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Thread: Character Essay: Body, Mind and Spirit

  1. #21
    LuckyRatTail
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    What a fascinating topic; I actually thought a while about this before I decided to reply. I have a feeling that, although people have made some excellent suggestions, it is very difficult to group all the 'fourth' members of the trio into a similarity. I can't really see Neville being put in the same category as Slytherin, likewise I can't see Slytherin compared with Wormtail.

    This made me start thinking about the possibility of having an extra mind, body or spirit in a foursome, but because it doesn't balance, that extra member is ostracised. Think about Slytherin: I'd say he was an extra 'mind' - he has intelligence and ambition but little faith in anything but himself. He would therefore clash with Ravenclaw, who is the other mind in the group. However, consider the relationship that Slytherin had with the other three - after a while he didn't get on with them, his motives and goals clashed, and he ended up never feeling part of their trio. The Gryffindor/Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw trio were connected and good friends, because they made up a perfect Mind/Body/Spirit trio, whereas Slytherin upset this balance and had to go.

    Think about Wormtail in relation to this. I'd say that Wormtail was a 'body', all emotion, driven by fear of others. He clashed with Sirius - the other body in the Marauder trio - but because James, Sirius and Lupin all had similar ambitions and similar confidence in themselves and their abilities (i.e. they were not as frightened and, well, stupid as Wormtail) they worked better as a trio. Thus - Wormtail had to go.

    It's only a theory, but it might explain the difficulty everyone is having in classing the fourth member of the trio. Perhaps Wormtail, Slytherin and Neville actually belong to another trio that they just haven't found yet, and when they do, that will be the one in which they stay. (Well, perhaps not Slytherin seeing as he is now dead!)

    ***

    Also, has anyone considered 'complimenting' in terms of relationships? Like, maybe Hermione and Ron are such a good match because Hermione's mind qualities compliment and balance Ron's body ones? Perhaps I have missed something, but has anyone thought about how they would class Ginny? I can't decide whether she's a mind or a spirit - probably the latter.

  2. #22
    Vorona
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    I don't think anyone is trying to pin Neville as the fourth in the trio, but rather in his own trio (with Luna and Ginny: Neville - body, Luna - mind, Ginny - spirit).

    And if we're doing the complimentary thing, I think you need to have a "compliment" to spirit (that is, if we're agreeing that body - mind is complimentary)...

    I think you might be right about Peter, though -- if we do it generationally, and *do* include Shadow as #4:

    Founders:
    Ravenclaw = mind
    Gryffindor = spirit
    Hufflepuff = body
    Slytherin = shadow

    Marauders:
    Remus = mind
    James = spirit
    Sirius = body
    Peter = ? (mind or body, most likely)
    Snape = shadow

    Main Trio-era:
    Hermione = mind
    Harry = spirit
    Ron = body
    Draco = shadow

    Secondary Trio-era:
    Luna = mind
    Ginny = spirit
    Neville = body
    ?? = shadow

    Of course, I will admit to really liking the shadow idea...

  3. #23
    LuckyRatTail
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    Posted by Vorona:

    Marauders:
    Remus = mind
    James = spirit
    Sirius = body
    Peter = ? (mind or body, most likely)
    Snape = shadow

    Main Trio-era:
    Hermione = mind
    Harry = spirit
    Ron = body
    Draco = shadow
    I'm not really sure if you can count Snape as part of the Marauders, or, especially, Draco as part of the main trio. Unless your point is that a 'shadow' character is there not as part of the trio, but to clash with them? Snape and Draco clash with their respective trios in the same way that Slytherin eventually clashed with his.

    This might be veering a little from the original point about 'Mind, Body, Spirit', but perhaps the so-called 'shadow' character is only there as an enemy of these three elements? Is the 'shadow' ever really part of the group in the first place - I mean, have we been trying to categorise something which doesn't even need a category?

  4. #24
    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    Vorona did an excellent job of describing the shadow a few posts back, check it out and I think her analysis of Snape and Draco and shadow characters will make a great deal more sense. They both represent those things that the other characters - or even one in particular - find most distasteful. James Potter (and Sirius Black) hated Dark Magic, and Snape was very much into Dark Magic. Harry dislikes privileged, prejudiced prats, and we see that in Draco. I could swear I've even read it somewhere more official that these characters are shadow, but I can't remember, it was probably a book. If I find it I will share it! The shadow character often shares a lot in common with the antagonist, and certainly shares a very complicated and emotional relationship with them. Look again at the contentious relationship between Snape and James or Sirius, between Harry and Draco. If we knew more about the founders, I'd guess that Slytherin was a shadow to Godric Gryffindor.
    Wow, that was like my shortest post ever.
    ~Gina

  5. #25
    Vorona
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    Hmm... No, my idea is that to be fully balanced you *do* need unity with the shadow, but that it is often resisted, because one likes to call the shadow evil and pretend that those qualities are not necessary. To be honest, I really think it's Snape who is the trio's shadow, because he's the one that is Harry's reflection in a way and also the one he blames for everything.

    But you're right, it might not exist at all... What we're considering is whether or not the trio *does* have a fourth partner, such as in the Marauders or Hogwarts Houses, or if those groups are unbalanced because they're not a three...

    The reason I like the shadow idea is because of the House Unity song that the Sorting Hat sings: obviously, Hogwarts' health depends on integration *with* Slytherin, not casting it out or calling it evil.

    Also, when you start doing the complimentary thing (mind compliments body), you absolutely *must* have a compliment to spirit as well. I don't think that means that partnerships have to be made around those compliments, but it feels unbalanced if you say that Ron compliments Hermione because he's body and she's mind... Then Harry -- who compliments him? Ginny may be a good partner for him, but she doesn't *compliment* him in that way, since they're both spirit.

  6. #26
    ThessalyRose
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    I think the only way we're going to sort this out is if we figure out what the characteristics of the Spirit characters are. Once we know that, we can find out if someone complements them.

    So... what is Harry's great strength, and what is his great weakness? When Harry succeeds, why does he succeed? When he fails, why does he fail? (I really need to know this, because I have a terrible time writing him.)

    It's been said (by Snape, I think) that Harry only succeeds because he has smarter and more powerful friends. So, are his friends his strength? That would suggest love is his characteristic. His friends love him, so they rescue him.

    The weakness is harder, for me. Let's list some of his failures:
    • The catastrophe in the Department of Mysteries
    • His relationship with Cho
    • His interactions with Professor Umbridge (Hmm... do I have OotP on the brain?)
    • His fight with Ron in Goblet of Fire
    • His suspicion of Hagrid in Chamber of Secrets.

    There are more, but already I'm seeing a pattern. Do you notice that all of these failures happen when he acts on his own? He succeeds when he's with his friends, but he fails when he strikes out alone, or acts against their advice. You could almost say that in OotP, he abuses his power as the leader of the Trio when he takes everyone to the Department of Mysteries against Hermione's advice. If he had gone alone, as he wanted to, he would certainly have been killed.

    So what does that make his weakness? Pride? Pride would be a good fit. What do you guys think? Can somebody who knows Harry better than I do chime in?

    Thess

  7. #27
    LuckyRatTail
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    Posted by Vorona:

    Also, when you start doing the complimentary thing (mind compliments body), you absolutely *must* have a compliment to spirit as well. I don't think that means that partnerships have to be made around those compliments, but it feels unbalanced if you say that Ron compliments Hermione because he's body and she's mind... Then Harry -- who compliments him? Ginny may be a good partner for him, but she doesn't *compliment* him in that way, since they're both spirit.
    That's a really interesting point, and I think your notes on the 'shadow' character might fit well in response to this. You could argue that the 'shadow' is not exactly the compliment of the spirit character, but rather the one who contrasts them the most out of the trio. Could you argue this? - I'm actually not sure. But it works with Harry/Draco/Snape and Gryffindor/Slytherin. Harry is the one who clashes the most with Draco and Snape, whilst I can imagine it would be Gryffindor who would stand up to Slytherin. It's an open argument, because, as I say, I'm not sure if it works.

    Posted by Gmariam:

    They both represent those things that the other characters - or even one in particular - find most distasteful... The shadow character often shares a lot in common with the antagonist, and certainly shares a very complicated and emotional relationship with them. Look again at the contentious relationship between Snape and James or Sirius, between Harry and Draco. If we knew more about the founders, I'd guess that Slytherin was a shadow to Godric Gryffindor.
    I do like the shadow idea, and I think it explains the contrast between characters in such an extreme way. If you examine what ThessalyRose posted:

    It's been said (by Snape, I think) that Harry only succeeds because he has smarter and more powerful friends. So, are his friends his strength? That would suggest love is his characteristic. His friends love him, so they rescue him... (etc.)
    Draco, like Snape, embodies everything that Harry finds distasteful - in his pride, arrogance, love of the dark arts and the way he treats others. Draco does not respect his friends the way that Harry does. In fact, you could argue that Draco is the polar opposite in that he completely rejects his friends' help with the task given him by Voldemort, whereas Harry always (?) looks to his friends for help in the challenges that face him (even if they are unwilling to give it - as in his suspicions about Draco in HBP).

    As Vorona said in a previous post:

    To sum up, the shadow is where we throw all the stuff we hate about ourselves.
    - Sorry about the excessive quoting - I feel like I'm writing an essay, or something, and referencing textbooks!

    This also got me thinking about a different idea (sorry to divert the topic slightly, ThessalyRose) that all of the three Mind/Body/Spirit members need each other to survive(?). A bit of an extreme way to put it, I suppose, but the comment about Harry needing his friends made me think: Ron needs Hermione to pass his exams, and Harry to help him out/boost his morale in Quidditch. Hermione may not seem as though she needs any extra help, but we know she lacks strategy (Wizard Chess), and that she needs help from Harry to master DADA. (Feel free to argue against this, these are all just my own ideas.) I mean, you could say this about any group of friends, but I thought I'd single out how relevant it is the main trio. For the Founders, this also applies in a more obvious way - Gryffindor is the brave one, Ravenclaw the intelligent, Hufflepuff the loyal.

    The shadow completely contrasts this. The shadow needs no one to help them (true? false? what do you think?). Slytherin went off and set up the Chamber of Secrets on his own because he didn't like what the other three were up to. Draco has been working on his own task by himself. Snape... well, Snape was a bit of a loner to begin with anyway, and he eventually joined the Death Eaters.

    * * *

    With regard to Harry's strength, I'm not sure I would say that it was his friends - although he definitely needs them. I'd say it was more his 'Spirit' qualities - bravery, impulse, faith and the ability to follow his gut feeling. Therefore, to compliment these would probably need someone with more 'mind' qualities, to control his impulses and to question his bravery. Weirdly, that makes Hermione the compliment - as is seen in OoTP when she questions his impulse to run off and save Sirius. Ron also compliments him, in a way, as sometimes his impulses exceed Harry's, and you could argue that he has a better gift for strategy.

    If pride is Harry's weakness (which is very possible), then Draco certainly embodies this (in his stubborness and arrogance - he thinks he can solve the task by himself).

    Sorry about the ridiculously-long post! ;o)

  8. #28
    Vorona
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    Ooh... this really *is* getting fascinating (not that it wasn't before *grins*)...

    So... what is Harry's great strength, and what is his great weakness?
    I agree on the alone and with others thing... to a certain extent, but I think that has to do with the whole trio/quad idea anyway: in other words, Hogwarts as a whole works best when all 4 houses cooperate.

    I think Harry's greatest strength is his purity of intention (I said this in my duelling thread, when the question came up as well). He knows what's right and he does it. With actions, this is really a positive thing, but with people...

    I think his great weakness is in jumping to conclusions about other people. People who help him or who are nice to him, he will trust or like in return (Quirrell letting him get away with something, Lupin "saving" him from Snape, Moody with the tasks, etc.) and in some cases, they've turned out to be not great choices. On the other hand, anyone who *isnt'* nice to him isn't just "not nice" or "a jerk", but truly evil. Snape looked at him wrong and humiliated him in the first Potions class and Harry *immediately* decided he was evil. Yes, this was reinforced by other things, like the jinx on the broom and the bite on the leg, but...

    He's got this nice little black and white worldview to stick everyone in, and he will excuse "good guys" (including himself) for doing bad things, as long as they're done to bad people (Cruciatus/Sectumsempra on Malfoy and Snape).

    But, before I sound too negative here, this problem is *because* of his strength, which is having such a clear idea himself about good and evil... He might excuse the Sectumsempra and Cruciatus, but he did *feel* bad the first time he did it with Malfoy and he really does think Snape is evil for killing Voldemort (Eep! I meant Dumbledore... but I'd love it if Snape managed to kill Voldemort, too, hee!).

    And the Shadow characters, especially Snape if he's good (which we don't know, of course), show the other side, that you can still be dedicated to the cause of good without always being good -- that is, the whole means and ends -- for a spy, you have to do bad things in order to stay in, and that *is* the essence of "ends justify means". Dumbledore clearly thinks this is okay, because otherwise, he wouldn't have a spy. There's no universal Right and Wrong, but more situational: how to survive, what's the best thing to do in *this* situation, etc.

  9. #29
    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    To start with, here is a bit from the website I quoted once before. It seems to sum up Plato nicely:
    Quote Originally Posted by IntroductiontoPhilosophy, Dr. TomKerns
    The spirited, or hot-blooded, part, i.e., the part that gets angry when it perceives (for example) an injustice being done. This is the part of us that loves to face and overcome great challenges, the part that can steel itself to adversity, and that loves victory, winning, challenge, and honor.
    Her further goes on to identify the virtues and vices of mind/body/spirit, which is referred to as rational/spirited/appetitive:

    Loves
    R = Truth/Wisdom
    S = Honor/Victory
    A= Pleasure/$$

    The Virtue
    R=Wisdom
    S=Courage
    A=Temperance

    The Vice
    R=Pride/Sloth
    S=Anger/Envy
    A=Gluttony/Lust/Greed

    Body Symbol
    R=Head
    S=Heart
    A=Belly/Genitals
    I think the loves/virtures above really do define Harry. First of all, he seems almost driven to do the right thing. It may not be the right thing in the end, but he always does what he *thinks* is right, and maintains his personal sense of honor and integrity. He has a very strongly defined sense of right and wrong, like Vorona said, opposites much like victory and loss. I think he may be subconsciously motivated by his own mistreatment to act in such a way that wrongdoings are corrected, losses turned into victories. And he has the courage to do what has to be done.

    These characteristics can also be his greatest weakness, because they limit his vision and understanding. This was mostly clearly defined in OotP when he was tricked into the DoM in spite of repeated warnings. And in each book Harry finds himself in danger because he is so driven to do what's right: protecting the stone, saving Ginny, etc. And because of his tunnel vision, he cannot see when something that appears wrong just may be right: case in point being Snape, and possibly Draco. I think Harry may face a very tough internal battle in the final book, where his sense of honor, justice, right and wrong, and the courage to act will not be enough: he's going to have to step out of his safe little world of black and white absolutes into a world that is far more grey.

    Vices are listed above as anger and envy; certainly we see Harry's temper. I don't think envy is a big problem of his, though; in fact, envy seems a very basic desire that I would attribute more to the appetitive part of the soul. But related to anger, I think, is Harry's impulsiveness, which lands him in so many scrapes, and his stubbornness in changing his thinking. I believe he was starting to come around at the end of HBP and tame these two, but he will need to check them both if he is to really formulate a plan to take out Voldemort, and deal with/accept Snape, and possibly Draco.

    Those are just my immediate thoughts on Harry. I imagine they will change as we continue to discuss him, and certainly once the last book is out hopefully we will see him evolve into a truly powerful wizard wielding the power of spirit. I think it's interesting that the other loves, vices, and virtues nail Ron and Hermione. I am almost convinced JKR was referencing Plato on when creating these two characters as well.

    ~Gina

  10. #30
    kumydabookworm
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    Oh, wow, this is a brilliant discussion. I'd just like to raise up a point in a pattern that I saw in Vorona's naming of characters. The SHADOW characters seem to be all of the following: a) the antagonist and b) the foil character for the other characters that are part of the "quartets."

    Foil Character - A minor character whose situation or actions parallel those of a major character, and thus by contrast sets off or illuminates the major character
    Snape illuminates everything about the Marauders -- from their love of pranks, to their wit, to their House Pride, to their popularity. From their teasing of him, the Marauders' own characters really come into shape. At the same time, Draco illuminates the Trio's main elements -- fiery spirit, courage, a bit of recklessness, love. Ron shows recklessness and courage in reaction to Draco's taunts. Hermione shows fiery spirit when she slaps him. All three of them show love for each other in the face of the nasty Slytherin's remarks, and protectiveness etc. Obviously, Snape and Draco have both been antagonists of those respective eras and groups of people.

    To me, it feels like the shadow character is somewhat like the foil for a trio of characters (body/mind/spirit) rather than just the main character. I'd be interested to see if there could be a shadow character that was a PROTAGONIST in relation to the other three parts of the complementing quartet.

    Personally, I feel like Harry's vice is his ability to storm on blindly, which is rather a demonstration of courage in a perverse manner. As Gina said, his virtues often are instrumental foundations for his greatest faults.

    Hope I added a little something of substances in my own rambling fashion!

    Kumy

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