Sunday, July 17, 2005

Professor Trelawney (possible HP6 Spoilers)

After reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yesterday, it seems to me that there is more accuracy to some of Sybill Trelawney's apparently wild predictions than many readers realise, probably because of the disdain of Professor McGonagall and Hermione, and the mockery of Harry and Ron. Aside from the obvious accuracy of Trelawney's prophecy about Harry and Voldemort, and the prediction (during Harry's Divination exam in his third year) that Peter Pettigrew will be rejoining Voldemort, there are a few other instances of Trelawney's predictions being more right than wrong.

The first of these instances comes in the very first of Harry's Divination lessons in The Prisoner of Azkaban: Professor Trelawney says that Harry has the Grim, the giant spectral dog that haunts churchyards and is an omen of death. Both Hermione and Professor McGonagall pour scorn on this, but Trelawney is not entirely inaccurate. Of course, the large dog that Harry has seen turns out to be Sirius Black in Animagus form, but there is room to interpret Trelawney's words as accurate; Sirius Black is believed to have killed a number of Muggles and a wizard, and he haunts Harry throughout much of the year.

The second instance occurs in The Goblet of Fire. In their first lesson of the year, Trelawney tells Harry that she sees past his brave front, and observes that he is preoccupied and that he faces difficult times. She also mentions that the thing he dreads will come to pass, sooner than he thinks (p. 176). Harry does not believe Trelawney, but he does face difficult times throughout the duration of the Triwizard Tournament, and he is preoccupied with concerns over Sirius' safety, whilst the latter is on the run. The thing that he dreads which comes to pass is probably the return of Voldemort - Harry's dread may have been subconscious, but I don't doubt it existed.

The third instance occurs in The Order of the Phoenix. Professor Umbridge, in her role as High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, inspects Trelawney's lesson and demands that she make a prediction. Trelawney hesitates, then tells Umbridge that she is in "grave danger" and faces something dark (p. 282). It turns out that Trelawney is right: Umbridge is endangering herself by her actions at Hogwarts, and her behaviour towards anyone whom she deems to be a "half-breed". Eventually, she insults the centaurs, who carry her off into the notoriously dark Forbidden Forest.

The fourth instance comes in The Half-Blood Prince. Harry is heading off to his first private lesson with Professor Dumbledore when he sees Professor Trelawney wandering along the corridor, reading a pack of dirty playing cards. He hides behind a statue before she sees him, and he overhears what she is saying:
"'Two of spades: conflict,' she murmured, as she passed the place where Harry crouched, hidden. 'Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner - '
She stopped dead, right on the other side of Harry's statue.
'Well, that can't be right,' she said, annoyed, and Harry heard he reshuffling vigorously as she set off again [. . .]'"
(p. 185)
The words "a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner" are what convinced me that Trelawney is not as fraudulent as readers have been led to believe - Harry is hiding only two or three feet away at most, he is dark haired, troubled by the Second Wizarding War, and dislikes Trelawney. Maybe there is more to Trelawney's predictions than lucky guesswork and a spooky manner. (The Goblet of Fire, p. 177)


Camille said...

Lots to unpack in this book.

Spoiler comments ...

Must draw comparisons to LOTR Gandalf/StarWars Obi-Wan who sacrifice themselves for the sake of the young hero. My daughters and I have pondered and think we have scenario for what happened between Snape and Dumbledore in last moments. Occlumency stuff

By lowering his wand Malfoy showed he is not a killer and Gandalf wanted to spare him, he loves his students. Helps Snape with his vow too. He is dying anyway.

Snape deep under cover now.

Worst fear: Book 7--Harry=Frodo
"We set out to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me."

I had a discussion with very anti-Potter person years ago who disliked books because supposed religious objections to witchcraft, I commented that I found a great deal of Christian imagery in the books and wondered about Harry being a Christ-like figure. Seems possible now.

Michele said...

Indeed it does seem possible that Harry will end up as Frodo did, unable to continue to live in this world, although I have strong doubts about whether he will kill Voldemort or destroy him some other way, but see my new Blog post for more on that...

I do agree that Dumbledore (Gandalf ? Wrong 'verse!) loves his students - it's my theory that Snape had been to see Dumbledore and told him all about the Unbreakable Vow and Draco's Task, and that Dumbledore had told Snape that he (S) was to kill him (D) instead of Draco. After all "to the well-oranised mind death is but the next great adventure" (PS, p. 215) and there are worse things than death, as Dumbledore had told Voldemort (OoP, p. 718)...