Friday, February 01, 2013

The Lost Boys: Harry, Severus, and Tom

The Lost Boys:
Harry, Severus, and Tom

Today in my Harry Potter class we are looking at the lives of Harry, Severus Snape, and Tom Riddle and comparing their circumstances, choices, and outcomes.  I hope it will be a thought provoking experience for the kids.  We're going to use a big roll of butcher paper and big sharpies to write down and compare each of the boys circumstances and choices at birth, during childhood, when they arrived at Hogwarts, during their beginning years at Hogwarts, during their final year at Hogwarts, after they left Hogwarts, and the outcomes of their lives.  We'll begin by reading my favorite quote by C.S. Lewis from his essay, The Weight of Glory.  I think the Harry Potter series is an amazing exploration of the idea that we all have the potential to become gods or monsters.  As Dumbledore puts it, it is our choices far more than our abilities that determine who we are.  But, as Lewis points out, our circumstances, especially the actions of others around us, can help us go one way or the other.  We all ought to consider which way we are helping our fellow men to go.  

From C.S Lewis's The Weight of Glory:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.  All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”  

Circumstances and Choices

Born to
H: Pureblood father, muggleborn mother, parents loved each other and him
S: Pureblood mother, muggle father, parents fought a lot
T: Pureblood mother, muggle father, mother tricked father into marrying her, when father realized he left her

H: By his Aunt and Uncle who didn’t love him and treated him horribly
S: By his constantly fighting parents who didn’t seem to love him
T: In an Orphanage by people who initially pitied him, then came to fear him and didn’t love him

Childhood choices about how to treat others
H: Wished for friends, tried to avoid being mistreated by his cousin, uncle, aunt and kids at school.  He was generally polite to everyone he came in contact with.
S: Tried to be friends with Lily but was unkind to her sister, Petunia.  He wanted to have friends and love but he wasn’t nice to everyone and he was sometime deceitful
T: Never sought friends. His goal was to have power over the other children around him.  He tormented them and made them fear him. 

Circumstances when they arrived at Hogwarts
H: Had recently learned he was a Wizard and that his parents had been murdered.  He had plenty of money.  He didn’t know anything about magic or the Wizarding World.
S: Knew he was a wizard.  He was very poor.  He knew a lot about the Wizarding World and a little bit of magic. 
T: Had recently learned he was a Wizard, confirming his belief that he was special and different from his peers at the Orphanage.  He was very poor.  He didn’t know anything about the Wizarding World and had figured out how to do some magic.

Choices in their beginning years at Hogwarts
H:  He asked the sorting hat to put him in Gryffindor and not in Slytherin.  He quickly made friends with Ron and Hermione.  He was loyal to Hagrid and cherished his friendship too.  He rejected Malfoy’s offer of friendship, power, and popularity.  He generally treated his classmates and teachers with kindness and respect.  He was anxious to learn about the Wizarding World.  He defended Neville when Malfoy was bullying him.  He helped Hagrid solve lots of problems.  He made enemies of Malfoy and Professor Snape.  He fought evil when he saved the Sorcerers Stone, Defeated the Heir of Slytherin, and defeatedthe Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.  He saved lots of lives including, Ginny’s Life, Sirius’s life, and even Peter Pettigrew’s life.  He fought injustice by helping to clear Hagrid’s name so he could leave Azkaban, helping Sirius escape, and prevented Lockhart from leaving Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets. 
S:  Tried to be Lily’s friend and be friends with the kids who would one-day become Death Eaters.  He hated James Potter and all James’s friends.  He tried to convince Lily to hate them too while she tried to convince him to abandon his Slytherin friends.  He learned a lot of dark magic.
T: He wasn’t a real friend to anyone.  He built a group of followers who he promised power and influence.  They would eventually become his Death Eaters.  He learned as much as he could about they History of the Hogwarts Founders and about his own heritage.  He learned a lot of dark magic.

Choices in Their Final Years at Hogwarts
H: He was loyal to his friends and to the truth even though it meant sacrificing popularity, reputation, and comfort.   He started Dumbledore’s Army in an effort to defend the truth and to prepare his friends and classmates to fight against evil.  He told the truth about Cedric’s death and Voldemort’s return. He chose love instead of hate.
S:  He was cruel to Lily and lost her friendship.  He committed himself to the path that would lead him to become a Death Eater.  He chose hate and became totally bitter.
T: He learned that he was the Heir of Slytherin, the truth about his parent’s relationship.  He chose hate and murdered his father and grandparents and started making Horcruxes.

Choices After They Left Hogwarts
H: He found and destroyed Voldemort’s horcruxes.  He sacrificed his own life to save the world and then was resurrected.  He defeated Voldemort.  He remained close with his childhood friends, married Ginny and had 3 children with her.  He named his sons after Dumbledore and Snape.
S:  He became a Death Eater.  He told Voldemort about the prophecy he overheard which led Voldemort to murder Harry’s Parents.  Motivated by his love for Lily he repented of his evil ways and became a double agent working for Dumbledore against Voldemort.  Though he really disliked Harry and was never kind to him he devoted his life to saving Harry’s.  He was murdered by Voldemort  as part of his effort to protect Harry and his last act was to give Harry his memories which contained all the information Harry needed to finish defeating Voldemort.   These memories also contained a lot of personal information about Snape that would probably have embarrassed him.
V:  He became the Dark Lord, Voldemort and recruited the Death Eaters.  He made his Horcruxes.  He led the Death Eaters in a campaign of terror and murder.   After his second rise to power, he was finally defeated by Harry Potter. 

Ultimate Outcomes of Their Choices
H:  He had a lot of friends and family.  He was able to defeat evil and protect his friends and family.  He was happy and loved.  He knew that when he died he would rejoin his parents and friends who had already died, in a happy place. 
S:  He had no friends or family.  He suffered a lot knowing it was his fault Lily died.  He was able to protect Harry and help him defeat Voldemort.  He died knowing he was doing a good thing.  Harry came to respect him tremendously and may have even felt love for him.  We don’t know where he went after he died but Harry implied that even Voldemort could have been saved if he had felt some remorse and repented of his evil deeds so it is likely that Snape was able to be in a happy place with people who respected him and maybe even loved him.
T:  He had no friends or family.  He devoted his life to evil and to becoming immortal.  In the end he killed himself when the killing curse he was aiming at Harry  rebounded on him.  No one respected or loved him.  After death, he was probably miserable like the ugly horcrux baby Harry saw at Kings Cross. 

Discussion Questions
1.     What did the 3 boys have in common?
2.     What were some of the differences between them?
3.     Who loved each of the boys and who did they love? 
4.     Do you think the 3 boys all had the potential to become either gods or monsters?
5.     What did they each become in the end?
6.     Was Harry’s life happy?  Was it easy or hard?
7.     Snape became good in the end but was his life happy?  What did he miss out on?  What did he gain by repenting?
8.     Was Voldemort’s life happy?  Was he happy after he died?  What were the benefits of his choices?
9.     Were their circumstances or their choices more important in determining what each boy became?
From The Chamber of Secrets, p. 333

Do you think this is true?  Why or why not?  “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

11. Who helped each of the boys become gods or monsters?


The Bredensteiners said...

WHY am I not enrolled in this class!? LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

Paige said...

Great! Let us know how the class went.

Sarah said...

Agreed, why I am not in your class?

Jen said...

Well, Unless you are between 8 and 11 years old and available Fridays from 10am - 11am you can't be in the class, but I would love to have an adult discussion of all this HP stuff sometime!;) The class went well Paige. I think the kids "got" it. This week is the last class and we'll have a Hogwarts feast, trivia contest and hopefully some of the kids will share some of the fan fiction they've been writing. Can't wait! I'll work on post summing up everything we did for the class. It was so much fun.

Jenessa Adams said...

You're so amazing. I have always admired you so much!

Jenessa Adams said...

You're so amazing! I have always admired and looked up to you!

Jen said...

You are too kind Jenessa. :)