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The Harry Filter Phenomenon by Silver Ink Pot
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The Harry Filter Phenomenon by Silver Ink Pot
The Harry Filter Phenomenon
Sometimes the Harry Filter Works So Well,
The Fans Begin to Believe It

(Written before Deathly Hallows)

It’s Harry’s journey. Harry is the eyes through which
you see the world so he’s crucial to the story.
~J. K. Rowling, 2005

I wanted to read about a hero wearing glasses. It also has a symbolic function, Harry is the eyes on to the books in the sense that it is always Harry's point of view, so there was also that, you know, facet of him wearing glasses.
J. K. Rowling, 2003

J. K. Rowling has said her point of view is "through Harry's eyes" and it is his story, but what did she mean by that? We know he is not the Narrator. If he was, then the narration would be "First Person," with the use of the pronoun, "I," as though Harry were telling us the story from within his own skin. That is not the case - someone else is telling the story "about" Harry.

What we have in the HP Books is a Third-Person Narrator. This is a Narrator who seems to be standing just behind Harry, like a close companion who sees things that Harry sees.

What does the Narrator Tell Us?

In Chapter Four of HBP, Harry is asleep with his face against the window and snoring loudly. The Narrator sees this and tells us about it; the Narrator cannot be Harry because he is sound asleep. The actual position of the Narrator is "outside" of Harry watching him sleep; they are two different entities.

The narrator is like the eye of a camera, moving around the room cataloging a trunk, owl feathers, pamphlets, and newspapers. We are shown the ironic message from the Ministry to be careful about "Dark Forces," though Harry's face is pressed against a window for all to see.

The narrator also has the ability to look into Harry's mind and emotions. So we are told that Harry had nearly given up on Dumbledore coming to his house, and that he thought it was "too good to be true." He also "could not shrug off the feeling that something was going to go wrong." So we are allowed into Harry's own thoughts and feelings as though we have the gift of Legillimency. Meanwhile, Harry is still snoring and fast asleep.

Sometimes in the canon, we are told what day of the week it is. Does Harry carry around a day planner to check the days on every page? No, although sometimes Harry or one of the other children will mention the day, especially on Saturday due to Quidditch or Hogsmeade. But the Narrator always knows the day and time, and often gives us that objective information when Harry is being silent on the matter. Also, the Narrator may tell us things to do with describing the weather, sunlight, moonlight, sleep, wakefulness, homework, and often what they are having for breakfast or dinner. Of course, Harry knows if he is awake or asleep, and also what time it is, but these books are not written as diaries, but objective accounts of what Harry in particular is doing.

We also hear some details when other people speak, and sometimes there is a combination of information. But usually, with only a few exceptions, we only hear or see what Harry hears. When JKR wants to give exposition she will use a character to explain something to Harry in his presence, or the narrator will give us the latest gossip from Hogwarts.

The Limitations

Most of the time, only Harry's emotions and motivations are known, and the Narrator only reads Harry's mind. That type of point of view is known as "Third Person Limited Omniscient" narration. It is "all-knowing," but only about Harry. It cannot read someone else's mind . . . and whenever that happens in rare instances we know the POV has shifted to 3rd Person Omniscient or another 3rd Person Limited.

The Limited Narrator has no idea why other characters are smiling, frowning, or laughing, and Harry can only make a guess. The Narrator and Harry notice every time that Snape's "lip curls," but what Snape is thinking at that moment remains a mystery. Sometimes, the same "lip curl" is called a "sneer," depending on circumstances, while other times it is a "hideous smile" if Harry if feeling particularly angry at Snape.

Because Harry is often in the dark about other people's thoughts, he can be fooled and he can be wrong. However, the Narrator takes careful notation of things that people say, and draws attention to things characters do, but it is left up to Harry to read people's intentions. This results oftentimes in the careful reader and Harry coming to two different conclusions about another character.

For instance, during the Dueling Scene in CoS, when the snake appears on the stage, Harry believes that Snape is speaking "lazily" to him because he must "clearly be enjoying" seeing Harry at the mercy of a snake. Some readers might think, however, that Harry is just feeling panic and and wishing Snape would act quicker. And the fact is, Harry cannot see Snape's face at that point, and no smile of enjoyment, sneer or otherwise, is mentioned. Snape might have actually been horrified but trying to stay calm because the boy and others were in danger, yet Harry is clueless about that.

The Harry Filter is at work there, because it wouldn't logical for Snape to rush towards an already angry snake in a roomful of children. Yet when Snape finally makes the snake disappear, Harry is hardly grateful. He believes the way Snape is looking at him is "shrewdly calculating." So Snape has gone from enjoying himself, to sizing Harry up - according to the Narrator. But could it be that Snape is just looking at Harry with respect for once, or perhaps just fascination that Harry shares a trait with both Salazar Slytherin and Lord Voldemort?

Of course, Snape is one of the most ambiguous characters in all of the books, and because he is a double (or triple) Spy, and an Occlumens, it is difficult for anyone to read his expressions. Harry first misunderstands something about Snape at the first feast in Book One. Harry's scar begins to hurt while Snape is looking at him, so he assumes Snape is the reason for the pain. At the end of the book, we find out this is not the case; Proffesor Quirrell has Voldemort tucked into the back of his Turban, and Voldemort is the reason for the Harry's scar pain. Snape is merely sitting beside Quirrell at the time, so it is the coincidence that becomes a device for further misunderstandings up till the end of SS/PS.

Another Harry Filter moment is when Percy Weasley tells Harry that Snape "knows a lot about the Dark Arts," meaning the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. JKR really has fun with this:

Quote:"Oh, you know Professor Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's Professor Snape. He teaches Potions but doesn't want to- everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape."

In hindsight, that passage is a red herring on many levels. Percy assumes that poor quivering Quirrell would be frightened of the more intimidating Potions Master. Harry believes Percy, who is Head Boy of Gryffindor House and Ron's older brother. Putting those words into the mouth of character with veracity is a nice little trick. The point is, while Percy may believe everything he is saying, the truth is actually completely different. Quirrel is actually Quirrelmort, and he isn't really scared of Snape at all. And Snape probably isn't out to get the DADA job because he knows it is limited by a curse to one year, whether Percy knows that or not.

Ending the passage with the fact that Snape understands the Dark Arts is the coup de grace which leads Harry to think the absolute worst about Snape for years to come, not matter how many times he is proven wrong. And the fans often followed Harry down that slippery slope, forgetting that Quirrel's job was actually "Defense Against the Dark Arts" and not just dabbling in evil magic. As the books go on and teachers in that position become even darker, it seems amazing that people can still view Snape as "dark" compared to Fake Moody, Umbridge, or the Carrows.

It's as if some readers get stuck somewhere in PoA, believing that Snape threw Lupin out of his secure permanent job as DADA professor so he could take over. What are they and Harry forgetting? Oh, that the job is neither (A) secure or (B) permanent. Oh, and Snape doesn't get the job in GoF either. Dumbledore gives it the retired Moody, who turns out to be Death Eater Barty Crouch disguised as Fake Moody. So in GoF, I guess readers and Harry believed that was why Snape disliked Fake Moody - they thought he had taken the DADA job again.

Because all Snape does is lie awake at night and worry about that job through seven books and thousands of pages. He had no other goals, and nothing else on his mind. He's really a shallow career-oriented jerk whose one goal in life is to get a promotion for a one-year placement to show Lupin who is boss . . .

Um, maybe not. I won't even try to figure out why people still follow the Harry Filter into that dead end when the truth is obvious.

But back to SS/PS: Harry takes what Percy says in a literally negative way, believing for the rest of the book that Snape is working against Dumbledore and trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone. He is wrong of course. Yet that does not keep Harry from continuing to believe every negative thing he hears about Snape. He is not surprised to hear his godfather, Sirius, say in GoF that Snape was an "oddball" who was "famous" for being "fascinated by the Dark Arts." This view is reinforced by numerous comments by the Weasley Twins in OotP calling "Old Snape" a "git."

In HBP, when Snape finally teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry reacts negatively to Snape's "loving" tone as he describes the fight against evil. Yet Hermione, who often "speaks" for JKR, explains that Snape actually sounds just like Harry did when he taught defense to Dumbledore's Army. And though Harry did not appreciate the class, due to his hatred of Snape, Hufflepuff Ernie McMillan says he thought it was a good class, too. Harry is being too critical, and showing his bias against Snape, but since that is all we have as readers, many fans believed Harry's opinion was a fact.

But how can we test the Harry Filter without the Snape bias? It's actually easy to do because it also works with other characters.

We can also look at Peter Pettigrew and Harry's reaction to his story, both before and after the Shrieking Shack. After Harry hears about the supposed "death" of Peter Pettigrew, and his hero-worship of James and Sirius, he equates him with the hapless and frightened Neville Longbottom, a boy for whom he feels sympathetic. That is a great example of the Harry Filter at work. When the truth comes out over several books, we learn that Peter was a child bully, then a mastermind who fooled everyone, killed the Potters, blew up a street full of Muggles, framed Sirius Black, and helped the Dark Lord return.

Neville remains Harry's staunch friend, displaying courage at the DoM, and never backing down from a challenge. Clearly by the time teenage Peter is seen in the Pensieve in OotP, Harry knows for a fact that no two people could be more different than Peter and Neville. Neville could never be the sort of sadistic toady that Peter has always been, nor has Neville ever shown any signs of hero-worship towards Harry. Yet many fans still believe that Peter deserves pity; the Harry Filter has created the "Sympathetic Peter Mythos" that continues to this day. That is why many fans did not believe Peter could possibly be a Death Eater with a Dark Mark, even when the author made a huge show of in GoF of Voldemort calling his followers using Peter's left arm. The Filter worked almost so well that the fans reject the canon that is in front of them.

More examples:
  • When McGonagall asks for "Wood" in SS/PS, Harry believes she is about to beat him with a stick for flying without permission. Instead, he finds out that "Wood" is the Quidditch Captain, and he is about to become the youngest Seeker in 100 years.
  • After the car crashes into the Whomping Willow in CoS, Snape asks Harry and Ron "What did you do with the car?" Harry's perception is that Snape is reading their minds, until he holds up the newspaper to show them the story about the Ford Anglia. Harry jumps to conclusions.
  • Sirius Black appears "exactly like a vampire" on the wanted poster, when Harry believes he is a traitor and ruthless murderer. Then he suddenly appears "handsome" after Harry announces he will come and live with him PoA. If Harry likes someone, that person becomes more more attractive automatically.
  • Dumbledore's "gleam of something like triumph" when he hears about Voldemort taking Harry's blood in GoF. Harry does not know what that is about, and the readers still do not know. The book cannot possibly tell us because Dumbledore's mind is closed to the Narrator. This is a case of some of Dumbledore's secrets dying with him.
  • In OotP, Harry feels that Grimmauld Place is . . . well, rather "grim," and Kreacher is a horrible, ugly, bat-eared elf. But after Harry is cleared by the Wizengamot in OotP, and feels "giddy with relief," then the "gloomy house seemed warmer and more welcoming all of a sudden" and "even Kreacher looked less ugly." Obviously mood swings change Harry's opinions.

So What's the Problem?

There really is no problem with this type of narration. Jane Austen uses it to great effect, especially in one of JKR's favorite books, Emma. In that story, we follow the teenage protagonist as she makes one blunder of judgment after another, refusing to follow the advice of her trusted friends. Emma Woodhouse does not understand human nature yet, and believes she has more control over the people around her than she really does. She has also not learned that her perceptions can be confused by emotion and misled by trickery.

Harry is also innocent of other people's feelings sometimes. In HBP, he projects his own sadness about the death of Sirius onto Nymphadora Tonks, who has lost her magical powers and seems to be grieving all the time. Harry presumes that Tonks is wasting away in grief over Sirius Black, when really she is in love with Remus Lupin. The young woman's true feelings never occur to Harry, and the reader is left to uncover the truth because of the Limited Narration. I tend to think this is an anvil-sized example of the Harry Filter.

Free Indirect Discourse, or "Wink, Wink"

In Emma, the Narrator sometimes makes a wry comment about the motivation of the main character, though not in derogatory way. It is more of a technique of irony. When Emma decides to take on the task of "helping" her friend, Harriet, to better herself, the Narrator tells us:

“would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming [Emma’s] own situation in life, her leisure, and powers,”
~Jane Austen, Emma

This seems to express Emma's own view of herself, but in a way of gently letting the reader know that Emma has a high opinion of herself, and faith in her own "powers." The Narrator, though seemingly fond of the protagonist, is winking at the reader and saying "hint, hint."

This technique is known as "free indirect discourse" and Austen is famous for it. The writer can use the Narrator to gently point out flaws in the main character's perceptions. In this way, the Narrator shows a sort of knowledge beyond what the protagonist knows. (Sparknotes)

Austen also used the device in Pride and Prejudice, in which young Elizabeth Bennett finds flaws in Mr. Darcy, while believing the sad tales of woe spun by Mr. Wickham, who is actually a cad disguised as a good guy:

Quote:Quote from: Carol Moses

Austen does several things with the ironic wit of her main character. By blurring the distinction between Elizabeth's voice and that of the omniscient narrator, she controls the reader's point of view. Austen tempts the reader to accept Elizabeth's initial assessment of Wickham and Darcy because Elizabeth sounds so much like the third-person onmiscient narrator. In this way, Austen forces the reader to experience the same errors that Elizabeth makes and to realize the difficulty of arriving at truth in a constantly shifting world.

J. K. Rowling said something very similar about Harry and the fact that he is fooled by people like Elizabeth Bennet. Let us remember that the original title of Pride and Prejudice was "First Impressions":

Quote:Quote from: Interview, Rogers 2000

One way to learn tolerance is to take the time to really understand other people's motives. Yes, you're right. Harry is often given an erroneous first impression of someone and he has to learn to look beneath the surface. When you look beneath the surface he has sometimes found that he is being fooled by people. And on other occasions he has found very nice surprises.

Though the narrator in Harry Potter is never totally negative in describing the boy, we are told bits of action that are not really necessary except to comment with judgment on Harry's state of mind.

We see this quite often in class when Harry is not paying attention, or goofing around. For instance, Harry and Ron sometimes play hangman during Professor Binns history class, which would imply that they are not listening or taking notes. We also have Ron and Harry making up fake dreams for Madame Trelawney's class, or playing with trick wands during Transformation class. The Narrator tells us all this activities with a verbal eye-roll: Harry is not a serious student whatsoever.

Yet fans will often defend Harry's slacker-mentality against Snape's admonition that Harry is average and shows little promise as a student. This is all by the design of the author. We identify with Harry, and we've all had a teacher who thought we were lackluster. But that doesn't mean that Snape isn't right. Harry is intelligent, but not studious. Duh.

Potions Class is Harry's least favorite subject with Snape, his most dreaded teacher. However, in the following scene, Harry is completely oblivious to his potion, while listening to Dolores Umbridge interview Professor Snape. The Narrator gives us the bitter details in a humorous way to play up Harry's mistakes:


Professor Umbridge spent the first half hour of the lesson making notes in her corner. Harry was very interested in hearing her question Snape; so interested, that he was becoming careless with his potion again.

. . . 'Now . . . how long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?' she asked, her quill poised over her clipboard.

'Fourteen years,' Snape replied. His expression was unfathom-able. Harry, watching him closely, added a few drops to his potion; it hissed menacingly and turned from turquoise to orange.

. . . 'I suppose this is relevant?' Snape asked, his black eyes narrowed.

'Oh yes,' said Professor Umbridge, 'yes, the Ministry wants a thorough understanding of teachers' - er - backgrounds.'

She turned away, walked over to Pansy Parkinson and began questioning her about the lessons. Snape looked round at Harry and their eyes met for a second. Harry hastily dropped his gaze to his potion, which was now congealing foully and giving off a strong smell of burned rubber.

That seems rather slapstick. It is as though the Narrator has a good-natured sense of humor about Harry's actions, even when he is "careless." However, the Narrator is showing that while Harry thinks listening to the repartee between Umbridge and Snape is important, he would draw less attention to himself by minding his own business and doing his work. The Narrator does not tell us that "Harry is bad at potions"; the Narrator shows us, like the camera lens floating around, and tells us ironically by using humorous description. It is a bit of a skeptical judgment that is not coming from Harry, but from the Narrator.

Sometimes Harry admits to himself that he is just bad at potions, but more often than not, he merely "dreads" the class. And he has a tendency to blame Snape's actions for his own failures. That leads many fans to hate Snape as a teacher and blame him for Harry's lack of success.

This comes up in another subject during Occlumency lessons, when Snape seems to be "softening up Harry's brain" while snarking at him to try harder, and the fact that Snape must attack Harry's mind over and over seems like child abuse. Yet Hermione and none of the other adult characters seem to know of any other way to learn the skill, and Sirius Black is even angry when he finds out that Snape has stopped the lessons. We find out eventually that Harry could never had done well in that subject because he had a horcrux in his head which meant he couldn't shut out Voldemort's mind from his own. Yet we find that the Harry Filter works so well in OotP that many readers don't believe that Snape tried very hard to teach Harry, and that is reinforced by Harry in HBP with his vendetta against all-things-Snape. It just works too well, and some fans still have trouble changing their minds at the end of the series.

Serious About Sirius

The narrator makes another judgment about Harry when explaining his first encounter with Professor Snape in HBP. When Harry is waylaid by Draco on the train, an already angry Professor Snape meets him at the gate of the Hogwarts Grounds. The Narrator chooses that point to explain Harry's frame of mind towards Snape:

Quote:HBP, Chapter 8, "Snape Victorious," pg. 161 American:


Whatever Dumbledore said, Harry had had time to think over the summer, and had concluded that Snape's snide remarks to Sirius about remaining safely hidden while the rest of the Order of the Phoenix were off fighting Voldemort had been a powerful factor in Sirius rushing off to the Ministry the night that he had died. Harry clung to this notion, because it enabled him to blame Snape, which felt satisfying, and also because he knew that if anyone was not sorry that Sirius was dead, it was the man now striding next to him in the darkness.

How much of that is objective or subjective? How much of that is coming from Harry, or from the Narrator? Is any of it true?

I believe that the use of the words "clung to" and "enabled" are clues from the narrator that Harry is sort of clutching at straws in blaming Snape, which simply "enables" Harry to feel better about the fact that he has lost his godfather. The reader is at a disadvantage, having to think back through the events just after the death of Sirius Black in OotP. We have to remember that Harry also felt guilty that he and his friends flew off to the Ministry, and that Harry became the reason Sirius left his place of safety.

Dumbledore told Harry that Kreacher the House Elf was to blame for betraying his Master, and Harry knows that Bellatrix Lestrange actually threw the spell that sent Sirius backwards through the Veil, because he chased her and tried to curse her.

Yet by Book Six, Harry is believing what he wants to believe about Snape - using his own "filter" to justify his negativity. Of course, the Sirius fans in particular don't mind following along.

Harry has decided to disregard Dumbledore's advice, and blame Snape alone. Again, the "free indirect discourse" between the narrator and the reader is hinting that Harry has lost his objectivity, and that his thinking is skewed towards Snape as he rejects all other explanations.

Other Points of View:

Only four times in the entire series are we told something beyond Harry's sphere and point of view: "The Boy Who Lived" in SS/PS, "The Riddle House" in GoF, "The Other Minister" in HBP, and "Spinner's End" in HBP. Why did JKR choose to go beyond our Limited Narrator?

She has told us why:

Quote:Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005

Alice Gurney for the Daily Herald - In all the other books, it starts off as Harry at the Dursleys and then he was to school but in this book it is not like that. Is there any particular reason for that?

JK Rowling: There is a another book where I didn't start from Harry's point of view which is Goblet of Fire. If you remember you started off at the Riddle house. Without wanting to give too much away to people who haven't yet read Half-Blood Prince I was trying to say in the first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince that this conflict is really widening now, right out into the wizard world. This is no longer just Harry's secret struggle to be believed everyone now knows that Voldemort is back, everyone now knows that a lot of people are being affected and they know who is behind it. So that was a useful device to show that.

Those chapters fulfill one important function - they show that there are important things Harry does not know about. In Chapter One, PS/SS, "The Boy Who Lived," Harry is just a baby about to arrive on the Dursley's doorstep. The chapter begins with a Third-Person Limited Omniscient view of Vernon, and we see the "day after" Voldemort's death through his eyes, as he confronts strange people and worries about whether to ask Petunia about her sister. At nightfall, the viewpoint shifts to a regular Third-Person as Dumbledore arrives on Privet Drive. We have dialogue from characters, and find out that they are emotional and worried about the deaths of the Potters and Harry's future, but can't read their minds. After that chapter, we are not privy to anyone's thoughts except Harry.

We have another chapter like that at the beginning of HBP. JKR said that "The Other Minister" was "fifteen years in the making" and Harry does not appear in that chapter, nor is he aware it is happening. It is also told in a "Limited Omniscient" narration, but through the Muggle Minister's eyes this time. He is the protagonist, and the Narrator tells us how the Muggle Minister feels about his office being invaded by wizards. For once, we are inside another character's head, besides Harry's.

In "The Riddle House" in GoF, we have a truly Omniscient Narrator, who is able to tell us the thoughts and opinions of nearly everyone in Little Hangleton. We are told the history of the house, and the background of Frank Bryce, the caretaker, along with his views of the village around him. But we also know about dialogue among characters at a local pub and their views of Frank, as well as their views of the long-deceased Riddle family.

Finally, in the "Spinner's End" chapter of HBP, we have a Third Person Narrator which is not Omniscient, and we have no idea what anyone is thinking. We only have their speech and actions to judge by.

What is significant about those two chapters, it seems to me, is that in "The Riddle House," Voldemort and Peter are similar to every other time we have seen them - they are complete bad guys and weirdos, and Voldemort is hoping to return to his body and take over the world. There are no surprises there. Voldemort orders Peter to kill Frank in cold blood, and Peter obeys without question. This mirrors the death of Cedric in the graveyard at the end of GoF as well. Peter is the most faithful servant of Lord Voldemort, no doubt, and that's as true through Frank's eyes, as through the perceptions of most readers (unless of course they still have Peter Pity Syndrome - see above).

Spinner's End is quite different for we see Snape outside of the Harry Filter for the first time. Harry is not there, and neither is his Narrator. Snape's hair, for once, is not described as "greasy," but as "long black hair parted in curtains," and he manages to "smile" though he still "sneers" at Peter Pettigrew, one of his old enemies. Snape is described as "sardonic," and "slightly amused" - quite different from the vicious nature the Harry Filter often projects onto the man. As in the CoS Dueling Scene, Snape speaks "lazily," and also "silkily" and "quietly." He is described as "calm," a word that Harry would never use. It is not a bad thing to be "calm," but through the Harry Filter, we are often told that Snape is being "cold" instead. A slight nuance, but more positive than anything Harry believes about Snape.

There is absolutely no mention of his nose, which is another hint that Harry is fixated on Snape's ugly appearance in the rest of the canon, just as the Marauders were fixated years before.

In fact, there is no evidence in this objectively narrated chapter that Snape's visitors find him ugly in any way, and that's unique in the series. Why? Because in every other chapter, in every other book, Harry's perception reigns supreme, and he thinks Snape is ugly.

In GoF, Harry's perception is that Snape as "twice as ugly" as the Gargoyle outside Dumbledore's office. Yet Snape doesn't seem to be ugly at Spinner's End. Is it the dark lighting? Is it the fact that he's been on holiday and had a rest?

No. It's the fact that the Harry Filter is not there because Harry is not there.

Again we have Peter in this Chapter, as we had him in "The Riddle House." Again, he has not changed, except now he is described as a "hunchback" with an "unpleasant simper" who sounds "squeaky." Objectively speaking, he is as bad as ever, or maybe worse!

Yet Snape and Narcissa, who have been described with negative traits in Harry's mind before, are both free of the flaws all of a sudden. Narcissa is not described as looking as if "she had a nasty smell under her nose" as Harry views her in GoF. And Snape is not the "hook-nosed" and "greasy" teacher described through Harry's eyes in every book. In fact, compared to the sadistic witchy Bellatrix, Snape and Narcissa seem absolutely human and sympathetic. Nothing like Peter at all.

The Harry Filter Works - Almost Too Well

After the death of Dumbledore in HBP, and as the debate began to rage about Snape's loyalty, some fans decided that there is no "Harry Filter" and everything is laid out plainly for all to see; the "New" hypothesis is that other readers are making things too complicated by looking beneath the surface. Harry's perceptions must all be correct, since Dumbledore was deluded about Snape, and it's time to just accept that. After all, Harry was suspicious of Snape, while Dumbledore trusted him with tragic results. Sirius and James were suspicious of Snape, and they both died, too. Snape's always been a "greasy git," and he called Lily a Mudblood, and now Snape is a murderer, and that's that, end of story, as Tony Soprano says.

But wait a minute . . .

What if the Harry Filter is not only alive and well, but it is working even better than before?

In HBP, Harry has more extremely negative feelings about Snape than ever, and the only ambiguity is that Harry does not equate the boy known as "The Half-Blood Prince" with the adult Professor Snape. In fact, Harry still has fond thoughts of the Prince after Dumbledore's death:

Quote:HBP, Chapter 30

"he refused to believe ill of the boy who had been so clever, who had helped him so much.
Helped him. It was an almost unendurable thought now.

That is in contrast to the page just before that, also Chapter 30, in which Harry lists the alleged sins of Snape:

Quote:"Yeah, that fits," said Harry. "He'd play up the Pureblood side so he could get in with Lucius Malfoy and the rest of them . . . He's just like Voldemort. Pureblood Mother, Muggle Father, ashamed of his parentage, trying to make himself feared using the Dark Arts, gave himself and impressive new name - Lord Voldemort - the Half-Blood Prince - how could Dumbledore have missed --"

Let's go through that list, because Harry's perception is skewed like never before:

"Play up the Pureblood side"
Snape actually uses Muggle phrases in his speech (Dream Team, matchbox), and lets the DEs know he lives in a Muggle village

"Just like Voldemort, Pureblood Mother, Muggle Father"
Snape is not an orphan like Tom Riddle, nor do we know really know if Eileen Prince was a Pureblood.

"Ashamed of his Parentage"
Snape kept his Muggle father's name - unlike Voldemort. And his home is a "Muggle Dung Heap." He also didn't seem ashamed of the memory Harry saw of Snape's Muggle father yelling at his mother in OotP.

"Trying to make himself feared using the Dark Arts"
Who feared him? The Marauders certainly didn't, and in Fifth year, he barely gets in one good shot at James during their fight in SWM. Perhaps this is partly true, since the spells in the HBP book became darker over time.

"gave himself and impressive new name - Lord Voldemort - the Half-Blood Prince"
Prince was Snape's mother's name, and he is indeed a Half-Blood. None of that is made up, nor is it impressive.

"how could Dumbledore have missed--"
That's a very good question! Dumbledore didn't miss much - Harry has almost found the truth!

I believe I have disproved nearly every one of Harry's assertions about Snape, yet I realize that many fans out there take Harry's analysis to be the ultimate truth about Snape. Many fans share Harry's righteous anger that Snape killed Dumbledore. They finally feel justified in disliking Snape's character as much as Harry does.

Fans are tired of bickering over whether Snape's eye's "glinting" is the same thing as Fawkes's eyes "gleaming" or Dumbledore's eyes "twinkling." Those are just inconsequential quibbles over trifles compared to knowing whether Snape is good or evil, and whether Harry should hate him and hurt him in Deathly Hallows.

The new perception is that in HBP Harry's voice is finally being heard, without that dratted Harry Filter. What the narrator has always said is true - Snape is a sneering, ugly, greasy git who abuses his power over Harry, and tries to make him fail all the time. Many have concluded that the Narrator and Harry are finally "united" in their description of Snape and everything is crystal clear at last.

I have to disagree with that view. On the contrary, the Harry Filter is working better than ever. JKR has done an incredible job of letting Harry make a persuasive argument for Snape/Voldemort being the Evil Bobsey Twins, and although many fans are happy to feel justified by the canon, they are also rejecting important points, such as the point of view in Spinner's End and Dumbledore's unbounding trust in Snape.

They are actually embracing the Harry Filter, even while they deny it exists. In "clinging" to a theory which "enables" them to feel "justified" in hating Snape, the fans just want something that "makes them feel better." The mistake in logic is the same one that I believe Harry is making.

How often has Harry been correct about Snape? Just a few times - when he thought Snape wanted to zap Lockhart in the Dueling Club scene, and when he felt empathy for Teen-Age Snape in Order of the Phoenix. However, in HBP, was Harry correct in saying that Snape thought Lily Evans "wasn't worth a damn"? If Snape thought that, why did he try to save Lily's life? Why has he bothered protecting Harry? Why did he talk to Harry in "Flight of the Prince"? Why did he not let the DEs torture Harry? Why did Snape tell Harry to keep his "mouth shut and his mind closed"?

And what about the small matter of Dumbledore's "nearly inexcusable trust" in Severus Snape? Can Harry just forget about that? If he can refuse to think "ill" of the Young Prince who was Teen-Age Snape, can he not see the real Adult Snape behind the curtain of the Harry Filter?



Limited Omniscient Definition

Point of View: Limited Omniscient List of Traits

Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005

"Emma." Sparknotes.

Fry, Stephen, interviewer: J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 June 2003.

Moses, Carol. "Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennet: The Limits of Irony." 01-JAN-03

Rogers, Shelagh. "INTERVIEW: J.K. Rowling," Canadian Broadcasting Co., October 23, 2000

I'm speechless, SIP. This is Everything You Ever Need To Know About the Harry Filter and should be recommended reading for everyone who doesn't want their assumptions blown sky high in about 6 weeks. >Big Grin

I enjoyed your comparison with Jane Austen's work. In my mind Harry and Snape are playing out the characteristics of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as they move through Hogwarts. Thus I can't help but feel that in the end Harry will be disabused of his powerful prejudice toward Snape, and that somehow Snape will be forced out of his self-imposed isolation and explain himself to Harry. In the end I have a strong feeling that mutual respect and understanding will be the result. Hopefully it'll happen in a humongously dramatic denoument, but my gut feeling is that it will happen. ;D

The Harry Filter is absolutely brilliant, isn't it?


Brilliant! (when did I start channeling Ron?)

There are so many ways in which it's evident that Harry doesn't understand the people around him--the heartbroken Tonks episode is a prime example, easily understood. You'd think that alone would help people understand that Harry's perceptions aren't necessarily reality.


I'll be continuing the Ron-chanelling, with my own "Brilliant"! Well explained and well argumented, SIP.


mimble wimble:
Amazing! I do love the mirroring of Emma/Harry. We had a nice discussion about this on the book of the month discussions. (aren't we supposed to have a new one?)

I love books written in limited omniscent, simply because it gives you as the reader more to do. You have to actually think a little while reading, and come to your own conclusions about characters. I'm sure there are people out there who would rather have the author think for them, but where's the fun in that?

Excellent job, SIP. I love your essays!
(This post was last modified: 06-12-2012 09:26 AM by Silver Ink Pot.)
05-14-2012 11:58 PM
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