What I’m about to write about is one of my favorite subjects to talk about in any fantasy. I believe that a fantasy work isn’t complete without the topic of redemption in it. I didn’t become interested in the idea of redemption until I took a Tolkien class. If you’ve read The Lord of the Rings and especially The Silmarillion, redemption is one of the most important themes. Tolkien was one to put a form of redemption in his text and make a reader question if the character managed to redeem himself (Borimir, Galadriel, and Gollum are the ones that stick out the most). J.K. Rowling also uses this sense of redemption as well.
This is one of those posts that are going to be mostly set in the books since the movies took out a lot of information about this. (Too sad) There are three characters that stick out to me the most, but I’m sure there are more if I think about it.
Dudley is a minor character, but that chapter was one I remember reading so perfectly. I believe I even cried. Then again, it might have been because I had just started Deadly Hallows.
This was a scene in the movie, but it was cut. I wish it hadn’t been since we did see a bit of Dudley traumatizing Harry. For those of you who only watch the movie and haven’t seen the cut scene, this is basically what happens. The Dursley’s are ready to set out after being told that Voldemort will try to use them to get to Harry. There’s a great line where they both are thinking silently to themselves if Harry would even come to rescue them. The answer isn’t there, but it’s one that I’ve always wondered as well and adds more character to Harry even though it’s not a big point. Anyway, when they’re about to leave, Dudley doesn’t move. He asks why Harry isn’t going with them. He doesn’t understand that they’re about to separate. Another character chastises the Dudley’s for not understanding where Harry’s going. Harry tells her that he’s only been a waste of space to them. Then Dudley says this: “I don’t think you’re a waste of space.” The surprise and shock I felt at that moment was right with Harry’s. He tells the witch that it’s like an I love you from Dudley. They shake and Dudley leaves. End of scene.
It’s such a small moment for Dudley, but did he redeem himself? He had teased and beat up Harry all through his seventeen years. Many were angry with him, but do you blame a child for acting on something when he’s known no difference? He had been taught that Harry was abnormal and an awful boy. He was something that Dudley couldn’t understand and only learned at the hip of his parents. You could stretch this to the idea of homophobic children because that’s what they know. They don’t understand why a person likes somebody of the same gender, so it’s weird and can even be a reason to tease somebody or fear it. Dudley is terrified of Harry’s magic. He doesn’t understand it.
When he has to face Harry leaving, it’s like a whole new world for Dudley. He’s always had Harry. He’s the little brother he was taught to hate though he might not have known why. Dudley wasn’t a bright kid and I don’t think he learned how to think for himself until then. Yes, I’m still angry at what happened to him, but he was nothing but a child. He didn’t know what Harry was. He’s still a bully to other children and still awful, but I think he manages to have a moment of redemption when he realizes his brother of sorts may die in a battle that Dudley can’t even begin to comprehend.
Also, Rowling apparently debated on having Harry see Dudley in the epilogue putting his magical child onto the train. I get goosebumps every time I think of this possibility. It would be amazing and emotional. She decided not to because Petunia killed any possible magic from her side of the family, but still. *Shivers*
So, I just learned that people really hate Wormtail like they hate Umbridge. I was taken by surprise. I know he’s an awful cowering creature, but just like Dudley, he doesn’t know how to think for himself. Before I go further I would just to let you in my head. I don’t believe that there is any reason for somebody to kill another person or make somebody’s life a living hell no matter what that person has been through. We create our own future. The only reason why I could forgive Dudley is because he was still a child and he was changing even if we didn’t get to see what he ended up being. Peter Pettigrew is different because he’s an adult and his point of redemption is one where people really have to ask if he redeemed himself.
Now this is another important scene that was taken from the movie. It’s a scene that still bothers me. I thought it was one of the most important themes in Harry Potter and they took it out. I was disappointed, but I realized I didn’t notice it until I had a conversation about redemption. What happens in said scene is that Wormtail catches Harry and his friends escaping from the prison in the basement of Malfoy Manor. He has his wand pointing at Harry and then Harry says “You’re going to kill me? After I saved your life? You owe me Wormtail!” Wormtail hesitates and in this hesitation the silver hand that Voldemort created, turns on him and strangles him. Dumbledore, later on, said that Harry knew that Pettigrew felt regret. The hand that Voldemort created was evil and didn’t understand those feelings.
Some people wish that he had been killed because it’s what he deserved. Harry couldn’t have killed him because, well, that’s not Harry. I think that it turning on him was the best possible situation. Now did he redeem himself?
He committed one act by letting Harry go. He didn’t even entirely do that, but he felt a bit of regret and that was enough. Since he couldn’t control himself, I don’t think he necessarily redeemed himself. Still, it was close. This is one of those situations where it’s up to the reader. This is what it usually is no matter the situation. It’s all going to be up to the reader to tell if he redeemed himself and still we can’t be sure. I’m on the fence about Peter. Without him having that small act of guilt, it would have ended completely different.
If anyone can look at that image without almost breaking down (or completely), I give you props. Let me tell you, I’m at work right now and am trying to ignore what I just posted because tears will come. They’re guaranteed to. I remember getting to the end of this chapter and just being completely shocked. “How could you do this to me, Rowling? How?!” Of course, I was happy because I like seeing characters turn out good after being really, really bad (I’m watching Buffy and Angel right now and let me tell ya, I have a lot of hope for Connor, Spike, Wesley, Angel, Faith, Willow, and everybody in that show.) But anyway, I think Snape is one of the most well written characters I’ve come across.
Still, we can talk about redemption with him. Many people say that Snape is their favorite character because they actually like him. I can’t say that. Yes, he went through all of that bad stuff when he was a child and then he lost the only one he’s ever loved, but that doesn’t make him a good person. He was brave. He could hold love, He was still horrible to both Harry and Neville. Harry obviously had forgiven him, but I’m not too sure about Neville. Snape put both of them through so much, I’m not sure how that could be something I could get over.
To the redeeming. He’s such an odd character and I definitely think he redeemed himself, but he’s like all the rest of the characters. People are not good or bad, they walk on the line in between the two and will tend to stumble in either direction. Snape acted for himself through all of the times, something that Dumbledore tried to get him to stop doing. Snape was selfish, though he did save Harry and protected him It was out of love for Lily and I think that if Harry was James’s son and not Lily’s at all, even if he was going to end up saving the Wizarding World, Snape would have stayed with Voldemort.
It was out of love that Snape bothered staying good, something that Tom Riddle couldn’t comprehend as Harry explains at the end. Redemption for him is one that has to be left up to your opinion. Mine is that I think all three characters managed it, in the end.