Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince guest post by Dana
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Choosing a favorite Harry Potter book is hardly an easy task. While I can easily narrow it down to my favorite 4, I feel incredibly guilty leaving the others out (except for Chamber of Secrets, I just can’t seem to love it). After much internal debate, I decided to choose Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for this post. It may not be my “you can only pick one Harry Potter book to read for the rest of your life” favorite but it has some of my FAVORITE and most memorable scenes in it.
I remember when it first came out and I devoured it in the wee early morning of July 16, 2005. I recall the thrill of trying to figure out who the Half Blood Prince was and the devastation of Dumbledore’s death. I’m fairly certain I cried for the entire day and it took me about 2 hours to read the final 3 chapters because of the tears.
With every subsequent reading as time went on, I began to realize how insignificant the entire plot line of Harry’s previously used Potions book. What is always most memorable to me are Harry’s “lessons” with Dumbledore in which we get to dive into the pensieve along with them to discover the secrets of Tom Marvolo Riddle’s history.
Through these memories the readers meet Marvolo Gaunt (Voldemort’s Grandfather) and his children Morfin and Merope. The family has a ring with the Peverall coat of arms engraved on it and a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, whom they are descended from. Merope yearns over Tom Riddle, a muggle who lives down the way. When Morfin and Marvolo are sent to Azkaban, she concocts a love potion which she gives to Tom. They run off together and eventually she believed that his love was real enough that she stops giving him the potion. Tom returned to his home and left Merope alone and with child. The locket is the only possession she has of any value and she sells it to Borgin for far less than it was worth. It is believed that she then stopped using magic and died after giving birth to Tom. Later, Dumbledore visits the orphanage where Tom resides and offers him a place at Hogwarts. When talking with Dumbledore, Tom is suspicious and then overjoyed that he’s different from most people. He tells how he can make animals do things and bad things happen to people. He also has a tendency to take souvenirs from others.
Tom excels at Hogwarts and gathers loyal followers. He is obsessed with his parentage and tracks down his uncle and father during one of his summer breaks. Tom kills his father and muggle grandparents and then modified Morfin’s memories so that he believes he was the one who did it. Also at Hogwarts, Tom uses Professor Slughorn to gather information about Horcruxes and how they’re made. Once finished with his schooling, Tom goes to work at Borgin and Burkes after his request to remain at Hogwarts as a teacher is denied. His job involves the acquisition of items for the shop. On one such trip, he visited multiple times with Hepzibah Smith in the hopes of procuring goblin made armor. Because he is so charming, Hepzibah shows Tom her most treasured items: a golden cup that is said to possess special powers and belonged to Helga Hufflepuff and a locket that once belongs to Slytherin. She died two days later and the items were missing from her home. He resigned from his job and that was the last time Tom Riddle was seen for a while.
About ten years later, Tom returns to Hogwarts to again request a job as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. By this time, he is known as Voldemort and has recruited his loyal Death Eaters. He tells Dumbledore how he has been experimenting with magic but it is to no avail. Dumbledore refuses Tom a job, saying that they both know that he doesn’t really want to teach. From then on, Hogwarts had never been able to keep a DADA professor for more than a year.
I just love these glimpses into the past so much, perhaps it’s the history major in me! The fact that they omitted some of these scenes is my biggest disappointment with the movie version. These bits of the book explain so much about Voldemort and what’s to come for Harry. Dumbledore, knowing his end is coming, gives Harry practically everything he can to help him for when the time comes that he can’t be there.
At the end when Dumbledore is laid to rest and a wizard is saying a few words, Harry recalls with a smile what Dumbledore’s idea of a few words was.
“Nitwit. Blubber. Oddment. Tweak.”