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Essays

Harry and the Horcruxes


by Megan Bostelmann

Since the arrival of Half-Blood Prince on July 16th, 2005, Harry Potter fans have been endlessly searching for Horcruxes. We find ourselves repeating the Horcrux possibilities just like Harry does in Half-Blood Prince: “the cup, the locket, the snake, something of Gryffindor or Ravenclaw’s . . . .” (HBP30). Several Horcrux identity theories have been circulating, with claims ranging from Tom Riddle’s mouth organ to Gryffindor’s old toothbrush. After reading several of these pieces on Horcruxes, the most upsetting theory that I came across suggested that either Harry or Harry’s scar is the sixth Horcrux .This theory seems unbelievable, so I aim to disprove it by consulting Half-Blood Prince and Order of the Phoenix for support. Aside from the obvious objections to such a theory—Voldemort constantly trying to kill Harry, Harry being protected by a magical connection that Voldemort can’t penetrate—I have found what seems to be unmistakable evidence from the canon that Harry is NOT a Horcrux.

First, I DO NOT BELIEVE that Rowling would end the series in this manner. Rowling has shown interest in teaching her fans through her books and setting an example for her young readers, and I do not think she intends to do so by sending home the message, “in order to defeat your enemy, you have to kill yourself” to all her millions of little tiny fans. I am not arguing that Harry Potter is a children’s series; all I’m saying is that this Horcrux scenario is, on a fundamental level, unlikely to gain much traction with the children in the series’ fan base. Now on to the “adult” stuff.

Horcruxes, HBP 23, by Mary GrandPréLet’s start with the presumptions that Dumbledore has made about Horcruxes. We know that Dumbledore tells Harry that there are six Horcruxes in all and that there are probably four left (HBP23). When asked about the accuracy of this presumption, Rowling answered that Dumbledore was a smart man, and that people can generally trust him (OffsiteJKR on Dumbledore (Madam Scoop's Index). So, we can therefore assume Dumbledore is right that there are four Horcruxes left. (This rules out that R.A.B. destroyed the Horcrux locket when he took it and then replaced it with the false locket and note.)  So what are they (or what aren’t they)? In Chapter 23 of Half-Blood Prince entitled, “Horcruxes,” Dumbledore explains to Harry (and the reader) what Horcruxes are. With pieces from this chapter I have developed a logical chain that proves my theory—that neither Harry nor his scar is a Horcrux.

In Chapter 23, Dumbledore explains that he believes the snake, Nagini, is the sixth Horcrux. Dumbledore reasons this because of the extreme power that Voldemort has over her and because Voldemort can possess her at any time (HBP23/508). Even if Dumbledore is wrong about what the Horcrux is, his reasoning would suggest that Dumbledore believes that a person can possess his Horcruxes at any time (or at all times). If Harry is a Horcrux, then it can also be assumed that Voldemort would be able to possess and control Harry at any time.

The strongest argument against this is in Sorcerer’s Stone, as Harry and Quirrell are standing in front of the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell, who is currently possessed by the seventh bit of Voldemort’s soul, is unable to see the stone in the Mirror. When Harry stares into the Mirror however, “it showed [him his] heart’s desire, and it showed [him] only the way to thwart Voldemort, and not immortality or riches” (HBP23/511). It can be concluded that Harry, who was able to safely retrieve the stone, was NOT possessed by any of Voldemort’s soul.

Also in Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore says that “despite [Harry’s] privileged insight into Voldemort’s world, [he] has never been seduced by the Dark Arts, not even for a second shown interest in becoming one of Voldemort’s followers” (HBP23/511). This would also be very hard to accomplish if Harry was constantly being controlled by Voldemort. Also, as we found out in Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort can not possess Harry with out mortal agony (OP36) . It is very unlikely that Voldemort would be able to store a Horcrux in something that caused him mortal agony. (Would the Horcrux even be able to survive mortal agony?) Furthermore, if Voldemort possessed Harry in Order of the Phoenix then he was NOT possessing Harry before that. Horcruxes are things/bodies in which a piece of soul is stored permanently, and therefore they are “possessed” all the time.

Finally, after Dumbledore explains the insignificance of the prophecy, he tells Harry that Voldemort hasn’t been able to penetrate the unforeseen magical connection that Harry is protected by—in short, his ability to love. Dumbledore also explains that Voldemort was taken in by this because “he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole.” ((HBP23) If Harry’s soul is “untarnished and whole,” then it cannot have a Horcrux in it.

As for other ideas on what the final two Horcruxes are, I would say either Lily or James’s remains (which is incidentally why Harry feels he must return to Godric’s Hollow, when in previous books he has no desire to do so). Both Lily and James would also fit into the category of “something of Ravenclaw or Gryffindor,” since they were both prominent in Gryffindor house (Head Boy, Head Girl). Assuming that Voldemort had already created five Horcruxes when he came to Godric’s Hollow and needed to create only one more to reach his eventual compliment of six Horcruxes, only one of Harry’s parents would be a Horcrux. As for the other, I think it might be Nagini (made into a Horcrux with a murder previous to Frank Bryce). After that, your guess is as good as mine—unless of course you guess Harry. Or his scar.

© 2006 Megan Bostelmann
edited by Paula Hall

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