“So, this is it. The big one. The one that we’ve been all waiting for.”
We after all have been anxiously waiting to read this book since we first picked up Book 1. I just have to marvel at all of the anticipation and all of the theories that we have endured over all of these years. And after this, that’s it, we’re done. That’s hard to believe. What do we do, put our costumes away? Do we store our books under floorboards? Do we discard our legos, student planners, and stickers, and pretend that they were never important to us? No way people. We can keep the spirit and the magic of Harry Potter alive for many many years to come. For even after my hundredth read of the series, I have no doubt that I will still enjoy it, and still manage to learn things. And there will always be things to speculate about. Harry Potter will never die in the hearts of us true fans.
But for now, we still have so many questions. Who will die? Who will get together? Will we ever figure out what DD see’s in the Mirror of Erised? What is the deal with our dear Aunt Petunia? And so on and so on. I’ve been trying my damndest over the past few weeks to make sense of at least the latest book covers and little hints that J.K. has given us with regard to this wondrous final book. And what I’ve come up with is well, not what I want, but it’s an attempt, and it does at least include things that I haven’t found elsewhere. I was hoping to get farther than this, but I have gotten somewhere, and I figure that any new realizations can be added to future editorials.
Here we go then. What on earth does that title mean? The adventures of anyone going into a place called Deathly Hallows sounds like a horror film doesn’t it? It sounds like they will only come back from that journey if they are very very fortunate.
My first immediate thought on the title was that it was referring to ghosts. As J.K. promised that in this novel we will finally learn why some wizards turn into ghosts while most don’t, the title seemed to make sense. Next I thought of Godric’s Hollow. Only one letter difference, but it seemed significant, as Harry intends upon visiting Godric’s Hollow as of the end of Book 6. Then came All Hallow’s Eve, which after all was the night that Harry and Voldemort first met. The Deathly part I thought was ominous too as death is what Voldemort is afraid of. J.K. revealed that if Voldemort faced a boggart, he would see his own corpse (Wikipedia.org). I was also reminded of the shallows in the cave where the Inferi lay. It seems to make sense for Voldemort to be forced to endure a shred of the pain that he has caused after all of the people he killed and tortured over the years. This harkens back to the priori incantatum from GOF where the echoes of spells whisper words of encouragement to Harry and hiss things to Voldemort that Harry can’t hear.
I did a little research to find out what Hallows exactly refers to. According to the Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, there are two definitions to hallow. Hallow vt 1. to make holy; sanctify, consecrate 2. to honor as holy, consider sacred, venerate; to hallow a battlefield. Hallo n. 1. (used to call or answer someone or to incite dogs in hunting) 2. the cry “hallo!” 3. a shout of exhalation – 4. to call with a loud voice about; cry, as after hunting dogs 5. to incite or chase (something) with shouts and cries of “hallo.” 6. to cry “hallo” to someone 7. to shout (something). Both of these definitions actually seem to be important.
And, for good measure, I also looked up Deathly. Deathly adj. 1. causing death; deadly; fatal. 2. like death: a deathly silence. 3. of, pertaining to, or indicating death, morbid: a deathly odor from the sepulcher. 4. in the manner of death. 5. very; utterly: deathly afraid. That definition shows that being deathly can cause death, not just describe it. That’s not necessarily the way in which J.K. is using it, but I found the possibility of that in the word intriguing.
It took from those definitions the following. The Deathly Hallows is a sacred place meant to honor the dead. It would be on holy ground, meaning that the land may not be disturbed and must be preserved and viewed upon with reverence. There can be no battling allowed upon holy ground. It cannot be crossed by certain creatures of darkness. In other tales, that would have included werewolves, vampires, and even witches and wizards. However, J.K.’s series definitely doesn’t take a darkened view of witches and wizards. So I think that we can safely eliminate them from the list. Werewolves and vampires are a bit more questionable however.
In the Muggle world, places such as this refer to graveyards, war memorials, battlefields, or churches. Any place where death has occurred in great numbers where the dead need to be remembered even if they may not actually rest there. These places often have a kind or beauty or mystique about them. It is not a place for tears necessarily, as often the deaths have occurred so long ago that no one is left to mourn them who knew them in life. Instead you get a sense of being a part of these past worlds; you feel small shudders of what occurred there, which are fueled by the historians who tell the stories, and the changing winds. Places of massive death and despair have an aura about them very unlike normal surroundings. And it doesn’t drain you of hope nor frighten you. It just serves as a reminder that where we stand, others have stood, and they still stand there with you in some sense. You could never possibly be as alone as you feel sometimes.
Such a place would give Harry hope and frighten Voldemort. And that is very good news for our cause. But where are the Deathly Hallows located? I have a few guesses. It could be a place where we have not encountered yet. Perhaps the Order of Phoenix has its own cemetery. They certainly had enough people die from the original Order to make one. It could be the cemetery at Godric’s Hollow where Harry’s parents are buried. It could be the battleground from DD’s war with Grindlewald. And my final guess is the more popular one: that it refers to the area that lies Beyond the Veil. The new covers certainly give the impression that Harry must go near that Veil at some point. I personally feel that the area beyond the Veil and Deathly Hallows make for two completely separate places. This is because I perceive that what is Beyond the Veil isn’t so much another place as it is another dimension. Deathly Hallows seems to be an actual place to me. I do think, however, that we will visit both places in the book, and the Veil will still be very very important.
I deduce that we will arrive at Deathly Hallows as part of Harry’s quest for the remaining horcruxes. The Veil will come into play as another key to understanding along the journey. It has been suggested that it is how Harry intends upon destroying the horcruxes and doing away with Voldemort. We do know that the set of mirrors that Sirius and Harry possessed will be important somehow in this book. Perhaps it is through Sirius that Harry is once again drawn to the Veil.
Beyond the Veil
So far, we can surmise the following about the Veil. Voldemort would be afraid of it. People gather around it in the DOM and reep some sort of important knowledge from it. They use it for research to study death. Some can hear its voices, others cannot. It’s extremely old. As old as the Ministry of Magic according to J.K.. When Sirius fell through the Veil, according to Wikipedia.org, he was hit by a non-lethal curse. It is hypothesized that it was a stun, which is why his face froze. So, he died after passing through that Veil, as Lupin told Harry that he was gone and could not be saved. If Harry and Voldemort are truly behind it, as appears to be depicted on the cover of the U.S. edition, what do they have protecting them from death that Sirius didn’t?
Now, let me abstract from all of that a few ideas. My first idea of it was that if you went through it you couldn’t come back. It seemed to me to be an archway into the world of the dead, and only the dead were allowed to enter. Remember that Nick mentions how death is studied in the DOM in OP. But if only the dead are allowed to enter, if you were alive, would you die upon entrance, as what appeared to happen to Sirius? Or maybe the area would make you die? That doesn’t seem quite right either. Could simply being around so much death drain the life out of you?
This harkens me back to the Death Day Party, where we get a first-hand account of what it’s like to be around the dead—it is cold, dead people don’t seem to make the best of company, and they have things around them to be perceived by those with limited senses: saws for music and rotting food for gliding through. Would the area behind the Veil be anything like that? Since ghosts still “live” in the world of the living, would they have the same mannerisms as those who have been dead and out of contact with our world for years? It seems that our ghosts would be more human-like than what we would encounter behind that Veil, even if they’re a bit grumpy.
And remember that the Veil lies in the center of an arena with a lot of seating, which means that potentially hundreds congregate around it. I doubt that the DOM would have quite that many people working for them, so it stands to reason that members of other departments join them. That seems strange to me too when you consider how concealed the entrance is. I suppose it could be made more user-friendly when it was needed to be. But here’s another possibility: what if the seats are meant to be occupied by the dead? There would probably be DOM employees there as well. But, what would so many dead have to say? What would they know that would effect the world of the living? Changes in the atmosphere of things? Or maybe to consult with the recent dead to see how they died?
This line of thought keeps bringing me back to the Centaurs. They analyze the stars to see major changes. It may take them ten years to know what they are seeing. I am thinking that the dead from the Veil may be there to bring news such as that. As all prophetic work that Centaurs and Seers perform seems to have a spiritual side. I mean, that’s what they’re doing—opening a door to a different dimension. Seeing into the blurred edge of things away from blatant harsh reality.
Remember Luna’s reaction to the Veil when Harry and her talked about Sirius. She was convinced that the Veil could serve as a portal to the dead. That they were lurking just barely out of reach and could at some point be “brought out” and spoken with. Luna believes so many crazy things. But, if that isn’t the truth, what’s the purpose of the chamber then?
All Hallow’s Eve is supposed to be the one night where the Veil between the living and the dead is lifted. Perhaps this chamber is only made use of once a year. Perhaps that is the day that Harry and Voldemort will trespass upon it.
On the U.K. Children’s cover we see a treasure. A portal is seen behind it, which is also reminiscent of the Veil. It is clear that the trio is in this treasure chamber as part of their hunt for the horcruxes.
Many have suggested that this treasure lies at Gringotts. That is a possibility, however I can’t imagine how they would have traversed all of that security. So I looked to a few other possibilities, and discovered that we know that two of the families that are descendants from the founders had amassed fortunes at some point. Salazar Slytherin’s family had squandered the fortune generations before we meet the Gaunts, leaving behind only Marvolo’s ring and the locket. We know of Helga Hufflepuff’s descendant, Hepzibah Smith, who had a family of her own, and who had acquired quite the collection of objects of value prior to her death. This collection included the Hufflepuff cup and the locket that Merope had sold.
It stands to reason that all four founders had obtained their own fortunes to pass down to their families. They after all were four of the cleverest witches and wizards of their age, and had managed to create a school out of nothing that is still standing. We know what happened to two of the fortunes after 1,000 years, but what about the other two? The only relics left of Gryffindor, according to DD, lie in his office: the Sorting Hat, and the sword. It makes sense for the Sorting Hat to have remained at the school, but what about the sword? Shouldn’t it be with the rest of the family fortune? Of course, so much can happen in 1,000 years. And we know nothing of what Ravenclaw may have left behind. You’d think that the cleverest house would have managed to hang onto her fortune, but there are so many things that could have happened.
So, who do we know who has treasure, or gold let’s say? Lucius certainly. Harry does as well, from what he inherited from his parents and Sirius. We know that his father was wealthy enough to not have to work. Sirius also didn’t have to hold down a job having inherited his fortune from his Uncle. It is not clear what happened to the rest of the Black fortune. Since Sirius was disowned, we may assume that they left it to some other family member that they deemed more worthy of the prize. With the house, however, I believe that magic prevented them from leaving it to anyone other than their disowned rebel son. However, we’ve seen that a considerable amount of the fortune has been left inside of the house. What has been left after Mundugus’s pillaging, however, is another story.
Malfoy’s fortune intrigues me. He does have the suave air of someone who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life and feels that absolutely every luxury should be afforded to him. However, we do know that that is not the case, at least to one extent. Working for Lord Voldemort isn’t exactly a picnic, and requires a lot of dirty grimy work. Voldemort must be obeyed absolutely, and he can never be questioned.
We do know one thing of Lucius: he does not consider thievery to be an adequate career choice for his son. He has had to “play the field” so to speak, suck up to the right people so he can get bills he wants passed, and that has required him to wear a mask of respectability. But we do know that behind that mask he has, under Voldemort’s orders, resorted to torture and probably murder. Would theft also have been among his crimes? Could that be the key to the grandiose Malfoy fortune? Just because he doesn’t wish for his son to live his life that way doesn’t mean that he himself didn’t have to resort to it. And, if that’s the case, his fortune may include relics of other prominent families that could be critical in Harry’s search.
I also imagine that Voldemort himself would have desired to obtain his own fortune after having grown up in an orphanage and been left nothing by his family. Perhaps that was something else that he was working on over those decades where his whereabouts are completely unknown. We do know that he has a strange thing for certain treasures.
One thought I had was that we know that the Quibbler does not pay its writers. It is strictly on a voluntary basis. Does it stand to reason then that they pay their Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Lovegood? Not necessarily, or if they do it can’t be very much. So perhaps Mr. Lovegood also has his own inherited fortune, and he too isn’t required to work. I’ve long thought that Luna may just be the connection that Harry needs to figure out what and where the Ravenclaw treasure is. I also have an inkling that she’ll have a very critical role in the final book.
One final thing (well, there are in fact lots of things, but one final thing to be mentioned for now) that keeps bothering me about this final book is Aunt Petunia. From leakylounge.com: “Is Aunt Petunia a Squib? J.K. answers: Good question. No, she is not a Squib. She is a Muggle, but—[laughter]. You will have to read the other books. You might have gotten the impression that there is a little more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye, and you will find out what it is. She is not a Squib, although that is a very good guess. Oh I am giving a lot away here. I am being shockingly indiscreet.”
What do we know about Mrs. Petunia? She corresponded with DD before that letter arrived with Harry when he was left on her porch. She knows what Azkabahn is, after years and years of pretending that the wizarding world didn’t exist, because she overheard “that awful boy” tell her sister. And J.K. hints that there is more to it than that. It also doesn’t seem to make sense that that boy was James, since Lily didn’t get together with James until late in her education. But I suppose it still could have been. Petunia is fearful when she hears that Lord Voldemort is back. She seems to grasp the severity of what that means. She was also “oddly flushed” when hearing how soon Harry will be leaving their home forever.
She is also a terrible mother to not only Harry but Dudley as well. He is pampered and spoiled, and her and her husband are deliberately hiding from him the realities of the real world. Imagine the shock that will come to him once he realizes that bullying and whining don’t get you very far in the reality of things. They allow him to have bad marks, tantrums, and to be a torturing menace to other children. They even allowed him to become a glutton, until they were forced to change his diet. And that is neglect of the worst kind for it seriously compromises his health. I keep wondering about all of that. That maybe there is more behind it.
But let’s get back to that quote from J.K.. She is not a Squib, not a Witch, although a Squib is a very good guess. Okay, I’m going to go out on my crazy limb here. That quote says to me that she is something other than human, that she is part-human part something else. But honestly, I have no idea what, nothing seems to fit. I thought of Vampires, Werewolves, Centaurs, Banshees, Veela, Metamorphigi, and Seers. The only thing that made kinda sense, if you ignore the physical characteristic problem, which is a big one, is being a house-elf. That is due to her rampant cleaning, and how she obeys Mr. Dursley and Dudley’s every whim. But then, she would have some magic, and that wouldn’t work either. Maybe I’m alone in this, but doesn’t that quote sound like she’s alluding to Petunia being something else other than just a muggle?
And why on earth was she corresponding with DD? Some theories, which make a little sense, say that Petunia is a spy for the Order. She is perfect for a spy, with her peering into neighbor’s windows and all that. But what would she have to spy on? The only wizard on that street is Harry. There’s Mrs. Figg, but she’s a member of the Order herself, and she’s a Squib. That doesn’t add up to me either.
Dear Dudley’s worst memory has been promised to us as well. It does make sense that that has some tie to Petunia’s mystery, and probably also Lily’s.
Alright, let me try another limb. Let’s look at Petunia as an abused woman. Let’s say that she loved Uncle Vernon, and didn’t think she could get any better. But Uncle Vernon hated magic, and she was jealous of her sister anyway, so she decided that she hated it too. Notice how Petunia doesn’t have much in the way of opinions of her own as they are echoes of her husband’s. The only time that we ever seem to hear her say anything that is going against her husband is when she says that Harry must stay when Vernon tries to throw him out. Vernon is a very demanding man who has to have everything “just so”. And you get the impression that that’s just the way his whole family is from his awful sister. None of this came from the Evans’s side certainly. Petunia has made her choices to be the dutiful wife and the over-bearing mother, but it seems to me that her words aren’t her words anymore, as they are her husband’s. She just says what he would have liked her to say. So, she may not be as resentful of her sister and the wizarding world as she proclaims.
We first see Petunia in Book 1 while Vernon is leaving for work, and she’s tending to Dudley, who’s in the middle of a tantrum. After Vernon hears the whispers about the Potters, and sees the people dressed in different garbs, he reaches for the phone to call her, but stops himself. “As we normally pretended that she didn’t have a sister”. He didn’t want to worry her for nothing. The last thing that the Dursleys want is to be associated with that riff-raff. When he does finally ask her, after seeing the news, she is very snappish. She does remember her nephew’s name as she manages to remember so many strange things about the wizarding world.
She couldn’t be a part of the wizarding world like her sister, so she had to make her own way as her parents had done. And being a sister to a witch wasn’t something that she could parade around either, even if she wanted to. And it would be sad to see glimpses of this amazing world knowing that you could never really be a part of it. So it would make sense for her to make her way on her own, away from all of that. To keep revisiting that fact would be painful. So, to be with a man who resented it is an ideal solution to her. That way she is never forced to revisit it.
But we know that this isn’t the whole story because her and DD corresponded prior to Harry arriving on her doorstep.
Remember that when Harry comes along he doesn’t come alone but with the news of her sister’s death. I believe that she was horridly shaken by the news, and was at a loss of what to do with Harry, so she just takes her cues from her husband. This makes for a very estranged relationship with her nephew. Petunia refuses to defy her husband even to defend a blood-relative. You also have to remember how demanding of a little boy Dudley already was at that point. He never would have stood for anyone getting any more affection than him, or to even share in the affection. Imagine if you would Aunt Marge’s reaction if Petunia showed any hint of affection for Harry. And I believe that Vernon would have had a similar response. Petunia could have been strong, and done what she thought was right, regardless of what her husband and his sister thought. But alas, she’s not that strong, and has never been a woman of conviction like her sister. Snape’s Worst Memory shows a perfect example of how unlike Lily Petunia really is. Lily could never stand seeing someone abused in front of her. Petunia just shrugs it off and gets back to her cleaning. I believe that Petunia’s obsessive cleaning maybe her way of releasing a lot of suppressed angst. I know that many of us women use it as such.
What on earth could be her secret? Well, if I figure it out, I’ll let you know. Right now I’m still, alas, drawing a totally frustrating blank.
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