Open Harry Potter Speculation Thread:

In just one week, the long-awaited final book of the Harry Potter series will be out. So this week is your last chance to indulge in speculation about the plot. To facilitate that important purpose, I am creating this open Harry Potter thread, so that VC readers who are also Harry Potter fans can ponder such burning questions as the following:

1. Is Snape good or evil?

2. Is Dumbledore really dead?

3. Which characters will live and which will die?

4. What are the remaining horcruxes?

5. What, if anything, is the most important theme of the series?

A few speculations of my own, that I'm not going to try to support with any analysis:

Snape: good.

Dumbledore: dead.

Characters I think will die: Voldemort, Snape, at least one Weasley (not Ron or Ginny), Hagrid, most of the Death Eaters.

Horcruxes: I don't have any really good guesses on this one.

Moral of the story: No one clear moral, but several different themes. One that is certainly present is a very skeptical view of government. Another is that universal values such as love, freedom, friendship, opposition to evil, etc., cut across racial, ethnic, and cultural divisions. As Dumbledore says in The Goblet of Fire (pg. 723): "differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."

This is not to suggest that J.K. Rowling is a libertarian or conservative. She isn't; as far as I can tell, her politics are conventionally left-liberal. Nonetheless, the books do take a dim view of both government and moral and cultural relativism. At the same time, it would be a big mistake to assume that these political and philosophical themes exhaust the series, or are even its most important aspect.

And for the killjoys who may claim that this post is inappropriate for a "legal blog," I would point out that 1) we are not just a legal blog, and 2) there are many legal themes in Harry Potter. See here and here, for analyses by legal scholars. The second link is an entire symposium on "Harry Potter and the Law."

Speculate away!

UPDATE: I initially forgot to note my expectation that Snape will die. I have amended the post to add him to the list of the (soon to be) dead.

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More Harry Potter:

[Warning: If you haven't finished all of HP through book 6, but you plan to, do not read this post, because it contains plot details.] To follow up on Ilya's post to kick off the weeklong build-up to Harry Potter 7...I recommend that serious Potterphiles check out Some very sophisticated analysis. On this page, you'll see links to buy some books--which I urge you to purchase with expedited shipping, so you can read them this week, and thereby understanding Book 7 in greater depth when you start reading it at midnight on Friday. "Who Killed Albus Dumbledore?" and "Unlocking Harry Potter" provide diverse analyses of the mystery, of Rowling's literary techniques, and of the omnipresent influence of alchemy.

At the least, these books demonstrate quite persuasively that what Harry (and the naive reader) saw on the Astronomy Tower in the climactic scene of book 6 was certainly not the full explanation for what was really taking place.

My own analysis, "Severus Snape: The Unlikely Hero of Harry Potter book 7" was originally published on the VC in 2005, and was cited by the NY Times a few weeks ago. Russian, Polish, French, and Spanish translations are available.

A few further predictions:

1. Especially given the alchemical necessity of a resolution involving the combination of all four Houses, Luna Lovegood will play a major role in book 7.
2. Harry's ability to speak with snakes (which he shares with Voldemort) was important in early part of book 1, very important in book 2, and has been mostly ignored since then. I predict that it will be important in book 7, most likely with Nagini.
3. In the penultimate scene of movie 5, Luna (searching for her lost shoes), talks with Harry about Sirius's death, and explains that important things which we have lost often come back to us, although in unexpected ways. She immediately finds her shoes, tied to a rafter. In a movie that had to make tough decisions about condensing a 900 page book (with Rowling supervising the screenplay and every detail of the movie--including where objects are placed), I think that the inclusion of this seemingly trivial scene points us very strongly to Sirius meeting Harry again, somehow.

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