Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry begins his first private lesson with Dumbledore. The first lesson he provides, however, is more surprising than we could have ever expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


Before I delve into this, this chapter reminded me of something. I remember reading an interview with Damon Lindeloff, who helped create and write all of LOST, and he spoke highly of J.K. Rowling. (I’d be stoked if someone could find this interview.) And generally, when he or Carlton Cuse spoke highly of something, you’d see that appear, someway, in the series.

This is the first moment where I thought, “Oh shit! LOST borrowed from this!” The style of having a flashback to a specific moment that is strange and absurd, relates to the current chain of events, and then is unexplained in the greater narrative is something LOST did a lot for those first three years.

Obviously, I could be way off on this, but I thought it was a neat moment for me.

This is probably going to end up being one of my favorite chapters of the whole series. It’s a jarring, bizarre experience; the palpable terror of the action only adds to the weirdness of it all. Even better, she doesn’t give us the reason (yet) why Dumbledore showed this to Harry. I don’t quite understand the importance of showing us the environment Voldemort was created in, but I’m totally fascinated by it regardless.

So…man, I’m going to avoid quoting large bits of this because…LET’S BE HONEST, I COULD PROBABLY QUOTE THE ENTIRE CHAPTER AT ONCE AND NO ONE WOULD COMPLAIN. So, for the first backstory on Voldemort, there are a few things I wanted to talk about.


I knew the second that it was revealed that the people in this memory spoke Parseltongue that whatever I was about to read would be pretty terrible. And it was. (Not terrible in quality, but the events themselves.)

It’s weird, because I thought it would play a larger part in the series, but it hasn’t been talked about much. I was glad to see it come back.


And I suspected it would get much worse once Gaunt started yammering about Muggles and filthy mudbloods and pureblood wizards. SURPRISE! Gaunt and his son are raging bigots and the kind that believe that their form of bigotry is actually just and moral. It’s a frightening form of prejudice because, as made clear in this memory, they are willing to act out violently against those who don’t fit their narrow worldview.


I can’t think of a witty title. I liked the juxtaposition between Ogden (the government) and the Gaunt household (people living off the grid/outside of authority). I AM WAY INTO THIS THEME. It’s also great that Rowling avoids making either side look particularly right or particularly wrong and this is a smart thing for her to do. Despite that we start suspecting that the Gaunts are shitty people, a lot of it also feels like Ogden is in way over his head and invading the lives of the Gaunts. He doesn’t seem like he is necessarily doing good; if anything, he sounds rude and insensitive most of the time.

Bravo, Rowling. This could have gotten weird and shitty and you braved the hard path to write a better story.



  • “Marvolo, his son, Morfin, and his daughter, Merope, were the last of the Gaunts, a very ancient Wizarding family noted for a vein of instability and violence that flourished through the generations due to their habit of marrying their own cousins. Lack of sense coupled with a great liking for grandeur meant that the family gold was squandered several generations before Marvolo was born. He, as you saw, was left in squalor and poverty, with a very nasty temper, a fantastic amount of arrogance and pride, and a couple of family heirlooms that he treasured just as much as his son, and rather more than his daughter.”


I guess it was shocking just to read it at all in this series and I was a bit set back by it, but reading this section again, I think Rowling isn’t saying INBREEDING CREATES VIOLENCE, but is using this context to explain and elaborate on this family’s insistence on maintaining pureblood lineages. And it really isn’t that shocking given that Sirius touched on it while explaining his family tree.

I think the idea here is not to present people who are rural or poor as being terrible people. The context she provides is that these specific situations contributed to what Voldemort was eventually born in to.

I’m intrigued. I can’t figure out why Dumbledore is showing any of this to Harry. I can’t even begin to guess. All I know is that I hope there is more of this in the future and I actually wouldn’t mind if all of Harry’s lessons involved Pensieve flashbacks. Siriusly.

Also, I’d like if Dumbledore would stop teasing the story about his hand. PLEASE TELL IT.

I’d like to take this moment to wave hello to all those who have arrived here from MuggleNet. It is an extreme honor to be linked there and I cannot wait until I can ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE AND READ YOUR SITE. It is full of spoilers.

Sorry my language is so harsh sometimes; I forget that my mouth is kind of dirty when i writing my large reaction pieces. I’m TOTES NOT GONNA CHANGE, but I think it’s fair of me to think of better words to use instead of FUCK FUCK FUCK every 5 minutes.

If this is your first time here, check my archive out. It’s a full listing of all my reviews. (Oooops, must update with new reviews immediately!)

Again, thank you for paying attention. Also PLEASE DO NOT SPOIL ME. We have rigid rules for spoiling, so take a moment to ask around if you’re not sure if what you might say is spoiler-ish. I love reading the comments and participating as much as possible, but you guys are getting antsy lately!

ANOTHER EDIT: It goes without saying (but it should be said) that I would not have been linked on MuggleNet if it were not for the glorious support of hp_commonroom on LiveJournal. Again, you guys have proven to be amazing friends and supporters and I salute you for making me feel so wonderful.

Also, I specifically love K’lyssa, Amy, Emma, Pluto, Shayla, Patrick, Karla, and Ear. And there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME.

YET ANOTHER EDIT: Quite a few of you pointed out I did not talk about Merope. What happened to her is atrocious and depressing, but I ultimately avoided talking about her for a reason. Check this comment thread and we can talk about her there if you’d like!