Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling
Good vs. Evil Quotes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
How we cite our quotes: (chapter.paragraph)
"Your defenses," said Snape, a little louder, "must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo. These pictures" – he indicated a few of them as he swept past – "give a fair representation of what happens to those who suffer, for instance, the Cruciatus Curse" -- he waved a hand toward a witch who was clearly shrieking in agony – "feel the Dementor's Kiss" – a wizard lying huddled and blank-eyed, slumped against a wall – "or provoke the aggression of the Inferius" – a bloody mass upon the ground. (9.57)
What can we learn about Snape from the way in which he describes these portraits? What does he teach his students this year? Why does he have these portraits of suffering on the wall? It would seem we know more about Voldemort than we do about Snape. Why is that?
"But she could do magic!" said Harry impatiently. "She could have got food and everything for herself by magic, couldn't she?"
"Ah," said Dumbledore, "perhaps she could. But it is my belief – I am guessing again, but I am sure I am right – that when her husband abandoned her, Merope stopped using magic. I do not think that she wanted to be a witch any longer. Of course, it is also possible that her unrequited love and the attending despair sapped her of her powers; that can happen. In any case, as you are about to see, Merope refused to raise her wand even to save her own life." (13.31)
Does Merope's refusal to save her own life, and, therefore, to love her son (Voldemort) indicate that she is evil? Do you feel pity or anger or ambivalence toward her in this moment? Here again we see how magic can be no match for the power of love (and the lack of it). Can a loveless life inspire evil? Can love be connected to evil in this story?
"'You can't kid me! The asylum, that's where you're from, isn't it? "Professor," yes, of course – well, I'm not going, see? That old cat's the one who should be in the asylum. I never did anything to little Amy Beson or Dennis Bishop, and you can ask them, they'll tell you!'" (13.114)
Little Tom Riddle is terrified of being considered crazy, of being put in a place for people who are rejected by society. This indicates to us the people in the orphanage have treated him as an outsider and have made him feel "different." Can we blame his distrustful defensiveness in this moment? Little Tom is a loner, he has no friends, and we can't help but feel a little happy for him when Dumbledore reveals to him that he has magical powers that make him quite "special." Even though these powers eventually lead him to do terrible acts of violence and cruelty, they begin as a source of pride and hope for Tom.