Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dueling Club

Well, I've had a crazy few weeks and I'm so sorry that this blog fell by the wayside during them. The good news is that the rest of my summer is looking pretty tame, so I'm hoping to be back to a regular schedule now, though I reserve the right to skip the occasional blog when there's a bad thunderstorm! Now, down to business.

Harry wakes in the Hospital Wing with his bones fully regrown and heads out to find Hermione and Ron, who, as it happens, are in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Having heard about Colin, they've decided to move forward on the Polyjuice Potion and their plan is soon set in motion. Malfoy is staying at Hogwarts over Christmas, and they decide this will be the perfect time to interrogate him. First though, they need some ingredients from Snape's store cupboard. Harry creates a diversion by throwing one of the twins' fireworks into Goyle's potion and Hermione slips into Snape's office and retrieves what they need.

While the potion bubbles away in the bathroom for a couple weeks, notices are posted that there will be a Dueling Club at Hogwarts. Half the school turn out for the first lesson to find Lockhart and Snape will be teaching them. After a demonstration wherein Lockhart looks like a buffoon, the students are separated into pairs to practice disarming. Understandably, this turns into a jinxing free-for-all. Lockhart decides he should teach them how to block spells and choose Malfoy and Harry to demonstrate it this time. Malfoy sends a snake after Harry, who, thanks to Lockhart's "instructions" has no idea what to do to block the spell does the only thing he can think of and yells at the snake to stop, which much to his surprise, the snake does. Strangely, this seems to set off an epidemic of whispers from the watching students and strange looks from the teachers as Ron and Hermione pull Harry out of the class.

Harry soon learns that he was speaking Parsel-Tongue, a rare ability he shares with Salazar Slytherin. The next day Harry finds out that many of his classmates believe him to be the Heir of Slytherin, a misconception which is not helped by Harry's discovery of two more petrified bodies, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly-Headless Nick. It's time for a visit to the headmaster...

For such a long chapter, there's not really much that actually happens, just set up for future chapters mostly. We are reminded about the Sorting Hat considering Slytherin for Harry, and the Polyjuice plan progresses, but to me the most striking thing happens during Dueling Club; Snape, however inadvertently, teaches Harry expelliarmus.

What does it mean that it is Snape, Harry's greatest nemesis (I'm open to debate on this point) is the one who first uses expelliarmus in the series? We know it soon becomes Harry's go-to spell. He'll use it against Lockhart in just a few chapters, and then in every subsequent book at the most crucial moments. It becomes his signature to the point that it almost gets him killed in Deathly Hallows. What is it about this spell at this moment, that Harry keys into? Would it have become such a huge part of Harry's spell-casting if he had learned it in a classroom? If it had been Lockhart who had cast it? I have no answers, but I would love to hear if anyone else has any ideas in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Glad you're back to reading and blogging!

    I always wonder about how much future planning Rowling did through the series. Obviously many of the major plot points were determined far in advance, but it's interesting to ponder if "Expelliarmus" was pre-planned to have such an impact in Harry's journey. She could have just as easily came up with another disarming spell so it seems pretty intentional to have Harry rely on the spell he learned from Snape. I guess it could also be a bit of foreshadowing with the spells learned in Half-Blood Prince too. As much as the early books tried to make it look like Snape had it in for Harry, so much of their interactions end up really being about Snape protecting him.