"Sacrifice" in 'Harry Potter' form a Girardian Perspective
|Abstrakt:||René Girard and his mimetic theory have undergone an interesting development with respect to the category of sacrifice. While the early Girard saw sacrifice as a development within the scapegoat-mechanism, he later came to distinguish two types of sacrifice: one being part of scapegoating and belonging to pre-Biblical religion; the other being the sacrifice of self-offering and conforming to the act of Jesus of Nazareth. That way Girard could uphold his earlier analyses about pre-Christian sacrifice and still accept the Christian teaching that Jesus’ death was indeed a sacrifice, yet of a different kind.
As it happens, the popular Harry Potter series of novels, which was concluded in July 2007 with the publication of the seventh volume, is suffused with the language of sacrifice: beginning with Harry’s mother giving her life for her son and ending with Harry “self-sacrificing” himself in order to end the reign of the evil Lord Voldemort. The question is: what type of sacrifice do the popular novels espouse? Are they pre-Christian, Christian, or a syncretism of any kind?
Presupposing Girard’s developed idea of sacrifice I will argue that J. K. Rowling’s novels do propagate a Christian conception of sacrifice, while depicting perversions of it as well. I will look at the novels from a theological perspective. By illustrating conceptions of sacrifice with pivotal scenes from the novels I will argue that these novels indeed espouse a late-Girardian—or, if you will, Christian—view of sacrifice.|
|Publiziert in:||Contagion 17 (2010), 27-52.|
"'Sacrifice' in Harry Potter from a Girardian perspective"
This paper was given at the meeting of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion at the conference of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego, California, in November 2007. Here I am presenting a slightly revised version which takes into account an e-mail conversation I had on the topic with Paul Nuechterlein and the response given at the conference by Matthew Condon. I am indebted to both for their interesting remarks and suggestions.
I am presupposing René Girard's development from seeing sacrifice in principle as an outcrop of scapegoating and belonging to pre-Biblical religion to differentiating that kind of sacrifice from a sacrifice of self-offering conforming to the act of Jesus of Nazareth and also to be found in the figurae Christi inside and outside the Bible.
In order to give a complete picture, I have to refer to all seven Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling, which means that I will also relate some of their plot. For that reason I also have to give away the ending of the series. So be warned, if you haven't read it and plan to do so with full suspense.
From the beginning of the Harry Potter series until its very end, the theme and the language of sacrifice is present and intensifies. The stage is set for this theme by events predating the chronology of the novels that are told to the reader in the course of the series in ever clearer detail: Harry's parents' death, especially that of his mother.
The evil Lord Voldemort, who strives for total power and immortality and adheres to a racist ideology of pure blood, is told of a prophecy that announces a potential threat to his power: "'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ...'" (HP 5,37,741).
Although this prophecy could refer to either of two babies, Harry Potter and his later classmate Neville Longbottom, Lord Voldemort decides to kill 15-months-old Harry in order to get rid of this threat to his power. It should be noted that the motive for this planned murder is a perceived rivalry for power. Voldemort views Harry as a mimetic rival and plans to do away with him from the start (biblical parallels, as to King Herod and Baby Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, come to mind). When Voldemort reaches the Potters' home, he immediately kills Harry's father, James, then advances on Harry. The boy's mother, Lily, is not his immediate target, yet Voldemort is not a person trying to limit the number of deaths on his way. Still, he would make an exception for Lily because, we finally learn in the last novel, one of his servants, Harry's future teacher Severus Snape, has cast an eye on her and has pleaded for her life. If there were no cost to Voldemort's plans, he would spare her, but only on the condition that she abandon her son and allow him to be killed. Lily refuses and instead gives her life for Harry, an act which is repeatedly described as a sacrifice of love in the novels, furthermore an act which impregnates Harry with a protection against Voldemort's killing curse. As a result the curse rebounds upon Voldemort, who loses his power and, thanks to the protective measures he has taken against dying, he is left in a body-less, powerless, state of half-life, while Harry survives the attempt on his life marred by a scar on his forehead, orphaned but famous in all the wizarding world, because he is the Boy who Lived, the only person ever to have survived a killing curse.
Years later, Harry's Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, explains to the boy:
'Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realise that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign ... to have been loved so deeply [...] will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.' (HP 1,17,216)
'You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he [Voldemort] knows, which he despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimated - to his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day. I put my trust, therefore, in your mother's blood. [...] Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you.' (HP 5,37,736-7)
We also learn from Dumbledore, that by trying to kill Harry, ironically Voldemort has created the very rival he wanted to destroy: as a result of the attack, Harry has rare abilities and a connection into Voldemort's emotions that he would not have had otherwise. The attempt on Harry's life backfired in two senses: it counterproductively created the rival it wanted to destroy; and it destroyed Voldemort's power for the time being, while it had aimed at fostering that power. In a qualified sense Harry has become Voldemort's double and only now does the prophecy seem to be true.
One should also be aware of the striking similarity between Lily Potter's act of giving her life for her only son, and the act of self-denial by the harlot in 1 Kings 3:16-28, which René Girard discusses to argue his point that her readiness to give her life for her son is not sacrificial (cf. Girard 1987, 237-45). Of course this is still before Girard, as a result of his discussions with Raymund Schwager, started to distinguish between a pre-Biblical and post-Biblical concept of sacrifice. So later the act of the harlot in Kings – relinquishing the right to her son and risking her life in order to save his – ,which makes her for Girard the "most perfect figura Christi that can be imagined" (Girard 1987, 241), becomes, together with Christ's giving of his life, a model of the post-Biblical type of sacrifice that Girard comes to see then (cf. Girard 1993, Girard 2000, Girard 1995).
From this prologue, we can gain some preliminarycriteria for distinguishing a post-Biblical from a pre-Biblical sacrifice (I will also call the post-Biblical Christian, which is not to mean that it does only occur in Christianity nor that Christianity has always embraced that concept; it means that this should be the model on which a Christian idea of sacrifice should be developed because it clearly fits Jesus' act of self-giving):
The Christian sacrifice presupposes the (relative) innocence of the victim; the victim is not put to death because of a divine commandment or the demand of justice; he or she rather knows that the violence against him/her is unjust. Therefore they succumb to that violence not because they consent to it; rather the motivation for succumbing is a love for the life of another that can only be saved that way. A necessity has been constituted, but it is conditioned on the sinful behavior of the perpetrators. By submitting to this necessity the victim does not fulfill a sacred duty of giving him/herself up for the other, he/she does so out of a free, love-based decision. The pre-Biblical form of sacrifice is the opposite of that: the victim is supposed to be guilty, he/she becomes a willing victim because he/she concurs to the judgment about their own guilt or at least to the claim that their sacrifice is demanded by a higher concern, be it God or justice as an abstract principle; its necessity thus is unconditional.
With these criteria sketched to go with, we can now to proceed to test the novels' stance towards sacrifice.
At the end of the fourth novel (cf. HP 4,32,552-571), Voldemort finally regains a body in a gruesome ritual: He has 14-year-old Harry kidnapped to the graveyard where Voldemort's father, whom he has murdered years ago, is buried. He immediately orders his servant Peter Pettigrew to kill Cedric Diggory, a schoolmate of Harry's who was accidentally kidnapped too, and then has Pettigrew proceed to recreate a body for him in a three-step process. First Pettigrew takes bone from the grave of Voldemort's father, then he needs "Flesh - of the servant - w-willingly given" (HP 4,32,556). Pettigrew speaks it, and cuts off his own hand to throw it into the cauldron. The third and final step is "B-blood of the enemy ... forcibly taken" (HP 4,32,557), for which Pettigrew takes blood from Harry. Out of these ingredients Voldemort regains a body for himself. After rising from the cauldron he summons his supporters, the "Death Eaters", who form a circle around Harry, and then Voldemort aspires to humiliate, torture and kill the boy. However, Harry escapes at the last minute by a rare magical effect that brings back to him the echoes of his dead parents, who create enough of a diversion for him to flee (cf. HP 4, chs. 32 and 34).
On the level of imagery, we are presented here with an exact scene of primordial sacrifice: a mob ganging up against the lonely one, encircling him, intending to kill him. Even the motif of blood is there, and there is a corpse too: Cedric. The one exception is that Harry escapes, the sacrificers do not succeed, the novel takes sides with the victim.
Going beyond the level of imagery, however, one could ask whether Peter Pettigrew's act of giving his own hand, so that Voldemort can live again, does not constitute a sacrifice in the Christian sense. The mere fact that Voldemort is the bad guy in the novels does not suffice to rule that out. This must be done, however, after taking a closer look at Pettigrew's motivation and his relationship to Lord Voldemort. His motivation is sheer terror: Pettigrew is the person who had betrayed the Potter family's whereabouts to Voldemort. He had been hiding for thirteen years, then his cover was blown. If Harry had not intervened, James Potter's longtime friends Lupin and Black would have killed Pettigrew. Pettigrew escapes and has nowhere to go but to his old master. Voldemort knows well that "you returned to me, not out of loyalty, but out of fear" (HP 4,33,563); and it is fear of his master that makes him follow his orders. So Pettigrew's "donation" is a direct reversal – a perversion in the literal sense – of a self-sacrifice out of love; it is self-mutilation out of sheer terror.
In return for Pettigrew's services Voldemort creates a new, silvery hand for him, but again this is not motivated by gratefulness but by the blunt desire to dominate. This is already indicated when Voldemort waits with this gift for a long time during which he punishes other followers for their disloyalty, telling Pettigrew all the while that he deserved the pain he suffers (cf. ibid.). Pettigrew concurs with that, yet continues to whimper and beg until Voldemort finally fulfills his wish. The Lord relishes the servant's subjugation, and then creates a new hand for him to make him even more subservient. This is made absolutely clear, when, quite at the end of the series, Pettigrew fails his master by releasing Harry from the choking grip of his hand because Harry reminds him that he had once saved Pettigrew's life. Immediately Pettigrew's hand turns on himself: "Harry tried to drag back the hand, but there was no stopping it. The silver tool that Voldemort had given his most cowardly servant had turned upon its Disarmed and useless owner. Pettigrew was reaping his reward for his hesitation, his moment of pity; he was being strangled before their eyes." (HP 7,23,381).
The next scene, the death of Headmaster Dumbledore, is very difficult to interpret. In HP 6 we learn that Voldemort has split his soul into seven parts and stored six of them in other objects (Horcruxes), which makes him immortal, because when he would normally die, the remaining parts of his soul still exist and keep him alive. That is how he survived his attack on young Harry. This kind of immortality, however, comes at a great cost: a Horcrux can only be produced by murdering someone, and murder mutilates the murderer's soul. So, Voldemort has maimed his own soul by killing people in order to split it. He then linked its parts with objects of great subjective value to him and hid them, protecting them with curses. Dumbledore sets out to find and destroy these Horcruxes, so as to make Voldemort a mortal man again. In this quest Dumbledore was wounded, his hand turned limp, and he was greatly weakened. Together with Harry he hunts for another Horcrux, which brings him almost to the end of his strength. When Harry returns with him to the school, the old man is on the verge of collapse. Yet in the meantime some Death Eaters have entered the school, and Dumbledore musters his last strength to go there in order to protect his students. When the Death Eaters advance on him and Harry, he stuns the boy, who is hidden under his invisibility cloak, in order to protect him. The resulting moment of distraction allows Draco Malfoy, a student whose father is a Death Eater, to disarm Dumbledore. Voldemort had given Draco the task to kill Dumbledore. The boy brought the Death Eaters into the heavily guarded school and even succeeded in disarming the weakened and inattentive Dumbledore. But now, when he is about to fulfill his task, he hesitates. He is a 16-year-old student, it would be his first murder. Dumbledore is certain that he is not a killer. Draco's mother, who is afraid for her son, has asked Severus Snape, who once was a Death Eater and has supposedly converted, to protect Draco and, if the boy failed, to complete his task for him. Snape has sworn on his life that he will do it.
Severus Snape is certainly one of the most interesting characters of the Potter series: rough, unfriendly, with greasy hair; loathing Harry and his friends and treating them unfairly as a teacher; yet Dumbledore places unwavering trust in him. Believing unerringly in the sincerity of his conversion he uses him as a counter-spy, as does Voldemort. Snape is the classic double-agent, and the reader is drawn back and forth, as to where Snape's real allegiance lies. Now in this moment when Dumbledore faces the hesitating Draco and the Death Eaters, Snape enters the scene.
'We've got a problem, Snape,' said the lumpy Amycus, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, 'the boy doesn't seem able -' But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly. 'Severus ...' The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading. Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed. Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face. 'Severus ... please ...' Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. 'Avada Kedavra!' (HP 6,27,556)
The final words being the killing curse. At the end of Book 6, Harry, who has witnessed this without being able to move, is convinced that Snape is a Death Eater after all, and so were many readers. But I was not, and neither was Paul Nuechterlein.
In his article (cf. Nuechterlein 2005) Paul Nuechterlein argued that Snape killed Dumbledore on the latter's orders, thereby enabling Harry to go on in his quest and creating an indisputable cover for himself as trustworthy to Voldemort. In this reading, Snape's revulsion was not at Dumbledore as a person but at what he asked Snape to do, and Dumbledore's plea was not for his life but to persuade Snape to do the horrible deed for a higher good. Nuechterlein argued therefore that Dumbledore, who, from volume one till now, had been trying with mixed success to convince Harry that the love which motivated his mother's self-sacrifice was what really mattered, not the mere fact of giving her life, had given his own life to buy Harry more time to learn his lesson and to defeat Voldemort not by more "firepower" but by love.
Paul Nuechterlein's analysis of the plot was completely corroborated by the final volume. He even had guessed the right reason of why Snape was so completely converted to Dumbledore's side: it was his love of Lily Potter and Voldemort's murder of her. The final novel also provided some new information: Dumbledore was doomed anyway because of the injuries he had incurred from the first Horcrux he destroyed. Snape, for long years the Potions Master at the school, could contain the curse but only for a year; and that time was nearly up. This seems to ameliorate the gravity of Dumbledore's summons from Snape: he was to kill a man who was dying anyway.
Yet the question remains whether Dumbledore's death can be called a genuine self-sacrifice in the post-Biblical sense. There are elements in favor of that interpretation: Dumbledore is prepared to die out of love for Harry and for all the innocent victims of Voldemort's reign of terror; for that he is willing to give up his life a little prematurely to secure Snape's cover as a double-agent and Harry's continued safety. He also wants to protect Draco Malfoy from destroying his own soul by becoming a murderer: "'That boy's soul is not yet so damaged,' said Dumbledore. 'I would not have it ripped apart on my account.'" (HP 7,33,548) Dumbledore also argues that his own suffering at the hand of torture-happy Death Eaters would be much greater, but I do not think that this is his real motivation: these are arguments to persuade Snape. For the latter sees the problem I am getting at very clearly and responds: "'And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?'" (Ibid.) Notwithstanding Dumbledore's limited time alive, and not withstanding any tactical gain garnered by the killing, it is still a deliberate killing. The problem lies not with Dumbledore's motivation of giving up his life, but with choosing the person to take it. If Dumbledore had submitted in his attitude to the attack of another Death Eater, it would have been a genuine Christian self-sacrifice, but persuading Snape to do it casts that into doubt.
Paul Nuechterlein in his wonderful essay compares the situation after Dumbledore's death to that of the disciples on Holy Saturday, the day of utter darkness where the horrors of Good Friday are still present and the joy of Easter Sunday is not yet accessible, a state that in many people's or communities' faith life is often passed over too soon for the sake of a fast Easter, he rightly remarks. This comparison with Jesus' sacrifice, however, can also serve to illustrate my point: Dumbledore's persuasion of Snape to kill him compares in my view to Jesus prodding Judas to betray him. In that case he would have used Judas for an indirect suicide. There have been interpretations of the Passion along these lines but they mostly tend to see the cross as the positive will of the divine Father. Contrary to that, René Girard makes clear that Jesus' death on the cross is not God's will but His enemies'. Raymund Schwager tried to reconcile this with explicit sayings of Jesus that the cross was God's will. Schwager distinguished between the direct will and the indirect will of God. He gained that distinction by analyzing Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark 14:36) This prayer contains Jesus' explicit wish to avoid the suffering he was to undergo, his subordination of his will to the will of the father, and in that the implication that the cross was the Father's will. Schwager concurs with that but cautions: If Jesus, the completely sinless, asked to be spared, his request showed that suffering and death as such were not the Father's will. If Jesus nevertheless eventually accepted them as that, that will must be understood as conditioned on the human situation: If there is no other way to reach sinners anymore, then Jesus is to go to the utmost to reach even those who are beyond reach: "the will of the Father was only that the Son should follow sinners to the very end and share their abandonment, in order thus to make possible for them again a conversion from the world of hardened hearts and distance from God."
I think one can say: if the suffering was not the direct will of the Father, it is out of the question that He or Jesus would use someone who was not entangled anyway in the world of hardened hearts to bring it about. In the same vein I would say Dumbledore's laying down his life for the higher good would be a genuine Christian sacrifice, if it did not involve making Snape do it. Since it does, it is no shining example of Christian sacrifice.
However, there is one more reason Dumbledore has for his action: he owns the so called Elder Wand, a most powerful tool, which Voldemort is sure to covet, once he knows about it. Wands have an allegiance to their rightful owner which they switch, however, when won from them in battle. It is made explicitly clear that this does not necessitate killing the overpowered party; but they must be disarmed. Upon that the wand switches its allegiance to the victor. By asking Snape to kill him, Dumbledore also wanted to end the Elder Wand's path of blood through wizarding history. If his killing was his own request, it would not be a victory over him, the wand would not switch allegiance and would remain Dumbledore's in death. That way it would be out of reach for any future power-hungry person. This part of the plan failed, however, because Draco Malfoy had disarmed Dumbledore before Snape arrived, so that the teenager became the new owner of the Elder Wand without knowing it.
What does that mean for Snape's killing of Dumbledore? I think it places it even more clearly in the discourse of war. It is a discourse where human lives are set off against each other. It is, in short, the logic of Caiaphas: "It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." (John 11:50) Dumbledore is willing to be the one man dying in order to minimize the danger of being killed for others; yet the situation he is in makes that impossible unless his death is brought about by a friend. The web of reasons Dumbledore has for persuading Snape to kill him contains only this one element to make it necessary: voiding the power of the Elder Wand. It seems significant that this part of Dumbledore's plan fails – fortunately fails, as we shall see. So the logic of Caiaphas in the mythic sense is disproved in Rowling's novels, as it is in the Gospels. Snape, however, does not know this yet and is placed in a horrible situation in which he cannot avoid becoming guilty: by doing Dumbledore's bidding he becomes – a killer; by denying Dumbledore's wish he would not be better off.
For that reason I do not think that Dumbledore's death fully qualifies as a Christian sacrifice; it is a diminished form of it because it involves the deliberate bringing about of one's own premature death (has a suicidal element) and burdens a second person who would not be burdened with that guilt otherwise with bringing it about. Thus it retains remnants of the scapegoat-mechanism, similar to the way state and military power retain them.
Let us now attend to the climax of the series and to what I would call a clear depiction of the Christian sacrifice of self-giving love.
In the course of volume seven Harry learns that creating Horcruxes by killing other people is not the only way to defeat death. There is also an old legend about the three Deathly Hallows that together allegedly defy death: the Elder Wand, which makes invincible, the Resurrection Stone, which brings back the dead, and an Invisibility Cloak that hides one even from death. What seems to be a mere legend gradually turns out to have some real background: there is the Elder Wand. Harry happens to have inherited an invisibility cloak of unusual quality. And it turns out the ring that was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes and whose discovery led to the poisoning of Dumbledore, contained the Resurrection Stone. For a good part of the story Harry gets carried away by the thought of owning the three Hallows to become immortal himself.
The prophecy said that neither he nor Voldemort could live while the other survived, and so far Harry always thought that meant one of them would kill the other. Dumbledore had well explained to him that the prophecy was not a necessitating prediction but rather a premonition for how the involved persons would react. Only by his reaction to the prophecy had Voldemort validated it; still that did not mean that Harry was bound by it, he could make choices. So Dumbledore prepared Harry for another solution in a much more subtle way: by explaining to him over and over again that it is the power of love that makes Harry really special and gives him the power to vanquish the dark Lord, but first all the Horcruxes have to be destroyed.
Harry and his friends only succeed very slowly in this task. Finally the "Battle of Hogwarts" ensues, which costs many casualties, some from among Harry's closest friends. And yet Voldemort does not even take part in the battle; he rather supervises it from an old shack nearby. Knowing that his Horcruxes are being hunted down, Voldemort does not part with his snake, which is supposedly the final one. In order to kill the snake the friends have to venture into the lion's den.
They approach unseen and witness Voldemort summoning Snape and telling him that there is a grave problem: he had thought that by stealing Dumbledore's wand from the grave, its supreme power would be at his service, but now he has realized that the wand's allegiance was not with him but with the person who overpowered Dumbledore. Believing that to be Snape Voldemort kills his servant so as to gain the allegiance of the wand. Then he leaves with his snake to join the battle himself. Harry and his friends come out of their hiding place and in dying Snape hands them over parts of his memory to be viewed and relived in a "Pensieve".
That way Harry learns that Snape has indeed known and loved Harry's mother since Snape and Lily had been 9 years old; he sees how this love turned unhappy and how Snape became a Death Eater, how he later betrayed Voldemort's attack on the Potters to Dumbledore in order to save Lily and how Dumbledore confronted him, as to whether James and Harry were not worth saving. Snape gave in and agreed to be Dumbledore's agent among Death Eaters, if Dumbledore in turn kept the Potters safe. As we know, this failed because of Peter Pettigrew's betrayal. Yet Lily's death sealed Snape's allegiance to Dumbledore and the good side; he agreed to remain at Hogwarts to protect Harry when Voldemort would return; and so he did to his very death, although he deeply resented the boy at the same time, who in his eyes resembled his arrogant father, James; Snape overlooked, as Dumbledore tried to make him aware, that Harry had not just inherited the eyes of his mother but also her character. Finally Snape even followed Dumbledore's order to kill the latter when the time had come.
Still more important, Harry learns that without intending it Voldemort had created a seventh Horcrux when he failed to kill Harry: Harry is that seventh Horcrux. Dumbledore confided to Snape he was convinced that Harry had to die at Voldemort's hand, so that the last Horcrux would be destroyed and Voldemort became mortal again. At this revelation even Snape was shocked. He accuses Dumbledore of using Harry as a tool, protecting him just to have him slaughtered in the end "like a pig" (HP 7,33,551).
When Harry resurfaces from Snape's memories he knows that the only way to overcome Voldemort is his very own death. There is no other way. Fear grasps him and the idea of running away rises in his mind, and yet he sees his task clearly ahead.
Why had he never appreciated what a miracle he was, brain and nerve and bounding heart? It would all be gone ... or at least, he would be gone from it. [...] Dumbledore's betrayal was almost nothing. Of course there had been a larger plan; Harry had simply been too foolish to see it, he realised that now. He had never questioned his own assumption that Dumbledore wanted him alive. Now he saw that his lifespan had always been determined by how long it took to eliminate all the Horcruxes. Dumbledore had passed the job of destroying them to him, and obediently he had continued to chip away at the bonds tying not only Voldemort, but himself, to life! How neat, how elegant, not to waste any more lives, but to give the dangerous task to the boy who had already been marked for slaughter, and whose death would not be a calamity, but another blow against Voldemort. (HP 7,34,555)
If there is any parallel to Gethsemani in Harry Potter, it is this scene, where Harry feels betrayed and abandoned by his longtime mentor Dumbledore, where he sees that the next logical step for him is to walk to his own death and yet trembles at this prospect, and the possibility of fleeing crosses his mind. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was motivated to go on by his unswerving obedience to the Father's will, which, as Schwager explained to us, was "that the Son should follow sinners to the very end and share their abandonment, in order thus to make possible for them again a conversion from the world of hardened hearts and distance from God." What makes Harry proceed?
And Dumbledore had known that Harry would not duck out, that he would keep going to the end, even though it was his end, because he had taken trouble to get to know him, hadn't he? Dumbledore knew, as Voldemort knew, that Harry would not let anyone else die for him now that he had discovered it was in his power to stop it. The images of Fred, Lupin and Tonks lying dead in the Great Hall forced their way back into his mind's eye, and for a moment he could hardly breathe: Death was impatient ...[...] Like rain on a cold window these thoughts pattered against the hard surface of the incontrovertible truth, which was that he must die. I must die. It must end. (HP 7,34,555-6)
It is the thoughts of his friends, the people he loved, who risked and lost their lives for him, and the danger that remains to his remaining friends, as long as Voldemort's reign is not broken, that drive him. Thus in short, it is love and care for the life of others that motivates Harry to go along the path to his death, or put differently: he is prepared to sacrifice himself in order to avoid more people being sacrificed for him.
I think it is important that Harry learns of the necessity of this self-sacrifice only at the end. Though he felt betrayed by Dumbledore because his mentor had not told him earlier, it becomes clear that this way Harry's self-sacrifice could truly become his own decision, not infringed upon him by an outward commandment (a danger that I saw in earlier parts of the novels). It was infringed by the evil deeds of Lord Voldemort, by the situation and Harry's conscientious reaction to it, not by his mentor commanding him to give up his life and sacrifice himself. This, again, corresponds very well to Christ's sacrifice, of which already St. Anselm claimed that God did not command Jesus to die, but to restore justice. Death became only necessary because it was the only way to do that. Dumbledore behaves differently to Harry than he behaved to Snape and himself. Despite the risk of over-interpreting the novels I would like to suggest that in Dumbledore's mixed behavior the fine line between a "mythic" and an "evangelical" sense of the logic of sacrifice is indicated; and indeed the line seems a bit blurred.
Before Harry goes to meet his death, he instructs his friend Neville Longbottom that Voldemort's snake must be killed, and thus makes sure that the task is completed, even without him. He does so in deliberate emulation of his headmaster: "he must be like Dumbledore, keep a cool head, make sure there were back-ups, others to carry on." (HP 7,34,557)
So Harry walks purposely to be killed by Voldemort, out of love for others and for their protection. And his death is, owing to the situation Voldemort has created, absolutely necessary to bring about salvation, something which could not be said of Dumbledore's death. Harry's freely accepted death is clearly caused by evil, yet Harry accepts it to transform it into good. He is a clear figura Christi and highlights the post-Biblical, Christian, sacrifice in an exemplary way. And yet, one major difference remains for the moment: According to the Christian faith, Christ died for all, not only for his friends. Because of Christ's close union with his divine father, he could see even his enemies as his brothers, and realized that actually all sinful humans were subject to the same mimetic mechanisms as his persecutors. In the New Testament interpretation of Jesus' death, all are included among his enemies, and so all are included in the salvation his death has worked. Christ's sacrificial death was his ultimate act of the love of enemies. So far, this cannot be said about Harry Potter. He sacrifices himself only for his friends, and it must be said: at this point of the novel, if it were possible, Harry would prefer to kill Voldemort rather than being killed by him. It is practical necessity that makes him to agree to his self-sacrifice, which after all does not finish Voldemort by itself. It merely destroys a Horcrux, so that someone else later can kill Voldemort.
When Harry delivers himself into Voldemort's hands, the latter does without hesitation what he is supposed to do – cast the killing curse at Harry. Thereafter Harry finds himself in a strange place. With him there lies something in the "form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking, and it lay shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath" (HP 7,35,566) and making strange noises. When he ponders how he can help it despite the revulsion it elicits in him, he is approached by none other than his dead Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who explains to him that it cannot be helped. He "was walking to him, sprightly and upright, wearing sweeping robes of midnight blue. 'Harry.' He spread his arms wide, and his hands were both whole and white and undamaged. 'You wonderful boy. You brave, brave man.'" (HP 7,35,566)
From Dumbledore Harry learns quite a lot – more about Snape's real role –, but above all that while Dumbledore is really dead, he, Harry, is not; he is alive and can go back, if he wants to – however also has the choice to remain where he is. What is the reason for this? When Voldemort took Harry's blood to recreate his body, he transferred the protection that Lily Potter's sacrifice had given Harry. He "doubled the bond between you when he returned to a human form" (HP 7,35,569). The first bond was the one he had created when attempting to kill baby Harry and accidentally made him a Horcrux: thereafter Voldemort could not die as long as Harry lived. By invigorating himself with Harry's blood, however, Voldemort created a reverse effect: because in Harry's blood there resided a protection for Harry,it now also resides in Voldemort's blood. As a consequence Harry cannot die as long as Voldemort lives. Voldemort's killing curse thus did only one thing: it destroyed the part of his own soul that resided in Harry, the Horcrux, without killing the young man. Though we are not explicitly told so, it is insinuated that the helpless, hapless baby-shaped thing that struggles on the ground and cannot be helped is this part of Voldemort's soul. Dumbledore confesses his own inferiority to Harry in matters of the heart when he tells him about his quest for the Hallows:
'Maybe a man in a million could unite the Hallows, Harry. I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it. But the cloak I took out of vain curiosity, and so it could never have worked for me as it worked for you, its true owner. The stone I would have used in an attempt to drag back those who are at peace, rather than enable my self-sacrifice, as you did. You are the worthy possessor of the Hallows.' [...] 'You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.' (HP 7,35,577)
In the dialogue Harry also learns that in fact the Elder Wand never became Snape's and so it neither became Voldemort's through his murder of Snape. It had been Draco Malfoy's because Draco had disarmed Dumbledore before Snape killed him, and since Harry in the meantime has disarmed Draco, the wand is now his, although nobody had realized this so far. With this state of affairs, there is now a good chance that Harry can defeat Voldemort when he goes back.
When Harry regains consciousness in the outer world, he pretends to be dead and Voldemort can be tricked to believe it. Voldemort and the Death Eaters bring Harry's body back to Hogwarts as physical proof of their victory to work a demoralizing effect on the resistance fighters. Voldemort tells them: "'Harry Potter is dead! Do you understand now, deluded ones? He was nothing, ever, but a boy who relied on others to sacrifice themselves for him!'" (HP 7,36,585). So even in supposed death Voldemort and Harry continue to be opposed doubles: Voldemort accuses Harry of the very attitude by which he has lived all his life and to which Harry's was completely opposed. As we have seen, Harry was willing to be sacrificed in order to prevent others from being sacrificed for him. Voldemort is in fact the Anti-Harry who accuses Harry of the misdeeds he himself has committed. Yet he has miscalculated. Harry's friends are not demoralized but outraged at this. Voldemort felt safe because of Harry's supposed death and terminated the special protection for his snake, the last Horcrux. This gives Neville the chance to kill the snake.
With the final Horcrux gone Harry reveals that he is alive and faces Voldemort directly. He tells him that all the Horcruxes have been destroyed and he is as vulnerable as any man, while Voldemort almost desperately wants to explain away Harry's success as pure accidents.
'You won't be killing anyone else tonight,' said Harry as they circled and stared into each other's eyes, green into red. 'You won't be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don't you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people -' 'But you did not!' '- I meant to, and that's what did it. I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. [...] You can't touch them. You don't learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?' (HP 7,36,591)
Here Harry does two important things: He clearly states that his readiness to die was in emulation of his mother; hers was mother-love; his is the love for a much larger group of people, not yet encompassing his enemies, but being much larger than his immediate personal friends. And by using Voldemort's civil name, Tom Riddle, Harry demythologizes him thoroughly, this time in emulation of Dumbledore. Thus he destroys Voldemort's self-created aura of otherworldly evil and his nimbus of invincibility: he is just a human person, albeit an exceptionally evil one.
Book 6 had explored Voldemort's past: it depicted Tom Riddle's mother's family – a household of utmost barbarism, stupidity, social neglect and racist arrogance; it described how Tom's Muggle father had rejected the boy's mother and his son whom he never even saw; how Riddle's mother died out of desperation, leaving young Tom behind in a Muggle orphanage; how the young boy was discovered to be a wizard by Dumbledore and brought to Hogwarts but had already, at the age of 11, developed a penchant for domination and cruelty. Harry knows all that. The man before him is of utmost evil, but he is still just Tom Riddle, he is not a superhuman demon but merely a human person who out of mimetic desire and rivalry has mutilated his own soul almost beyond repair. All that rings in this simple name, and Voldemort himself realizes his diminution by its use. His reply is mockery:
'Is it love again?', said Voldemort, his snake's face jeering. 'Dumbledore's favourite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the Tower and breaking like an old waxwork. Love, which did not prevent me stamping out your Mudblood mother like a cockroach, Potter - and nobody seems to love you enough to run forwards this time, and take my curse.' [...] 'If it is not love that will save you this time', said Voldemort, 'you must believe that you have magic that I do not, or else a weapon more powerful than mine?' 'I believe both', said Harry, and he saw shock flit across the snake-like face, though it was instantly dispelled; (HP 7,36,592)
Harry goes on to reveal that Snape had not been Voldemort's man for the past 17 years and killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore's order rather than Voldemort's; and he explains that Draco Malfoy disarmed Dumbledore and therefore was the rightful owner of the Elder Wand until Harry disarmed him. So Voldemort is facing him with a wand whose allegiance belongs not to him but to Harry. Harry also warns Voldemort:
'But before you try to kill me, I'd advise you to think about what you've done ... think, and try for some remorse, Riddle ...' 'What is this?' Of all things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked Voldemort like this. ... 'It is your last chance,' said Harry, 'it's all you've got left ... I've seen what you'll be otherwise ... be a man ... try ... try for some remorse ...' (HP 7,36,594)
It is a taunt but it is more than that. It is, finally, the indication that Harry also wants to save Voldemort. When Voldemort will be the helpless baby-shaped something that Harry has seen, he will be beyond help, as Dumbledore explained. But as long as he lives, he could repent, he could change, as remote and ridiculous the possibility might seem. Since Voldemort is completely oblivious to the possibility that Harry might win their duel and to any idea of remorse in general, there is no other way for Harry to voice this but in a taunt. And yet he made a last attempt at even redeeming Tom Riddle, the lost boy who became the most evil Lord Voldemort. When he pays no attention to Harry's warning, Harry summarizes their situation: "'So it all comes down to this, doesn't it? [...] Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does ... I am the true master of the Elder Wand.'" (HP 7,36,595)
And they cast their dueling spells, which are very revealing:
The first, being the unforgivable killing curse with which Voldemort has terrorized the world for so long. The second a simple disarming spell that Harry learned in his second year at school and that he has used to defend himself even in grave peril. His mentor Lupin had chided him for it: "'Harry, the time for Disarming is past! These people are trying to capture and kill you! At least Stun if you aren't prepared to kill!'" (HP 7,5,64) Lupin is speaking the logic of war, and for a time Harry had succumbed to it, using the other two unforgivable curses, the Imperio curse that breaks others' free will and uses them as puppets, and the torture curse Crucio. But he has always refrained from the Death Curse, and now in the final battle he returns to simple disarming. It could not be made clearer that Harry does not directly intend Tom Riddle's death. He intends the end of his reign of horror, and he intends to protect his own life, but not at the expense of Riddle's. And yet: Harry was right about the wand's allegiance. The Elder Wand causes the killing curse to rebound on Voldemort and the latter, now unprotected by Horcruxes or any other dark magic, is killed.
This final duel is reminiscent of an old motif used by many Church fathers to explain the salvific power of Christ's death, as related by Raymund Schwager in his treatise of early Christian models of redemption. Cyril of Jerusalem, for example, viewed Christ's body as a "bait for the dragon", the devil. Satan sought to devour the bait in order to destroy his greatest opponent. Yet because Christ's humanity was joined to his divinity (the "fish-hook"), Satan brought about his own downfall by going for the bait. Cyril views Christ's prayer in Gethsemani as a deception to lure the devil into this trap, an idea that Schwager criticizes because it attributes deception to God's and Christ's methods of salvation.
I think there are strong similarities to the struggle between Harry and Voldemort, although I still want to caution against a direct parallelization. Harry explicitly warns Voldemort about the wand's allegiance; so contrary to the problematic idea of salvation by deliberate deception, in Harry Potter Voldemort succumbs to his own self-deception; his down-fall is a self-judgment. The idea of self-judgment is central in Schwager's interpretation of divine punitive action, so in this respect Harry Potter corresponds better to a Christian understanding of judgment and salvation than the ancient models. While Harry clearly counts on Voldemort's attempt to kill him and utilizes that as a ruse to effect Voldemort's eventual downfall, he does not deceive Voldemort about it. However, it is clear that Voldemort is not the devil but merely a deluded human being, who nevertheless stands at the center of a highly contagious system of antagonistic mimesis and scapegoat-mechanism. Conversely Harry is a new model, first singled out as a victim, but then reversing the antagonistic mimesis by a positive mimesis of grace and forgiving and clearly himself following the models of his mother and Dumbledore. Thus he is called "their leader and symbol, their saviour and their guide" (HP 7,36,596), but he is not divine for the simple fact that God does not occur in the Harry Potter series.
And yet, is not Harry's return from the dead a kind of resurrection experience? Dumbledore makes it clear to Harry that he is not dead, although he could remain where he was, if he chose to. Christ is professed to have died. Harry does not return in a transfigured way, as the Gospels try to tell about Jesus by giving accounts of his appearances that are on a superficial level contradictory, an attempt to express the inexpressible. Harry comes back to be as he was before and to continue his normal life, as we soon learn, while Jesus only came back to confirm his salvific role, and then left again in the ascension to be present in a different way.
Still there is another kind of resurrection experience in Harry Potter. In a stroke of genius Rowling has the final chapter play 19 years later, giving us a glimpse into Harry's future. Harry and his wife are seeing off their second son to his first year at school, the boy's name is "Albus Severus". This detail contains an important message: it shows that Harry has completely forgiven both Dumbledore and Snape for the mistakes they've made and for what he had to suffer because of them. He can appreciate what he was given by them, and forgive the losses. This forgiveness could well be interpreted as the kind of Easter Experience which Paul Nuechterlein hoped would occur in Book 7. He is right that "the Christian Easter experience also entails an experience of forgiveness and reconciliation. For Harry the most powerful possibility for that experience would lie with Snape-Malfoy to a lesser extent" (Nuechterlein 2005), and this is exactly what we encounter at the end of the series.
During the meeting in San Diego, Matthew Condon argued that the character of Severus Snape would be a good example for self-sacrifice in the Christian sense: He risked his life continuously and in the end lost it in the service to Dumbledore and his good purpose. And he did so very unspectacularly without reaping any reward for it. All the time he had to endure the mistrust of many people and was still one of Dumbledore's closest confidants. His past as a Death Eater is no argument against that, conversion being one of the central Christian categories. St. Paul had been a persecutor of Christians; after his conversion he became an apostle. Likewise Snape converted from being a Death Eater to being Dumbledore's close ally, and he was instrumental in bringing about Voldemort's downfall.
Still, I think Snape is not a shining example of a Christian sacrifice, and this for several reasons, the most important of which is: Snape's role in general, as in Dumbledore's death, remains bound by the logic of war. As an under-cover agent and spy he is continuously walking the line between committing smaller crimes in order to retain his cover and to avoid the really big crimes. We learn that after his conversion he has never killed, and some of his crimes are accidents (like cutting off George Weasley's ear – cf. HP 7,33,552). Committing smaller crimes in order to prevent big ones is the business of secret services and some investigative organizations in our world but it is not the approach to healing the world that Christianity espouses.
Another important reason is Snape's negative character traits that remain even after his conversion: he reviles Harry because of the injustices he had incurred at James Potter's hands; and he is unable to overcome that feeling until the very end. Snape also conducted himself to his students and colleagues very unfairly, even despicably, beyond the measure that camouflage required. He remained mentally trapped in a mimetic rivalry with James Potter. What saved him despite these problems was his true and sincere love for Lily, which overcame all these obstacles.
So Snape is almost a tragic character. He deserves high respect for what he has done and what he gave up (sacrificed) for it; yet he remains highly ambivalent, which means that he is really very much in need of forgiveness for his mistakes and misdeeds, which he receives in the end. So Snape has indeed an important role in a Christian reading of Harry Potter: but it is not to give an example of the Christian sacrifice – this is Harry's part. It is to show how love overcomes the dark powers in the human heart and enables it to receive a forgiveness that leads to eventual redemption.
J. K. Rowling consistently uses the term sacrifice with the meaning of the Christian sacrifice of self-giving love. Lily's death and Harry's readiness to die are clearly called a self-sacrifice. Some minor voluntary self-denials (sometimes also entailing mortal dangers) are called sacrifices, for example Ronald Weasley's readiness to have himself taken in a game of wizards' chess, not knowing what that would do to him (cf. HP 1,16,205), or Dumbledore's readiness to give up his position as Headmaster to cover for Harry's Defense League, which the boy had called Dumbledore's Army (HP 5,29,587). Conspicuously Dumbledore's death is never once called a sacrifice in the novels, neither is Pettigrew's self-mutilation in helping Voldemort regain a body. So Rowling is very considerate in her use of sacrifice and uses it only to refer to clear acts of self-giving out of love in order to support life. The only exceptions to that are cases where someone speaks Voldemort's mind. For example, at the end of Book 5 Voldemort for a while takes possession of Harry in order to tempt Dumbledore to try and get rid of him by "sacrificing" Harry (cf. HP 5,37,730). Dumbledore relates that to Harry in Voldemort's logic, which is not his. Whenever the characters speak in the logic underlying the book series, they consistently use sacrifice in the post-Biblical, Christian, sense.
In our discussion at the AAR meeting the point was also raised of how sacrifice and heroism are interrelated. I am convinced that the two are clearly distinct on a theoretical level, while in practical matters the distinction is often blurred and cannot be clearly decided on.
I would argue that the cult of heroism is a variant of the sacred: either someone aspires him/herself to be a hero or he/she is posthumously declared a hero by others. In the first case, the person's primary motivation for giving up his/her life is not saving the lives of others but his/her own fame in death. So it is actually a vain desire for glory and honor to be bestowed on the hero for the great deed, which might as a secondary, instrumental, motive also contain the desire to save others. Such a vain desire can clearly be traced back to mimetic mechanisms. Depending on how much either the desire for vainglory or the desire to help others is in the foreground, we could talk about different degrees of purity of a motivation of self-giving sacrifice.
Of course someone who has a pure motivation might posthumously be glorified by others in a manner not consistent with the Christian sacrifice but more akin to hero-worship. This has at certain times and places also happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Where his Easter victory is celebrated in a triumphalist way and the real fear and pain of Good Friday are downplayed or forgotten, this is certainly the case. The same applies to Christian martyrs. A complete contamination has occurred where glorification of past heroes is used to immerse people in a culture that seeks to create martyr-heroes. This happened in Christian churches as well as in politics, e.g. in Europe before World War I, and it could be the case with some American soldiers currently serving in the "war on terrorism".
How is Harry Potter positioned towards that question? I again think that Rowling takes a clear stance. It is that Harry views himself at no point as a hero. He neither seeks his self-sacrifice, nor does he glory in it when he has survived unexpectedly. He very often feels the unpleasant effects of others glorifying him and suffers from being hero-worshipped. Thus Rowling shows how easy the genuine self-sacrifice can be perverted into a heroism that is again an outcrop of contagious mimetic mechanisms, and she disapproves of it.
I think our preliminary criteria hold up pretty well, however following up on my uneasiness about declaring Dumbledore's death a sacrifice enables us to provide some refinement. The questions we have to add for refining them is: does the self-sacrifice of one person, which is given for all the right reasons, involve another person in an unfitting way? And: Does it amount to an indirect form of suicide? In Dumbledore's case both have to be answered in the affirmative and therefore his death is not fitting the rules of Christian sacrifice but pertaining to the rules of war conduct.
Another example of where the criteria need be amended is for cases where the accomplishment of the positive aim of the sacrifice – saving lives – entails the taking of another life (in the case of Harry Potter Tom Riddle's). If this occurs, it cannot be a direct killing because that would devalue the giving of life and preclude it from being a Christian sacrifice (it would again be a "sacrifice" in the logic of warfare or combat). Therefore it is very important that it is not Harry who kills Riddle, but it is Riddle's own curse that rebounds on him, and he was warned that this could happen. So he was not even tricked into destroying himself, he tricked himself because of his hardened heart. Lord Voldemort's downfall is a clear self-judgment in the biblical sense.
These new criteria also preclude any suicide attack from being a sacrifice in the post-Biblical sense. These attacks have become very common nowadays, where they are used as a means of warfare especially by terrorists who claim to be motivated by their Muslim faith. Such a death does not qualify as a sacrifice in a post-Biblical sense because, while it may well be subjectively motivated by saving or improving the lives of innocents, it aims at doing so by killing others and it also causes one's own death, while the post-Biblical sacrifice only accepts one's own death but does not bring it about. For these reasons, even if suicide attacks were directed towards really guilty aggressors, they would not qualify as genuine post-Biblical self-sacrifices; they could merely be seen as military heroism with all the pertaining affinity towards the scapegoat-mechanism.
A final thought: There might well be special significance to the idea that Harry accomplishes his self-sacrifice without really dying. It is the attitude with which he approaches death rather than death as such that makes Harry the savior of his wizarding world. We know that the real world often is harsher and demands its martyrs' lives. Yet even here, it is the attitude with which they approach death that decides on whether their death can be salvific in any sense.
Rowling 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007
Anselm v. Canterbury. 1956. Cur Deus homo. Warum Gott Mensch geworden. Darmstadt.
Girard, René. 1986. The Scapegoat. Translated by Freccero, Y. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
---. 1987. Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Oughourlian and G. Lefort. Translated by Bann, S. and Metteer, M. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
---. 1993. "Violence, Difference, Sacrifice: A Conversation with René Girard. Interview by Rebecca Adams", Religion & Literature, 25 (2), 11-33
---. 1995 "Mimetische Theorie und Theologie", in Niewiadomski, J. and Palaver, W. (ed.) Vom Fluch und Segen der Sündenböcke. Raymund Schwager zum 60. Geburtstag (Beiträge zur mimetischen Theorie 1), Thaur: Kulturverlag, 15-29.
---. 2000 "Violence Renounced: Response", in Swartley, W. M. (ed.) Violence Renounced: René Girard, Biblical Studies and Peacemaking (Studies in Peace and Scripture 4), Telford: Pandora Press, 308-20.
Loyola, Ignatius of. 1996. Personal Writings. Reminiscences, Spiritual Diary, Select Letters including the text of the Spiritual Exercises. Translated by Munitz, J. A. and Endean, P., Penguin Classics. London: Penguin Books.
Nuechterlein, Paul. 2005. Harry Potter and the Power of Love, [cited 02/11 2007]. Available from http://girardianlectionary.net/potter/hpatpol.htm.
Rowling, J. K. 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 1).
---. 1998. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 2).
---. 1999. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 3).
---. 2000. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 4).
---. 2003. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 5).
---. 2005. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 6).
---. 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury. (= HP 7).
Schwager, Raymund. 1986 "Der Sieg Christi über den Teufel. Zur Geschichte der Erlösungslehre", Der wunderbare Tausch. Zur Geschichte und Deutung der Erlösungslehre, München: Kösel, 32-53.
---. 1999. Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption. Translated by Williams, J. G. and Haddon, P. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
Wandinger, N., Drexler, Ch., and Peter, T. 2003. "Harry Potter and the Art of Theology. A Theological Perspective on the Novels of J. K. Rowling (Part 1)." Milltown Studies, 52, 1-26. Also available from http://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/leseraum/artikel/481.html.
---. 2004. "Harry Potter and the Art of Theology. A Theological Perspective on J. K. Rowling's Novels (Part 2)." Milltown Studies, 53, 131-53. Also available from http://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/leseraum/artikel/554.html.
 Unfortunately the different editions of the Harry Potter novels greatly differ in pagination. My page numbers therefore are likely to be valid only for the editions mentioned in the bibliography, which are the English originals. For easier handling, the references also give the chapter which contains the quotation. So HP 5,37,741 refers to volume five of the book series, chapter 37, page 741 in the edition given in the bibliography.
 In the case of Jesus, of course, it is the absolute innocence of the victim. But all other victims that follow Christ in his way to the Cross, for example the martyrs, are only relatively innocent: they are innocent with respect to the accusation leveled against them by their persecutors; but as sinful human persons they are not completely innocent like Jesus.
 Cf. Schwager 1999, 207.
 Schwager 1999, 118.
 I want to emphasize that I am not comparing Judas to Snape or Jesus to Dumbledore. I am comparing the structure between Jesus, Judas and Jesus' death with the structure that exists in Harry Potter between Dumbledore's death, Snape, and Dumbledore.
 For the functioning of that logic in Jesus' passion and in politics cf. Girard 1986, 112-7. In Dumbledore's case his applying that logic deliberately to himself modifies it somewhat, but not to the extent that it would not be mythic anymore.
 Schwager 1999, 118.
 Cf.: Wandinger, Drexler, and Peter 2004, 142-4, also available online: http://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/leseraum/artikel/554.html paragraphs 27-30.
 Cf. Anselm v. Canterbury 1956, chs. 9-10
 Cf. Girard 1986, 113-4.
 Cf. Schwager 1999, 192.
 Dumbledore had used the Resurrection stone in a futile attempt to bring his sister back to life, who had died in an accident when Dumbledore was Harry's age. It was never clarified who actually cast the spell that hit her-Dumbledore himself, his brother Aberforth, or his then best friend Gellert Grindelwald with whom he split up after this event and who became Voldemort's precursor as evil-doer and Muggle-hater. Dumbledore in the end defeated him, taking the Elder Wand from him but he never quite got over the loss of his sister and his guilty part in it.
 Cf. Schwager 1986, 34-6
 Cf. Wandinger, Drexler, and Peter 2003.
 How close the two may sometimes lie and how difficult the discernment is can be seen in St. Ignatius Loyola's Autobiography. Cf. Loyola 1996, 3-65.
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