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Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2



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  #1  
Old October 3rd, 2011, 3:41 am
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Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

Welcome to version 2 of Harry's character analysis thread. Version 1 can be found here.


1. How do Harry's formative years with the Dursley's influence the person he is now? Would he be the same person if his parents had lived? If he had been sent to live with another wizarding family? If he had been sent to an orphanage like Tom Riddle?

2. When do we first see evidence of Harry's "saving people" thing? Is this a strength or a flaw? What do you think of his final sacrifice?

3. Harry's natural curiosity was stifled by the Dursleys. "Don't ask questions!" but it comes out it full force once he gets to Hogwarts. How does this curiosity serve him through the books? Has he truly lost it after Dumbledore's death or will it return as he hunts for the horcruxes?

4. What do you think are Harry's greatest strengths? What weaknesses did he overcome as the series progressed?

5. How have each of the losses Harry has suffered helped to define who he is?

6 Dumbledore tells him that his pure heart is what separates him from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. What examples have we seen of this pure heart?

7. What do you think of Harry's use of Unforgivables in DH?

8. Why do you think Harry forgives Snape?

9. JKR tells us that he and Ron became Aurors and revolutionized the department? Do you think this was a good choice for him? What changes do you think he might have made?


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Old October 3rd, 2011, 4:31 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

Quote:
Originally Posted by RemusLupinFan View Post
Welcome to version 2 of Harry's character analysis thread. Version 1 can be found here.


1. How do Harry's formative years with the Dursley's influence the person he is now? Would he be the same person if his parents had lived? If he had been sent to live with another wizarding family? If he had been sent to an orphanage like Tom Riddle?
Harry was totally opposite of Dudley. Would he be the same person if his parent had lived? yes, of course. If he had been sent to another wizarding family, I can imagine he would be still pretty nice to everyone, even if he was in an orphanage.

2. When do we first see evidence of Harry's "saving people" thing? Is this a strength or a flaw? What do you think of his final sacrifice? I never thought of him having a "saving people" thing, Hermione mentioned it in GOF, but I just thought that was Hermione. I saw it as a strength, because Harry wanted to help others. I thought his final sacrifice was brave. I don't think he realised that by not fighting Voldemort he was helping others. Dumbledore told him about his sacrifice.

3. Harry's natural curiosity was stifled by the Dursleys. "Don't ask questions!" but it comes out it full force once he gets to Hogwarts. How does this curiosity serve him through the books? Has he truly lost it after Dumbledore's death or will it return as he hunts for the horcruxes?
His curiosity could have gotten him in big trouble at first, but he justified it by helping others in the long run. Of course, his curiosity almost was lost after dumbldore died, but he still used it in his hunt for horcruxes.

4. What do you think are Harry's greatest strengths? What weaknesses did he overcome as the series progressed? his greates strengths are caring for others, making friends with other people and creatures, being polite. His weaknesses were trying to do everything by himself. He learned how to depend on other people, and to trust them.

5. How have each of the losses Harry has suffered helped to define who he is? I think his losses helped him to value friendships and also helped him to want a family. Family was very improtant to him.

6 Dumbledore tells him that his pure heart is what separates him from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. What examples have we seen of this pure heart? Harry didn't want to seek revenge. He helped Lockhart out of the COS even though Lockhart wanted to wipe out his memory. He listened to Sirius and Lupin in POA and spared Wormtail's life. Voldemort couldn't possess Harry. and the DE enjoyed using the Unforgiveable Curses and Harry only did when he thought it was necessary.

7. What do you think of Harry's use of Unforgivables in DH? To me, it was necessary, but he didn't use the AK at all.

8. Why do you think Harry forgives Snape? He realised that Snape only loved Lily, and she would have forgiven Snape in time.

9. JKR tells us that he and Ron became Aurors and revolutionized the department? Do you think this was a good choice for him? What changes do you think he might have made?
Harry would have made sure any DE's or other bad wizards would get a fair trial. And he would try and stun them first to bring them in for a trial.


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Old October 3rd, 2011, 10:18 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Originally Posted by RemusLupinFan View Post
1. How do Harry's formative years with the Dursley's influence the person he is now?
As a child, I think it made him value things like friendship and love more. We see the first time he meets Ron, that he is very eager to have his own things shared, he thinks Ron is his superior and he tries to boost his self-confidence when Ron seemed to be upset. As an adult, I think it made him a more compassionate person, one who sympathises with the weak, lonely, etc. and tries to support them. We even see this when Harry is still quite young; he supported Neville on more than one occassion, he seemed to have some sympathy for Hermione, before she became their friend, even though he was also annoyed at her.

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Would he be the same person if his parents had lived? If he had been sent to live with another wizarding family? If he had been sent to an orphanage like Tom Riddle?
If his parents lived, I think he would have been quite a different person, because a large part of his personality was shaped by the fact that he defeated Voldemort, lost his parents and grew up not knowing anything about his past. He grew up believing himself to be like any normal child, even less than normal, something that made him more staggered than proud or happy at the discovery of his past. If he grew up among wizarding children, knowing that he is better than them, in fact better than all the adults around him, that he managed as a one-year-old to do what thier oldest failed to do, I think it would have made him an extremely proud person, one who naturally fails to understand people around and underestimate them.
Growing up among muggles (whether they were his family, or an orphanage) was a good way to keep Harry from going bad and becoming proud. Dumbledore made a few wrong decisions concerning Harry, but he was right in keeping Harry among muggles for the first years of his life, in my opinion.

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Originally Posted by RemusLupinFan View Post
2. When do we first see evidence of Harry's "saving people" thing? Is this a strength or a flaw? What do you think of his final sacrifice?
I think it appears as early as his first year at Hogwarts, when they found out that Hermione was alone in the bathroom and does not know abot the troll. His tendency shows from time to time, for instance in CoS he tries to save Ginny from the Basilisk, in PoA he saves both Sirius and Buckbeak (although on Dumbledore's orders). In the triwizard tournament he save Gabrielle and helps Cedric out in the maze. In OotP there's the mishap of the Department of Mysteries. The willingness to put oneself in danger to help others is definitely a strength in itself.


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Old October 7th, 2011, 11:33 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

Regarding Harry's readiness to sacrifice himself...

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Originally Posted by bellatrix93 View Post
I think it appears as early as his first year at Hogwarts, when they found out that Hermione was alone in the bathroom and does not know abot the troll. His tendency shows from time to time, for instance in CoS he tries to save Ginny from the Basilisk, in PoA he saves both Sirius and Buckbeak (although on Dumbledore's orders). In the triwizard tournament he save Gabrielle and helps Cedric out in the maze. In OotP there's the mishap of the Department of Mysteries. The willingness to put oneself in danger to help others is definitely a strength in itself.
But I would argue that it cuts both ways. That willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good (!) sometimes leads him to go it alone when he needn't, when in fact he really mustn't. I think in his mind it almost comes to the point where the sacrifice itself is the great act, as opposed to what that sacrifice achieves. One can't blame him for that--he owes his survival to just such an act of sacrifice.

Nonetheless, one of the ways that he develops as a person (contrary to what some critics said, he did develop, somewhat) is that he recognizes that there are some things he must not go it alone on, to enable those that he must. We see that most strongly in DH, I think, and it marks his ability to harness this characteristic of his that was both a strength and a flaw, and to put it to best use.


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Old October 13th, 2011, 10:18 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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That willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good (!) sometimes leads him to go it alone when he needn't, when in fact he really mustn't.
I sometimes wonder where that stems from. I suppose that for the first 11 years of his life he's had to adapt and learn how to depend on himself and only himself, but I don't know if that totally explains why he feels the need to do everything alone, even when he has friends who are perfectly willing to help him. Maybe there's some lingering anti-socialism or unwillingness to trust people that he carries with him for a few years until, like you say, he realizes that he needs and wants help.

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5. How have each of the losses Harry has suffered helped to define who he is?
Something I love about the series (well, maybe love is the wrong word for this ) is that the deaths aren't just deaths - they're all hugely important to Harry's development.

Cedric's death is the first one he really witnesses and understands, and I think this one is really significant. In the first two, maybe three books, Harry knows that Voldemort wants to kill him but he doesn't really grasp the idea, IMO, and there's not much of a desire for revenge - to Harry, Voldemort is just a danger that he wants to avoid. Once he sees Cedric die, though, he understands the evil that Voldemort is capable of; the death is almost representative of all the innocent people who were murdered during the first war and I think this triggers Harry's desire to fight.

Sirius and Dobby's deaths were heartbreaking to me not just because two innocent characters were dying, but because of the impact they had on Harry. Sometimes I forget that he's just a teenager going through all this He thinks it was his fault. He thinks that Sirius and Dobby died because he put them in dangerous situations and got them killed. I'd also include Mad-Eye's death and George's injury here, because I think that's a big part of why he was ready to die in DH: he had the weight of these deaths and sufferings on his shoulders and he didn't want anyone else to suffer "for him" or "because of him." Death is a burden that no one should have to carry but it was crucial to his development and I feel it's largely responsible for his nobility and selflessness at the end of the series.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 1:02 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Sirius and Dobby's deaths were heartbreaking to me not just because two innocent characters were dying, but because of the impact they had on Harry. Sometimes I forget that he's just a teenager going through all this He thinks it was his fault. He thinks that Sirius and Dobby died because he put them in dangerous situations and got them killed. I'd also include Mad-Eye's death and George's injury here, because I think that's a big part of why he was ready to die in DH: he had the weight of these deaths and sufferings on his shoulders and he didn't want anyone else to suffer "for him" or "because of him." Death is a burden that no one should have to carry but it was crucial to his development and I feel it's largely responsible for his nobility and selflessness at the end of the series.
Mmm, I'm not sure that he was ready to die in DH specifically because he didn't want anyone else to suffer for him. It seems to me that that was his mindset earlier in the series (post-GoF, pre-Dobby's death). Post-Dobby's death, I think he's ready to die because he knows that it will really mean something.

Rowling writes of his mindset changing as he dug the grave for Dobby, and I think this is a fairly important transition for Harry. He feels a certain calm because the pieces are falling into place. Before, he was ready to die because he thought that's what people who loved each other did: die for each other. It was the act, rather than its consequence, that held the greater meaning for him--in large part, I think, because his parents died that way. There's a certain ironic kind of selfishness to that, because he won't let anyone else do that; no one else is permitted to suffer. In his conception, only he's allowed to do that.

But after Dobby died, it was as though something switched in his head. I'm not sure why Dobby's death should have precipitated that, but that's the way Rowling writes it. At any rate, from there on out, Harry sees any sacrifice he has to make as having a specific purpose. When he learns he has to die, he recognizes that he has to die because it will enable others to finish off Voldemort. The ends become more important than the means. To me, that's the final indication that Harry has matured. To paraphrase Bulwer-Lytton (the younger): Bravado does what it can, true bravery what it must.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 5:45 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

Oh I definitely agree with you, I didn't mean to imply that was the only reason he was ready to die. But I certainly think that witnessing firsthand deaths of people who were fighting for him (in a sense) had a great deal of importance in terms of his maturing.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 8:40 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

Yes, you are right. those people who fight with him and has been with him had a great deal of importance to make him more mature, even his looks had matured.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 3:53 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Oh I definitely agree with you, I didn't mean to imply that was the only reason he was ready to die. But I certainly think that witnessing firsthand deaths of people who were fighting for him (in a sense) had a great deal of importance in terms of his maturing.
It must have, yes. Now let me think about that for a moment. Is it because he sees how other people are suffering for him? Or is it because he sees he has to figure out a way to stop it? I think it's the former for Cedric (a sort of blind, unreasoning grief), for instance, and the latter for Dobby (and Fred). What do you think?


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Old October 14th, 2011, 6:14 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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It must have, yes. Now let me think about that for a moment. Is it because he sees how other people are suffering for him? Or is it because he sees he has to figure out a way to stop it? I think it's the former for Cedric (a sort of blind, unreasoning grief), for instance, and the latter for Dobby (and Fred). What do you think?
I'm not sure what we're supposed to be determining here. Why would we want to make a distinction between grief, compassion, and wanting to stop an evil person? I think all those things affect Harry (and everyone...though maybe not Voldy), and I don't believe his actions are dictated by only one motivating factor at a time. I think all of Harry's experiences, values, feelings and losses steer Harry's actions all the time. It doesn't really matter if Harry is feeling grief and responsibility for Cedric's death at any given time, because those feelings don't negate any other feelings/experiences in his life. Ron and Hermione risk everything in DH as well, and their experiences are very different than Harry's. While Voldemort's murder of Harry's parents set certain details in place that greatly affected him, I think that Harry's nature, and his ability to love, is the most constant guide to his actions.

About Harry's response to Dobby's death, in my opinion that would always have been an emotional experience for Harry no matter when it happened. The way I understand it, Dobby's death did make Harry choose to focus on the horcruxes, and not get distracted by the hallows. But Harry's desire to stop Voldemort was present throughout.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 6:38 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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I'm not sure what we're supposed to be determining here.
I guess I'm simplifying matters--possibly over-simplifying them--in order to draw them into sharper contrast. You're quite right that things are not that clear-cut, but I think there is a basic progression from purposeless sacrifice for sacrifice's sake to a more strategic sacrifice. But let me think about it a bit further before I potentially put my foot in it.


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Old October 14th, 2011, 7:17 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

1. How do Harry's formative years with the Dursley's influence the person he is now? Would he be the same person if his parents had lived? If he had been sent to live with another wizarding family? If he had been sent to an orphanage like Tom Riddle?
The Dursleys' treatment to Harry definitely shaped him into the person he is today. If his parents had lived, I could imagine he somewhat like how we see James in OOtP, maybe not as arrogant, but probably thinking he's some bigshot. The same goes for if he had lived with another wizarding family, unless the family kept his past in the dark until he got older. I think Dumbledore had the right thinking in having Harry live with the Dursleys, I don't know if Harry would still have his pure heart if he had lived the other way. Even though Harry had suffered with the Dursleys, it was definitely better for him.

2. When do we first see evidence of Harry's "saving people" thing? Is this a strength or a flaw? What do you think of his final sacrifice?
I'd have like to say it was the first flying lesson they had with Madam Hooch. Harry sure did jump to Neville's defence against Malfoy. His "saving people thing" is definitely a strength, even if it got him in tight spots along the way. His final scarifice was his greatest in my opinion, not only was he saving the ones he loved, but the wizarding community as well.

3. Harry's natural curiosity was stifled by the Dursleys. "Don't ask questions!" but it comes out it full force once he gets to Hogwarts. How does this curiosity serve him through the books? Has he truly lost it after Dumbledore's death or will it return as he hunts for the horcruxes?
His curiosity definitely returned during the hunt for the horcruxes. Without it, he would never have had the desire to find the Deathly Hallows.

6 Dumbledore tells him that his pure heart is what separates him from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. What examples have we seen of this pure heart?
When he looked into the Mirror of Erised for the first time, he didn't see wealth or fame, he saw the greatest thing he ever wanted, his family.

8. Why do you think Harry forgives Snape?
How could anyone not forgive Snape? I think it was because Harry saw that everything Snape did for him was out of love, even though it was love for him but his mother.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bellatrix93 View Post
Growing up among muggles (whether they were his family, or an orphanage) was a good way to keep Harry from going bad and becoming proud. Dumbledore made a few wrong decisions concerning Harry, but he was right in keeping Harry among muggles for the first years of his life, in my opinion.


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Old October 15th, 2011, 2:36 am
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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8. Why do you think Harry forgives Snape?
I think Harry comes to realize (after TPT and wrapping things up with Voldemort) that he has had two separate and distinct relationships with Snape. The most familiar and immediate is the snarky Hogwarts professor. But the other relationship is through Harry's interaction with Snape's old potion book and Snape's patronus-the silver doe. His feelings about that person are actually affectionate. He considers him a friend, a mentor, a protector. JKR's description of the doe is some of the most beautiful and tender writing in all her books. Harry has seen some of Snape's past during his Occlumency lessons and has first hand experience with an abusive and neglectful childhood. Harry understands, more than anyone else, what Snape's mission against Voldemort must have been like and the stress he must have been under. Harry also realizes that Snape risked his life many times to protect him. And I think finding out just how much Snape loved Harry's mother would have been deeply moving for him. I think in the end he is able to cast away the hard shell of the man he thought he knew and found the great spirit that was hiding within. In the end I don’t believe Harry felt that there was anything to forgive Severus Snape.


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Old October 15th, 2011, 1:50 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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In the end I don’t believe Harry felt that there was anything to forgive Severus Snape.

I think there was a lot for Harry to forgive - the prophecy most importantly, and also the unjustifiable bullying. IMO, if Harry decided there was nothing to forgive, he would have been a doormat. It is a strength that Harry could forgive; it would be a tremendous weakness on Harry's part, IMO, if he felt there was nothing that needed forgiveness.


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Old October 15th, 2011, 2:06 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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I think there was a lot for Harry to forgive - the prophecy most importantly, and also the unjustifiable bullying. IMO, if Harry decided there was nothing to forgive, he would have been a doormat. It is a strength that Harry could forgive; it would be a tremendous weakness on Harry's part, IMO, if he felt there was nothing that needed forgiveness.
Harry would have definitely shown an even greater weakness had he not forgiven Snape. The inablility to forgive is a paralyzing thing, especially when the one you are forgiving redeems himself in the way Snape did..


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Old October 15th, 2011, 3:13 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Harry would have definitely shown an even greater weakness had he not forgiven Snape. The inablility to forgive is a paralyzing thing, especially when the one you are forgiving redeems himself in the way Snape did..
Forgiveness requires the other person to feel regret for their actions. Snape may have regretted what happened to Lily but he certainly never regreted bullying Harry for 6 years.


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Old October 15th, 2011, 4:04 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Forgiveness requires the other person to feel regret for their actions.
Not necessarily. Forgiveness may or may not include specific feelings of the forgiven party. It's not up to the forgiven party, but is instead an action of the forgiver. There are no real criteria, because each forgiver will be satisfied by different things.

Personally, I have no problem with Harry's decision. It's justified under my own criteria and I therefore consider it a very mature and meaningful choice.


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Old October 15th, 2011, 4:18 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

I agree that it was a strength on Harry's part that he could forgive. However, I see a massive difference between "forgiving" and deciding that "there's nothing to forgive". The former is a strength and shows character and empathy, and the latter is heading down a distinctly dangerous and unhealthy path, IMO.


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  #19  
Old October 15th, 2011, 5:24 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Originally Posted by BrianTung
You're quite right that things are not that clear-cut, but I think there is a basic progression from purposeless sacrifice for sacrifice's sake to a more strategic sacrifice.
Might I ask that you go into more detail on what you mean by "purposeless sacrifice"? In my view, Harry's characteristic tendency to risk his life (and in the end, surrender it) for others -- people he disliked or didn't know that well, not just those he cared about -- is never "purposeless". I'm guessing you are using Harry's sacrifice to destroy the soul-piece to define "strategic sacrifice". However, I'd like to point out that it takes considerable effort to overcome the human instinct to save one's own life, to turn head-long toward the dangerous situation to save someone else. Harry has consistently shown this trait, even to the point in POA, when he heard the screaming vision from the dementors during Quidditch, that he feels he should be trying to help. Here is the quote from the book for Harry's thoughts:

POA, Chapter 9, page 179 US
Numbing, swirling mist was filling Harry's brain....What was he doing? Why was he flying? He needed to help her....she was going to die....she was going to be murdered.


I'd like to point out that at this point Harry had not realized that it was a memory, that the woman screaming was his mother. The book describes the onset of the above experience for Harry this way: Someone was screaming, screaming inside his head, a woman... The realization that the woman was Lily came later, with reflection after the event.

Given that the overwhelming instinct for most people in a dangerous situation is to seek safety for themselves, Harry's behavior is the exception to the rule, driven by compassion. Harry sees others as worth saving, not only himself; and he applies that equally to those he loves, and those he dislikes and/or hates, most notably Draco and Voldemort. I'd further suggest that comments about Harry's "people-saving thing" come from the fact that it's not very common; but certainly not purposeless.


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Last edited by HedwigOwl; October 15th, 2011 at 5:27 pm. Reason: format
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  #20  
Old October 15th, 2011, 5:47 pm
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Re: Harry Potter: Character Analysis v2

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Originally Posted by FurryDice View Post
I think there was a lot for Harry to forgive - the prophecy most importantly, and also the unjustifiable bullying. IMO, if Harry decided there was nothing to forgive, he would have been a doormat. It is a strength that Harry could forgive; it would be a tremendous weakness on Harry's part, IMO, if he felt there was nothing that needed forgiveness.
I really do understand your viewpoint on this point. Once again I need to add a little more clarity to my ideas. (This is what I so enjoy about this forum-it pushes me to fully consider my thought processes; thanks all!)

For discussions sake, let's say Snape never shared the prophecy with Voldemort-what would have happened? Voldemort would have become more and more powerful and would have taken over not only the WW, but the MW as well. The Order was already suffering heavy losses and it is highly probable that Harry's parents would have died anyway. I think it's possible that Harry would have been given to DE parents to raise. But most importantly, I don't think Dumbledore would have figured out about the horcruxes. Harry's survival was DD's biggest clue as to what was going on.

Even if the Order was able to take out the original LV, in a few years time he would be back. I think DD was the only wizard capable enough to figure out what was going on with the horcruxes-but how long was he going to last, being quite aged when LV was defeated the first time?

Harry and his children would have grown up under LV's rule without any chance of defeating him. Harry knew that Snape instantly regretted giving the prophecy to Voldemort and from that point on worked tirelessly to defeat him, even giving his life to that end. Harry knew he would not have been able to defeat LV without Snape's contribution.

Taking all that into account, I believe Harry would have felt there was nothing to forgive Snape for-as far as divulging the prophecy to Voldemort was concerned.

As to Snape's bullying, I think after seeing the great lengths to which Snape went to protect Harry, and knowing how the many times Harry had put himself in harm's way would have driven the already stressed potions master nearly to madness, I think Harry would have called it a wash. Especially after he became a parent himself.

I am not able to see that line of reasoning as weakness.


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Last edited by mirrormere; October 15th, 2011 at 5:52 pm.
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