[Show music begins]
Rosie Morris: This is Episode 193 of Alohomora! for June 4, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Rosie: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another brand new episode of Alohomora! I am Rosie Morris.
Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard.
Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller. And our fan guest host today is our friend Jessica. Hello, Jessica.
Jessica Krussel: Hi, everyone.
Kat: Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Jessica: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited.
Kat: Absolutely. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. You have a fun username on our site, don’t you?
Jessica: [laughs] Yeah. On the site I’m MischiefManaged. I’m kind of… I come and go because I’m a teacher, so I get periods where I’m super busy and don’t really get on the forum. But I’ve been around since pretty much the beginning as MischiefManaged on the forums and the main site.
Kat: Fantastic. We love that name. A nice, classic Harry Potter name. It’s good.
Jessica: Thank you.
Kat: Sure. What house are you?
Jessica: I am a Hufflepuff.
Jessica: I always self-identified as a Puff. And all the online quizzes that you took before Pottermore came out with theirs, every single one always put me Hufflepuff, except I think I got one Ravenclaw, once. And then on Pottermore, I’ve taken the test twice, the old one and the new one. Both Hufflepuff, so… [laughs]
Rosie: Definitively Hufflepuff. [laughs]
Jessica: Yes. [laughs]
Kat: Not such a bad place to be. A great place, in fact.
Jessica: I’m very proud of my Hufflepuff-ness.
Kat: Good. What grade do you teach?
Jessica: I teach ninth grade. Freshmen.
Jessica: And I’m an English teacher.
Alison: Oh, that’s my ideal.
Kat: Are you still finding that there [are] a ton of Potter fans coming into your classroom?
Jessica: I have several. I had a couple that I tried to introduce to Alohomora! I don’t know if they ever did. But if you did – hi, guys!
Jessica: But yeah, I still get plenty of Harry Potter fans coming in, and a few that I try to introduce to the books if they haven’t read them yet.
Kat: Good for you. Marching on for the next generation.
Jessica: Oh, always.
Rosie: Well, this week we are on our final Beedle episode, which seems far too soon to have read all these stories already.
Kat: I know.
Rosie: But it is, of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” So make sure you have read that story – as if you didn’t already know it – by the time we get to that discussion in a few minutes’ time.
Kat: But of course before we jump into main discussion, we want to take a second to talk about our Patreon page. This episode is sponsored by Jaye Dozier. Yay! Thank you very much, Jaye.
Rosie: Thank you, Jaye!
Alison and Jessica: Yay!
Kat: And all of you out there listening can become a sponsor for as little as $1/month. And we release all sorts of exclusive tidbits for our sponsors on there. So definitely check that out if you are able to. We’re very close to our next goal, which would mean that Rosie and Michael do some fancy online video game play of the Harry Potter video games. So I think we’re $10 or $9 away, so check that out if you have the means and are able to. It’s over at alohomora.mugglenet.com. There’s a little link at the top. Or I think the website is patreon.com/Alohomora. So there you go. Check it out.
Rosie: So we should point out that obviously we have discussed “The Tale of the Three Brothers” slightly before. It’s got its own chapter within Deathly Hallows and it had its own episode back on Episode 171 at the beginning of this year. So technically, we’ve discussed aspects of it. You can definitely go and listen to that episode again. It’s on our archive, so that you can hear what we said then and see if we completely contradict ourselves right now. We’re hopefully going to discuss some different things. We’re going to be much more story-focused, as opposed to the Peverell and Harry Potter links. So we hope that you enjoy this discussion. So without further ado, here is “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” So with the other tales, we have been looking at other connections and other stories that have fed into them a bit. In Episode 171, you guys actually – Kat and Alison – both discussed “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Three Billygoats Gruff” as examples of possible connections, and obviously the major connection that we can draw here is “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer. In fact, there’s a Bloomsbury Live – July 30, 2007 – chat with J.K. Rowling, which was nine days after Deathly Hallows [was] released, where a fan called Jesse said, “Were the Deathly Hallows based on any real-world myth or fairy tale?” and Jo replied, “Perhaps “The Pardoner’s Tale’ by Chaucer.” We will look into “The Pardoner’s Tale” a little bit later on, and I may in fact read a version of that for our Patreon friends coming up next week. So we will think about this story and then compare it in just a moment. But were there any other stories that “The Pardoner’s Tale” made you think of? Anything from your literature knowledge that you kind of went, “Oh, that’s a bit familiar”?
Kat: No, and I remember being on that episode and we were talking about that. And none of us really knew what it was. And I specifically remember saying, “Where’s Rosie when you need her?”
Kat: So I am very much looking forward to that discussion later on.
Rosie: Good. In that case, we will start straight into the tale by Jo herself. It is “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” and it starts off with the three brothers walking along a lonely and winding road. And whenever you get a lonely, winding road in literature, it’s always a metaphor for life.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Rosie: It’s very hard to get away from the idea of this long, winding road being a metaphor for life. It’s just unusual that we should have a lonely road when there are actually three people walking along it together. Do you think there’s an interesting element of this, where they’re described as lonely and yet they are supposedly brothers walking along at the same time?
Alison: I think it’s an interesting look at how different they are, that if it feels like a lonely road but there’s still all three of them, that, on the onset, sets out how they’re going to approach this obstacle differently. And they’re not going to team up together or anything.
Jessica: They strike me as people that would not interact with each other at all if they weren’t siblings.
Alison and Rosie: Yeah.
Jessica: They have nothing in common, and they would just fight all the time, except they’re siblings so they have to be together.
Kat: It’s funny because you forget that “lonely” is in there because… well, we were saying this in the pre-show, that it’s such a different experience reading “The Tale of the Three Brothers” outside of Deathly Hallows because you don’t get all those interruptions. And this is a prime example of that because you forget that “lonely” is in there because Hermione keeps getting interrupted at this part, and Ron is talking about twilight instead of… oh, no, midnight instead of twilight. Right, exactly. So that’s something that I hadn’t ever thought about, the fact that it’s lonely. And Alison, I loved what you said about it. I think that’s spot-on. Yeah.
Rosie: So the other thing that we always skip over and [don’t] focus [on] – for twilight or midnight or Ron interrupting – is the fact that they then come across a river, and it’s this river that is the main setting of this… kind of starting moment. The river is too wide and too deep and too dangerous to cross or swim, and it’s very much the first obstacle that these brothers approach. And they do have to try and work together to work out how they are going to cross it. Alison, you suggested that it seems far too dangerous almost to cross it, and how do Muggles get across it? And is it just wizards being lazy that they have to pull out their wands and create a bridge? Could they not find any other way?
Alison: [laughs] Yeah, that was me being a little facetious last night.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: No, I think that that is… I think that that’s part of it. I mean, maybe… wizards are very used to just being able to use magic for everything. So yeah. I don’t think that that’s invalid.
Alison: Yeah, I guess it just got me thinking… I wonder why… I mean, obviously for the purposes of telling this tale, but why they would not just look a little bit around them to see if there was one that Muggles would use. That just seems to make the most sense. But maybe that’s just me.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: As a Muggle talking… thinking in Muggle ways, yes. Yeah, yeah.
Rosie: Well, if the road is always a metaphor for life, a river is a really interesting symbol and image throughout mythology. They are often representations of death. So there are rivers of death in many different mythologies – most obviously Greek – but there are some in Norse and other mythologies as well. There are actually five rivers in Greek mythology that are the rivers of Hades, of the Underworld. These are Acheron, the River of Woe; Cocytus, the River of Lamentation; Phlegethon, the River of Fire; Styx, the River of the Unbreakable Oath, by which the gods took their vows; and Lethe, which is the River of Forgetfulness. Styx is the most well-known. It’s the one which has got Charon and the ferryman that you have to pay to cross. There [are] many, many examples of archeological finds of bodies and graves that have been discovered with coins in the eye sockets of the skull because people placed coins on their eyes as payment for the ferryman to carry the person’s soul across the river. And it’s just interesting that… if we are thinking about Styx as this boundary between life and the Underworld, for it to be the river of an unbreakable oath… that sounds very Potter-like to me…
Rosie: … that this river is perhaps not all that it seems in this tale. And stating the obvious, but rivers are dangerous.
Alison: [laughs] Yes.
Rosie: Especially if you are ancient figures in an ancient story where you had limited technology to help you cross. So I’m not thinking they’re too lazy when they’ve just got a very dangerous river to cross.
Alison: [laughs] Yeah.
Rosie: And it is a likely place that you would actually meet Death, which is interesting then.
Kat: [It] would be funny, though, if there [were] a bridge just down the bank.
Rosie: It would.
Kat: I don’t know; 200 yards or something.
Alison: Well, it reminds me of… if any of you guys played Oregon Trail, the computer game.
Kat: Oh my God.
Jessica: Oh, yes.
Alison: [laughs] You get to some of those rivers, and they’re like, “What do you want to do to cross this river?”
Rosie: But whatever you do, you’re always going to die of dysentery when you get to the other side.
Jessica: You’re going to die.
Kat: Right, pretty much.
Alison: [laughs] Yes.
Kat: Oh, I miss that game. That game was super fun.
Jessica: I know.
Kat: They need to update that and make a version that works on modern computers.
Alison: They used to have one on iPhone. That would work on that, but…
Kat: Searches App Store for app…
Alison: It wasn’t as good. But…
Rosie: Our good friends at StarKid also created a musical choose-your-own-adventure story based on it as well, which is hilarious. You should try and check it out on YouTube if you can. But to come back to our story, it’s interesting that these brothers are not actually described as wizards, although they are doing magic and they are later described as wizards. [In] the first introduction to them, they are described as “learned in the magical arts” and not wizards outright, so suggestive perhaps of a time before the labeling and before the kind of distinction between magical folk and non-magical folk? Or just a quirk of the language? What do you think?
Alison: It made me think more that it was more like… it made me think of back in ancient times, but medieval times when there [were] only certain people… well, actually, mostly until quite recently, relatively, that only certain people got an education. So it almost sounds like these are more… it’s almost like all wizards didn’t get that education at this time, but these three had. They had been trained in their magic; it wasn’t just using what was natural.
Kat: What year does this story take place?
Jessica: Beedle the Bard lived in the 15th century.
Kat: Okay, so this was definitely before all of the laws and reforms and all that.
Kat: So I do think that it’s partially what Alison said. But I do think it’s probably a large portion, the… trying to keep that under wraps, for sure. I think Beedle would be very aware of that, even though this is a tale for magical children and the like. I still think he’d be aware of that.
Rosie: It’s interesting to remember as well that if Beedle was writing in the 15th century, then Hogwarts had already been around for five centuries before that. So if they were learned in the magical arts, they probably actually did go to Hogwarts.
Alison: Oh, yeah. Huh.
Rosie: Which is cool. We don’t think of Hogwarts as being quite that old, but it was. But anyway, they created this bridge, they started to cross the river, and halfway across they met with a cloaked, hooded figure. And this figure is Death himself. He was completely livid that these people had managed to outsmart him and that he was very cunning, so he pretended to offer congratulations and gifts to trick them into proving that he was not actually defeated after all. But he really did give these gifts. So although it describes him as being cunning and pretending to offer his congratulations, why does he actually go through with it? Why not just kill them outright? Were all of the gifts really supposed to be that cursed, or was the third brother really just that intelligent to outwit the curse from the very beginning?
Kat: Both. All of the above.
Alison: Yeah. I feel like part of it is like dying on your own sword; that’s what he’s trying to do more than anything. If we’re thinking of Death as a character here, then it’s almost like he is trying to out-trick these brothers from outsmarting him.
Jessica: It’s almost like he’s trying to get back at them, like, “Oh, you outsmarted me once, and now I’m going to turn it back around on you and make you kill… take this thing. I’m going to make you,” like you said, “fall on your own sword.” And almost knowing that they’re going to take something that he can use to then kill them quickly later on.
Rosie: Yeah. So just killing them outright on the bridge or just pushing them off it or whatever would be too easy. It wouldn’t be a proper death. Therefore, they have to earn their death almost.
Kat: Well, too, is Death…? That begs the question: Is Death just allowed to take you if it’s not “your time”?
Jessica: That was exactly what I was about to ask. [laughs]
Kat: So could he…? Whatever the laws of death are… would he be allowed to just take them? They did make the bridge. They did give themselves safe passage, even though that angered him. He can’t just kill people out of anger. I mean, even now we have laws against that. [laughs] So I mean…
Jessica: And Death is… and he’s almost portrayed as an after the fact. In some mythologies you’ve got, when you see Death, Death actually kills you himself. But in this tale, it’s more like he’s a collector of you; like after you have died, Death comes and then collects you.
Kat: Mmm. That’s true.
Jessica: So maybe that’s part of it. For whatever reason in these laws that are set up, he can’t just kill them outright.
Kat: Right, which I do think makes him honest. And I like that you said that, Rosie, because I actually think that Death tends to bring that out in everybody. The honesty. And we all feel… I mean, obviously, I’ve never died, but I have been with people who have, and there’s always that purging moment of, “Well, I never got to say this so I’m going to say this.” Or, “I never got to do this, so I’m going to do that.” And I think that Death is honest, in people and in death itself.
Rosie: Sure, which is then quite interesting that he’s almost tricking them into creating situations where this death would eventually occur. It’s almost a bit like the Final Destination ideas – if you’ve ever seen those films – where if you’ve skipped death once, it’s just going to come back for you as soon as possible. There is an inevitability of death, that that should have been their time, but because of the magical powers they managed to put it off. So Death does feel cheated here. And as such, he gives each of them the gift that they request. And it’s interesting that the eldest brother, therefore, asks for the Elder Wand. The eldest brother is described as combative, and he requests a wand that will always win duels for its owner, which struck me as a very Gryffindor trait: They’re brave, they want to go into battle, [and] they want to always succeed. And I’ve assigned houses to each of these three brothers, so we’ll see what you guys think of those as we go along. Alison, you wanted to say something about Harry here.
Alison: Yeah. I was reading it and I was remembering… it says, “a wand that must always win duels for its owner,” which suggests that Harry, if he’s the owner of the wand, would have won his duel with Voldemort no matter what. Is that just how I’m reading the language of this tale, or do you guys think that’s kind of true?
Kat: I mean, it says, “a wand that must always win duels for its owner.” I think, unfortunately, the Harry situation is a unique one and can’t really be applied to the mythology of the tale. I know that seems odd since it’s in the series, but it’s more about the Hallows. And even though the wand’s a Hallow in the novels, it has so much more to do with the Horcruxes. So, I think that… no, Harry might not have won either way. Or maybe he would have. I know that is not a definitive answer in any way, shape, or form.
[Alison, Jessica, and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: It’s interesting because if the wand always wins its duels, then no one would be able to capture it. So, for the fact that Harry managed to disarm Draco, and Draco managed to disarm Dumbledore, it doesn’t always win its duels. So I would say it’s more toward the language of the tale than the actual magic.
Alison: That makes sense, yeah.
Jessica: Dumbledore’s commentary even mentions how people have been defeated with this wand, and he defeated Grindelwald. The only thing I could say that maybe could go against that is Dumbledore at least allowed himself to be defeated by Draco.
Rosie: This is true. Though I don’t think Draco would have been allowing anyone to take that wand off him.
Jessica: But he didn’t have the Elder Wand.
Rosie: That is true again, yeah.
Jessica: Harry didn’t take the Elder Wand. Harry took Draco’s original wand.
Rosie: So that wand wasn’t actually involved with that duel.
Jessica: So maybe the Elder Wand has never lost a duel. It’s just…
Rosie: The failings of the owners.
Jessica: I don’t know how Grindelwald and Dumbledore fit in, except maybe Grindelwald was starting… I mean, we know Grindelwald saw the error of his ways eventually. So maybe when he battled Dumbledore, he allowed himself to be beaten. Conspiracy theory?
Jessica: I love those.
Rosie: There’s always an interesting idea of ownership as well, and we see that definitely within the Harry Potter series and how the goblins react to their items that have been lent out to wizards. They consider themselves the true owners, even if the wizards have bought them off them – things like that tiara and the goblin-made sword, et cetera, et cetera… So what does it actually mean to be the owner of the wand? Is the wand perhaps always owned by Death, and therefore anyone who dies at its hand is technically a win for Death because the wand is always sending it new victims?
Kat: That’s kind of brilliant, Rosie. Yep.
Alison: Yeah, I really like that.
Jessica: I like that.
Alison: We’re going with that.
[Alison and Jessica laugh]
Rosie: Just to get a bit meta there. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, no, I do… I think that that’s totally plausible, and potentially incredibly real. I think that that is something that Death would see as a major positive.
Rosie: And the arrogance of wizards, they would never really consider it…
Kat: Right. Because the eldest brother is killed in his sleep. Right?
Kat: I mean, somebody slits his throat. So it wasn’t even during a duel.
Kat: That’s the thing.
Rosie: But he would feel confident because he had won a previous duel with that wand, so he had no reason to doubt its power. But yeah, so moving on from that first eldest brother and the Elder Wand, we have the second brother who is described as arrogant. Which I found incredibly interesting because I would have thought that the eldest brother was the one that was thought of as arrogant. He needs to always win the duels, and he needs to have this feeling of pride. And yet it is the second brother who’s described as arrogant in asking for something that will humiliate Death. I found that idea of arrogance and power over this kind of mythological figure to be a really interesting description. Do you guys think he is more arrogant than the first brother?
Alison: I think that kind of ties into the idea of him wanting to humiliate Death, which is an interesting thought for me with the Stone anyway. He wants to humiliate Death. He specifically wants to do something that is going to… oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? [laughs] He’s purposefully trying to go out there and get at Death from this.
Rosie: Yeah, undermine him.
Alison: Yeah. Which is a very arrogant thing to do.
Kat: He’s basically flipping Death the bird.
Alison: [laughs] Yeah.
Kat: I mean, pretty much. Which is a pretty arrogant and kind of rude, jerk thing to do. [laughs]
Rosie: Yeah. It’s kind of the idea of, “Death, you had one job!” And this is the thing that will overturn that, overthrow it…
Rosie: So I thought of this as a very cunning trick, that this would be the thing that it was asked for. So I kind of associated the second brother here with Slytherin. Am I right in thinking that the second brother is the one that Voldemort is descended from?
Kat: Cadmus. Yes.
Rosie: So that works. Good. [laughs] So we’ve got this interesting eldest, prideful, fighting Gryffindor [and] this arrogant, humiliating, cunning second brother Slytherin who demanded this stone. And the stone removes the power of Death and returns the dead to the living in some form. Which begs the question, where do ghosts fit into this idea? Is the resurrected figure ghost-like? Are they actually some kind of element of living? We obviously see the four – well, three Marauders and Lily – visit Harry. So we do get kind of a half-image of what this stone actually does. But if the stone has the power to overthrow Death in this way, where do ghosts get that power? How come they can choose to come back in some form?
Kat: Well, I was just reading the description because I couldn’t quite remember exactly what it says. So I guess I’ll read it out. [clears throat] It says – so this is amidst the tale of the second brother. It says:
“Here he took out the stone that had the power to recall the dead and turned it thrice in hand. To his amazement and delight, the figure of the girl he had once hoped to marry before her untimely death appeared at once before him. Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered.”
So it sounds to me – and I’ve always had an issue with the way that they portrayed “The Forest Again” and how those figures kind of came back. I’ve never really been able to put my finger on as to why, because it seems by the description here that they’re significantly more solid, even though it does say “separated from him as by a veil.” It just seems…
Rosie: They should almost be alive. It’s just the “almost” part that’s important.
Kat: Right. Yeah.
Rosie: Whereas in “The Forest Again,” they are very much ghost-like and vaporish.
Kat: Indeed, yeah. Because it says, “though she had returned to the mortal world,” so that seems like she has been resurrected. Kind of a Pushing Daisies situation, if you guys have ever seen or heard of that show. So, the main character can bring people back to life, but if he touches them again, they die again. So, that’s something I’ve always kind of thought [about] when I’ve thought about this idea of the Resurrection Stone and coming back to life. So I’m not sure on that one. I don’t know, what do you guys think?
Jessica: It’s really interesting. I’ve always wondered if you could touch these people – the girl that was brought back with the Resurrection Stone – if she’s corporal, if she’s there, or if it is just the appearance of her. Obviously the idea the movies gave was that you can’t, but there’s nothing that necessarily says that she’s not physically there in this story – and it’s very ambiguous. It’s always something I’ve wondered, like how physically present are they from this Resurrection Stone?
Rosie: There has to be enough of a barrier that the brother doesn’t feel like she is there, and she obviously is very sad and cold, so she doesn’t feel like she’s there either. But it almost gives an image of a mental separation rather than a physical one, doesn’t it? There is a disconnect emotionally and intellectually rather than necessarily physically.
Kat: Yeah, although I think that the mention of the separation of the veil makes it a very clear physical barrier between them. Because first off you think about a curtain – a veil or whatever – and also you think about the fact [that] when somebody dies, you personally as a living person can still connect to them and talk to them and hear them at some points, but you can’t ever touch them. And so, I feel like that is kind of what it’s like. It’s like a living person standing in front of you that you can talk to and be in love with and feel and all of that, but you can’t actually touch them. Which for humans, loving and being together is a big… that touch is a big part of how we connect as living human beings.
Alison: And I think I’ve always thought she wasn’t physically there because it talks about her being cold. And usually I feel like when we’re talking about people being there and touching people… flesh is usually thought of as warm, if that makes sense. So, I guess I’ve always just imagined her almost like a ghost, in a way…
Rosie: And thinking back to…
Alison: She’s not really there, but…
Rosie: Yeah. Like Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party and all of those things from the early books, we do get that very similar image of a figure who is still in the mortal world, is still around, still has physical form in some way, but there’s this disconnect. So it’s almost as if that power of the stone is very similar to what happens to ghosts and is creating these echoes of people.
Kat: Yeah, the major difference being obviously is that ghosts choose to come back…
Kat: … and the Resurrection Stone pulls somebody back, not necessarily with their approval.
Rosie: So it’s almost as if the power of the stone is a solidified version of that choice that the dead have when they reach that point. But here it is the living that are choosing to make that choice for them rather than the dead themselves as they die.
Kat: I wonder if that would make a difference if I was in possession of the stone and somebody was dying and they said, “Bring me back.” I wonder if that makes a difference as to how they appear?
Rosie: Or how happy they are afterwards.
Alison: I think that’s reflective of what happens in “The Forest Again”. Harry talks about [how] he’s not pulling them back; they’re coming to get him, in a way…
Alison: So I feel like that…
Rosie: Which is why they don’t seem sad, yeah.
Alison: Yeah. That could be part of the similarity there. They want to come bring him with them, not [that] he’s bringing them back for himself.
Kat: [laughs] You’re going to make me cry.
Alison: I know. I’m sorry, okay. [laughs]
Jessica: Yeah. We can’t talk too much about that. Okay, I just had a crazy… I told you I love conspiracy theories. I don’t know if this works at all – it just popped into my head – but okay, so this idea [that] the Resurrection Stone is so similar to ghosts and being pulled back… could Cadmus, right…
Kat: Mhm. Yep.
Jessica: I’m on the right brother?
Jessica: [Could Cadmus] have been the one to figure out how to come back as a ghost?
Alison and Kat: Oh.
Rosie: I don’t know…
Jessica: Or is it too late for that?
Rosie: … because he wanted to be with the girl, so I don’t think he would… well, it depends if the girl is locked in place now, if she is forced to remain in the mortal world because he has called her back. From “The Forest Again” we would assume that she wasn’t because the four that Harry calls are dispelled when he dies, and when the forest scene ends they’re not around anymore. So, it would suggest that she would go when Cadmus goes, so I don’t know if he would ever choose to come back as a ghost because he wants to be with her on the other side instead. But it’s possible that there is an image of ghosts and things that come around based on that. But equally, if this story is supposedly based sometime around when Beedle was writing rather than the history of stories – the history of magic and all of that kind of thing – we know that the Grey Lady is a ghost and her story would have been 9th century/10th century rather than 15th, so it’s interesting. There’s possibilities but I think ghosts probably already existed.
Jessica: Yeah. That was the main flaw I found in my theory, but just all those similarities that popped into my head of maybe that’s where this idea of ghosts came from…
Rosie: They may be more understanding of ghosts and things from it, but yeah.
Rosie: But we’ve jumped ahead of ourselves.
[Jessica and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So the third gift is given to the youngest brother, who is described as humble and wise. We’ve only got three brothers here, so we can’t assign four houses. However, humble and wise sounds like a perfect Ravenpuff to me…
Rosie: So the best features of both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are available and seen in the youngest brother himself, and his request is to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. He’s not saying that he never wants to die; he’s not saying that he wants to overcome or humiliate Death in that way. What he’s saying here is almost that death is inevitable, that they will meet eventually, but he wants to be able to live his life without the fear of the specter over his shoulder. He doesn’t want to be followed by Death. Do you guys agree?
Alison: It’s an interesting thought, and I think that might help with the practicalities of, did he wear the cloak for the rest of his life? Because that’s kind of weird. [laughs] But that might also answer my thought, which was how to reconcile [that] he didn’t trust Death, but at the end he goes with Death like an old friend. And that idea of not trusting but being like friends is an interesting thought to me because they don’t quite seem to go together…
Kat: I have a feeling that not trusting Death comes from the fact that as the youngest brother – speaking about dichotomy of siblings – he was probably left out a little bit from the older two because that does tend to happen. I mean, look at Fred and George and Ron, for example…
Kat: So the youngest brother tends to get left out of things a little bit, and I think that that leads to a fairly good understanding of the older siblings. And I think that part of not trusting Death comes from knowing those older siblings and what they’re asking for and knowing that it’s going to eventually lead to trouble – and he wants no part of that. So I have a feeling that that’s why he asked for what he did. And not trusting Death isn’t necessarily not trusting in that moment of death, but knowing that his brothers asked for things that are going to only lead to trouble, and Death is going to oblige that trouble, so to say.
Rosie: I think any deal with Death is always going to result in death, and therefore you’re never really going to trust Death to allow you to live…
Rosie: If you ever meet him it’s always going to end up in some kind of inevitable death for you. So I would see that as not trusting Death to allow him to walk from that place freely, and that’s why that’s exactly what he asked for. He wants to go from that place freely without being followed, so when he eventually does meet Death again and greets him like an old friend, it’s because Death did fulfill the promise. Death, although he is said to have looked for him, never found him and the gift fulfilled that request for a trust. It was the promise that he would not be found and it worked, and therefore Death has earned the youngest brother’s trust, by the point where he’s greeted as an old friend. So there is character growth and a change that’s allowed within the amount of time that the youngest brother lives. He becomes an old man, so it would make sense for that change to have happened over that time.
Jessica: Yeah. And, similarly to that, I almost saw when he first asked for this that he is wanting to, possibly, have the ability to never die. To not be followed by Death, to never have to meet Death again, but then, as he goes through his life and achieves old age and matures – because in this, he is a young man – as he gets more ready for death, then he realizes that living forever is not what he wants to do and he’s ready to meet Death again. And he finally takes off the cloak and is able to have had that growth and now, like you said, meet Death like an old friend.
Kat: Hmm, that’s a beautiful thought. Yeah, I like that.
Rosie: There’s an interesting symmetry there with Nicolas Flamel where he’s constantly trying to put off death for him and his wife with the Philosopher’s Stone and all of that kind of thing. But eventually, with the need for the Stone to be destroyed because of the obviously negative influences on Voldemort, all that kind of thing, he accepts that. They’ve had a long, bountiful life and, therefore, it might be time to embrace death. So yeah.
Kat: Does the Philosopher’s Stone fight against atrophy? Because I don’t know. I know that that has nothing to do with anything but if you’re 665 years old, how do your bones still work?
Alison: Lots of milk.
Rosie: Yes, so the Philosopher’s Stone is supposed to create an elixir of life or a fountain of youth effect I think. So, although it doesn’t bring you back to a youth stage, it does…
Kat: Just stops you from aging, I suppose?
Rosie: Yeah. Well, no not necessarily stop you from aging but slows the aging process, slows the negative aspects of it to an extent.
Kat: Got it. I could use some of that. I’ll take it.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Sorry, totally off topic. [laughs]
Rosie: So the three brothers now have their gifts and they set off from the bridge across the other side and into the world, happy that they’ve managed to survive and overcome this meeting with Death. We’ve already skipped ahead and talked about the second and third brother’s eventual exit, but we’ll come back to that in a little bit. But the oldest brother is the one that happens across the end of his tale the soonest. He goes from the bridge, within a month, he seeks out another wizard – and here we do get the actual term “wizard” – with whom he has been fighting for some time. He immediately goes and seeks vengeance and, therefore, you’ve got this very negative, passionate imagery of this guy who is finally been given this power and is going to use it straight away to deal the death blow on his enemy. And it does say that, “leaving his enemy dead on the floor.” Alison, you pointed out the similarity of the language here between Harry and Voldemort’s duel. So, it’s interesting that we do have this similarity of the language. Whether that is by choice that we’re trying to build a link between those two duels or whether it’s just simply Jo’s writing of violence is as very realistic and blunt. What do you guys think?
Alison: I think it’s interesting, too, that you pointed out that this oldest brother sounds like a Gryffindor, especially if we’re talking about Harry and Voldemort. And I want to say that’s almost an exact quote. It’s phrased exactly the same and I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence or – I should have looked it up – if it’s just a coincidence or if she was really trying to build some kind of meaning in that. In that very stark imagery of death after dueling just leaves you dead and empty.
Kat: And besides that, too, if you think about the fact that the minute the first brother got the wand, he ran off. It said, “He travelled for a week or more, reaching a distant village.” And so be basically got that wand and he went directly to the person that he wanted to duel with. And isn’t that what Voldemort did? I mean, he got the Elder Wand and he came immediately for Harry. So there’s definitely parallels there for sure. And I think that they’re definitely meant to be there. I think it’s very purposeful and very deliberate on Jo’s part, personally.
Rosie: Did he go straight for Harry when he got the wand? Or was he already getting the wand? He went for Harry because Harry was destroying the Horcruxes. He just happened to get the wand at the same time.
Alison: I guess he went straight for Harry when he thought he became the master of the wand.
Kat: Right. That’s what I was thinking of. Because, as soon as he kills Snape, he calls out…
Rosie: That’s true. Then he calls out Harry, yeah.
Kat: He calls out Harry, yeah.
Kat: He’s like, “All right, let’s do this boy. I’m going to kill you.” So yeah, purposeful.
Rosie: I can’t find a direct quote to the moment that Voldemort dies. We do know that the… I’m fairly sure the body is left there in the actual book as opposed to the film.
Kat: Yeah, they move it to a little alcove. I’m going to look it up right now.
Alison: Ooh, maybe it says… It says something about his enemy’s shell or something. That’s what the actual phrasing is.
Rosie: So it’s still very much described as an entity that is dead on the floor.
Rosie: So yeah, I think we’ve discussed this when we were talking about Voldyfetti and why it was so ineffective and diminished the impact of that death because I do think that Jo deliberately writes death as such a blunt moment and the result of a death is a dead body. And here, even in this ancient tale that she’s writing, the result of a death isn’t the pride and success and all that kind of thing. It is very much this person is now dead on the floor. So she really does try and emphasize that aspect of it.
Kat: And the line… The line says – I found it – it says, “Voldemort was dead; killed by his own rebounding curse and Harry stood with two wands in his hand, staring down at his enemy’s shell.”
Rosie: Right. Yeah, so we got a very similar image.
Kat: So very similar.
Kat: Mhm, very similar.
Rosie: But then, what Harry doesn’t do, which Antioch does, is go and boast and drinking and really make a point of saying, “I killed this person. Look at me.”
Kat: He doesn’t have too. All those people were in the Great Hall.
Rosie: That’s true.
Alison: Yeah, he doesn’t need to.
Rosie: But I don’t think Harry ever would either and that is the main difference.
Kat: No. Yeah, for sure.
Rosie: Harry never feels the success and pride of that victory. It is very much an inevitability over the tragedy of the actual war itself rather than…
Kat: Yeah, we will find out exactly how much pride he feels in about seven days when…
Rosie: This is true.
Kat: … Cursed Child…
Kat: … opens for previews.
Rosie: That’s interesting. Cursed Child.
Jessica: Oh, goodness.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Those pictures have been so brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed looking through them.
Kat: Oh, I know. Clap. [Claps]
Alison: I’m cracking up at Draco’s today though, let’s be honest.
Alison: That is the funniest. The goatee just gets me. I’m laughing.
Kat: I’ve enjoyed Rose personally. That grin she has.
Alison: Aww, she’s so cute.
Kat: You just know that she has spent time with her own acting coach.
Rosie: She’s a great actress as well.
Alison: Oh, yeah.
Rosie: I’ve seen her in several things previously. So I’m looking forward to seeing that portrayal.
Kat: Fabulous. Ooh, okay.
Rosie: But back to the story. [laughs]
Alison: Anyway. [laughs]
Rosie: Alison asked the question of: Is the real moral of Antioch’s story against boasting or against drinking? And to be honest, both of those fit perfectly with the original Chaucerian tales and we’ll talk about that a little bit later on. But yeah, the idea here is that arrogance is bad. Whatever happens, don’t drink, don’t boast, don’t go and kill your enemy and then immediately just say, “Look at me. I’m great,” because…
Kat: Well, not arrogance. Combatance.
Rosie: I still think there’s arrogance in that first character as well. [laughs]
Kat: I do agree but I think it’s an aggressive kind of arrogance, which I think is different…
Kat: … than a boastful… Yes, exactly, and I think that’s the difference between the two of them, one of them is very physical…
Kat: … and the other is very mental and emotional.
Alison: It’s shoot first, ask questions later…
Kat: For sure.
Alison: … which can be dangerous.
Rosie: So a good moral here for soldiers, perhaps, that if you are going to be in a fight of whatever kind, do it with some humbleness, do it with an idea of the destruction that you’re causing as well as the victory that you’ll have. Yeah.
Jessica: And I mean, to tie that back into the connections we were seeing between this, and Harry and Voldemort’s battle, Harry never wanted to kill anyone, barely even wanted to kill Voldemort really.
Jessica: If there had been another way, Harry would have taken it immediately.
Jessica: Completely opposite of this guy who seeks out somebody just to kill them because they had a quarrel.
Rosie: Yeah, this is not a battle, this is a murder.
Rosie: But with that, the first brother has been drinking, he has been boasting and he goes to sleep, where completely unguarded and unthinking a thief and another wizard creeps into the room, takes the wand and then slits his throat for good measure. So it’s not even like the death was necessary, he could’ve taken the wand which had been boasted about and then left, but this wand breathes violence. Where there is bloodshed there will be more bloodshed and murder is just the natural progression of anyone in proximity or ownership of this wand.
Jessica: Is this just a movie… I don’t think this is just a movie-ism that Grindelwald got this wand by thievery, right? From Gregorovitch?
Alison: Yeah, he just stole it. Yeah, he breaks in and steals it.
Jessica: Yeah, the only difference being Grindelwald didn’t decide to slit Gregorovitch’s throat but I just immediately thought of Grindelwald with this and being a thief stealing the wand and…
Jessica: … that’s how it passes hands.
Rosie: And technically Voldemort steals it from Dumbledore’s grave so there is a massive history of theft alongside the murder with this wand, yeah.
Kat: However, it’d be much easier for Voldemort to steal it because at that time, obviously.
Rosie: Dumbledore was dead.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Not even that, but Dumbledore wasn’t the master.
Alison and Rosie: Yes.
Kat: So I feel like that makes a difference too, a little bit.
Alison: Which also might be part of the reason why Grindelwald can steal it from Gregorovitch, because I don’t think we ever find out if he’s the actual master of it or if he just acquired it to study it.
Jessica: Sorry, did I get that confused?
Rosie: I’d assume he would be the master of it if he had it. He probably would’ve studied it as well, but I think he would’ve used it.
Kat: But hmm, that begs a question. I guess we really only know about Ollivander, but is Gregorovitch… does he fit that character type to take the Elder Wand? Hard to say I guess.
Rosie: The only thing we really know about him is that he uses more brutal wand cores than Ollivander. Ollivander has the four general cores which are quite noble, and I think that Gregorovitch is known to use, perhaps, more unstable and less noble cores. He uses Veela hair, and he uses all these different types of things, other than phoenix feather, unicorn tail, dragon heartstring, etcetera. So, if he is the one that’s going out to harvest these things, perhaps, he is more likely to do dark magic in dueling and the kind of things that you would associate with this wand, so it might fit with his character, but we don’t really know enough about him to make those comments.
Kat: Right. He does seem a bit rougher around the edges, I suppose.
Rosie: Yeah. So with the older brother dead and the wand stolen, and removed from the story, the story cuts again to the second brother, who on departing from the other brothers decided to go home. He went back to his loneliness to echo the beginning of this story. He lives alone, so not with his brothers, and he basically attempts a very quick-fix solution. He tries to bring back the previous love, as Kat read earlier, and she is described as being separated from him as though by a veil and we’ve touched on this as the idea of a physical barrier between these two characters and her not being able to become a fully-fledged person again, but you can’t have the word veil in Harry Potter and not think of the veil in the Ministry…
Rosie: … which is obviously a gateway into death, so we’ve got this almost impossible not to see this direct reference to Sirius’ death and to this gateway, this archway into death itself. So the image of the veil, the idea is very much part of wizarding lore. It’s so much there that it is studied in the Ministry, and it is a nice connection between this stone and Sirius, as will again happen within that “Forest Again” scene, the stone will eventually bring Sirius back from the veil. So it’s almost perhaps a little bit of foreshadowing here.
Alison: That’s really interesting too to think of Sirius separated by the veil but wanting to come back then in “The Forest Again,” now that we’re talking about that. Huh.
Rosie: And the idea that Sirius almost didn’t get that choice when he died, it seems like… would Sirius have come back as a ghost? Harry asks that question of Nick, doesn’t he? And Nick says that he wouldn’t have made that choice, but would Sirius have had that choice if it was an instantaneous death from crossing this veil? Did he get the same death rights as other wizards who die?
Kat: I think so because I am a believer that the choice, while it has to be in your head and you maybe have to know, I feel like there is a choice once you get to whatever the other side is. And whoever is there to greet you can say, “Do you want to go this way, or do you want to board a train, or do you want to come back as a ghost?”
Kat: Like everybody’s own little…
Alison and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: Sirius had already suffered quite a lot before he crossed so it would make sense that he wouldn’t necessarily want to come back.
Alison: Yeah. Speaking of ghosts though, the way the second brother’s lover is described makes me wonder. It says she suffered. Do ghosts suffer? Do we think that ghosts, if you choose to come back, is that…
Rosie: Nick seems to suffer quite a bit. [laughs]
Rosie: He makes jokes about not being able to eat and he makes jokes about all of those things that… He tells people off for not being sensitive about death, so there seems to be an element of suffering there.
Kat: And you have to remember too that Nick says that he never actually died, so… because he never actually went to the other side. He decided to stay back and to come back because he was afraid of death, so I think that the difference is that the people, the ghosts like Nick are suffering because they have no movement, they aren’t able to go anywhere, they are where they are for eternity.
Rosie: They’ve never been at peace.
Alison and Jessica: Yeah.
Kat: Right, exactly, and a person who has been brought back because of the Resurrection Stone is suffering because they’ve been ripped back and pulled back from a state of peace and I think that that’s a big difference.
Rosie: So now I’m getting loads of Buffy the Vampire Slayer references.
Alison and Kat: Yeah. [laugh]
Kat: Sure, yeah. Hard not to, Rosie.
Rosie: Yeah. It’s a really good moment in Buffy actually that one where she is ripped back and…
Alison: Yeah, no, that’s… yeah.
Rosie: … she releases it all in Dawn but it’s good.
Alison: [laughs] That’s one of my favorite episodes.
Kat: So personally… again, I’ve never died so I can’t speak to this, but I feel like if you were resting peacefully and then somebody ripped you back, you would feel pretty crappy about it. Especially if, like we talked about before, it wasn’t your will to be brought back.
Kat: I feel like that decision is a big part of it. For sure.
Jessica: But I think there’s still an element of ghosts just suffering in some small way. And it’s kind of silly, but the main thing I think of is at the Deathday Party where they rot the food so that they can almost taste it.
Jessica: It’s that life but you’re missing out on a full life, and so it’s not fully satisfying and you’re not fully… just like this woman is, you’re not really dead but you’re not really alive either.
Rosie: Yeah. So the second brother to me is the biggest parallel we get to Snape in the series. The idea of longing and mourning after a lost love and the idea that he would do anything to correct that mistake, to bring her back, to have the life that he once pictured with her, it just epitomizes Snape to me. And if Cadmus is the Slytherin brother, it works well with that imagery as well. But without the Hallow, without the stone in Snape’s possession, he channels that hopeless longing into more productive means thanks to Dumbledore. He does put the effort into spying and protecting Harry as much as possible – within reason. So we see that’s almost what prevents him from going mad and committing suicide in the way that Cadmus eventually does. But… if Snape had access to the Resurrection Stone, what do you think he would do with it?
Kat: Oh, he’d use it in a heartbeat.
Alison: Oh, definitely.
Kat: Because I think your wording here is perfect, where you said his “hopeless longing”…
Kat: I think that is a…
Rosie: That’s what my… that’s Jo’s wording for [it]. So the brother is described as “driven mad with hopeless longing” and “killed himself so as to truly join her.” So yeah, it was that.
Kat: Well, perfect.
Kat: Yes, I do think that that describes Snape to a tee. And I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing, because again – as you’ve said – it’s channeled into more productive means. And that is a fuel for Snape, which I think is very important for his character. But I do think that he would use it in a hot second, in a heartbeat. For sure.
Rosie: Which is then really interesting to think about Lily as the character that would come back and the idea of her being like this character. We see her being resurrected by the Resurrection Stone for Harry, but it would be a very, very different situation [for Snape].
Kat: Very different, yes. Because she wants to come back to help Harry.
Kat: I think she would be fiery and really quite angry at Severus.
Kat: Especially because, presumably, they haven’t spoken in years.
Rosie: And she had a life without him. Which is interesting that we never really get the story of this girl he had hoped to marry. We only know that Cadmus had hoped to marry her once before her untimely death.
Rosie: We don’t know how she died, we don’t know anything about her life, other than…
Kat: We don’t… right. We don’t know if they were friends…
Kat: … or if they were together or anything.
Alison: Exactly. I guess I had just… for some reason when I reread it, I was like, “oh, it doesn’t say they were engaged or anything.” It was just [that] he hoped to marry her, not that it went both ways.
Kat: Right. And if you think about the fact that this was a very different time, it probably would have been either arranged, or it would have been a situation where… because people didn’t really…
Rosie: Get much choice? [laughs]
Kat: Yeah. They didn’t date back then.
Alison: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: It was a “we’re-getting-married-because-of” situation, or it was arranged, or whatever that may be…
Kat: So he may have just had his eye on her for a while and never got the chance to actually pursue it or ask her.
Rosie: Especially after stories like “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart” and [other] things as well…
Rosie: There just seems to be kind of an undercurrent of… perhaps this woman didn’t actually want to marry him in the first place, and therefore that would be why there’s an element of this sadness when she is brought back. The other characters that this second brother’s story reminded me of were Merope [Gaunt] and Tom Riddle, Sr. – this idea of wanting to have someone, doing something to get them to be together, but that love never really being true, and therefore the relationship breaking down or whatever and ending up in both of their deaths. It just seems… there’s a slight echo of that story as well.
Rosie: So much sadness in these tales. [laughs] But to counter that sadness, we have the third story, and as we know, when things happen in threes, the third one is generally the redeeming or the solution to the issue. And here, we see the third brother – the Ravenpuff – who has managed to attain a great age. Death has looked for him everywhere, which does ask the question of, did he live his whole life under that cloak? And if so, how did he manage to get a wife and a kid and all those other things if he was…?
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Rosie: Because that cloak’s not very big. We see that Harry basically grows out of it by the time that he was leaving Hogwarts. So, it’s interesting to think that he managed to hide his entire life away, just from that cloak.
Kat: Maybe he was very short.
Rosie: See, there we go. The third brother is actually a hobbit; we just didn’t know about it.
Alison: There we go.
Kat: That works beautifully.
Rosie: I was wondering if there was some kind of secondary spells that you could do on it. So, if you think about the camping throughout the whole of Deathly Hallows, they live in a tent and that tent is magically bigger on the inside. So could you create a small tent or a small house that is covered by the cloak, but then magically expand the TARDIS-like properties on the inside of it and therefore live quite comfortably?
Rosie: It’s a possibility.
Alison: I don’t know.
Kat: That is a possibility. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for wizards.
Rosie: Just to get around some of those practicalities, it seems like the easiest thing to do, to me.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Yeah, make a little tent or a little house that fits underneath the cloak and then just blow it up on the inside. Why not? Sure.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Go for it. That sounds good. I’m all for it. It’d be cheaper than buying a big house.
Alison: Yeah, that’s true. [laughs]
Kat: Think about all those little mini-houses that people are living in now. I mean, there you go.
Rosie: Yeah, there you go. Just need to… [unintelligible]
Kat: Housing crisis solved.
Alison: There we go.
Rosie: All we need is magic… somewhere.
Kat: That’s right. Where do we get that?
Rosie: All those wizards could be solving this housing crisis for us.
Kat: How rude.
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: The other side of this is, of course, the legacy of this cloak and the fact that once this brother has reached that great age, he passes it down to his son. We mentioned Cursed Child just a few moments ago, and this image of the cloak and Albus Severus, to me, is going to be a major storyline. I really think that this cloak is going to get passed down to him and it’s going to be part of the story – just based on some of the images that we were given at the very beginning of this tale.
Kat: You think Harry’s going to give it up that soon?
Alison: I don’t.
Rosie: I think so. I don’t think Harry has a need for it anymore, so I think he would be very willing to give it to his son who is starting Hogwarts, in the same way that he had it when he started Hogwarts.
Kat: I think the plot of the story of Cursed Child leads [us] to believe that Harry needs it very much.
Alison: Yeah. And I also…
Rosie: We don’t know enough yet, I think.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Yeah, probably.
Alison: I also get the feeling Harry would be that kind of parent who was reckless in their own youth. So they’re like, “yeah, kid, no. I’m not helping you to do anything like that.”
Rosie: In which case, Ginny would steal it from him and give it to the kid…
Rosie: … because she was very much reckless and would embrace the recklessness in her child.
Alison: I don’t know! I don’t know.
Kat: We do know that Albus has the Marauder’s Map.
Alison: No, James does. James steals it, doesn’t he?
Kat: Oh, that’s who I meant. Right.
Alison: Yes. Has he stolen it yet, though, or are we going to see that in Cursed Child? That could be fun.
Kat: I’m sure he already has it.
Rosie: But don’t you think, if the idea of being cursed by this famous father, so Albus is going to be the kid who was named after two headmasters and is Harry Potter’s son, I think that would be the perfect child to give the Invisibility Cloak to! Harry knows what it’s like to grow up as the kid who everyone stares at, and he never liked it, so if Albus is going to be that kid, of course you’re going to give him an element of something that will help him hide.
Kat: All right, you’ve won me over.
Rosie: Good. [laughs] We would see him [unintelligible]
Alison: I’m still not sure, though, because Harry was so… Harry also was trying to come out from the shadow of that his whole time. I mean, playing Quidditch, he always talks about how he’s not just a famous name anymore, he’s actually done something to live up to how people look at him. So I wonder if he would try and encourage Albus to do that instead of hiding. It’s a very much more Gryffindor thing to say, “Go out and win your own glory,” instead of hiding behind things.
Rosie: Maybe that’s the Hufflepuff and the socially anxious side of me that would be very much more likely to hide in these situations.
Alison: [laughs] No, I agree with you. That would be me.
Jessica: Yeah, I’m with Alison. I don’t think Harry would want to give Albus something that would let him hide from his problems. I think he’d want Albus to face them. And how does Harry explain to James that he’s giving the Cloak to his younger brother? Let’s be honest.
Kat: That’s true.
Jessica: I’m an older child, and that would not work out. Let me tell you.
Kat: [laughs] Fair enough.
Rosie: But anyway, the idea of protecting your family seems to be such an important theme in Rowling’s novels. And we do see that this third brother hands the Cloak down, and that Cloak is then handed down generation by generation all the way down to James who then, via Dumbledore, manages to give it to Harry. I’m sure that James would have given it to Harry eventually, if he had been given the choice. So this idea that this is the true protection from Death, the idea that if you can live your life without the fear of Death being close behind you and you can embrace Death and you can go to meet Death as your equal, that is the true success and your family should inherit that, as well as your own story ending that way. It’s just a really nice image that, I think, was incredibly important to Rowling by this point of her story-writing career. She wanted to protect her family at all costs, and of course that would be reflected in her stories.
Kat: Hear, hear.
Rosie: [laughs] But with this we do have the idea that he chooses to go to Death, and makes Death his equal. In some respects you could say that the second brother also chooses to go to Death because he commits suicide, rather than is killed by someone else or dies of natural causes. But this idea of choosing to go with Death rather than go to Death seems to be important. And this is more accepting Death at the end of a good life, rather than forcing Death upon yourself.
Alison: Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about saying the second brother chose to go with Death, just because the story makes it quite clear that he wasn’t in his right mind. Which I think then makes it very hard to say he chose that.
Jessica: I think the word “gladly” in this is so important.
Jessica: He doesn’t just choose to go with Death, he went with him gladly. The second brother was mad with hopeless longing, he was not happy about it, it was a means to end his suffering. But the [third] brother, it’s his happy choice. I’m ready, and I’m going because I’ve fulfilled everything I want to fulfill in my life.
Rosie: Yeah. And it does say that with that gladness, and as equals, they departed this life. So Death went with him into the afterlife, so they continued that winding road journey together. So it’s that nice image of the friend Death. It’s not scary, it’s not horrific, it’s not a tragedy. It’s Death being a release and Death being the beginning of the next journey. They departed this life and went into an afterlife, which is just a nice, very peaceful image, I think.
Jessica: That’s so interesting because the other two brothers end exactly the same, with the, “So Death took that brother for his own.” And this one doesn’t. It’s really interesting.
Rosie: He’s not taken at all, he is traveled with, yeah.
Kat: Which is where the whole theory of Snape and Voldemort and Harry being parallel to these brothers doesn’t really work. Because their deaths don’t necessarily fit in the way that the brothers’ deaths do. So because Snape did not go happily with Death.
Alison: No, but I think you can see parallels. I mean, Voldemort’s was very violent, like the first brother. Snape dug his own grave, like the second brother, got himself into the situation. And then Harry makes the choice to embrace Death and go with a noble purpose. I don’t know, I see parallels among them.
Rosie: I guess the hardest… if we were going to follow Snape as the second brother in that parallel, he wouldn’t commit suicide. We said that the hopeless longing is channeled, the story departs from the ending of Cadmus’s story. So yeah, you can’t really follow him through as direct parallels, but there are certainly parallels between them.
Jessica: I guess you could argue that Snape sacrificed himself for Lily in a way because he sacrificed his freedom to work for Dumbledore.
Rosie: Yeah. And I guess he gives up his life to Harry, in the sense of him giving up his memories and that kind of thing. So his life almost becomes a tribute and forfeited for the battle in order for Harry to succeed. I don’t think that Snape would necessarily feel his death was as tragic. I don’t know. Snape had lived and had done so much by that point that I think he would probably be quite tired of the fight as well. And although he had a very violent and very horrific death, there is the element of, okay, he can pass over now, he can be at peace and he can perhaps go and be friends with Lily again in the afterlife. We don’t know.
Kat: Yeah, I think that depends on – and obviously, I do not want to get into this – but I think that that depends so much on your views of Snape and why he did what he did.
Rosie: Which is why it’s nice that it’s always up to our interpretation. All stories can be read by their readers and not necessarily have to be what we are prescribing them to. This, as always, our discussions are our own ideas, and our own interpretations. And there are so many different interpretations you could take, but this is a possibility. [laughs] Speaking of interpretations, at the end of this tale, which we have now reached, there is another illustration by J.K. Rowling. And we have got a gravestone, which is a really interesting, very gothic gravestone with a skull with wings. It’s got really creepy fingers that are…
Rosie: … embracing this stone, and the mark, the Deathly Hallows, of course, in the middle of it. There is a tradition of memento mori, which are images of Death in artworks throughout history, right from Medieval Ages, so it would work with this time. There are some really fascinating gravestones that you can see, that are very similar to the one that Jo has drawn, in medieval graveyards here in England. And yeah, it’s really interesting in that the symbolic images that are used are very much something that would be fitting for the time period of the story.
Kat: Did we ever figure out what the bottom of the gravestone says?
Kat: I didn’t think so. Come on, Jo, tell us!
Alison: [laughs] What is it?
Rosie: So it says Ignotus Peverell on the top and “tapus…” I can’t see.
Alison: Yeah, it’s too…
Rosie: It’s definitely something interesting, isn’t it? What is the slogan that is written on James and Lily’s gravestone?
Alison: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death?”
Alison: Wait, or is that…
Kat: No, you’re right.
Alison: Okay. I thought I got it confused.
Rosie: So maybe it’s something similar to that. I don’t know.
Alison: It could be.
Rosie: Either way.
Jessica: I guess the f-word could be fin, which… isn’t that last in Latin?
[Alison and Jessica laugh]
Jessica: I’m really stretching here because you can see the f and nothing else.
Rosie: Yeah, the t-e and u-s ending would fit with a Latin word, yeah.
Kat: Yeah, I’m sure it’s that.
Rosie: She’s done a good job of obscuring these letters. [laughs]
Kat: [laughs] On purpose, I’m sure.
Rosie: Yes, yeah.
Kat: It’s probably a clue to something amazing that we…
Alison: That no one can figure out, yes.
Kat: Right, exactly, exactly.
Alison: It’s only clear in this.
Rosie: Let me google his gravestone.
Alison: Yeah, I find this so interesting too, especially if we’re thinking about Beedle and the 15th century because there was a huge thing, it’s called emblematics, like you were talking about, Rosie, where there were books that were just like these illustrations with explanations of what they meant and so they were used a lot in art and theater – Shakespeare used them a lot, if you’re thinking like, the skull in Hamlet and the language of flowers and things like that – to give the audience a clue of what was being spoken about without having to necessarily spell it all out because they were such commonly recognized symbols, so… yeah.
Rosie: Yeah, and those symbols were…
Alison: Early Easter eggs. [laughs]
Rosie: Yeah, and they’re explored again and again throughout history, so…
Rosie: … as you were saying that’s Elizabethan and Victorian times that are used, and Shakespearean era, and as I was saying before, Medieval era. These images and those books in particular were used to decode those images again and again and again and have added to… whenever we’ve talked about the symbolism of colors and of one-words and all of those things that Jo has applied to her own works, these images and these symbols apply to life, and have been being applied to life by humans for centuries. So it’s interesting to know that language as much as possible. And speaking of symbolism and adaptations and using previous imagery to tell a new tale, I wanted to take some time exploring the main influence that Jo herself stated was an influence to this story, which is Chaucer’s “Pardoner’s Tale.” Chaucer himself and many medieval stories were based on pre-existing tales, so although the “Pardoner’s Tale” is an influence for this, the “Pardoner’s Tale” itself had links to Persian poetry, Buddhist stories, 15th and 16th century Italian tales and older, there are tales of Jesus that have similarities to this tale itself, so it’s very much one of those tales that is rooted in the historical psyche of the world, which is interesting that Jo would then choose it to make such a key part of her own tales. The moral of Chaucer’s tale, or at least the “Pardoner” within Chaucer’s tale, is that greed is the root of all evil, so when we’re thinking about these three brothers, greed is very much the downfall of the first two, and perhaps the reason why the third brother survives is that he wasn’t really greedy, he just wanted to protect himself. Equally, it’s interesting that the story itself in Chaucer is actually told as a scam designed to raise money for the very corrupt Church, so it’s kind of a… although it’s teaching this moral that greed is the root of all evil, it’s also self-evident of that same moral in trying to raise money for a character who is very much not to be trusted. I’m going to hopefully read a version of this original tale, not in the original Old English or Middle English because…
[Jessica and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: … that would be impossible but I will tell a translated version of this tale and I will make it available on Patreon. Please look out for…
Kat: That would be brilliant, Rosie…
Rosie: I will!
Kat: … come on! Do Middle English.
Jessica: Middle English.
Kat: Do Middle English.
Rosie: I’ll try [to] do a mini pronunciation guide to some words, so perhaps, but it’s very difficult to understand in Middle English because it’s… yeah, it is a different language. But I’ll give it a go. But yeah, on Patreon I released last week “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” this week I’m releasing “Bluebeard” to go with last week’s exploring and comparative chapters and stories, it’s a really good comparison to that “Warlock’s Hairy Heart” and with this one I will definitely release Chaucer’s tale. But to give a brief overview of the story, there are three friends – not brothers – who are out drinking and gambling, and they are in a pub in the morning before mass, which is definitely not the thing to do…
Rosie: … when a body is carried by and a servant in the pub explains that it was actually the three friends’ friend who’s been killed by someone named Death that is killing everybody in the nearby area. The three drunk friends are completely enraged by this and swear a pact of brotherhood to go and kill Death before it can take any more lives during this plague – plague is obviously the thing that is actually killing everybody, but these guys are too drunk to realize that. The bartender tells them that Death can be found in the next village and they all go off searching, but on the way they come across an old man, and they are very, very rude to him. He tells them that Death can be found under a tree around the corner – literally the root of all evil – and they go to the tree but when they get there they don’t find Death, instead they find a hoard of gold. Immediately, they forget their search for Death and they decide to wait around until nightfall to carry the gold back into town. They draw straws to decide who will go and fetch supplies for the day, and the youngest actually draws the short straw and heads off into town to go and buy some wine, some bread and actually goes straight to an apothecary and buys rat poison. Meanwhile, the elder friends have hatched a plot to kill the younger, as a half-share of gold is better than a third share of gold. And so, when the youngest friend arrives, having put poison in the wine, the elder friends actually stab and kill him before drinking the poisoned wine to celebrate and dying themselves; thus, Death found all three friends under the tree after all. So there are some comparisons to this tale that are quite clear, and there are obviously massive differences between the tale and Jo’s tale as well. What do you guys think, just kind of first impressions, of hearing this story? Have you heard it before? Did you know anything about it?
Alison: Oh, it’s been a long time. [laughs]
Kat: Same. But…
Alison: Yeah, I think it’s interesting that… the parallels between, they’re still leading to their own deaths…
Alison: And it’s kind of like the oldest teamed up against the youngest. Those are interesting because I think Jo redeems the youngest for doing what he does in “The Three Brothers.”
Rosie: Yeah. These three are very much all punished for their drinking, their gambling, their greed, whereas the three characters in Jo’s tale are very much different. They have different vices, they have different flaws, and different redeeming qualities of each of them.
Jessica: In Chaucer’s the men kill each other, whereas in Jo’s – well, especially with the first two – they bring death upon themselves.
Kat: Hmm… right. Big difference.
Rosie: The really interesting character – or the idea of actually meeting Death – is interesting in both of these tales as well. So in Jo’s tale, Death is very much an actual character that they meet and that creates this adventure for them, whereas here they seek Death but don’t ever seem to find him. However, Death can also be read as the old man that they met on the way, because he is the one that lead them to the hoard of gold and he is the one that ultimately sets them on the path toward that death.
Kat: Hmm… right.
Rosie: So you could see that the old man that they insulted was Death, and that is actually what resulted in their death. If they had been kind to that old man, perhaps they would have gone into town and survived.
Kat: I think that the morality tales in this are slightly more interesting to me in what they’re saying about the way you interact with the world since they miss so many things because they are drunk.
Alison and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: So I guess the intended audience for Chaucer’s tale and Jo’s tale are extremely different, and therefore the lessons that they teach and the morality, although similar, is focused in a different lens.
Kat: Yeah, and it’s funny to me because as somebody who doesn’t drink – I never have – I kind of identified with this story as the person who, when I go out with my friends, I’m the sober one, and this is kind of what they do over the course of an evening. They see things totally incorrectly because they’re inebriated, and I get to giggle about it a little bit…
Kat: So I feel like Chaucer’s writing this and maybe he’s having that little giggle moment like, “Ugh! You guys [are] pathetic.” [laughs]
Rosie: But luckily, your story and your friends don’t end up in the same situation.
Kat: No, definitely not the same situation! But the beginning part where they’re like, “Oh, man, Death’s killing everybody” and all that stuff…
Rosie: So along with that, we’ve got a value of intelligence and of living by the correct code of conduct that you shouldn’t go to the pub in the morning before mass and all that kind of thing.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs]
Rosie: Because that is very much frowned upon in your society. [laughs]
Kat: Indeed. Yeah, I’m not sure that is even a good thing to do nowadays. Actually, I know it’s not. So yeah, don’t do it.
Rosie: Yeah, day drinking is not to be advised.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: No, definitely not. [laughs]
Rosie: So yeah, this story is obviously not a direct parallel, but as an inspiration you can see the clear similarities of three characters seeking Death and becoming their own downfall in the end. And that is the end of “The Tale of the Three Brothers” but we do have, of course, Dumbledore’s fantastic notes. So I’m going to hand over to Alison to tell us more about those.
Alison: Yeah, I think these are interesting because we’ve already heard “The Tale of the Three Brothers” by the time we first got this book – we’d gotten it in Deathly Hallows – and we’d also gotten their connection to Dumbledore by that point. So in the introduction Jo says/hints that he may not be telling everything he knows – obviously – but we do get some really interesting looks on maybe how Dumbledore was thinking about this story and how it connects to the wider wizarding world. The first thing we get is that Albus tells us this was his favorite story as a child – which is an interesting favorite story for a child – and that he was really fascinated by it, which made Aberforth angry because his favorite story was “Grumble the Grubby Goat.”
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Alison: Which is just a funny name to me; I really like that name. And then he says that the obvious moral is that “human efforts to evade or overcome death are always doomed to disappoint.” Is that really the clear moral? We get a different view in Deathly Hallows when Hermione says it’s about how people are afraid of death, which I guess kind of go together. But is that really the moral here?
Kat: I think we have to remember to look through the lens of when Dumbledore is writing this. So we decided that it was when? Order of the Phoenix?
Kat: After that? When did we say?
Rosie: Yeah, pretty much when Dumbledore is fleeing Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix.
Kat: Okay. So, we have to remember his state of mind in this moment, and I feel like the “human efforts to evade or overcome death are always doomed to disappointment” seems a little defeatist for Dumbledore. And I have a feeling that despite everything, and knowing that he knows he’s in the right and all of that, he is probably feeling a little down on himself and a little bit torn about the mission that is to come for Harry. And so I think it’s important to think about his mental state while he’s writing this. Personally, anyway.
Alison: That’s a good point.
Rosie: It does seem odd when focused on the third brother though, because the ending of this story is actually quite positive and it doesn’t really seem that it’s disappointing in any way; the brother does eventually greet Death as a friend. I guess it really does kind of show Dumbledore’s idea of death at this point as something that still needs to be defeated. And as someone who sought the Hallows himself, and as someone who wanted the ring/stone as his main Hallow, and as someone who had Nicolas Flamel and the idea of the stone and long life as a goal and something to be sought, Dumbledore is very much falling prey of the same issues as Voldemort, almost. He does consider death to be a challenge to overcome at this point, rather than something to greet as a friend. And it’s interesting, perhaps then, the journey that Dumbledore himself goes on over the next book after Order of the Phoenix and up to his own death. In the course of that, he really does seem to grow as a character and he does seem to learn a lot about death and come to accept it by the time he dies, and greet it as a friend.
Kat: Which is why I think that these… I mean, that’s all so important because of, like I said, the comments that he makes to Harry after the fact about his journey to the Hallows and how Dumbledore is talking about…
Rosie: Harry being a true and noble master of the Hallows because he doesn’t seek to use them in the same way, or something.
Kat: Yeah, exactly.
Alison: Yeah, yeah. He’s a better man.
Rosie: Dumbledore would’ve… yeah. Dumbledore sought to use them for greed, and was a victim of them in the same way, yeah.
Jessica: It’s so ironic that given the time period he’s writing this, he’s literally writing this right before he’s going to put on the ring and try to use it.
Jessica: And going to try to overcome the death of his family and see his family again.
Jessica: It’s almost like, is he trying to convince himself by writing this of what he really was like? Does he know that the ring – that he’s looking at a Horcrux – is possibly, or definitely, the Resurrection Stone, and he’s trying to convince himself? Obviously [it] doesn’t work, but…
Rosie: Yeah. I don’t think he’s found the Stone yet. I don’t think he’s found the Horcrux. I don’t think he knows any of that.
Alison: I do think it’s interesting, considering the tone he uses when he’s talking about the Deathly Hallows legend. He’s very, very skeptical. He’s very deprecating and dismissive of it, which I think is then interesting, thinking of his reasoning for putting on the ring and for his reaction to finding the Stone. And I think Jessica is right that he’s trying to convince himself that it’s not real, which then makes a lot more sense of why, when he does find the Stone, he would put it on without thinking because he had talked himself out of it. However, we get that Harry didn’t get Ignotus’s wisdom that Dumbledore mentions in here because he talks about how Ignotus narrowly escapes Death, and so he tries to stay out of Death’s way. But we know Harry; he tries to get himself killed at least seven times because he’s Harry. [laughs] So obviously, that didn’t get passed down with the Cloak. But we do get an interesting idea of… it’s the first time in the Harry Potter world [that] the idea of raising the dead is referred to as necromancy, which I thought was a very interesting, and dark, and disturbingly connotated word to use in this situation when she’s never used it before.
Kat: And I think that that’s a reflection of, again, who’s writing this because I think that she can be a bit more technical and a bit… even though all of her writings about death are very real, this is the dark and shadowy side, as it says, of death. And I think that through Dumbledore, Jo is able to explore that in a more realistic way because Harry wouldn’t know about those things.
Kat: But Dumbledore certainly does. And I do think that it’s interesting because necromancy definitely speaks more to… it would lend you to believe that the figures that are brought back are much more real than the story implies.
Alison: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: Because if you think about The Lord of The Rings, Sauron is… he starts out as a necromancer, so there’s that. I mean, granted, he never really gets his body back and he just becomes a giant eye, but… still.
Kat: So I mean, maybe there aren’t direct parallels but the thoughts are still there.
Rosie: You tend to think more [of] zombies and demons with necromancy than you do ghosts and the nicer side of death.
Alison: Which is interesting to bring up, too, because he brings up Inferi in connection with that, which goes back to what we were talking about of: Does the Resurrection Stone bring back ghosts? Or does it bring back more corporeal forms?
Kat: Oh, oh, ghosts are transparent.
Kat: That’s all. See, Harry taught us something.
Rosie: Which makes it even more creepy if the Resurrection Stone brings back Inferi kind of characters.
Rosie: I wouldn’t think it would be doing something like that, no. [laughs]
Kat: No. Well, because Inferi aren’t actually alive, right? So…
Alison: No, they’re just…
Kat: … reanimated corpses.
Rosie: Corpses, yep.
Jessica: Thank you, Snape, who taught us that.
Alison: “Are you the imprint of a departed soul?”
Kat: So good.
Alison: Anyway, we also get a little bit of an interesting thing: Dumbledore knows Alexander Pope, the poet! He quotes Pope’s “Essay [of] Man,” which quite interestingly very much fits into Dumbledore’s philosophy of why people do what they do. Rosie, you might remember more about this one than I do. [laughs] It’s also been a while since I’ve read any Pope, but…
Rosie: [laughs] Nothing comes to mind so much. “The Rape of The Lock,” I think, is the main Pope poem that people might know of, which, again, is very much about characters who have little choice and who are, I guess, more like the second brother, again, so it’s interesting that that would be a parallel. I’m trying to think of what he said in “[An] Essay of Man” that Dumbledore would be referring to. [laughs]
Alison: I think he’s… if I’m remembering right because I looked up where that was exactly from in that essay, he’s talking about how people will choose things more emotionally than logically…
Alison: … which fits with what Dumbledore is thinking at this point and…
Rosie: Yeah, it’s all about the chaos of life and why we should trust in the greater powers of the universe.
Alison: Yeah, yeah. He also mentions… as he’s going through the legend that has led to the Deathly Hallows, he says the reason no one knows where the Cloak is, according to Deathly Hallows searchers, is that whoever has it doesn’t know where it came from, or if they do, they’re not talking about it; which both kind of [fit] Harry and the Cloak. He doesn’t know where it came from for a long time, and when he finally does, he’s not going to mention it to anyone. So that’ll be interesting – like we were talking about before – if he does give it to one of his kids in Cursed Child. Is he going to tell them the history of the Cloak?
Kat: Probably not all the history.
Alison: Yeah, but I wonder if he’ll mention, though, that it’s a Deathly Hallow.
Kat: No. Nope. Definitely not. I don’t think so.
Rosie: He’ll probably… he would describe it, I think. So he would say that this is a Cloak…
Kat: It’s infallible.
Rosie: … that will never tarnish [and] it will never fail you, but I don’t think he would ever want anyone to know of it as a Hallow because it would lead them to seek the other two, perhaps, and try to master them.
Kat: Right. If he mentioned it was a Deathly Hallow, his son, whomever he gives it to, would go look it up and that quest would be opened.
Rosie: Discover that story, yeah.
Kat: Right, and he knows that it’s an impossible one because the Wand is with Dumbledore and the Stone is lost.
Kat: Harry is the only one who knows where all three of those Hallows are.
Alison: That’s true.
Kat: And even then, he doesn’t really know where they are, so…
Jessica: So do you think he read this story to his kids or did he avoid it?
Alison: Yeah, that’s…
Jessica: In case they figured it out.
Kat: I have a feeling they don’t know about the Cloak until they’re much, much older – at least Hogwarts age – if they know about it at all. So I have a feeling they would be safe reading this tale because I’m not sure Harry would just walk around with the Invisibility Cloak in the backyard.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: You know?
Rosie: And James and Lily never knew the story, and yet they were happy living with the cloak. And Lily made jokes about James running off with it in her letter to Sirius that time, I think.
Alison: Yeah, that’s right.
Rosie: Am I remembering that right? Or is that fanfiction?
Kat: You are.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So yeah, you don’t need to know the story of the cloak to use the cloak and to use it well. So I don’t think necessarily the connection would be made. Invisibility cloaks exist outside of just the story and outside of this one. So I think he would feel safe to tell the story without necessarily linking it to their own possessions. But equally, Harry grew up in the Muggle world, so he’s got Cinderella and he’s got all of the other stories that he could tell them as well as the magical ones.
Rosie: So, it’s perhaps Ginny that would tell this story rather than Harry. And of course, she would say midnight rather than twilight because she is Molly’s daughter.
Alison: [laughs] That’s true.
Kat: I would love to see Harry reading Cinderella to his children.
Kat: Please let that be a dream shot.
Alison: That would be great. That would be awesome.
Jessica: Michael needs to do a special of that in his Harry voice.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: There you go. It’s perfect.
Rosie: With the kids all questioning, “What’s a fairy godmother?”
Rosie: “What do you mean? Isn’t that just Transfiguration?” [laughs]
Alison: Yeah. [laughs]
Kat: Right. [laughs] Yep, indeed.
Alison: So, speaking of the Hallows, Dumbledore also mentions maybe the inspiration for the Resurrection Stone could have been the Philosopher’s Stone. Do we think that theory really holds up? They seem very different to me.
Kat: Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Which was first?
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: The egg because [of] dinosaurs. But yes.
Rosie: I think this is again very much a clue of when Dumbledore is writing and the fact that he has yet to find the actual Resurrection Stone. So this is a theory of someone who has sought the Hallows before, not found them, and therefore is making excuses. Whereas once he discovers the ring, discovers and thinks about what that stone would be and ultimately sacrifices his hand for it, I think this note would be very different. He would still see the similarities, but he wouldn’t necessarily call them the same thing. He’s seen evidence of both and they are different from each other.
Kat: Agreed wholeheartedly.
Alison: Okay. On Dumbledore’s notes on the Elder Wand – kind of moving through objects [laughs] – he talks about how it seems the author of Magick Moste Evile might have had the Elder Wand at one point. So how does that connect to Voldemort, the Horcruxes, [and] to Harry? If Voldemort has made Horcruxes, which we know come from the idea from Magick Moste Evile – we kind of get a mention of that there – and he’s also made Horcruxes, he’s looking for this wand, Harry’s trying to destroy the Horcruxes and get this wand at the same time… they all kind of intersect.
Rosie: That is interesting. So the idea [is] that Godelot – who is the person who wrote Magick Moste Evile – might have had the Elder Wand because he describes of being able to have this collection of dangerous spells with the help of his wand made of elder and being the person that wrote about Horcruxes. And this [being] the book that Hermione found out about Horcruxes from suggests that maybe Horcruxes and this idea of another way of defeating death comes from this idea of defeating Death. So yeah, maybe you couldn’t create Horcruxes before the Elder Wand and they are an evil invention of the wand’s own creating.
Kat: Malice, yeah.
Rosie: Very dark stuff.
Kat: I like that. I think that that fits with the Death aspect of the wand and where it came from and who supposedly gave it to the brothers. So I think that that fits…
Rosie: But then, I guess if we’re going with this idea of… so my theory earlier of the wand always sending victims to Death, whether or not it’s his own owner that was sent or whether it was the victims of that owner, Horcruxes prolong life in whatever diminished form. So the Horcruxes themselves are not necessarily the part of it that would be deathly. But to create a Horcrux you have to commit murder, so by prolonging your life you are creating more murders.
Rosie: So in that same way, the wand and the Horcruxes are serving Death by creating more death. Very horrific.
Alison: Yeah. Well, I almost kind of see too, giving that prolonged life and taking it away. In the specific case of Harry and Voldemort… Voldemort has made these Horcruxes; he’s caused this death; he’s acquired the Elder Wand. But Harry is the master of the Elder Wand and is able to counteract those Horcruxes. So it’s kind of…
Rosie: Ooh, hang on. Interesting theory just occurred in my brain.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So three brothers, three Hallows. James was already dead by the point that Voldemort attempted to kill Harry; Lily’s blood magic and protection is the first thing that stops Voldemort from killing Harry. However, could it also be that Harry by that point was the one who would naturally inherit the father’s cloak and therefore, he has some protection from Death by being the owner of the third Hallow?
Alison and Kat: Ooh!
Rosie: And that adds an extra layer of protection against the Killing Curse.
Alison: [gasps] Ooh! I like that.
Kat: Nice. Nice.
Alison: That makes James’s death so much more significant.
Rosie: It does.
Kat: About time.
Kat: That’s funny. It’s not often that we talk about things on here that I feel like have never been considered in the fandom before. And I feel like this is one of them.
Alison: Yeah! Ooh, I like that a lot!
Kat: I love that, Rosie. I love it.
Rosie: [laughs] Thank you.
Kat: And I feel like if we were doing [a] Podcast Question of the Week, that would be it. So everybody respond to that, please, so we can read what you think. [laughs]
Rosie: Consider this your question of the week, but put it in our main discussion. [laughs]
Kat: Yes, yes. Exactly.
Alison: Ooh, I’m just going to accept that. I’m just going to go with it.
Alison: [laughs] That’s brilliant.
Rosie: All these years of the show, we can still have new head canons. Yay!
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Right. Yeah, that gets the check in the canon column for me.
Alison: There we go. So speaking of the wand, Dumbledore says that, “The power of the Elder Wand comes from its experience with all of its previous owners.” Which is an interesting thing that goes with Ollivander’s idea that wands are somewhat sentient, that they learn at least a little bit from being used. Which then is interesting to think of too, in Voldemort and Harry’s uses of the wand, especially if the last…
Rosie: We discussed this, I think, in previous episodes…
Rosie: … specifically with the Elder Wand. And it does seem that the Elder Wand and, to an extent, Harry’s own wand do have some capability of learning from experience. So it’s interesting that Dumbledore would write this down, and it seems evident as some kind of wandlore with sentient wands being in existence.
Jessica: One thing that I found really interesting when Dumbledore was talking about all that is he’s saying how all this learning from its owners and how all of these previous owners of the Elder Wand have just been evil. And he himself owns the Elder Wand and it works just fine for him.
Alison: [gasps] Oh!
Jessica: So what does that say? Why does it work for Dumbledore? Why doesn’t it rebel against Dumbledore if it’s prone to evil?
Kat: I definitely think that Dumbledore doesn’t have a super high opinion of himself anymore.
Alison: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: So I think that that totally fits in with everything. I think that that fits in with what he’s saying and how he feels about himself because he… I mean, he basically is pretty sure that he killed his sister, and just hates himself for everything he did in the past. So I think it works. And, too, I was thinking about all the other wands that Harry used throughout the series, and if you think about the one he was most successful with, it’s Draco’s. Draco is a pretty learned wizard from what we know. He’s smart and he… Look at all those spells that he knows at the Dueling Club in Chamber of Secrets. And I think that that definitely goes along with this lore here about how the Wand, and the power of that Wand, comes from the experience of the owners that it’s had in the past.
Rosie: Do you think that Dumbledore – knowing, well, considering himself to be a good wizard, even if he has had moments of darkness and doesn’t have that high opinion of himself – would perhaps consider himself as teaching this evil wand goodness? If they absorb the experience of those who use them, and it has absorbed all of this evil knowledge from its previous owners, perhaps Dumbledore is trying to do that very Dumbledore-y thing of redeeming it and teaching it goodness through his own light magic.
Alison: Well, he does talk about taming it.
Kat: The thing is… I mean, that’s all well and good if that’s what he’s doing, but eventually he comes up with a plan to just let the wand die.
Kat: So it seems kind of mean to try to change it around and make it a good wand and then just let it die.
Jessica: Maybe he didn’t manage to make it good? Maybe he could tell the whole time that it was not working, and that’s when he decided to let it die?
Rosie: It is interesting… yeah. There is a quote from his notes that says, “The Elder Wand has never been destroyed or buried, but has survived to accumulate wisdom, strength, and power far beyond the ordinary.” So maybe that’s his own plan in formation. If it’s never been destroyed or buried, he is going to attempt to bury it and see if the story will stop from there.
Alison: Yeah. Speaking of owners, though: No witches have claimed to own the Elder Wand, which… He says, “Make of that what you will.” [laughs] Which is a very interesting thought, and very pointed commentary, I feel like, from Jo, especially considering the rest of these stories where the witches for the most part make their own future.
Kat: Yeah, I think that’s a line that harkens back to the combativeness of the first brother. Just don’t be boastful, learn from the lessons of the person who owned it in the first place, and don’t talk about it. Just keep it to yourself and realize that it’s yours, and nobody else needs to know that you have this Death Stick.
Alison: Yeah. Well, the last thing Dumbledore leaves us with in this book, in his notes, is his… He says, “I remain just as big a fool as anyone,” which is a very kind of downer last line…
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Alison: … for this book in general. But I think, like we’ve been saying, it really is a reflection on the state that Dumbledore is [in] at this point of writing, and how this opens up Dumbledore’s character from when we got this book at the end of the series.
Jessica: I think it’s that little hint, too; “I believe more of this tale than I’m letting on.”
Kat: Yeah, for sure.
Rosie: He’s talking specifically about his refusal of the Invisibility Cloak when he says that he’s the fool, isn’t he? Yeah, “Even I, Albus Dumbledore, would find it easiest to refuse the Invisibility Cloak. Which only goes to show that, clever as I am, I remain just as big a fool as anyone else.” So it’s proving that he would not be the third brother. So even though he studied and has written all of these extensive notes on the tale, he never seems to have learned the overall message, which is to be like the third Brother. So yeah, it is interesting, as well as the fact that Dumbledore possessed the Invisibility Cloak for at least 11 years and gave it up as easily as anything to give it to Harry. So yeah, he was that fool who felt like he didn’t need it. He can make himself invisible, but not invisible from Death.
Kat: And, again, this is during Order of the Phoenix, and I feel like his tone changes by the time the series is over. And I think that he would very much realize, through getting to know Harry and seeing Harry’s sacrifice and everything that he goes through, that the Cloak is very much… very valuable and that he would feel a little bit less of a fool; his choices might have been [different] if he had, I guess, known Harry or lived through those experiences earlier than he did, which is nice. I think that a big moral of these stories is that everybody can change, and I think that sometimes we forget that Dumbledore actually learned a lot about himself and his past through Harry because Harry did the same through Dumbledore. And I think that that’s an important lesson to take from this, that Dumbledore definitely changes and grows and is a better person. Unfortunately, it is in death. But still, a better person.
Rosie: Yeah. And as a moral for children and things as well, if we see Dumbledore as the guide, the Merlin, the Gandalf figure, for the final thought that we get from him… We get this book after the series has ended. We get this book after we know that he’s been dead for several years. So this is literally the last word of Dumbledore that Jo is providing for us. And to call him as big a fool as anyone means that even your guide, your hero figure, can be foolish. And it’s okay to be foolish. And it’s okay to learn from your mistakes. It’s a really important moral. So thank you, Jo! [laughs]
Alison: And with that, that’s it. That is the end of Beedle the Bard, and our last thoughts from Dumbledore.
Kat: Should we take a quick moment and look at the cover here before we wrap up Beedle? Because I feel like it’s a really… at least the US edition. I mean, the UK edition is very pretty, but the US edition is very much in the realm of the other ones, where…
Kat: It’s Mary GrandPré, of course. And it has a nice collage of all of the stories on the front there.
Jessica: It is nice.
Kat: So I don’t know if there’s anything really significant or amazing to talk about, but I figured I’d at least bring it up since we’re not doing a book wrap.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: I like the earthy colors.
Jessica: Yeah. Especially since we just discussed “The Tale of Three Brothers,” if you look closely, you can see the river and the Cloak is coming out of the river. And it just reminds me of how Harry described it as feeling like air liquefied or something like that.
Alison: Oh. Yeah.
Jessica: And so I just love that little subtle touch there of the… it’s like the water became the Cloak.
Alison: That’s true.Rosie: So Death itself was the river. It’s quite interesting. Because it’s meant to be Death’s own cloak that he takes off, isn’t it?
Rosie: Which, again, fits with the image of Styx. Because Styx is both the river and also a Goddess of Death in Greek mythology, so…
Jessica: And the other two were drawn directly from things around; like the Stone pulled from the riverbank [and] the Wand pulled from the tree.
Alison and Rosie: Yeah.
Jessica: So it’s cool to think the Cloak was somehow pulled from the river in that picture.
Alison: That is cool.
Rosie: I do like the detail of this picture. So [in] the whole image you’ve got the four people climbing up to the Fountain of Fair Fortune, just underneath the title itself; you’ve got the Hairy Heart, obviously; you’ve got the Hopping Pot, the stump, and the rabbit and…
Kat: What’s the village in the background, do you think?
Rosie: Well, it could be the home of the Fountain of Fair Fortune, or it could be…
Alison: The village of the Hopping Pot.
Rosie: I mean, there are villages in several stories, so it would work…
Kat: Yeah. Any of them, I suppose. Any of them and all of them. Right.
Rosie: Yeah. Shall we try and do a quick comparison to other book jackets for it, like we do in other book wraps?
Kat: Unfortunately, they all look the same.
Rosie: No, they don’t!
Alison: Yeah, the UK one is a little bit different.
Kat: Right, that’s what I mean, but the other…
Rosie: Yeah, the majority of [the] translated ones look the same as the UK blue edition…
Rosie: … which only really has the stump on the front with the skull at the top, and the interesting wreath of vines.
Alison: Yeah, that’s repeated throughout the book. It’s the detail.
Kat: Right, all of the illustrations have that around it. I would encourage our listeners, if you have a cover that looks different than the US or the UK edition, to tweet it out to us or email it in to us because we’d love to see those so we can pop them up on the website and have a look.
Alison and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: So there are two other covers that we could technically look at. The first, of course, being the ever so expensive but gorgeous deluxe edition, or whatever they called it, which is the embossed metal cover, which has a skull very similar to the one on the edge of the American cover in the center of the book jacket, and then has these four plaques on the corners.
Kat: So the eyes on the skull are blue, as is the little stone that’s set in the lock. The top right corner is a heart. The top left corner looks like a… I don’t know, a leaf? I can’t exactly tell what is in the top left corner. I think it’s a leaf, or something that looks like a leaf. Anyway…
Rosie: I’m trying to think of which tale is not represented, so which one the leaf would be.
Kat: The bottom left is a boot, I believe.
Rosie: Or a foot for a Hopping Pot?
Kat: Yep, a foot. There you go. And then the bottom right is the fountain.
Rosie: So we’ve got [the] Hairy Heart…
Jessica: So maybe the leaf is Babbitty?
Rosie: It must be something to do with Babbitty Rabbitty.
Kat: A rabbit foot or rabbit tail, maybe.
Rosie: Could be, yeah.
Kat: Yeah, okay, I could see that.
Jessica: Or, I mean, she turns into a stump, so… tree [or] leaf works.
[Alison and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So yes, you’ve got that extremely deluxe version – which Kat is very lucky to own – which has, of course, these emblematic images of the five stories, with the skull in the middle being the representation of the Deathly Hallows. You’ve got the new covers which are part of the Hogwarts Library edition, which is a very simple blue jacket to match the green jacket of Fantastic Beasts and the red jacket of Quidditch Through the Ages, which is, again, just a blue cover with the same stump image of the UK edition, but this time embossed in yellow. You’ve also got the cover which MinaLima designed for the Harry Potter film, which… the text and the actual texture of the cover is very much runic; it’s got interesting symbols and things all over it. Interestingly, not including the symbol of the Deathly Hallows in the same way, although it could be interpreted in some of the other symbols that you can see in that cover. However, the main image on that is of Beedle himself, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, with a picture of him writing them in the center, which is just quite interesting to see. And they depict him in a very Robin Hood almost style way, with an interesting squared hat, triangular hat…
Rosie: … and a massive feather quill that he’s writing with. So there’s not a lot of variety in these books. It is interesting that MinaLima went so far away from the actual published versions of the book in what they did for the film, probably for that very reason that they wanted it to be a film-only version and to feel a bit more grounded in the wizarding world rather than being a nice gift edition thing that we have in our modern world. But it’s also interesting to think of how different the sizing is, then. Alison, you were saying just a second ago how the American edition is a lot taller than the UK edition. The collector’s edition, and the version that they show in the film, is also a lot fuller; there’s more depth to the book, so [it] seems like either the pages are thicker or there [are] less words to a page, or there [are] just more stories perhaps in the actual wizarding collection and we are only given a quick sample of five in our own version.
Kat: The copy that I have is very tiny, as well. It’s maybe three by four inches.
Kat: It’s very small, and it’s thick. It’s much thicker.
Rosie: I just found a German version, “Die MŠrchen von Beedle dem Barden,” which is a completely different cover altogether. It’s got Babbitty looking very sadistic and holding a wand.
Rosie: It’s got the Hopping Pot throwing slugs out of it and smiling and hopping in a very strange way. So there are other editions out there. “Ein Klassiker aus der Zaubererwelt von Harry Potter.” Interesting! So yeah, just like Europe has some strange editions of the Harry Potter covers, there are some strange editions of the Beedle the Bard covers out there, as well. So please do send them in if you guys have got an interesting cover.
Kat: So I guess all that we have left to do is to thank Jessica for joining us today. Thank you so much! Hope you had fun.
Jessica: Thank you. This was a blast. I’m so glad I got to be on the show. This was awesome.
Kat: Good. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And for representing Hufflepuff so well.
Jessica: Oh, thanks.
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Alison: And if you want to be on the show like Jessica, remember that our “Topic Submit” page is open on the main site, so go suggest and go ask to be on an episode with something from Harry Potter that you’re interested in. All you need is a basic set of headphones with a microphone, and nothing fancy.
Kat: And in the meantime if you want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, facebook.com/openthedumbledore, we are on Instagram at AlohomoraMN, [and] of course our website is alohomora.mugglenet.com. And don’t forget to download your Alohomora! ringtone while you’re over there. And as always, you can send us an Audioboom. It’s free; all you need is an Internet connection and a microphone, or you can call from your phone. You can do it from your phone, as well. Go over to alohomora.mugglenet.com, keep your message under 60 seconds, and you could hear yourself on a future episode of the show. You can also submit a topic via audioBoom, so feel free to do that as well.
Rosie: And of course, don’t forget about our Patreon. You can find “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” [and] hopefully “Bluebeard” by the time this episode comes out, and also the full version of “The Pardoner’s Tale” over on Patreon read by me, and you can sponsor us over there for as low as $1 a month. There are a variety of interesting perks and things that you can be involved with. Please do note that if you are choosing to sponsor an episode, we have a lot of sponsors on that form, so we are slowly working our way through them. We only do one sponsor per episode, so please don’t feel like we have forgotten you if you have chosen that perk and you haven’t heard your name yet. You are on the list and we will get to you; hopefully it will be a nice surprise when you eventually hear your name on a future episode.
Kat: We are doing them in priority order.
Kat: So the earlier you pledge, the earlier your name will be [read].
Rosie: First come, first serve, so stick around and you’ll hear your name.
Kat and Rosie: We promise.
Rosie: There’s also an AMA that you can be part of in there. There are various other things that you can choose to receive from us, as well as hopefully working toward [those] Let’s Plays with Michael and I. I was looking at one of the earlier Philosopher’s Stone games the other day and just the graphics are so terrible, I’d forgotten how bad it was…
Rosie: … so that will be really fun to play.
Kat: It’s going to be brilliant.
Rosie: So please do help us out with that. And all that remains to say is that I am Rosie Morris.
[Show music begins]
Alison: I am Alison Siggard.
Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 193 of Alohomora!
Alison: Open the Dumbledore, and greet him as an old friend.
[Show music continues]
Kat: So… my train of thought has left the station. Choo-choo.
Kat: What were we talking about?
Rosie: Who was left out.