JKR: [re: Grindelwald] I think he was a user and a narcissist and I think someone like that would use it, would use the infatuation. I don't think that he would reciprocate in that way, although he would be as dazzled by Dumbledore as Dumbledore was by him, because he would see in Dumbledore, 'My God, I never knew there was someone as brilliant as me, as talented as me, as powerful as me. Together, we are unstoppable!' So I think he would take anything from Dumbledore to have him on his side.
[Discussion of the book Wicked - see link]
JKR: Well, it's the old fallen angel idea in some ways, isn't it? It's God and Lucifer.
...MA: I wanted to ask you about that, because Grindelwald resembles - the golden curls, the first person I thought of was Lucifer.
JKR: Mm-hm. So you can call it a fraternal bond, but I think it makes it more tragic for Dumbledore. I also think it makes Dumbledore a little less culpable. I see him as fundamentally a very intellectual, brilliant and precocious person whose emotional life was absolutely subjugated to the life of the mind - by his choice - and then his first foray into the world of emotion is catastrophic and I think that would forevermore stun that part of his life and leave it stultified and he would be, what he becomes. That's what I saw as Dumbledore's past. That's always what I saw was in his past. And he keeps a distance between himself and others through humour, a certain detachment and a frivolity of manner.
But he's also isolated by his brain. He's isolated by the fact he knows so much, guesses so much, guesses correctly. He has to play his cards close to his chest because he doesn't want Voldemort to know what he suspects. Terrible to be Dumbledore, really, by the end he must have thought it would be quite nice to check out and just hope that everything works out well. [Laughter.]
MA: Because he's set up this massive chess game -
JKR: Mm, this massive chess game. But I said to Arthur, my American editor - we had an interesting conversation during the editing of seven - the moment when Harry takes Draco's wand, Arthur said, God, that's the moment when the ownership of the Elder wand is actually transferred? And I said, that's right. He said, shouldn't that be a bit more dramatic? And I said, no, not at all, the reverse. I said to Arthur, I think it really puts the elaborate, grandiose plans of Dumbledore and Voldemort in their place. That actually the history of the wizarding world hinged on two teenage boys wrestling with each other. They weren't even using magic. It became an ugly little corner tussle for the possession of wands. And I really liked that - that very human moment, as opposed to these two wizards who were twitching strings and manipulating and implanting information and husbanding information and guarding information, you know?
Ultimately it just came down to that, a little scuffle and fistfight in the corner and pulling a wand away.
MA: It says a lot about the world at large, I think, about conflict in the world, it's these little things -
JKR: And the difference one individual can make. Always, the difference one individual can make.
Another batch of comments from JKR that leave me puzzled....If Dumbeldore's emotional life was "stultified," then why was he constantly going on about the power of love? How in the world was he capable of developing any fondness for Harry? Again, what she says in an interview is not borne out by her own books.
Dumbledore does keep others at a distance--but it is a function of his mission, rather as Snape's distance protects him as a spy. One of the main points about both characters is that they have learned to be cautious and reserved, because of their tragic pasts, and they both use that caution and reserve in their missions--the traits are vital to their successes. Sadly, that does isolate both of them, but that's a great part of the heroism of both characters: they willingly sacrifice part of their own lives for the true greater good (as opposed to the delusion both fell victim to, in their youths).
However--neither character is "stultified." That's what lends such a sense of courage and tragedy to their characters. Each is capable of great depth of feeling, and yet knows that he cannot give way to it--not if he intends to defeat Voldemort. So they attempt, throughout the books, to maintain that distance--Dumbledore presents the facade of the kindly, humorous eccentric; Snape plays the role of the icy, sarcastic iconoclast; what lies beneath almost regularly breaks through the facades.....
And I'm just not going anywhere near JKR's pronouncements about the Grindelwald character and relationship with Dumbledore and effect on Dumbledore. Not going there, nope--because even thinking about her remarks in the context of her cowardly manner of "outing" Dumbledore safely after the fact leads to some very unpleasant analyses regarding the latent homophobia being exposed. So I'll leave that consideration with a very loud ICK! and a hasty retreat. And once more hope that JKR would just shut up.
You know, I was thinking exactly the same thing when reading this. For a start, it just doesn’t make sense to me that a person with the wisdom of 100+ years would have discarded all possibilities of personal love, after only a single experience of having been attracted to a dangerous person in his teens. Secondly, in the books Dumbledore is a forgiving character who gives people second chances. He may refrain from the highest positions of power in society, fearing that too much political power just might corrupt his judgment. But why on earth would he also attribute this capacity to love, when this is the kind of power he feels sure ultimately will defeat Voldemort’s reign of terror? Dumbledore trusts Snape based on the knowledge that Snape’s love has led him home after going astray; why shouldn’t he trust love’s effect on himself?
What bothers me here is that the author’s interpretation seems to confuse someone’s ideological motivations and beliefs with the same person’s emotional life. Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that Albus had a teenage interest in Gellert for the person he thought he was, independently of Albus fully agreeing or not with his ideology and ambitions? After all, any human being must be held for more than just their juvenile ideas, no matter how outrageous the latter are. This kind of judgmental reasoning makes me rather think of 15-years-old Lily Evans than an aging man with a vast life experience and a firm belief in the healing power of love. Then of course, Gellert soon proved to be a selfish and destructive guy who would escape from troubles he had caused rather than dealing with them. It makes sense to me that Albus got traumatized by the death of his sister and in his youth might have blamed the whole thing on Gellert’s seductive powers and his own receptiveness to them. But it also makes sense that a maturing Albus would have realized how horrible their actual ideas had been, without for that sake abandoning every chance of emotional life for himself.
Exactly; both Snape and Dumbledore are obliged by war circumstances not to show any particular “weaknesses” or closeness to others, but we do actually see each of them crying on page… It would have been interesting to see how each would have managed emotionally in a post-war context.
Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t delve into attempting an analysis of what this means in terms of JKR’s “by the way” outing of DD:s sexual orientation after completing her artwork, because to me it reeks of the idea that Dumbledore would have lived his long life in some sort of detached celibate based on shame…
I really wish JKR would, as subtle science said, just shut up. As a storyteller, she is wonderful, but as any kind of deep thinker, she is less than stellar. Her latest remarks on Dumbledore only underscore that seeming lack of ability to think through the ramifications of her own work and former comments, because if anyone in her series was emotionally ‘stultified’, it would have to be Remus Lupin who kept Tonks on a string dithering over commitment and then abandoned her when she became pregnant until the teenaged Harry set him straight. Of course, Voldemort is the hands down poster child for stultified emotions having no emotional connection to anyone so far as we know, while the jury’s out on Sirius Black since he died comparatively young, but let’s just say it doesn’t look good for him either, judging from the way he was only able to bond with his buddies during and post Hogwarts.
So, are we now supposed to lump Dumbledore in with these characters, or is something far more unsavory going on with his character and Ms. Rowling’s perceptions of his sexuality? I get it that the character’s private lives aren’t really part of the series. We don’t know anything about McGonagall’s private life, for example. But I find it strange, and even alarming that the official ‘misfit’, Hagrid, is able to find another of his kind, while Dumbledore is relegated to over one hundred years of celibacy, the difference being that he is presumably surrounded by his ‘kind’, unlike Hagrid, but is never allowed a love life, or even a hint of one.
JKR’s announcement that Dumbledore was gay was never an act of courage, coming as it did after the final book was published, the series complete and the substantial profits rolling in. Her ‘stand’ was rather like the stand taken by one comfortably behind the ramparts, far from the actual battle. Even so, identifying Dumbledore as gay should have been an opportunity for her to instruct, but this has not been the case. Instead, it begins to look more like a rather shallow attempt to be gay friendly, without the social responsibility that goes with it, and because there’s very little thought behind it, she’s actually beginning to play into the hands of the homophobes in her audience.
There is no problem with voluntary celibacy, but when JKR uses phrases like “I think someone like that would use it, would use the infatuation. I don't think that he would reciprocate in that way”, and “I see him as fundamentally a very intellectual, brilliant and precocious person whose emotional life was absolutely subjugated to the life of the mind - by his choice - and then his first foray into the world of emotion is catastrophic and I think that would forevermore stun that part of his life and leave it stultified and he would be, what he become”, one really must wonder if we are being lead to understand that Dumbledore’s attraction to Grindewald was so personally destructive, so inherently cataclysmic, so wrong, that it stunted his emotional life, because now that she’s revealed his sexuality, she’s also made it clear that this same sex attraction, intertwined with Dumbledore’s desire for power, destroyed his sister and his family. What does this say about homosexuality, particularly in light of her coy “I don’t think he (Grindewald) would reciprocate in that way”? Would that would have been too horrible to contemplate, or was it better to just use young Albus’s love against him, another tired old anti-gay trope, this time resurfacing from JKR?
More and more I have to wonder at the disconnect between JKR and her characters. That she is wrong about Dumbledore’s emotional state has been brilliantly examined above, and yet I have to wonder at the mindset that condemned him to a hundred plus years without a companion, this warm, funny man who speaks about the power of love and forgiveness, and wells up over his emotional response to Harry. I can well understand Snape’s celibacy – his is an unfinished lifetime and we can never know what would have happened to him after Voldemort was defeated, and he avenged Lily’s death, but Dumbledore? In him we have a complete life, and rather than see a groundbreaking affirmation of his sexuality in a partnership even hinted at in the mos subtle of terms, we see, instead, a cynical attempt to retrodefine him after the fact as a ‘safely’ celibate gay man, after the author’s wallet is safely plumped, of course.
More and more I am grateful for the truly courageous in children’s literature, the Judy Blumes and Brent Hartingers.
As time goes on, JKR seems to demonstrate little actual knowledge of what is in her books. It's a bit sad that the author can so quickly, easily, and thoroughly be shot down about her pronouncements regarding her own work--it's not even a case of differences in interpretation. It's that she's downright wrong, and it's only a matter of pointing to the passages that immediately contradict her on a purely factual level.
Truly sad are her sycophants who, more and more, cling to JKR's interviews, rather than her novels, as the sources of their knowledge of HP. It's an odd, almost interesting, phenomenon.
Among the many aspects of Dumbledore's character that make him my second favorite in the books is his self-awareness....Intellectually, he is light-years ahead of almost every other character in the novels. Yet--he's also self-deprecating and fully aware of how his decisions and actions can appear to those who are less mentally adept: they might view him as arrogant and egotistical. But he's not. He's just usually right.
The one character who approaches Dumbledore's intellect is Snape--and even Snape protests Dumbledore's apparent high-handedness on occasion. Significantly enough--after voicing such objections....Snape concedes that, in fact, Dumbledore is right and continues with the plans. What Snape comprehends is that Dumbledore does not make what seem to be cruel decisions because of arrogance, but because he genuinely believes his choice to be the right course. And yet he also can give a nod to his own failings and his own errors--that alone places him far from Voldemort.
I agree about the truly "stultified" characters. Lupin flails and fumbles when genuine emotional attachment is required of him--and Sirius is locked in a permanently juvenile state, completely unable to break out of his self absorption. Those are the two characters who have been irrevocably damaged by youthful trauma and who never progress beyond an adolescent approach to the world--or, who never have sufficient time to do so (as well as demonstrating little inclination to do so).
Silver Ink Pot
It's fascinating how much JKR sounds like a Bathilda/Rita Skeeter combo sometimes. She really drinks her own vitriolic kool-aid, doesn't she? *** Her use of unreliable narrators such as Rita, Bathilda, and Aunt Muriel just make it all worse, because they are all gossipy and leering old women. So when JKR comes talks about how Dumbledore needed to be celibate all his life she implies something was wrong with his feelings for Grindelwald, or that he needed to atone. But for what?
I think there's some cognitive dissonance there. JKR wants everyone to think her books are about tolerance and that she is the world's greatest liberal thinker, when really she is this snarky judgmental person. Ginny? Lily? Yeah, that's what I'm seeing there.
With what the books say against what JKR says, I think she is going to run for USA congress.
On the flip side of that, stultification can also be used as a means to control others using public humiliation and/or "making an example" of one or a small group to deter others. Voldemort uses stultification to control the Death Eaters - one example would be his treatment of the Malfoys in DH. Abject humliation in front of their peers results in him having even greater control with them being desperate to prove themselves "worthy" to be in his service and the other Death Eaters being determined not to make the same mistakes as Lucius to avoid such humiliation. The same can be said for Snape's method of teaching. Public humiliation was his favorite means of punishment - we see him use this against Neville on more than one occasion - and that gave him greater control over the students in his classes because the majority of them were too afraid of him humiliating them in a similar manner to act out in class in even the most minor way.
Silver Ink Pot
Yeah, my daughter has several Law School Professors who do the same exact thing, but I don't see them as "emotionally stultified" either.
Sorry, but Neville was emotionally brittle before coming to Hogwarts. Snape didn't help him much, but then, neither did Minerva McGonagall, who humiliates him in front of his own house after he loses his passwords in PoA. But Neville never did that again either.
And he wasn't traumatized for life, anymore than Harry - who named his own son after Snape.
JKR's new pronouncement that Dumbledore is "emotionally stultified" is as nonsensical as her post-DH out-of-touch opinion that Snape isn't a hero.
Yeah, my daughter has several Law School Professors who do the same exact thing, but I don't see them as "emotionally stultified" either.
Good for them that they are strong enough to deal with such horrible professors. I hope they have reported such unethical and unprofessional behavior. I know universities are set up so students can report that type of thing because I had to report a couple of my own professors in college - I presume a law school would as well.
Silver Ink Pot
My daughter has no problem with the Socratic method, which has been used to study law for hundreds of years. No need to report anyone.
I hate to say it, but there's a great deal about the HP situation that indicates it became a money-making machine, above all else.
The publishing house needed to assign a draconian editor with an obsession for detail to JKR....especially as it was known that JKR was not re-reading her own books. But draconian editors tend to upset writers, and I doubt anyone wanted to upset a gold mine to publishing like JKR.
JKR herself seems much more focused on the fame and fortune associated with the books; she's never had a serious discussion about the books with an actual critic. All of her interviews have been fluffy publicity pieces, designed to entertain the fans. It makes quite a difference in the quality of her answers, as her comments such as Snape isn't a hero and Dumbledore is stultified (and gay!) demonstrate.
It's pretty sad, because there are people out there who hang upon her every word, elevating it above the text itself. It's an odd situation, because it's so very rare to have such a literary phenomenon these days, with a living author who encourages and revels in the international attention. These days, it seems JKR has become more important than the books.
At any rate, because of the nature of JKR's approach to the books and the manner of her comments, it is pretty easy to dismiss her views. Fortunately, the books are what they are, no matter what she tries to overlay them with.
I have just couple more cents to throw into this pot about Dumbledore's love and his um "stultification," for whatever it's worth. I wonder if DD's seeming inability to delve into anything romantic after Grindlewald (pardon my run on sentence) falls in into the same problematic issue I have with the rest of the characters ability to love: that is, no one is allowed more than ONE great Love their whole lives. If you think about it, there's not one character in the whole series who is shown to have fallen in love, real love, and survived a disappointment over it.
•Harry dates Cho and is infatuated with her but you never get the idea that he was in love with her. So it was not traumatic when they broke up- just embarrassing and awkward. •Hermione and Krum, were never shown to have any affection. Yet it's clear in the last book Krum still has a thing for her and he still can't find a "good one". •Ron dates Lavender, but is clearly not in love with her. When it falls apart we're all relieved. Are we to assume that Lavender never fell in love again and became a bitter old maid? •And Severus... well, poor Severus...
These are all examples of young people dating frivolously and/or just not "getting over it." There is no example of someone surviving a LOVE relationship that ended. In my opinion, the idea that a young person falls in love once and they will never ever love anyone else for the rest of their lives— is quite frankly a ridiculous concept. If there's one thing I really really dislike about this series, it is the underlying idea that by that age 17 the characters meet and know the ONE they were MEANT to be with for the rest of thier lives. If it doesn't work out - their just stuck. (That isn't to say it can't happen in real life, but more often than not people survive at least one great young love before finding another.)
We don't see divorce in this world. We see frivolous infatuation, love potions, or abandonment and "stultification". Nobody loves wrong and lives to tell the tale.
And this is why the Dumbledore/ Grindlewald bad romance fails. Dumbledore blew his big Love on the bad guy and the ramifications of that relationship can't really be evaluated on a real scale because in Rowling's world, you only get ONE chance.
Silver Ink Pot
Yes. Yes. Yes. If there is one thing I would parody until I die, it is this idea that first love is the only type of love. We all have someone we loved at seventeen, and of course that memory stays with you. But if it doesn't work out, even after years, it is not the end of the world because (as I tell my own children who have already broken up with their "17-true-love") there is someone out there who might be better, believe it or not. Smarter, kinder, funnier, and more mature.
I recall some quotes from JKR about George Weasley after his brother Fred died - and here we see the same thing again. George never gets over losing his twin, and ackity-ack, George marries Fred's true love, Angelina - I guess the brothers are interchangeable. I always hoped one of the twins would marry the Muggle girl he had met in a shop, but that wouldn't fit the pattern. *** I guess poor George, and possibly Angelina, were semi-stultified by Fred's death. I don't know . . . Or maybe it's a sign they actually moved on with their lives.
But the point is that both brothers knew Angelina when they were seventeen, so there couldn't be anyone else no matter which brother survived.
Exactly. Apparently there is divine retribution if you don't meet Mr. or Miss Right. This theory fits well with the Snape/Lily story, too, because apparently Lily barely escaped falling in love with Mr. Wrong. And that's good for her, but he wasn't able to find another soulmate on such short notice before graduation. [/snark]
Even if love is a main theme in the HP books, I prefer to read them without too much emphasis on the actual love relationships in the romantic sense. Whatever millions of fans who like to speculate about different HP pairings might say, I don’t think JKR is good at describing love relationships; that’s really not her forte. One example is Ron and Hermione’s constant bickering; it’s very realistic, but not for a couple of teenagers. I know many examples of this I real life, but all of them are adults, mostly middle-aged couples who has been together for a long time.
In HBP, JKR manages to raise the audiences’ expectations and keep it on tender hooks regarding Harry’s falling in love with Ginny. But when they finally come to it, their whole relationship is actually done with in a couple of lines. And maybe I should be grateful for that.
One of the worst scenes, one that really makes me “ick” , is the Hospital Wing anticlimax after Dumbledore’s death in HBP, when they are all completely shocked over the horrible events they just lived through, including a fierce battle inside the school and the killing of their beloved Headmaster and Order leader. But this is the time JKR picks for the characters to pair up into couples of lovers, suddenly forgetting about the situation ahead and all their former relational problems and giving in to a nice group hug. Fleur finally gets her approval from Molly through dramatically declaring her love for her seriously wounded fiancée. Tonks publicly “forces” Lupin to accept her invitations. I think this is supposed to mean “drama” but it rather makes me think of those rather cheap comedies they use to show on outdoor theaters here.
I just can’t take the pairings very seriously, and maybe that’s why Dumbledore’s very brief affair with Grindelwald didn’t impress me much. It seemed to me like a very intense but short-lived teenage fascination with some novelty in the village. The accidental killing of Ariana could well have happened even without any "infatuation" at all, with just Albus enthusiastically inviting a new acquaintance to his home, not considering the dangerous clash that might occur between this rather violent guy, his resentful brother and his sick sister.
The theme of love is ever present in the series, and it is mostly handled in a very sensitive and careful way, describing deep friendships, family relationships, understanding, charity, sacrifices, love on a bigger scale etc. But when it comes to romantic relationships, JKR seems to be stuck in a fairy-tale world. Oddly, to me the most convincing love story is Snape’s unrequited love for his childhood friend; it’s explained and motivated, it’s touching and it’s painted in a realistic way although with just a few strokes of the brush.
It’s a sad world, indeed (not to mention incredibly old-fashioned), where there are second chances for everyone except in love relationships, where you only get the one chance of your lifetime. You really have to choose the right partner before twenty, otherwise you’ll end up a "stultified" shadow of your emotional self… Poor teenagers, there’s indeed a lot of pressure on them!
I agree with Nyctalus: I don't see JKR's forte as describing romantic relationships--except in the case of Snape's love for Lily....I think she succeeded there in large part because she did not detail it; she left it as suggestion for most of the series, and so it was deeply affecting.
Of course, it also meant some of the duller readers completely missed it (remember when discussion of the possibility was actually banned? ). That connects to another contributing factor, I think: that the books are aimed at a young audience.....Without more examples of JKR's writing, I'm hesitant to judge decisively if she's just awkward about describing romantic love; she may simply be leaving it at a level she thinks matches her main audience--which thinks OMGTROOLUV at 17....
Not to mention that the romantic love aspect just doesn't fit very comfortably or neatly into her primary plot. Not that it couldn't--just that it doesn't, as the books stand. It alwast seemed realistic to me that there wasn't any consideration of the teachers' private, personal lives in the books--students really don't think that way (when they do, they tend to be rather creepy students one would prefer graduate as quickly as possible and move to the antipodes). I remember idly talking one day with a few students about how windy it was, and I mentioned skimming all those leaves out of my pool...."You have a POOL?!?" was the utterly shocked reaction from one of the girls.
Er. Yes, I do. How stunningly exotic for a teacher. Fortunately, I do not swim in it; I only glance at it while I busily and appropriately grade papers.
Where I though things became awkward for JKR was her choice of narrative voice in the books.....Her depiction of the teachers as mere icons rang true--but her adolescent male narrative point of view was rather pure-minded. JKR sidestepped reality, there--and therein, perhaps, lay the problem. Delving into realistically developed romantic relationships would lead her into having to depict an equally realistic teenaged male's sexual awakening. Clearly, she wasn't going there. Instead, she presented a simplified, cleaned-up version that gave a nod to sex, love, marriage--but didn't need to get entangled in details. She chose, instead, to stick to the stereotypical ideals of young love and leave it all at that.
My guess is that it was a consideration of younger readers, their sensibilities, and sales figures. Just as she can make pronouncements safely after the fact, such as Dumbledore's being gay, she can make other equally superficial comments about other characters' love lives--her sound bite interviews again, in which there is little of substance to be garnered.
After all--her most adult depiction of a dysfunctional relationship, that of Tonks and Lupin, didn't exactly go over well....The relationship wasn't completely developed--again, pushed to the background, for the most part--but what we did see of it portrayed both characters in a manner a lot of fans really disliked. Tonks wasn't, after all, the exemplar of a strong, kick-a$$ woman: her relationship with Lupin revealed that her immaturity (that sense of a rather overdone kick-a$$ mentality) was, in fact, her major trait. Similarly, Lupin was shown to be as spineless as was suspected--not the facade of the supposedly warm-hearted, caring, avuncular figure. Together, the two of them made a mess of it all--as is really bound to happen when such personalities pair up......It sure didn't make a lot of fans happy, though, to see it.
Be that as it may, I wouldn’t really put too much emphasis on JKR’s exact choice of words, as the content of what she was saying is anyway… ehm… I guess it quite coincides with the meaning of stultus.
As to the apparent contradiction between what she wrote and what she says, I think it may be quite simple: She is an acute observer of human character and consummate in putting those observations in writing – so much that we can find credible, multi-layered characters and their development throughout the books. Yet, to do this, she didn’t need to have accurately analysed the characters. Even though these are her own creations, it is not necessarily much different from a biographer who paints a vivid and detailed picture of a person, but then draws entirely wrong conclusions from the facts that as such are correct.
Indeed, almost everything I’ve read about her analysis of her own characters has seemed rather shallow to me. And I recall examples of her mentioning use of some particular traits of real people in building her characters, and the way she has referred to these models has also seemed over simplifying, even misinterpreting. Thus, I find in entirely plausible that she misunderstands her own creations, too.
Silver Ink Pot
The Socratic method is a form of inquiry and debate - not a teacher like Snape making fun of his students and basically telling them that they are too stupid to learn. Such teachers should always be reported because that is unethical and unprofessional behavior.
The Socratic Method is question-answer, which I believe is the way Snape does deal with Harry several times in the books, but Harry almost never knows the answer.
Usually Snape deals with that problem by giving extra homework essays, which Harry and Ron resent. But that's an age-old way of dealing with students who don't know something. JMO *** Tonks and Lupin are really far outside the parameters for a successful romance in the books. Tonks is older than seventeen ~ her ex-Hogwarts-soulmate clearly married someone else. And she's awkward and clumsy - never a good sign. Girls should be able to pirouette gracefully like Ginny or Fleur, or at least clean up well like Hermione with her hair tonic.
Lupin is a disaster as a boyfriend and husband, and nearly a deadbeat Dad. We don't know who Lupin's soulmate was supposed to be at age seventeen. Many have guessed that it might have been Sirius or even James. Lupin may have been further into the closet than Dumbledore and JKR doesn't even see it!
But the main point is, that Lupin and Tonks almost had to die because they were never going to find real happiness. Tonks would have been stultified by the death of her father. Lupin was never going to "get over" being a werewolf, his malady since childhood. They were so flawed that death was the only remedy JKR could find for their problems. (And yes, I'm being really cynical here, but I think there's something to this). *** Yes - you mention the death of his ego, which is an characteristic that makes Dumbledore so pleasant most of the time. He's simple and childlike - he's always reminded me of Gandhi or Thoreau, complex thinkers who led very down-to-earth and simple lives because they thought that was the best way for a human being to live. And of course they had personal problems and demons to overcome as well, but it didn't stunt them as human beings.
I think Ianus had this right in a previous post - Dumbledore is just an introvert, like Thoreau. His "otherness" doesn't just arise from his homosexuality, or his regrets over Arianna. I believe if none of that had happened, he would still be an introvert, and I don't think that's unhealthy.
Sirius Black, on the other hand, is an extrovert who withdraws sometimes in "fits of the sullens." Unlike Dumbledore, he either encourages his godson Harry to be reckless, or he ignores him entirely in favor of his hippogriff. He mistreats his House Elf. He's rude to Snape, who is Harry's teacher and an equal in the Order.
Sirius is the character with arrested development and personality problems, and I didn't need JKR to explain that to me, thanks, because it's there in the text. Dumbledore's supposed problems -- not so much.
I like the way the sorting is handled myself - a person's basic personality never changes so they can't sort the students too early. Their sorting them on the basis of traits they are born with - not developmental traits. The required traits specified by the founders for each house were defined in the Sorting Hat's songs - Gryffindor wanted the brave and noble, Ravenclaw wanted the intelligent, Slytherin wanted the cunning and ambitious - with the additional requirement of those whose "blood was purest", and Hufflepuff took the rest - though there was also some mention of Hufflepuff taking those who were loyal and hardworking.
Hmmm.... the idea of permamently fixed character traits is interesting--it would certainly support the idea that James never did actually change, despite JKR's claims to the contrary in her interviews. The books show him as an arrogant, elitist bully who only grew better at covering up his aggressive tendencies and then didn't act upon them simply because he was removed from the opportunity to bully. His "change" was a thin facade to win over Lily, but, according to the concept of rigid, set traits, there was no way he'd actually ever alter his behavior because he could not change his essential nature.
It also underscores Dumbledore's essential traits: he loved his little sister deeply; he loved Grindelwald. Since no basic personality can change, then there is no way Dumbledore became "stultified": he must remain loving, as well as intelligent and powerful, throughout his life.
Interesting idea about Hermione's being an extrovert.....I'd have to agree with that: she seems, at first, in the books, to be a rather unhappy one--because she has been cut off from an extrovert's social contact. She's grown up in the Muggle world and obviously not fit in, for reasons ranging from her looks to her intelligence to, we'd have to guess, showing signs of being a witch. At Hogwarts, she finds her place, albeit she still struggles to find herself, since she hasn't known herself for 11 years.....
But her 'busybody' nature and her habit of taking over or getting involved all point to extrovert: that's not what any self-respecting introvert would do.
Random thought....*sigh* I always felt so sorry for her that she ended up with Ron. I know it was an attempt on JKR's part to be rather Jane Austen-esque and have the trio all neatly paired up so they could stay BFF......But--going back to JKR's rather awkward handling of romances--it all seems pretty forced and hardly Austen's knack for the ideal pairings.
But the main point is, that Lupin and Tonks almost had to die because they were never going to find real happiness. Tonks would have been stultified by the death of her father. Lupin was never going to "get over" being a werewolf, his malady since childhood. They were so flawed that death was the only remedy JKR could find for their problems. (And yes, I'm being really cynical here, but I think there's something to this).
Following the limited pattern of romantic relationships in the books; well, yes - there are no second chances when it comes to pairing.
These two characters have serious problems, their views actually clash with each other, and I don’t think their relationship as such added positive development to their characters (for example, it was Harry who made Lupin change his mind, not Tonks). So since there’s no chance for them to split up and maybe meet someone else, they had to go, naturally.
Overall, to me the romantic relationships in HP seem added basically for comfort, convenience and/or comic relief. The books don’t, however, delve into any particular depths regarding what the love relationships actually mean to the characters. Sometimes the plot might need a romantic break when things are getting all too “dark”. And there are also a few rather entertaining couples – Molly and Arthur being perhaps the most endearing and funny, in my opinion – that add to the general comic relief.
The pairings mostly work out acceptably, although not always with any particular color or “chemistry” about them, except when they - as in the case of Tonks and Lupin – lack both the aspects of comfort and comic relief and the plot convenience purpose gets too obvious.
With all due respect, Hermy39, it's your opinion that fans misinterpreted many of the characters. I agree it's not a crime for JKR to expound on her work, but it is not a failing of any of her readers to construct meaning from what she has written. That's not misinterpretation, that's interpretation, which by nature is a personal thing, and it is independent of what an author either says, or doesn't say after publication. Once a book is published and in the hands of it's readers, they will interpret for themselves without any further assistance from the author being necessary. If the opposite were true, and literary works could only be interpreted correctly by their authors, it would be impossible to derive meaning from anything written by long dead authors, or authors who left no comments about their works. Catcher in he Rye would certainly not have become a modern classic as it's author J.D. Salinger granted no interviews after publication.
Silver Ink Pot
I think Subtle is right that James is a borderline Narcissist, wanting everyone to see how cool he is, attacking someone because his friend is bored (treating Snape like an object), and thinking of the world in terms of himself and his own friends.
Sirius also has a beefed-up ego, and thinks he can out-smart the Dark Lord. He also believes that the Dark Lord will come after him if he rides around on his big shiny motorcycle enough (we can imagine a psychological explanation for that on our own). That is exactly why Sirius says he suddenly understood that Peter wanted to be near the biggest bully on the playground - because that's what he and James had been.
If they never changed, then they were always bullies and we see that in Sirius up until the end of his life.
Snape on the other hand was a sensitive child who never would have hurt Lily Evans. He was also a boy genius who liked to discover the truth about things. And basically, he never changed either.
If Snape learned to fight back against bullies at an early age, then he is the equal of Neville, not Voldemort.
It's pretty obvious that there were many fans who misinterpreted the books--specifically, the characters--after all, look at the number of people who thought Snape was evil, or who were so blind to his love for Lily that the very topic was banned on one forum. Not to mention those who thought Lupin was noble and truly kindhearted, or that Sirius would mature into a responsible adult and be Harry's new father.
Swing and a miss on all of them.
I'm not surprised that fans need JKR's sound bites in order to develop some sort of understanding of the books--even when her comments are contradictory and downright odd....Obviously, they're still far easier for a certain element than actually reading closely and well is.
In contrast, actual readers--especially those with a wide base of literary knowledge--weren't so confused and were/are quite capable of analyzing the text without authorial Cliff's Notes. The instructional manual, as it was so aptly put.
In particular, it seems to me that fans struggle most with the characters of Dumbeldore and Snape because they are the most adult of JKR's characters--there's a complexity and layering to their characters that go beyond the simpler, children's book types of the other characters. There's a richness to their stories--the backstories, the development, and so on--that requires an alert, experienced reader......
The whole issue mentioned previously, about the peculiar notion that JKR seems to present in the books regarding finding one's 'true love' by the age of 17.....As I said before, that strikes me as an appeal to her younger fans, who are more likely to have a romanticized, unrealistic view of, well, romance. Corresponding to that is the number of characters who seem rather frozen at a teenager/young adult time. In contrast, Dumbledore and Snape are adults, who deal with adult problems and issues--and how they deal with those comes across in an adult manner.
In a very realistic way, Dumbledore is shown preparing for and then serving as commander in chief for a war. He is faced with situations that require solutions--but those solutions may not be 100% perfect. He must weigh, evaluate, compromise, choose....and ultimately rely on his own gut feeling in order to determine what seems best. Not necessarily "right" or "fair"--but the best of what is available or possible, with the inherent risk that he could well be terribly wrong.
That's a terribly adult perspective. To me, that explains the wailing of fans who declare that he used Snape and Harry, that he was a manipulator, that he wasn't really as good as he feigned he was. That's juvenile kicking against what doesn't seem "right" or "fair"--the father figure ought to have been perfect, flawless in his reasoning, and solved everything happily ever after for everyone--*ponies, kittens, and daisies all around!* Adult readers wince in sympathy and empathy for Dumbledore and pull for him to succeed, no matter how imperfectly, because we understand his dilemmas and perceive how he struggles to maintain "what is right, rather than what is easy."
Well I think Ron/Hermione is a good example of what I tried to say earlier about romances for comfort, convenience and comic relief. In DH they stand there kissing tenderly in the middle of a very urgent situation bordering on full battle against Voldemort because Ron suddenly remembered the House Elves (rolleyes); it’s a sort of comfort in one of the darkest hours in the series, even if it seems more like an anti-climax to me. I also find it quite funny for example when Hermione gets mad at Ron after he has returned to their campsite, Ron having expected a far warmer welcome... But I have a hard time finding any romantic “chemistry” between them, being each others opposite in so many ways. And the BFF point is a more than obvious example of plot convenience …
And I agree--Ron and Hermione appear to be comic relief, the usual role of the second bananas. In reality, it doesn't seem a pairing meant for a long relationship, but it's amusing enough (sort of--I can't warm up to them, myself) in its place in the books. Harry and Ginny, I suppose, are meant to be more dramatically romantic.....
To me, Hermione’s love for Ron seems to be of the more maternal kind; not until she has “educated” him into displaying a more unselfish attitude to certain things (like House-elves’ rights) does she reward him with a kiss. I don’t find this very typical for a teenage romantic relationship; no more than I can see any deeper passion between James and Lily. Both James and Ron are supposed to “change” as a result of their women’s efforts and demands, but from what we see in later glimpses of them, they are basically the same; James with his arrogance about the security measures for his family and Ron with his selfish prejudices about Rose and Draco’s son. This actually seems realistic to me, but perhaps not very promising for a lasting relationship. And it is not a very good example of the Power of Love, I think.
Word. Dumbledore/Grindlewald actually propelled Dumbledore into my top ten fave chars, and I'd never really considered him before. When I read HP to me parents, I have DD talk about Grindlewald in a wistful, sexy voice. Because I'm crazed.
I can't even slog through this tripe. What is wrong with people? Why do they assume that, when JKR reveals a little something of her thought process while writing the books, she's just trying to reinterpret what she [i]clearly[/i] meant when she was writing them?
And why does Dumbledore's attraction to Grindelwald lead to discussion about why Lupin is a terrible person?
They do these things because - in Anonymous' opinion - the first rule of the Snapefen mindset (or Harmonian mindset, or Slytherfen mindset, or what have you) is everything must validate that mindset. Period, no exceptions. Anything that contradicts must be either ignored as "non-canon" or twisted to fit using convoluted logic that would make theologians weep.
I think because (in their minds) their discussion on Dumbledore's character requires a discussion on why JKR wrote him that way, which leads into a free-for-all attack on why JKR wrote any of the characters in a particular way.
I'm not slogging through the snapefen tripe right now, but I love what JKR has to say about Dumbledore. It makes a bunch of sense and gives insight.
I don't think his emotional distance doesn't mean he didn't love Harry or appreciate the power of love (hell, who would appreciate it better? He lost everything he loved becuase of a mistaken infatuation. And his life was ruined because of love)- just that his whole arm's length thing was why he was able to manipulate Harry like he did while still caring for him- he was very good at denying those emotions "for the greater good".
Dumbledore has a lot of contradictions. That's what makes a good character.
Even so, identifying Dumbledore as gay should have been an opportunity for her to instruct, but this has not been the case Why the hell should it be? She made a character who is gay. It's not her job to teach readers a Very Special Lesson About Tolerance. It's much more positive to thing of a gay character as a CHARACTER and not a message.
And just because DD was emotionally traumatized a bit doesn't mean he never had any mad hot sex or went on a date ever again.
. Instead, it begins to look more like a rather shallow attempt to be gay friendly, without the social responsibility that goes with it, and because there’s very little thought behind it, she’s actually beginning to play into the hands of the homophobes in her audience.
Dude, anything she did would play into the fans of the homophobes. Homophobes tend to be irrational and twist anyone's words again.
Why the hell should it be? She made a character who is gay. It's not her job to teach readers a Very Special Lesson About Tolerance.
Ah, but see she was writing for the little chillins. and children's books must always, always have some sort of blatantly obvious moral lesson in them; not that "bad guys lose when good guys stand up to them" nonsense of course, that's just unrealistic. No, a good children's book must teach the little ones a Very Special Lesson or they're unworthy.
...and Anonymous just blew out Anonymous' sarcasm modulator. BBL.
About two weeks before JKR made the remark that Dumbledore was gay, I told someone that I would be very surprised if no major characters were gay in the books, but I doubted she'd out them now. (I was pretty sure one of the professors would be in this category, because their romantic lives aren't really part of the story.)
It seems they want literature to "elevate and instruct" and nothing else. If they'd lived in Jane Austen's time, they would have railed against novels because they're not sermons. I think maybe they should just stop reading fiction. They should definitely stay away from history too.
"Hmmm.... the idea of permamently fixed character traits is interesting--it would certainly support the idea that James never did actually change, despite JKR's claims to the contrary in her interviews. "
HAHAHAHAH OH MAN THAT'S BEAUTIFUL! This Snapefen just flat-out admitted that they like this "theory" about fixed personalities because it allows them to dismiss canon in favor of their own preferred interpretation. They might as well have said "I like this idea because it supports my woobiefication of Snape." EPIC LULZ
I've been keeping track of HPN and this thread for some time. I swear, everytime JKR mentions anything about her characters, they have to gripe about it. Granted, if you don't agree with the author's take on HER characters, then you don't. It's so stupid that these people have the nerve to say "she doesn't know her own characters", and then think it's unreasonable when someone tells them THEIR wrong.
Subtle_science: I hate to say it, but there's a great deal about the HP situation that indicates it became a money-making machine, above all else.
And discussing this non-stop on forums and fansites doesn't contribute to this whatsoever.....
If Dumbeldore's emotional life was "stultified," then why was he constantly going on about the power of love? Really? No, really?!?!?!
He was able to "constantly" go on about the power of love because consciously choosing to subjugate your emotional self to you intellectual self DOES NOT mean you do not have emotions, or understand them in other people.
And please note that the word JKR uses is SUBJUGATED. Not STULTIFIED. World of difference.
Of course, as in so many Snapefen wanks things can be summed up as follows:
Why do that have such a problem with Dumbledore being emotionally stultified? He may have gotten attached Harry (more than he wanted to be), and it was against his better judgment for the cause, but he could truly care for Harry, while still wanting to have some detachment. And Dumbles may not have pursued romance again, but that doesn't mean he couldn't value love in all it's forms. He just didn't want want to mess with romantic love again or get too attached again, because he felt he had bigger fish to fry (along with getting burned the first time). So Dumbles compartmentalized. Why is that so earth shattering?
I think Subtle is right that James is a borderline Narcissist...
Ugh, stop making me want to defend James, Snapefen (he's not one of my favorites). He was a douch (at least back at Hogwarts), but he wasn't a borderline pathological Narcissist (or if he was, then so were a lot of other characters, including Snape). Sheesh! And no proper psychologist could diagnose James with such little information as we have on him, anyway.
Not to mention those who thought Lupin was noble and truly kindhearted, or that Sirius would mature into a responsible adult and be Harry's new father.
And why such hate for Lupin? He was flawed, but I wonder why some people think he was deep down a secretly nasty, nasty guy? Did they never let go of the Lupin-is-ever-so-evil theory, or something?
And Sirius was very flawed but had possibilities for growth and did show some growth. And I'm not even a big fan of his.
So much negativity for everyone other than Snape, it seems. T_T
Snape on the other hand was a sensitive child who never would have hurt Lily Evans. He was also a boy genius who liked to discover the truth about things. And basically, he never changed either.
If Snape learned to fight back against bullies at an early age, then he is the equal of Neville, not Voldemort.
What is this person smoking?! Snape was sensitive, but he was effed up and did hurt Lily. He may have been a boy genius who liked learning new stuff, but she talks like he wasn't also into some very bad things. And, and... Never changed?! What was the point of the whole redemptive storyline, then?? Arg! Stop making it hard to defend Snape, Snapefen! >_<
And Snape and Neville deal with bullying in totally different ways. Just, arg!
Also... Yeesh! - They really seem to hate JKR. It's like they started out loving her, and then she scorned them somehow, and now they are 'fans scorned'. I may not like everything JKR writes or says, but golly, I'm not...bitter or butthurt or whatever these people are, about it.
I had a completely different rant all boiling in my mind, and then I happened to scroll up and see the last posted comment on the OP, and... well.
To me, Hermione’s love for Ron seems to be of the more maternal kind; not until she has “educated” him into displaying a more unselfish attitude to certain things (like House-elves’ rights) does she reward him with a kiss.
I thought she rewarded him with a kiss because he stopped making her jealous when he was making out with Lavender and finally admitted that, you know... he liked her liked her. And then they make out because it's official.
I don’t find this very typical for a teenage romantic relationship; no more than I can see any deeper passion between James and Lily.
Okay, fen, look. We literally 'see' James from only one perspective, and it's through the eyes of somebody who absolutely despised him. We hear about him second-hand once, in a letter that Lily wrote. How does one prove that there isn't a deeper passion between the two when when this is all we see of the poor man?
Both James and Ron are supposed to “change” as a result of their women’s efforts and demands, but from what we see in later glimpses of them, they are basically the same; James with his arrogance about the security measures for his family
Gag me. James protected his family with a secret-keeper, and he chose a friend-- somebody he could trust, but not the first person that Voldemort would suspect. He made a grievous error in judgment, but arrogance? No. No it wasn't.
and Ron with his selfish prejudices about Rose and Draco’s son.
Oh that is sick! This didn't happen! Ugh, how old is Draco in the epilogue? They're all in their thirties, right? And Rose is, like, ten! Ugh, that's disgusti--
Oh. Oh, the sentence was just badly structured. Never mind.
Yeah, wow, his 'selfish prejudice' when he's joking with his kids. I'd tell my kid something like this if I'd had a nearly lifelong rivalry with somebody, too. Seriously, guys. Why do you think the gang would make up with Draco when they just hated each other so vehemently during school?
This doublethink capacity for self-delusion is astonishing.