The House of Gaunt

chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry has his first lesson with Dumbledore, where together they watch Bob Ogden’s memory of visiting the Gaunt house – and Harry learns the backgrounds of Voldemort’s mother and father.
 

The Headmaster, by deeterhi

“From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the mucky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork. From here on in, Harry, I may be as woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.”


 

Gaunts' House, by yuu

It was a few seconds before Harry’s eyes discerned the building half-hidden amongst the tangle of trunks. It seemed to him a very strange location to choose for a house, or else an odd decision to leave the trees growing nearby, blocking all light and the view of the valley below. He wondered whether it was inhabited….

(by yuu)


 

Morfin Gaunt, by pojypojy

There was a rustle and a crack, and a man in rags dropped from the nearest tree, landing on his feet right in front of Ogden….
“You’re not welcome.”


 

Wee Merope, by lberghol

Harry realized that there was somebody else in the room, a girl whose ragged gray dress was the exact color of the dirty stone wall behind her…. Harry thought he had never seen a more defeated-looking person.


 

Cecilia Darling, by prettyannamoon

“My god, what an eyesore!” rang out a girl’s voice…. “Couldn’t your father have that hovel cleared away, Tom?”
“It’s not ours,” said a young man’s voice…. “Don’t look at it, Cecilia, darling.”


 

Merope, by MartinaC

“‘Darling,’” whispered Morfin in Parseltongue, looking at his sister. “‘Darling,’ he called her. So he wouldn’t have you anyway.” Merope was so white Harry felt sure she was going to faint.


 

Morfin Gaunt, by Tealin Raintree

“But I got him, Father!” cackled Morfin. “I got him as he went by and he didn’t look so pretty with hives all over him, did he, Merope?”


 

Marvolo Attacks his Daughter When He Learns That She Has Been Harboring Secret Feelings for the Muggle Tom Riddle, by Drew Graham

“You disgusting little Squib, you filthy little blood traitor!” roared Gaunt, losing control, and his hands closed around his daughter’s throat.


 

about the chapter

 

Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry has taken such an interesting turn this year. Dumbledore is so endlessly patient – letting Harry interrupt him, for example, and answering virtually all of his questions. He told Harry last spring that he made a mistake in forgetting how a young mind thinks and feels, and it’s clear he’s working very hard to rectify that by acknowledging Harry’s perspective now. But at the same time, Harry leaves this lesson with almost no idea what the lesson was really about, or what exactly he’s supposed to remember or do. Why wouldn’t Dumbledore simply tell Harry up front what’s going on? I’m sure he has his reasons, but this withholding of information bears many of the hallmarks of his “mistake” of the previous year. He’s so fascinating and so infuriating, all at once….
 

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Rowling once said that Dumbledore was able to understand and speak Parseltongue, which is an interesting concept on many levels. First of all, who could have taught him? (A book? Written by whom?) But it’s also interesting because in this chapter we’re seeing a huge reason – and quite possibly the only reason – that he needed to learn it. Generally, of course, Parseltongue is unlike Mermish and Gobbledegook (other languages in which Dumbledore is fluent) in that it’s virtually useless. And for most of his life there would simply have been no reason for Dumbledore, or anyone else for that matter, to go to the trouble of knowing it. But then long before Harry Potter came along with the ability to understand the language, Dumbledore collected this memory about Riddle’s family – and it was critical that he, unlike Bob Ogden, know what the Gaunts were saying to each other. I’d be willing to bet this memory was his inspiration to learn what was being said. But then, just how he managed to go about it is still a fascinating question…
 

The Wizarding World

Harry wouldn’t have a reason to recognize it, but we have more information than he does – and it’s easy enough for us to figure out that he’s been in Little Hangleton before. Take a look at this description from this chapter:

Harry could see a village, undoubtedly Little Hangleton, nestled between two steep hills, its church and graveyard clearly visible. Across the valley, set on the opposite hillside, was a handsome manor house surrounded by a wide expanse of velvety green lawn. (HBP10)

And then compare it with this passage from the end of Goblet of Fire:

They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard; the black outline of a small church was visible beyond a large yew tree to their right. A hill rose above them to their left. Harry could just make out the outline of a fine old house on the hillside. (GF32)

The same village, of course, but at night and seen from a very different perspective. In fact, Voldemort pointed it out to us himself, too:

You see that house upon the hillside, Potter? My father lived there. My mother, a witch who lived here in this village, fell in love with him.” (GF33)

We all love the mysteries that Rowling writes into her books: Is Snape good or evil? Will Harry live or die? Who is the Half-Blood Prince? But another part of her writing that I love is the little tidbits like this that she sneaks in so that a close reader can catch what’s going on. Every time I come across a subtle clue to something we’ve heard about before, or catch a name in passing that we’ve come across in the past, I feel like I’ve been given a tiny “thank-you” gift for paying such close attention to all that’s going on.
 

Something to Remember

It’s not hard to guess that something in this memory will be hugely important later – after all, Dumbledore chose to devote his entire first lesson with Harry to it for a reason (and Rowling chose to devote an entire chapter to it for a reason, too). But Harry, of course, leaves at the end of the lesson with virtually no context for any of it. So the question is – what is important about it? Let’s just say it’s worth studying….
 

The Final Word

(Question: “How much does the fact that Voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love.  Is it more symbolic?”)
“It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him. The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2007
 


42 Responses to “The House of Gaunt”

  1. Without question one of my favorite chapters in the book. This first real (and objective) glimpse into Tom Riddle’s past is absolutely fascinating. Later on in this book young Riddle mentions that he’s sure that his wizarding powers must have come from his father’s side of the family, and when that hope is dashed he goes about not only systematically denying his Muggle heritage but also inflating his mother’s family’s importance beyond reason. The family Gaunt has literally nothing left to them but their name and a squalid little house. If more of the wizarding world knew about his real background they might be a little less intimidated by Voldemort’s “Lord” title!

    Also, I think that one of the more interesting characters in the book is Merope Gaunt. For someone with one scene and not a single line of dialogue, her actions have consequences that affect literally thousands of lives. I can’t even imagine the horror she grew up in (comparitively speaking, Tom Riddle’s orphanage was probably a palace). No mother around, brother and father constantly heaping abuse on her, forced to slave all day for them and no chance of an education or betterment. Whatever her own desires, hopes and dreams might have been, the sight of the dashing lord’s son, Tom Senior, probably blasted them all away, leaving behind a desperate obsession that, once free to pursue, she didn’t truly know what to do with.

    It also seems to me (and I’m sure to others) that Merope is meant to contrast with Lily Potter, that paragon of motherly virtue, but in Merope’s hopeless case I don’t know as even Lily would have been able to pull through.

  2. I had wondered about how much of the memory Dumbledore understands as the most important parts are in Parseltongue. Thank you for answering that question. However, what I didn’t catch was what you wrote under The Wizarding World.

    Again I like Dumbledores humor in his conversation with Harry (this time Harry may use the Pensieve with permission).

    And about the Something to Remember: Not only are there things to remember for the rest of this book, but also for the next book, which is something that JKR does so well! I just love that it’s never a waste of time to read the books over and over again.

  3. Josie, I just realized that the previous chapter link takes us way back to “The Woes of Mrs. Weasley”, which is chapter 9 of the last book.

  4. What fantastic art for this chapter, Josie! Thank you!

    I love this chapter too, for it says so much that is crucial later on. Even as Harry is wondering why this is important, and asking his questions, readers are on the edge of their seats wondering, too, why is this important and what is Harry going to use this knowledge for.

  5. Dumbledore started showing Harry the memories that we will learn he had so much work to obtain. He acted a bit like a policeman recollecting descriptions from the several witness that contacted with Lord Voldemort, and also locating the surveillance cameras footage to better understand what each witness related to him.
    Now I have one question: Harry Potter had several encounters with LV, but Dumbledore only asked Harry to provide him verbal descriptions. Why did’nt he asked for Harry’s memorys about the encounters with LV in the Chamber of Secrets or in the graveyard? (the other encounters were, at least in part, also witnessed by Dumbledore). Dumbledore’s says later that he did’nt saw the Riddle in the Chamber of Secrets, nor the joining of wands in the graveyard. Would’nt be very useful to Dumbledore to be able to watch this events over and over again?
    Like we say: one picture is worth a thousand words…

  6. Meri, I personally think that Merope had to have had even a basic form of education. Otherwise, why would she have a wand, and be expected to use it at all? After all, I can’t see Marvolo being at all bothered to tach her spells…

  7. Jose Lopes, I think Dumbledore was collecting the memories FOR Harry. He knows Harry will eb the one to defeat Voldemort, and Dumbledre has to arm him just enough that he’ll barely survive. Dumbledore has guessed that Voldy made Horcruxes, and thats really all he needs to know – what woudl Harry’s memories provide him that a good retelling won’t?

    On the other hand, I do wonder whether, say at the end of GoF, it might have been easier just to take Harry’s memories instead of making him relive the whole thing.

  8. Easier, yes. But Dumbledore explains to Harry when he makes him tell the whole story at the end of GoF that telling it will be a healing experience for Harry, and it is. He won’t even let Harry wait until the next day to relive the scene in the graveyard, because postponing it would make it more painful.

  9. This is a chapter I usually don’t re-listen to fully. Once they get into the pensieve, I usually go on to the next chapter, because I listen as I’m going to sleep, and it doesn’t make for restful sleep to witness this slice of Merope’s life as I’m drifting off.

  10. Jose Lopes and hpboy13: One thing I was thinking is that taking a memory is just that… you TAKE the memory. The person you take it from now doesn’t have that memory anymore. As Harry is the one Voldemort is consistently targeting, it would be rather foolish of Dumbledore to take Harry’s memories of Voldemort, leaving Harry even more defenseless in the face of the Dark Lord. By just asking for verbal descriptions, Dumbledore is leaving Harry his memories to remember, analyze, and grow from.

  11. I was seeing that more like making a backup copy of the memory. Slughorn gave Dumbledore his (tampered) memory of Tom Riddle but he still retains the original memory.

  12. Good point, though, Spider. Is there an option for either? Because when Snape removed his memories during occlumancy lessons it was to get them *out* of his head so Harry couldn’t get to them. Hmmm.

  13. jammi567 I think I have to respectfully disagree. We only know what a young wizard’s life and education is like from Harry’s experience. Well over half a century ago and with a family like she had, I think there is no reason to assume that Merope Gaunt went to school. And her wand may perhaps have been another family hierloom, passed down within the Gaunt family for ages. Marvolo Gaunt seems to have taught his son a few things, perhaps he at least tried to teach Merope as well, or assumed that the family’s lineage would simply take care of her magical ability. We know from other examples in the books that even untrained children of young ages can perform some directed magic. Besides, I can’t imagine Marvolo sending his two kids off to Hogwarts; they don’t seem to interact with the wider world all that much.

  14. ^ True enough, but the think that makes it definite for me personally is the fact that she managed to make a Love Potion. A successfull one at that. If she hadn’t gone to Hogwarts, then where could she have learnt to make it from? And where did she manage to get the ingredients, whilst we’re on that subject? I get the feeling that she wouldn’t have stolen anything if she didn’t have to (the fact that she sold her locket, for however little money, is evedence enough for me on that point).

  15. I wonder: Is there any connection between the yew tree in the Hangleton graveyard and the fact that Voldemort’s wand is made of yew? Might just be a coincidence.

  16. Ragmar Dorkins, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Here’s a quote from Rowling about why she chose yew for Voldemort’s wand (and Holly for Harry’s):

    “I gave Harry a wand made of holly wood back in 1990, when I first drafted chapter six of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’. It was not an arbitrary decision: holly has certain connotations that were perfect for Harry, particularly when contrasted with the traditional associations of yew, from which Voldemort’s wand is made. European tradition has it that the holly tree (the name comes from ‘holy’) repels evil, while yew, which can achieve astonishing longevity (there are British yew trees over two thousand years old), can symbolise both death and resurrection; the sap is also poisonous.

”

    So it would make sense that a yew tree would be in a graveyard, as it symbolizes death, and in this particular graveyard as well, where Voldemort is resurrected.
    The quote comes from her website, here.

  17. Oh, I never thought much about Dumbledore’s understanding of Parseltongue. But now I’m wondering more about how the memories actually work. We know a person can alter his memory (Slughorn), and Dumbledore mentions later in HBP that his memory is especially detailed.
    If this memory is Ogden’s, wouldn’t he have to me a Paselmouth to remember exactly what they said? For instance, if someone took a memory I have in which Chinese was spoken, I would think it would turn out as just blabbering because I don’t speak Chinese. At the same time, though, Ogden says he doesn’t understand what they’re saying. So do we know how this works – that Ogden’s memory contains decipherable Parseltongue even though he doesn’t understand it?

  18. There’s a quote from Rowling that addresses a lot of the Pensieve questions listed above, from her interview with Emerson and Melissa right after the release of HBP. I decided not to include it on the page for reasons I’ll address after the quote, but here’s what she said:

    (Question: “Do the memories stored in a Pensieve reflect reality or the views of the person they belong to?”
     
    JKR: “It’s reality. It’s important that I have got that across, because Slughorn gave Dumbledore this pathetic cut-and-paste memory. He didn’t want to give the real thing, and he very obviously patched it up and cobbled it together. So, what you remember is accurate in the Pensieve.”
     
    (Question: “I was dead wrong about that…. I thought for sure that it was your interpretation of it. It didn’t make sense to me to be able to examine your own thoughts from a third-person perspective. It almost feels like you’d be cheating because you’d always be able to look at things from someone else’s point of view…. So there are things in there that you haven’t noticed personally, but you can go and see yourself?”)
     
    JKR: “Yes, and that’s the magic of the Pensieve, that’s what brings it alive…. Otherwise it really would just be like a diary, wouldn’t it? Confined to what you remember. But the Pensieve recreates a moment for you, so you could go into your own memory and relive things that you didn’t notice the time. It’s somewhere in your head, which I’m sure it is, in all of our brains. I’m sure if you could access it, things that you don’t know you remember are all in there somewhere.”

    The reason I chose not to include this on the page is because it’s one of the few things Rowling has said that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I can see the argument that we may have details of events stored in our memories that we aren’t aware of, but to say that an unbiased perspective is locked away in our brain – including conversations we couldn’t even hear – is to me, completely ludicrous. It also, in my mind, conflicts with the normal laws of magic, which generally speaking are limited by human flaws and shortcomings. And it raises loads of questions – for instance, why would trials ever need to take place if someone could simply access a person’s memory of what happened? But I thought it should be part of the conversation all the same. ;)

  19. Conversations we couldn’t even hear is a bit crazy — but we just have to go with it. One way of thinking about it is that being a wizard carries with it some sort of “One Mind” thing with other wizards you can only tap into via pensieve. It’s a stretch, but what else can you do?

  20. Anna, that sounds like the Jungian notion of a Collective (Wizarding) Unconscious … possibly data emanating from other wizards/witches can and does lodge in a magical mind even if they’re unaware of it at the time – those unheard conversations! Our minds do after all edit out a lot of the things we see and hear, rather than overload themselves; but we lack an awful lot of ability that wizards have. Why would it be useful for them to have that talent? “Because it might be helpful sometimes” is not a very strong reason, but the best I can come up with!

  21. The whole ‘Did Voldemort actually return’ question at the end of GOF could have been avoided if Harry was allowed to donate his memory (even temporarily) to the pensieve. If only…
    The pensieve then is really just a playback device for the magical world. Would you need trials at all or far fewer ones anyhow? How handy and under-used it was…

  22. About memories and the Pensieve:
    I just watched a report about savant syndrome. There I learned that some scientists believe that the brain can store all sensations without exceptions, but we have only access to the most important ones or those that are emotionally relevant to us.
    So maybe the memories which can be watched in a Pensieve are the ones that are stored without exceptions in a wizards or witches brain and the quality of that memory depends on how well they are able to perceive sensations.

  23. Grrreg, while the Pensieve may have been under-used, it would be a tricky tool for trials. What if the accused was able to tamper with and edit the memory (better than Slughorn)? There might be no way of knowing.

  24. Perhaps Pensieves are incredibly rare/difficult to make? We only ever see one in the whole series. Or maybe it just takes an extremely talented witch or wizard to extract memories and safely place them in the Pensieve?

    The real world explanation, though, is quite simple: it’s a plot device. An plot device that allows the reader to see the trials, Snape’s worst memory and Riddles past in an exciting fashion.

  25. just an fyi for the creator/monitor of this incredibly lovely site…the top of this page reads “chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” well, we are actually in Half-Blood Prince now! :)

  26. Thanks becka! I was using an old template for a while by mistake and keep discovering problems like that. If anyone discovers any others, please let me know. :)

  27. The pensieve seems to contridict itself in the books. Harry sees a number of Dumbledore’s memories in the pensive, both in GoF with the trials, and this book with some of the memories of Tom Riddle, yet Dumbledore is able to discuss them with Harry before putting them back into his own head, meaning Dumbledore does remember them, even though his memories are still in the pensive. In contridiction, Snape takes out his memories so Harry can’t access them, though Snape obviously also remembers what they were, which is why Snape is so horrified and angry when he discovers Harry snooping in his memories. So does the pensieve *remove* the memory or just make a 3rd person copy? It doesn’t seem that it removes the memory, but then if that is true, why would removing the memory protect Snape’s memories from Harry accessing them?

    Oh, and I’m very new here, just discovered the site a few days ago. I love it, thank you so much!

  28. “The House of Gaunt” is one of my favorite HP chapters. I see it as an illustration of how a fallen family, no matter how low, uncoutth, or ignorant, clings desperately to its perceived heritage as proof of their superiority over others. JK Rowling may have been thinking of old families of nobility or royalty who have lost their money, position, and relevance, but who still take pride in being, say, the great-great-grandchild of the Earl of Whatever, and use that old title to feel superior to untitled others. As an African-American, I think of certain racist whites who may lack education, character, class, or money, but who think, “I’m still better than you because I’m white!”

    Marvolo Gaunt doesn’t care that a Muggle was attacked. He doesn’t care that his son committed a crime. He doesn’t care that his family lives in squalor and he treats his children, especially his daughter, like swill. All he cares about is that he and his family are Gaunts, descended from Salazar Slytherin himself, and therefore above reproach and above petty things like the Law. What’s an attack on a Muggle when you’re Salazar Slytherin’s heir?

    JK Rowling, in this chapter, makes a great statement about the nature of supposed superiority based upon breeding–the lies we tell ourselves to feel worthier than others.

  29. BestSeriesEver, thanks for your kind words. I always thought of wizards putting memories in the pensieve as having an option – either they can retain a copy in their brain if they so choose (like ‘copy and paste’ on the computer) or they can give away their only copy (like ‘cut and paste’). It’s a fairly straightforward thing, it seems, with perhaps a minor difference in the spell. And it would make sense that one would be useful at some times and the other at other times.

  30. I have a theory in response to the question you posed above, Josie:

    “Why wouldn’t Dumbledore simply tell Harry up front what’s going on? I’m sure he has his reasons, but this withholding of information bears many of the hallmarks of his “mistake” of the previous year.”

    Dumbledore is an excellent teacher, and, as I’m sure you know from your own teaching experience, students learn more effectively when they have to solve problems on their own. If they are simply given all of the answers, they fail to retain information effectively and find it difficult to apply.

    Dumbledore’s methods also give Harry the feeling that he truly values his opinions and needs his help.

  31. It’s seems to me that Gaunt and Morfin aren’t to much different the Voldermort. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    @Dumblodore’s Parseltounge: I am sure this was a major reason. But it is possible that he already has the gift. Like Harry or Voldermort. They just sorta knew it naturally. Also, I wouldn’t be suprised if he learned it to communicate with Voldermort. This is a skill that Voldermort could use in a duel and he can protect himself from sneak attacks.

    @The Final Word: that is a fascinating idea. I wonder if there is a connection between that in the wizard world. B/C if you conceive a baby on dangerous drugs, it can effect them greatly. It would be very intresting to see what happens to Wizards who are conceived on various potions.

    @Using a Pensive For Harry’s Memory: I have two theories in this because it doesn’t make any sense for Dumblodore not to see the memory himself. It would have been much easier (and clear evidence to Fudge that Harry wasn’t lying). Theory 1: Using a Pensive can only be done by the person with the memory and is a difficult and or painful thing to do. I can see it cause pain in his mind because he has to rip the memory out and relive all the horrible things. I can equally see it as being a partially hard thing to do. Theory 2: Dumblodore wanted Harry to grow and move past the memory. Had he been able to hid from the memory he probally wouldn’t have worked through it.

    @One Pensive in series: Someone else said that we only see one pensive in the whole series. Which is true and quite interesting especially since we know Snape does not have one. Wouldn’t this be an easy tool for him to use as a spy? When he goes to Voldermort, hid his Dumblodore memories. Yes I know he uses Occlumacy but what if Voldermort broke into his mind somehow. It would be safer. So that makes me think that there are not a lot of Pensive’s.

    @Pensive At Trials: I don’t think you can steal someone’s memory. I think the person with the memory has to relinquish it him/herself. So all the criminal would have to do was refuse to give there memory over. It would be no different than refusing to take a lie detector test.

    All in all I think the Pensive is a facinating, fascinating thing.

  32. Austen, I love your notes about Pensieves. I sense an essay coming on.

    About Dumbledore speaking Parseltongue, though, Rowling said in an interview that he didn’t have the gift, but rather that he learned it.

  33. @Josie. I think the Pensive is the single most fascinating object in the whole series (with the possible exception of the Horocux). It is just a really interesting idea. And if you did a Pensive essay I would be the happiest person alive. :)

  34. I wonder if the reason Harry doesn’t recognise Little Hangleton is partly because he visited it 70 years later?

  35. Yeah, one Pensieve has only ever been present in the series, hasn’t it? :D I always reckoned it was just a very complex bit of magic, which is why it is so rare. If it were common, it would make the Wizarding World a lot different. Lol. And memories seem can only be relinquished voluntarily, not forcibly. What’s more is that they can be tampered with. Which would probably make it rather unreliable in court :)

  36. Haha, I should have waited on my post about pensieves last chapter–I see a lot of my questions are discussed here.

    I still think that, for it to make sense at all, the pensieve and the memory-extracting spell would have to be very obscure magic, only known to wizards like Dumbledore (and, apparently, Slughorn). Other wise it would wreck all kinds of havoc.

    I agree that it looks like a sloppy plot device, but I can’t help trying to make it work! It is possible to do “backbends” to explain how Dumbledore could have a memory in his head and the pensieve at the same time. If he had already viewed the memory in the pensieve before showing it to Harry (which I’m sure he did, several times) he will have effectively made a “copy”, albeit a third-person perspective copy. That’s how he could discuss it with Harry, even if the original wasn’t in his head at the time.

    I imagine Slughorn would have had to do something similar to modify his memory–put the memory in a pensieve, enter it, watch it to see what needed to be changed (which would make a duplicate memory in his mind), then go back into it and cast some kind of spell to splice in the alternate dialogue. He gave the altered one to Dumbledore, but an accurate one was still in his head, the one he gave to Harry later. Now, if the pensieve and memory-extraction spell are rare, Slughorn’s action must have been virtually unheard of. It also means he would have to have had access to a (the?) pensieve.

    Perceptive as he is, I think Dumbledore could have figured out the gist of what was going on in that memory even if he didn’t know Parceltongue. But he probably learned the language because he realized he would eventually encounter an obstacle that required it (like the locket did).

  37. I agree with what Healer Smethwycke has to say about how Dumbledore introduces Harry to the memories. Also, I’d like to add that although you might wish Dumbledore would give more information about what they were doing, going through memories involving Voldemort’s past, I think that telling Harry this upfront would have immediately put up his guard. By showing Harry as opposed to telling Harry, Dumbledore is allowing him to view these scenes without any sort of prejudgement in place. I think this is the reason why Harry is so able to empathize with Voldemort’s past, because in this context he is just another unfortunate boy.

    So really I think that Dumbledore knew exactly what he was doing; and oh how well he did it. :-)

  38. There was a pensieve discussion in the chapter “Snape’s Worst Memory” and someone brought up a great theory about it. The theory was that if one were to cut and paste rather than copy and paste a memory into the pensieve, they would still retain the gist of it and the emotions behind it, but would lack the clear and detailed memory that would be required for a legimen in accessing the mind.

    In response to why Snape doesn’t just take out his memories before acting the double agent, I think that would be a dangerous thing to do. While Snape would still understand the gist of his memories, it is still possible he would lose the context behind them after a prolonged absence of them. Since his memories are crucial to his loyalty to Dumbledore and his opposition to Voldemort, the loss of them just might push him toward Voldemort’s side again.

  39. The birth of Voldemort/Tom Riddle Jr. reminds me, in a twisted way, of that of Sir Galahad in Arthurian legend. Elaine of Carbonek falls in love with Sir Lancelot, who, however, is too much in love with Queen Guinevere to notice her. So she and her father approach a sorceress who bewitches Lancelot into thinking that Elaine is Guinevere, long enough for him to get her with child.

    (The consequences of Merope and Tom Riddle Sr.’s union – a thoroughly malevolent wizard bent on domination, rather than a pure and saintly knight who achieves the Holy Grail – seem more appropriate for something founded on magical deception.)

  40. Take a look at this quote by Marvolo Gaunt when he is showing his ring to Bob Ogden: Know how much I’ve been offered for this, with the Peverell coat of arms engraved on the stone?

    Now, think to how significent the stone in the ring becomes and the meaning of the “Peverell cost of arms” that is engraved on the stone. It makes me wonder what kind of people were making offers to Marvolo for his ring.

  41. I think I remember JKR saying that Dumbledore cannot speak parseltongue. He can only understand it. I may be wrong but that is what i remember. And when asked how Ron uses parseltongue in DH she said that one cannot learn to speak parseltongue. Ron was only making the same sounds that he had heard Harry make. I think that means that reproducing one or two words is okay but that is the limit.

  42. One more reason that Dumbledore was not very “up-front” with Harry about what he was showing him: I think Dumbledore genuinely wants Harry’s input about what he is seeing. He respects and values Harry’s intelligence and insight by this point, and Harry can basically serve as a test or doublecheck for Dumbledore’s own conclusions. If Harry views these same incidents and comes to the same conclusions as Dumbledore, that shows that Dumbledore’s thoughts are also likely to be accurate. If Dumbledore feeds Harry too much information ahead of time, that would invalidate this test.

    Plus, it’s also vitally important that Harry come to understand several key things about Voldy, and Dumbledore knows that it’s a MUCH more powerful teaching tool to let someone reason things out for themselves rather than simply telling them what conclusion you want them to reach.

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