POSTS TO HPFGU
2002-2003
     
       
       
HPfGU #52145

Anatomy of a Rift

RE: Anatomy of a Rift


Abigail wrote:

First of all, bravo, Dicentra, on a thought-provoking and compelling argument.

Oh, enthusiastically seconded!

You know, I've always problems with Jealous!Ron? I was never able to put my finger on the reasons why. He somehow just never...felt right to me.

Now that Dicentra has done this marvellous analysis, though, I finally feel justified in kicking Jealous!Ron out the door and happily accepting a BetrayedLoyalty!Ron.

Abigail felt much the same way. She did, however, have one Big Question to ask:

What is the point?

No, really, I'm asking. I have no idea what the answer is, and that's bugging me because Dicentra's argument makes a lot of sense. So, any thoughts?

Hmmmm. Thoughts...

Well, one thing that occurs to me is that, as Dicentra and Jo and bboy and others have pointed out, every single one of the first three books has given us some striking example of Ron's extraordinary loyalty, his capacity for self-sacrifice. In PS/SS, he sacrifices himself in the chess game. In CoS, he braves his worst phobia. In PoA, he tells Sirius that Sirius will have to go through him in order to get to Harry.

So could it be that in GoF, we are being shown this same character trait, but from a slightly different angle? Perhaps Betrayed!Ron is there to show us what such loyalty looks like when it has been treated cavalierly, when it believes itself to have been under-appreciated, or spurned?

It strikes me that GoF returns to a theme that the series has not touched so strongly upon since CoS: the problem of fame. By introducing Rita Skeeter, JKR brings the issue of his own fame and, even more to the point, of his own unique position and role within the Wizarding World back home to Harry. While CoS focused more on the ramifications of this role in terms of ego, though, GoF seems to me to focus far more strongly on its ramifications in terms of duty, of obligation. Harry must participate in the Triwizard Tournament, regardless of the fact that he strongly suspects that it is a trap intended to bring about his own death. He simply has no choice in the matter. His unusual talent with the Imperius Curse also emphasizes his oddity, his specialness. And of course, the "Badge Chuck" zeroes in, in a painfully explicit way, on the particular "badge" of his distinction: his mark, his scar.

It seems to me that this issue becomes particularly important now because, in terms of the series as a whole, GoF is a transitional volume, a turning point, a pivot. To some extent, it marks the end of Harry's childhood. It also marks the point at which the conflict with Voldemort is poised to become a war.

The Rift may serve to point out to Harry the necessity of someone in his position appreciating the particular considerations owed to those who have proven themselves willing to lay down their lives for you or for your cause. It serves as both a warning and as a challenge to Harry: a reminder that fealty is a two-way street, that those destined to lead have serious responsibilities and obligations to those who follow them -- responsibilities which must not be neglected, not even through oversight or accident.

If this is indeed the Rift's purpose, then I would expect to see it reflected elsewhere in the text. And indeed, I do. In fact, I think that it is reflected quite strongly in the behavior of the villains throughout GoF, particularly Voldemort, who has already been established as a literary double to Harry.

It seems to me that the parts of GoF which focus on the antagonists are overwhelmingly concerned with the bonds of loyalty, fealty and duty. They stand, however, to illustrate what happens when these concepts are perverted, or when they are misapplied.

The entire Crouch family subplot, for example, revolves around misguided notions of devotion, loyalty and duty. Crouch mistakes coercion for devotion. Percy and Winky grant Crouch loyalty that he does not merit. The entire Crouch household applies its misguided devotion to its erring scion. Barty Jr., in turn, gives his to Voldemort.

What allows us to know that all of these expressions of personal devotion are misapplied is that they are non-reciprocal.

Crouch is willing to sacrifice both his son and his servant to protect himself; he cannot remember his assistant's name and will not even do him the courtesy of drinking his tea. Crouch Jr. rewards Winky for her devotion by exploiting her weakness at the QWC, and he murders the father who saved his life. His own loyalty to Voldemort is rewarded by soul death at the hand of one of his master's "natural allies."

Every single one of Voldemort's scenes in this novel similarly showcases and highlights Voldemort's own unwillingness to recognize the reciprocity of service. Voldemort demands utter devotion, loyalty and submission from his followers, yet he does not recognize any corresponding obligations towards those who tender him such service. Indeed, although he promises reward to those who serve him faithfully, whenever one of his followers actually shows signs of expecting quid pro quo, he takes great pains to disabuse them of that notion.

In the first chapter of the book, in spite of his absolute dependence on Wormtail's service, Voldemort refuses to give him any assurance that he will not be killed once he no longer proves useful. In the dream sequence, his punishment of Wormtail for allowing Crouch Sr. to escape is gratuitous, excessive, and sadistic. In the graveyard, Voldemort talks a good game of contracts and of loyalty, but his actual actions make it clear precisely what the nature of this "contract" really is. He coaxes his Death Eaters to beg forgiveness for their prior disloyalty, but when one finally does, he retaliates with torture and the assurance that "I do not forgive." He delays replacing Wormtail's hand until he has first forced Wormtail to proclaim, out loud and in front of the assembled Death Eaters, that he is actually owed nothing. Nothing but suffering. Only then is Voldemort willing to "reward" him for his service, thus making it clear to all that his "reward" is absolutely not to be viewed as any form of payment. There is to be no quid pro quo in this relationship. The "reward" is actually an undeserved gift, an act of Grace -- and indeed, Wormtail responds to it with precisely the sort of gratitude appropriate to such a bestowal.

To say that Voldemort has no sense of noblesse oblige would be a gross understatement. He has no sense of reciprocity. He demands the privileges of fealty, but he does not accept its corresponding responsibilities, obligations or duties. Voldemort does not want to be master to his followers. Master/servant is a reciprocal relationship. Instead, Voldemort wants to be their god.

Perhaps the Rift is there to show to Harry the dangers inherent in such a lack of reciprocity?

Steve/bboy wrote:

First this thought was triggered in my mind by someone mentioning that after the second task when Ron was getting some attention, Harry assume Ron's pleasure in it was because Ron was getting to share the limelight for a change. This person (sorry couldn't find that post again) speculated the Ron 'joy' was really in the realization the he (Ron) was the most precious thing in Harry's life, even more precious the Harry's world class Firebolt Broomstick which was the first thing Harry thought of.

Yes. I think that's why he's so happy too.

Being valued in just that fashion was also what Crouch Jr. fixated upon, wasn't it? It was what he felt he never received from his father. And it was what he hoped, foolishly, to receive from Voldemort.

::pause::

::slow smile::

One last thought about the responsibility towards ones followers, this one going back to last week's Train Stomp discussion, in which we were discussing the significance of the Twins ambushing the anti-Trio and cursing them from behind...

It occurs to me, you know, that Voldemort and Crouch Jr. aren't the only antagonists who serve as Harry's literary doubles in this story. Draco Malfoy also plays that role, as unsatisfying as he may be in it. And there's something about that Train Stomp that I was thinking about last week. Something that I don't believe anyone else brought up.

"Interesting effect," said George, looking down at Crabbe. "Who used the Furnunculus Curse?"

"Me," said Harry.

"Odd," said George lightly. "I used Jelly-Legs. Looks as though those two shouldn't be mixed. He seems to have sprouted little tentacles all over his face. Well, let's not leave them here, they don't add much to the decor."

Crabbe. That would be the same Crabbe who braved Fake!Moody's wrath to try to help Ferret!Draco during the Ferret Bounce, wouldn't it?

The Slyth Trio are described as "covered with hex marks," but I do find it interesting that this discussion of such marks actually being on someone's face centers on poor dear voiceless Vincent Crabbe.

See, I just can't seem to shake this sneaking suspicion that Draco's face is probably just fine.

Good Guys really shouldn't go hexing their enemies in the back, you know.

But they don't go using their followers as human shields, either.

—Elkins (who will happily board Marina's Harry/Millicent ship, so long as she is allowed to desseminate Redeemable!Crabbe leaflets to all the crew)

Comments and References

Leave a comment

You can sign in with your Livejournal or Vox account, or with any other form of Open ID. (Need Open ID?)

References:

hp_essays: List of HP Essays posted *outside* of hp_essays

Hi everyone,

We've had dozens and dozens of wonderful essays posted here at hp_essays since the community was begun; but there are loads of other great essays out there - both on LJ and outside of it - that you might have missed. That's really a shame, given all the wonderful speculation and discussion that's going on all the time; so I decided to put together a collection of links to some of the essays posted outside of this community that I had stored in my bookmarks and in my memories...