Sunday, April 09, 2006

Is Harry Potter really Lord Voldemort ?

This suggestion is not mine. I'm currently reading Christopher Wrigley's The Return of the Hero, which I mentioned back in February and which I picked up from the library yesterday.

In the opening chapter, Wrigley suggests that Harry's "guard" in the opening of The Order of the Phoenix (Ch. 23) are not protecting him "from a resurgent Voldemort, but from himself - from the possible consequences of his own anger." (p. 26) Wrigley then notes that it's "tempting to go further and surmise that he is, or rather was Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore, it is said, is a man who gives people second chances (Goblet of Fire, Chs 24, 26), and it may be that time, as in The Prisoner [of Azkaban] but more drastically, is being rerun so that Harry may redeem himself. His years with the Dursleys can be seen as his penance and Hogwarts as his place of trial." (p. 27, emphasis mine)

To me this suggestion is quite astonishing; the idea that at some point Dumbledore offered Voldemort the chance of reforming and persuaded him to become a child again via the use of a Time Turner. It would explain just why Harry looks so much like Tom Riddle (The Chamber of Secrets, Ch. 17). But whilst it's an ingenious theory, I can't see it proving true. For instance, everyone always comments on how much Harry looks like James Potter, except for having Lily's eyes (most recently Slughorn in The Half Blood Prince, Ch. 4). I suppose it might be possible for Harry to take a Polyjuice Potion that allowed him to look like James apart from his eyes (a Potion that somehow combined something of James' and something of Lily's to give Harry his mother's eyes.) But Harry would have had to take it regularly all through his childhood without anyone except (presumably) Dumbledore knowing - and whilst living in a Muggle home. Then there's the fact that Dumbledore would have needed to persuade at least James and Lily Potter to agree to the plan - and if Harry is not their child, why did they die to save him from the older Voldemort (and why did the older Voldemort attack himself, even if he didn't know who he was attacking ?). And if Voldemort didn't attack himself, how did Harry get the lightning bolt scar, and where are James and Lily Potter, if Voldemort didn't kill them ? It seems to me that such a plot would be stupendously complicated - and Voldemort has yet to show himself worthy of being offered a second chance that would involve such a plot.

Personally, I think Voldemort is Harry's "Shadow Self", to borrow a Jungian term, hence they have a few similarities (dark hair, half-blood heritage, ability to speak Parseltongue), but rather more differences, such as his capacity to love, his loyalty, kindness, generosity - in other words his essential goodness. Whilst it may not be possible for Harry to overcome Voldemort except at the cost of his own life (as Rowling has hinted), it's possible that Harry, like Ged (in A Wizard of Earthsea) will be able to "embrace" his Shadow Self, without needing to destroy it.

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10 comments:

Martin LaBar said...

As you say, astonishing!

Michele said...

Yes... His thoughts on The Lord of the Rings are equally astonishing (to me at least). I can't wait to reach the third part and see what he makes of "His Dark Materials" !!

Jen Robinson said...

I personally just don't think that Rowling would do that to her fans (especially to the kids). I mean, have Harry turn out to be someone evil. I just don't see it. But I have enjoyed your various speculations regarding the Harry Potter books.

Michele said...

You're aware that this is NOT my theory ? I cannot emphasise that enough !

It would be an incredible twist to have Harry, whom Dumbledore in particular has lauded as being so good, turn out to be the most evil guy the world has seen since Dumbledore defeated Grindlewald... But then, crackpot theories about the Potterverse seem to abound - and I think they're getting crazier the nearer we get to the conclusion of the series !

Camille said...

Hmmm...I am trying to get my head around the whole space/time continuum thing. The Department of Temporal Investigations would be on the warpath, certainly, no, wait, that is the Star Trek universe. Still, I am rather hoping of a "Luke, I am your Father" sort of ah-ha when book seven comes out.

Michele said...

Yes the Department of Temporal Investigations is the wrong 'verse ! Accepting for a minute that it was done, Dumbledore would have needed permission from the MoM to do it. But I just don't buy it...

If JKR pulls a Star Wars, I will tear my copy of book 7 to shreds and mail it to her to register my disgust ! Don't forget, Harry is almost as famous for looking like his father James as he is for surviving Voldemort's Killing Curse !

Camille said...

I am behind on my comment reading...

I chose the wrong example...I do not AT ALL think Voldemort is Harry's papa...I was thinking more about the total shock and surprise I felt at the end of Star Wars when it was revealed that Darth was Luke's father. It was such a surprise and a delightful shock. With all the speculation about the end of book 7 I just hope it is something that I NEVER see coming. I wonder with all the discussion groups and fine tooth combing of the texts if that is even possible. I am just hoping for a satifying and unforseen ending that will be so satisfying.

I just finished reading (1 hr. ago) Ptolemy's Gate and the tears are running down my cheeks. I have re-read the last part about 5 times now and each time it gets more touching and more complete and satisfying for me. sob.

Michele said...

Oh I see ! My bad... I hope for a surprising ending too - and not too many deaths. A forum to which I belong has just been discussing who's going to die in book 7 and some of them are expecting JKR to kill off half the secondary characters (eg. most of the Weasleys), as well as some of the primary ones (eg. Hermione, Hagrid, Tonks, etc.) - blood thirsty lot !

Michele said...

I was going to comment on your remarks about Ptolemy's Gate on your Blog, but you didn't mention it, so I'll comment on your remarks here after all. Yes the ending is amazing (made me cry too !) - and not entirely without hope I felt - would you agree that there's the potential for a continuation of the story of at least one (and maybe two) of the characters who survived ?

Michele said...

I was going to comment on your remarks about Ptolemy's Gate on your Blog, but you didn't mention it, so I'll comment on your remarks here after all. Yes the ending is amazing (made me cry too !) - and not entirely without hope I felt - would you agree that there's the potential for a continuation of the story of at least one (and maybe two) of the characters who survived ?