Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Potterthink - That Curse on the DADA post

(If you're not a Harry Potter fan, sorry this one will make no sense)

I've been thinking about Book 7, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", and a few dinks in the noggin about things that will happen. Today I want to discuss the curse which Voldemort placed on the Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) position. At first glance it would seem that bad things should happen to the DADA teacher, to make him quit, maybe kill him, but in actual fact the curse was much more sinister, and that tells us things we need to know, about Voldemort's power and what might happen in 'Deathly Hallows', or DH as I will call it.

First, a brief summary on the six DADA teachers we have seen, and what happened:

1 - Professor Quirrel, a modest and humble man. Quirrel seemed like a gentle teacher and a friend to the students, being antagonized by the villain Snape. But in the end, it was Quirrel who was the villain, having been possessed by Voldemort. He tries to kill Harry, but in the end dies.

2 - Professor Lockhart. Lockhart was exactly what he seemed to be, an incompetent blowhard. But in the end, Lockhart was willing to try to blank the students' memories to protect his ego and reputation, but in the end lost his memory and position.

3 - Professor Lupin. Lupin was a very good teacher, but he had a problem which led to his exit. Professor Snape, along with circumstance, exposed him as a werewolf, after which he could not longer stay and teach at Hogwarts.

4 - Professor Moody. "Mad-Eye" Moody would have been an excellent teacher, and at first it seemed this was precisely the case. In the end, however, Moody was not Moody at all, but Barty Crouch Jr. taking Moody's form through the use of Polyjuice potion. That, and the small matter of being a Death Eater out to bring Voldemort to power and kill Harry Potter along the way, brought Crouch Jr. to a grim end.

5 - Professor Umbridge. Not. A. Nice. Person. Or. Teacher. At. All. Does not understand teaching, or how to defend against the Dark Arts, and was quite willing to bully and torture children. Towards the end of the story, she picked a fight with the Centaurs, and ended up in the hospital.

6 - Professor Snape. Cruel, contemptuous of Harry, and in the end killed the Headmaster, if appearances are at all correct. Fled the scene as a man wanted for murder.

Scoreboard? Two of the six ended up dead, two more in the mental wing of the hospital, another unable to find work or a place in society, and the last running from the law and our hero.


What's interesting though, is that three of the teachers saw circumstances change, another two were a plain bad choice by Dumbledore, and the last one was either a good guy who was undone by his situation, or a man Dumbledore should not have trusted. I see, speaking under my know-it-all hat, Voldemort's influence there, not only affecting good people in nasty ways but clouding Dumbledore's judgment.

And there I can see a plot device in the first part of DH; Voldemort working to set Harry's allies against each other, and the question is how they defend against it. And that makes Lupin more important than before - Lupin is the one professor of DADA who finished no worse off, really, than he started, especially in his mind and morals. I smell a theme there, and one which could teach Harry vital skills he needs for his showdown with the Dark Lord.

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