Yesterday I posted a dialogue section from J. K. Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This morning, I remembered another key tidbit from Book Six or Year Six, which has always remained with me. Now, I know for some people that fantasy is either silly or ridiculous. For me, I see it as a wonderful playground for exploring the human condition. The attraction with Rowling’s books are several: the vivid characters, the age-old plot of good vs evil, and the unique world of Hogwarts. Today’s snippet comes from a turning point in Rowling’s series. Albus Dumbledore is the headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He has taken Harry Potter under his wing in order to impart to him everything that he knows about their arch nemesis, Lord Voldemort.
Toward the climax of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in the twenty-third chapter, Rowling interjects some wise insight through the character of Dumbledore about the nature of the human soul and the nature of love and how the two fit together. This does not mean that I endorse Rowling’s personal beliefs; however, I find a certain resonance to her ideas as they speak to my own views on the human soul and our capacity for love. One more word about love, it is my humble opinion that Rowling reveals a deeper appreciation for love and what it is than some modern-day authors. In many ways, what Dumbledore says about an untarnished soul comes very close to notions about the destructive effects of sin upon one’s soul.
In this brief excerpt, Dumbledore explains to Harry the simple, but profound difference between Lord Voldemort and him.
“‘You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!’ said Dumbledore loudly. ‘The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you [the only way] to thwart Voldermort, not immortality or riches. Harry, have you any idea how few wizards could have seen what you saw in that mirror? Voldemort should have known then what he was dealing with, but he did not!
‘But he knows it now. You have flitted into Lord Voldemort’s mind without damage to yourself, but he cannot possess you without enduring mortal agony, as he discovered in the Ministry. I do not think he understands why, Harry, but then, he was in such a haste to mutilate his own soul, he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole.'”
(J.K. Rowling, Chapter 23, “Horcruxes,” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, p511, 2005)