) as well as, most recently, the movie King Arthur – Legend of the Sword (2017). Apparently, every age drew upon the Arthurian myth in order to express their own ideas, ideals and fears – mirroring the respective zeitgeist (cf. Furch 8). Nevertheless, “the essential outlines of the biography were put in place by Geoffrey and have remained up until the present day largely as he set them out” (Fulton 44). In her Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling seems to have created yet another version of the Arthurian legend with her magical world full of mysterious beasts, cunning enemies and adventurous quests, which is reminiscent of the world of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Rowling even made use of several names that can be traced back to the Arthurian legend, thus drawing the reader’s attention to possible parallels. Dumbledore’s middle name is Percival, which echoes the name of the knight searching for the Holy Grail in Chrétien’s medieval romance, and the name Ginevra (Ginny) Weasley could be seen as an allusion to King Arthur’s wife Guinevere. Arthur Weasley’s namesake is of course the famous king himself, and Ron’s father indeed shares some character traits with the legendary ruler. Though Arthur Weasley is not presented as a particularly authoritative character, he does share the traits of being courageous and generous as well as an inherent goodness with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Arthur (cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 212). Similarities like the ones just mentioned provide a starting point for examining the parallels between the Harry Potter series and the Arthurian legend. What are the elements shared by the storylines, and to what extent does Rowling ‘resurrect’ some of the famous characters of the Arthurian legend in her works? In the following, I will argue that Albus Dumbledore could be read as a version of the wizard Merlin, while Harry Potter might be the equivalent of 1 Cf. Margolin (453): “[…] it [the literary character] can even undergo a process of culturization, whereby it becomes part and parcel of the general cultural discourse of a society”. 2 Geoffrey of Monmouth lived in England in the 12th century and was bishop of St. Asaph as well as an author of historical chronicles. His most famous works are The History of the Kings of Britain (Historia Regum Britanniae), The Life of Merlin (Vita Merlini) and Merlin, the Prophet (Prophetiae Merlini). FRANZISKA BECKER 52 young King Arthur, who seems to stumble from one quest into another. Of the many medieval versions of the Arthurian legend, Geoffrey’s Historia Regum Britanniae will serve as the main source for the comparative analysis. Yet some further texts – such as Robert de Boron’s Suite de Merlin, Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and Chrétien de Troyes’ works, including Le Conte du Graal, – will be drawn upon when this seems appropriate. II. Merlin and Dumbledore: the wizard and the wise man A comparison between King Arthur’s adviser Merlin and the rather unorthodox but undeniably wise headmaster Albus Dumbledore reveals that these two characters bear a remarkable resemblance to each other, although they are literary figures from very different centuries. Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, arguably embodies the prototypical wizard in terms of his appearance (cf. Bürvenich 88): He was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes […]. His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice (Stone 12). In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini, Merlin is also described as an old man, who is almost two hundred years old (cf. Jarman 122), with a rather gaunt physique and silvery hair. This appearance has been seen as being indicative of his special status: “Merlin’s hair ‘like hoar-frost’ reflects the white hair of the perfect anchorite and [therefore] he is blessed” (Frykenberg 1794). Moreover, both Dumbledore and Merlin are endowed with exceptional magical powers (cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 206-07). In Merlin’s case, these have often been associated with the Celtic tradition: “some scholars have argued that Merlin is a reflection of the ancient druids, the priest-magicians who figured strongly in pre-Christian Celtic religion” (Malcor 4).3 In both the Prophetiae Merlini and the Vita Merlini Merlin is depicted as a prophet using animal images, for instance the image of a boar and the images of a lion and a sea-wolf, to refer to important kings (cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Life 83). In addition, Geoffrey of Monmouth made his ‘Merlinus Silvester’ a master of beasts since he has a wolf companion, rides on a stag and commands a herd of deer. To a certain extent, Dumbledore may also be seen as a ‘master of beasts’ because he commands a loyal animal companion, a phoenix called Fawkes. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), the fascinating and rare creature (cf. Chamber 225) saves Dumbledore from certain death by shielding him from a spell (Phoenix 719), which highlights his utter loyalty to Dumbledore. Although Dumbledore, unlike Merlin, is not referred to as a prophet, he is repeatedly presented as knowing significantly more than he admits to. He seems to know about everything that will happen in the near future (cf. Macor 95), which more than once allows him to be in the right place at the right time or to send at least some form of help. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), for instance, Dumbledore sends his phoenix Fawkes to support Harry (cf. Chamber 338-39, 356). The most obvious connection between Merlin and Dumbledore is the fact that both appear as mentors, advisers and father figures to two young men whose fate it is to save their respective worlds. In Le Morte d’Arthur, the influential medieval writer Thomas Malory “‘portrays Merlin in two important offices: he is the agent through whom God’s will and ‘grace’ are 3 For a discussion of parallels between the Harry Potter series and Celtic Druids, cf. the article by Jule Lenzen in this volume. A REVIVAL OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND? 53 expressed, and he is an omniscient strategist who leads Arthur to victory over the rebel kings’” (Wright quoted in Boyle 53). Merlin’s gifts turn him into a virtually perfect adviser (cf. ibid. 54). According to Radalescu, “‘Merlin’s political and strategic advice is the most precious asset for Arthur’” (Radalescu quoted in Boyle 55). He serves as a diplomat, counsellor, strategist, and uses the psychology of love and honour to motivate others (cf. Goodrich 12). All of these attributes and abilities can also be found in the headmaster of Hogwarts. He guides, teaches and protects Harry from evil, but, unlike Merlin, he also makes mistakes (cf. Phoenix 727-28). In his role as wise mentor, he gives advice and supports Harry, for example when he recommends not killing Peter Pettigrew since “‘the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life’” (Prisoner 459; cf. Hallows 380-81). In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Dumbledore informs Harry about events in Lord Voldemort’s past that he feels are of immense importance in order to understand why Tom Riddle has become the person he is now. He tells him about Tom’s childhood as an orphan, his time at Hogwarts, his pursuit of the Dark Arts and especially his obsession with the idea of eternal life (cf. Prince 79, 186-87, 203-04). However, just like the all-powerful Merlin of the Vulgate Merlin, who would eventually become paternalistic and oppressive, reducing the heroes to a state of perpetual childhood (cf. Thompson, “Enchanter” 259),4 needs to be gradually reduced, so does the greatest and most powerful wizard of Rowling’s series (cf. Prince 568). By leaving Harry and his friends to deal with Lord Voldemort and his followers, Dumbledore encourages the heroes to reach maturity – similar to Arthur and his knights who eventually have to manage without Merlin’s guidance (cf. Thompson, “Enchanter” 259; Rider 7). As a prophet and magician, Merlin tends to be cast in the non-combatant role of Arthur’s adviser in medieval literature. This means that Merlin typically provides advice on what the King should do on the battlefield as well, but does not take part in the actual battle himself (cf. Malcor 4). Unlike his medieval predecessor, Dumbledore is not merely an inexhaustible source of advice, but he also takes part in combat from time to time, as the following passage illustrates: Dumbledore flicked his own wand: the force of the spell that emanated from it was such that Harry, though shielded by his golden guard, felt his hair stand on end as it passed and this time Voldemort was forced to conjure a shining silver shield out of thin air to deflect it. […] ‘We both know that there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom,’ Dumbledore said calmly, continuing to walk towards Voldemort as though he had not a fear in the world (Phoenix 718). In this scene, Dumbledore confronts Voldemort, but in the course of the series there are actually more situations in which the mentor is not present when Harry has to face his archenemy; due to Dumbledore’s death, this is of course also true for the decisive Battle of Hogwarts. Still, in this final epic confrontation with evil, Dumbledore appears once more in his role as mentor, at least in Harry’s vision. Both Merlin and Dumbledore know how and when death will be coming to them. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini, Merlin foresaw his own death (l. 1521-24), whereas Dumbledore, after having been cursed by Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, plans being killed by Snape for the greater good. This will also spare him further pain, since he has only one year left to live (cf. Hallows 546-48, 556). There are interpretations of the figure of Merlin which suggest that the magician – similar to the ‘once and future king’ Arthur – may still be alive. According to some sources, such as Robert de Boron’s Suite de Merlin and Geoffrey of 4 For a discussion of the adverse impact of excessive, if well-intentioned, interference in medieval romance, see Thompson’s article “The Perils of Good Advice: The Effect of the Wise Counsellor upon the Conduct of Gawain”. FRANZISKA BECKER 54 Monmouth’s Prophetiae Merlini, Merlin becomes the victim of a sorceress who casts a spell on him and by this means imprisons him in a magical tomb or confines him in the forest of Brocéliande. The hope that the mentor is not gone for good echoes in Harry Potter when the protagonist and his friends at first refuse to believe that Dumbledore is really dead and assume that he merely staged his death to execute a plan, which ultimately will lead to Lord Voldemort’s downfall (cf. ibid. 316-17; Granger 137). Yet, in the end Harry and his friends simply have to accept that their esteemed mentor, who was considered to be the greatest and most powerful wizard in the world, is indeed dead (cf. Bürvenich 91). In addition to the parallels mentioned so far, some of the more ambivalent facets of Dumbledore are also reminiscent of Merlin: both are associated with irrational or even insane behaviour that is linked to the death of a sibling (Dumbledore) or siblings (Merlin). According to the Vita Merlini, Merlin retreats into the wilderness after having witnessed the death of his three beloved brothers; he is seized with a fit of madness (cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Life 32-39, 66-75). Dumbledore, who at one point was under the delusion that he could conquer death and in that way resurrect his parents, neglected his younger, weak and ill sister, which made him complicit in her death (cf. Macor 102). Fortunately, both Merlin and Dumbledore overcome their delusions, albeit with very different outcomes. Merlin ceases being a prophet (cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Life 135), whereas Dumbledore becomes the generous, considerate and caring headmaster. As Macor points out, “remorse, shame and feelings of guilt induce the adoption of a completely new course of action, which is exactly the opposite of the previous one” (103)5. Merlin and Dumbledore also share the experience of having an absent father with a bad reputation. According to the Historia Regum Britanniae, Merlin’s father was an incubus: “he was received by a devil or semi-demon in the shape of a man, of whom the child has inherited his prophetic powers” (Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 168; cf. Rider 3; Goodrich 8). Dumbledore’s father, by contrast, was a loving and caring man, but he went after the Muggle boys who had tortured his innocent little daughter and had caused her to become insane. As a result, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Azkaban and was stigmatised in the wizarding community as a ‘Muggle-murderer’ (cf. Hallows 455, 573). III. Chivalry and bravery: King Arthur and Harry Potter Both Harry and Arthur are presented as heroic and chivalrous leaders who, up to a certain point, rely on their counsellors. The young king Arthur of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, for example, appears to follow the mirror for princes, which says that “a king should be ruled by counsel, and Arthur follows this trope closely, allowing himself to be ruled by counsel in the form of the perfect counsellor: Merlin” (Boyle 52). At the beginning of his reign, Arthur has no source of reliable counsel except for Merlin’s advice. In contrast to Harry, the young king does not have to choose a course of action from among a number of options presented to him; therefore he has no “opportunity to practice one of the most important duties of a king: choosing which advice to accept” (ibid. 55). Some scholars even argue that stripping Arthur of his power to choose freely and to make decisions on his own amounts to a manifestation of Merlin ruling the king (cf. ibid. 59). Harry, in contrast, does not only rely on Dumbledore as a valuable counsellor but also on his godfather Sirius Black, various members of the Order of the Phoenix and perhaps most of all on his best friends Ron and Hermione, who help him solve every mystery and problem that arises during their quests (cf. Bürvenich 78; Granger 5 My translation. The German original reads: “Reue, Schuldgefühle und Scham [bewirken], dass ein ganz neuer Weg eingeschlagen wird, der ausgerechnet das Gegenteil des früheren ist” (Macor 103). A REVIVAL OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND? 55 119, 128). Nonetheless, Dumbledore’s counsel remains particularly important, and in the course of the series it is revealed that the mentor has kept important information regarding the prophecy under tight wraps: ‘It is time,’ he [Dumbledore] said, ‘for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. […] I am going to tell you everything.’ […] ‘Voldemort tried to kill you when you were a child because of a prophecy made shortly before your birth. He knew the prophecy had been made, though he did not know its full contents’ (Phoenix 735-40). One could presumably argue that by keeping information regarding Harry’s past, his parents and their close friends to himself, Dumbledore is ruling Harry in the same way Merlin has been held to rule Arthur in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. However, when looking closely at the relationship between Harry and his mentor, it resembles that of a father being concerned about the well-being of his son rather than that of a schemer seeking to manipulate and rule Harry (cf. ibid. 738). The importance of Dumbledore and Merlin as mentors is stressed when both Harry and Arthur eventually need to make their own decisions and choices. In Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, once “Merlin is no longer available as his counsellor, Arthur cannot recognize prudent advice” (Boyle 62), since he has never learned to compare differing opinions offered by counsellors and select an appropriate course of action based on divergent pieces of advice (cf. ibid.). Harry is similarly at a loss after Dumbledore’s death when he sorely misses the help of his most trusted mentor (cf. Macor 97): There were other Horcruxes out there somewhere, but he did not have the faintest idea where they could be. He did not even know what all of them were. Meanwhile, he was at a loss to know how to destroy the only one that they had found, the Horcrux that currently lay against the bare flesh of his chest (Hallows 228-29). When at the end of the Harry Potter series and the Arthurian legends, the respective hero has to face his archenemy, this has to be accomplished without the help of a mentor: King Arthur has to face Mordred and Harry has to face Lord Voldemort. The last battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) is similar to Arthur’s final combat, in which he ultimately kills his enemy (cf. Kennedy, “Introduction” xiii). Although Harry seems to die during his battle with the Dark Lord, which is reminiscent of Arthur’s fatal wound, he returns from the dead after a short period of time (and an encounter with his mentor): ‘Then … I’m dead too?’ ‘Ah,’ said Dumbledore, smiling still more broadly. ‘That is the question, isn’t it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not.’ […] ‘But I should have died – I didn’t defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!’ ‘And that,’ said Dumbledore, ‘will, I think, have made all the difference.’ […] And both of them had fallen briefly unconscious and both of them had now returned… (Hallows 567, 581). Harry’s return from the dead echoes the well-known prophecy that King Arthur will one day return from the Isle of Avalon when his people are in dire need of the ‘now and future king’ (cf. Kennedy, “Introduction” xiii). Harry Potter and King Arthur have more in common than having wise mentors endowed with the gift of magic. In his depiction of King Arthur’s character traits and deeds, Geoffrey of Monmouth presents “an ideal of beauty[;] a strong and firm moral ethos; and a strong example of courage, moral integrity and human worth” (Zimmer Bradley quoted in Furch 108). Similarly, Harry Potter is presented as an individual with strong moral principles who is a paradigm of courage and a champion of the good cause. In medieval literature, King Arthur is typically presented as the ideal courtly king who displays a whole range of virtues, such as goodness, fortitude, greatness of heart, wisdom, piousness, nobility and, above all, generosity FRANZISKA BECKER 56 as well as determination, valour, courage and combat skills (cf. Schuh 73). In a similar vein, Harry is the representative of what is good and relies on his valour, determination and chivalry (cf. Bürvenich 67, 115). Moreover, both Harry and King Arthur are part of prophecies which turn out to determine their lives. Merlin predicts the birth and destiny of the ‘now and future king’ and even uses “magic to bring about Arthur’s conception” (Rider 2; cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 206-07). In Harry Potter, it is not Dumbledore who utters the prophecy that will shape the protagonist’s life but Divination teacher Sybil Trelawney (cf. Phoenix 741). According to her prediction, there will be one boy who will eventually cause Lord Voldemort’s downfall: ‘The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches …born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives …’ (ibid. 741, original emphasis). Moreover, Arthur is said to have acquired the talent of talking with all animals under the guidance of Merlin, whereas Harry has been able to talk with snakes ever since the Dark Lord tried to kill him and placed a piece of his soul in the boy (cf. Bürvenich 146; Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 237). Furthermore, both protagonists share the ability to handle a magical sword that will obey only the selected. In Arthur’s case it is the well-known sword Excalibur, the legendary ‘Sword in the Stone’, which, for instance according to Robert de Boron’s Histoire de Merlin, can only be drawn by the Pendragon king (cf. Kennedy, “Introduction” xiii; Geoffrey of Monmouth, History 217). The reader of the Harry Potter series comes across the Sword of Gryffindor several times, a weapon that, “‘[a]ccording to reliable historical sources, […] may present itself to any worthy Gryffindor’” (Hallows 109), as Scrimgeour puts it when reading Dumbledore’s last will. While Arthur draws Excalibur from a stone, Harry draws his sword out of the Sorting Hat, which has been brought to him by Fawkes, who serves as Dumbledore’s messenger in the following scene: The Basilisk had swept the Sorting Hat into Harry’s arms. Harry seized it. It was all he had left, his only chance. He rammed it onto his head and threw himself flat onto the floor as the Basilisk’s tail swung over him again. ‘Help me …help me…’ Harry thought, his eyes screwed tight under the Hat. ‘Please help me!’ There was no answering voice. Instead, the Hat contracted, as though an invisible hand was squeezing it very tightly. Something very hard and heavy thudded onto the top of Harry’s head, almost knocking him out. Stars winking in front of his eyes, he grabbed the top of the Hat to pull it off and felt something long and hard beneath it. A gleaming silver sword had appeared inside the Hat, its handle glittering with rubies the size of eggs (Chamber 343, original emphasis). Later, Harry learns that he was able to retrieve the famous sword from the Sorting Hat because he is a wizard with a noble heart (cf. Bürvenich 146). Apart from Harry, only two other characters prove to be worthy of the Sword of Gryffindor in the course of the series: Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom. Ron is the one who saves Harry from drowning in an icy pool while Harry is trying to retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor from the water.6 By means of this action, Ron displays the values associated with Gryffindor, which are for instance repeatedly referred to in the song of the Sorting Hat: “‘You might belong in Gryffindor, / Where dwell the brave at heart, / Their daring, nerve and chiv- 6 Note that John Boorman’s well-known movie Excalibur (1981), which was very much influenced by Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, features a famous scene of the sword being retrieved from a lake. Thus, Rowling might have drawn upon imagery that is associated with the legendary sword. A REVIVAL OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND? 57 alry / Set Gryffindors apart’” (Stone 88, original emphasis). As a result, Ron is eventually rewarded with the sword: ‘Because you got the sword out of the pool. I think it’s supposed to be you.’ He was not being kind or generous. As certainly as he had known that the doe was benign, he knew Ron had to be the one to wield the sword. Dumbledore had at least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of certain acts (Hallows 304). Similar to Ron, Neville shows bravery when confronted with the enemy and is therefore also chosen by Godric Gryffindor’s heirloom, which he immediately uses to destroy the last of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes: he drew from its depths something silver, with a glittering, rubied handle – […] With a single stroke, Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the Entrance Hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet (ibid. 587). The abovementioned scenes showing Ron and Neville wielding the Sword of Gryffindor are also striking in yet another respect, namely in so far as the reader’s attention shifts at least momentarily from the hero Harry, who usually is the one accomplishing the task at hand, to another character. A similar shift can be found in Chrétien de Troyes’ Arthurian romances, where the king’s role “is distinctly more passive: he presides over the Round Table, the focal point of chivalry, and he is the guardian of the traditions and customs of Logres; but his knights are the ones who take up the adventures” (Kennedy, “King Arthur” 71). Although the Sword of Gryffindor, which is reminiscent of Excalibur, is referred to repeatedly throughout the series, one could argue that it is less prominent than some other artefacts, which are also endowed with special properties. Moreover, the true weapon of the wizard is of course the wand. In this vein, the Elder Wand or even Harry’s own wand, which is able to perform magic never heard of before (such as acting on its own accord to save Harry; cf. Hallows 74), could be seen as possible counterparts of Excalibur. IV. The quest plot The quest plot or hero’s journey constitutes an obvious parallel between Rowling’s series and the manifold Arthurian narratives (cf. Granger 118). In each of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter series, the protagonist and his friends stumble into one adventure after another – a pattern that is reminiscent of the typical structure of medieval quests. Similar to the quest for the Holy Grail in Chrétien de Troyes’ Le Conte du Graal, for instance, Harry, Ron and Hermione try to solve mysteries and riddles (cf. Hendrichs 37), while an evil opponent is waiting for them at the end of each story. Most of the time, it is Harry who has to fight the enemies that are introduced in each of the seven books; time and again, he has to face his archenemy Lord Voldemort (in different incarnations) or one of the latter’s followers. In medieval romances, the depiction of the hero’s journeys and adventures typically serves to express the hero’s development and maturation (cf. ibid.). This is an idea that is inherent in all of Chrétien de Troyes’ narratives about the Arthurian heroes, i.e., Yvain, Perceval, Erec and Cligés, as, for instance, Pugh and Weisl point out. A similar argument could be made about Harry Potter: the process of growing up is reflected in Harry’s repeated encounters with the Dark Lord (cf. Bürvenich 120). But Harry is not the only character who develops in the course of the series. Due to the fact that Ron and Hermione accompany and support Harry on his quests, both undergo similar FRANZISKA BECKER 58 processes of maturation. They, too, have to make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions, rarely getting the opportunity of a second chance, as in the case of Ron, who returns to Harry and Hermione during their search for the Horcruxes (cf. Hallows 308 ff.). According to Thompson, this is how “heroes fulfil their potential, they must be allowed the freedom to gain both experience and strength for themselves” (“Enchanter” 259). This can be pinned down most clearly in the last book of the series, in which Harry and his friends are trying to find out the truth about the Deathly Hallows: “‘But you said it, Hermione! You’ve got to find out about them yourself! It’s a Quest!’ […] ‘Dumbledore usually let me find out stuff for myself. He let me try my strength, take risks. This feels like the kind of thing he’d do’” (Hallows 351). Though the quests prove increasingly difficult in the course of the series, ultimately Harry, Ron and Hermione always prevail and grow more mature in the process. In the Arthurian romances, the quest pattern is not only associated with Arthur, but also with the various ‘Knights of the Round Table’, who are shown to embark on individual quests while serving the court. The legendary Round Table arguably has a counterpart in the Order of the Phoenix and perhaps even more in Dumbledore’s Army, who are loyal to both Dumbledore and Harry. Founded due to the necessity of continuing practising Defence Against the Dark Arts, Dumbledore’s Army develops into a rather chivalrous community, not unlike Arthur’s ‘Round Table’. In the final Battle of Hogwarts, the secret society plays a crucial role in defeating Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters (cf. ibid. 461 ff., 586). Yet, both the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army are arguably less institutionalised than the Round Table. King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table constitute a group of selected warriors that was formally regulated; Lancelot, for example, was introduced into this ‘brotherhood’ on All Hallows’ Day after he had succeeded in the required test, proving that he was worthy (cf. Goodrich 355). V. Conclusion As the discussion above has shown, in the Harry Potter series there are several, more or less obvious, similarities with the Arthurian legend. Apart from namesakes, such as Arthur or Ginny (Ginevra) Weasley, the overall setting of an old castle, fantastic beasts, prophecies and magic are reminiscent of the Arthurian quests, which often involved a ‘knight in shining armour’ rescuing a beautiful damsel or fighting dangerous enemies. Dumbledore bears a number of striking similarities with Merlin, and Harry Potter shares features with the legendary ‘now and future king’. Thus, Rowling resurrects these medieval characters and places them in a setting that is contemporary, yet, at the same time, also medieval in some respects. This setting and the character constellation allow her to incorporate aspects of the chivalric code of morals, numerous quests the young hero and his friends have to succeed in and, of course, the archenemy who threatens to kill the hero and to wreak havoc in the world. Furthermore, the series examines the at times complicated relationship between Harry and his wise but rather secretive mentor, Albus Dumbledore, which echoes the legend of Arthur, who also eventually had to face his enemies without the help of his esteemed counsellor. Rowling even included a counterpart of the presumably most famous sword in history, Excalibur, in her series. Similar to Excalibur, the Sword of Gryffindor can be wielded only by a hero with a brave heart and chivalrous mind. In addition, the series presents modernised versions of the ‘Round Table’ in the guise of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army, which celebrate “chivalry as a foundational value for its potential to elevate” (Pugh/Weisl 49) young readers. A REVIVAL OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND? 59 Works Cited Boyle, Louis J. “Ruled by Merlin: Mirrors for Princes, Counseling Patterns, and Malory’s ‘Tale of King Arthur’.” Arthuriana 23.2 (2013): 52-66. Bürvenich, Paul. Der Zauber des Harry Potter: Analyse eines literarischen Welterfolgs. Peter Lang, 2001. Fulton, Helen. “History and Myth: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae.” A Companion to Arthurian Literature, edited by Helen Fulton, John Wiley & Sons, 2012. 44- 57. Frykenberg, Brian. “Wild Man in Celtic Legend.” The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, completely rev. and expanded edn. of The Arthurian Encyclopedia, edited by Norris J. Lacy, Garland, 1991. 1790-99. Furch, Karoline. Die Wiederkehr des Mythos: Zur Renaissance der Artus-Mythen in der modernen Fantasy-Literatur. Förderkreis Phantastik in Wetzlar, 1998. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Life of Merlin, edited and translated by Basil Clarke, University of Wales Press, 1973. ---. The History of the Kings of Britain, edited and translated by Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, 1976. Goodrich, Norma Lorre. Die Ritter von Camelot: König Artus, der Gral und die Entschlüsselung einer Legende. Beck, 1994. Granger, John. Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader. Zossima Press, 2007. Hendrichs, Ursula. “Das Geheimnis des Grals: Neue Vorschläge.” König Artus lebt! Eine Ringvorlesung des Mittelalterzentrums der Universität Bonn, edited by Stefan Zimmer, Universitätsverlag Winter, 2005. 35-64. Jarman, A.O.H. “The Merlin Legend and the Welsh Tradition of Prophecy.” Merlin: A Casebook, edited by Peter Goodrich, Routledge, 2003. 105-26. Kennedy, Edward Donald. “Introduction.” King Arthur: A Casebook, edited by Edward Donald Kennedy, Routledge, 2011. xiii-xliii. Kennedy, Elspeth. “King Arthur in the Prose Lancelot.” King Arthur: A Casebook, edited by Edward Donald Kennedy, Routledge, 2011. 71-90. Macor, Laura Anna. Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer der Philosophie: Nahkampf mit dem Tod. Königshausen & Neumann, 2013. Malcor, Linda A. “Merlin and the Pendragon: King Arthur’s Draconarius.” Arthuriana 10.1 (2000): 3-13. Margolin, Uri. “The What, the When, and the How of Being a Character in Literary Narrative.” Style 24.3 (1990): 453-68. Pugh, Tison, and Angela Jane Weisl. Medievalisms: Making the Past in the Present. Routledge, 2013. Rider, Jeff. “The Fictional Margin: The Merlin of the ‘Brut’.” Modern Philology 87.1 (1989): 1-12. FRANZISKA BECKER 60 Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 2009 [1997]. ---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bloomsbury, 2010 [1998]. ---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Bloomsbury, 1999. ---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2003. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bloomsbury, 2005. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2008 [2007]. Schuh, Hans-Manfred. “Die Darstellung von König Artus bei Chrétien de Troyes.” König Artus lebt! Eine Ringvorlesung des Mittelalterzentrums der Universität Bonn, edited by Stefan Zimmer, Universitätsverlag Winter, 2005. 65-92. Thompson, Raymond H. “The Enchanter Awakes: Merlin in Modern Fiction.” Merlin: A Casebook, edited by Peter Goodrich and Raymond H. Thompson, Routledge, 2003. 250- 63. ---. “The Perils of Good Advice: The Effect of the Wise Counsellor upon the Conduct of Gawain.” Folklore 90 (1979): 71-76. Denise Burkhard and Julia Stibane Darkness, Danger and Death: Exploring Gothic Places in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets I. Introduction The success of the Harry Potter series is indisputable. There is presumably hardly anyone who has not heard of Harry Potter, the wizard whose adventures have fascinated readers from all around the world over the last twenty years. While only about 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone constituted the first edition in 1997, over 450 million copies of the seven Harry Potter novels were in print worldwide by 2013 (cf. TIME staff n.p.). Anne Hiebert Alton argues that one of the major reasons for this extraordinary success “lies in Rowling’s treatment of genre, particularly in relation to her incorporation of a vast number of genres in the books” (199), such as the adventure story, the bildungsroman, the boarding school novel, the detective story, the quest romance and, last but not least, Gothic stories (cf. Hiebert Alton). Despite the fact that Brandy Blake claims that “only one novel [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban] in this series emphasizes many of the traditions of the Gothic novel” (141), the first two volumes already draw on 18th-century Gothic conventions, especially in their depiction of places. With respect to the images of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, Garland D. Beasley makes a similar observation and argues that “[a]lthough the Potter series certainly borrows some of its elements from nineteenth-century Gothic, it is [...] far more indebted to the British Gothic of the late eighteenth century and, more specifically, indebted to the castles of those novels” (65-66).1 In the following, we will claim that Rowling draws heavily on Gothic conventions for creating Gothic(ised) places in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998).2 When referring to a ‘Gothic place’, we assume that this place displays one or more features typically associated with 18th-century Gothic fiction, in particular (1) the idea of a past haunting or resurfacing in the present, (2) secret passageways and a labyrinthine structure, (3) a connection with death, decay and darkness or (4) a gloomy, threatening and mysterious atmosphere (cf. Kędra-Kardela/Kowalczyk 21, cf. Botting 1-2). We will argue that Knockturn Alley, whose name alludes to the adjective ‘nocturnal’ and thus denotes night and darkness, the Forbidden Forest and its dangerous inhabitants, Hogwarts castle, which has been considered “the most important of the Gothic spaces in Harry Potter” (Bayne 268), as well as the titular Chamber of Secrets can be read as Gothic places. 1 Fred Botting elaborates on the features characteristic of 19th-century Gothic fiction and explains that “scientists, fathers, husbands, madmen, criminals and the monstrous double” were added, accompanied by a shift in setting towards the “modern city” (2). 2 For this purpose, we will use David Stevens’ observation that “[m]ore recent authors too have emphasised a sense of place as fundamental to their fictions, often borrowing from the conventional gothic stock to do so” (55) and argue that Rowling used Gothic elements to introduce a range of places that are connected with danger. DENISE BURKHARD AND JULIA STIBANE 62 II. Knockturn Alley When Harry accidentally ends up in Knockturn Alley, the dark and gloomy counterpart to Diagon Alley, he finds himself “standing in the stone fireplace of what looked like a large, dimly lit wizard’s shop” (Chamber 42) and is introduced to dangerous objects. Borgin and Burkes, a dodgy and sombre shop, displays a variety of artefacts that are unambiguously connected with the Dark Arts: “A glass case nearby held a withered hand on a cushion, a blood-stained pack of cards and a staring glass eye. Evil-looking masks leered down from the walls, an assortment of human bones lay upon the counter and rusty, spiked instruments hung from the ceiling” (ibid.). The objects on display are both terrifying and repulsive, and the various body parts lend themselves to a reading in the context of Kristeva’s theory of Abjection. While some of the objects may be used for torture, others are fatal, as can be seen with the warning regarding the opal necklace Draco discovers when he enters the shop: “Caution: Do Not Touch. Cursed – Has Claimed the Lives of Nineteen Muggle Owners to Date” (ibid. 44, original emphasis).3 This artefact in particular highlights the dangers connected with magical or bewitched items and reinforces the relevance of Mr Weasley’s position in the Ministry of Magic in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. As Tilia Klebenov Jacobs observes, both Knockturn Alley and Diagon Alley “are places where plot points are planted but not where they blossom. [...] As peripheral spaces, the alleys are locations for minor action” (254). They are, however, indispensable elements, and Knockturn Alley is used as a means of foreshadowing regarding the use and function of magical objects in the story. Rowling elaborates on (wizarding) material culture with the episode set in Borgin and Burkes and extends the range of objects both Harry and the reader are familiar with to include those which are not even “likely to be on a Hogwarts school list” (Chamber 42); she thereby already points to the potential dangers connected with Tom Riddle’s diary, which becomes one of the most significant objects in the novel. In Knockturn Alley, “Harry learns something of the dangerous dark side of the magic world” (Bayne 267) he is not familiar with so far. While Harry has only been briefly introduced to artefacts linked with the Dark Arts in the form of books in the Restricted Section of the library in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, he is now standing in “a dingy alleyway that seem[s] to be made up entirely of shops devoted to the Dark Arts” (Chamber 45), which already points to the darker aspects dealt with in this novel. The fact that Knockturn Alley is one of the infamous and gloomy parts of wizarding London is made unmistakably clear by references to shops selling shrunken heads or huge, black spiders, as well as by the dubious people Harry comes across in the street. When Harry realises that “[t]wo shabbylooking wizards were watching him from the shadow of a doorway” (ibid.), he instantly “[feels] jumpy” (ibid.) and attempts to find a way out of the dark alley. The experience of encountering people in the street climaxes when Harry comes near an aged witch, who is “holding a tray of what looked horribly like whole human fingernails. She leered at him, showing mossy teeth” (ibid.). Once again, the strong focus on grotesque human body parts dominates the scene and evokes a sense of repulsion. Her leering gaze might even be read in the context of abduction, which is even more strongly emphasised in Columbus’s adaptation, when the witch offers “‘Come with us. We’ll help you find your way back’” (00:15:31- 00:15:35). 3 Even though the object is only mentioned in passing in this novel, it is further elaborated on in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), in which the necklace curses Katie Bell and is used for an attempt to murder Albus Dumbledore. EXPLORING GOTHIC PLACES IN HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS 63 The presence of Draco and his father Lucius Malfoy in Borgin and Burkes is crucial in terms of their characterisation. Lucius Malfoy tries to dispose of some apparently illegal potions and leaves the owner of Borgin and Burkes claiming that “‘if the stories are true, you haven’t sold me half of what’s hidden in your manor...’” (Chamber 44, original emphasis). Strikingly Borgin emphasises the term ‘manor’, which is one of the prototypical settings in Gothic fiction and which allows drawing some conclusions about the manor’s inhabitants. Despite the fact that Malfoy Manor only plays a significant role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), it indeed turns out to be a place that is invested with Gothic elements: “The hallway was large, dimly lit and sumptuously decorated, with a magnificent carpet covering most of the stone floor. [...] The two men halted at a heavy wooden door leading into the next room” (Hallows 10).4 The oppressive elements and the lack of light establish a gloomy atmosphere, typically associated with edifices in Gothic fiction, whereas the rich decorations reflect the Malfoys’ aristocratic position within wizarding society. Readers of Gothic fiction will recognise Borgin’s indirect reference, which indicates that Lucius Malfoy may be a potential villain in the story, one of the Gothic novel’s many “evil aristocrats” (Botting 2). In contrast to Rowling’s novel, which does not elaborate extensively on the setting, Chris Columbus’s movie adaptation visualises the dingy alley and correlates Gothic elements with the depiction of the spatial. The adaptation features an extremely shabby and dusty shop, with oppressive and dark furniture and a number of dangerous items on display. Furthermore, the scene is dominated by skulls, which establish a connection with death (cf. Columbus 00:14:10-00:15:11). The movie also elaborates on the objects on display: while the ‘Hand of Glory’ is one of the more harmless objects in the novel and is used for thievery and plundering according to Mr Borgin, Chris Columbus’s movie adaptation draws on the dangers connected with the object more distinctly. As soon as Harry touches the hand, it grabs his hand firmly and he struggles to free himself again (cf. ibid. 00:14:55-00:15:06). The withered hand, thus, is not contained in a glass case, and is additionally connected with the disgusting, which is reinforced by its appearance as well as the sound effect following the release of Harry’s hand. Even the outside of Knockturn Alley is introduced as the opposite of Diagon Alley: it is “a shadowy, low-lit place for wizards and witches who are down on their luck” (Pheasant- Kelly 67). Both the narrow, muddy path leading down the alley and its dark brickwork evoke the impression of a Victorian side street, which is enhanced by the overall use of dark colours. At the moment when the people in the street realise that Harry apparently is lost, they encircle the protagonist (almost zombie-like) and evoke a feeling of claustrophobia, which subsides as soon as Hagrid appears and the people step back (cf. Columbus 00:15:35-00:15:45). Thus in both novel and adaptation, Knockturn Alley serves as a prelude to the gloomy Chamber of Secrets and introduces both dark artefacts and those potentially buying and selling them. III. The Forbidden Forest Apart from Knockturn Alley, the Forbidden Forest is also a dangerous location and a Gothic place. Focusing on settings in Gothic literature, David Stevens claims that “[w]hatever the setting, some form of obscurity or mystery seems to be a common factor” (54). In Harry 4 This introduction to Malfoy Manor bears a striking resemblance to the introduction of Misselthwaite Manor in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s story The Secret Garden (1911), in which oppressive features also dominate Mary Lennox’s first impression: “The entrance door was a huge one made of massive, curiously shaped panels of oak studded with big iron nails and bound with great iron bars. It opened into an enormous hall, which was so dimly lighted that the faces in the portraits on the walls and the figures in the suits of armor made Mary feel that she did not want to look at them” (15). DENISE BURKHARD AND JULIA STIBANE 64 Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the forest was already introduced as a setting connected with darkness and silence as well as huge trees that evoke a sense of disorientation. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, many of these elements are drawn upon once again and the forest is described as a perilous wilderness, which is an impression that is enforced by the use of a night-time setting for Harry’s and Ron’s visit. When they move deeper into the forest, they are enclosed by trees and surrounded by utter darkness: Then, when the trees had become thicker than ever, so that the stars overhead were no longer visible, and Harry’s wand shone alone in the sea of dark, they saw their spider guides leaving the path. Harry paused, trying to see where the spiders were going, but everything outside his little sphere of light was pitch black (Chamber 202). Obscurity adds to the dangers connected with the fairy-tale notion of not leaving the path and makes the Forbidden Forest a place where orientation can be lost easily due to a limited visual range, which is emphasised in the quoted passage. As soon as Harry and Ron start to follow the trail of the spiders leading from the castle into the forest, tension and fear dominate, as can be seen when “Fang suddenly let loose a great, echoing bark, making both Harry and Ron jump out of their skins” (ibid.). The protagonists’ fear peaks when Harry and Ron see themselves confronted with a host of “[s]piders the size of carthorses, eight-eyed, eight-legged, black, hairy, gigantic” (ibid. 204) as well as with Aragog, “a spider the size of a small elephant” (ibid. 205). The danger linked with the spiders is aptly captured in Aragog’s remark that he “‘cannot deny them [his offspring] fresh meat, when it wanders so willingly into our midst’” (ibid. 207), which is a threat to the students’ lives.5 Similar to the Basilisk hidden in the Chamber of Secrets, Aragog is also a creature from the time when the Chamber was opened before and functions as a witness to contest the version of the story Harry discovered in Tom Riddle’s diary. Aragog’s account of the incidents is crucial in so far as it reinforces the influence of the past on the present. The giant spider in fact starts his account with an emphasis on temporality, when recounting what happened fifty years ago: “‘But that was years ago [...] [y]ears and years ago. I remember it well. That’s why they made him leave the school’” (ibid. 205). During the conversation, Harry and Ron receive crucial information regarding the first opening of the Chamber, which helps them to put the pieces together and eventually seek out Moaning Myrtle. Above all, the encounter with Aragog emphasises that Hagrid has been accused wrongly because he, as Harry puts it, “‘never opened the Chamber of Secrets [...] [h]e was innocent’” (ibid. 208), which retrospectively clears Hagrid’s record. In Chris Columbus’s movie adaptation the Forest is also introduced as a Gothic place and several filmic effects have been used to achieve this impression. In particular the soundtrack is striking, as it not only features the soundtrack the viewer is familiar with from the first movie, but in addition also the sounds caused by the movement of countless spider legs, which increase the sense of unease already evoked by the forest. The uneasy feeling is further emphasised by an observation made by Fran Pheasant-Kelly, namely that the “[b]lue-toned lighting and long shots of the boys emphasize their [Harry’s and Ron’s] vulnerability as giant tree roots seem to dwarf them” (57). Due to high-angle shots or shots of elements Ron and Harry cannot see, the viewer gets to know the dangers the students are exposed to much 5 J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001) also lists the Acromantula as an extremely dangerous beast. According to the Ministry of Magic classification it is a “Known wizard killer / impossible to train or domesticate” (xxxv). Just like the entry on the Basilisk, this entry has been annotated in the book, but in this case, specifically the classification level has been expanded, presumably by the arachnophobic Ron Weasley, which emphasises the repercussions of the encounter with the acromantulas. EXPLORING GOTHIC PLACES IN HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS 65 earlier than the characters: considerably larger spiders (or parts thereof) are shown on screen but remain unseen by Harry and Ron, so that the viewer can already anticipate what will happen in the spiders’ hollow (cf. Columbus 01:41:13; 01:41:20). Harry’s and Ron’s fear is supplemented by claustrophobia as soon as their conversation with Aragog ends and the spiders start to close in on them, first from above, then encircling them from all directions, outnumbering the two students. Moreover, the spiders start to successfully pursue the Ford Anglia, which is reminiscent of the “life-threatening pursuits” (Botting 2) to be found in Gothic literature, for they are able to move as fast as Ron can drive through the forest. IV. Hogwarts Castle and the Chamber of Secrets With respect to Rowling’s use of Gothic conventions, Hogwarts is highly ambiguous. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hogwarts castle is introduced as both a home and a dangerous place. For instance, the out-of-bounds corridor and the Forbidden Forest constitute perilous places associated with threat and gloom. Moreover, and on a more general level, the Gothic elements can also be found in Hogwarts’ architecture, “specifically in its dungeons (where Snape’s Potions classes take place), subterranean passages, hidden entrances, and secret rooms” (Hiebert Alton 203). Simultaneously, Hogwarts “is also a secure and comfortable environment” (Bayne 270) and Harry’s first true home. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hogwarts gradually transforms from a place of home and comfort into a place connected with danger and threat, which is a transformation that is already hinted at by Dobby’s mysterious warning that Harry “‘will be in mortal danger’” (Chamber 18) if he should return to Hogwarts. Disregarding the warning, Harry manages to return to Hogwarts, where the everyday boarding-school life, which has been extensively elaborated on in the first novel, is increasingly interrupted by mysterious attacks on Muggle-born students and the caretaker’s cat. This form of ambiguity can also be found in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), in which Jonathan Harker encounters a castle that is not threatening from the start: “It was a welcome sight; for here was a great bedroom well lighted and warmed with another log fire, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimney” (27). Similar to Stoker’s novel, in which the castle soon turns out to be a place of horror,6 Hogwarts transforms into a sinister and unpleasant place where students are exposed to grave danger. While the dangers in the forbidden third-floor corridor were essentially contained in a particular location (with the exception of the troll escaping from there at one point), the Basilisk cannot be contained. A threatening atmosphere is established as soon as Mrs Norris is found petrified and the writing on the wall indicates that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Other than in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, where monsters and secrets remained hidden from the students most of the time, the second novel incorporates them more directly by including the attacks in the school, which threaten the students’ lives. After the first Basilisk attack and the discovery of the terrifying message that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened, life at Hogwarts seems to fall back into its usual routine. At least classes continue more or less as usual, homework seems as important as ever and the upcoming Quidditch game Gryffindor vs. Slytherin occupies Harry’s mind. When further attacks occur, however, these everyday routines fade into the background: the Quidditch match is cancelled and safety measures for preventing further attacks are established. In this context, even the question whether Hogwarts should be closed due to severe safety issues is raised, which reinforces the impression that the attacks increas- 6 Only a few days after his arrival, Jonathan Harker realises that the castle is not as comfortable as it appears to be: “there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come” (Stoker 37). DENISE BURKHARD AND JULIA STIBANE 66 ingly affect the entire boarding-school life. This transformation also echoes the idea that the Gothic castle typically combines diverse meanings: “[t]he castle is a labyrinth, a maze, a site of secrets. It is also, paradoxically, a site of domesticity, where ordinary life carries on even while accompanied by the most extraordinary and inexplicable events” (Punter/Byron 261). And indeed, up until Ginny Weasley has been taken into the Chamber, the teachers attempt to keep up the usual school routine (with certain precautions and safety measures) even though several students have already been petrified. Apart from the dangers set loose in the castle, Hogwarts and the Chamber can be read as manifestations of the past coming back to haunt the present, which is a temporal tension that is emphasised throughout the second novel and that is a stock Gothic element (cf. Botting 1).7 This temporal connection is first made explicit in Professor Binns’s History of Magic lesson, in which he considers the Chamber to be part of a legend. In differentiating between historiography (which he believes to be reliable and factual material) and legends, Professor Binns clarifies that he considers the chamber part of a legend and in fact, “‘a very sensational, even ludicrous tale…’” (Chamber 113, original emphasis). Nevertheless, he tells the inquisitive students about the founding history of Hogwarts, including the part that according to the legend “‘Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing’” (ibid. 114). Thus the history of Hogwarts castle dates back to a remote past and the present is still shaped by the deeds of ancestors (in this case, one of the founders of the school) that reverberate in the present. The connection between past and present is made even more explicit in the remark that similar incidents occurred before: ‘And now, at Hogwarts, terrible things are to happen, are perhaps happening already, and Dobby cannot let Harry Potter stay here now that history is to repeat itself, now that the Chamber of Secrets is open once more –’ [...] ‘So there is a Chamber of Secrets?’ Harry whispered. ‘And – did you say it’s been opened before? Tell me Dobby!’ (ibid. 134, original emphasis). Dobby’s hint, which contributes to the increasing mystery revolving around the Chamber, emphasises that the past still affects the present and uncannily even repeats itself. After the first attacks, Hogwarts does not only turn into an unpredictable and dangerous place, but also becomes infused with its local history, with which every student seems to be suddenly preoccupied. As a magical means of communication, Tom Riddle’s diary also embodies the resurfacing of the past in the present moment.8 It is not only that Tom Riddle answers as a voice from the past, but also that he is able to transport Harry into his memory of the events fifty years ago: 7 On a more general level, the mixture of past and present can already be pinned down in a specific achronicity that can be observed in Hogwarts. As Beasley aptly remarks, though “the Potter series is firmly rooted in the modern world, the school itself is lit by torches and candles, heated by fireplaces, and students rely on parchment and quill rather than Windows and Word” (66). Relics of the past are thus very much part of everyday life. This prevailing ‘simultaneity of the non-simultaneous’ does not only contribute to a unique magical aesthetics of the wizarding world, but also causes aspects of contemporary and medieval frameworks to mutually defamiliarise each other. 8 As the artefacts in Knockturn Alley already suggest, the second novel deals with objects infused with Dark Magic. Tom Riddle’s diary is a prototypical example of a dangerous magical object, because it contains the memory of Tom Riddle, who responds to those writing on the pages of the diary. “Tom Riddle’s diary exerts power through its victim’s writing and reading, and eventually takes over her [Ginny’s] life” (Schanoes 139). Almost as soon as the reader meets Ginny in the second novel, she is deeply influenced by Voldemort’s 16-year-old self “‘[p]reserved in a diary’” (Chamber 227). By writing back and answering to Ginny’s worries and anxieties, Tom Riddle gains her trust, uses her to his advantage and supposes that “‘the real reason Ginny Weasley’s like this is because she opened her heart and spilled all her secrets to an invisible stranger’” (ibid. 228). Schanoes remarks that the way in EXPLORING GOTHIC PLACES IN HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS 67 Mouth hanging open, Harry saw that the little square for June the thirteenth seemed to have turned into a minuscule television screen. His hands trembling slightly, he raised the book to press his eye against the little window, and before he knew what was happening, he was tilting forwards; the window was widening, he felt his body leave his bed and he was pitched headfirst through the opening in the page, into a whirl of colour and shadow (ibid. 180). This scene is crucial to understanding the way in which Tom Riddle’s diary works. Instead of simply telling Harry his own interpretation of the story, Riddle shows him memories as though they were Harry’s own. By giving Harry the illusion of having witnessed the events surrounding Tom Riddle’s capture of the culprit responsible for the death of the girl, the diary shows the events from Tom Riddle’s subjective point of view and Harry “accepts the narrator’s position of objective authority without question” (Schanoes 140). He does not even remotely consider that the memory may have been manipulated or altered.9 The diary works with Harry’s personal sympathies, causing him to identify with the young Tom Riddle, which in turn makes him believe Tom Riddle’s story. Riddle’s version of the past and the seemingly indistinguishable combination of objective facts and subjective memories lead Harry to interpret the present in light of what he saw in the past. He is deceived into believing that Hagrid was the one having opened the Chamber and that the spider Aragog is the monster hidden inside it. Leading Harry astray gives Riddle’s diary more time to “steadily [consume] Ginny” (ibid.). Thus the past does not only inform and influence the characters in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but actually consumes them, invading the present and closing the gap between past events and the present moment. As was indicated above, the probably most Gothic place in the novel is the legendary Chamber of Secrets itself, which displays a range of features typically associated with Gothic literature. Kędra-Kardela and Kowalczyk observe that “[t]he inseparable features of these edifices [i.e. those typically found in Gothic literature] are secret (underground) passages, dark labyrinthine corridors, trap doors, sliding panels concealing secret chambers, and dimly lit staircases” (21). In this respect, the door to the Chamber of Secrets is significant, as its entrance is hidden in a girl’s bathroom. On the one hand, the bathroom is haunted by Moaning Myrtle, the ghost of a girl who died in the bathroom and returned as a revenant, “‘determined to haunt Olive Hornby’” (Chamber 221). On the other hand, the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is hidden behind a ‘sliding sink’ and can only be entered by a Parselmouth; access thus is restricted and an object as ordinary as a sink ensures that the Chamber cannot be accessed by accident. Upon jumping down the pipe, Harry “could see more pipes branching off in all directions, but none as large as theirs, which twisted and turned, sloping steeply downwards” (ibid. 223), which suggests that the pipes form a labyrinth that is continued in the gloomy tunnel leading to the Chamber. The use of a labyrinthine structure at this point reinforces Beasley’s assumption that at Hogwarts “the labyrinth is not always meant to allow for daring raids and hair raising escapes, it also serves as a device for hiding and recovering secrets, another critical trope of the Gothic castle” (Beasley 69, emphasis added). The close link between labyrinth and secret is reinforced by the fact that Harry discovers the titular Chamber at the end to save the life of Ginny Weasley as well as to fight the true heir of Salazar Slytherin. which the diary works is that it “takes in Harry’s writing and gives it back as its own, almost literally twisting his words” (140). At first, neither Ginny nor Harry realise the degree to which they are being influenced by the diary, which is evidence of Tom Riddle’s cunning manipulation. 9 Rowling highlights the significance of manipulated memories in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in which one of the memories Dumbledore has collected has been manipulated by its owner, Horace Slughorn, by partly being fogged over (cf. 346). DENISE BURKHARD AND JULIA STIBANE 68 The tunnel leading from the pipe to the Chamber displays a strong connection with death and claustrophobic darkness, as can be seen in one of the first descriptions: “But the tunnel was quiet as the grave, and the first unexpected sound they heard was a loud crunch as Ron stepped on what turned out to be a rat’s skull. Harry lowered his wand to look at the floor and saw that it was littered with small animal bones” (Chamber 223, original emphasis). The skulls do not only establish a link with the bones on display at Borgin and Burkes, they also emphasise that the place is associated with death. This association can also be seen in the comparison of the place to a grave, which it eventually will become unless Harry rescues Ginny in time. Dead silence also informs Isabella’s escape from Manfred in Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto when she decides to use one of the subterranean passages, where she encounters an “awful silence [reigning] throughout those subterraneous regions” (26) except for gusts of wind. In this respect, the location of the Chamber, which Ron assumes to be “‘[u]nder the lake, probably’” (Chamber 223), evokes a feeling of claustrophobia, which is even enhanced when the tunnel collapses and Harry is separated from Ron and Lockhart, which eventually results in the typical character constellation of traditional Gothic novels.10 As a Gothic place, the Chamber of Secrets is connected with a gloomy and mysterious atmosphere and evokes a feeling of anxiety within Harry, as the description of the hidden Chamber illustrates: “He was standing at the end of a very long, dimly lit chamber. Towering stone pillars entwined with more carved serpents rose to support a ceiling lost in darkness, casting long black shadows through the odd, greenish gloom that filled the place” (ibid. 226). The sheer vastness of the Chamber as well as the shadows caused by the carved serpents contribute to making the place even more eerie, while the gloom and darkness arguably create something similar to Gothic literature’s “[n]octurnal settings” (Kędra-Kardela/Kowalczyk 21). Harry’s careful steps in the Chamber as well as the impression that “[t]he hollow eye sockets of the stone snakes seemed to be following him” (Chamber 226) evoke the uncomfortable feeling of being watched. In Columbus’s audio-visual adaptation, the Chamber features as a room in the sewers that is cast in green hues. The colour symbolism is particularly striking since green is the colour associated with Slytherin house – it is hardly surprising then that Harry encounters the Basilisk, a huge snake, in the Chamber.11 The dangers associated with the place are indicated by its slippery dampness as well as by the stalactites on the ceiling, which are reminiscent of a snake’s fangs. Both the novel and the adaptation indicate that the Chamber is a Gothic place, which displays the characteristic aura of mystery while simultaneously establishing a sense of persecution and reinforcing the connection with Salazar Slytherin. Apart from being a gloomy place associated with utmost danger, the Chamber, like Hogwarts, also displays a connection between past and present in the form of the seemingly 10 In early Gothic novels, the typical character constellation consists of the hero, the damsel in distress (or victim) and the villain – a triad which can also be found in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Despite the fact that the villain is embodied by Voldemort throughout all seven novels, the hero and the damsel in distress cannot be assigned as easily to specific characters. Some scholars argue that Harry, apart from being the hero, is also cast in the role of the victim, “as he is repeatedly attacked by Voldemort in various guises” (Hiebert Alton 203). Furthermore, he is not the only hero in the story, since it is usually a group of people who contribute to Harry’s victory against Voldemort. But if the analysis just focuses on the second novel, the roles can be assigned to specific characters: the damsel in distress, who is “suffering at the hands of the cruel villain” (ibid.), is Ginny Weasley, the villain is Tom Riddle and the brave hero is Harry Potter. 11 At this point, a connection between Slytherin and Voldemort can be established that reinforces Voldemort’s position as the heir of Slytherin: the Basilisk that creeps out of Salazar Slytherin’s mouth is reminiscent of the Dark Mark, which is described as “a colossal skull, composed of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue” (Goblet 115). EXPLORING GOTHIC PLACES IN HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS 69 corporeal manifestation of Tom Riddle. As a memory “‘[p]reserved in a diary’” (ibid. 227), Tom Riddle appears to be “strangely blurred around the edges, as though Harry was looking at him through a misted window” (ibid.). In this context, Christina Flotmann remarks that “[b]y leaving his ‘frame,’ the diary[,] and turning from a mere memory into something more solid, he blurs boundaries of space and time as well as between the animate and the inanimate” (127). The fact that Riddle will soon be able to leave the pages of the diary suggests that he does not only successfully blur the boundaries but has also found a means to overcome them, which is reflected in the fact that during Harry’s and Tom’s conversation “Riddle’s outline was becoming clearer, more solid” (Chamber 233). In highlighting that he is a memory that was created “‘to lead another in my footsteps, and finish Salazar Slytherin’s noble work’” (ibid. 230), Tom Riddle merges the past, for Salazar Slytherin is his ancestor, and the present, for he acted through Ginny to finish what Slytherin had begun when the school was founded. Riddle even goes a step further and tells Harry that “‘Voldemort [...] is my past, present and future’” (ibid. 231) and has access to information that could not have been accessible to sixteen-year-old Tom, namely that he tried to kill Harry twice. Thus Tom, as a relic from the time fifty years ago, constructs himself a legacy and appears as a corporeal manifestation to Harry, defying temporality through the magical means of the diary. V. Conclusion Exploring several places in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has shown that they can be read in the context of traditional Gothic places, which creates the distinctive atmosphere that contributes to the overall darker theme of the novel. These places are linked especially by the atmosphere and feelings they create; for instance, gloom and the feeling of claustrophobia characterise all places. Rowling uses Gothic places to reinforce the dangers and threat lurking at Hogwarts and spreading over the school. Harry’s accidental visit at Knockturn Alley introduces him to the darker part of wizarding society as well as to dangerous and dark objects, which foreshadow the significance of Tom Riddle’s diary. In particular the places in and around Hogwarts display a strong connection with the past, as can be seen in the conversation between Harry, Ron and Aragog in the Forbidden Forest, as well as in the local history of Hogwarts more generally. With the opening of the Chamber of Secrets fear spreads in the school, further safety measures are taken and the school becomes an utterly dangerous place. The Chamber itself is the most Gothic place in the novel, which is due to the fact that time and space merge in the Chamber and Tom Riddle is almost able to leave the diary’s pages in corporeal form. These places are early examples in the series in which Rowling uses the Gothic mode to establish a sense of peril; later, she also uses a range of other places to create a similar effect, such as Bathilda Bagshot’s house in Godric’s Hollow or the Shrieking Shack, which provides a complex Gothic topography. Works Cited Bayne, Karen M. “Haunted Castles and Hidden Rooms: Gothic Spaces and Identity in Harry Potter.” Phoenix Rising: Collected Papers on Harry Potter 17-21 May 2007, edited by Sharon K. Goetz, Narrate Conferences, 2008. 262-72. Beasley, Garland D. “Harry Potter and The Castle of Otranto: J.K. Rowling, Hogwarts, and the Eighteenth-Century Gothic Novel.” Popular Culture Review 25.1 (2014): 65-82. DENISE BURKHARD AND JULIA STIBANE 70 Blake, Brandy. “The Prisoner and the Patriarchy: Family Secrets in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Phoenix Rising: Collected Papers on Harry Potter 17-21 May 2007, edited by Sharon K. Goetz, Narrate Conferences, 2008. 141-53. Botting, Fred. Gothic. Routledge, 2001 [1996]. Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden, edited by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, Norton, 2006 [1911]. Columbus, Chris (dir.). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Warner Bros., 2002. Flotmann, Christina. Ambiguity in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Harry Potter’ – A (Post)Structuralist Reading of Two Popular Myths. transcript, 2013. Hiebert Alton, Anne. “Playing the Genre Game – Generic Fusions of the Harry Potter Series.” Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter, edited by Elizabeth E. Heilman, 2nd edition, Routledge, 2009 [2003]. 199-223. Jacobs, Tilia Klebenov. “The Magic and the Profane.” Phoenix Rising: Collected Papers on Harry Potter 17-21 May 2007, edited by Sharon K. Goetz, Narrate Conferences, 2008. 249-61. Kędra-Kardela, Anna, and Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk. “The Gothic Canon: Contexts, Features, Relationships, Perspectives.” Expanding the Gothic Canon – Studies in Literature, Film and New Media, edited by Anna Kędra-Kardela and Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk, Peter Lang, 2014. 13-49. Pheasant-Kelly, Fran. “Bewitching, Abject, Uncanny: Other Spaces in the Harry Potter Films.” J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter, edited by Cynthia J. Hallett and Peggy J. Huey, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 48-73. Punter, David, and Byron, Glennis. The Gothic. Blackwell, 2004. Rowling, J.K. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Bloomsbury, 2009 [2001]. ---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bloomsbury, 1998. ---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Bloomsbury, 2000. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bloomsbury, 2005. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2007. Schanoes, Veronica L. “Cruel Heroes and Treacherous Texts: Educating the Reader in Moral Complexity and Critical Reading in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Books.” Reading Harry Potter – Critical Essays, edited by Giselle Liza Anatol, Praeger, 2003. 131-45. Stevens, David. The Gothic Tradition. Cambridge University Press, 2005 [2000]. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Penguin, 1994 [1897]. TIME Staff. “Because It’s His Birthday: Harry Potter, By The Numbers.” TIME, 31 July 2013. Last access: 23 August 2017. Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. Oxford World’s Classics, 2014 [1764]. Jule Lenzen Parallels between Celtic Druidism on the British Isles and in Ireland and the Magical World of the Harry Potter Novels I. Introduction From today’s perspective, Druids tend to be associated with magic, and perhaps most of all with the mystical festivities held at Stonehenge, such as the winter and summer solstices. Yet, they were also prominent figures in ancient Celtic culture, as Ó Hógáin points out in his study on Pre-Christian Ireland: “The Celts have men called druides, who concern themselves with divination and all branches of wisdom” (81, original emphasis). This description already suggests that a comparison between magic in the Harry Potter series and the Druids’ skills may be fruitful. Various articles on Pottermore indicate that J.K. Rowling was aware of Celtic myths and legends when writing the Harry Potter series. In her entries on cauldrons, for example, she mentions both “[t]he four mythical jewels of Ireland” and “[t]he Thirteen Treasures of Britain”, and even specifically the cauldron of the giant Dyrnwch (cf. “Cauldrons” n.p.), which is part of Welsh folklore. Similarly, in her comment on the Sword of Gryffindor she refers to the legend of King Arthur (cf. “The Sword of Gryffindor” n.p.), which has its roots in Irish and Welsh folktales. The article further refers to “the Sword of Nuadu, [which is] part of the four legendary treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann” (cf. ibid.), an ancient Irish tribe which is also mentioned in connection to the Druids. In addition, the Druidess Cliodna, featured on one of the Chocolate Frog cards Harry gets on his first journey to Hogwarts (cf. Stone 78), is based on an actual Druidess in Irish mythology, as Colbert points out (cf. Colbert 255-57). In the following, I will explore a number of features of Rowling’s series that may have been inspired by what is known about Celtic Druids today. Rather than focusing on the quite esoteric modern Druids, who can be seen at Stonehenge every year, this paper will draw upon the image of the Druids as represented in ancient Celtic literature in order to identify possible similarities with the representation of wizards and witches and specifically their ways of practising magic in the Harry Potter series. The ability to practise magic in and of itself constitutes the first obvious link between the Potterverse and Druids, who were believed to be endowed with magical powers: “The simplest, and yet the most telling, evidence for the supernatural skills of the druids in ancient Ireland is furnished by the word for druidry itself, druídecht. This (in modern spelling draíocht) has always been the ordinary term in Irish for magic” (Ó Hógáin 81, original emphasis). Some studies already address the connection between Rowling’s works and Celtic mythology. In Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Companion to Harry Potter, for example, Kronzek and Kronzek connect the Banshee with early accounts from Ireland (cf. 19-20). Similarities to cauldrons in Celtic mythology have been analysed as well (cf. Colbert 52-54; Kronzek/Kronzek 32-34). But there is next to no research on the comparison between Celtic Druidism1 and Harry Potter so far.2 This paper will try to fill this 1 The term ‘Celtic Druid’ will be used in this paper to refer to the Druids in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. 2 Colbert, in his work The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, provides only a rather general and short overview of the Druids (77-78). JULE LENZEN 72 gap by examining parallels between Celtic Druids on the British Isles and in Ireland and the magical world of Harry Potter. Of course, it is anybody’s guess whether or to what extent Rowling has actually built the magical world of Harry Potter on accounts of Druidism. Still, a certain Celtic influence seems entirely possible, especially since she is known for her intertextual references and her knowledge of many different ancient cultures and cultural customs,3 and some of the parallels to Celtic Druidism are striking. II. A short introduction to historic Druids For an analysis of Celtic Druidism, first of all the term ‘Celt/Celtic’ needs to be clarified. It is a term that proves to be problematic given the fact that the people who are subsumed under this label never referred to themselves as ‘Celts’. Instead, the term was imposed upon them by others, primarily the Romans. Thus, there are no clear-cut boundaries between who is a ‘Celt’ and who is not.4 This paper will focus specifically on the Druids on the British Isles and in Ireland, i.e., the region where the Harry Potter novels are set. Most references to Druidism can be found in Irish literature, which is why this paper primarily uses these accounts. For some of the features that will be mentioned in the following evidence from other Celtic areas, for example information on the Gaulish Druids, will also be drawn upon. A major problem when studying the Druids is the overall lack of historical sources. The dearth of historical evidence has given rise to a considerable amount of myth-making, as Piggott stresses: What, however, can also be constructed is that very dangerous thing, a past-wished-for, in which a convenient selection of the evidence is fitted into a predetermined intellectual or emotional pattern. […] There has also been a process of manufacturing Druids-as-wished-for going on since classical times (16). This also means that all sources associated with the Druids available today have to be regarded with extreme caution, as not all of them are based on scientific facts. Many of the original sources written by the Druids or their people were destroyed in the course of Christianisation, leaving scholars mostly with external accounts. This means that the sources may be tainted by the wish to legitimise the act of ‘civilising’ Celtic tribes. Little to no accounts from the ‘Celts’ survive from the original period of Druidism that this paper is dealing with, i.e., 600 BCE-500 CE. Nevertheless, there is a high number of literary sources that were transmitted orally for some time before Christian scribes wrote them down (cf. Birkhan 464), which did not happen before the 6th-8th century (cf. ibid. 467). These texts are where most accounts of Druidism can be found. More precisely, these are ancient Irish or Welsh myths and legends, though the majority of accounts is situated within the Irish context. These stories can be found in the Ulster and Fenian cycles, the Táin and the Mabinogion as well as in many others.5 As most references to Druidism can be found in ancient Irish literature, this paper will primarily focus on these sources. It seems very unlikely that Rowling was inspired by the historical sources depicting the original Druids (due to the scarcity of source material); moreover, it proves to be extremely 3 Cf. such works as Colbert’s The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends and Fascinating Facts (2003) or Granger’s Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures (2009), which explore various possible inspirations the magical world of Harry Potter draws upon. 4 For a detailed discussion of the problems associated with the term ‘Celt/Celtic’, see Birkhan (32-51). 5 For an extensive discussion of the literary sources of ‘Celtic’ myths and legends, see Birkhan (468-74). CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 73 difficult to differentiate between truthful accounts and what Piggott calls “Druids-as-wishedfor” (16). In The Druids, Piggott distinguishes different types of sources on Druidism: firstly, archaeological evidence; secondly, classical sources such as accounts by the Greeks and Romans; and thirdly, “the development of ideas about the Druids originating in the antiquarian speculations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, rapidly becoming part of the background material […] of scholars […] [and] of imaginative writers and artists, and latterly developing into a folk-lore of its own” (ibid.). He further mentions “the surviving fragments of an originally oral tradition in the Celtic vernaculars, transmitted by medieval scribes and scholars” (ibid.), which was hinted at above already. The first two types of sources deal mainly with Druidism in Gaul. In the following, I will, due to a lack of historic sources on Druidism in Celtic Britain and Ireland, also use these references to provide a more complete picture of the Druids. The historic Druids held many different functions in ancient Celtic society and had a high standing; they even ranked above the kings. They had religious functions in the community, and they were judges (cf. Meid 101). According to Ó Hógáin, Druids might have inherited the function of the shaman from even older traditions, being, as they were, “an intermediary between the society and the mysterious powers of destiny” (73). He identifies three different types of Druids, i.e., poets, prophets and druids/magicians, which he subsumes under the term ‘the wise man’ (cf. ibid. 72). In the classical sources they were also associated with divination and star-study. As mentioned before, most accounts on Druidism can be found in literary texts, and it is certainly possible that Rowling has drawn inspiration from some of these sources, as was pointed out in the introduction. As a starting point for identifying further parallels, Spence’s History and Origins of Druidism and The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain as well as Bonwick’s Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions have been consulted. However, since these works were originally published in the late 19th century (Bonwick) and in the 1940s (Spence) and given the fact that both Spence and Bonwick drew upon even older sources (from the 17th and 18th centuries), their works may be tainted by the practice of creating their own folklore around Druidism and not checking their sources (cf. Piggott). This should be kept in mind when reading the following hypotheses. As far as possible, their accounts have been checked against other, reliable sources on ancient Celtic Druidism, to avoid confusion regarding the trustworthiness of Spence’s and Bonwick’s work. As will become apparent, the picture they draw of Druidism is one that bears remarkable similarities to the magical world in the Harry Potter series. III. Wands and spells In the Harry Potter novels, wands and spells are the basic tools of the true wizard. The casting of spells typically requires a wand in Harry Potter, as long as one is a wizard or witch.6 Although underage magical incidents, where children make things happen without really knowing how they are doing it (cf. Stone 47), show that magic is possible without a wand, the wizards in the Harry Potter novels are not able to channel their magic and perform certain spells without their wands. The significance of the wand becomes apparent in Harry’s reaction when Hermione accidentally destroys his wand during their flight from Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: He had spilled his own blood more times than he could count; he had lost all his bones in his right arm once; this journey had already given him scars to his chest and forearm to join those on his hand and 6 House-elves, for example, do not require a wand to practise magic. JULE LENZEN 74 forehead, but never, until this moment, had he felt himself to be fatally weakened, vulnerable and naked, as though the best part of his magical power had been torn from him (Hallows 286). According to the available accounts, Druids also make use of wands, even if these are not mentioned every single time Druids are referred to as casting a spell. Still, MacBain observes with respect to the use of wands: “The Druidic wand plays an important part, a blow from it causing transformation and spells […]. It must be remarked, too, that the wood used for wands and Druidic rites and fires was […] the yew, hawthorn, and more especially the rowan tree” (MacBain quoted in Spence, Magic Arts 27). This observation also alludes to another significant parallel to Harry Potter, as the wands in the Potterverse are also made of different types of wood. Here, the list of wand woods is quite long, however, and is not limited to yew, hawthorn and rowan, although it includes those three (cf. “Wand Woods” n.p.). A further interesting similarity between Druidic wand-lore and Rowling’s series is the notion that there may be wands with special properties. With respect to Druidic wands, Spence claims that they “sometimes [take] the form of a symbolic branch of crescent shape from which little tinkling bells [depend] […] [,] an imitation of the ‘silver bough,’ the magic applebranch borne by the god Manannan” (Spence, History 147-48). He characterises this particular type of wand as a peace-bringing wand. Although wands in Harry Potter do not vary that much in terms of their shape, the idea of a wand with special powers is picked up quite prominently in the Elder Wand. While the wand mentioned by Spence is associated with peace, the Elder Wand is famous for its bloody history; when it is won from its previous owner in order to make it change its allegiance this often results in the former owner’s death (cf. Hallows 334-35). With regard to the powers of wands, there seems to be a strong connection with water in the case of Druids in Irish literature (cf. Ó Hógáin 76); there are instances where Druids are said to cast water from their wands or to create springs (cf. Bonwick 61). Although there seems to be no special connection between water and the wizard or witch in Harry Potter, there is at least a spell that provides water: the Aguamenti Charm (cf. Prince 537). It is noteworthy that water, which plays such a vital role in Druidism, proves to be an exception to the laws that govern magic in the world of Harry Potter: it can be produced ‘out of thin air’, while food cannot, as Hermione explains in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (“‘[One cannot] make good food out of nothing! You can summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some’”, 241). Another spell mentioned by Spence in connection with the Druids that appears to have parallels in Harry Potter is ‘fith-fath’ or ‘fath-fith’, which, according to MacCulloch, causes invisibility (cf. MacCulloch quoted in Spence, History 149) and is associated with Druidism specifically in Ireland and Scotland (cf. Spence, Magic Arts 59-60). Many readers of Harry Potter will think of Harry’s Invisibility Cloak in this context. Harry’s cloak is an exception, as it is one of the Deathly Hallows, but there are also further, more ordinary invisibility cloaks in Harry Potter, which have been created by casting a spell on them. According to Xenophilius Lovegood, the two spells causing invisibility are the ‘Disillusionment Charm’ and the ‘Bedazzling Hex’ (cf. Hallows 333). The use of the spell ‘fith-fath’ by Druids is also referred to in Birkhan, although not to cause invisibility, but for casting a magical fog (cf. 500).7 Spence therefore rightly states that he could not find an account of the use of fith-fath in literature to cause invisibility, contrarily to MacCulloch’s claims (cf. Spence, History 149); although fithfath in its different forms is attested in many Celtic literary accounts (cf. Birkhan 477, 500, 930), it is never mentioned as a spell to cause invisibility – it rather employs different meth- 7 Druids are not mentioned explicitly in the passage, though; instead, the spell is connected to the Túatha Dé Danann. CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 75 ods to disguise oneself, as for example the transformation into animals or creating fogs. Additionally, Spence also mentions the transformation processes connected with fith-fath and the Druidic processes of transformation or shape-shifting, which will be discussed at a later point in this paper.8 There are further types of Druidic spells that resonate in the Potterverse. The Druidic Magical Fires (cf. Spence, History 164-65), for instance, have counterparts in the Potterverse. The Harry Potter series in fact features several spells that create fire, for example ‘Incendio’ (cf. Goblet 46). Furthermore, readers learn at one point that “[c]onjuring up portable, waterproof fires was a speciality of Hermione’s” (Chamber 138). What is more, there is the wall of fire that Albus Dumbledore conjures up as a defence against the Inferi in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (cf. 538-39). So magical fires are a recurring feature in the Harry Potter series. This, strictly speaking, already concerns the next section, where more spells will be discussed in connection with Magical Battles. Spence also refers to a procedure by the Irish Druids called ‘Satire from the hilltops’; this involves special rituals and is meant to satirise a king (cf. Spence, History 150). The ‘Satire from the hilltops’ could for example cause the appearance of “blotches upon the face” (Spence, Magic Arts 61). Ó Hógáin explains that if an Irish Druid in his role of a judge made a wrong decision, blotches would appear on his face; if he satirised someone in the wrong way, this would also happen to him (cf. Ó Hógáin 77). This procedure refers to the poetic abilities of Druids mentioned by Ó Hógáin. A remarkably similar spell – called ‘Furnunculus’ – is employed by Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “Goyle bellowed and put his hands to his nose, where great ugly boils were springing up” (Goblet 262). The examples addressed so far show that spells and the use of wands were closely linked in Celtic Druidism, which suggests an obvious parallel to the Potterverse. Beyond that, the notion that the wands were made of specific woods and that there were wands with a special reputation can also be found in the Harry Potter series, especially with respect to the Elder Wand. Moreover, when regarding a selection of spells in Druidic lore, there are also striking similarities, although they cannot always be translated into a spell in Harry Potter. Given the fact that Druidism in ancient Celtic literature already involved a strong link between water and magic, it is especially noteworthy that wizards and witches in Rowling’s series can create water out of thin air. IV. Magical battles Spells, curses and hexes are regularly employed in battles and duels in Harry Potter, ranging from duelling practice to the Battle of Hogwarts. The Druids are said to have often been involved in battles as well, and Diodorus Siculus, the Greek historian (1st century BCE), even refers to their involvement in historic battles in Gaul (cf. Ó Hógáin 81). One specific spell attributed to Druids in various texts in connection with battles results in casting a dense fog for the purpose of concealment (cf. Spence, History 146). Despite the fact that there is no similar spell in the Harry Potter novels, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder can be used “to make a quick escape” (Prince 116) and thus appears to have a quite similar effect. The idea of magically induced concealment is also reminiscent of the Druids “sending heavy snowfalls and thick darkness upon [someone]” (Spence, History 146).9 The Druid Brochan for instance allegedly conjured up a storm and darkness to prevent St. Columba from travelling (cf. Bon- 8 The form of this spell also illustrates the interrelation between poetry and Druidism, as stated by Ó Hógáin (72). 9 Spence here actually refers to fith-fath (cf. the section on wands and spells above). JULE LENZEN 76 wick 30-31).10 Another story that deals with a Druidic battle even features a flying, ‘evil’ Druid, called Mog Ruith: Then did Mog Ruith call for his dark hornless bull hide and his white-speckled bird headpiece and his Druidic instruments, and thus accoutred, he flew upward into the air […]. In the firmament he was encountered by Cormac’s Druid Ciothruadh, but Mog Ruith’s power was the stronger (Spence, History 164). This may remind readers of Harry Potter of Voldemort, who is able to fly without the help of a broom (cf. Hallows 56). However, in the Celtic story the other Druid is likewise able to fly; in other words, the ability to fly without a device is not necessarily associated with evil in Irish folklore.11 The reference to flying is not the only element of the battle mentioned above that can also be found in Rowling’s series. The description of the battle the passage above is taken from is also concerned with two fires that have been lit by the Druids fighting each other. As mentioned already in the previous section, there are many spells connected to fire in Harry Potter, but there is no reference to two fires battling each other. However, there is a hellish fire that cannot be extinguished by wizards, namely the ‘Fiendfyre’, which consumes one version of the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (cf. ibid. 507-10). Another kind of magic connected to the fire in this battle is the following: Mog Ruith crafts a ‘magical ball’ from shavings of the shaft of the soldiers’ spears and butter, “chanting a spell the while to the effect that the angry flame he was about to let loose might subdue that of his enemy. He then cast the magical ball into the fire, where it exploded with a thunderous report” (Spence, History 165). There are several spells that cause explosions in Harry Potter, as for example ‘Expulso’ (cf. Hallows 138) or ‘Confringo’ (cf. ibid. 279), but none of them requires such an elaborate procedure as the one ascribed to Mog Ruith. Moreover, Bonwick adds to Spence’s version of the story mentioned above a passage in which the other Druid says “a charm with his mountain-ash stick” (Bonwick 61), which reinforces the notion of a magical battle similar to those in Harry Potter. There is no evidence for this in the original story, but there is a reference to a wand being used by a Druid at an earlier stage in the story (cf. Ó Duinn 33). During the battle, Mog Ruith uses his ‘devastating breath’ to turn three druids into stone, a procedure that is reminiscent of the spell ‘Petrificus Totalus’ in Harry Potter (cf. Stone 198), which, however, is produced with the help of a wand. Mog Ruith, moreover, uses his breath to create “a great black cloud which rained down blood” (Spence, Magical Arts 165), an event for which no equivalent can be found in Harry Potter. V. Shape-shifting As already pointed out above, one of the uses of wands by the Druids involved transformations, i.e., shape-shifting. Shape-shifting is a prominent feature regarding the depiction of Druids in ancient Irish literature, and it also plays a major part throughout the Harry Potter series. In Rowling’s novels, there are different magical ways of changing one’s shape, i.e., the magic practised by the Animagi, the Metamorphmagi as well as Transfiguration and Polyjuice 10 The source of this account is presumably a Christian text, which needs to be regarded with caution as Druids were likely to be seen as ‘heathens’ in this context, resulting in unfavourable assessments of them and their doings (cf. Bonwick 24). 11 Severus Snape is also able to fly without any magical device; yet he seems to have learned this from Voldemort (cf. Hallows 482). CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 77 Potion. In the following, the different processes of changing one’s shape will be analysed and compared with what can be found about shape-shifting in ancient accounts of Celtic Druids.12 According to Spence, shape-shifting Druids in Irish literature can assume any form they want. Moreover, they are also able to cast spells upon others, “so that they [appear] in forms unlike themselves, or in animal or even inanimate shapes” (Spence, History 148). Bonwick adds that Druids could also transform men into trees (cf. 83). As mentioned above, Carmichael states that the spell ‘fith-fath’ is also used to “transform one object into another” (Carmichael quoted in Spence, Magic Arts 60). In Harry Potter, Animagi, as defined by McGonagall, are “wizards who could transform at will into animals” (Prisoner 83-84). They can also transform themselves back into their human shape again. Dumbledore adds to this in his elaborations on “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump” in The Tales of Beedle the Bard: “Animagi make up a small fraction of the wizard population. Achieving perfect, spontaneous human to animal transformation requires much study and practice, and many witches and wizards consider that their time might be better employed in other ways” (Tales 80). Unlike Druids, Animagi can only transform into one specific animal, not into many different ones. Moreover, it typically takes a long time to achieve this ability, and it cannot be achieved by the mere flick of a wand. By contrast, the Welsh bard Taliesin allegedly could assume any shape he wanted, be it “a vulture upon a rock, an eagle, ‘the fairest of plants’, the wood in the covert, the word of science, the sward itself” (Spence, History 149). Neither Druids in Celtic accounts nor Animagi in Harry Potter require a spell to shape-shift. Metamorphmagi have abilities that are similar to those of Animagi; they “‘can change [their] appearance at will’” (Phoenix 51) and do not need a wand or a potion to do so. Yet, in contrast to Animagi, they have been born with this special ability. For Druids, the transformation process which involves changing others into animals or inanimate objects requires the use of a spell, as in the well-known Irish story “The Children of Lir”, whose title characters “were said by ancient Irish bards to have been changed by a Druidic wand […] into four swans” (Bonwick 245). The “druidical fairy wand” (Joyce 6) is also referred to in the Old Celtic Romances.13 This feature of Druidic transformation is reminiscent of the Transfiguration classes in Harry Potter. In these, inanimate objects are changed into other objects or into animals: “Then she [Professor McGonagall] changed her desk into a pig and back again. […] [T]hey [the students] were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle” (Stone 100). Although the Transfiguration lessons do not involve transforming the wizard or witch him-/herself, the process taught by Professor McGonagall does rely on the same elements as magical transformations described in Celtic literature: a spell, a wand, animals and inanimate objects. Still, the idea of casting a spell on oneself in order to change one’s shape (or at least part of it) is drawn upon when Victor Krum transforms his head into that of a shark during the Triwizard Tournament in Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts 12 The obvious parallel between the shape-shifting of Celtic Druids and Animagi and Metamorphmagi in Harry Potter has also been noted by Colbert (cf. 23, 30). He does not explore the similarities with respect to the processes of transformation, however. 13 P.W. Joyce claims to have translated the Old Celtic Romances from Gaelic, “from the manuscripts of Trinity College and of the Royal Irish Academy” (vi). For the sources of his work, see Joyce viii. However, his claim of a translation “for literary […] purposes” (ibid. vi) suggests a free translation, meaning that from an academic point of view it has to be regarded with caution. Moreover, writing in the 18thcentury tradition, his work may represent an instance of ‘Druids-as-wished-for’. “The Children of Lir”, an Irish legend, however, which is quoted here, exists in other sources as well (cf. Birkhan 682). Joyce’s work has been consulted as the story is alluded to in the same way in the other three main sources used for this paper (Spence, The Magic Arts of Celtic Britain, Spence, History and Origins of Druidism and Bonwick, Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions). JULE LENZEN 78 (cf. Goblet 434): “He seemed to have Transfigured himself – but badly” (ibid.). This suggests that, in theory, even a transformation of one’s entire body into any given animal by means of a spell is possible in Harry Potter’s world. Dumbledore confirms this in his comments on “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump”, where he also refers to the differences between being an Animagus and transfiguring oneself into an animal: Animagi do not retain the power of human speech while in their animal form, although they keep all their human thinking and reasoning powers. This, as every schoolchild knows, is the fundamental difference between an Animagus, and Transfiguring oneself into an animal. In the case of the latter, one would become the animal entirely, with the consequence that one would know no magic, be unaware that one had ever been a wizard, and would need somebody else to Transfigure one back to one’s original form (Tales 83). The loss of identity and magical abilities seems to constitute another difference to the effects of Druidic magic; the children of Lir, for example, remember who they were, though they have been transformed into swans. In addition, shape-shifting Druids who transform themselves can also return to their original shape without the help of others. A case in point is the story of Ceritwen, who pursues the Druid Gwion and changes among other things into a hound and finally into a hen, when she eats Gwion, who has transformed himself into a grain (cf. Birkhan 871). Spence also mentions Druids changing into the shapes of other people: “The Irish Druid Fer Fidail assumed the appearance of a woman, […] while another Druid deceives Cuchullin […] by taking the form of the Lady Niamh” (Spence, History 148). This sounds very much like the effect of Polyjuice Potion in Harry Potter. Witches and wizards drinking the potion are transformed into another human being for a short time: “You can change age, sex and race by taking the Polyjuice Potion, but not species” (“Polyjuice Potion” n.p.). Thus, this potion does not work for transforming oneself into inanimate objects or animals, as Hermione’s accident with the cat hair in the second volume proves (cf. Chamber 168). The comparative analysis of shape-shifting so far has shown that Druids can transform themselves into another person, animal or inanimate being without the help of potions and spells, i.e., by employing a similar procedure as the Animagi in Harry Potter, although without the limitations imposed upon the latter. In Druidism, there are two major types of transformation: one is shape-shifting, the other one is casting a spell on others to make them change their form. The counterpart of the first type in Harry Potter are the Animagi and Metamorphmagi and the use of Polyjuice Potion. There are some crucial differences between Druidic transformation and the one practised by wizards and witches in Rowling’s series, however, the most important being that Druids can take any form they want without needing a potion or external help, while wizards and witches in Harry Potter are subject to rules that restrict the possibilities of transformation. The counterpart of the second type of Druidic transformation mentioned above is to be found in the Transfiguration classes (and thus is a part of the basic school curriculum). Although the overall process of transformation is very much the same, people who are under a spell in Harry Potter do not remember who they were before, while the spell cast by Druids may still allow enchanted people to remember their identity and fate. All in all, there are quite a lot of similarities, however, so it seems at least conceivable that Rowling may have picked up some ideas from stories about Druids and developed them further in her novels. CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 79 VI. Potions In addition to spells, potions constitute the second major magical device in the Harry Potter series. An entire school subject is devoted to potions, and they can indeed help a wizard in manifold ways – be it to heal wounds, mend broken arms or to make someone else fall in love with oneself.14 Potions are also employed for dark purposes, for example, to kill someone, and are generally very powerful. As Professor Snape puts it, “‘I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death’” (Stone 102). One of the potions that play a particularly important role throughout the series was already mentioned in the previous section: Polyjuice Potion, which transforms a wizard or witch into another person. There are also references to potions in connection to Druids in Celtic literature. In one version of a story about the Celtic warrior Cuchullain, for example, he is given “a draught of forgetfulness” (Spence, Magic Arts 27) by the Druids to forget the fairy lady with whom he betrayed his wife (cf. Bonwick 52). There is no reference to a potion that could achieve anything like this in Harry Potter; yet there is a corresponding spell: ‘Obliviate’ (cf. Hallows 139). In another story, Druids “[consecrate] some water” (Bonwick 52) in order to enable Queen Mughain to bear a child. There is a complex process behind this, but there is no comparable potion in the Harry Potter novels. Similarly, Finn MacCoul has the gift to serve healing water from his hands, which makes one forever young and immune to any illness (cf. Spence, Magic Arts 26). Although there are many different types of healing draughts in Harry Potter, as for example Skele-Gro, which re-grows bones (cf. Chamber 131), none of these has the power to make someone immortal. A similar idea is associated with the Philosopher’s Stone in Harry Potter, which mostly relies on non-Druidic sources, though (cf. “The Philosopher’s Stone” n.p.).15 Finally, a more straightforward connection between Harry Potter and alleged Druidic practices can be established with respect to one of the ingredients of Polyjuice Potion: fluxweed can only be picked at full moon (cf. Chamber 125), and the Roman historian Pliny states in his accounts of Druidism that the best time to cut mistletoe was determined by the moon (cf. Spence, History 164). Although potions are mentioned in connection with Druids as well as in Harry Potter, these do not seem to provide many one-to-one correspondences. At least, there are no examples of potions that are completely identical. VII. Prophecy and divination A final, very important aspect of Celtic Druidism is divination and the making of prophecies; in fact, “[p]rophecy and divination are the accomplishments most frequently attributed to druids in Irish literature” (Ó Hógáin 75). Divination – similar to Transfiguration and Potions – is one of the subjects taught at Hogwarts (by Firenze and Sybil Trelawney). Moreover, prophecies have a great impact on the storyline throughout the series – most of all the prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort (“‘and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other one survives’” , Phoenix 741, original emphasis). Yet the forms in which prophecies are made differ in the Harry Potter series, on the one hand, and in Druidic lore, on the other hand. 14 In Harry Potter, potions are brewed in cauldrons. As mentioned in the introduction, Rowling definitely knows about the Celtic cauldrons, as her Pottermore article “Cauldrons” shows. Colbert also draws this connection in Magical Worlds (52-54). 15 For a discussion of the background of the Philosopher’s Stone, cf. the article by Naemi Winter in this volume. JULE LENZEN 80 In Irish literature, there is evidence of Druidic forms of divination by means of casting bones or omen-sticks, reading dreams or crystal-gazing (cf. Spence, History 154-55). At least the last two types of divination are also part of the Hogwarts curriculum. Crystal-gazing is particularly prominent in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Glowing on every table was a crystal ball full of pearly white mist” (Prisoner 218). The reading of dreams is addressed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (cf. Phoenix 214, 280). The procedure of reading dreams for Irish Druids is the ‘Imbus Forosnai’, meaning “Illumination by the Palms of the Hands” (Spence, History 151). After having undergone several preparatory rituals, the Druid would lie down with one hand on each cheek and then receive the knowledge he was seeking (cf. Ó Hógáin 79). In Trelawney’s classes, by contrast, dreams are interpreted by consulting a book rather than intuitively (cf. Phoenix 214). Druids in Irish literature were held to be able to read omens from birds, the raven being connected to foretelling misfortune (cf. Ó Hógáin 75). There is no such procedure in Harry Potter. Professor Trelawney is not the only person to teach Divination at Hogwarts, however, and her preferred methods of divination are not the only ones either. When she loses her position in the course of the fifth book, the centaur Firenze takes over. He is closer to nature than Professor Trelawney and – like centaurs in the Potterverse in general – reads the future mainly from the stars (cf. Phoenix 531). When talking about a coming wizarding war he refers to other ways of divination in passing: “‘How soon, centaurs may attempt to divine by the burning of certain herbs and leaves, by the observation of fume and flame’” (ibid. 532). This is reminiscent of another aspect of Druidic Divination, namely “[o]mens […] drawn from the direction of the smoke and flames of sacred fires and from the condition or appearance of the clouds” (Spence, History 159). Spence adds that these Druidic fires were made of “the magical rowan, or mountain ash” (ibid. 164), which echoes the significance of these trees for wands. In Harry Potter, it is also specific plants, for example “sage and mallowsweet” (Phoenix 532), which are burnt in order “to look for certain shapes and symbols in the pungent fumes” (ibid.).16 Being able to divine the future in order to utter prophecies is associated with the gift of the Second Sight in Harry Potter (cf. ibid. 281); something similar can be found in accounts of Druids.17 Spence observes with respect to Druidic prophecy: “The word employed in such prophecies is baile, which in Gaelic implies ‘speech of excitement,’ or has some such significance suggesting frenzied utterance” (Spence, History 161, original emphasis). This characteristic of prophecy-making essentially also holds true in the Harry Potter novels. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Trelawney makes a prophecy in Harry’s presence, thus giving insight into the process: “Professor Trelawney had gone rigid in her armchair; her eyes were unfocused and her mouth sagging. […] Her eyes started to roll” (Prisoner 238). The last part of her prophecy even suggests the notion of the aforementioned ‘frenzied utterance’: “‘Tonight … before midnight … the servant … will set out … to rejoin … his master …’” (ibid. 238, original emphasis). Apparently, in Irish legends, not all of the prophecies made by Druids come true, and the persons affected by the prophecy are still agents of their own destiny. In one story, a king is informed of a prophecy saying that his daughter’s son will take the kingdom from him; yet, 16 Another aspect of Druidic divination in Irish and Scottish texts is the reading of the future by means of a bull sacrifice (cf. Spence, History 160). In historical accounts of Druids, not only animal but also human sacrifices are mentioned. The accuracy of some of these accounts is contested, however, as the Roman writers were probably biased against the Celts (cf. Ó Hógáin 73). None of these practices appear in Harry Potter, probably due to the simple fact that Harry Potter is after all a series primarily written for young readers. 17 In Welsh sources, this gift was connected to eating eagle’s flesh (cf. Spence, History 155). CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 81 this son, Finn MacCoul, never becomes king (cf. Spence, History 162). The fact that in Rowling’s wizarding world prophecies are kept hidden and locked away by the Ministry of Magic (cf. Phoenix 685), thus making it impossible for those who are mentioned in them to hear them, suggests that in Harry Potter a prophecy maybe does not have to come true, either. Firenze confirms this with respect to divination in general, saying “that it [is] foolish to put too much faith in such things, anyway, because even centaurs sometimes read them [the signs] wrongly” (ibid. 532). Concerning divination as well as prophecies, there are many similarities between Harry Potter and the ancient accounts of Celtic Druidism. Similar practices are employed, including star-gazing, magical fires, crystal-gazing and the reading of dreams. But at the same time, there are many aspects in Druidic divination that have no counterpart in the wizarding world, such as the sacrifice of animals or the reading of omens from the flight of birds. Still, there are so many parallels that it might be possible that Rowling took the processes drawn upon in Druidism as a basis for divination and prophecies in Harry Potter. VIII. Conclusion Whether or to what extent Rowling actually used the accounts of ancient Celtic Druidism as a source of inspiration for her series remains unclear. However, some parallels between Druidism and the wizarding world are quite striking and suggest that Rowling might have been inspired by ancient accounts on Druids. There are many parallels between Celtic Druidism on the British Isles and in Ireland and the Harry Potter novels. Spells and wands, transfiguration, divination and prophecy provide intriguing parallels. Druids, similar to the wizards and witches in Harry Potter, make use of a wooden wand, although it is not clear whether they actually need it in order to do magic. They even have a ‘peace-bringing wand’, which has special powers, similar to the Elder Wand in Harry Potter. Druids in ancient Celtic literature also employ similar spells and make use of these in magical battles. The resemblances concerning spells include fire spells, water spells and explosive spells, but the accounts of Druidism speak of spells resulting in clouds raining blood or the creation of storms, which have no counterpart in the Potterverse. Potions exist in Harry Potter and in accounts of Celtic Druids, but all in all, they provide a less obvious link between Druidic magic and the Potterverse than spells due to the lack of one-to-one correspondences. Divination and prophecies, by contrast, are very similar in the Harry Potter novels and in the accounts of Druidism. Druids and wizards employ similar practices, like star- and crystal-gazing, the reading of dreams and the smoke of flames. Not all of the procedures employed by Druids appear in Harry Potter, though; animal sacrifices and the casting of omen sticks for example do not appear. Still, prophecies in the wizarding world and in Druidism seem to follow similar rules; they are made by someone who is gifted with the Second Sight, and they do not always come true, which means that the individuals are still agents of their own future. Lastly, shape-shifting in Irish Druidism provides a close parallel to Harry Potter, where it appears in different guises, including the Animagi, Transfiguration and taking Polyjuice Potion. All in all, shape-shifting in Harry Potter seems to adhere to somewhat stricter rules than its counterpart in the Celtic tradition, however. After all, Druids can adopt any shape they want to and return to their previous shape at will. Animagi in Harry Potter can only transform into one specific animal, and wizards and witches who are not Animagi, yet transfigure themselves into another being, do not retain their magical powers. This paper could only provide a brief introduction to a comparative analysis of Celtic Druids and Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Many other aspects could also be examined in this context, including clothing, further spells and magical battles. Even a comparison of the JULE LENZEN 82 modern image of Druidism with the wizarding world presented in the novels would be interesting. Works Cited Birkhan, Helmut. Kelten: Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung ihrer Kultur. Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997. Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. Dorset Press, 1986 [1894]. Colbert, David. The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends and Fascinating Facts. Penguin Books, 2003. Granger, John. Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures. Berkley Books, 2009. Joyce, P.W. editor and translator. Old Celtic Romances. The Talbot Press, 1961 [1879]. Kronzek, Allan Zola, and Elizabeth Kronzek. The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter. Broadway Books, 2001. Meid, Wolfgang. Die Kelten. Reclam, 2011 [2007]. Ó Duinn, Seán, translator. The Siege of Knocklong. CELT, 2014. Last access: 30 June 2017. Ó Hógáin, Dáithí. The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland. The Boydell Press, 1999. Piggott, Stuart. The Druids. Thames and Hudson, 1968. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 2010 [1997]. ---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bloomsbury, 2010 [1998]. ---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Bloomsbury, 2010 [1999]. ---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Bloomsbury, 2010 [2000]. ---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2010 [2003]. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood-Prince. Bloomsbury, 2010 [2005]. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2010 [2007]. ---. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Bloomsbury/Lumos, 2008. ---. “Cauldrons.” Pottermore. Last access: 18 June 2017. ---. “Polyjuice Potion.” Pottermore. Last access: 03 June 2017. ---. “The Philosopher’s Stone.” Pottermore. Last access: 18 June 2017. ---. “The Sword of Gryffindor.” Pottermore. Last access: 18 June 2017. ---. “Wand Woods.” Pottermore. Last access: 18 June 2017. CELTIC DRUIDISM AND THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE HARRY POTTER NOVELS 83 Spence, Lewis. History and Origins of Druidism. Rider and Company, 1949. ---. The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain. Constable and Company, 1995 [1945]. Svenja Renzel Double, Double Toil and (Gender) Trouble: The Gaunt Family I. Introduction “‘He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name’” (Stone 15). This prediction, uttered by Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), has also come true for the world of many Muggle readers around the globe. Despite its undeniable success, the series is far from being flawless. In particular the gender roles that are depicted in Rowling’s novels have often been criticised. In this context, Hermione is presumably the character that ought to be mentioned first: In the very first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione, characterized as the most talented of the bunch in scholastic pursuits, is found helpless and screaming in the bathroom when attacked by a troll. Why didn’t she use any of her spells? As the only constant female character in the book, why is she characterized as acerbic and cranky? Why does she have to undergo what amounts to sorcerous cosmetic surgery in a later book in order to be considered attractive? (Thomas 62). Melissa Thomas clearly has a point. A closer examination of Rowling’s female characters reveals that Hermione is definitely not the only female character whose portrayal is highly debatable, though. Molly Weasley is another case in point, as she is arguably more famous for her jumpers than for her jinxes. The portrayal of female characters that are depicted in a questionable way is far from being contemporary; instead, many of these characters seem to have been based on 19th-century templates. When writing about Rowling, Seth Lerer argues that “[t]here is more of Charles Dickens than of Tolkien in her novels” (464). This ‘Victorian’ side of Rowling’s writing becomes particularly visible when studying her female characters. In the following, a striking example of the ‘Victorian’ approach to the representation of female characters will be examined in more detail: Merope Gaunt. In this case, even the premise of the character’s story could easily call forth associations with Dickens’s classic Oliver Twist (1837-39). At the beginning of said novel, the reader is told that Oliver’s mother was a poor, unmarried woman. She dies in childbirth, and Oliver grows up on a baby farm and in the workhouse. In Rowling’s series, Merope is left by her husband and heads for London, being both penniless and pregnant. She gives birth to a son, who is named Tom, and dies, leaving her child in the care of an orphanage. While Oliver and Tom grow up to be vastly different characters, the stories of their mothers bear some striking similarities. As far as the representation of Merope along the lines of ‘Victorian’ notions of gender roles is concerned, this tale is only the tip of the iceberg, though. In several respects, the witch is depicted in a subordinate position, which echoes Victorian ideas of femininity – and this portrayal is what this paper will focus on. SVENJA RENZEL 86 II. Merope’s subordinate position within her family First and foremost, one needs to contextualise the presentation of Merope Gaunt in terms of both narrative structure and character constellation. She is only introduced to the reader in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), which is simultaneously the last book to really feature her as a character. The series alludes to her much earlier, though, for instance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), when Voldemort mentions his mother. However, only in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is she finally given an identity of her own – apart from that of being the mother of the villain. Harry ‘encounters’ Merope for the first time when he is visiting a memory in Dumbledore’s Pensieve: student and headmaster enter the memory of a wizard named Bob Ogden, who used to work for the Ministry of Magic. As Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, Ogden went to a place near the town of Little Hangleton, where he paid the Gaunt family a visit, believing that Merope’s brother Morfin had used magic on a Muggle, who later turned out to be Tom Riddle Sr. However, Ogden’s task was not an easy one, as the Gaunt family was hostile to him. Eventually he had to leave, only to come back later, accompanied by reinforcement. The memory of Bob Ogden’s visit is the main source of information regarding Merope, which means that – similar to many female characters in Victorian novels – she is only presented to the readers through the filter of a male perspective. Moreover, in order to understand Merope’s position, it is necessary to take a closer look at the powerful men around Merope. Morfin is the first member of the Gaunt family Bob Ogden encounters, even before the Ministry official enters the family’s shack. The novel describes Morfin in the following way: The man standing before them had thick hair so matted with dirt it could have been any colour. Several of his teeth were missing. His eyes were small and dark and stared in opposite directions. He might have looked comical, but he did not; the effect was frightening, and Harry could not blame Ogden for backing away several more paces before he spoke (Prince 191). Morfin is instantly presented as someone who can inspire fear in others and as being so frightening that Ogden is even physically repelled by him. Furthermore, Morfin also has the personality to match his physique. As it turns out, he has impressive powers and is a potential threat: Morfin is speaking Parseltongue when Ogden encounters him. Said ability is shown to unsettle Ogden. Additionally, Morfin is holding a bloody knife in one hand and his wand in the other, which certainly makes him look intimidating. There is even more to Morfin than that, however. He is willing to take action and jinxes Ogden, who, as a consequence, has a “nasty yellowish goo” (ibid. 192) coming out of his nose. Judging from his behaviour, Morfin completely dominates the situation, despite the fact that Ogden, as the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, is an authority figure. Marvolo Gaunt, the second member of the Gaunt family Bob Ogden meets, is even more dominating than his son. Marvolo speaks “aggressively” (ibid.), which indicates that he clearly does not care about starting off the conversation with a high-ranking employee of the Ministry of Magic on good terms. He also acts authoritatively towards his own son, as he orders Morfin around. The fact that Marvolo can control Morfin, who is a threatening character as well, emphasises what a strong patriarch he is. He is described as even looking powerful: “This man was shorter than the first, and oddly proportioned; his shoulders were very broad and his arms overlong, which, with bright brown eyes, short scrubby hair, and wrinkled face, gave him the look of a powerful, aged monkey” (ibid.). While this portrayal – very much like the description of Morfin – is far from flattering, it also underlines the sense of power one can apparently feel in his presence. Moreover, the description of Marvolo’s physique conjures up images that are reminiscent of the ape-like appearance of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Mr THE GAUNT FAMILY 87 Hyde, arguably one of the most iconic Victorian literary characters. Additionally, just like his son, Marvolo is able to speak Parseltongue, which is primarily associated with evil characters in Harry Potter. During his conversation with Ogden, Marvolo inquires if Ogden has pure blood and once again becomes “suddenly aggressive” (ibid. 193). All of this evokes the impression that Marvolo is a forceful and angry man, who clearly knows how to make himself heard. He does not back down and does not hold back. All in all, both Morfin and Marvolo are dominating and controlling male characters who have aggressive tendencies and make themselves noticed. Their respective ways of doing so are clearly morally highly questionable – but they are effective. Their power is very different from that some of the other characters of the series possess; they are not presented as intelligent schemers of evil plans, as politically influential or as being able to buy influence. Their power seems to be a lot simpler and more straightforward – but that does not mean that it is less efficient. When the reader first meets Merope, she is fiddling around with pots and pans. This image of a woman taking care of domestic tasks may remind the reader of the gender relations in the Victorian Age, when “men out in the world operated in the public sphere, while women at home looked after the private one” (Flanders 254). According to Greenblatt and Abrams, the Victorians had “an ideology that claimed that woman had a special nature peculiarly fit for the domestic role” (992). At least from Ogden’s perspective, Merope is fulfilling domestic duties, while the men of the family defend the house and talk business. One of the very first things the reader learns about Merope is that she looks downcast; she is described as a “defeatedlooking person” (Prince 194). This description establishes a striking contrast to her male relatives, who are associated with power and the ability to intimidate others. Merope’s physical description could hardly be more different, and therefore the dissimilarity between her and her relatives could hardly be more pronounced. In all likelihood, Merope is – at least in physical terms – the weakest member of her family. It is very interesting that the weakest member of the Gaunt family happens to be the only female family member, which says a lot about this family’s gendered power relations. The character constellation which juxtaposes rough men displaying a threatening demeanour on the one hand and a weaker, victimised woman on the other hand bears striking similarities with the character constellation witnessed by Lockwood in Emily Brontë’s classic Wuthering Heights (1847), which reinforces the impression that Victorian models have informed the depiction of the Gaunt family. In addition to Merope’s defeated looks, she also appears to be ‘voiceless’, remaining silent, while the men are talking. After a heated discussion with Morfin and Marvolo, Ogden enters the home of the Gaunt family, where he also meets Merope, and continues to discuss the accusations against Morfin with the two men. During this entire conversation, Merope does not say a word – despite the fact that Ogden addresses her directly. He wishes her a good morning, and Merope does not reply. She even remains silent when her father insults her by calling her a ‘dirty Squib’. Squibs have to face considerable hardship in the wizarding world. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), Harry meets Ron’s aunt Muriel and they talk about how Squibs were treated in the past. According to Muriel, Squibs were “‘often hushed up’” (Hallows 129). She also tells Harry that “‘Squibs were usually shipped off to Muggle schools and encouraged to integrate into the Muggle community’” (ibid. 130).1 Since Ogden’s visit occurred quite a long time ago, being called a Squib was probably even more of an insult in the scene that is evoked in the memory than it is at the time when the rest of the series is set. Given the fact that Marvolo Gaunt is immensely proud of his pure-blood, it is 1 The witch believes that this way of dealing with Squibs is actually “‘much kinder than trying to find them a place in the wizarding world, where they must always be second class’” (Hallows 130). SVENJA RENZEL 88 safe to assume that, for him, calling someone a ‘Squib’ is indeed a horrendous insult. In other words, he behaves in a very disrespectful way towards his own daughter, and she apparently does not even dare to protest; in fact, she does not react at all to what her father says – even though the accusation is not even justified. By and large, her behaviour correlates with the female gender role in the Victorian Age, when “[g]entleness, silence and ignorance were almost synonymous as desirable ladylike traits” (Flanders 276). The wife of the famous Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, for instance, was reportedly never allowed to speak her mind or express her feelings in public (cf. Rose 168-69). Merope’s silence is therefore clearly reminiscent of Victorian times, in particular because Marvolo’s insult obviously hurts Merope. Her hands are trembling, which shows that she is hurt by her father’s verbal abuse, but she is apparently unable or too frightened to express her feelings. As Rowling puts it in the novel, “[s]he then stood quite still, her back against the wall between the filthy window and the stove, as though she wished for nothing more than to sink into the stone and vanish” (Prince 195). Merope is the prototype of the passive, victimised woman. Being passive and displaying a lack of agency is a recurring feature with respect to the depiction of Merope in this memory sequence. In addition to verbally abusing and insulting his daughter, Marvolo also physically attacks her on numerous occasions. She wears a locket, and once Marvolo grabs her by the throat and chokes her with the golden chain. Instead of defending herself or at least voicing her disapproval of this treatment, Merope just massages her neck and gulps for air once the attack is over. It is Ogden who protests on her behalf. The fact that a stranger criticises Marvolo’s actions while the person who suffers the most does not protest at all stresses how utterly passive and defeated Merope is. In addition to all of this, Merope also seems to lack some of the abilities her male relatives and other male wizards around her possess. She seems to have comparatively poor magical abilities, although she is not a Squib. Shortly after Ogden entered the shack, she accidentally breaks a pot while using magic. Her relatives seem to be capable wizards, even though eventually both Marvolo and Morfin are defeated by representatives of the Ministry and put into prison. Still, Morfin displays some amount of magical talent and skill, when he jinxes both Tom Riddle Sr. and Ogden. At least based on what the readers learn about her, Merope does not seem to be a particularly gifted witch. Her position within the Gaunt family, whose male members are proud of their ‘pureblood’, is further undermined by her being infatuated with a Muggle. Shortly after having nearly been choked by her own father, Merope sees that Tom Riddle Sr. passes by the Gaunt home. Morfin starts to talk to her in Parseltongue, making fun of her feelings for Riddle. Marvolo joins his son and starts to insult Merope for having feelings for a man he refers to as a “‘filthy, dirt-veined Muggle’” (ibid. 199, original emphasis). Again, Merope is not treated with respect by her family. Nevertheless, the use of Parseltongue in this situation is noteworthy. As the situation shows, Merope is able to understand Parseltongue; when Morfin claims that she always looks through the hedge in order to see Riddle, Merope shakes her head in denial. Still, the reader never witnesses her speaking Parseltongue. It thus remains unclear whether Merope merely understands Parseltongue or can actually speak it, too. Be that as it may, her refusal or inability to speak Parseltongue is yet another instance where she is shown to be silent/silenced in a manner that evokes notions of female inferiority and Victorian womanhood. The memory ends in a way that confirms Merope’s subordinate role once more. Marvolo again physically attacks his daughter and Ogden saves her. Merope is thus once again presented as a silent victim, who needs Ogden to come to her rescue. One could argue that the pattern that is emerging regarding Merope helps to display the full extent of her weakness. She does not only need help in one particular situation, but several times. Being a victim thus THE GAUNT FAMILY 89 seems to be a part of her existence. Though the presentation of Merope’s situation seems to convey a fairly straightforward image of her misery, one should not forget, however, that she is portrayed exclusively from Ogden’s perspective. 2 Ogden’s memory sequence certainly emphasises Merope’s desperate situation and invites a comparison with Victorian families. Judging from the memory sequence, Merope lives in a strictly patriarchal family, which would not have been out of place in Victorian Britain.3 She is passive, silent and seems to inhabit solely the domestic sphere, leading the life of a Victorian woman in many respects.4 Women in the Victorian age were widely believed to be inferior to men in terms of their intellect (cf. Trudgill 70); according to the influential Victorian critic John Ruskin, a woman’s “intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision” (92). Although strictly speaking very little is revealed about Merope’s intellectual capacities, she at least does not seem to have the same abilities her male relatives have, being clearly treated as inferior to all of the men around her. The ‘Victorian’ depiction of Merope and her fate does not end at this point. Later in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore tells Harry more about the Gaunt family. He informs Harry that the family, despite being related to Salazar Slytherin, became poor long before Marvolo was even born. According to Dumbledore, “‘[h]e, as you saw, was left in squalor and poverty, with a very nasty temper, a fantastic amount of arrogance and pride, and a couple of family heirlooms that he treasured just as much as his son, and rather more than his daughter’” (Prince 201). This line is striking for various reasons. Firstly, it reveals that Morfin was more important to Marvolo than Merope. It is not revealed whether her gender had any impact on Marvolo’s lack of affection or not. Nevertheless, the fact that Marvolo appreciated his male offspring much more than his female one is reminiscent of hierarchies within Victorian families, when children were seen as part of a little hierarchical family pyramid “with boys, of whatever age, above girls” (Flanders 60). Secondly, in this statement, Dumbledore stresses that the Gaunt family lived in squalor and that Marvolo had a bad temper. The reader knows from the memory sequence that the Gaunts’ home was not a peaceful one. Truth be told, their home was the opposite of the ideal Victorian home, which was supposed to be an idyllic place, a safe haven. In The Women of England: Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits (1839), Sarah Stickney Ellis described the perfect Victorian home as follows: “Not only must the house be neat and clean, but it must be so ordered as to suit the tastes of all, as far as may be, without annoyance or offence to any. Not only must a constant system of activity be established, but peace must be preserved, or happiness will be destroyed” (26). In a similar vein, Judith Flanders explains: “the well-kept house directed men as well as women towards the path of virtue, while the opposite led them irretrievably astray” (xxxiii). One could even claim that the Gaunts, who lived in a shady and dirty place character- 2 If the aforementioned similarities with Wuthering Heights are anything to go by, there is at least the possibility of Ogden being unreliable – like his counterpart in Emily Brontë’s novel, Lockwood, who is after all an unreliable narrator, who misunderstands the situation he is confronted with during his first visit to Wuthering Heights, including his assessment of the position of the younger Catherine. 3 Of course, the Victorian period was not uniform in terms of its values and its gender roles. Andrzej Diniejko, for instance, stresses that the Victorian Age was also a time of change: “The final two decades of the Victorian era witnessed the beginning of a shift in social attitudes regarding gender relations, which is marked by a steady move away from the pattern of patriarchal male supremacy and female dependence towards the modern pattern of gender equality” (n.p.). 4 Beyond the gender roles, the racist attitudes displayed by Merope’s male relatives also hearken back to widespread Victorian ideas; as Michael Paterson points out it “was taken for granted that most other races were lazy and effete, and that they could not compete either in trade or in arms with Anglo- Saxons” (298). SVENJA RENZEL 90 ised by abuse and violence, had rather unhappy endings – a circumstance that confirms once more the Victorian template informing the depiction of the Gaunt family. III. Merope’s failed emancipation The memory only covers a small segment of Merope’s life, but what is described here shows quite clearly that her life was a very unhappy one. Dumbledore tells Harry what happened to her after her father and brother had been imprisoned. Again, the story of Merope’s life is filtered through a male perspective; the victimised woman remains voiceless. At first, the further story of Merope’s development reads very much like a liberation narrative: “‘once she was alone and free for the first time in her life, then, I am sure, she was able to give full rein to her abilities and to plot her escape from the desperate life she had led for eighteen years’” (Prince 201). Apparently, Merope also had somewhat stronger magical abilities than the ones the reader could witness during the memory sequence after all. This could generally be seen as a positive sign. Being freed from her relatives she could achieve some power of her own, although the change was only brought about by help from outside. Merope spent 18 years of her life with an unloving, abusive family and did not do anything to change her situation. One could argue that this apparent lack of agency contributes further to her depiction along Victorian gender roles, as women in the Victorian age were denied the right to claim independence; their legal situation made it difficult for them to be autonomous. For most of the Victorian age, “even able and educated women of the privileged class had no legal identity of their own” (Wexler 146), while husbands had a lot of legal power over their wives, being entitled to imprisoning them if they attempted to run away from their marital home (cf. ibid.). Merope did not only have a difficult relationship to her father and her brother – her relationship to Tom Riddle Sr. was equally conflicted. In this relationship, she displayed power and agency; yet, the use of power by Merope is shown in a very negative light. Dumbledore believes that Merope used a love potion to make Riddle, with whom she had been in love all along, fall for her. Dumbledore’s guess is henceforth accepted as factual information in the series, which stresses once more that the depiction of Merope is always filtered through male perspectives. The idea that Merope was able to produce an effective love potion could be seen as evidence of her otherwise rarely displayed magical abilities. Moreover, the notion that she actively pursued her goal of winning Riddle’s love is indicative of agency. Yet the use of a love portion in order to make Riddle fall in love with her creates an image of Merope as a scheming and manipulative woman. If she had to trick Riddle into taking a sip from her love potion and thus make him fall in love with her and marry her, this turns Merope into a figure who is doing wrong. This piece of information helps the reader understand her behaviour; nevertheless, it does not justify it in any way. In addition, a female character who uses a potion to manipulate the feelings of her husband, with whom she is “‘deeply in love’” (Prince 203), as Dumbledore assumes, and is content with a lack of real affection is clearly pitiful. Due to Merope’s potion, Riddle was no longer in control of his actions and decisions, having been robbed of his free will. Eventually, Merope had a change of heart; after a while, she stopped giving Riddle the love potion because she did not want to enslave him any longer. Dumbledore, who, quite condescendingly, refers to Merope as “‘besotted’” (ibid.), says that she probably believed Riddle would return her love or stay with her for the sake of their baby. Her hopes prove to be unfounded. Without the potion, Riddle does not want to stay with his wife. She shares the fate of many jilted wives and brides in Victorian literature and eventually dies in despair. Marvolo’s reaction to the fact that Merope started to pursue her own goals, which is briefly mentioned by Dumbledore, once more confirms the Victorian framework informing the THE GAUNT FAMILY 91 presentation of the Gaunt family. According to Dumbledore, Marvolo “‘returned from Azkaban, expecting to find his daughter dutifully awaiting his return with a hot meal ready on his table’” (ibid. 202). In Victorian Britain “the custom of expecting one child (often the youngest daughter) to remain at home as a companion to the ageing parents – a relict from earlier days and larger families – still seemed right to many” (Flanders 182). Merope, the only daughter, was expected to wait for her father and be his companion and cook for him, which correlates with women’s roles in Victorian Britain. Apparently, it never even occurred to Marvolo that Merope had a life and goals of her own, goals that went beyond cleaning the shack and preparing meals for her relatives. In Marvolo’s opinion, it was Merope’s task to be nothing but a homemaker and stay in the domestic sphere – just like a Victorian middle-class woman. Later in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the story of Merope Gaunt is picked up again. In a chapter called “The Secret Riddle”, Dumbledore and Harry talk about Merope one more time, when the headmaster tells his student about Voldemort’s childhood. The chapter reveals a lot regarding Merope. As mentioned above, Merope went to London after Riddle had left her, and her situation was more desperate than ever before. As Dumbledore states, she probably would have been able to get “‘food and everything for herself by magic’” (Prince 245), but she seems to have lost her trust in magic, and perhaps also her will to survive: ‘I am guessing again, but I am sure I am right – that when her husband abandoned her, Merope stopped using magic. I do not think that she wanted to be a witch any longer. Of course, it is also possible that her unrequited love and the attendant despair sapped her of her powers; that can happen. In any case, as you are about to see, Merope refused to raise her wand even to save her own life’ (ibid. 245-46). The breakup clearly leaves Merope heartbroken and destroys any agency she ever had. The reader cannot be sure if Merope consciously decided not to be a witch anymore or if she was unable to access her powers any longer. If she had made the conscious decision to stop using magic, one could argue that she still had a certain amount of power and control. If Riddle destroyed her abilities by breaking her heart, Merope would have been left completely powerless. Either way, her situation is hopeless, echoing the fate of jilted female characters in Victorian literature, such as Miss Havisham in Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860-61). At the end of the day, the Muggle Riddle had so much power over Merope that losing him either took away her abilities or caused her to voluntarily give up on her identity as a witch. This development is reminiscent of the oft-repeated Victorian truism that love is a woman’s whole existence. Riddle was obviously the more powerful party in this relationship. Merope emotionally depended on him, which is also underlined by the fact that she named her son after him and after her father. Choosing to name her son after two men who seriously hurt her indicates once more that Merope has internalised the role of the victim. She was unable to move on, remaining emotionally dependent on both her father and her husband. In Victorian Britain, women were even expected to strongly depend on the men in their lives. The father’s authority was taken for granted in a patriarchal society, and marriage was seen as vital for women’s identity: “[w]omen who remained unmarried had failed to fulfil their destiny, both biologically and psychologically” (Flanders 177). Being left by Riddle, Merope failed to fulfil her destiny according to Victorian norms, and this is what killed her eventually. Merope’s choices did not only make herself miserable and brought about her ruin; they ultimately also led to a very dark time for the rest of the wizarding world. On June 30, 2007 fans of the Harry Potter series had the opportunity of talking online with J.K. Rowling. One fan asked the author if the fact that Voldemort was conceived while his father was under the influence of a love potion is in any way related to the idea that the dark wizard cannot understand love. Rowling answered that she primarily wanted to show that Voldemort came from a SVENJA RENZEL 92 loveless union. Nevertheless, the author also stated that “everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him” (Rowling n.p.). Thus, Rowling stresses the importance of motherly love, which is confirmed time and again throughout the series, most famously with respect to Lily Potter’s sacrifice, which saves her son’s life. It is striking that Tom Riddle Sr.’s neglect of his son is not mentioned by Rowling. The emphasis on mothering is reminiscent of the glorification of the mother role in the Victorian period (cf. Paxman 107) and concomitant criticism of mothers who failed to fulfil this glorified role. In Victorian Britain, mothers tended to be seen as being mostly responsible for their children. In other words, the children’s well-being was primarily associated with the caring qualities of their mothers, even in a time of “poor sanitation, dirty water, overcrowding and the pervasiveness of disease” (Abrams n.p.). The Victorians were plagued with serious epidemics, such as influenza, typhus, smallpox, scarlet fever, typhoid and cholera (cf. Flanders 298). Judith Flanders describes those epidemics as “the result of a lethal combination of bad weather conditions, high food prices leading to poor nutrition among much of the populace, sudden influxes of immigrants, and cities without the sewers and water supplies to cope with the sharp rise in population” (ibid.). Still, the “[r]esponsibility for the appalling death rate amongst infants was roundly placed on the shoulders of mothers” (Abrams n.p.). In addition, it was widely believed that the deaths of infants “could be prevented if poor mothers breastfed their babies and were taught baby care” (ibid.). According to this Victorian way of thinking, the mother determines her child’s future – much more so than the child’s father, other people or external circumstances – and this is exactly what seems to happen in the case of young Tom Riddle, who has to grow up without his mother. IV. Conclusion “‘Merope Riddle chose death in spite of a son who needed her, but do not judge her too harshly, Harry. She was greatly weakened by long suffering and she never had your mother’s courage’” (Prince 246). This is Dumbledore’s assessment of Merope’s situation. His words appear to ring true. From all the reader knows, Merope led a life full of psychological and physical violence. Nevertheless, she is a prime example of a weak female character, who shows many traces of Victorian womanhood. She is mostly passive, submissive and victimised. At least in some respects, she is exactly the way women were believed to be (and supposed to be) in Victorian times, as this essay has shown. One could perhaps assume that her ability to make a love potion allows the reader to see her stronger side. However, even this seems questionable. The few empowering moments associated with Merope do not show her in positive light, nor are they indicative of real strength. Ultimately, Merope remains a victimised and weak character. Some of the questionable aspects of Merope’s portrayal could be explained and maybe even justified due to her role as a victim – a role that stresses the striking similarities between the character of Merope and her predecessors in Victorian literature. THE GAUNT FAMILY 93 Works Cited Abrams, Lynn. “Ideals of Womanhood in Victorian Britain.” BBC-History, 08 September 2001. Last access: 30 March 2016. Diniejko, Andrzej. “The New Woman Fiction.” The Victorian Web, 17 December 2011. Last access: 14 December 2016. Ellis, Sarah Stickney. The Women of England: Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits. 2nd edition, Fisher, Son & Co., 1839. Flanders, Judith. The Victorian House. HarperCollins, 2003. Greenblatt, Stephen, and M.H. Abrams. “The Victorian Age.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by Stephen Greenblatt and M.H. Abrams, W.W. Norton, 2006. 979-1001. Lerer, Seth. “Children’s Literature.” The Oxford Encyclopaedia of British Literature, Volume 1, edited by David Scott Kastan, Oxford University Press, 2006, 460-65. Paterson, Michael. A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain: A Social History of Queen Victoria’s Reign. Robinson, 2008. Paxman, Jeremy. The Victorians: Britain Through the Paintings of the Age. Random House, 2009. Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages. Chatto & Windus, 1984. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 1997. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bloomsbury, 2005. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2007. ---. Interview by Fans., 30 July 2007. Last access: 25 August 2016. Ruskin, John. Sesame and Lilies, edited by C.R. Rounds, American Book Company, 1916 [1865]. Thomas, Melissa. “Teaching Fantasy: Overcoming the Stigma of Fluff.” The English Journal 92.5 (2003): 60-64. Trudgill, Eric. Madonnas and Magdalens: The Origin and Development of Victorian Sexual Attitudes. William Heinemann, 1976. Wexler, Bruce. The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes. Pepperbox Press, 2012. Naemi Winter ‘I read about it in Hogwarts: A History’: The Reception and Function of History in the World of Harry Potter I. Introduction It is never going to be possible to properly judge why Harry Potter grew to be the worldwide phenomenon that it did and how it captured the imagination of children and adults alike. But that does not mean that one cannot attempt to approach the question from one angle, even if the answer is never quite going to satisfy. Part of what sets the series apart from other fantasy stories like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) is that it is set in the real world, not in a secondary world the author has created. Many of the locations in the books, such as King’s Cross Station or the Forest of Dean, are recognisable to the reader and many people can relate to some of the experiences the main characters have, like homework, exams, problems in a group of friends – things that are just a normal part of growing up, be it in the wizarding or the Muggle world. Many of the characters the reader encounters are familiar to them, for example, almost everyone has had that one teacher that they despised more than any other or the one subject they dreaded above all else. It is also an important aspect of why the world of Harry Potter seems so real to many who grew up reading the books. After all, witches and wizards do their best to escape detection and who can prove that they have not already witnessed magic and been ‘obliviated’? Of course, not all the numbers and facts add up, but it is not as if medieval chronicles never contradict themselves – if they did not, why would medievalists’ papers be mostly made up of footnotes? So why should J.K. Rowling always be absolutely accurate in her information? One of the reasons why the world of Harry Potter appears so real seems to be the way Rowling interweaves Muggle history with that of the wizarding world. The aim of this paper will be to depict three instances in which she draws on Muggle history in order to strengthen the impression that the world she is creating can conceivably exist side by side with the real world. In doing so I will focus first on the way Rowling uses etymology to achieve this, using one example, specifically that of the term ‘Wizengamot’. Secondly, I will take a closer look at how she incorporates the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into her narrative and make a short comparison of her Nicolas Flamel and the historical figure. Furthermore, I will give a brief introduction to the medieval persecution of witches and the Early Modern phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘witch hunts’ as well as to the characters who were affected by them and the effect they had on the wizarding community as a whole. While doing so, I will also be drawing attention to a common misconception, which is perpetuated by the books. Quite apart from how Rowling uses history to strengthen the perception that the wizarding world could be a real part of the Muggle world, it is also interesting to look at how history and historical research help Harry and his friends defeat Voldemort. The final part of the paper will therefore focus on this aspect, particularly on two types of sources they encounter – books and memories stored in a Pensieve – as well as on how they learn to judge these sources in a manner reminiscent of a historian’s work. This will be demonstrated using the example of how they deal with having to re-evaluate their image of Dumbledore owing to the information that comes to light regarding his youth. NAEMI WINTER 96 II. Traces of a common past – the Wizengamot For many years the Muggle and the wizarding world existed side by side, without the separation which plays an important role in the books. One example which clearly demonstrates the common roots of these two societies is the Wizengamot. The exact date when it was established is unknown, but it is likely to stem from pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon England, since it is clearly based on the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemots. Far from being free to make decisions on his own, a medieval king was required to obtain and heed the advice of councillors – as Frank Stenton wrote, “[t]here are few matters of importance to the state on which an Anglo-Saxon king cannot be shown to have consulted his council” (552). The meetings of these advisors were referred to as the ‘witenagemots’, although the number and the identity of the councillors varied each time, depending on the location and the importance of the meeting. They could be members of the royal family, bishops, abbots, abbesses and worldly leaders like earldomen and thegns (cf. Röhrkasten). It should also be mentioned that it is difficult to gauge the exact functions and indeed the amount of influence exerted by the witenagemots (cf. Oleson 8-10). In chronicles, heeding the advice of one’s councillors is often either portrayed as a sign of great wisdom or, alternatively, used to exonerate the king for a decision which turned out to be harmful to the kingdom, since he was driven to making that decision by his advisors. The word ‘witenagemot’ itself derives from the Old English terms ‘witan’, meaning ‘to know’ (Bosworth ‘witan’ n.p.), and ‘gemōt’, meaning ‘moot’ or ‘council’ (Bosworth ‘ge-mót’ n.p.). The etymological similarities of the two words – witenagemot and Wizengamot – are quite apparent. Both the origin and the function of the Wizengamot within the wizarding world are not entirely clear. Maybe it, too, started out as an advisory council, perhaps even as part of the Muggle witenagemot. One of the few pieces of information that can be gleaned from the books is that there does not seem to be a clear separation of powers in the wizarding government of Britain, since the Minister for Magic, clearly part of the executive branch, also presides over the Wizengamot (cf. Phoenix 156), which not only seems to be in charge of the judiciary but also the legislative branch. As is often the case with wizarding institutions, – although the witenagemot cannot be called an institution in the modern sense – the Wizengamot proved to be more durable than its Muggle counterpart and appears to have survived the Norman Conquest, which effectively did away with the witenagemot and replaced it with the curia regis. And so, using one word, Rowling manages to seamlessly integrate the history of her wizarding world with an admittedly quite obscure part of Muggle history. III. Alchemy in history and in fiction A more obvious example of how Rowling incorporates elements from Muggle history into her story is the Philosopher’s Stone, which plays a central role in the first book of the series. While children who read Harry Potter for the first time may not know about alchemy or the Stone, most adults will have a good idea of what the little package in Gringotts is and what it might be used for upon reading the title of the book. The belief that a substance may exist that would transform base metals into gold and produce a panacea goes as far back as the beginning of the Common Era (cf. Knapp 575) and remained a part of the scientific discourse in Europe until the Early Modern era, although it never entered the canon of medieval study. Given how deeply rooted it is in Western culture, it is not surprising that it is still a part of the collective memory. What seems to be less well known is the fact that Nicolas Flamel was a historical figure of the 14th and early 15th century, as was his wife Perenelle. He was born around 1330, probably in Pontoise, and died in Paris around 1418. There is little to no evi- THE RECEPTION AND FUNCTION OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER 97 dence that Flamel, a scribe by trade and generous benefactor of several churches in Paris, actually dabbled in alchemy, but the wealth he supposedly acquired during his lifetime led to posthumous rumours about him being one of the few alchemists who actually succeeded in creating the Philosopher’s Stone (cf. Jüttner “Nicolas Flamel”). His reputation as an alchemist stems from the 17th century, when several alchemical texts were attributed to him, for example the Livre des figures hiéroglyphiques (1612). According to this text, Flamel succeeded in making “pure gold, very certainly better than ordinary gold, milder, more malleable”1 on 25 April 1382, but as previously stated, it is highly unlikely that this book can be traced back to him, especially because it was published nearly two centuries after his death.2 Rowling’s Flamel was born in 1326 at the latest, probably quite a bit earlier.3 He is, of course, a true alchemist within the narrative, in fact he is “the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone” (Stone 163) and far from having died in 1418, his wife and he are still alive and well as late as 1992, at which point they give up the Philosopher’s Stone. Flamel was definitely dead by 1996, as evidenced by content on Rowling’s old website (Rowling “Rumours” n.p.). Diving into the canon of the Harry Potter books, it is entirely possible – as Don Keck DuPree points out in his essay “Nicolas Flamel: The Alchemist Who Lived” (76) – that the reason for the Flamels’ disappearance from Muggle historical records is that they retreated to the wizarding world. After all, faking a gravestone should be easy work for someone who has managed to create a Philosopher’s Stone. Furthermore, Nicolas Flamel is not the only alchemist Rowling claims for her books. Two other historical figures famous for their work on alchemy and magic make an appearance during Harry’s first train ride to Hogwarts; one being Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus (Bombastus) of Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus (*1493/94, †1541) and the other Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (*1486, †1535). Unlike Flamel, both of these are known to have pursued magic and, in the case of Paracelsus, alchemy in particular in their lifetime (cf. Jüttner “Paracelsus”; Valente “Agrippa” 7) and would have had much better cause to withdraw from Muggle society than Flamel a century earlier – which leads to a third aspect of Muggle history Rowling uses to explain 20th-century wizarding society: witch hunts. IV. Early Modern witch hunts and their medieval roots Rowling departs from historical evidence by highlighting ‘witchcraft’ as the main reason for prosecution, while it was actually ‘heresy’. That is not to say that there are no recorded cases of prosecution of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, but they are always in connection with heresy. Generally speaking, Early Modern accusations of witchcraft bear little resemblance to their medieval antecedents. A central aspect of medieval witchcraft was maleficium, in the sense of “‘harm-doing by occult means’” (Cohn 148). Oftentimes a witch was accused of causing impotence, disease or death, or of conjuring up storms in order to ruin crops, almost always with the intention of causing harm to a particular person or family rather than causing widespread damage. There are only two recorded cases of maleficium trials before 1300, one in England around 970 and 1 “[…] pur or, meilleur très certainement que l’or commun, plus doux & plus ployable” (Flamel Figures 54). 2 According to Claude Gagnon, the true author of the text may have been “Béroalde de Verville, traducteur du Songe de Poliphile et auteur cabaliste des Aventures d’Ali el Moselan” (570). 3 This can be calculated from the fact that the book from which Hermione gleans the information about the Stone states that Nicolas celebrated his 665th birthday the year before the book was published and Hermione reads the book in 1992. However, since the book in question is already described as being old (cf. Stone 160), it is very likely that Nicolas and his wife (658) are both significantly older. NAEMI WINTER 98 one in France in 1028, both of which ended in the execution of the accused (cf. ibid. 153-54). The greater danger to suspected witches, however, seems to have been the mob, as there are numerous accounts of incidents where women who had been accused of maleficium were drowned, burnt, flogged, disembowelled or otherwise killed without the consent or involvement of the local authorities and much to the chagrin of the Church (cf. ibid. 154-55). Medieval lawmakers and intellectuals tended to have complex views on witchcraft, since it was often seen as a remnant of pagan traditions and superstition, especially during the early and high Middle Ages. The Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae, for example, which is a collection of laws issued by Charlemagne in 782 to enforce the Christianisation of the Saxons, does not condemn witchcraft. On the contrary, one article explicitly states that those who, deceived by the Devil and following pagan tradition, accuse either a man or a woman of being a witch and of eating humans (“strigam esse et homines commedere”; “Karoli Magni Capitularia” 68) and burn or eat their flesh or allow others to do so, should themselves be put to death (cf. ibid. 68- 69).4 The Church, too, spoke out against witch hunts many times over the course of the Middle Ages, denouncing it as un-Christian. Pope Alexander IV in 1260 issued an order to the Dominicans, who had been put in charge of the persecution of heretics, thereby earning the nickname “domini canes” – dogs of the lord – to only engage in the persecution of witchcraft if heresy was involved.5 On the whole, during most of the early and the high Middle Ages, one was much more likely to be executed for heresy than for witchcraft, unless the latter came up in relation with the former. This was further strengthened by the teachings of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and other scholars associated with the Aristotelian tradition, who believed “that most magical operations required the aid of demons. But if one calls upon demons to help perform magic, one must offer the demons something in return. Hence, one must have an implicit pact with them” (Russell 144). The idea that witches got their power from demons evolved with time and paved the way for the concept of the deal with the Devil. This merging of witchcraft and heresy – for Devil worship must, of course, be seen as heresy – led to a resurgence of witch hunts in the late Middle Ages, although they remained sparse in the 14th century. The most influential treatise on witchcraft, the Malleus Maleficarum or “Hammer of Witches” was not published until 1486. However, as Norman Cohn points out, “the importance of the most famous of the witch-hunters’ manuals, the Malleus Maleficarum […] has been exaggerated”, at least as far as the formation of the “stereotype of the witch” (225) is concerned. Its main influence lies in the “detailed procedural manual for how a witchcraft trial should be conducted, how evidence should be gathered, and how interrogation and (if necessary) torture should be carried out” (Goodare 49). It is an unusual work in that it barely mentions what was to become one of the most important aspects of Early Modern witch hunts: the witches’ sabbath. It is arguably the idea of the sabbath which paved the way for the witch hunts of the Early Modern period. When charges were brought against a suspected witch in the Middle Ages, the nature of those charges, especially the fact that maleficia were generally believed to harm one 4 The same is not true for Anglo-Saxon civil codes of the same time, which condemn the worship of pagan gods, but make no mention of “the evil practice of magic” (Crawford 107) or the persecution thereof. 5 “Ad illud autem quod quaeritur, utrum ad inquisitores haeresis pertineat de divinationibus et sortilegiis, quae contra aliquos sibi denunciantur, cognoscere ac punire talia exercentes. Brevibus respondetur, quod cum negotium fidei, quod summe privilegiatum existit, per occupationes alias non debeat impediri, inquisitores ipsi de iis, nisi manifeste saperent haeresim, ratione huiusmodi officii sibi commissi, se nullatenus intromittant, sed eos relinquant suis iudicibus poena debita castigandos” (Bullarum XLVI 664 §4). THE RECEPTION AND FUNCTION OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER 99 person or family that the witch in question had had a quarrel with, meant that the prosecution of witches was usually confined to either one person or family. This changed when the idea of the witches’ sabbath, a meeting of witches presided over by the Devil and involving acts like the killing of babies, cannibalism and sexual orgies, became a central aspect of the charges against suspected witches, as did the nocturnal flight to these meetings. This meant that a suspect was not only expected to confess their own guilt, but also tortured until they revealed the names of others whom they had seen at the sabbath. The ‘demographic’ of the accused also changed over time. At first, both men and women were said to attend these meetings – in fact, one case saw a convicted man being tortured for the names of his accomplices, most of whom turned out to be men. Not only that, but he was “pressed […] to name priests and clerics and nobles and rich men in particular” (Cohn 230). Suspected witches in the Middle Ages tended to be men in high positions, whereas the Early Modern period saw the creation of the stereotype people are still familiar with today: the old woman as a witch (at least in Continental Europe and on the British Isles).6 The persistence of the stereotype of women as witches is well demonstrated by J.K. Rowling, in that she uses the terms ‘witch’ and ‘wizard’ to distinguish between male and female sorcerers. Of course, she is just following a general linguistic development, since the meaning of the word ‘witch’ has evolved to almost exclusively refer to women. V. Victims of witch hunts in Harry Potter Given these facts, one wonders why Professor Binns would assign an essay titled “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless – discuss” (Prisoner 7) rather than having his students focus on the 16th and 17th centuries. It is highly unlikely that Wendelin the Weird would have had the opportunity of being burnt forty-seven times during this time. Of course, Rowling has not mentioned where Wendelin came from. It can be assumed that she had not intended to be caught the first time she was convicted and only realised that she rather enjoyed being burnt while on the pyre. This would suggest that she was neither from England, where witches were hanged rather than burnt, nor from Scotland. Here the persecution of witchcraft was only legalised with the Witchcraft Act of 1563 and it was not until 1589/90 that witches were actively persecuted. This sudden rise in persecution was partly due to James VI’s marriage to Princess Anne of Denmark and the time he spent in her homeland, where “witchcraft trials were quite common and the doctrine of witches’ meetings well established” (Larner 24). Additionally, although witches were burnt in Scotland, they were usually strangled before the pyre was lit.7 It is, of course, possible that Wendelin came from the Continent, but even so, being burnt for witchcraft forty-seven times in the 14th century remains an impressive feat, given both the sparsity of witch trials and the various ways of being executed in those times. The execution of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, on the other hand, seems more plausible than that of Wendelin. According to Rowling’s writings on Pottermore, he was a courtier at the court of Henry VII and in 1492 attempted to straighten the teeth of a lady-in-waiting. However, his attempt backfired and he only succeeded in having her grow a tusk, whereupon 6 Cf. Goodare et al. (n.p.): “in areas like Estonia, Russia and Finland the percentage of men accused is as high and in some areas higher than of women. In Iceland the percentage of men executed was as high as 90%”. 7 There are 141 extant records of sentences specifying a method of execution. Only 17 of these order burning without mention of strangulation, but given the high number of sentences specifying strangulation and burning (120), it seems reasonable to assume that, at least in a few of the 17 aforementioned cases, the accused was also strangled before their body was burnt (cf. Goodare et al. n.p.). NAEMI WINTER 100 he was arrested and sentenced to death. He is less of a typical target than Wendelin might have been at the end of the 15th century, being a noble and a man, but 1492 is sufficiently early to silence serious doubts. The way he was executed would suggest that he was not actually convicted of witchcraft, but rather of treason. In this case, the normal punishment for a man would have been to be hung, drawn and quartered, but in Nick’s case, it is very possible that the king showed him the mercy of the far less excruciating sentence of beheading. This was not unusual if the convicted traitor happened to be a noble. Incidentally, Nick is not the only Hogwarts House ghost who was executed for witchcraft. The Fat Friar, ghost of Hufflepuff house, was executed “because senior churchmen grew suspicious of his ability to cure the pox merely by poking peasants with a stick, and his ill-advised habit of pulling rabbits out of the communion cup” (Rowling “Ghosts” n.p.), but it is difficult to judge the plausibility of the Friar’s case. Apart from the reason for his execution, the only fact that is known with certainty is that he went to Hogwarts and was therefore in all likelihood from somewhere on the British Isles. That alone is not enough to go on, especially since it is neither known when he lived (and died) nor how he was executed. VI. The impact of witch hunts on the wizarding society Within the Potterverse, witch hunts had an immense effect on the wizarding society, though not because of great mortality rates. As Bathilda Bagshot points out, Muggles were not particularly good at recognising magic and “on the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever” (Prisoner 7). However, the witch hunts did lead to some witches and wizards becoming resentful of Muggles and separating their society from the non-magical community. As Professor Dumbledore – far more accurately than Bathilda Bagshot – writes in his notes on Beedle’s tale “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot”: The persecution of witches and wizards was gathering pace all over Europe in the early fifteenth century. Many in the magical community felt, and with good reason, that offering to cast a spell on the Muggle-next-door’s sickly pig was tantamount to volunteering to fetch the firewood for one’s own funeral pyre. ‘Let the Muggles manage without us!’ was the cry, as the wizards drew further and further apart from their non-magical brethren (Tales 13). The causality between the witch hunts and this form of self-imposed segregation is very clear when looking at the date when the International Statute of Secrecy was officially enacted. According to Quidditch Through the Ages (cf. 36), this was the case in 1692, the same year as the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts, among whose victims were several actual witches, according to Rowling’s Pottermore writings. Although both A History of Magic (cf. Hallows 261) and Professor Dumbledore in his notes on “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” (cf. Tales 13-14) state that the Statute was signed in 1689, the Salem trials definitely proved a traumatic experience, whether they were the immediate trigger of the Statute of Secrecy or not. Its immediate effect was to cause many witches and wizards to flee America, and many more to decide against locating there. This led to interesting variations in the magical population of North America, compared to the populations of Europe, Asia and Africa. Up until the early decades of the twentieth century, there were fewer witches and wizards in the general American population than on the other four continents (Rowling “History” n.p.). THE RECEPTION AND FUNCTION OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER 101 VII. Historical sources in Harry Potter Another interesting aspect when talking about Harry Potter and history is how knowledge of the past helps Harry and his friends defeat Lord Voldemort. As Denis Mootz, drawing upon Ann Curthoys’s 2011 article “Harry Potter and the Historical Consciousness: Reflections on History and Fiction”, writes, “[i]n their quest to defeat Voldemort Harry et al learn that the past is made up of fragments that must be pieced together. Throughout the novels we are exposed to a wide range of ‘sources’ for the investigation of the life of Voldemort and of Harry Potter” (62). The sources in question are interesting in their own right. Especially in the beginning, most of the information Harry, Ron and Hermione need in order to solve the mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets, respectively, comes from books. Hermione is, of course, the driving force here. In the very first scene where Harry (and the reader) first encounter her, she tells a rather flabbergasted Harry that she has read about him in Modern Magical History, The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century (cf. Stone 79). The same evening, when the first-years enter the Great Hall for the first time, she is immediately able to tell her classmates that the ceiling is “‘bewitched to look like the sky outside […] [because she] read about it in Hogwarts: A History’” (ibid. 87). Hermione obviously thought it necessary to know about the history of the world she was entering, which shows remarkable historical awareness for an eleven-year-old, even one as clever as her. A good part of her preparation before leaving the Burrow to hunt for Horcruxes in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows also consists of sorting books and deciding which ones they might need, among them, of course, Hogwarts: A History, because she does not “think [she’d] feel right if [she] didn’t have it with” (Hallows 84) her. But in spite of her love of books in general and this book in particular, “Hermione is a critical reader of History. She does not accept what she reads in The History of Magic or Hogwarts: A History, or the Prophet at face value. She checks her sources and critiques them with information from other sources” (Mootz 62), especially since she found out that Hogwarts: A History is “not entirely reliable” (Goblet 262, original emphasis), as it does not mention the fact that the kitchens of the school are run by unpaid workers, the house-elves. Quite apart from this, she may also have learnt to be more cautious of believing everything she reads in books after her second year, most of which she spends believing every single word of Lockhart’s books, only to find out that he has “‘just been taking credit for what a load of other people have done’” (Chamber 220). These are, of course, not the only misleading books in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Tom Riddle’s diary is itself a historical source, but is able to think for itself, containing a part of Voldemort’s soul. It has all the information on what happened in 1942 when the Chamber was opened the last time, but naturally it only shows Harry enough so he will think Hagrid was responsible for the attacks. In this case, it is not an author who manipulates the source, but the source itself. Books and diaries are not the only sources that can be manipulated in the Harry Potter universe. Memories start playing a major role in the fourth book, when Harry bears witness to Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr.’s trial in Dumbledore’s Pensieve (cf. Goblet 634-48) and, as Kern quite correctly states, The Half-Blood Prince can be “[thought] of […] as an extended history lesson” (n.p.) with the memories of several people, among them Dumbledore and Horace Slughorn, acting as the main sources. The latter, ashamed of a particular aspect of his past, “‘has tried to rework the memory to show himself in a better light, obliterating those parts which he does not wish [Dumbledore] to see’” (Prince 348). This is more or less a visual representation of the actions of some witnesses to certain historical events who are NAEMI WINTER 102 ashamed of their roles in what happened. They may lie in order to preserve their reputations or, in extreme cases, avoid criminal prosecution. Some of them may even start believing their own lie to some extent and start forgetting what really happened in favour of the memory they have constructed for themselves. Arguably, this is also what has happened to Slughorn, although Dumbledore’s words and the fact that he is able to supply Harry with the true memory once he has been convinced that it is necessary in order to defeat Voldemort suggest that he made a conscious choice to alter the ‘copy’ of the memory he gave to the headmaster. VIII. Re-evaluating Dumbledore’s character It is worth taking a look at Harry’s process of forming an opinion on a historical event using different sources, in this case regarding Dumbledore’s past. Beginning with the second chapter of the seventh book, Rowling deconstructs Harry’s – and the reader’s – view of the headmaster. Although Dumbledore himself had admitted to making some mistakes along the way, particularly with regard to not telling Harry about the prophecy before the end of his fifth year at Hogwarts (cf. Phoenix 921), no real doubt had ever been cast on his intention. This view is reinforced at the beginning of the second chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – aptly named In Memoriam – with Elphias Doge’s obituary in the Daily Prophet (cf. Hallows 21-24). He has a rather idealised view of Dumbledore, having gone to school with him and remembering how Albus did not shun him in spite of his dragon pox-marked face. This first impression of his friend and Albus’s academic genius, which quickly replaced the notoriety his father had earned the family by attacking three young Muggles, seem to have informed his long-time view of him. The final sentence of his obituary sums this up very well: “He died as he lived: working always for the greater good and, to his last hour, as willing to stretch out a hand to a small boy with dragon pox as he was on the day that I met him” (ibid. 24, original emphasis). It is ironic that in praising Albus, he uses the very phrase which haunted the headmaster almost all his life. Elphias’s glowing account of Dumbledore’s life corresponds quite closely with the image that has been cultivated over the last six books in the series, but Rowling begins to sow the seeds of doubt in Harry’s and the reader’s mind in the same chapter, when Harry reads Betty Braithwaite’s interview with Rita Skeeter (cf. ibid. 25-29). While promoting her book, which is partly based on an interview she did with Grindelwald’s great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot – herself a celebrated historian who lived in Godric’s Hollow and knew both the Dumbledores and Grindelwald well; after all, Grindelwald lived with her during his stay in the town (cf. ibid. 290) – Rita talks about discovering a dark side to Dumbledore’s life. She claims that he “dabbled in the Dark Arts himself in his youth” (ibid. 27, original emphasis) and teases a dark family history involving his mother and sister. These details, which she expands on in her book, prove to be true, but when reading the article in the Daily Prophet, Harry does not believe any of it and is angry at Rita’s attempt to defame the headmaster (cf. ibid. 29-30). This is partly because it contradicts his own experiences with Dumbledore and partly because he knows Rita as a sensationalist who will take the tiniest sliver of truth and turn it into a scandal for the sake of writing a good story. However, even given his own experiences with Rita’s writings, he starts to doubt his own convictions enough to ask Elphias Doge about what she said in the interview when he meets him at Fleur and Bill’s wedding (cf. ibid. 127). When Aunt Muriel gets involved and talks about Ariana and Kendra, theorising about what happened to Dumbledore’s sister – whether she was kept a secret because she was a Squib, even going so far as to say that Ariana might have killed her mother in “‘a desperate bid for freedom’” (ibid. 130) – Harry starts to believe that there is “undoubtedly something odd about the story” (ibid. 131). His doubts are exacer- THE RECEPTION AND FUNCTION OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER 103 bated when he finds out that Dumbledore never told him that his family had lived in Godric’s Hollow, the town where Harry’s parents died. Hermione picks up on Harry’s hurt at learning that Dumbledore, whom he thought he knew fairly well, withheld such important facts about his own life, telling him “‘I think the real reason you’re so angry is that Dumbledore never told you any of this himself’” (ibid. 295) after they have read the relevant chapter of Rita’s book. Hermione also has trouble dealing with what she has just read. She tries to calm Harry by telling him that “‘this is Rita Skeeter writing’ ” (ibid. 294), but has to admit that there must be some truth to it because of the letter Rita includes in the book. Any doubts she may have had about its authenticity are probably allayed by the author’s annotation “a copy of the original letter may be seen on page 463” (ibid. 291). Her knowledge of history enables her to put the pieces together; she realises that this letter might very well have been what inspired Gellert Grindelwald to use the motto ‘For the Greater Good’ to justify his actions later on. Rather than further doubting what happened, she accepts the fact that Dumbledore’s past was deeply flawed and tries to salvage Harry’s good opinion of him by pointing out all the things Dumbledore did to help Muggles and Muggle-borns as well as his fight against Grindelwald and later on Voldemort. Thus, she adopts a rather balanced view of Dumbledore, based on the facts presented to her. Harry, on the other hand, has a harder time accepting his disillusionment, possibly because he is, by his very nature, more emotionally driven than Hermione, but also because he had a far more personal relationship with Dumbledore than she did. His feelings are best summed up in his own words when he talks about what the headmaster asked of him: “‘don’t expect me to explain everything, just trust me blindly, trust that I know what I’m doing, trust me even though I don’t trust you! Never the whole truth! Never!’” (ibid. 295). His fractured trust in Dumbledore seems to have recovered little by the time he, Hermione and Ron meet Aberforth shortly before entering Hogwarts, yet at least enough to insist on going through with the mission Dumbledore gave him – though this might also be due to a lack of options. This is when he finally finds out what happened to Ariana, i.e., that she was killed while trying to stop a duel between Grindelwald and her two brothers. Aberforth’s resentment of Albus comes across in his account of the events. He states Ariana’s death meant that Albus Dumbledore was “‘[f]ree of the burden of his sister; free to become the greatest wizard of the–’” (ibid.) before being cut off by Harry, who remembers Dumbledore’s ordeal in the cave at the end of his sixth year. He realises that Dumbledore “‘thought he was watching Grindelwald hurting [Aberforth] and Ariana’” , adding, “‘it was torture to him, if you’d seen him then, you wouldn’t say he was free’” (ibid. 458). However, it takes listening to Dumbledore’s account of the story at ‘King’s Cross Station’ to fully forgive him. During the course of this conversation, Harry learns of the reasons for Dumbledore’s actions, his initial thirst for power and invincibility and later on his fear of finding out whose curse killed Ariana, which had him delaying the final confrontation with Grindelwald. He also realises why Dumbledore refused the post of Minister for Magic several times – because he “‘had learned that [he] was not to be trusted with power’” (ibid. 575). Although never explicitly stated, it seems as if Harry arrives at a view of Dumbledore not unlike that of Hermione; he realises that Dumbledore was greatly flawed in his youth, but spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it. Of course, neither Harry nor Hermione, nor indeed a reader who has got to know Dumbledore over the entire series of books can be entirely objective when dealing with the new information with regard to Dumbledore’s past. If one tries to only look at the different sources presented – most notably two eyewitness accounts by the people involved (Albus and Aberforth), one by the person with whom Grindelwald was staying at the time (Bathilda Bagshot) and a letter in Dumbledore’s own hand – as a historian would, they come together to form a NAEMI WINTER 104 very coherent picture of what happened in Godric’s Hollow all those years ago. This picture combined with all the facts about Dumbledore’s later life – his defeat of Grindelwald, his fight against Voldemort’s ideology of pure-blood supremacy and his genuine regret at what happened to his family – would most probably prompt a historian to concur with the image Harry and Hermione seem to arrive at themselves. IX. Conclusion Harry, Ron and Hermione encounter various kinds of sources over the course of the books, even though this paper could only briefly cover two of them. Rowling uses Lockhart’s autobiographies and Riddle’s diary to demonstrate why anyone – not just historians – must be careful not to believe everything they read, but judge a text’s credibility based on who wrote it, when they wrote it and what their intentions were while writing it – as Lockhart himself says, “‘[b]ooks can be misleading’” (Chamber 220). The reliability of memories (and their Muggle equivalent, eyewitness accounts) is also called into question by showing how Slughorn manipulated his memory of telling Tom Riddle about Horcruxes so as to avoid shame. A look at how Harry and Hermione learn about Dumbledore’s past and need to overturn their opinion of him after being presented with various sources has demonstrated that – emotional involvement notwithstanding – they are capable of evaluating different sources in much the same way as a historian would, arriving at a rather balanced view of Dumbledore. Furthermore, all three of the aspects of history that have been explored in this paper – the importance of etymology, Nicolas Flamel and the Philosopher’s Stone and witch hunts – are skilfully employed by Rowling to achieve a merging of the real world and the world she creates in the books. She uses etymology to suggest a common descent of the two societies, takes a very recognisable magical object such as the Philosopher’s Stone and turns it into a major aspect of the plot of the first book and uses witch hunts to find a historical explanation for the separation of the Muggle and the wizarding worlds of the late 20th century. The narrative rings true here, even if there are certain historical inconsistencies in her portrayal of the European persecution of witches. As Edmund Kern puts it, “[a]lthough [Rowling] doesn’t treat history, legend and myth as a historian would, she does use them in imaginative ways that are available to the novelist.[…] [She] draws extensively upon history, legend and myth – in both prosaic and preposterous ways – to establish the feature of her imagined world” (n.p.). Works Cited Bosworth, Joseph. “Ge-mót.” An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online, edited by Thomas Northcote Toller et al. Compiled by Sean Christ and Ondřej Tichý. Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. Last access: 03 May 2017. ---. “Witan.” An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online, edited by Thomas Northcote Toller et al. Compiled by Sean Christ and Ondřej Tichý. Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. Last access: 03 May 2017. Bullarum, diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum Romanorum pontificium Taurensis editio 3, edited by Aloysius Tomassetti, Turin, 1858. THE RECEPTION AND FUNCTION OF HISTORY IN THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER 105 Cohn, Norman. Europe’s Inner Demons. An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt. Studies in the Dynamics of Persecution and Extermination. Chatto/Heinemann, 1975. Crawford, Jane. “Evidences for Witchcraft in Anglo-Saxon England.” Medium Ævum 32.2 (1963): 99-116. Curthoys, Ann. “Harry Potter and Historical Consciousness: Reflections on History and Fiction.” History Australia 8.1 (2011): 7-22. DuPree, Don Keck. “Nicolas Flamel: The Alchemist Who Lived.” Harry Potter and History, edited by Nancy Reagin, John Wiley & Sons, 2011. 73-90. Flamel, Nicolas (posthumously attributed). Les Figures Hiéroglyphiques. Trois Traictez de la Philosophie Naturelle non encore Imprimez. Translated into French by P. Arnauld. M. Guillemot & S. Thoboust, 1612. Gagnon, Claude. “Identification de l’auteur du Livre des figures hiéoglyphiques attribué a [sic] Nicolas Flamel.” Annuaire 109.1 (1976-1977): 569-70. Goodare, Julian. The European Witch-Hunt. Routledge, 2016. Goodare, Julian, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman. “Introduction to Scottish Witchcraft.” Survey of Scottish Witchcraft. Last access: 03 May 2017. Jüttner, Guido. “Nicolas Flamel.” Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. 6, Artemis Verlag, 1993, col. 1133. ---. “Paracelsus.” Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. 6, Artemis Verlag, 1993, cols. 1695-96. “Karoli Magni Capitularia.” Capitularia Regum Francorum 1, edited by Alfred Boretius. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Legum section II. Impensis bibliopolii Hahniani, 1883. 44-186. Kern, Edmund. “The Phoenix in Harry Potter: The Metaphoric Power of the Past.” Harry Potter for Seekers. Last access: 04 May 2017. Knapp, Peggy Ann. “The Work of Alchemy.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30.3 (2000): 575-99. Larner, Christina. Witchcraft and Religion. The Politics of Popular Belief, edited by Alan Macfarlane. Basil Blackwell, 1987 [1984]. Mootz, Denis. “‘What is History?’ Harry Potter? How does Harry Potter Learn Enough to Defeat Voldemort?” Teaching History 45.3 (2011): 62-63. Oleson, Tryggvi Julius. The Witenagemot in the Reign of Edward the Confessor: a Study in the Constitutional History of Eleventh-Century England. The University of Manitoba/University of Toronto Press, 1955. Röhrkasten, Jens. “Witenagemot.” Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. 9, Artemis Verlag, 1998, col. 266. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 1997. ---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bloomsbury, 2004 [1998]. ---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Bloomsbury, 2004 [1999]. ---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Bloomsbury, 2000. NAEMI WINTER 106 ---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2004 [2003]. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bloomsbury, 2005. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2007. ---. “History of Magic in North America. Seventeenth Century and Beyond.” Pottermore. Last access: 04 May 2017. ---. “Hogwarts Ghosts.” Pottermore. Last access: 04 May 2017. ---. Quidditch Through The Ages. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013 [2001]. ---. “Section Rumours: Nicolas Flamel is going to come to Hogwarts to teach potions.” Last access: 04 May 2017. ---. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Bloomsbury/Lumos, 2008. Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Cornell University Press, 1972. Stenton, Frank Merry. Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford History of England Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 1971 [1943]. Valente, Michaela. “Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius, *1486 Nettesheim, †1535 or 1536 Grenoble.” Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Brill, 2006. 4-8. Vera Bub ‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death’: Christian Elements in Harry Potter ? I. Introduction References to Christianity are usually not the first thing that comes to one’s mind when one thinks of themes addressed in the fantasy genre. Supernatural elements, magic and witchcraft may even seem to contradict Christian beliefs. For this reason, the Harry Potter series has been criticised by representatives of various Christian denominations, which resulted in the ban of the Harry Potter books in many school libraries in the United States. The concerns voiced by representatives of Christian Churches, claiming that the book series promotes Satanic themes or lures children away from Christianity, contributed to making Harry Potter the “most challenged book in 2000” (Maughan n.p.). Instead of focusing on this debate, this paper is going to examine the manifold aspects in Rowling’s books that are, after all, very close to Christian ideas and values. An analysis of the story told in the Harry Potter series at least reveals many underlying themes that are connected to religion. The quote used in the title of this paper, for instance, is not only from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007); it can also be found in the King James Bible (1 Cor. 15.26). Even though the magical society depicted in the Harry Potter series does not appear to practise any religion, the books incorporate themes like death, immortality and, most importantly, love, which is not only a significant aspect in the Harry Potter books, but is also a Christian ideal, which is stressed in the New Testament. First, this paper is going to analyse the depiction of religion in the series by drawing upon the Godric’s Hollow graveyard scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which seems to show a strong connection to Christianity in some respects, yet ultimately reveals the overall absence of religion in the series. Subsequently, I am going to focus on references to immortal souls with a special emphasis on ‘Priori Incantatem’, as it stresses the idea of an existence beyond death. In addition, I will discuss the Stone of Resurrection, which introduces the idea of resurrection and thus takes the idea of an afterlife a significant step further. In this context, I will also have a closer look at the significance of ghosts, who prove the possibility of an earthly existence after death. Next, I am going to move on to the depiction of sacrifice, using the examples of Lily and Harry Potter, who both give their lives for others, and examine the near-death experience that follows Harry’s sacrifice, which most strongly suggests the existence of an afterlife in the series. Since the idea of immortality is closely linked to Lord Voldemort, who is obsessed by his desire to achieve immortality on earth, this paper will finally discuss the series’ main villain as well as the notion of immortality in the series in general. II. The absence of religion As mentioned above, the magical society in the Harry Potter series does not show any obvious traces of practising a religion or even acknowledging the existence of God or a similar power explicitly. Yet, unlike in novels such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, VERA BUB 108 religion and religious institutions are not criticised, either; religion just appears to be absent – a state of affairs that is reminiscent of contemporary, increasingly secular societies. This overall absence of religion renders a scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows especially interesting: when Harry and Hermione are travelling to Godric’s Hollow, where Harry was born, they decide to visit the graves of the Potters in the local graveyard. This scene probably contains the strongest explicit reference to religion in general and Christianity in particular in the entire series, since a church is mentioned for the first time. It is also important to note that this scene is set on Christmas Eve, one of the most important Christian holidays. The fact that the protagonists do not even realise what day it is and do not enter the church may of course be due to the circumstances of their visit, but also points to the fact that they have no personal connection to religion. The inscriptions on the headstones of Harry’s and Dumbledore’s families are quotes from the Bible, yet their origin is not mentioned in the book. The one on the grave of Dumbledore’s mother and sister reads: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (King James Bible, Matt. 6.21). This verse is taken from the gospel according to Matthew, specifically Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, in which he advises his followers to keep their treasure in heaven, i.e., with God, instead of seeking to find it on earth, i.e., in material goods. This message corresponds to an idea promoted throughout the Harry Potter series, which consistently ranks immaterial goods above material ones. This stance is perhaps most prominently reflected in the characterisation of the Dursleys, who stand for the “misuse of power and attaining material things” (Apostolides 1), but also in the presentation of the wealthy and snobbish Malfoy family. Thus, a link between characters that are perceived as ‘bad’ and the idea of focussing on material goods is established. The second Bible verse, which can be found on the grave of Harry’s parents, reads: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”, which is taken from the first Corinthians and clearly alludes to the existence of an afterlife. Yet when Harry first reads the verse, he immediately associates it with the idea of the Horcruxes, since he does not seem to believe in an afterlife in a religious sense at this point, thinking of his parents as being gone. The phrase can indeed be read differently, especially when applied to Voldemort, who created Horcruxes in order to defeat his ultimate enemy, death. In other words, the scene also alludes to a potentially “perverted reading” (Niemand 119) of this particular Bible quote. The fact that Harry does not grasp the religious dimension of either verse presumably indicates that he has no connection to Christianity. Even though Hermione is able to explain the quotes to him, this does not imply that she is a religious person. Therefore, this scene shows that, even though the protagonists and the entire wizarding society do not appear to be religious as such, religious themes, and in this case specifically passages from the Bible, can still be identified in the story. Despite apparently not having a religion, the magical world is firmly based on ethical principles (cf. Rahner 195), which is reflected in the way people’s actions are explained and evaluated in the series. According to Deavel and Deavel, “[t]he Harry Potter books advance many Christian moral principles, even if these principles are not named as Christian” (62), which again shows that the magical society described in the series may not practise a religion, but it does not contradict religious ideas and, in some respects, even supports these. Religious themes and notions can be pinned down in the subtext; Stojilkov even argues that the Harry Potter series has a “plot and message suffused with (Christian) theology, fit for metaphysical, religious, social, or moral analysis” (134). Yet it is also true that the absence of religion can be observed in virtually every aspect of wizard life. The apparent lack of religion is highlighted, for instance, by the depiction of events that one might expect to be associated with a religious background, such as Christmas, CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS IN HARRY POTTER? 109 weddings and funerals. Instead of having any religious connotation, these events can be classified as purely secular rites and rituals in Rowling’s novels. Christmas, which is after all an important Christian holiday, is depicted without any references to religion; instead, its celebration rather reflects contemporary British culture, where Christmas tends to be celebrated as an entirely secular feast by many. Moreover, the fact that Halloween is shown as an at least equally significant holiday supports the impression that Christian holidays are not more important than others. A further event in which the absence of religion becomes perhaps even more apparent is Dumbledore’s funeral service: instead of involving a service held in a church or chapel, it takes place outside. More importantly, throughout the entire ceremony, there is no mention of prayer of any kind, indicating that it is a ceremony without any religious connotations. The absence of religious references in the wizarding world goes even further, being reflected on a linguistic level, as wizards replace common phrases like ‘O god!’ by ‘Merlin’s beard!’ (cf. Phoenix 141, Prince 399, Hallows 112). III. Immortal souls The idea of the human soul implies a variety of religious questions, yet “the Bible has no clear teaching” (Murphy 4, original emphasis) on the subject. While there are conflicting views with respect to the concept of the soul and whether it should be regarded as separate from the body or not, the notion that presumably is most familiar in a Western context is that of a dualism, meaning the dual nature of body and soul (cf. ibid. 2) – an idea which can be found in particular in the New Testament (cf. ibid. 19). When discussing the topic of the dual nature of body and soul in the context of the Harry Potter series, it is crucial to acknowledge that, in the magical world, the existence of the human soul as a separate entity appears to be an accepted fact. For instance, it is the soul that is taken by a Dementor’s kiss (cf. Prisoner 262) or that is ripped apart in the act of murdering someone, which is the prerequisite for creating a Horcrux (cf. Prince 414). Horcruxes in particular, which ensure the survival of their creator even after the death of his or her body, highlight the series’ unique understanding “of the soul as something immaterial, yet separable from the material container, be it the original body or an object” (Stojilkov 137). Among the items that Lord Voldemort chose as Horcruxes, his snake Nagini stands out due to the fact that it is an animal. (The others are his diary, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, Salazar Slytherin’s locket and Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem.) The snake evokes immediate associations with the Bible and specifically with temptation and sin (cf. Niemand 121). The connection between the snake and immortality is particularly striking, since its biblical counterpart, “[t]he primordial snake promises immortality to Adam and Eve” (ibid.). Similarly, Voldemort’s snake is supposed to guarantee his immortality, because – as a Horcrux – it contains a part of his soul, ensuring that he will survive even if his body is destroyed. The concept of the soul in the Harry Potter series thus clearly shows a strong connection to ideas found in Christianity, and the discussion of the immortality of the soul in the story suggests that it is an accepted entity in the wizard mindset. Still, when it comes to the immortality of souls and the question of an afterlife, Rowling’s novels do not give a definitive answer. On the one hand, the Harry Potter series is set in a society that is clearly secular and might consequently not believe in an afterlife. On the other hand, the belief in an afterlife often seems to be implied, most prominently in statements by Albus Dumbledore. These can already be found in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), where the headmaster says: “‘After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure’” (320). Dumbledore seems to suggest the possibility of an afterlife when referring to an ‘adventure’; his wording also implies that there is no need to fear death, VERA BUB 110 which is an idea that is promoted by Dumbledore throughout the entire series. By contrast, Voldemort obviously does fear death and attempts to ensure his immortality by ripping his soul into seven pieces. There are further events that appear to allude to the existence of an afterlife, perhaps most prominently the phenomenon called ‘Priori Incantatem’. After Voldemort’s resurrection in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), this effect, which correlates with a connection between Voldemort’s and Harry’s wands, produces ghost-like shapes of Voldemort’s victims. The entire scene is set in a bright and golden light, which is reminiscent of common images of heaven. In addition, Harry hears the song of the phoenix, which is described as an “unearthly and beautiful sound” (Goblet 559). The phoenix is not only a symbol of rebirth, but it is also closely linked to Dumbledore, who is perhaps the character that is most closely connected to the idea of an afterlife throughout the series – in opposition to Voldemort, who due to his merciless killings has come to personify death (cf. Kumlehn 20). Despite the fact that Voldemort’s victims appear in a ghost-like state, Harry wonders whether they are in fact ghosts, since they seem to be too solid.1 They are recognisable and are even capable of movement and speech. Even though their appearance resembles that of ghosts in the Harry Potter universe, these shapes can be distinguished from ghosts by a key factor: while ghosts have never truly left the world of the living even after their death, the beings described in connection to ‘Priori Incantatem’ seem to be returning from a different place. What is most interesting about this encounter and what most strongly suggests the existence of an afterlife is the behaviour of these shapes, which appear to be more than mere shadows. For instance, Lily tells Harry that James is on his way and wants to see Harry, which seems to imply that Lily and James are together in some other place, where they communicate with one another. Cedric also gets the chance to talk to Harry and asks him to return his body to his parents. The fact that the spectres talk to Harry and help him indicates not only the existence of an afterlife, but also that they still act autonomously and have kept their memories. Given all of these factors, Dumbledore’s explanation of ‘Priori Incantatem’ is somewhat surprising; he calls the apparitions mere echoes of their living selves. In other words, Dumbledore’s account appears to tone down the emphasis on an afterlife in this case. Nevertheless, this scene remains a key moment in the Harry Potter series when examining the theme of a possible afterlife, since it is the first scene in the entire series that provides evidence for the possibility of some form of existence after death – except for the ghosts, who will be discussed below. An effect that is similar to ‘Priori Incantatem’ is achieved by the Resurrection Stone, which is one of the Deathly Hallows. According to the “Tale of the Three Brothers”, the artefact has the power to return loved ones from the dead. The tale, however, also suggests that they will never again truly belong in the world of the living after their resurrection: the second brother resurrects his beloved, “‘[y]et she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered. Finally, the second brother, driven mad with hopeless longing, killed himself so as truly to join her’” (Hallows 333). Still, the fact that some form of resurrection is possible indicates that souls do not disappear after the death of the body and live on. This leads to the conclusion that “[t]he fact that a person dies does not necessarily imply that the person is gone forever” (Stojilkov 134) in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry eventually uses the Stone himself before surrendering to Voldemort. Unlike the brother in the tale, Harry does not use the Stone for selfish reasons, but to receive moral support from 1 Cf. Harry’s thoughts on what he sees: “[T]he thick grey ghost of Cedric Diggory (was it a ghost? It looked so solid) emerged in its entirety from the end of Voldemort’s wand” (Goblet 560, original emphasis). CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS IN HARRY POTTER? 111 his dead parents, his godfather Sirius and Remus. “It did not matter about bringing them back, for he was about to join them. He was not really fetching them, they were fetching him” (Hallows 570). Ultimately, Harry is about to enter a stage between the world of the living and the world of the dead. More important than the fact that Harry uses the Stone, which is an artefact that usually entails bad consequences for its user, is what makes him use it. With the help of the Stone, Harry receives not only assistance and protection; first and foremost, he experiences the company of his loved ones. Thus, this scene illustrates once more that “Rowling’s message is one of love transcending death” (Stojilkov 146). Both the idea of being protected by deceased loved ones and the shape in which they appear are reminiscent of the effect produced by ‘Priori Incantatem’. Once again, the spectres are apparently more than mere shadows, as “[t]hey were neither ghosts not truly flesh, he could see that. [...] Less substantial than living bodies, but much more than ghosts” (Hallows 570). The fact that Harry is the only one who can see his parents, Remus and Sirius and that they disappear as soon as he loses the Stone suggests that the Stone does not have the power to bring about a full resurrection. Needless to say, the resurrection of loved ones as described above seems to hint at the existence of an afterlife. But as the story is set in a world of magic, the doubt whether this effect is merely accomplished by means of a very powerful spell or whether it is indeed indicative of a religious dimension will remain. The existence of ghosts is another aspect of the wizarding world that is relevant with regard to the question of the immortality of souls and the possibility of an afterlife. In the wizarding world, ghosts are accepted members of the community; even one of the teachers at Hogwarts is a ghost who continues to teach ‘History of Magic’ after having “fallen asleep in front of the staff room fire and got up the next morning […] to teach, leaving his body behind him” (Stone 142). The existence of ghosts is most prominently discussed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), in a scene in which Harry goes to see Nearly Headless Nick, the resident ghost of Gryffindor House, after Sirius’ death. The way in which Harry phrases his question (“‘So, you came back, didn’t you?’ said Harry urgently. ‘People can come back, right? As ghosts. They don’t have to disappear completely.’”, Phoenix 791) implies that Harry is wondering about the existence of an afterlife at this point. Nick explains that only wizards are capable of returning as ghosts after their death and that only very few choose to do so. Instead, most wizards prefer to ‘go on’. What ‘going on’ means remains unclear, however; Nick does not know whether there is an afterlife, since the answer to this question is only revealed to those who choose to ‘go on’. In sum, readers can conclude that even though the existence of an afterlife is a mystery even to ghosts, their existence provides a strong indication that an afterlife is a likely possibility, yet the question what choosing to ‘go on’ means is not answered.2 In the same scene, it is made clear that the reason for choosing to become a ghost is fear. Being afraid of death is cast in a negative light, as being a ghost is implicitly deemed the worse option. This becomes apparent when Nick says: “‘I chose to remain behind. I sometimes wonder whether I oughtn’t to have … well, that is neither here nor there … in fact, I am neither here nor there … [...] I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead’” (ibid. 792, original emphasis). The free will Nick refers to in his statements, i.e., the ability to choose, or at least influence, one’s own destiny is a theme that is repeatedly referred to in the entire Harry Potter series and it surfaces once again when 2 In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry himself is in the position of having to choose; he has to decide whether ‘to board a train’, whether to return to the world of the living or to ‘go on’. This passage does not solve the mystery of the afterlife, but the existence of the latter is definitely presented as a possibility – even more so when Dumbledore says goodbye to Harry only “‘for the present’” (Hallows 590), after Harry decides to return to life. VERA BUB 112 Harry accepts the necessity of his own death and willingly surrenders to Voldemort. In highlighting the importance of choice, one could even argue that “Harry Potter is not really about magic, but about character” (Deavel/Deavel 50). This notion is strongly connected to Dumbledore, who tells Harry already early in the series that “‘[i]t is our choices, [...] that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities’” (Chamber 352). The Department of Mysteries also plays an important role in the way the series addresses the issue of an afterlife. In the conversation between Harry and Nick, the fact that the Ministry of Magic studies death in the Department of Mysteries is mentioned, which is interesting with respect to the veil that Sirius disappeared into after having been killed. The apparent necessity of studying death in government facilities proves that the question of death and of an afterlife must be significant within the wizarding society; the results seem to be of major interest to the Ministry of Magic. This kind of research also suggests that there is no certainty with respect to the existence of an afterlife or at least with regard to the precise nature of life after death. After his conversation with Nick, Harry talks to Luna Lovegood about the events in the Department of Mysteries. Unlike Harry, Luna believes in an afterlife and hopes to see her dead mother again. She shares this conviction with Harry, saying: “‘You heard them just behind the veil […]. They were just lurking out of sight’” (Phoenix 794). One can therefore not generalise the assumption that there are no wizards believing in the possibility of an afterlife. Still, the fact that the rather eccentric Luna is one of the few characters to voice this belief is interesting, since she has on the whole been characterised as someone who believes in a number of things that seem implausible to most wizards. IV. Willing sacrifice Another aspect in the Harry Potter series that is strongly connected to religion is that of sacrificing one’s life for a loved one or an entire group of people. This understanding of the term ‘sacrifice’ does not refer to “the general religious meaning in which sacrifice is understood as the offering of something valuable to God” (Daly 2), but rather to the Christian notion of a willing self-sacrifice that is rooted in the New Testament and specifically Jesus’ sacrifice. This idea of ‘self-sacrifice’ is not only used in the Harry Potter series but in other fantasy novels as well. In C.S. Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), selfsacrifice is central to the plot and gives the story a religious dimension beyond its moral message, as Aslan is quite obviously associated with Christ: “[M]oral law itself is not religious, or the property of any one religion. Only when Edmund is sentenced to die and Aslan volunteers to take his place does a religious significance emerge. [...] The willing sacrifice, the biblical tone and imagery […] and Aslan’s subsequent return to life clearly associate him with Christ” (Schakel 8). Thus, including the notion of a willing sacrifice can potentially add a religious layer of meaning to a story. A similar imagery can be found in the Harry Potter series. According to Nikolaus Wandinger, the series “is suffused with the language of sacrifice, beginning with Harry’s mother giving her life for her son and ending with Harry ‘self-sacrificing’ in order to end the reign of evil Lord Voldemort” (27, original emphasis). The readers are first introduced to this topic when they learn that Harry’s mother Lily died in his place, protecting him from Voldemort through her sacrifice. As a consequence, Harry is marked twice as a baby: not only visibly by Voldemort (in the shape of his lightning-bolt scar), but also invisibly by his mother’s love and sacrifice (cf. Kumlehn 27). As Dumbledore explains to Harry: ‘[T]o have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS IN HARRY POTTER? 113 Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good’ (Stone 321-22). Love as a powerful force is a core issue in both the Harry Potter series and Christianity, especially in the New Testament (for example, in the well-known verses from the First Epistle to the Corinthians; cf. New King James Version, 1 Cor. 13). The power of love is most often explained to Harry by Dumbledore, whose description of love is similar to the way it is presented in the Bible (cf. Kumlehn 26). In addition, the idea that Lily’s protection is invisible and does not require any physical proof is also closely connected to Christianity, as especially the New Testament emphasises the concept that one should not need physical proof in order to believe. The notion that the power of love exceeds that of hate is clearly propagated throughout the entire series, but is most visible in Harry’s parents giving their lives while trying to protect Harry: “[t]he Potters sacrifice their lives for love of their infant son while Voldemort is reduced to a ghastly living death. An act of hate will always harm the agent while an act of love preserves life” (Deavel/Deavel 58). In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry, just like his mother, is willing to sacrifice himself for others, i.e., the entire school. As soon as Harry realises that dying is the only way of turning Voldemort into a mortal being again, he is ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Again, the importance of his own choice is highlighted in this scene, because Dumbledore ensured that Harry would only learn the truth in the end, so that his sacrifice would be his own choice and not a destiny he had come to accept (cf. Wandinger 39). In this decision, “Harry never avows the hope for resurrection. Rather, the position he learns from Dumbledore is to accept creatural mortality – his own and that of the deceased” (Niemand 128, original emphasis). Harry does not attempt to fight Voldemort or to save his own life in the forest; instead, he accepts his fate and surrenders to the villain. The way in which Harry surrenders is reminiscent of the passion of Christ in the Bible. As Wandinger puts it, “[h]e is a clear figura Christi and highlights the post-Biblical, Christian, sacrifice in an exemplary way” (40). Despite the fact that Rowling admitted that “[t]he values in the books [...] are by no means exclusively Christian” (Gibbs n.p.), this scene in particular echoes Christian motifs, as it displays a sacrifice in the Christian sense: Harry’s sacrifice is a necessity, made out of love, accepting death that is inflicted by evil (cf. Wandinger 30). Admittedly, this kind of sacrifice ‘for the greater good’ is also a typical element of high fantasy and epic adventure stories; the allusion to resurrection following upon the sacrifice, however, is a bit more unusual. Once Harry sacrificed himself, he finds himself in a hall reminiscent of King’s Cross station, which is, however, completely white, i.e., in a colour that (in a Western context at least) is conventionally associated with heaven and resurrection. There is a clear indication that the entire scene is happening in Harry’s mind, though; he appears to be in control and to have the ability to manipulate his surroundings. Andrea Stojilkov argues that this setting cannot be understood as heaven from a Christian point of view, as “the white, misty King’s Cross seems too desolate for Heaven”; after all, “Heaven is described as a place where nobody will cry or mourn (Revelation 21:4)” (140) and this scene shows a crying Dumbledore. One can therefore assume that this image of King’s Cross might not be a depiction of heaven, but rather of a place in between life and death, either actual or imagined. When Harry meets Dumbledore, the former headmaster of Hogwarts admits that he is dead and explains why his sacrifice was necessary. According to Dumbledore, Harry not defending himself made all the difference and gave him the chance of returning to life, raising the question whether Harry being brought back to life can be seen as a reward for his sacrifice. It is also revealed in the final stage of the battle that Harry’s sacrifice has had a similar effect as VERA BUB 114 his mother’s, but affects a larger group of people, since none of Voldemort’s spells seem to have a binding effect on Harry’s friends. By killing Harry, Voldemort involuntarily erased the part of his own soul that had previously attached itself to Harry, making him the seventh Horcrux. The fact that Harry’s scar disappears in this state between life and death confirms that every trace Voldemort left on Harry is gone. The question whether the near-death experience really takes place or is merely a hallucination cannot be answered with certainty. At any rate, it suggests that the encounter between Harry and Dumbledore has a crucial function, namely that of providing Harry with information he would not have otherwise: ‘He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort’s one last hope for himself’ (Hallows 580). When Harry asks him whether this experience is real or only happening inside his head, Dumbledore answers: “‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’” (ibid. 591). Thus, the mentor once again stresses an idea that has been present throughout the entire series, especially in connection to Lily’s sacrifice for Harry, i.e., the notion that there is no necessity for physical proof in order to believe in something, or, in the case of Lily’s sacrifice, to provide powerful protection. This notion closely corresponds to Christianity, in particular to the New Testament, which also conveys the message that physical proof is not needed in order to believe. Another preeminent idea of the series, which provides perhaps the strongest connection to the New Testament’s idea of charity, is the emphasis on love, which Dumbledore refers to in this conversation as well. According to him, the reason why Voldemort has never fully understood what happened in the night he killed Harry’s parents is that “‘of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power […] beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he never grasped’” (ibid. 580, original emphasis). Here, Dumbledore, who himself is one of the most powerful wizards in the Harry Potter universe, claims that love is the most powerful force, even surpassing the power of magic. V. Voldemort and immortality It is impossible to discuss Harry’s near-death experience without addressing Voldemort’s death. An important aspect to consider in this context is that Harry does not use an Unforgivable Curse against Voldemort, but attempts to disarm him. Consequently, Voldemort is killed by his own rebounding spell, which echoes Voldemort’s attempt to kill baby Harry. Harry’s alignment with the good side is reinforced by the fact that he appears to have hope that there is still time for the villain to change. He encourages Voldemort to try feeling remorse – a thought that seems to scare the villain, because Harry knows what Voldemort does not know: in his near-death experience, Harry has seen what might become of Voldemort after his death. “When Voldemort will become the helpless baby-shaped thing that Harry has seen, he will be beyond help, as Dumbledore has explained. But as long as he lives, he could repent, he could change, as remote and ridiculous the possibility might seem” (Wandinger 43). Despite everything Voldemort has done, Harry still has hope for him, unlike “Voldemort, who in hoping for himself alone is fundamentally without hope” (Johnston 81). Thus Harry’s actions towards his CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS IN HARRY POTTER? 115 archenemy do not only echo the Christian notion of forgiving,3 but are simultaneously in line with the entire book series that emphasises the relevance of forgiveness. Like any other character in Harry Potter, Voldemort is given a choice, one that he has had ever since he came to Hogwarts himself, because not even he was destined to become evil (cf. Rahner 199); instead, his choices turned him into the villain, whom Harry still tries to redeem. In the scene mentioned above, Harry has succeeded in making Voldemort truly mortal: he has destroyed almost all of his Horcruxes and calls him by his original name, Tom Riddle, thereby reducing him to his mortal self. The fact that Voldemort ultimately dies, despite his attempts to become immortal, proves that magic does have its limitations after all, even in defeating death, which indicates that human beings are not meant to be immortal on earth. This idea is affirmed throughout the entire series, as any attempt at cheating death always takes a high toll (cf. Macor 48): in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for instance, Voldemort is drinking unicorn blood in order to stay alive and thereby kills a being that is the embodiment of purity and innocence.4 In the “Tale of the Three Brothers”, cheating death results in the death of two brothers; only the third one is able to outsmart death and eventually embraces his fate on his own accord, accepting death as inevitable. Horcruxes, as a means of achieving immortality, require killing another human being, as the soul needs to be ripped apart in the first place. This image in and of itself is likely to be seen in a negative light in the overall context of the concept of (immortal) souls in the series. When examining the villain’s pursuit of immortality, “[t]he crucial point is that Voldemort does not strive to achieve eternal life of the soul but […] the eternal life of his powerful mind and body […]. Hence he is willing to mutilate his spiritual self, committing both extreme self-violence and most sinful violence toward others” (Stojilkov 137). Clearly, his death can therefore be regarded as poetic justice (cf. Wandinger 45) for attempting to become immortal.5 VI. Conclusion Despite the fact that religion is never explicitly mentioned in the Harry Potter series, a wide spectrum of themes in the novels refer to religious aspects and belief. The presence of these topics indicates that Harry Potter is not merely a story of witchcraft practised in an apparently atheist society; it is also a story about life and death, the importance of love, the possibility of an afterlife, the necessity of choice, free will, the relevance of showing mercy and also the hope for redemption. All of these issues can be, but do not have to be, read in a Christian context. Instead of explicitly discussing religion in her stories (cf. Niemand 130), J.K. Rowling chose to incorporate religious aspects rather implicitly, which provides readers with the opportunity of finding and interpreting these aspects for themselves. 3 See for example: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (King James Bible, Eph 4.31-32); or “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Lk 17.3-4). 4 As the centaur Firenze puts it: “‘[I]t is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn [...]. You have slain something pure and defenceless to save yourself and you will have but a half life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips’” (Stone 277-78). 5 Finally, when examining Voldemort’s death, it is also important to consider the symbolism inherent in this scene: when he dies, the sun is rising, which heralds a new beginning and the victory of good over evil. VERA BUB 116 Works Cited Apostolides, Anastasia, and Johann-Albrecht Meylahn. “The Crucifixion of Consumerism and Power and the Resurrection of a Community Glimpsed through Meylahn’s Wounded Christ in Conversation with Rowling’s Christ Discourse in the Harry Potter Series.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 70.1 (2014): 1-7. Daly, Robert J. Sacrifice Unveiled: The True Meaning of Christian Sacrifice. T&T Clark International, 2009. Deavel, Catherine Jack, and David Paul Deavel. “Character, Choice, and Harry Potter.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 5.4 (2002): 49-64. Gibbs, Nancy. “J. K. Rowling.” TIME. Last access: 14 May 2017. Johnston, Susan. “Harry Potter, Eucatastrophe, and Christian Hope.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 14.1 (2011): 66-90. Kumlehn, Martina. “‘Der letzte Feind, der zerstört werden wird, ist der Tod’ – Narrative Ars Moriendi und Ars Vivendi in der Harry-Potter-Septologie.” Vom Logos zum Mythos: ‘Herr der Ringe’ und ‘Harry Potter’ als zentrale Grunderzählungen des 21. Jahrhunderts; praktisch-theologische und religionsdidaktische Analysen, edited by Astrid Dinter, LIT, 2010. 15-40. Macor, Laura Anna. Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer der Philosophie: Nahkampf mit dem Tod, Königshausen & Neumann, 2013. Maughan, Shannon. “Harry Potter Tops List of Banned Books.” New York Times. Last access: 06 July 2017. Murphy, Nancey. Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? Cambridge University Press, 2006. Niemand, Christoph. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death: Biblical Intertextuality in the Sub-Text of Joanne K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels.” ET-Studies 3.1 (2012): 111- 31. Rahner, Johanna. “‘Viel mehr als unsere Fähigkeiten sind es unsere Entscheidungen, Harry, die zeigen, wer wir wirklich sind.’ J.K. Rowlings zauberhafte Ethik und die Frage von Schuld, Reue und Vergebung.” Vom Logos zum Mythos: ‘Herr der Ringe’ und ‘Harry Potter’ als zentrale Grunderzählungen des 21. Jahrhunderts; praktisch-theologische und religionsdidaktische Analysen, edited by Astrid Dinter, LIT, 2010. 185-208. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 1997. ---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bloomsbury, 1998. ---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Bloomsbury, 1999. ---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Bloomsbury, 2000. ---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bloomsbury, 2003. ---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bloomsbury, 2005. ---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury, 2007. CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS IN HARRY POTTER? 117 Schakel, Peter J. “Hidden Images of Christ in the Fiction of C.S. Lewis.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 46.2 (2013): 1-18. Stojilkov, Andrea. “Life(and)death in Harry Potter: The Immortality of Love and Soul.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 48.2 (2015): 133-48. The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 2008. The Bible. New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2016. Wandinger, Nikolaus. “‘Sacrifice’ in the Harry Potter Series from a Girardian Perspective.” Contagion 17.1 (2010): 27-51.

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J. K. Rowling’s “ Harry Potter” series (1997–2007) has turned into a global phenomenon and her Potterverse is still expanding. The contributions in this volume provide a range of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to various dimensions of this multifacetted universe. The introductory article focuses on different forms of world building in the novels, the translations, the film series and the fandom.

Part I examines various potential sources for Rowling’s series in folklore, the Arthurian legend and Gothic literature. Further articles focus on parallels between the “Harry Potter” series and Celtic Druidism, the impact Victorian notions of gender roles have had on the representation of the Gaunt family, the reception of (medieval and Early Modern) history in the series and the influence of Christian concepts on the world view expressed in the novels.

Part II focuses on a range of prominent political and social themes in the series, including conspiracy, persecution and terror, racism as well as the role of economic, social and cultural capital. Other articles explore the concept of a Magical Criminal Law and its consequences as well as the significance of secrets and forbidden places.

The articles in Part III go beyond the novels by taking the stage play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, Pottermore and fan fiction into account. Main topics in this part include trauma theory/PTSD, queerbaiting, a ‘post’-colonial analysis of the representation of Native Americans in Rowling’s “History of Magic in North America” and the depiction of violence, incest and rape in fan fictions.

The concluding article highlights the diversification of the Potterverse and analyses strategies informing its ongoing expansion.