Posted in Travel

Schwetzingen: A Small Town with a Very German Name

Untitled Hello people, I am back! Today, I’m gonna be writing about the small town that in which I currently live: Schwetzingen. You may have never heard of it, I’d be surprised if you have-unless you live nearby. I live here because it is at a convenient distance both to Heidelberg and Mannheim. Though I wanted to live peacefully in a small town after living in Istanbul, I also didn’t want to be secluded and far away from anything interesting. What is curious is that I thought Schwetzingen was an ugly, small, boring place when I first heard that it has an industrial park. And boy I was wrong.

As you can see on the map, Schwetzingen lies in the southern region of Germany, and hence we have a milder, warmer climate here when compared to rest of the country.

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The town has roads by the fields where you can enjoy a walk in peace. 

This is why there are fields surrounding the town, almost acting as a border between it and the other surrounding townlings. I figured that they generally produce asparagus, which is the symbol of the town quite interestingly. However, the most interesting thing about the town is its castle and history that goes way back. According to its Rathaus, Schwetzingen was mentioned as “Suezzingen” back in 700s, but is actually    believed to have existed during Stone Age. Hence the architectural style of the town and the castle reflects the progressing eras; you can see the Roman, Turkish and English influences in the castle gardens, as well as expansion of the main building according to need. By need, I am talking of rich aristocratic German dudes, who were not satisfied with a hunting castle in the middle of practically nowhere and decided to add more glam to their lives. This is clearly reflected in the vastness of the garden and the number of statues. However, I haven’t been inside the castle itself, as currently they are off season and have tours only in German and on weekends.

 

 

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So this is the centre of the town, just across the little train station. [Although it is pretty small, thanks to the numerous tourists visiting every summer, there is good public transportation to both Mannheim and Karlsruhe.] The street continues up to the castle and then you can either take a left or a right; they both go around the town making a loop. What surprised and fascinated me most was the size of the castle. It can be seen anywhere, but especially the long road that continues down to Plankstadt gives you a fantastic view even from afar. Landscaping is also very prominent and important in Schwetzingen, these trees are taken care of regularly and meticulously and that adds to the charm of the place. Since we are in winter right now, there are not any leaves on them yet they hung Christmas lights on the trees you can see on the left hand side of the street. They look lonely and barren, yet cheery at the same time.

 

Processed with Rookie CamThis is the castle, and you can see the silhouette of a fountain in the back. That is the starting point of the gardens. You really cannot fathom its size from outside since the structures obscure it. It was mid October when I first arrived and the weather was nice enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out the gardens until in November and at the time all the statues were put away as a means of protection, leaves had fallen down and the garden had lost its spectacular beauty. Although I love autumn colours in nature, from what I’ve heard, the gardens look amazing in spring when the flowers bloom and everything becomes very colourful and alive. I’ll definitely go and visit the garden again in spring and summer to see for myself if the rumours are true.

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I took this photo previous sunday, when it suddenly started snowing. It didn’t stay on long, but I had to chance to walk around long enough to capture the essence of winter in Schwetzingen and it is more magical than it looks. I have never experienced Christmas before with its trees and markets, and the snow was cherry on top. A choir was singing Christmas carols, people were drinking mulled wine and chatting. The snow made things cosier.

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This is what the castle looks like at nights. The colour reflects Christmas, as the Christmas market continues from the town square into the castle’s entrance. It would have been amazing to put up a big tree in the back garden that can bee seen from the entrance gates, but both Schwetzingen and Heidelberg are very nature conscious when it comes to their usage of electricity in hangings and ornaments. Still, the red colour changes the atmosphere.

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This is the courtyard. You can see the little tents that sell various different handmade stuff; from lights to candles. I had to get some hot chocolate and take in the happiness oozing from people around.

 

 

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This is the orangery of the castle. There were swans swimming in the pond just outside its central doors. The thing about the castle gardens is that everything is meticulously done and taken care of, it almost feels unnatural. All the ponds in there seemed to be human made, just for the sake of aesthetics. They had built an arboretum inside the forest area. So they juxtaposed the tamed, domesticated nature with natural forest-which was controlled as well but you know what I mean-and it had a beautiful effect.

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This is what I am talking about: trees meet trimmed bushes

Not only two very different nature meet, but also they have other structures scattered around the garden. There are three temples for Apollo, Mercury and Minerva and a mosque. I found it very interesting for them to have built a mosque in a small town, but it was never intended for prayer and religious rituals but was built under the Ottoman influence in the 18th century. What is curious is that the architecture of the mosque does not resemble that of Turkish but rather of Middle Eastern.

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The Mercury Temple
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The Apollo Temple
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It was built in 1779–1791 by a French architect for the Prince Elector of the Palatinate.
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These are some of the statues that have been put away for protection. 

I want to finish my post with a photo of the Rathaus and the little Christmas tree as tis the season. But what I can say about Schwetzingen is that, although it is pretty small, it is a nice town to visit. If you want to stay at a historical place but see other cities as well, I’d highly recommend Schwetzingen. You can both visit Mannheim and Heidelberg quite easily by bus or train and experience even more history (in Heidelberg), city life (in Mannheim) and busy social life.

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Rathaus on the right.
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Posted in Music

Tom Odell: No Bad Days Tour

Anyone who knows me a little, would know that there are two musicians that I absolutely love: Paolo Nutini and Tom Odell. And I had the chance and the privilege to watch the latter live almost two month ago-thanks to my lovely and generous close friend (hi Ayşe, I love you)! I wanted to write on it, but I simply didn’t have time between moving and adjusting to my new life-which will be the topic of another post. Although it was weeks ago, I still vividly remember the whole thing (yeah I guess that makes me a fan girl). So I wanted to write my impressions not to promote Odell, which I totally will, but to make myself relive those moments through my writing in the future.

I am going to put the songs in the original order, but I wanted to go angsty-instagram-blogger this time; I have found very basic, hipstery images online and combined them with his lyrics, most of which he writes on his own by the way, and it turned out to be super silly and meaningless out of context. But hey, sometimes you gotta put the mainstream blogging shoes on to fully make fun of them via making fun of yourself. So, I’m gonna include the links to his music as well, and I sincerely hope that you’ll listen to him-I guarantee that you’ll like what you hear!

Tom Odell has two albums (Long Way Down, 2013 and Wrong Crowd, 2016) and included songs from both of them in his “No Bad Days Tour.” To my knowledge, the tour had been going on for two years and the one in Istanbul was the last concert.

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He started off with a song from “Wrong Crowd.” I found it fitting as the first line of the song is “when I’m playing the piano, singing out of tune” and Odell opened the show with his piano and kept playing it the whole concert. The song’s about not being able to let go of a former lover and according to him, he is kinda awkward at love. So his songs are mainly about his failed trials at love. This is something he generally talks about during interviews. He has this artsy guy with commitment issues kinda vibe to him and it definitely works on stage. I chose these lines from the song, not only they summarise the whole songs quite well, but they represent the state of life that I am in currently-I am still getting used to live alone in a different country and it is sort of scary and you cannot really let go of the people you left behind, you even think more about them. Would totally recommend this song if you’re on a road trip alone and you want to pretend that you are a teen in a stereotypical American teen drama.

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I guess this song is one of his populars. I liked how he included the audience in the performance. After the bridge “Oh won’t you bring me all the things I need/I follow the rain to the roaring sea/ Oh won’t you bring me all the things I need” he slowed the song down and we basically shouted at one another “I know.” Imagine a few hundred people yelling “I know” as if we shared a common pain. And probably we did. The song’s about-yet again-not being able to forget someone. In that regard; Tom is good, Tom understands, Tom knows. I chose this specific line because the rain in the song is portrayed as something nice and soothing (the way your hair curls in the rain) the ocean is portrayed as having tides like the couple’s relationship. So this line tells me to hold on to someone not only when everything’s pretty fine, but to follow them to fights, arguments and their highs and lows.

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He then went straight into one of the songs I was really excited about; there was this smooth bridge(?) thing that I really like in the songs but unfortunately the live version didn’t come near my expectations. But, hey, he had been singing for days so I’m gonna let this one slide. The song is about, well, being with the wrong sorts of people. And that is something we have all probably experienced. I have always complained that there wasn’t any nice guys out there (until you came along dahling) and my mother still has so high expectations that I don’t think she also believes such a person exists. And I had friends that has been a bad influence on me. So yeah, no matter what we do, where we are, we always find “wrong” people. The key is to let them go though Tom.

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Until this point into the concert, he hadn’t spoken. While he was playing the piano, he greeted us and told us that it was the last show of the tour (hence it was pretty special and he was “so fucking happy to be in Istanbul,” but I suppose he tells that to every audience). Then he introduced his band. During this song, the ambient was really chill, there was little light, purple just on him, until the song gained momentum. The parallelism between the tempo of the song and the usage of lighting was a nice touch and I wish I had a better phone so that the one’s I took would’ve been postwhile. This song is one of my absolute favourite, because it says that you don’t really need any material, luxurious things when you have the one you love with you. I chose these lines as I wholeheartedly agree with them. When you miss the person you love, every comfort does seem unnecessary and something you can trade with being with them. So, yeah, I’d rather sleep in a bed with my beloved, then be apart from him with all the comforts of the world (and that room-who wouldn’t wanna sleep in there).

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I cannot write how he played the piano again and again, but all of his songs are piano based. So every song has a slow tempo to them, until the guitar and the drums come in and then Tom as well goes crazy on his piano. I like this song, it is about compromising in a relationship. To complete the other person and to accept them with their positive and negative traits and attitudes. And Tom reckons that’s how love works. And I like the idea of bodies growing together to transcend the physicality of love and connecting on a more spiritual level. This song speaks to me, man.

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This is the song that I knew the least, because I am more of a “Wrong Crowd” person. To me, this songs do not feel like Tom Odell to be honest, it is too pop-y and the lyrics are very stereotypical love song-ish. And he goes on a high note, unfortunately not one of his finest work. Or I am biased. I chose the line because that was the only one which wasn’t that sappy. But it definitely worked with that little origami in rain-let me tell you little fella you are not gonna last.

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This is also one of my favourites. I actually wrote a post about how I think Odell was inspired by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold. I just love the piano in it combined with his soft voice. It is simply amazing and you should definitely check the live version out on Youtube. The song gives you a new perspective on things, like how something we are so used to-such as stars-can have a different meaning when we attribute a whole new meaning to them just because of a certain feeling. And it is odd to think about that it’s the same moon, almost the same stars that the great people who lived before us once looked at. It is the same moon that I am looking at through my window right now, that maybe Shakespeare looked at whilst writing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Who knows? This give you a weird sense of connection to the past and people. But these particular lines are about looking at the stars and thinking about someone you love basically. It is a very cliche move to watch stars and think about your beloved, but still we all do that and the stars make a good companion whilst daydreaming, they create a good atmosphere. Just like a sky at nigh time, the stage was bereft of light and people with their phones, including myself, made up the constellations. It was a pretty good analogy.

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This must be his most romantic and uplifting song. It was too cute with only piano. Unlike his other songs, “Grow Old With Me” is about an everlasting love—not a romanticised but a real one with hurting and sharing. It gives the listener a curious sense of coziness. It would make a really good first song in a wedding; it’s fun, it’s cute and it’s Odellian romantic. Singing this right after slow paced “Constellations,” made the song even lighter and changed the pace of the concert as well. Up until this point all the songs have been more melancholic and slow in tempo, but with this the tempo rises until the end again. So sandwiching these songs in the middle really paralleled the emotions of the crowd. We started off wary until we got in the mood and then we spent all our energy towards the end. I can say that this was the peak of the concert.

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Again, this song makes you wanna move. Unlike his other fixation on ex songs, this one is about taking action. Generally the persona is very passive in his songs and kinda lets everything happen to him, and then complain. But now we see a different one. It gives off a strong image: even though people hurt you and things fall apart you gotta keep trying. I like its message, its difference in tone and style, so I could not record a good video because I was jumping the whole time!

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This one is also one of his more romantic songs. I like it, and it was nice to hold on to someone whilst listening to it. Made things and the song itself more significant then it would have been otherwise. So you know, it made me alive and romantic and fuzzy; especially when he slowed down and sang “hold, hold” for a few moments (and we kinda shouted it back at him). If Tom tells you to hold, you hug and hold.

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He sang the first bridge of the song without any instruments and did a cutesy dance-y thing when the lyrics go “I sing, I dance.” But, that was not all. The coolest part of this song was that they included harmonica instead of whistling. That changed the whole mood of the song-made this a little bit country but gave it more feeling to it somehow. I mean it is about (clearly) Odell himself again and the fake relationships that he had had because of his fame. And how people consider artists as the “entertainment” rather than real people with real feelings (in Odell’s case a lot of them). But, boy, he entertains us.

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Before singing the most anticipated song of the night, he played “Für Elise” and smoothly started “Another Love” from there. It was amazing. Yeah, “Für Elise” is a bit mainstream but still it added something. This must be his most angsty song, and he built up the tension real good for it. This particular song is how I imagine him to be in real life; like as if paralysed, wanting to do something but does not have the energy for it. I get like that when I go into one of my depressive moods, so I can say that I had listened to this song too much. I first listened to “Long Way Down” and unpleasantly surprised when he didn’t sing it. But after I listened to the song, I just got on Youtube and checked this Tom Odell guy and found “Another Love.” So I had never been in this particular position before, but I can totally understand the feeling. His voice is so sad and rough like the feeling the song has and gives. It was worth the wait, he did an amazing job singing it. He ended the concert with “Another Love” which was fitting, considering the fact that this song has launched his career and put us all in a shitty mood. But he came back for encore, wrapped in a Turkish flag-which was a bit unnecessary but I guess people like that kinda thing. Then he again talked about how it was the end to something very big and important for him and that he’d like to come back to Istanbul again in the future and I hope he does, I will be back as well for him only 🙂

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This is the other song in the concert that I didn’t really liked, it is a bit too sappy for me to be honest. I would have liked him to either sing “Silhouette” or “Sparrow.” It would have been simply amazing to listen to “Sparrow” live, but as it has so many high notes, I reckon it would have been hard on him at that point into the night and the tour. I will gladly pay again to see him if I know that he’s gonna sing “Sparrow.” I would go either wise, but still…

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“Somehow” is the most emotional song of his. It is about connection and relationships with people and unlike his other songs, this has a hopeful tone to it. The lines that I chose, represent that quite well. Like many other people, I occasionally ponder on death and after life, and when things get to a point where I cannot rest well, I just take a deep breath and tell myself that it’d be alright. So I am not ashamed to admit that I had cried at this song. At some point I just passed my phone to my boyfriend so that I could move freely and him recording it while telling me encouraging, nice things still makes me emotional today. Maybe it was because it was the end of the concert, and my approaching move to another country every song was more meaningful and emotional. I had my catharsis at your concert Mr Odell. Thank you for that.

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I think “Magnetised” is my favourite song. I had listened to it a lot back in march and april, because I was sort of in the same position as the persona-kinda had feelings for this person that I didn’t really acknowledge and thought that he’d never reciprocate. Hence, this song just speaks to me on a more personal level than his other works. I love its pace; it starts off slow and builds up. And that’s what Odell did himself. He just went crazy at some point and jumped on his piano. So yeah, shit went down with his last song.

Overall, I think that Tom Odell has an amazing voice and he played his piano all night, never rested… He really knows how to entertain people, he may not really dance or put up a show, you just go to his concert to listen to him. We actually stayed at the very back, because his concert is about emotions and feelings as are his songs. Hence you don’t really have to see him to feel his passion for his art. I had a blast and would love to go to another concert-if I’m lucky I can even go to a only piano show. So if he’s coming to town, I’d strongly recommend you to just go and listen.

Posted in Movie, Music, Prose

I Am Going On An Adaptation Adventure

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I have been comparing and contrasting the book and movies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit a lot lately. I have watched the movies before I read the novel, believing that reading the book first would ruin the movies for me. And boy, I was right. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were really entertaining and I really enjoyed them. However, the mood of the movies is really different than the book. I believe that one song from “An Unexpected Journey” sums up the whole adaptation process of the book.

When I mentioned a song from the first movie, probably “The Misty Mountains Cold” came to your mind. It was pretty iconic as it is the main theme of the first film, having appeared in the trailer. In the books, it is one of the various songs dwarves sing-however it is the crown jewel. In the book, the song is 10 stanzas long and written in iambic tetrameter. So we can say that it is very conventional, both content and form-wise. This song invokes an image of the Misty Mountains; it describes the lives of dwarves back in the day and the general topography of the forest area. Although it is not that old, as in the last line of the last stanza goes “to win our harps and gold from him.” This him here is clearly Smaug. And for those who know nothing about what had taken place, like Bilbo himself, it is a very nice way to tell the reader. As up until that point in the novel, they have been really odd and secretive (arriving one by one, unannounced) and Bilbo feels confused and irritated. [Well to be fair, dwarves had eaten everything he has and has not offered, I’d be pretty furious too.]But when they start singing, “something Tookish woke up inside him” and that’s how Bilbo decides to join their journey. Normally hobbits are not very adventurous rather creatures of routine, but they invoke an image of the mountains in Bilbo and move his kind little heart, he cannot resist. The thing here is that the song is accompanied by instruments the dwarves carry: Fili and Kili on fiddles; Dori, Nori and Ori on flutes; Bombur on drum; Bifur and Bofur on clarinets; Dwalin and Balin on viols, and finally Thorin with his golden harp. So this creates a “sweet” sound, according to Bilbo at least. What I imagined here was a very uplifting, upbeat, heroic song. Just like how it is in “The Company Theme.” That adds to the hope and confidence the dwarves feel and foreshadows their heroism along the way and in the Battle of Five Armies.

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Look at these bad boys. It is from my copy, illustrated by Jemima Catlin.

The first movie is all about establishing the importance of the Misty Mountains and how dwarves were displaced. The main focus is obviously on the gold-dwarves are all about the money. So rather than showing how greedy the dwarves really are, the movies dramatise their past. Whereas in the book, they get to trust and like Bilbo throughout the journey, but still they are whiny, greedy and generally ill-mannered. So this shift from their greed to their suffering shows itself in the lyrics of the song. The song is two stanzas long, and apart from a small change is taken directly from the book, but given the title “Misty Mountains,” which the book version lacked.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long forgotten gold

 

The pines were roaring on the hight

The winds were moaning in the night

There the fire was red it flaming spread

The trees like torches blazed with light

The only different thing here is “to find our long forgotten gold.” In the book, that first stanza is repeated with a variation in the last line. The two variations are: “to seek the pale enchanted gold” and “to claim our long forgotten gold.” Enchanted and claim are keys words here. They point to the fascination of dwarves with gold and their greediness. The real reason behind why Thorin Oakenshield wants his home back is not because he is homesick, but because of all the gold on which Smaug sleeps. Also pale and enchanted remind me of the Arkenstone.

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The Arkenstone from the movie. 

“Claim”ing also refer to his greed as well; just before the Battle of Five Armies, Bard and Co try to negotiate with Thorin, claiming a part of the treasure for themselves. Yet again Thorin rejects, and rather than sharing it he’d remain stuck in the mountain. But in the movie version the verb find lightens this. Finding implies a search, yes, but it also means that they don’t know where it is or that they are not truly after it. The song is not accompanied by instruments, Richard Armitage sings it solo. The scene is pretty dark, the dark has fallen and they all sit around the fireplace. With a elegy like tone and baritone of Armitage added to the cozy darkness, the song metamorphoses into a song of longing and suffering.

 

Whilst the book has a lighter tone in general and things happen rapidly one after the other, I felt more peaceful reading it. Narrator’s language is witty and funny, and although it is action pack we don’t get to see the gruesome parts. So I’d say it can pass as a children’s book. However, the movies have more fighting and action scenes, additional characters and events. It was more of a trendy Avengers-esque movie. I think I will speak for all of us who I say that introducing a love between a dwarf and an elf was such a cheesy, Hollywood-like move. They didn’t have to have three movies for god’s sake. When I first read The Hobbit  I was surprised at the flow of events, very rapid with no unnecessary characters. Yes the movies were darker and turned the tone a tad more serious. They were nice to watch at the movie theatre with 3D, but if you haven’t read the book be sure to do so. It is much more enjoyable than the money grubbing, dwarfish excuse of a prequel. If you’d ask me, I would have to say that the movie adaptation is an unsuccessful one. I would like to quote Linda Hutcheon on this:

Perhaps one way to think about unsuccessful adaptations is not in terms of infidelity to a prior text, but in terms of a lack of the creativity and skill to make the text one’s own and thus autonomous.

Posted in Prose

Myth Busting: Harry Potter Edition

Since Harry Potter canon officially ended this past week, I have decided that it is time for me to delve into some fan theories. I’ve read a lot of crazy things and would like to share some of them with you. In this post we’re gonna bust some supposedly well thought theory, so get ready people!

Harry Hallucinated the Whole Thing

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From Jim Kay’s illustrated version of the Philosopher’s Stone

This must be the most popular one out there. The theory here is that a starving Harry, locked under the cupboard at Privet Drive, creates an alternate world to where he can escape. So all that seven books are actually 11 year old Harry’s imagination. This is a bit too Lost for the series, and a tad too advanced for the little Harry. In the movie adaptations they added a spider, Alastair. It was someone to talk to for Harry and his only friend at the Dursleys which added to the depressive and gloomy atmosphere of the house. Steve Kloves, the screenwriter who adopted the novels, stated that “There was a spider in there and all these broken soldiers that he had filched from the rubbish bin of Dudley’s [bedroom]. And he had this broken army and he would talk to Alastair. And so when Hagrid arrived in the motorcycle you wondered if maybe Harry was mad, and was imagining being rescued.” And I get it, for those who only watch the movies this makes the theory seem plausible. I had also entertained the idea from time to time before the last book came out. But having Harry waking up in his cupboard after seven books would be irritating for the readers and a lazy thing to do on Rowling’s part. Just because of that, I don’t think that the theory would work. Apart from that, it is one thing to imagine being rescued, but entirely other thing to create such a detailed, refined world and course of events. It would be too much for an abused child. Not only the events are pretty intertwined, but he needs to know at least Latin to create spells and charms; they are not made-up words. Rowling could have woken Harry up after the confrontation in the forest with Voldemort in the last book, and that would have worked. After all it would be happening inside Harry’s head but why on earth should that mean that it’s not real, amiright? But with the way the books ended in the epilogue and with all the details, I think it is safe to say that it is nearly impossible for Harry to hallucinate the whole thing. I think this theory is busted.

The Dursleys Are Horrible Because Harry Is A Horcrux

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From the Chamber of Secrets, right before they send Harry off to his bedroom to pretend not to exist

This is another popular fan theory that had surfaced after Deathly Hallows. This theory suggests that the Dursleys were horrible to Harry because the horcrux, that Harry is, was affecting them. In the last book, we witness the trio struggling with the emotions the horcrux awakens. The horcrux enhances the already existing emotions rather than creating new ones. Hence, Ron’s insecurity goes through the roof. Accordingly, the Dursleys already dislike the Potters (you can read their first meeting on Pottermore). So the horcrux could have increased it extremely and this should be the case for anyone who does not like Harry, like Malfoy or Snape-granted they do not spend that much time with him. However, we see the horcrux affecting the trio when they have a physical contact to it. If living around a horcrux would turn them into horrible beings, then the Blacks and Malfoys should have changed as well. Yes, they do bad things to people, and the Black matriarch is pretty horrible on her own, they are okay generally. Dursyleys can also act very “normal” around other people as well as Ginny who was pouring her soul into a horcrux, whereas Ron was horrible to both of them under the influence. Let’s not forget Harry-he was a living horcrux. If the he affected the Dursleys that much, then he would have been horrible to people as well, but we only see his demeanour worsen when he wears the locket around his neck. Although this theory looks plausible, it does not fit other people and circumstances. Let’s admit it, Dursleys are just like Umbridge when it comes to Harry. I think this theory is busted.

Dumbledore Is Death

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Artwork by polisherci

This is the nicest one of them all. This theory suggest that Harry, Snape and Voldemort represent the [Peverell] brothers in “The Tale of the Three Brothers” from The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Dumbledore the Death. In the tale three brothers come across a river which has killed so many people before them. They make a bridge and cross it, displeasing Death. But Death wants to slyly take their lives. The eldest brother asks for a unbeatable wand. He boasts about having such a powerful wand, he gets killed in his sleep by a jealous wizard. The middle brother wants a way to bring his loved one back from death. She half-returns in agony and he kills himself in order to be with her. The youngest wants an invisibility cloak to be able to get away from Death. Only he accepts and embraces death when his time comes and meets with Death like an old friend. According to this, Voldemort is the eldest brother who seeks power and does anything to attain it. He thinks he has caused Dumbledore’s death, but the joke’s on him as Dumbledore causes his death with his knowledge of his horcruxes. Plus, Voldemort actually seeks the Elder Wand, like the first brother and dies because of it. He misjudges the true owner of the wand, shortsighted by his ego and pays the price. The middle brother is Snape, who spends his life mourning Lily’s death and craving her love. j-k-rowling-takes-to-twitter-to-set-the-record-straight-about-a-few-fan-theories-11-photos-5He brings her back to life through her son, Harry but he abuses him caused by his hatred for James and guilt for Lily’s death. His role as a double agent causes his death in the end and he agreed to that role to avenge Lily. The youngest brother is Harry; who, again, owns the Invisibility Cloak and accepts his role in the downfall of  Voldemort and death after looking in the pensieve. He also wakes up in King’s Cross, meets Dumbledore like an old friend despite doubting his every decision throughout his horcrux hunt. Dumbledore in return, causes the death of the two brothers indirectly, just like Death but is on good terms with the youngest. The parallelism in the course of events and the characters of the four of them fits perfectly, not to mention their ages. Even Rowling herself stated that she liked this theory. So I’d say this theory passes.

Ron Is Dumbledore

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Say whaaaat?

Yeah you heard that right. There are people who think that Ron Weasley is the time-travelling version of Albus Dumbledore. It is based on the few similarities in their appearance (redhead, big hands and tall) and their love for sweets (being on Chocolate Frog Cards amuses them both very much). Another detail is that in the line “he was born in a bin” from the song “Weasley Is Our King,” the word bin in Latin is a prefix meaning two-hinting at Ron’s double life. Admittedly, it is a bit farfetched and too much over reading. As it was explained in The Prisoner of Azkaban, time travel is a tricky business. You cannot show yourself and you cannot alter the past. Dumbledore has to go back several years, create a faux life for himself and constantly be in touch with himself. These already do not fit time travelling in the Potter universe. Dumbledore and Ron cannot be in the same room without causing mental problems to Dumbledore as he would know that it is him standing before his eyes. Ron continues to live after Dumbledore’s death, I don’t think that it could be possible for one self to die and the other continue, at one point all of them have to merge together, if not one would be immortal and it is not Dumbledore’s style. Also, if he were to go back in time, he would have directly gone to Tom Riddle era of Voldemort-still can’t change things but maybe learn more about his horcruxes. So, I think this theory definitely is busted.

Crookshanks Is the Potters’ Cat

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Once again from the old, beautiful Pottermore

This is my favourite theory so far. From Lily’s letter to Sirius, we know that the Potters had an unnamed cat. What happened to the cat after their death is unknown. Some suggest that it died in the ruins, although Hagrid would have noticed a cat and not left it to die and the others say that somehow it survived. The cat Hermione has adopted had been there for a very long time, it had been 12 years since the Potters died at that point and kneazles are known to live longer than regular cats. As Crookshanks is half-kneazle, the time line fits him. The other thing is that Crookshanks does not like and trust Scabbers from the moment he meets him. It can be because he senses that something is wrong with it, acting like a feline Sneakoscope, or it can be because he remembers Pettigrew the only person who was allowed in the Potter household after the Fidelius charm. He can remember the fact that Pettigrew betrayed them. He ends up befriending Sirius in his animagus form, whom he has never met probably. And this suggests that Crookshanks does not oppose Scabbers because he senses that he is human, but because he is actually shady. This theory, my friends, passes with flying colours.

Harry Is Immortal

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dun dun dun…

This theory is about the prophecy Trelawney predicts. The full prophecy is this:

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies….

The theory concerns itself with “neither can live while the other survives.” In the books, this is interpreted as either Harry killing Voldemort or Voldemort killing him. People suggest that now that Voldemort is dead, the “other” is eliminated in the equation and the living other can now live, but the one who is able to kill Harry is Voldemort and with him gone Harry cannot be killed. I mean if are going to scrutinise words, we can say that both should be dead by default as they cannot survive together, not even 17 years, do you feel me? I think that the detail is nicely seen (kudos to that) but I think it is just Trelawney’s wording-to make it seem more dramatic. Dumbledore himself says that just because a prophecy was made, it doesn’t mean that it will come true. It is up to the character of the people: Voldemort would not rest until all of his enemies are dead and Harry would not rest until his parents and friends’ murderer is dead. As I take it, while one is dead, the other can now live freely, without the need to hunt, hide and fight but live a normal life with three kids. For me this is also busted.

There are so so so many more out there, even more crazy. These are the ones that I frequently come across and find intriguing to comment on. I don’t like the fan theories generally, but I accept Crookshanks as the Potters’ cat as head cannon!

 

Posted in Prose

How to Train Your Ron

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I saw this post a few days earlier and it made me realise that, yes I indeed assume that everyone has read Harry Potter. I have grown up reading Harry Potter, started reading when I was 6 actually, and I simply cannot picture not having read it. It is mind boggling. I am known for forcing it to my close friends and a couple months ago I gave one of my copies of the Philosopher’s Stone to my dear Ron, so that he can stay a Ron and not become a Cormac. He is a muggleborn (has only watched the movies and not read the books) and I constantly casually include Harry Potter in our daily conversation, so he is not totally clueless when it comes to the franchise. Still, it was pretty entertaining to witness his reactions.

The first thing I want to emphasise is that he has liked the book more than the movie-which is honestly not very surprising. Although the first movie is a loyal adaptation, almost to a fault, the audience cannot immerse in the story. For him, it was mainly because of the acting of the child stars. They are not terrible, but also not very convincing so the designated emotions do not reach us.

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You probably remember the “I’m a what” part quite clearly.

So reading the book enabled him to feel more. That is also natural, Rowling gives intricate details when it comes to her characters-and we find these details in other books as well. Hence the books feel more well put and consistent that way; like how we learn about the instance where James saves Snape’s life. At the end of the book when Dumbledore answers Harry’s questions, he casually gives a reason for Snape’s hatred for Harry’s father. My Ron thought that Dumbledore might be lying to Harry to give him a nice, Gryffindor-worth answer regarding his father to soothe him. And he is not wrong in his guess, Dumbledore is known for being a master manipulator. He also thought that Dumbledore might have let Harry face Quirrell and yet again he is not wrong. Dumbledore always let Harry test his strengths and weaknesses, to prepare him for his final task that he needs to face alone. He kind of confirms this to Harry as well in later books. Although Harry thinks that he does stuff due to his luck and external forces/help, he is good when it comes to practice simply because his instincts are good and he is able to develop them (and yes trouble always finds him). Thanks to his adventures he is quite adaptable and hence good at improvisation.

Harry’s adaptability is another thing my Ron focused on. He found it sort of weird of Harry to just accept the wizarding world without any problems. The thing here is that Harry had an awful childhood where he simply didn’t belong; nobody wanted to talk to him not to anger Dudley and he had ill fitting clothes and ill fitting rumours about him. So just like Hermione does, yet another outsider in his “normal” world, he accepts the wizarding world as his true reality; as belonging to it and refer time and time again to Hogwarts as his only home. Not only he is a wizard, pretty cool thing to learn when you are eleven, but he is also rich, famous and good at sports. And for once in his life he has a true friend. What is saddening about Harry is that in the Chamber of Secrets he visits the Burrow and surprised to find that the Weasleys like him. He is so not used to affection and love that he finds himself not worthy of genuine attention and affection.

Although Harry takes to the wizarding world quite easily, he does not let his muggle life go that easily. My Ron paid attention to the way Harry always seems to compare anything at Hogwarts with what he had at Dursleys. When he is at his first feats at Hogwarts, he thinks about the food back at Privet Drive and constantly think what would the Dursleys’ reaction be had they seen Harry’s money/friends/school. He lets go of this habit once he is comfortable in the wizarding world, but maintains it throughout the first book.

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Because he didn’t get to indulge in anything sweet at Privet Drice, he goes and buys everything. Oh, Harry…

He commented on the whole Snape-seemed-to-be-the-bad-guy-but-turned-out-okay. Rowling carefully chose the instances where Harry sees Quirrell outside the classroom and Snape is always there, somehow threatening him. It is quite a success (in his words) of Rowling to raise no doubts in the reader about Snape’s bad intents, hence it makes quite a good surprising element when we find out that it is Quirrel all along. He thought Snape a well developed character, but not a good person (honey he is just starting!) and thought that Rowling was a little bit easy on Snape, tried to make him seem like a hero. I wholeheartedly agree with him on that one. Rowling herself said that she saw Snape neither as a hero, nor as a villain. And by giving him a sad backstory (I am talking about the abusive muggle father bit, not Hogwarts) she sort of made up for his shortcomings, I.e. his power-abusive attitude towards his students: he picks on Harry the moment he sees him (“You see what you expect to see Severus”—Dumbledore), constantly ignores Hermione (don’t want to say because she is a Muggleborn, but yeah) and he is Neville’s biggest fear. She sort of gives Snape lovers (many of whom are movie watchers only, at least from what I have observed) something to work with to justify him. I have even met someone who said that Snape was faking it in front of others (and he didn’t mean to call Lily the m-word) so that the Death Eaters’d believe him. So, I am glad that we agree on Snape: an interesting character but a horrible person. And he asked the very question that I have been asking myself: why did Harry name his kid after him? Had Snape known, he would have turned in his grave.

In general, he seemed to have genuinely liked the book and will continue reading. He has carried the book with him, so that he could read once he got the chance. He found the plot detailed and well developed despite it being considered a children’s book. I am so glad he thinks that way, because as you know, after the Prisoner of Azkaban the plot line gets more complicated and the language more complex. He is speculating on things, although how can you speculate without any influence after seeing the movies at least? I am proud and glad though; he seems to agree with my opinions on almost everything (Snape being the first) and now he knows why I call him my Ron. I am pleased that he accepted I was right, I trained him well. 🙂 (No offence to Rons out there, but his life is easier when he listens to Hermione.)

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Posted in Prose

Beorn Is the Old Black

 

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Today, I’m gonna be taking you on an adventure through The Hobbit. This is my copy of the book and every image that I will be including in the post, is taken from this lovely illustrated version-which I highly recommend. Although I have a lot to say, I shall be focusing on one specific character, of whom I have not really thought about.

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“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” And whose story I have recently had the chance to read. I have to admit, I like it better than the trilogy. The Hobbit is full of fun adventures and some serious stuff in the end, but it is more sunny and enjoyable than the other three. Don’t get me wrong, the trilogy is amazing, but I sometimes find it a bit too dark for my taste. The narrator’s humorous tone here and stance to the whole thing as if he/she is a traditional story teller, a bard figure if you will, made it a light reading. When compared to the movie trilogy of the book, interestingly the book felt rushed. And the Battle of Five Armies was disappointingly short and quick. Also kudos to Peter Jackson for including the scene between Gandalf and the Necromancer the book casually mentions through Gandalf’s own account of things he has done after leaving Thorin & Co. That part of the movie was marvellous, but I will not even start ranting about the whole elf-dwarf love thingy.

As the book tells the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and puts him in the focus, some things are left to the reader’s imagination-like the escape of the dwarves from the goblins and the battle itself to name a few-and the other characters, including the dwarves even, did not really interest me when I first watched the movies. But when I started reading the book, one character stuck with me, who does not even get nearly enough book time, and that person is Beorn.

Why I focused on Beorn was because I had this class in my last semester in university called “Animal and Human at the Crossing of Literature and Philosophy ” and in that class we have read four novels and discussed the role and treatment of the animal. It was by far the most interesting elective that I had taken. And as per usual, we had to write a paper on a novel and discuss the animal in it. Naturally, I had chosen Harry Potter. I focused on the animagi (I like pluralising it in the proper Latin form) and the usage of animal body, more specifically Nagini. The concept of animagus has always fascinated me; having a connection to an animal so strongly that your soul and character reflects that. (Don’t forget that the patronus, the protector spell, also reflects the character of the person casting it—remember only McGonagall can save McGonagall!) So I started asking the basic questions: how does the transition work? Does the animagus have the human mind and consciousness whilst in animal form? How and where can we draw the line between the two?

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Peter Pettigrew as shorn in Pottermore.

What we know from the Potter universe is that the outer appearance of the animagus matches the animal he is. For example Peter Pettigrew’s “skin looked grubby, almost like Scabbers’s fur, and something of the rat lingered around his eyes” and Minerva McGonagall’s animagus form has markings around its eye in shape of her glasses and her patronus has the same markings as well. So appearance wise, the animagi resemble the animal. Manner and character wise this also apply. Sirius Black, with his black hair and “bark-like laugh” resemble the huge black dog that he turns into. His fieriness, loyalty and loving and trusting nature reflect the stereotypical dog characteristics as well. What is curious about Sirius is his manners.

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The cave scene in The Goblet of Fire from Pottermore

When he tags with Harry and the order when they escort the kids to King’s Cross, Sirius “snaps at pigeons and chases his own tail,” “scares a couple of cats” and acts like an over enthusiastic dog on a walk. Yet, he knows that he is Sirius and his godson is leaving him for the semester, so he “rears onto his hind legs and places his front paws on Harry’s shoulders” and Mrs Weasley admonishes him to “act more like a dog.” Even though his body is totally in animal form and he acts like an animal would, he still is Sirius inside. That was how he managed to escape Azkaban. Had he not have consciousness, he would not have survived the waters and wander purposelessly. That is not all; when he comes to Hogsmeade to be near Harry after his name was selected by the Goblet of Fire, he transforms into his animal form to hunt rats to survive in the cave. We can see that Sirius Black has mastered using his animal form and human consciousness in a complementary way (as did Peter Pettigrew, who stuck with the Weasleys in his rat form but watched out for any activity on Voldemort’s part), making him much stronger and superior to ordinary wizards. This superiority is also emphasised by his ability to communicate with “real” animals. He forms such a close relationship with Crookshanks, who trusts no one, he ends up helping Sirius.

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Beorn in his bear form, from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

This is why Beorn was the most interesting character for me. As it turns out he is the first animagus that we encounter in popular canonical fantasy literature. He is said to descend either from the bears who had lived in the Misty Mountains before the arrival of the giants, or from the men who had lived in the region before the arrival of the dragons or Orcs from the north—Gandalf believes the second to be true. Either way, Beorn lives alone in a wooden house between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. He can also change his form at will, and I believe because of this he refuses to eat meat and use anything in his house that is animal related; he uses wooden utensils and everything. Just like Sirius Black, he has a special connection with the animals around him and also the nature. He has ponies, dogs and sheep as his companions who aid him in the house which is designed for them: the stools are made low so that they can use them. And just like the animagi from Harry Potter, his appearance has some resemblances to his animal form: he is a big hairy man and has a temper and one needs to be cautious when approaching him. He also likes to feed on honey. He is like a grizzly bear in that sense.

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Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin & Co at Beorn’s house, dining after finishing their story

Beorn prefers the company of animals to the other races, but he does not like goblins who disturbs the forest. So when he hears the peculiar story of Gandalf, welcomes them to his house. But he does not trust them. He leaves them in his house almost like prisoners, to go and find about whether they had truly slain the Great Goblin. Though he is fair and helpful, he does not trust people. That is why he follow the dwarves to the entrance of Mirkwood, to see if they’d let his ponies go. He uses his bear form to do this; to blend better with his surroundings and use a bear’s speed to his advantage.

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Beorn fighting a goblin in the battle

 

Again, like Sirius he has mastered the shape shifting and uses it to his advantage. He travels fast in his animal form and that is how he can make it in time to the Battle of Five Armies and in his animal form he is more fierce and magnificent. I don’t really know how he has heard about the battle and neither does Bilbo, but I believe that it was through his connection to the animals. He makes it to the battle to fight against the goblins specifically who are the common enemy, against which all the races unite.

 

Based just on these, Sirius Black reminded me of Beorn; his possible ancestor from a bigger and more complex book series, from a master author. I do not know whether J.K. Rowling had the idea of the animagus based on The Hobbit, as it is not really uncommon to see shapeshifters in literature, Beorn belongs to the most famous fantasy series ever. And the way this duality between the animal body and human consciousness is portrayed in the Harry Potter franchise seems like an improved version of Tolkien’s skin changer.

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Beorn with Bilbo, Gandalf and the Elvenking after the Battle of Five Armies, on their way back to their individual homes

 

Posted in Prose

The Tragical History of Draco, Prince of Slytherin

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Chapter: “The Lightning-Struck Tower” on old Pottermore.

To kill, or not to kill.. That is sort of the summary of Hamlet.. or The Half Blood Prince. Oh yeah, this is another post on Harry Potter and its resemblance to a more canonical work. This time, I take on William Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy Hamlet.

As you may expect, I will not be writing about how Harry is like Hamlet; trying to avenge his murdered parents. No sir! This is about Draco Malfoy and the situation he was put in in the sixth book of the series. However, mind you, I will not be glorifying him nor justify his actions but merely comment on his terrible year.

Draco Malfoy was forced to join the Death Eaters simply because his father, who was in charge of retrieving the prophecy from the Department of Mysteries failed against bunch of teenagers. He was given this task of killing the greatest wizard of all times as a punishment to his whole family, to rectify his father’s mistakes-he was not supposed to succeed though, but that’s another story. You can guess now where I am going with this. Both Hamlet and Draco were forced into situations where they swore to avenge their fathers. Hamlet was quick to give his word to the ghost of his late father, but not so quick to act when he needed to, while Draco had no choice to take on the task set for him, quick to act but not really knowing what he was doing. When “my father will hear about this” card was taken away from Draco by Azkaban, he ended up being a scared, confused child who tried to do things way bigger than him. In his haste to complete the task, he put various people’s life in danger; as a consequence Katie Bell, Madam Rosmerta and Ron suffered. This also applies to Hamlet. Poor Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were sent to their deaths and Polonius was killed by Hamlet, albeit unintentionally. Both of these characters lack a stable father figure in their lives and without any guidance they struggle to keep going and continue making mistakes.

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I found this fan art on deviantart, done by suwi.

While we were discussing Hamlet in class, my professor told us that Hamlet was a true intellectual, though he was ambitious and wanted the throne as well, and because of that the scheduled murder of his uncle bothered him. Had he been a chivalrous prince, he would have slain the king, taken the throne and ruled over his subjects and probably not ended up dying. Hence, the whole play is the gap between the moment Hamlet agrees to kill his uncle and he actually does. He struggles to close this gap; he is stuck between acting and not acting. And when he acts eventually, it was initiated by forces out of his control. This applies to Draco as well. When he choses to use the cursed necklace and the mead, he cannot control the outcome, although he does not intend to Ron gets poisoned and Katie gets cursed instead of Dumbledore. It is clear that his heart is not in it, yet he is under immense pressure, causing him to break down in front of Moaning Myrtle. He wants to do well, so that Voldemort does not kill him and his parents and he blames Dumbledore and Harry for the downfall of his father. Such a teenage angst he’s got going in this book. What I like about Draco here is that, up until this book he has been such a privileged pain in Harry’s ass, throwing racial slurs at people and bullying Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs left and right, but now he has shouldered responsibility for the first time and he has changed because of that. No more taunting Ron and being mean to Hermione, rather he focuses on saving his family. That is the only redeeming quality about the Malfoys: they love one another so much so that a teenager accepts to kill a man, and a mother lies to the darkest wizard of all times. And still, Draco cannot kill Dumbledore after he disarms him. The love for his family and the desire to prove himself to the Dark Lord so that his father’s misdeeds would be forgiven are not enough to turn him into a killer. Like Hamlet. No matter how the throne does not belong to the king and how his uncle betrayed his father, both through regicide and fratricide which are regarded almost as holy, Hamlet cannot find in himself to kill his uncle but to defer the ultimate encounter.

When the dreaded encounter comes for Draco, Dumbledore is calm and welcoming, like the third brother from Beetle the Bard’s tales. He has accepted his death long ago, but he tries to save Draco’s soul from ripping apart and fragmenting just because Voldemort wanted him and specifically his father to suffer. He tries to reason with Draco, to make him see that there is a way out. When he says “Draco, Draco, you are not a killer” Draco does not object to that. He answers with “How do you know?” He also knows that he is not a killer, be it from his cowardice or good heart. Dumbledore continues to emphasise this. “I am more defenceless than you can have dreamed of finding me, and still you have not acted…” That single sentence reminded me of Hamlet on its own and made me think of the situation Draco’s in. Yes, Draco cannot act until he must act. Had he been a more vicious person who really wants to join Voldemort he would have tortured or even killed Dumbledore. But Draco does not want that. After seeing Voldemort’s way of punishing his most loyal servants, aka his father, and living with him in the same house gave him a new perspective on things. Hence he does not really identify the trio when they are brought to the Manor by the snatches. He wants nothing to do with the man who forced him into his breakdown and punished his father with the worst thing he can do: by taking away his wand, both emasculating and muggling Lucius. With Half Blood Prince, Draco realises that what he thought he wanted to be did not really correspond to the image in his head.

Although what he has done cannot be excused, it is good to know that Draco realises that there is something rotten in the state of Voldemort’s reign. He could have acted against him, but he is a Slytherin and a Slytherin always thinks of his advantage first. He was in a limbo in term of acting, like late Hamlet, but he was also in limbo in terms of ideology. He thought purebloods to be above everyone, yet he found out that it was not the case. So he almost stayed neuter in the war; he only meddled when he thought that he could save his family.

Hamlet and Draco were both forced into fates that they did not really want by their fathers. Hamlet could not prevail, nor did Draco. While Hamlet paid the price with his life for audience’s sake, Draco’s image of his father and what he had been teaching him as the ultimate truth had been shaken and challenged, and that changed and broke Draco. In that way, he is the tragic hero of the sixth book, our very own Hamlet; the prince of Slytherin.

Posted in Prose

It’s S.P.E.W. NOT Spew!

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Hermione and Crookshanks at the entrance to the kitchens. Tickle the pear.!

‘What’s in the box?’ he asked, pointing at it.

‘Funny you should ask,’ said Hermione, with a nasty look at Ron. She took off the lid, and showed them the contents.

Inside were about fifty badges, all of different colours, but all bearing the same letters: S.P.E.W.

‘“Spew”?’ said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. ‘What’s this about?’

‘Not spew,’ said Hermione impatiently. ‘It’s S – P – E – W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.’

‘Never heard of it,’ said Ron.

‘Well, of course you haven’t,’ said Hermione briskly, ‘I’ve only just started it.’

This little quote is from Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire. From the book of the series where beasts and beings and their treatment, or rather mistreatment, get a little attention. One of the reasons why Hermione Granger is my favourite character is that she takes time to think of others. She was the one who helped Neville look for Trevor the moment she met him, she was the one who adopted the unloved and unwanted cat Crookshanks and the only reason Harry survived to finish off Voldemort was, again, her. So, it is no wonder it was Hermione who took the time to find more about the conditions of house elves. For those who don’t know, there are at least a hundred house elves working in Hogwarts, preparing the feast and cleaning the school-you didn’t think it was Filch who did the all cleaning, did you? They were brought by Helga Hufflepuff and although there is no information, it is suggested that they all sleep in the kitchen or somewhere nearby-close to the Hufflepuff common room. It feels weird to have Helga Hufflepuff, who is the nicest of the founders to allow such a huge amount of slaves in school. The problem with it is that people who grow up in the wizarding world tend to think that house elves like what they are doing and they are, in a way, meant to do chores. I am not talking about Malfoys or Blacks here who do not consider house elves as individuals and constantly abuse them, but regular good guys like Helga Hufflepuff and Ron Weasley. Ron does not question the situation the house elves are in and claims that they like working; until the Battle of Hogwarts, after they are put in almost the same conditions as house elves while they were on the run-plus Hermione’s consistent trials at educating him, Ron realises the problematic position elves are in. This kind of thinking is reinforced in their household, unfortunately. Mrs. Weasley is a traditional old-school house wife and she would like to have a house elf if they could afford to it, they are extremely expensive much like exotic pets and only the upper class can afford to have any. They accept magical beings as they have always been, the common social discourse is what they go with. This acceptance can only be challenged by an outsider, who encounters both the beings and traditions for the first time and that is where Hermione Granger comes in. Being a muggleborn, Hermione faces discrimination early in the series and develops a coping system. This “unwantedness” of Hermione is reflected in the house elves and thus she is more observant and interested. She has a basic understanding of muggle history and that is why she can see elves as enslaved creatures rather than masochistic work-loving “animals.”

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The kitchens as depicted in the old Pottermore

The reason why Ron never heard of S.P.E.W was not because Hermione just founded it, but because it is actually a muggle reference. “The Society for the Promotion of Employment of Women” which also can be abbreviated as S.P.E.W. was a a movement founded in 1859. Back in the Victorian era, women had one major duty: to be a housewife. Some women even fought against the right to vote for women in  “An Appeal Against Female Suffrage” in 1889 and stated that a woman is too delicate to be involved in politics and real world matters. They were seen as pretty objects, in upper class, to possess and to show off. The poor were not that lucky. The more fortunate worked as governesses, the more unfortunate as prostitutes and later on worked in newly rising factories and mines. The working conditions were so harsh and the money they got were so low that a few families had to rent the same room to be able to afford a place to sleep. They worked up to 18 hours and pregnant women had to work until they gave birth and come back when they physically could. Although some acts passed to regulate the working hours and “humanise” the working conditions but they were not nearly enough. So this society was founded to address the urgent need to open up new areas of employment for women and the lack of education available. Another main focus of the society was to make women economically more independent, hence the society offered loans to help cover the costs of their education. You can see the parallelism now, right? The women in Victorian times were oppressed, forced into the house and into two categories; either angel of the house or the loose, sexual women. They were treated badly, didn’t have fundamental rights and suffered under a more dominant power: the men. In Harry Potter, the house elves not only symbolise slavery but also the situation women were in in the past. It is a woman that tries to something for the creatures, the men tagging along unwillingly. And it is a woman, J.K. Rowling who, with a simple abbreviation, reminds the reader of the effort women made to gain, maybe not equal but some footing. It is a nice detail having Hermione, an outsider, a woman, a muggleborn to start a movement to educate the purebloods and help house elves even though they have no conception of fundamental rights and any kind of freedom themselves. This maybe one of the easily missed details hidden in the series, but makes the reader think whether he/she knows the historical context or not.

-For those who are interested, you can check out this website to know more about the Victorian era.

 

Posted in Prose

“It Was A Children’s Book. And That Is How the Trouble Began.”

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything-over two months. At first, I was actually really busy with papers and finals, after that I lost my will to do anything that required any sort of work besides lying in bed and binge watching “The Man In the High Castle” (would recommend by the way). What pushed me into writing was this book I have bought as a gift for one of my close friends. Reading it again after all those years, 14 to be exact, exited me and I just could not contain myself.

Everybody, meet WProcessed with Rookie Caminnie the Witch and her lovely companion Wilbur the Cat. This is the first English “book” that I have ever read like, probably, most of you. In fourth grade, I started learning English and “Winnie the Witch” was the first book I was given besides my usual course pack. I don’t ever remember the process of learning the language and now in retrospect it feels heartwarming to picture my nine year old self reading and trying to understand it-although I still maintain the habit of not understanding things as I read them. Though this was not the only book we read that year, for some reason Winnie stuck with me. Not just as a book series from my childhood but I clearly remember the songs we learnt, especially Winnie and Wilbur Song. I have recently found it on youtube, and every time I listen to it, I immediately return to my childhood. So what made Winnie so special?

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I have always remembered this picture vividly but not the title and hence I went ahead and looked through every Winnie the Witch book I could find until I stumbled upon this. Look how cute the page is-I love the fact that everything Winnie has is black apart from her clothes which are channeling some Dumbledore colouring. And the fact that her nose is red, resembling an alcoholic made me question whether this was all her imagination and that she was not in fact a witch. Well, Dumbledore has a splendid answer for my 14 year later issued questioning: “Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real.” With that, it is not hard to see that I am going to end up mentioning Harry Potter yet again. Apart from the fact that Winnie is a witch and Harry is a wizard, there is something both Harry and she share. They, without a doubt, symbolise my childhood.

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Aww look at sad Wilbur 😦

The plot of this story is that everything Winnie has is black, so is her cat Wilbur and Winnie keeps sitting on Wilbur and ends up either hurting herself or him. Hence she recolours Wilbur a few times: first she turns him green but it becomes a problem when he goes outside. Then she makes him colourful but Wilbur gets bullied by the birds and a hurt Wilbur is not something Winnie can handle and she ends up changing the colour of everything she owns and turns Wilbur black again. The pages are really colourful, they are fun to look at even if the child is not old enough to read. But under all that colour and childishness lies the serious messages. The usuals. Like accepting people as they are and not trying to change them, that bullying hurts people and that we need more colour in our boring lives. Simple enough. I am not going to go ahead and outright say that this books make the person that I am today, but certainly it made me like colours, cats and magic.

Similarly, I first read Harry Potter when I was eight. It made an impression on me, however I never got into it until I was in my senior year in high school. All of my friends kinda made, and some still do, fun of me for reading and loving “children’s books.” (I am not even going to give an answer to that.) But when I read the series now I find these easter eggs in them. There are mentionings of very obscure literary characters from canonical works, myths and legends, creatives puns, historical events and figures and their appropriation… And many more! It is a goldmine really. And under all this “childishness” of the narration and fantastic quotes, lie the same warnings; about slavery, racism to corrupt media and government (that seems familiar somehow, hmm.). It is not cool to not read children’s literature guys, really. They are actually more complex than you think, it is really hard for a writer to talk about serious matters in an obscure and fun way as not to scare of nor bore the children who do not seem to like reading anyway (and yeah, those who prefer watching the tv/movie adaptations to reading the books I judge you severely). “Powerful messages can be found, even in the childest of the books, if one remembers to turn on perception.” (yes, this is yet again another Dumbledore quote) I have to say I agree with Mark Gatiss (co-writer of the hit tv series “Sherlock” who also portrayed Mycroft Holmes) on something. After the fans’ negative reaction to Sherlock’s ending, he suggested they read more children’s books. That is exactly our problem. We are so keen on suppressing the child in us, we don’t even enjoy Winnie the Witch anymore. So this post is a shoutout to those who are still children at heart. You are the real mvp!

Posted in Travel

A Walk In A Medieval Village

Last friday evening, I was having a nice cup of coffee with one of my close friends(epkem on here) and we ended up talking about, yet another, one of my trips (I swear, I was not showing off.!). Since I have chosen a text from medieval period to work on for my senior thesis, I have been researching about the era and frankly am quite fascinated by it. When I was in Germany, I visited this open air museum, LWL Freilichtmuseum in Detmold, that contained various buildings from the surrounding area which went back more than 500 years. So, I wanted to write an entry about this awesome place and hopefully some of you will share my enthusiasm.!

A brief video about the museum

This song reminds me of the trip and the era for some reason. You may wanna check it out, it is pretty awesome.!

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There are different little “villages” which are a little bit distanced from one another. They tried to capture the feeling of living in that era and actually they were successful. Every little village has its own trademark: one has a lake, the other animals or shops. That is why you shouldn’t skip any of them and the path through the museum actually makes sure that you go through every single settlement. These are the first buildings you stumble upon in the first village. The one on the right is for carriages and farming tools. The one on the left is the living quarters. It is combined with the barn as horses were valuable to just leave outside and they offered additional heat, which was always nice. You enter the house through the barn, in the back of the building you have the sitting area and some rooms with beds, if you go down a few steps you end up in what is supposed to be the kitchen and if you go upstairs you will find the bedrooms. Almost all the houses were planned in this manner-except for the houses of the rich, they would have more rooms and the barn would be separated from their living quarters with rooms for the stable boys. The one in the back/middle is a pigsty and there were about ten pigs, which you can watch but not feed, living in it.

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This is the toilet just outside that building. I have always known that people used to go outside to do their business, but seeing it like that made my realise how grateful I am to have a toilet inside my apartment.! I am serious. They also had pots in the houses to relive themselves, but the idea of going outside when they didn’t even have proper walkways is really terrifying. There was also an exhibition about the evolution of toilets throughout the centuries (Name of the exhibition: Scheisse Sagt Man Nicht). That was also quite interesting.

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People used to have chair like toilets that were made out of wood and velvet and they could also cover up what was in there and make it look like it was just as ordinary chair or a cupboard. Pretty weird huh?

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This is a pathway that would take you to the next village, passing by the windmill. There were chickens, cows, sheep, horses and donkeys all over the park (you can’t see them in this picture but cows are on the left hand side). The two horses are the last survivors of a specific kind (can’t remember the exact name) of horse that is local to the area. Animal-wise, it is quite rich and you can observe them in their natural environment and the way they have been treated in the middle ages. I went there on a wednesday and sunday; and on sunday there was this event where you could learn how to milk a cow, pet the sheep and have something to eat. It was really cool, there were so many families who had taken their kids as a family activity. The kids got to play in the open air and learn about their culture, animals and farming.

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See, they actually still use some of the barns Processed with Rookie Camfor horses. There is also a house there in which a woman lived until 1920s. So, they are fully function
al. I was a bit concerned with the condition of the horses, but I had the chance to watch the caretaker and he was actually taking good care of them and apart from a few hours, they are usually free to wander around the park and graze-and beg for apples from innocent visitors-to their hearts’ content. They are quite friendly and were not afraid of human contact, so that says a lot about the crew of the museum.

I absolutely loved the experience. It was interesting to experience the life style of the people of the time. There were also artisans who made pottery who displayed the old way of doing things, the mill actually produced flour and there were farmers who worked with the soil. All in all it was a unique experience; going back in time 500 years and walk through the changes occurring in time. I would like to finish off with some photographs that I took and liked, hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did (probably can’t and won’t but still).!

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This is the living quarters of the house in the first photograph. On the right is the barn and the entrance.
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This is one of the houses in a separate village. People still grow vegetables in its garden.
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This is one of the bedrooms in that house. The interesting thing was that the panel behind the beds can be opened into the adjacent bedroom. Everything in here was original, so we were not allowed in.
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This is my favourite photograph. It is from the same house. The idea of having a sink before the invention of plumbing is interesting and most of the houses had that. With a little opening on the wall, they allowed water (probably blood, too) to flow out of the house into the back yard.
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This is a bank from the colonial times. There was also a candy store.
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It was the first time I ever touched a donkey. Who knew donkeys had such soft fur.! She was actually quite friendly, followed us around and brayed when we attempted to leave.