One of the first things that should strike any reader of the Harry Potter books is J.K. Rowling’s clever use of names. For example, even on a first reading the name “Remus Lupin” suggests a connection with wolves. Further readings provide additional evidence of Rowling’s use of names to illustrate character traits. Rowling clearly enjoys words and has spent years collecting names.1 As the Lexicon points out, “Since Sirius is the dog star, a character named Sirius Black must have the ability to transform himself into a black dog.” 2 Given Rowling’s penchant for concealing clues to a person’s character within his or her name, what can character names predict about events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
One of Harry’s chief tasks in Deathly Hallows is to find and destroy the Horcruxes. Rowling has given us at least one clue to a Horcrux location within the name of a character. She set a precedent for using an anagram of a character’s name in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When he reveals his true identity to Harry in the Chamber, “Tom Marvolo Riddle” demonstrates how his given name became “I Am Lord Voldemort.” 3 Similarly, Mundungus Fletcher’s name indicates that he either has possession of, or will aid Harry in locating, a Horcrux. Since Mundungus burglarized Harry’s home (the former Black residence), many fans believe that Mundungus has the suspected locket Horcrux. The letters in “Mundungus Fletcher” include the words “Mr Huge Clue,” indicating that Rowling is indeed hiding this Horcrux in plain sight!
Further clues to future events may be found in characters’ names. Even the most cursory examination of known Death Eater names indicates a connection with the sea. Nott is a homophone of “knot.” A knot is a unit of measure used by sailors when they travel upon the sea. Crabbe is a homophone of “crab,” a shellfish residing in the sea. McNair contains the brand name “Nair” which is a depilatory. Every woman knows that she does not want hairy legs when she is swimming in the sea. Avery contains the word “aver” which means to verify or swear. Everyone has heard of someone who “curses like a sailor.” Bellatrix is the name of a star, and for many generations seagoing men and women have navigated by the stars. Goyle rhymes with “Oyl,” and Olive Oyl is Popeye’s girlfriend. Popeye (the sailor man) eats his spinach while at sea. Lastly, Malfoy anagrams to “foamly.” As waves crash to shore, they develop foam.
Simply by raising the periscope of examination, it is easy to see this clearly established link between the Death Eaters and the sea. Since J.K. Rowling has not used this link previously, there is no doubt that this connection will surface in the final installment of her series. It is safe, therefore, to predict that Voldemort’s attack during the final battle will be launched from the ocean.
What clues may be obtained by a close examination of names of the members of Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix? (hereafter referred to as “Dumbledore’s Order,” or the D.O.)? It takes only a swift glance at the name of our hero to determine a vital connection. The letters comprising the word “earth” are found within the name “Harry Potter.” Additionally, a “potter” makes objects of clay, and clay is formed from earth. Hermione Granger includes the word “ranger,” a person who works in forestlands located upon the Earth. Ronald Weasley contains “a swell nerd.” The best sorts of people are nerds (particularly Harry Potter Nerds) and nerds live upon the Earth. Neville Longbottom’s name is reminiscent of a character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nick Bottom. As far as Shakespearian scholars can determine, Shakespeare wrote all of his major works while living upon the Earth. Tonks sounds like “tanks” and tanks are used to roam over the Earth. Remus Lupin contains the word “pine” which is a coniferous tree cultivated solely on the Earth. Mundungus Fletcher contains the nickname “dung,” which is used to fertilize plants growing in the Earth.
In addition to the connections of the Death Eaters to the sea and members of Dumbledore’s Order to the Earth, names provide additional clues to events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Without a thorough examination of names, these hints could remain submerged. Closer inspection yields clearly defined match-ups regarding individual duels between members of these rival groups.
Since crabs and tanks both have hard outer shells, Crabbe and Tonks will duel. Pine trees have knots, which indicates that Nott and Lupin duel. Shakespeare’s Nick Bottom participated in the play within a play, and Bottom was given the head of quite a hairy creature. Therefore, Neville (Longbottom) will fight McNair. Mundungus enjoys cursing, so he and Avery will duel. Since forest rangers live out in the open away from city lights, the skies above their homes show a multitude of stars. Therefore, Hermione will combat Bellatrix. Finally, Olive Oyl is a swell nerd, so Ron must battle Goyle.
The most important sea/earth clue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, however, resides with Luna Lovegood. Luna’s last name is self-explanatory, and her first name is a derivative of “lunar” which is derived from the Latin “lunaris” for moon. What is the function of the moon, and what function might a character named for the moon perform in the last book? The Earth’s moon rotates around our planet and affects many aspects of our lives, including the seas. In fact, the tides are controlled by the moon. If Luna Lovegood is to act as the moon, and the final battle is fought while the Death Eaters are at sea, then it stands to reason that the influence of Luna’s love will turn the tide of the final battle.
However, Luna will not be alone in her struggle! The moon rotates around the earth because of the powerful attraction of the earth’s gravity. The D.O. has attracted Luna as a member, and other members (one of whom you can no doubt guess) will help Luna in her task.
Remus Lupin’s Marauder name is Moony. Until now, the fandom has assumed that this is because of the effect the moon has upon his werewolf transformations. However, an in-depth examination proves that Rowling planted yet another clue all those years ago when the trio first met Professor Lupin. During his yearlong stint as Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Lupin taught Harry the Patronus Charm. The Patronus is conjured by “concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory.” 4 Moony will help Luna use the power of happiness – the power of love. Moony’s beloved Tonks will be by his side, as evidenced by Tonks’s full name. Nymphadora Tonks contains the words “moon task.” There is a very important task these lunar friends must perform! What will be their weapon? What is the only weapon that can vanquish Voldemort? Rowling gives us this answer when she speaks through Dumbledore. “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.” 5
While Voldemort will fight the final battle from the sea, Harry and Dumbledore’s Order will be upon land. Along with the individual duels, Luna, Tonks, and Moony will affect the Death Eaters and Voldemort with the power of love. His Horcruxes destroyed, weakened by the power of the lunar trio, Voldemort will be susceptible to Harry’s greatest weapon – the thing Voldemort knows not. Fighting to hold onto his hatred though his supporters have sunk all about him, Voldemort will fall prey to the thing he knows not.
“Yes – just love.” 6
At that moment, the clue Rowling planted in the very first book, the clue she first anagrammed, the clue that has been in front of us all along, will be crystal clear. As the release date of Deathly Hallows looms ever closer, fear not, Potter fans. It is certain that Harry will defeat Voldemort because of the name. “Lord Voldemort” contains the words Doomed Troll. Voldemort is history. And it’s all right there in the names!
1. Rowling, Interview by Christoper Lydon.
2. Summers, “Secrets of the Classlist.”
3. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 231.
4. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 176.
5. Ibid., Philosopher’s Stone, 216.
6. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 476.Bibliography
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury, 1999.
———. Interview by Christopher Lydon. The Connection (WBUR Radio), 12 October 1999. Transcript, Accio Quote! http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1099-connectiontransc2.htm#p3 (accessed 11 February 2007).
Summers, Diana. “Secrets of the Classlist.” The Harry Potter Lexicon. Member of the Floo Network. http://www.hp-lexicon.org/essays/essay-secrets-of-the-classlist.html (accessed 13 February 2007).