Feb 25, 2013

"What If?" Harry Potter & Free Will

It’s about time that I write a blog post based off Harry Potter. It’s a wonder why it took so long. The other day, I was just sitting and thinking about HP (Not uncommon), when I started listing the different choices the characters have made. There are so many instances in the novels where a character’s free will majorly influences the outcome of the book/series. There are so many "what if" questions surrounding these points.
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"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."  - Albus Dumbledore

So I busted out my notebook and wrote out the various times that a character made a crucial choice. I’ve taken the list and narrowed the choices down to 6 major points in the series that lead up to its epic conclusion. These are somewhat in order, but some of these tie in importance.


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Context: In Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry begs The Sorting Hat not to put him in Slytherin. While the hat tells Harry that Slytherin house could help him achieve greatness, Potter is insistent and therefore, his choice is taken into account.  

Importance: What would Harry have done if he’d donned the green and silver tie? Would he have embraced the idea of thinking he was the heir of Slytherin? Would he have become friends with Draco? He wouldn’t have been able to wield the sword of Godric Gryffindor for one thing. And what would he have done without Ron & Hermione by his side?


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Context: The reader learns in Prisoner of Azkaban that Sirius Black had declined the Potters’ offer to be their secret keeper, the only person who could tell others where the Potters were. Peter Pettigrew was chosen.

Importance: Pettigrew was an asshat. Unknown to his friends, he had became a Death Eater and told Lord Voldemort where to find the Potters. Like I said, asshat. If Sirius had accepted the role of Secret Keeper, Voldemort might have tortured him, but I bet he wouldn't have given up their location.

4. “ALWAYS.” –

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Context: Severus Snape was in love with Harry’s mother, Lily. After her death, Snap switched sides and worked as a double agent for The Order of the Phoenix. 

Importance: His work aided the group in their quest to defeat He Who Must Not Be Named. This included sending help to Harry and his friends in the Department of Mysteries, leaving the sword of Godric Gryffindor for Harry (and Ron) to find, and more. His choice to become a good guy is a major plot point in the novels.

3. “DEAD.”

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Context: As Harry lay in the forest, having returned to life, Voldemort asks Narcissa Malfoy to check if Potter is dead. She realizes that he’s alive and asks if Draco is still alive. When Harry says yes, Narcissa lies and tells Voldemort that Harry is dead.

Importance: If Narcissa had told the truth, Voldemort would have immediately sent another killing curse at Harry. One which Harry would not have survived as he lay defenseless without a wand. Even if Harry could have tried to destroy Voldemort, Nagini, the last horcrux, was still alive and slithering. This would mean a piece of Voldemort continued to live.


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Context: Both Lily Potter and Harry chose to sacrifice themselves in order to save their loved ones.

Importance: Love plays an important role in the HP series.  It was Lily’s sacrifice and love for Harry that caused Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra curse to backfire. And when Harry died willingly for his friends, the Death Eaters were no longer able to harm them. Thus, the good guys had the advantage.


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Context: 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal…’

Importance: The prophecy foretold by Professor Trelawney could have meant two different boys. Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Both were born at the end of July, both of their parents defied Voldemort three times. But Voldemort saw Harry as his threat, not Neville. By attacking the Potters, Voldemort chose Harry as his equal. You Know Who hadn’t learned the full prophecy and felt that he could easily kill HP. Joke's on him. But what would have happened if Neville Longbottom had been chosen? Maybe he could have killed Voldemort after only 4 books…

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So there you have it, my CHOICES (See what I did there?). It was extremely tough narrowing down the options.

Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone:
-       Ron’s moves during the life or death game of Wizard’s Chess.
-   Hermione’s logic and choices when looking for the correct potion to allow Harry to cross through the fire towards the stone.

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Chamber of Secrets:
-       Ginny trusting Tom Riddle’s diary. 

Prisoner of Azkaban:
-       Hermione’s decision to take too many classes. And McGonagall allowing her to do so with the help of a Time-Turner.

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Goblet of Fire:
-       Cedric and Harry deciding to tie for the Triwizard Cup.

Order of the Phoenix:
-       The formation of Dumbledore’s Army and Marietta Edgecombe being a “sneak.”

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Half-Blood Prince:
-       Malfoy begins to lower his wand.
-       Ron and Hermione tell Harry they will go with him to destroy the horcruxes.

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Deathly Hallows:
-   Dumbledore’s guilt over his sister’s death leads him to duel with Grindlewald. By defeating his friend, he wins the loyalty of the Elder Wand.
-       Dobby’s love for Harry leads him to save Potter and the others at Malfoy Manor.

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-       The wand chooses the wizard. From getting your first one, to winning another’s in a duel, the allegiance of a wand plays an important role in the series.

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 “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” - Albus Dumbledore