Hallows of Hogwarts "for years" working title of DH
Harry, A History
January 19, 2009, 03:15 AM
A small but fun factual nugget was hidden in the JKR interview from Harry, A History (which is available here). I've posted it now on the Web site. It seems Hallows of Hogwarts was a working title for DH; this title had been trademarked along with a bunch of others but (it seems) hadn't ever been pegged as an actual working title - until now. A fun fact for all of us who like to obsess. Click the link to read more and enjoy!
I just finished reading it today.OMG!!! It is fabulous!!!
Awesome! Deathly Hallows is waaaay cooler, though. Imho.
You seem to be suggesting that originally, the hallows were the horcruxes, and that’s intriguing. I like that they’re separate though, and that there was a choice to be made between the two.
I am happy not to share your disappointment, though. In the end, the story is the story, and details like the hallows and the horcruxes are simply that, details. What I like about the story as a whole is not that it’s unique and special — which it is — but that it draws on a rich tradition of popular fiction, and stays true to that tradition, literally, to the end. So what you don’t like about it is precisely what I like about it.
And I’m cool with that, if you are.
I see what you’re saying. And I can certainly see why you like the books. I do think, though, that the hallows and horcruxes are more than details.
If you follow the books from the first:
We learn in Book One that Harry has managed to avoid death and that Voldemort has managed to avoid death. This is major. Harry does it accidentally but Voldemort (V) does it on purpose. This is the axis on which the stories spin. And for several books, we don’t know why this has happened.
Only Dumbledore (D) has a working theory about how this is possible. And he does not, for a minute, suspect that there are Peverell Deathly Hallows involved. D is our inside voice in the stories, the character who knows everything. He make make a mistake of the heart, but not a mistake regarding facts and information, as JKR has set things up. D and Hermione are never wrong. Hary and Ron are from time to time, Ron with quite a bit more regularity than Harry, but D and Hermione are not mistaken about factual things in the seven books.
Dumbledore suspects horcruxes. D clearly knows what a horcrux is and how they work. At the very least he removed the books that describe them from the school library. He may know more about them or have had some previous experience with them – he’s 150 years old and very knowledgable. But he’s dead on sure that V is alive or non-dead because of horcruxes. The horcruxes will keep V’s soul alive with or without a body. So now he needs a body.
In Book One (Philosopher’s Stone) Harry manages to keep the means to returning to a body (the stone) from V and then it is destroyed. One option gone for V’s physical return. His soul is still floating around out there, waiting.
In Book Two (Chamber) we see the first horcrux, the diary, though it isn’t yet called that yet, and Harry manages to destroy it. Another option gone for V’s physical return.
In Book Three (Azkaban) Wormtail returns to V and begins the process of providing him with assistance in getting a body back. No horcrux or stone here, but now V has help. The second prophecy lets us know that V is now on his way back.
In Book Four (Goblet) V finally gets to return to corporal form. He’s on his way now. He inadvertently provides Harry with his own horcrux-like powers by using Harry’s blood to regenerate, but he’s back and believes he has plenty of horcruxes out there to protect him if he is bodily killed again.
In Book Five (Order) and Book Six (Prince) Dumbledore lays out his theory to Harry that Voldemort has made horcruxes to protect himself from death. Dumbledore believes that the first was made with the Peverell ring when V killed his Muggle father and grandparents at age 16. The second was made while V was a student (the diary) at Hogwarts at age 17. And at this time V asks Slughorn if it is possible to make as many as six seperate horcruxes, to divide the soul into seven parts, for extra strong proection against death. So now we are certain that there would be as many as six separate horcruxes created.
Then V graduates and goes to work for Borgin and Burkes. What was that all about? Selling stuff in a shop? Well, D believes that V was after four special objects, one each from each of the Hogwarts founders, to use as containers, or hallows as it were, for his remaining four horcruxes (which would give him the six he wanted). Borgin & Burkes would be the natural place to connect with dark objects, that’s what the shop was all about. V gets the Hufflepuff Cup and the Slytherin locket from the old, pink, fat lady and now has only two more to obtain. D believes that V interviews for the teaching post at Hogewarts to get a third and/or fourth relic (or hallow), but doesn’t manage to obtain it. Possibly the sword of Gryffindor?
So at this point, at the end of Book 6, we have been painstakingly led along the path to needing to know what and where the remaining Hogwarts founder’s-related horcruxes are so that Harry can destroy them and effectively void V’s life insurance policy of horcruxes.
We got into Book 7 with this very elegant, complex chess board of carefully placed pieces on the table, the development of the horcrux theory and all of the memories that support it, and then kaboom, JKR sweeps her arm across the chess board knocking all of the pieces to the floor and virtually says, “OK, forget about chess, we’re going to play checkers now” and places a few new tokens on the board: the hallows from the newly created tale of Beedle the Bard about the three Peverell brothers.
What was the point of building the groundwork so carefully to just drop it? To virtually start again? Why drop the ball? The diary was destroyed and the ring was destroyed, the first and second horcrux objects. All that remained to be found were the four hallowed objects of Hogwarts founders that contained the remaining four horcruxes. If the story were to follow it’s logical path, Book 7 would have been Harry Potter and the Hallows of Hogwarts, in which we would need to identify and track down the remaining four horcruxes, each lodged in a hallowed Hogwarts founder’s belonging.
The horcruxes were not just details, they were the path to follow throughout the previous six books. Then they were shunted aside. Really odd if you think about it. They just became an annoying thorn in Harry’s life and sucked up a huge part of Year 7.
I find it more than interesting that Hallows of Hogwarts was the working title for years and “It all changed” as JKR says, and the Peverell story was introduced. What was the benefit? The loss was substantial, I think. So much planning and groundwork. And then, poof, it was pushed aside.
I guess I just don’t understand it. Maybe that’s what bugs me. There doesn’t seem to be a reason. You see what I mean?
I do see what you mean. Again, what dissapointed you is what I liked about it. You’re putting entirely too much importance on the horcruxes.
The HOrcruxes: Voldemort creates 6 terrible objects that are the key to his survival. In HBP, Harry discovers the truth of this for the first time, then loses Dumbledore. At that point, you’re right, the logical path is to track down the remaining four horcruxes and destroy them. Now here’s the part that I like. Dumbledore believed Voldemort would make four horcruxes out of things belonging to the Hogwarts founders, and Voldemort did try to. But he failed. So much for his grand plans to mock the founders. The best laid plans of mice and gits etc., etc.
The thing is, that’s all Voldemort’s story. Harry’s story is about how he discovers his part in Voldemort’s plan to make himself immortal, and stops it. That elegant, complex chessboard of carefully placed pieces on the table? Voldemort. Horcruxes? Hallows? Details. JKR’s arm sweeping the chessmen away and replacing them with checkers? Harry.
Years ago, here on the comments, we had some fun with the fact that Harry didn’t even need to be a wizard, he could’ve been a potato farmer, or a chocolatier. The story would still have worked.
Wow. I see your point of view.
I just wasn’t making the jump from Voldemort’s story in the first six books to Harry’s in the final book.
Thanks for the insight!
why didn’t you put more of these tidbits in the book?
One last thought (because I keep thinking about this), the story is a good story, but what makes for a good novel is details. Details, details, details. It’s like that saying about real estate: location, location, location. The manufactured terrace house at Number 4 Privet Drive is a house (story) just as the Shell Cottage is a house (story). What makes one more appealing than the other? The details.
A story is a story, but it’s in the telling that we have a good book or a great one.
A good story line can make a poor, fair, good or excellent novel. It’s choosing which themes and words are used and which are not that makes for the quality of the book. The story stays the same. Harry could be a potato farmer or a chocolatier, but which would be the better novel? The enduring piece of literature? Which would just be another in the genre of adventure/coming of age stories?
You could edit out the Deathly Hallows fable (which, incidentally, is about cheating death and is once again Voldemort’s story rather than Harry’s) and the book would be a better written book. Kind of like taking Jar Jar Binks out of Star Wars. The fable is weak, unnecessary and bogs down the progression of the storyline. Harry’s storyline.
The fable of the deathly hallows is about three brothers who don’t want to die. That’s Voldemort. Two of the brothers die trying to cheat death, and the third succeeds by, wait for it, HIDING UNDER A CLOAK FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE! Sounds a lot like hiding in an invisible tent for a year to me. Not a lot of fun was it? Not a great life. Might as well have died crossing the bridge. Where is the courage of Gryffindor in this fable? This is a coward’s success. This is Voldemort.
Dumbledore tells us in the first book that death is merely the next step in a well organized life. What would his fascination be with the three hallows? What exactly about these three supposedly death-defying objects would be so compelling for him? Not the invisibility cloak. He doesn’t even need such a simple item, he can disappear without carting around a big cape. The resurrection stone? It doesn’t do what it was supposed to do. It doesn’t raise the dead; it merely drags them back to ghostly form and makes them miserable. The Elder Wand, the third item, was used in battle to defeat others and get your way through violence and force? Does that sound like Dumbledore? Not to me.
Removing the deathly hallows bit from the saga eliminates 100 pages of going nowhere with Harry’s storyline, and restores Dumbledore to the brilliant character who, in the first book, appreciated abstract concepts such as music and words (nitwit, oddment, etc.) instead of someone who almost ruins his life trying to collect tchotchkes from a flawed old fable. I think the introduction of the deathly hallows fable and items was a huge literary mistake. A detail that went wrong.
Look at where we would be without the weight of the added fable and three new objects: Hermione wouldn’t have to get the book when Dumbledore died. Which means that Ron wouldn’t have needed a gift to round things out. Then the elegant Puter-Outer, which collects light and then returns it — what a fabulous concept — wouldn’t have had to also function as a GPS and radio (what next? corkscrew/fish descaler/magnifying glass?) and Ron wouldn’t spend hours sitting around clicking the thing on and off, getting nowhere, and annoying everyone. No story progression here. It would have been a loads better book if the threesome were borrowing empty houses as Slughorn did and Ron kept walking around picking up random Muggle objects saying, “OK, could this be a horcrux? No? What about this?”
And Harry wouldn’t be stuck getting the resurrection stone and the Peverell broken ring inside the golden snitch. The resurrection stone is the booby prize in the three deathly hallows — it doesn’t even work. It was meant to bring back the dead but all it does is pull the dead back to a miserable ghostly form. You’d be better off with a talking portrait. At least then the departed person wouldn’t be miserable and resentful.
No, without the three hallows from the newly added fable, Harry could get something that related to his story, Harry’s story, in the golden snitch. The resurrection stone isn’t what he wanted. He doesn’t want to make his parents and friends miserable by turning them into ghosts and chaining them to an earthly existence.
Imagine this: Harry is given the golden snitch when Dumbledore dies. That’s it. No other mementos to confuse and complicate things. Just the snitch, and there is something locked inside that is revealed at the close (the end) after he and his friends discover and destroy the four Hogwarts hallows that contain the remaining four horcruxes. If this is Harry’s story it should be about Harry’s conflict, his chosen path.
(Quick digression: In ancient times, the calendar moved in a circle, following the seasons and natural life on earth. The end became the beginning. The beginning followed the end. Which came first? Spring or summer? Or was it winter? Life was thought to be cyclical. Hold that thought.)
If I could have whispered in JKR’s ear while she was writing Book 7, I would have suggested that the snitch contain something that forces Harry to make a choice, a true choice (“It is your choices, Harry, that make you who you are”). That final choice is between saving himself while killing Voldemort OR sacrificing himself to save the others. The resurrection stone doesn’t have any true usefulness here. It’s superfluous.
OK, back to the snitch. Harry presses the snitch to his lips; it opens, and inside there is a small, round sparkling vial of ruby-red Elixir of Life, the last existing drops, given to Dumbledore by his good friend Nicholas Flamel before he died. And Harry’s choice is made concrete. He can drink the elixir and not be killed by Voldemort . He would be able to kill Nagini and then Voldemort OR he can “want the stone but not use it” and walk forward to his death in order to save the others. And in that same moment in which he opens the snitch and sees the elixir, he knows that Dumbledore did love him. That love is the lasting power. And that Dumbledore could have used this precious liquid for himself but sacrificed himself and saved the elixir for Harry. The climax of the seven books is here. Love.
Harry’s parents loved and died for him. Sirius loved and died in Harry’s cause. And now we know the same is true of Dumbledore. He couldn’t tell Harry about the prophecy and Harry’s horrible future because he loved Harry and now he shows this love again. We would have left the series with Dumbledore as a pillar of integrity and wisdom (how satisfying that would have been!). And we would also move to the epilogue with Harry in possession of the Elixir of Life.
Book 7 would end where Book 1 began. The magic would move forward to the next generation. Possibilities for what comes in the future are now endless. It’s not just putting your kids on the bus (train) for school and living what looks like a very Muggle-like life. There’s more to it. There’s more potential. More to come…
All just details, of course. Same story. But what a difference the details could make in the telling of the story and the quality of the novel.
Wow man… let it go already
Thanks for writing your book Melissa, my husband bought it for me for Christmas, and I have been glued to it almost as much as the Harry Potter books. I didn’t know that these fan sites existed until I read it.
I see you’re still dissapointed in what I enjoyed. I’m fine with Dumbledore and Harry as flawed humans, and the closure in book 7. The point of the Hallows was another test of character, to offer Harry invincibility. And he did just fine without being invincible. Give him invincibility and immortality, and where would that leave us who aspire to be like him? Excluded, out in the cold, staring at another larger-than-life superhero. Meh. Underdogs rule, superheroes drool.
Ha! Harry Potter and Dumbledore’s Revenge, how mental would that book of been, also loving the march of death eaters/march of the penguins style title, perhaps Morgan Freeman could have done the last audiobook
The book kind of started out slow for me but the more you read the better it gets. Especially in the ending chapters. It is amazing how you M.A. Whent from never reading a book untill in college to all this. Way to go makes me feel like not such a geek at 31 and loving Harry Potter. Believe it of not I do not have the first few books But will soon. Keep up all the hard work!!!!
Back in late 2006, when we learned that the difference between the two titles Jo was trying to decide between was ‘two consonants and a vowel’ I suggested that if we took her statement literally, we might be able to work out what the two titles might be.
A month or so later, we were given the title she had decided upon: Deathly Hallows.
It appears that I was right to suggest we attempt investigating the possibilities.
Deathly Hallows = 10 consonants/4 vowels
Hallows of Hogwarts = 12 consonants/5 vowels
The difference = two consonants and one vowel
I don’t quite understand why the title might have been Hallows of Hogwarts since the Hallows don’t have much to do with Hogwarts. I’m happy with Deathly Hallows.