Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Their Most Desperate Desires

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Additional 10/12: Lupin part added.

Additional 9/16: Voldemort part added.

As promised, I am going to write about what I believe Dumbledore sees in the Mirror of Erised. However, I think I am going to do this as part of a larger picture. I'm going to examine what individual characters in the series would see in the mirror (as of the end of the fifth book). I will post up desires one at a time.

Remus Lupin

When Harry first meets Lupin, he is riding the Hogwarts Express in ragged clothing. As a werewolf, it is difficult for him to get a job and has recently accepted a position as Defense Against the Dark Art's teacher from Dumbledore. Lupin quickly takes a mentor role for Harry, teaching the young hero to fight his fear and anger. We know that Snape hates him, and we slowly come to learn that this loathing comes from an old childhood enmity. Lupin was one of the mischievous Marauders that taunted Severus Snape as a child. Yet, we also learn that Lupin was often the voice of reason and restraint among the four friends. By the end of the third book, Lupin makes amends with Sirius Black and teaches the stronger lessons of courage and friendship to a very confused Potter. Lupin returns in the fifth book, more impoverished than ever and still the benign werewolf.

Yet, the truth is that little is really known about Lupin. How does he think and feel? What is most important to him? The books are all done from Harry's point of view, and the mentored often only sees limited dimensions of the mentor. We know that Lupin is forgiving and loving, a great friend and a gentle man. He hates hurting people, even when it is beyond his control (i.e. the full moon changed him). What we don't see is how did he react to the death of James and Lily? How quickly was he to accept Sirius' guilt, back when all the evidence convicted his dear friend? What we also don't see is a serious reaction to Sirius' death. The one Marauder that is left alive and good has finally fallen leaving Lupin to bear life alone. How much anguish does he feel inside, and how does he deal with this anguish? How benign is he? We know that he was brought to murderous ideas when it came to dealing with the betraying Marauder, Peter Pettigrew. Had it not been for Harry's pleas, Lupin and Sirius would have killed the traitor.

When all of the above is taken into account, it is hard to tell what Lupin would see when he looks in the mirror. I would like to conjecture that he might see the Four Marauders back together, healthy, safe, happy, and on the side of good. He would see all Four Marauders back before things got complicated by marriages, betrayals, and death. He loves Harry and often treats him as a son, but much like Sirius had a hard time accepting that Harry was not his father, I think Lupin wishes that James was still there by his side. Lupin is alone in this world, shunned by wizard-kind for his illness, loathed by many, impoverished, and unemployed. Dumbledore trusts him and befriends him, as does Molly and other characters throughout the story. Yet, none of these characters could ever offer Lupin the friendships he used to embrace. The Four Marauders, or at least three of the four, shared a special friendship that Lupin can never have again on this earth. This is why he will see his friends back together in the mirror, just like the days of yore.

(This is also why I believe Lupin has a high chance of dying before series end. 20:80, life:death ratio)


If Voldemort were to look into the Mirror of Erised, I think he would be shocked to discover that it shows neither eternal life nor dark powers (remember, it was Quirrel who saw the stone). As is true for many, Voldemort does not realize what his true desire is. He fights against it; he fears it; he covets it. The one power that makes Harry different from Voldemort is the same power that Voldemort despises. Yet, I believe this power is what Voldemort desperately desires above all things. Voldemort has never known love. His father abandoned him because his mother was a witch, and Voldemort was raised in an orphanage. Unlike Harry, who was alone because of love; Voldemort was alone because he was not loved.

Think about it. Why does Voldemort fear love so much? What is it about this abstruse power that Voldemort despises so much he can't stand to possess a body full of it? The truth is that love is a saving power that all humans have a natural inclination to seek. Babies that have never been touched or loved end up looking bruised and ill. Humans need love to survive. Voldemort does not know love and for this reason he is the creature to be pitied the most in the books. His heart, cold and broken from years of abandonment, still has its natural inclination to be loved. I truly believe that Voldemort is everything he is because he could not handle not receiving love. When he possesses Harry and feels the love inside of the boy, it is a reminder that no one shares similar feelings for him. I also think this is why Voldemort fears death. Harry will die for love; he will see his loved ones beyond the veil. Voldemort has nothing to die for; he has no one to see on the other side. This is the saddest story of all.

I wish I could quote texts or actions that could prove this, but I can't. As a youth leader, I work daily with kids seeking love. I devote myself to letting them know in some way they are loved and cared about. Many of these kids don't believe it. They don't love themselves, they don't love others, and they don't receive much love at home. It is in these kids that I can see Tom Riddle trying to form a new name to escape his past. What is all the power in the world to Voldemort? It is the power to make people pay, to feel the same hurt that he does. It is the power to be so much in control that you can pretend it doesn't matter that you are not loved. It is the power to steal love away from those who have it, even when it means taking the lives of the ones they love. Why does Voldemort call himself Lord Voldemort? He does it to claim people as his servants, to have people subservient to him. Why? Maybe than he can tell himself that he is loved by these people, even if he knows it is a lie. In the end, Voldemort is still left empty and his heart still desperately desires love.

(This is not to say that no one loves Voldemort, I don't think this is true. Dumbledore undoubtedly offered love to Tom Riddle as he did all his students. The real problem is can Tom recognize love? Once recognized, can Tom accept love?)

What does Voldemort see when he looks into the Mirror of Erised. I think he sees his father, the man that abandoned him, holding him as a baby. He sees this man the exact opposite of what Tom Riddle Sr. was, a man holding his child and looking upon it with love. Perhaps, instead he sees someone else offering open arms of love to him. Whatever form it may take, it still comes down to the same thing. Voldemort desires love and is looking in all the wrong places for it.

On Mugglenet, Maline has a column known as The North Tower. In her article Chosen, she explains that it may be the persona of "The Dark Lord" that has to die and not the man known as Tom Riddle. In other words, "The Dark Lord" is the evil that makes up Tom Riddle, but somewhere in this evil Tom Riddle still lives. She suggests that perhaps it is Harry's persona, "The One", that must use love to vanquish the evil that is "The Dark Lord." Maybe Harry's persona will also rescue the person that is Tom Riddle by destroying "The Dark Lord." This goes along well with the idea that Tom would see love when he looks into the Mirror. If someone can give him real love, than there is hope that he would turn away from evil.


"Is there a defense? I defy anyone who has watched you as I have -- and I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined -- not to want to save you more pain than you had already suffered. What did I care if numbers of nameless and faceless people and creatures were slaughtered in the vague future, if in the here and now you were alive, and well, and happy? I never dreamed that I would have such a person on my hands."
Book Five, pg. 839

By the end of the fifth book, Dumbledore has transcended his role as a mentor to Harry. After finally revealing the truth to Harry about the prophecy and the failings in the headmaster's plans, I believe Dumbledore has now stepped into a father-figure role instead. His love for Harry is so great that he was willing to risk Voldemort winning if it meant keeping Harry happy for a little while. I think that the scene in Dumbledore's office makes it more than clear what Dumbledore's most desperate desire is, to see Harry released from his most terrible burden. Perhaps, when he looks in the mirror he sees this in the form of Harry smiling back at him, the scar absent from his forehead.

I cannot imagine any desire greater than this for Dumbledore. There will always be an evil fiend to contend with. In 1945, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald. Soon, Harry will defeat Voldemort. Later, someone will have to defeat the next successor, possibly Malfoy. Yet, there will only be one Harry Potter that Dumbledore loves almost as his own child. Yet, this Harry Potter is suffocated by many burdens. What father-figure would not give anything to release their child? Dumbledore knows what Harry must do, but he will always desire that things could be different.