Author Archives: jcarrol3

Let your Happiness Protect You (Response 5)


Within Harry Potter, Harry is forced to confront what he fears the most time and time again. Harry fears Dementors that remove any happiness a person is feeling at the time and in Harry’s case forces him to relive particularly traumatic memories from his past. Thus when he is confronted with a boggart, a creature that takes the form of what you fear, it transforms into a Dementor itself. However, there are two different spells two combat the two different creatures, Riddikulis and Expecto Patronum. While the spells themselves combat different but similar creatures they seem to have a common force that must be used in order for either spell to have effect, some sort of happiness.

In the case of the boggart, a user must think of something particularly funny for the boggart to turn into when using the spell Riddikulis because laughter is what finished off a boggart. In one particular scene Neville, who is terrified of professor Snape, uses the spell and imagines Snape “wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture and swinging a huge crimson handbag” (Rowling 137). While overtop compared to the remaining ways the students dealt with their boggarts it sends a picture, that something that makes you laugh or fills you with good natured thoughts can combat something we fear.


However, when Harry faces off against the Dementors he has to use a different spell, Expecto Patronum. The spell can only work if when stating the incantation the user is able to think of a particularly happy memory, enough so that either a shield or spirit form of the spell can act as a barrier and subdue the dementor. During the first few tries, when Harry is learning the spell with Lupin he is unable to conjure a sufficient shield form and is overwhelmed. However near the end of the novel, whereas previous times he was only able to conjure the shield, he was able to conjure “not a shapeless cloud of mist, but a blinding, dazzling, silver animal”, his true Patronus (411). Harry was able to succeed at that moment because he knew he had before, but the memory that had fueled him was the desire to see his father and to save himself and his godfather Sirius.


So when looking over and comparing the two spells side by side, it seems they both require the same similar emotion to work. Which is that Happiness or joy can combat fear, depression or darkness, both spells provide elements of light, Riddiculis, the psychical transformation of fear into funny and Expecto Patronum the psychical manifestation of light to combat the rippling dark of the Dementors. The spells seem to suggest that magic in the overall scheme is supposed to encourage joy and wonder and should be used in a positive light to make things better, not worse.


The Truth in Names

Every person born into the world is given a name, that name defines whom they are and will be for the rest of their lives. In A Wizard of Earthsea, each person born is given a name to be called and for a while that name is his or her identity. However, when a child in this world is ready to take on the passage to adulthood, they learn their true name. The idea of names or naming has long been practiced in our society because it helps give meaning to the world around us; the same is true in Earthsea.


At the beginning we learn that the protagonist of the story is named Duny, named so by his late mother, thus the name he is given is one thrust upon him and not truly his own. As soon as he turns thirteen though, he is immediately stripped of his name and sent out naked and nameless into the springs. The way Duny learns his true name is parallel of that of a newborn coming into the world, naked and nameless. As the story goes along we learn how names aren’t simply a tool used to identify something, its used to hold essence over that something, everything it is and can be. Guin also hints that knowing something’s name gives you both control and accesses to it, including its very life. Therefore a person must guard their true name from others because access to their name means vulnerability and control over their very existence.


Names can also be used to form bonds though, whether through power over the names of nature and elements or in the bonds of friendship. When Vetch tells Ged that his name is “Estarriol”, Ged returns the favor because “Vetch had given that gift only a friend can give, the proof of unshaken, unshakable trust” (Guin 68-9). Vetch convinced Ged of his trust because he shared his true name, giving the power over that name to Ged to lie in his safekeeping, suggesting that while it might be vulnerable to do so, sharing a name is the most sacred oath a person could give because it inspires absolute trust.


Another factor about the names in Ged’s world is that nearly everything on it has a given name but also has a secret, true name. The true name of things such wind or fog or herbs allows wizards or prentices such as Ged to take control of the entire thing in question has to offer. Knowing a name is power. Which is why when Ged is learning the names in the Isolate Tower he learns from Kurremkarmerruk that many great mages spend their “whole [lives] to find out the name of one single thing” (46-7). Names are the true power wizards or mages use and to learn name after true name means that you can accumulate power or that to seek out the name of even one thing grants a person great power.

A Wonderland of Nonsense

When reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, the reader can tell right away that wonderland is vastly different from its ‘real world’ counterpart. In Alice’s world, which we identify here to be the real and normal world, there are structures and rules. Whereas with Wonderland, the false world, we see there is noting logical about what occurs there and from our eyes everything that happens is nonsense. From talking animals to rapid body growing and shrinking, it’s not something that can be physically possible in our world. However, while all of wonderland is surly fantasy the scenes of the Duchess with her child and when Alice is growing small and tall consistently stand out as the most unusual scenes.


When Alice comes to the duchess’ house we see a set of chaotic events unfold in a short amount of time, from the stupid frog footman to the cook throwing cookware at the Duchess. However, the most peculiar moment comes from how the duchess treats her child. Not only does she scream and yell at it when it sneezes, her lullaby is filled with violence, saying while she shakes him to “speak roughly to your little boy, and beat him when he sneezes” (Carroll 96). While the real world does have cases of disciplining a child, I’m sure any mother from Alice’s world would be appalled at how the duchess treats her babe. Of course I doubt any mother would know what to say after the baby turns into a pig like the child does after Alice starts to carry it away. It’s an odd scene that shows both how family relationships are not perceived the same way in Wonderland and how anything that’s odd or impossible can and will occur.


Another case where Wonderland is different from the real world is its laws in physics, or its lack of it; the famous scene in which Alice’s takes one drink to make her smaller and one bite to make her tall. The scene is one we cannot get out of our heads, the idea of growing and shrinking at such a grotesque rate that it converges on body horror. While in the normal world a person grows as they age, it is not to the severity that is shown in this scene. When Alice eats the cake that says, “eat me” she grows at such a rate and height that “her head struck against the roof of the hall: in fact she was now rather more than nine feet high” (59). In the real world no one can ever be this tall because there would have been no possible way for her body to function and work for itself, she would have died, showing how the impossible in possible in Wonderland.

Contrast the Fathers in Donkeyskin and Cinderella

In the Tale of Cinderella, growing up there was always a sense at least from the original stories I had read that Cinderella’s father had been a kind and loving father. In, Donkeyskin and Cinderella, this is not the case. But more so then the story we read today there is a drastic difference between the Father in Donkeyskin who lusts after his own flesh and blood and cruel ignorance shown by the father in Cinderella.


In Donkeyskin, the father is a powerful King who was married to a beautiful and wise queen. However, when the Queen died she stated that the King could only marry a woman more beautiful, accomplished and wise than the Queen had been (109). The King agreed but, it soon becomes obvious that the king despite saying he will never marry again, wishes to have a wife again, Perrault implying subtly here that even love can be forgotten when a man has desires. The king wishes to honor his wife’s last wish but in his quest to find a new wife, the only woman he finds to be more beautiful than she is his daughter. The fact that the King desires strongly to have someone in his bed he tries to justify the fact that he wishes to marry his own daughter. However, the princess makes several demands before she will allow the king to marry her. He fulfills these requests and full but after the princess runs away we do not see the King again until the Prince and donkeyskin are marrying and by that point he has grieved for her and his love is pure again.


Meanwhile in Cinderella, the Father is simply a rich man who remarries after his wife dies, but instead of protecting his daughter from his original marriage; after he remarries he lets his stepdaughters verbally and mentally abuse her and lets them make her a servant for his house. Then when the prince starts to have the balls for the weddings he does not believe that his dirty, daughter could perhaps be the girl the prince is looking for. The father also makes one remark before Cinderella is fetched to put on the gold slipper in which he states “there’s only puny little Cinderella, my dead wife’s daughter, but she can’t possibly be the bride” (121).


So how are the two fathers different? While the King in Donkeyskin certainly tries to marry his own daughter, he never belittles her and eventually he is brought back to the power of pure love after he grieves over the absence of his child. Whereas the father in Cinderella is ignorant or doesn’t care about the abuse that his first daughter is receiving from their new family members and does not redeem himself at the end of the tale. Thus the difference is that while the King lusts after his daughter he does not verbally abuse and mistreat her as seen in Cinderella.