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Harry Potter

YES!!!!!!! The new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer was released yesterday and I only haven’t posted it yet because I’ve been too busy watching it over and over frame by frame!!!!!

IT IS SO EPIC.

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Old Versus New: Ignorance is Progress

During a discussion regarding Lyra’s future and well-being, the Librarian of Jordan College makes an interesting observation of human nature to the Master.  He says, with regard to Lyra’s apparent disinterest in any serious matter, “That’s the duty of the old. . . to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old” (Pullman 32).

The Librarian makes this observation in response to the Master’s comment that giving Lyra more information would ease his anxiety for her. In responding thus, the Librarian expresses his feeling that no matter what steps they take to ensure Lyra’s safety, they will still worry for her, and she will still scorn their worry, brushing it aside as unnecessary. There is a parallel between this relationship of the young and old that the Librarian describes and that of Harry Potter and Dumbledore. Throughout the series, Dumbledore worries on Harry’s behalf while Harry either dismisses the worry, feeling that it is unproductive or unneeded, or resents it. Many a time in the books does Harry end up shouting at Dumbledore for just such a reason.

However, the disregard of the young for the worries of the old is perfectly natural. The old are the wise for a reason as they  have had much more time to see the world than the young have. Their age gives them perspective and allows them to recognize the folly of youth. Of course, with all this in mind, it is perfectly natural for the old to worry about the young who are so often ignorant of the ways of the world. In the eyes of the old, the young are naïve, open to change (for better or for worse), and therefore in need of guidance—for if they will not worry themselves, someone must do it for them. Nonetheless, the young continue to be open-minded in their naïveté, and, really, it is better for the human race that they are. Without the continuous cycle between the anxiety of the old and amenability of the young, their would be no progress. The old have seen too much of the world to be open to new ideas and therefore the concept of change scares them. Without the daring and reckless youth of the young, few revolutionary ideas would be tested or used and the world would have no chance at advancement.

Proposition: Without the inherent conflict between the old and the young, there would be no progress in the world.

The Power of Rumplesnitz: Confidence in One’s Abilities

Knight-in-training Gawaine le Couer-Hardy lacks confidence until his headmaster gives him a magic word—‘Rumplesnitz’—that will protect him from all harm. Gawaine successfully kills forty-nine dragons using the magic word, but upon meeting the fiftieth, he is paralyzed with fear and forgets the word, but still defeats the dragon! Gawaine’s headmaster then reveals the truth about the magic word to Gawaine, shocking him considerably: “It wasn’t magic in a literal sense . . . but it was much more wonderful than that. The word gave you confidence. It took away your fears” (Broun 6).

Picture 1This literary version of the Placebo effect is present in many stories, from Pixar’s “Kung Fu Panda” (though this is hardly literature) to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the sixth installment of the Potter series, Ron joins the Gryffindor Quidditch team as Keeper and, though he possesses the skill necessary to succeed, he lacks confidence. Harry, knowing that Ron won’t be able to conquer his fears on his own, leads Ron to believe that he has drunk a goblet of pumpkin juice Harry had spiked with his lucky potion, or Felix Felicis, given to him by Professor Slughorn. Because Ron thinks he has been given a magical source of luck, he believes he will succeed and does not miss a single save during the match. After he is confronted by Hermione, Harry  shows them the still sealed vial of potion and reveals to Ron that he actually succeeded through his own talent—much to Ron’s amazement. Up to this point the stories of Gawaine le Coeur-hardy and Ron Weasley are similar, but after the realization they take different courses. Upon the discovery that he performed brilliantly all by himself, Ron is thrilled and continues to perform well. However when Gawaine finds out the truth, he has a mental break down which leaves him gibbering about his near escape from death and so confused and scared he is immediately devoured by the next dragon he meets.

In giving Gawaine the magic word ‘Rumplesnitz’, the headmaster sought to help him overcome his fears and build his confidence. It was clear that Gawaine had it in him to do so, but only lacked confidence in himself. ‘Rumplesnitz’ was supposed to aid Gawaine in discovering his own ability, but really the plan backfired as when he learned the truth, he lost all his newly found confidence and was killed soon after.

Proposition: It is not one’s abilities that matter, but rather one’s own confidence in one’s abilities.


Picture source: http://www.doctorpopcorn.com/2009/07/harry-potter-and-half-blood-prince.html