Monday, 14 June 2010

Harry Potter - Scary Moments

Harry Potter – need I say more about this series? To some of you, this series is overhyped with no value to literature. While to others, myself included, this series sums up our teenage years. This series sums up us growing up and trying to figure out where we fit in this world.

I’m not going to be too mushy or anything. Instead, I want to talk scary. I want to talk about the scary moments in this series, or in each book. Ok, I’m not going to go into detail on every single moment that scared us – far too many. Instead, I want to talk about the scary moments that scared me or worry me. I know, a tiny bit vain, but I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now and, I hope, that you will write what scenes frightened you in the series and how different (or similar) they are.

(In case you haven’t guessed, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! So, if you haven’t read any of the books or you’ve started one of these books, DO NOT READ THIS!)

This book set the magic off. Everything in this book when you first read it (well, when I first read it) felt so magical and new and exciting that, even the frightening bits were magical. But in a creepy, fascinating way.

We met Fluffy, a giant three headed dog (I always wonder what happened to him). Then our three heroes – Harry, Ron and Hermione – get attacked by a troll. And then… okay, am going to stop. A long list of exciting and scary things happened in our first year of Hogwarts. I might as well picked two.

The first was at Christmas, when Harry snuck into the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library to see if there are any books that have information about Nicholas Flamel. Harry takes a random book off the shelf, opens it, and the book screams. Now, I am a book lover so the idea of reading a book then it suddenly screaming out you is a scary thought.

Now, there are two scary scenes near the end and I would like to chat about one. It won’t be the scene in the Forbidden Forest (though that did make me jump and make me question how dark the books were going to get [oh, if only I knew!]) on the grounds that it wasn’t as frightening as the scene in the final chapter – The Man With Two Faces.

So, here goes. We have Professor Quirrell and we finally see him for who he really is. A very bad man. Then, for some reason, he takes his turban off his head and turns round. and there, on the back of his head, isn’t a back of a head. instead there is a face. A cold, evil face. Now, that is creepy. I believe JK Rowling said that the reveal was one for creepiest scene she had ever written and I can see why. Imagine it, if you will. The Mirror of Erised is behind Professor Quirrell. He turns round and you see Voldermort’s face. But, if you look in the mirror, you would see Quirrell’s reflection. That’s a total mind warp!

Though this isn’t scary, I feel I have to bring this up. In this chapter, both Quirrell and Voldermort say things which shows how their views are so different to Harry’s and to ours, the reader. The main thing I have issue with is something Quirrell said – “Good and evil. There is no good and evil. There is power, and those too weak to seek it”. I disagree with this view that Voldermort and Quirell have. I, as I think most people, do believe in good and evil and idea that good and evil don’t exist but it’s about power. If you have power, you are all powerful, is wrong. and to hear Quirrell say that is, as if, he has been (and probably has) been brainwashed by Voldermort. And once Quirrell has survived his usefulness (or lack of), Voldermort flee Quirrell’s body and left Quirrell to die.

It took me several years before I got over not liking this book. I won’t say I hated this book, because I didn’t hate it. After Philosopher’s Stone, this book was FAR too dark for my tastes. It took me a recent rereading of this book when I was in my late teens, early twenties to finally get it! I don’t love it, like I do with Philosopher’s Stone or, my fave, Prisoner of Azkaban, but I respect it and like it a lot more than when I first read it.

Now, scary moments. This book does have a far few. But, at the time of writing this, I can’t think of which frightened me the most. It might have been meeting Arogog for the first time – I’m not exactly comfortable round spiders, so meeting a giant spider – an Acromantula – would be terrifying! But then, so would meeting a Basilisk and looking directly in its eyes will kill you. Or, if you’re looking at it through a camera, a ghost, a mirror or a pool of water, it would make you go into a profound state of petrification or being petrified. That’s frightening too.

I think when we discover that Hermione was petrified, that was frightening. It came as a huge shock because it was one of the main three characters- nothing bad should EVER happen to them. And yet, it did. This showed that no one was safe.

Also, (this isn’t frightening, but a nice charcter analysis), what Professor Lockhart (a character I always seriously dislike from the word go) did at the end of the book, when he knew Ginny Weasley was in the Chamber and everyone was depending on him to save her speaks volumes about his character. Rather than save a child’s life and be discovered a , he decides to try and leave. And when Harry and Ron stop him, he plans to erase their memories, making up a story that seeing Ginny’s body drove both Ron and Harry to madness shows us what kind of man he is – a man who will save his skin, not matter who or what is in danger.

I love this book. Out of the whole series, this is my fave. It was the perfect balance again and it seemed to redeem Chamber of Sercets for me.

Sorry, sidetrack. Now, scary moment in this book. There’s kinda two, but both linked by the same thing – the Dementors. I find them UTTERLY creepy and, to me, this is probably the scariest things JK Rowling has ever written. The idea of them is freaky and I always think that they are frightening. I always found what Professor Lupin said about them in chapter 10 (I’m not 100% sure so correct me if I’m wrong) about them the most disturbing – “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air and around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can't see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling; every happy memory will be sucked out of you." To me, JK Rowling is linked dementors to depression or mental health. The word dementor is only a few letters out from the word dementia – only just figured that out!

Okay, the two scenes. The first was in chapter 5, when we first meet a Dementor on the Hogwarts Express. Just how JK Rowling describles the Dementor’s hand is frightening to me – as if it had been rotting in water. And then, out of nowhere, Harry faints. Because the Dementor was feeding on his memories, which is just… *shivers*

The second scene, and maybe the scene that is more frightening, is near the end of the book where a group of Dementors are closing in on Harry and Sirius Black and the Dementors are going to perform the Dementors Kiss – an act where a Dementor sucks the soul out of a person, leaving them alive, but an empty shell. Now, I kinda believe that we all have souls, and the idea of your soul being sucked out of you is just…

Like I said before, I think Dementors are the most frightening thing JK Rowling has ever written. Ever!

There’s only one thing people think about when you mention this book – the return on Lord Voldermort (Chapter 32). And, maybe, I should attack that. not because it’s scary (and yet, it is!), but because when I first read the book, it was as if JK Rowling had got the rule book and ripped it up in my face.

First of all, Cedric died. It was quick and comes out of nowhere. He just died. No final farewell, no begging for mercy, no hesitation. It was just “Kill the spare!” then BANG, he’s died.

And then, there was the ceremony itself. Oh God, how I found that creepy! I found the whole chapter of “Bone, Flesh and Blood” creepy and horrifying! Bone taken from Voldermort’s dead father. Flesh, which Wormtail (who is doing this) cuts off his own forearm. And Blood, from Harry, though not by choice. Wormtail cuts Harry’s arm and let’s the blood drip into the cauldron filled with mysterious content. Then, Wormtail drops something quiet hideous into the cauldron and then… then… he slowly rises out. Lord Voldermort rises out. Lord Voldermort, the darkest wizard of our generation, has risen again –

– and he’s naked.

I don’t find his (or his nakedness) return disturbing. The ceremony itself – now, that was disturbing. It’s one of those chapters where you know that the worse is going to happen and no matter what you do, there is nothing you can do to stop it. So, basically, you’re reading through your fingers. And yet, you’re can’t stop yourself from reading…

Oh, sidenote. The first chapter in this book – The Riddle House – one the best opening chapters in the series. I adore this chapter because … well… it’s just sums up the tone for the whole book. You know something’s bad going to happen, but you can’t put your finger on what or when…

In every book series, not matter how much you love the series, there will always be one book I dislike. No, that’s too strong a word. There will be one book in the series that you always find your least favourite. This is mine. I think the main reason is that Harry, in this book, isn’t Harry. In this book, he seemed to have suddenly changed. He’s very angry and shouts. He becomes more himself later on in the book, but the first part of the book was very hard for me to connect with Harry, acting the way he was. In one very early chapter, he shouts at Ron and Hermione in CAPITIAL LETTERS! I kinda fell out of love with him when he did that, because I love Ron and Hermione.

Sorry about that. But I had to explain. I don’t think that’s the main reason, but it’s one huge reason. Now, back on topic. Scary moments. Well, this isn’t a scary moment, but this did scare me to my core so this counts! Dolores Umbridge. Mention her name to any Harry Potter fan; you will get probably the same reaction – “Evil toad-face witch!”. Or, as I heard once of a podcast, “Her pinkness. Her badness. The cat lady.”

But the scene that really shocked me was when Harry got his first detention with her and Umbridge makes him writes lines – “I Must Not Tell Lies”. And every time he writes it on the page, it is written in the back of his hand, cutting into his flesh and scarring him. That, to me, is frightening. Umbridge is abusing her power, knowing that her employers (The Ministry of Magic) will protect her. This is a form of child abuse and, what I find more disturbing, she enjoys the pain she’s causes Harry. I found this utterly wrong as I read it and when the film did that scene, they did it perfectly. It still caused the same horror and outrage in me as when I first read that scene. Even the way the actress - Imelda Staunton – played Umbridge’s enjoyment perfectly. Which was utterly creepy.

Only two moments jump to mind! Just two. And you can thank the movie because of this!

The first is Katie Bell. Poor Katie Bell. It wasn't her fault what happened to her with the jinxed necklace. She was under a charm herself. and then, by complete accident, she touched it. She rose six feet into the air and, when she stopped, she screamed.

In the book, this scene was horrible. But in the film... God, it scared me witless! I think it's the redness of her coat against the white backdrop that's more terrifying!

The second frightening scene - well, in the film, it made me jump so high out of my chair, I'm surprised that I didn't hit the ceiling - was the Inferi in chapter 26. The way JK Rowling slowly made them appear - "The surface of the lake was no longer mirror-smooth; it was churning, and everywhere Harry looked, white heads and hands were emerging from the dark water, men and women and children with sunken, sightless eyes were moving towards the rock: an arm of the dead rising from the black water." (Chapter 26, pages 537-538).

Need I say more...?

So, the final book. And though there is quite a few scary moments in this book, there’s only one I can think about writing.

On Christmas Eve, Harry and Hermione go to Godric’s Hollow, where Harry’s parents lived and died. The scene in the graveyard with Harry finding and standing by their graves is quite tender scene.

Complete contrast to what happens in the next chapter. When leaving the graveyard, they meet Bathilda Bagshot who can see them under Harry’s Invisibility Cloak (Not a good sign!) and who they follow to her house (again, she saw you through your Invisibility Cloak, Harry! Don’t go with her!) and then, without Hermione, go alone in another room with creepy old lady to see "... the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where her name had been." (Chapter 17, page 278.)

I'm sorry but WHAT?! I kinda missed it the first time I read it so had to go back and, when I finally understood what was happening, I was freaking out. The images I had in my head were not pretty - Voldermort's snake, Nagini, was either wearing a dead woman's skin and was bewitched to move about or was inside a rotting, decay body! And that, to me, is more frightening! So, how the HELL Warner Bros is going to do this in the film is going to be interesting to see...

I am sorry this is a bit rushed. Working against the clock (and secretly at work - SH!) so I hope you like me skimming over facts and whatnot. If I am wrong on ANYTHING, correct me!

Plus, if there are any scary moments I missed in the books and you want to talk about them, comment below!

Books I Used:
All Seven Harry Potters by JK Rowling
Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli

Far too many to name! But thank you!

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