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Professor Trelawny in Harry Potter

(35 Posts)
hiddenmnetter Wed 04-Oct-17 17:55:39

I've been listening to HP on audiobook and have just noticed something:

Loads of trelawny's prophecies come true- she predicts the "lightning struck tower", she predicts the "Grimm" (even if it was actually Sirius) (not to mention her legit prophecies).

Am I wrong?

melj1213 Thu 05-Oct-17 00:37:29

It was something of the theme of Sybill Trelawney's arc and something that has been discussed at length in the HP fandom for years. Trelawney, while in many ways a total fraud, actually does make many accurate predictions but is cursed not to be believed and/or they are dismissed because they don't pan out as expected.

Ironically her two "true" predictions (The Harry/Voldemort "Chosen one" prophecy and the Wormtail "Servant rejoins his Master" prophecy) are the ones she is unaware of making, whereas all her throwaway, inconsequential ones that don't pan out as expected are the ones that people listen to and know about.

There are reasons for this though - the main one is the link to the doomed seer Cassandra in Greek Mythology. In OoTP, it's said that Trelawney is the descendant of the great seer Cassandra Trelawney. While it might seem like a throwaway line, it probably refers to the Greek prophet Cassandra (JKR was a huge fan of Classics). In the Greek myth, Apollo fell in love with a mortal Cassandra and gave her the gift of prophecy. He then tried to put the moves on her and she rebuked him. He got angry and instead of taking the gift back, he cursed her: nobody would believe her predictions or the predictions of her descendants.

Also there's the etymology of her name - "Sibyl" was a priestess in ancient Roman mythology. A sibyl is a woman who could look into the future and the name is from the Latin sibylla, seer. There is also the reference to the "Sybil" from the Sybilline Books, a Roman collection of oracular occurrences.

A potted history of Trelawney's minor predictions and how they were fulfilled (mostly in an unexpected way):

* She told Parvati Patil to beware of a red-headed man. Parvati immediately suspected Ron. At the Yule Ball, Harry and Ron, Parvati's and her sister, Padma's dates, ignored her and her sister. Two years later, Ron started going out with Parvati's best friend Lavender Brown, who started to ignore Parvati.

* She predicted that the thing Lavender was dreading would happen on 16 October. On that day, Lavender got a letter that her pet rabbit, Binky, had been killed by a fox.

* In the beginning of the 1993–1994 school year, she told in the whole class that, near Easter, one of their number will leave them forever. Everyone assumed it was a reference to Harry someone dying but actually Hermione quit the class in disgust near Easter holidays.

* In GoF Trelawney, while discussing star charts, commented that given his "dark hair, mean stature, [and] tragic losses so young in life..." Saturn was likely in a position of power when he was born, and suggested that he was born in mid-winter. Interestingly (and unknown to both at that time), whilst Harry was born in summer (July 31st) and therefore her prediction was wrong for him Harry was a Horcrux of Voldemort, who was born on New Years Eve and also suffered loss with his mother's death just after his birth.

* At the Christmas lunch, Trelawney at first refused to join the table, since when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die. Harry and Ron got up from the table first together, but Dumbledore was the first among those at the table to die. Most would assume that was her prediction being wrong ... but she did not take into account Peter Pettigrew (at the time disguised as Scabbers). Before she was seated, there were thirteen people at the table (counting Scabbers) and when Dumbledore rose to greet her he was the first person at the table of thirteen to rise, and was the first to die.

This "prophecy also happens at other times when 13 people are dining together in the books and whoever rises first is the next one to die of the group, but none are directly foretold by Trelawney in the moment: In 1995, thirteen members of the order dined together, and the first to rise was Sirius, who was the first to die of those thirteen people ... Also, after the Battle of the Seven Potters, thirteen people (Mr and Mrs Weasley, Bill, Fleur, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks and Hagrid) gathered in The Burrow to mourn the death of Alastor Moody. Afterwards, Lupin stood up and offered to look for Moody's dead body. Later in the Battle of Hogwarts, Lupin was killed by Antonin Dolohov. Fred and Tonks were also killed, but as the time of Lupin's death is unknown, it is possible he was first.

Unrelated to Trelawney but since I just brought up the Marauders - one other little "easter egg is that the four Marauders - Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs - die in reverse order of their names on the map - James, Sirius, Peter, Lupin

* In HBP Trelawney meets Harry in the corridors, and complains that Dumbledore has been repeatedly dismissing her warnings of impending disaster. She looked at some Tarot cards and saw, "... the lightning-struck tower... Calamity. Disaster. Coming nearer all the time...". This seems to predict the events of Dumbledore's death on the Astronomy Tower.

* In OoTP Umbridge insists that Trelawney demonstrate her abilities by prophesying something. Trelawney claimed that she saw dark events ahead for Umbridge, which Umbridge immediately dismissed as nonsense. Later, Umbridge was dragged off and imprisoned by centaurs in the Forbidden Forest.

CottonEyedJoe Thu 05-Oct-17 00:47:32

Brilliant post smile

melj1213 Thu 05-Oct-17 01:12:31

Thanks smile

I'm a huge Potterhead and was at LeakyCon (An annual HP fan conference that was held in Dublin this year) a few weeks ago and we had a huge discussion all about Trelawney (amongst panels from pretty much everything else in the series!) and her predictions and character arc so a lot of this was very fresh in my memory!

Stansmith01 Thu 05-Oct-17 01:19:46

Ooh, really enjoyed reading that! smile I'm a big fan of HP but haven't read or watched it in a while

hiddenmnetter Thu 05-Oct-17 05:48:32

Tyvm melj1213 that was exactly what I meant. Turns out I was the last to notice grin

PerfumeIsAMessage Thu 05-Oct-17 06:09:00

Great post, thank you!
I have just treated myself to a reread of all the books for the first time in years. Finished DH just last Saturday.

picklemepopcorn Thu 05-Oct-17 06:35:53

Oh wow! Fascinating. So she worked all that in? Phenomenal.

OuchBollocks Thu 05-Oct-17 06:41:55

I liked it when she doesn't see Harry behind a ?statue but is doing the tarot cards and gets 'a dark haired man, one who dislikes the questioner' then says 'No that can't be right' grin

Some of the little details in HP are incredible.

melj1213 Thu 05-Oct-17 12:48:12

picklemepopcorn JKR studied Classics so she worked a lot of mythological info/fact/lore into the books - some totally intentionally but some she admits was accidental when readers picked it up and pointed it out.

picklemepopcorn Thu 05-Oct-17 13:37:01

I'm interested in how the subconscious is expressed in writing. Often there is far more content than the author has realised. Readers also make connections themselves, which is interesting too! An English tutor did a literary critique on a chapter of a well known author's novel and found all sorts of the things the author hadn't considered.

melj1213 Thu 05-Oct-17 22:09:26

Yes, JKR has said on numerous occasions that sometimes names she chose because they "sounded right" or fit the character later had a lot of significant meaning that either she hadn't known at the time and had turned out to be happy coincidences or turned out to be because she had vaguely remembered them from something she'd read/studied in passing.

Also the HP fandom was one that grew up during the technical age - we were one of the first fandoms that grew up on the internet in "real time" - yes Tolkein/Star Wars fans etc have significant online presences but all of their canon is closed ... HP fans were getting together from all over the world while the series was ongoing.

So when it came to the now infamous "Three-Year Summer" (the 3 year wait between GoF and OoTP was unprecedented as the first four books had come out annually before that) it lead to a boom in the fandom and many fans turned to fansites/fanfiction and forums to get their Potter fix and that wait meant that fans had time to analyse the books to death - for example the entire series was put into a "real time" timeline based off Nearly Headless Nick's 500th Deathday ... one throwaway line in the first book about it being Nearly Headless Nick's 500th Deathday on Halloween and that he died in 1492 gave someone enough information to work out an entire timeline - so Harry's first year was in 1992, when he was 11 so he must have been born in 1980, so his parents died in 1981 etc etc

So when it came to looking into JKR's use of Latin and mythology there was a lot of analysis/overanalysis of everything and she was more than happy to admit that the fans worked harder than she did when it came to research (JKR readily admitted that if she didn't have her notes to hand she would look stuff up on the HP Lexicon website because it was so extensive and in depth)

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 22:20:22

That time line doesn't work, Harry was a first year in September 1991 going by the death date of James and Lilly

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 22:27:47

Harry was born 31 July 1980, as he was over 1 year old when James and Lilly died, making him 11 in 1991 as one of the youngest of his year as hog warts has the same intake as English schools - unless we were all mistaken with 19 years later day earlier this year?

LottieDoubtie Thu 05-Oct-17 22:36:53

'Original HP ink- reinventing memories'

Hilarious piece of advertising at the end of the thread.

Thanks for posting this OP I love indulging my HP love by reading clever people's analysis of the books.

LikeTheShoes Thu 05-Oct-17 23:08:26

Harry and Ron's rubbish that they make up for divination homework in GoF all comes true too!

Harry predicts that he be "In danger of Burns."
5 minutes later he's fighting a dragon

Harry predicts that he will "Lose a treasured possession." And Ron predicts he will be "submerged in water"
Task 2 of the Tri Wizard tournament is Harry retrieving Ron from the bottom of the Lake.

Harry predicts that he will get "Stabbed in the back by someone he thought to be his friend."

He thought Barty Crouch was his friend Moody, but actually he was the one who betrayed him.

Harry predicts that he will "Come off worse in a fight."
And he kind of does in that fight with Voldermort at the end of that book...

melj1213 Thu 05-Oct-17 23:16:05

That time line doesn't work, Harry was a first year in September 1991 going by the death date of James and Lilly

Trust me, the timeline works - James and Lily died on October 31st 1981 - Harry was 15 months old (Sirius bough him a toy broom for his first birthday while they were in hiding from Voldemort) therefore he was born in July 1980 and was 11 on July 31st 1992 and started Hogwarts on September 1st of that year, a month later it was Nearly Headless Nick's 500th Deathday party..

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 23:18:11

If he was born I. 1980 he was 11 in 1981

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 23:18:48

Oops 11 in 1991

ProfessorCat Thu 05-Oct-17 23:23:13

Harry was 11 in 1991 and started Hogwarts in 1991.

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 23:33:16

Harry attended the death day party when he was 12, inthe CoS 1992 as it was hallowe'en

ProfessorCat Thu 05-Oct-17 23:36:23

Yep, the Deathday Party was in the second book, 1992. Not a month after Harry started at Hogwarts.

WhatToDoAboutThis2017 Thu 05-Oct-17 23:43:45

According to the Harry Potter wiki, Harry started Hogwarts in 1991.

harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/1991

Nicholas' DeathDay party was a year later, in 1992.

harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Nicholas_de_Mimsy-Porpington%27s_five-hundredth_Deathday_Party

The Lexicon agrees with this, though it does note a few discrepancies in particular days.

legacy.hp-lexicon.org/timelines/calendars/calendar_ps.html

stoneagemum Thu 05-Oct-17 23:57:26

Major discrepancy is Lilly and James died on 31/10/81 which was a Saturday, but Harry didnt turn up on the Dersleys doorstep until Wednesday morning

LikeTheShoes Fri 06-Oct-17 00:25:44

That's because Hagrid took him on a 3 day bender on that motorbike.

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