Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince The Supernatural

By J.K. Rowling

The Supernatural

"The situation is fraught with complications. We do not know whether the enchantments we ourselves have placed upon it, for example, making it Unplottable, will hold now that ownership has passed from Sirius's hands. It might be that Bellatrix will arrive on the doorstep at any moment. Naturally, we had to move out until such time as we have clarified the position." (3.57)

Throughout Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we really begin to understand that magic has its boundaries and that even the greatest wizard in the world, Dumbledore, can't do everything. For example, the magic that Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix placed on Sirius Black's now empty house might be trumped by a greater, ancient magic that comes from within the house itself.

"The magic I evoked fifteen years ago means that Harry has powerful protection while he can still call this house 'home.' However miserable he has been here, however unwelcome, however badly treated, you have at least, grudgingly allowed him his houseroom. This magic will cease to operate the moment that Harry turns seventeen; in other words, at the moment he becomes a man. I ask only this: that you allow Harry to return, once more, to this house, before his seventeenth birthday, which will ensure that the protection continues until that time." (3.104)

It is interesting that Dumbledore's powers can only protect Harry until he comes of age. Why do you think Dumbledore will not be able to protect Harry after this? How does magic in Harry Potter protect children?

"Lord Voldemort has finally realized the dangerous access to his thoughts and feelings you have been enjoying. It appears that he is now employing Occlumency against you." (4.24)

Occlumency is a kind of magic used to ensure that no one can read your mind or your thoughts. Harry has an ability to read Voldemort's mind and thoughts as a result of his encounter with the Dark Lord when he was just a baby.

Hermione had managed to squeeze through to a large display near the counter and was reading the information on the back of a box bearing a highly colored picture of a handsome youth and a swooning girl who were standing on the deck of a pirate ship.

"One simple incantation and you will enter a top-quality, highly realistic, thirty-minute daydream, easy to fit into the average school lesson and virtually undetectable (side effects include vacant expression and minor drooling." (6.95-96)

Even Hermione, the one who knows everything and who is cautious about much in life, can't help but be lured in by the promise of a love potion. The fact that magic can interfere with love seems troubling to us considering all of the emotions that get tied up with falling in love. What happens when people take love potions in this story?

"That's right….Well, we thought Shield Hats were a bit of a laugh, you know, challenge your mate to jinx you while wearing it and watch his face when the jinx just bounces off. But the Ministry bought five hundred for all its support staff! And we're still getting massive orders!" (6.112)

The fact that the Ministry of Magic is buying supplies from Fred and George's joke shop does not inspire the greatest of confidence in us. Seriously, though, the Ministry of Magic is supposed to be very powerful and full of all kinds of information. This fact tells us a lot about the state of affairs in the magical headquarters. Things must not be good. Fred and George show us another side of magic: its playful, silly, and prankster side. Yet, we also know that when mixed with the wrong kind of magic, even this playful magic can be dangerous.

"The Dark Arts," said Snape, "are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible." (9.55)

Has Harry ever encountered Dark Magic that proved Snape's point right? Has he ever fought something that was like fighting a "many-headed monster"?

Harry had already attempted a few of the Prince's self-invented spells. There had been a hex that caused toenails to grow alarmingly fast (he had tried this on Crabbe in the corridor, with very entertaining results); a jinx that glued the tongue to the roof of the mouth (which he had twice used, to general applause, on an unsuspecting Argus Filch); and, perhaps most useful of all, Muffliato, a spell that filled the ears of anyone nearby with an unidentifiable buzzing, so that lengthy conversations could be held in class without being overheard. (12.4)

What kind of magic is Harry learning from the Half-Blood Prince? Is it good magic, bad magic, helpful magic, pointless magic, outdated magic, dangerous magic? Are you glad that Harry has found this book and is learning these tricks? Is he changing as a result?

"I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want them to do, without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to." (13.125)

There is something eerie about the way in which Tom Riddle can, at such a young age, perform powerful magic without really knowing what it is or what he is doing. He is talented but in a dark way. He has been abandoned, doesn't have any family, and hasn't had the happiest childhood. To mix this kind of unhappiness with such power seems dangerous.

"His powers, as you heard, were surprisingly well-developed for such a young wizard and – most interestingly and ominously of all – he had already discovered that he had some measure of control over them, and begun to use them consciously. And as you saw, they were not the random experiments typical of young wizards: He was already using magic against other people, to frighten, to punish, to control. The little stories of the strangled rabbit and the young boy and girl he lured into a cave were most suggestive….'I can make them hurt if I want to….'" (13.181)

Just as many little kids play with dolls, LEGOs, or blocks, little Tom Riddle played with his magic. Imagine having that much power as a small child. Imagine having the power to get exactly what you want. Here, we begin to see that there is no one kind of magic; it seems to always change based on who is wielding it and how they are wielding it. It is a creative thing.

"What does it matter?" said Malfoy. "Defense Against the Dark Arts – it's all just a joke, isn't it, an act? Like any of us need protecting against the Dark Arts –"

Who is Malfoy referring to when he says "any of us"? And why don't they need protecting against the Dark Arts? What is he getting at? Is he suggesting that anyone who fights against Voldemort won't wield Dark Magic? Is he suggesting that there is only one person or one group capable of wielding Dark Magic?

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