Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Lies and Deceit

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Lies and Deceit

Oh, Shmoopers, it's getting really hard to trust these characters. The bad guys are lying, obvs, but the good guys are...also lying a fair bit. Or, at least we think they're all good guys? We're not sure. It's all so confusing.

But what else could we expect, when Lord Voldemort is inching ever closer toward his goals and gaining more and more power? The stakes of defeating—or even angering him—are high, and morals are getting mighty fuzzy.

Case in point: in Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore are definitely open to telling a few harmless fibs if it helps them get the information they need to take down Voldemort. That information, of course, is to come from Professor Slughorn—who, despite seeming like a nice enough guy, is definitely lying about something in his history with Voldemort.

See what we mean? Everyone's got his or her pants on various degrees of fire this year. Even Hermione engages in some ethically-questionable behavior. Hermione. It's a sign of the times, we know, but that doesn't make it any less confusing, does it?

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Do you think/feel differently about Hermione after she secretly confunds McLaggen so that Ron wins at tryouts? Were you totally shocked?
  2. How honest and open is Dumbledore being with Harry? Why does it matter?
  3. Where do Snape's loyalties lie? Do you think he's really still on Team Dumbledore?
  4. Isn't lying bad? If so, why are so many good and nice people doing it in this story?

Chew on This

Hermione's iffy decision to intervene in Ron's Quidditch tryout = a symbol of how the kids are now pretty willing to get down in the mud and blur moral lines to do what they think is important.

Morals are not iffy in this film: there's clearly a distinction between lying for self gain or preservation (Slughorn) and lying to help others (Hermione, Harry, and…maybe Snape?).

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