Friday, January 16, 2004

Introduction to Lineage

Today, I am going to introduce the idea of lineage and what it means for the Harry Potter books. I will do this by starting out with Hermione Granger. First, I will analyze her different lineages, and then use this information to predict her role in future books.

First, what do I mean by lineage? In the most basic sense, lineage is a continuation from one thing to another, usually cross-generational. It often, though not necessarily, implies that things are as they have been, and as they will be. It is also another way to talk about the continuance of the human race. I come from a long line of wanderers, so my lineage can be said to be that of a wanderer.

When I talk about lineage for the Harry Potter books, however, I am taking lineage one step further. To me, lineage does not so much say what is, is what was, is what will be; but rather what was, is what can be. Therefore, if one is the son of a banker, it is possible that this person may follow in the footsteps and also become a banker. However, this same person could despise banking and follow in some other path.

In the Harry Potter books, as in many British books, lineage is an important concept. How many times have we heard how much Harry looks like his father? Or how often have people been judged by the houses in which they were put in? Through out the books, there is an overwhelming sense that one is supposed to be like their father, whether this means a criminal or a good guy. Yet, J.K. Rowling also gives us plenty of opportunities to step back and realize how non-absolute this concept is. For instance, Sirius Black may come from a long line of dark wizards, but he is by no means a dark wizard himself. Instead, he chose the path of friendship of good. Peter Pettigrew was never placed in Slytherin House, but yet he did become a dark wizard. He chose to betray his friends and embrace evil.

There are many places where we come across lineage in the books. The fours Hogwarts houses were ways for Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin to keep their lines going. (While Hufflepuff is in itself a line, I do not include this in the above sentence because Helga Hufflepuff was willing to teach anyone.) The Sorting Hat was created to separate students by their talents, constructing a possible path for them to take throughout their lives. This is a form of lineage because it is passed from generation to generation.

Another way to analyze lineage is to look at the parents of individual characters. Arthur Weasley is a moral, upright man. We expect the same from his family. Yet, Percy chose not to follow this line, but to choose another path. Remember, a large theme in the books is the right to choose who we become. In fact, the entire plot of book two revolved around these two concepts of lineage and choice. Therefore, we are given to wonder what lineage path is Percy choosing? Is he tied to Wormtail?

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Book II, Albus Dumbledore, Page 333

Other means of analysis include examining the different people the characters hang out with; different talents that are emphasized; and different viewpoints that are examined. Once we have an idea of the different paths a character can choose from, and yes they can be on more than one path at a time, we can use this information as a tool to predict who that character will become, and whether or not they are worthy of our trust. On the trust issue, I will be doing a Draco post and a Snape post, but first I would like to start with a simpler example: Hermione Granger.

Before I share with you my thoughts on Hermione, I want to give you a bit to explore what you think, based on the above. I should have the Hermione bit up tomorrow morning. (Please don't kill me!)

Comments have returned! Check back soon to find them. Blogspeak is in the midst of trading over to Halo, which means I have to wait for the email with instructions on what to do next... For once, it's not my fault!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

New post will be up tonight. If not, blame anonymouse.

In other news, I was reading Machiavelli the other day and he was discussing Emperor Severus. It was a strange reading about having to be both a lion and a fox at the same time. It was discussing this on how Severus betrayed Albinus. Highly interesting....

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Grown-Up Destroys Masterpiece

I know this is not yet the post I have promised to give you all, but I had to take a minute to rant once more.

Without a doubt, The Little Prince is one of the most brilliant classics of all time. However, the increasing de-education of society has now touched and defiled this treasure. I am speaking of the latest English translation of The Little Prince. I am forced to ask myself if the translator simply missed the entire point of the story, or if society has become so lazy and stupid that they would rather have a simplified pathetic version instead of a brilliant one.

For those of you who have not read The Little Prince, it is a book about matters of consequence. Which is more important, a savings account or a rose? What makes a person a person, the ability to add or an appreciation of life? How does one make a friend, by looking or by taming?

There are many elements that come together to make this book brilliant. The phrase "matters of consequence" is repeated numerous times, reminding us what is important in life. Are we to be like the grown-ups or are we to be child-like in our hearts? The language (in the original translation) is magnificent. The vocabulary is not dumbed down for simpler reading, encouraging children that do read it to learn new words and ways of speaking.

It is in these two elements that the new translation falls. Instead of elephants being very cumbersome, they now take up a lot of room. Instead of matters of consequence, we are given a large array of badly translated lines, completely breaking the main thread of the story!

I am ranting about this for many reasons. Why do we (US Americans) have to dumb down things for children? Doesn't using a larger vocabulary help encourage our children to learn more? Harry Potter is filled with vocabulary above the age it is marketed for, and thank God no one has changed that! I can just see that in 20 years there will be a new translation for America, where all of the more difficult words are replaced with verbose translations. I could just scream!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Thoughts and Rants

Thought for the day: Is Draco named after the Latin word for dragon, or after Draconian thought? What does this have to say about his character. Someone once asked me what Draco sees in the Mirror of Erised; here is a quick reply. I will give more depth to it later. I think Draco sees a very black and white world, and because of this he would see power when he looks into the mirror. Unlike Voldemort, Draco is blinded to what he is missing when it comes to love. However, how long will he be blinded to this? How much of this blindness is self-enforced? Is there something deeper to his character?

Today's Rant: WHY IS THE UNIVERSITY OPEN TODAY? As someone at the computer lab said, the University of Oregon isn't satisfied enough with taking our money, they have to take our lives as well. Every university in this state is closed today because of freezing rain. There are literally layers and layers of ice on the ground, rain falling that instantly freezes the second it touches something, and a lotta people injuiring themselves. Even my old Colorado schools would have closed because of the bad weather today. So why does the university insist on keeping us here? Is the reputation of the school more important than the reputation of the students?

What is more, I was heading down Deady Hall steps after Math Class yesterday when the ice wasn't as bad (but was bad enough) when I tripped and fell. Why? Lack of real railings. Do iced, thick, spread apart, cement railings count for anything when it comes to needing support? I say no.

Sorry had to Rant. Still working on posts. It's going to be a Hermione/Lineage post that will introduce a Draco/Destiny post.