It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and–not gonna lie–I sort of lost track of time. Last night (or early this morning, actually) I was studying for finals when it suddenly hit me that there was something else I was supposed to do. Then I remembered it was my turn to write about Harry Potter! I frantically tried to squeeze in my post between studying and finals, and it didn’t quite work out. Honestly, though, I’m glad because I wouldn’t have been able to do these chapters justice if I had tried to hurry this post. Now I’m finally home, I’m officially done with the semester, and I’ve got nothin’ but time.
(Also, I desperately need to catch up on all of your posts, fellow re-read writers! Which I will be doing over the next few days, so you’ll be seeing comments from me on older posts. Finals took over my life for a while, but now that they’re over I can spend time doing other things on the internet besides researching medieval feudalism and Python scripts! Yay!)
CHAPTER 30: THE PENSIEVE
This is the chapter in which Harry discovers a bowl filled with silvery stuff that allows him to see inside Dumbledore’s mind. This is also the bajillionth instance in which I found myself thinking, “Huh, that would be really useful… Why doesn’t magic exist?!” Not only is the Pensieve a cool idea, but it’s also really helpful as a literary device because it allows J.K. Rowling to give us insight into impactful story events without losing Harry’s point of view or making us suffer through an infodump. As usual, I am in awe of J.K. Rowling’s brain. I wish I had access to her Pensieve.
Through Dumbledore’s memory, we learn that: a) Ludo Bagman unknowingly gave information about the Ministry of Magic to a Death Eater named Augustus Rookwood, who worked in the Department of Mysteries, b) Snape was a Death Eater, and c) Neville’s parents were tortured to the point of insanity by Barty Crouch, Jr. and the Lestranges. For the first time, we see a real correlation between Harry and Neville. They both lost their parents due to tragic circumstances involving Voldemort either directly or indirectly. We don’t know yet just how significant the similarities between Harry and Neville are, but we can be sure that Harry feels a deep empathetic connection to Neville from this point forward. The purpose of Rowling’s exposition here is to establish sympathy for Neville–not just the sympathy we already feel for the poor, socially inept boy, but a larger, more significant sympathy that carries a weight of meaning. There is more to Neville Longbottom than it seems, and this chapter is when Rowling begins to scratch the surface.
Another one of Neville’s secrets: he’s a hottie.
After Dumbledore pulls Harry out of the Pensieve and explains to him what the heck just happened, they discuss Harry’s dream and Neville’s parents. Harry is surprised to learn that Dumbledore has been communicating with Sirius and thus already knows about the dream. He explains that Harry’s scar will hurt whenever Voldemort is nearby or feeling strong emotions, which is really going to suck later on. He also makes Harry promise to keep the truth about Neville’s parents to himself, as it’s Neville’s story to tell and not anyone else’s.
Dumbledore Witticism of the Day: “Curiosity is not a sin. But we should exercise caution with our curiosity… yes, indeed.”
Something I’ve wondered about here: the purpose of the Pensieve is to store excess memories in order to retain them and revisit them later. Presumably, there are numerous memories swirling around in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, so how is it that Harry happened to stumble into the exact memories that were relevant at the time? Did Dumbledore pull those memories to the surface of the Pensieve just before Harry arrived?