Today, I thought it would be fun to go back through the archives and look at some of the crazy fan theories that were doing the rounds during the time the Harry Potter novels were being published. I think I was most aware of these during the period between books five and six, and immediately after six, when we were beginning to learn more and more about the history of the universe, and the various plot threads were starting to be wound together.
Back then, we had some wonderful ideas being expounded over on the MuggleNet forums and editorials, and I would look forward to seeing what people had been thinking up for the way the series could work.
There were loads of theories written down back in the day, as people talked about all of the different nuances of the series, trying to glean anything and everything from the smallest details – I remember one editorial in particular that talked about the significance of toast throughout the series, and reading all manner into what the presence of toast versus toast-with-extras could mean.
Of course, once book five hit the shelves, the main focus was down to the prophecy, and how the final confrontation could go, given that we have almost a confirmation that Harry would be taking part in a fight to the death with Voldemort.
My own theory at the time (well, June 2006) was centred on the psychological idea of Lord Voldemort being a mask for Tom Riddle, and the possibility that Harry would defeat Voldemort by, essentially, redeeming Tom Riddle, which would allow the mask of Voldemort to shatter and be destroyed. I suppose I was planting too much of my Star Wars knowledge on to the series, and imagining a scene much like Luke’s redemption of his father, and bringing Anakin Skywalker back from under the mask of Darth Vader, though with the transformation killing the host. I find it an interesting idea, even now, and I find it quite appealing in a small way. It’s cheesy as hell, of course, but then Harry Potter is one of these “Pure Fool” stories, which are cheesy as hell almost by definition.
I’d always hoped that we’d get to learn more about Harry’s mum than we got to – even with book six showing us her potions prowess. Much like Lupin in the third book, I’d hoped that we’d get a link to Harry’s parents that would show us more about Lily. I mean, one of the few things we know about her is that her wand was good for charm work. I remember wondering quite intensely if she had been the one to cast the Fidelius charm in Godric’s Hollow, and how all of that would interact once we went there in the seventh book. As it turned out, it was sort of unimportant, but anyway!
I think this comes back to the point from earlier in the week, about the depth of the story that we have here leading us to look deeper and deeper still into the background. There is just so much going on in these books, and there are so many tiny details, some of which (such as Sirius Black’s motorcycle from book one) later became such huge plot points, that it led to an entire fan industry of going through the extant novels with a fine tooth-comb, hoping to dredge up some major spoiler for the finale that had been planted earlier.
Remember Mark Evans?
At any rate, the sheer breadth of fan theories, however wild they were, just goes to show how successful this book series was. It had us all talking about it. It had us all theorising about it. It got under our skins, and into our souls.
What other series of books can say the same?