Professor Trelawney Examines Her Tea Leaves

July 20, 2007 | 1 book mentioned 2 2 min read

coverOn the eve of the release of the final Harry Potter, I offer Millions readers a few brief intuitions – alas, grounded more in literary convention than in second sight – about the events to come in The Deathly Hallows.

My chief intuition, based largely on the over-determined association of Dumbledore with the phoenix throughout the series, is that everyone’s favorite headmaster is not dead (X-Men, anyone?). Recall that Harry “thinks he sees” a phoenix emerge from the smoke of Dumbledore’s funeral pyre. Based on this intuition, I also maintain that Snape is not, in fact, a Death Eater, and that he and Dumbledore staged a fake murder with Harry as witness. This will allow Snape to become more deeply embedded in Voldemort’s ranks. Dumbledore’s wisdom would be too seriously undermined if Snape really and truly betrayed him. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of this particular tea-leaf vision, more must emerge about how Snape gained Dumbledore’s trust. This will be one of the central revelations of the new book.

Of lesser intuitions:

R.A.B., the initials on the note found in the locket that was supposed to be a horcrux, belong to Sirius’ brother, Regulus Black, whom we have heard vaguely was a follower of Voldemort and then attempted to leave the ranks of the Death Eaters, only to be killed by them for his betrayal. This may mean that Slytherin’s locket is concealed somewhere in the Black family house that Sirius left to Harry.

As to whether Hogwarts will remain open during this seventh year with Harry, I suspect that it will remain open in some capacity – if only as a larger and better fortified headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix and their allies.

I hope that, in the less than illustrious cooking-sherry-drinking tradition of Professor Trelawney, I am wrong about all of these things. I think The Deathly Hallows would be a better book for it.

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Virginia. She is a winner of the Virginia Quarterly's Young Reviewers Contest and has a doctorate from Stanford. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Times, In Character, VQR, Arts & Letters Daily, and The Daily Dish.


  1. Emily-

    Nice. My literary intuition tells me strongly that Snape should wind up sacrificing his life to save Harry…a kind of mudblood martyrdom…or else that Rowling screwed this one up badly. The purpose of fiction as a disenchanting form of enchantment is to expose the superstitions of its characters, rather than to confirm them, and it would be a cop-out if, after all this time, Snape did turn out to be the bad guy Harry et al always thought he was. Rowling's too smart for this.

    Much as I hate to say it, she should also be too smart to bring Dumbledore back from the dead. Magic gains fictional solidity through its limitations; how much higher would the stakes in Harry's world be if we saw that, for all its magic, dead is dead?

  2. I absolutely agree with your sense of Snape's ultimate affiliation. His ending up being a "good" character will give some nuance to the rather too stark moral opposition that dominates the Potter books.

    And yes, my reading of the phoenix symbolism is probably a touch on the naieve side: I am a sucker for the heavy-handed use of symbols, particularly as they relate to foreshadowing. Trelawney-like, I read the fates of characters in symbols not intended to reveal anything plot-wise.

    At any rate, Dumbledore won't be as dead as Sirius: His portrait on the headmaster's office wall allows the possibility that he still has some advisory role to play.

    We shall see soon enough…

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