February 11, 2013
The Men (and One Boy) with Two Faces
J. K. Rowling’s title for Chapter 17 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is not only a fitting description of the events in the following pages, but is a personality trait processed by several of her characters. While Professor Quirrell may literally have two faces, Professor Snape, Albus Dumbledore, and even Harry Potter all possess dual facades.
Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Quirrell seemed to have had an unfortunate encounter while trying to gain firsthand experience of his subject matter. Rowling deftly describes Harry’s initial introduction to the product of Quirrell’s explorations. “Where there should have been a back to Quirrell’s head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had ever seen. It was chalk white with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake” (293). Voldemort had been forced to live a parasitic existence in which he could only hold form when he was allowed to share the body of another. Professor Quirrell had become such a willing victim.
Professor Severus Snape suffered a more introverted form of Professor Quirrell’s malady. His very first glimpse of Professor Snape left Harry with “a feeling that he didn’t like Harry at all” (Rowling 126). It would be enough for Harry to think that a teacher he just met did not like him, but “by the end of the first Potions lesson, he knew he had been wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry – he hated him (Rowling 136). Professor Snape never missed an opportunity to insult Harry or to take points away from Gryffindor on Harry’s behalf. Throughout the first year’s journey at Hogwarts School, Snape is painted as a villain who is only slightly less despicable than Voldemort himself. The three friends even believe that Snape is trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone for You-Know-Who. It comes as quite a surprise in the final chapter when our hero listens as...