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Well the perfectionizing of people generally happens to most people after they die. Majority of the people that knew James with the exception of Snape say he was a model student also, he was a great Quidditch player, good friend and that had a knack for trouble. But aren't most people who get into trouble like he did usually end up quite popular. (ex: Fred and George, Harry, Ron, etc)
And besides I think it was mostly just a writers plot for JK that Harry would have this perfect Role Model of a Mother as he wanted when he was little.Besides if you think about it do you see your motherly figure with many big faults? Also I think the reason that Lily is patronised more than James was perhaps she was just more of a likeable person who was easygoing so most people don't have bad memories of her. Then when she died most people with those memories generally forgot them. If you knew someone that you were quite fond of would you want to remeber bad things about them? Lily also didn't ask people to remember her as a Saint. So please don't take it out on her. But it was a good thought though,
Even I thought Lily was rather bland...but there are some serious issues with this essay. I am glad to see I am not the only one who finds part of this essay far too distant and far-fetched to be taken seriously.
I understand that she is flawed. But you write about her as though we have enormous amount of textual evidences to suggest all that. I mean, (quoting you verbatim): "Her character, known for her prickliness", "She probably resented James his freedom at times", "As if she never ignored the cries of her infant son so she could rest for one more minute in her bed", "She married someone she claimed she hated, and yet due to the regrettable shortness of her cursed life, spent more time loathing him than liking him" -- seriously?! There's just TOO much of speculation there with too little textual evidences to support your points. It seems a highly opinionated and unsubstantiated piece if you ask me. Probably biased too - the reference to Snape's unrequited love makes me wonder.
I agree she must have had her flaws, and that Rowling probably could have added another layer to the series by elanorating on them. I agree that, like most people, she probably had her moments, her weaknesses, bitched around with other girls at some point or the other, etc. Those points are perfectly legitimate and understandable. But you don't stop there. I'm really curious to know where you got the idea that she was well-known as a trouble-maker, or that she married someone she hated, or that she resented James's personal freedom. She hated or disliked James at one point, yes, but that feeling changed with the passing years. There's no indication in the text to suggest that she married James due to her cursed life, or that it was a forced marriage, or that she spend more time hating him than anything else. You are way off your line here, I'm afraid. After a while, some of your points come off as silly for that reason. They are just way too speculative, unsubstantiated, and unsupported. It's like someone's fanfiction with a little non-fiction-esque touch. It's not a well-supported essay. Even speculative essays don't delve into such impossibilities or distant realities.
And what exactly does this statement supposed to mean? Am I missing something here? "It would have been an unforgivable offence if she had done otherwise." - one has the right to save himself or herself, even at the expense of another's life. Self-defense. Most mothers would sacrifice themselves for their children, yes, but we have no right to label those who refuse(s) to do so as unforgivable offenders. It is perfectly within a person's right to take that step, even if we don't morally adhere to that principle.
Interesting point of view though. I applaud your guts to come up with this controversial and well-written - even if misjudged and inaccurate - piece.Always thought Lily needed to be more developed and fleshed out (like James was), but I can see why Rowling didn't delve into that. I quite agree that we tend to celebrate and glorify the martyrs. I also find this piece technically well-written and structured. If only some of the points were a little more concrete and less absurd. :)
This is a good point to make, i would also perhaps, comapre her death to dumbeldores, his faults were not forgotten, but brought up after his death. However, Lily Evans, in my opinion did love her son, family, and friends. We forget her kindness towards Snape, and the fish she gave Slughorn. She married James because she saw the good in people, not because she had a 'cursed' life. If we are going to point out her faults, then we should have evidence for them, how do you know she loathed James and thought Harry was needy? If she did act bitchily with her friends, lied, or ignored Harry, eveyone is human, and everyone does have faults, but i feel that some of your points are unfair.
I thought very highly of your Essay. My rating is 6, but I hope you know the I was having trouble choosing between 6 and 7. Of course, every words you gave us is true -at maximum extent at that. But, to be fair, I have to say that I can see why that would not be in the series. As an example, Minerva would not say; "Your mother was a brilliant woman, Potter. But she did lie sometimes, she was smug, arrogant and self-involved." As I said, I really really agree with everything said in here, but on J.K's behalf I have to say I'm not surprised that your points have not been made.
"What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person." - John Green
Glorifying people, viewing them as imperfect beings, is just as detrimental as viewing them as LESS than people. It's unfair, it's cruel, and as this essay astutely points out, it demeans their sacrifices and efforts at being good people. If a person is perfect, it takes no effort to do good. Lily Potter was, of course, imperfect as any of us, and her unselfishness in the face of the choice of life and death is what makes her great.
It's interesting to me that JK Rowling chose not to expound upon Lily's flaws. She went the opposite route with James, having Harry idolize him until the events of Snape's Worst Memory. James was humanized by the events of that chapter, whereas Lily was shown as MORE moral (the hinting at her friendship with Snape). It's odd that JKR chose one parent to humanize and one to idolize.
Of course, until that point, Harry craved a father-son bond more than a mother-son one. He had Molly to play the role of mother in his life -- to cook big meals and hug him and be overprotective. The father figures offered to him, however, never quite lived up to the ultimate Fatherly Status. Sirius had his own issues during OotP, Remus was largely absent throughout the book, Arthur treated him more as an adult, Dumbledore distanced himself. Perhaps because of all of these flawed relationships, Harry felt the need to hype James up more, which ultimately led to his discovery that ALL relationships are flawed, and that's what makes them human. In terms of his view of Lily, Harry never had an unfulfilled mother role that required him to hype her up to the degree that he did James.
A final question: Do we have enough information on Lily as a character to determine what her flaws truly were? Because they were never shown as strongly as say, James's (who possessed clear pride, as well as a slight cruel streak), can we really know WHAT they were? Obviously they must've existed, as Lily wasn't perfect (or else wasn't a real person), but do we have enough information, enough instances in which they are highlighted, to know what they were?
I think you make a really good, if redundant, point. My only issue with it is that you don't give us any real information. Back up your claims, such as her anger toward James. Add more meat to the bones.
Like many of the other reviewers, I appreciate the thought behind the essay, but hesitate at the lack of actual canon fact.
We have no proof that Lily was anything but a generally nice, brilliant girl. There are people like that in the world. I've been called things like brilliant by my teachers and professors, and I actually did have one say that I was brightest he'd taught. I'm not dead or being deified in any way, it's a fact. There's the same thing with Hermione. We don't have an evidence to disprove that Lily was, in fact, an exceptionally brilliant student, so it shouldn't be presented as such. There's also no way of knowing that Lily was anything but a generally nice and kind person; yes, she shouted at James and called him names, but most people have someone who annoys them so much that they act out of character.
And if take into account that the books are from Harry's point of view, it's more understandable that she's presented in a good light. We only really get harsh views of James from Snape, a man who hated him and was in love with his wife, otherwise he's presented just as heroically as Lily. When you're telling a child about his parents, especially dead ones, you don't tell him about all of their bad parts, you tell him about what made them good and honorable, you tell him the parts that remind you of them.
We just don't have enough information to make a judgement like this.
You're right - romanticizing the past is easier than remembering it as it truly was, especially if you have a deep connection with it, but positive events and traits have no power unless they are contrasted by negative ones. You present a very interesting point on something that hasn't been touched on hugely :)
An interesting take on how the memories of Lily were portrayed by characters in the book, however it seems to me that the same happens to any person who dies that is essentially a good person. The same happens to Dumbledore, and your sentiments are echoed by Great Aunt Muriel and Rita Skeeter. I suspect that the polar opposite would also be true - no-one would remember a deceased Death Eater or Voldemort himself as they were, and would in fact be made out (at least in the Death Eaters case!) to be worse that what they actually were.
As with many other reviewers, I see what the author is trying to do... I just don't agree. Yes, everyone says Lily is the epitome of goodness, both in the books and in the fandom, but there's nothing to suggest she wasn't. No, she was probably not perfect, and we saw that she was short with James on OOtP, but although people had plenty to say about James after his death, few people said anything about Lily. Most of the essay is speculation, and, honestly, many of the examples are made up. Nothing in the one source of information we have concerning Lily's married life (the letter to Sirius), indicates she was jealous of James' freedom. I would be interested if this idea was expanded more upon with cold, hard, canon.
Very good point.
I really love what you're saying with this essay. I see it all the time in Marauder-Era fics and it bothers me to no end. Lily wasn't a Mary-Sue for crying out loud! She was a human being. I haven't found that many stories that offer her as a person with faults and fears, and I think this essay was perfectly done, bringing up a valid point and arguing it quite well.
Thanks for writing!
Nobody ever said that she was perfect, but she was still a great person overall
Although I see the point that the author is trying to make - that we, as a culture, magnify the significance of a martyr - but I have to agree with many of the reviewers, the evidence is highly speculative. The main problem is that we don't have that much information about Lily, just some generalized comments from members of the Order and professors and the Prince's tale memory sequences. The HP fandom as immortalized her as a savior of sorts, mainly because she is so important to Harry so she's important to us. Hopefully more back story will be revealed through Pottermore or the encyclopedia. Perhaps then we can get more than a glimpse at her character.
I think the author's main concern here is that Lily has been deified in the series, and because of that we and the characters of the book tend to only imagine this angelic version of her, which might be so big a heuristic for all of us that we don't truly see the real, human character.
Lily's love (and by connection of the eyes - Harry's love) is valued as the highest form of magic in the series, no? But is this love that Lily had more powerful than, say, Petunia's love for Dudley? I believe, given a similar circumstance, Petunia would have made the same choice as Lily.... as would Molly, as would many characters in the series. The difference with Lily's love is that we feel its great enormity because of the sacrifice she made... My two questions now are, why does Love work its most powerful magic in death - creating life preserving effects in another, (almost like a horcrux), and why are we a culture that must rate and value love based on the extent you are willing to sacrifice yourself?
Although written with much spirit and clarity, I have to say that I found this essay a little pointless. People are remembered for what they did in the end. Does it matter that Einstein was a wife-beater? Not to many people, no, and while I personally feel that should neither be forgiven nor forgotten, he will always be lauded as one of the best physicists the world has ever known and will be loved for it.
As for Lily Evans, from what we see in the books, she seems to be a lively girl. She could have been a gossiper, she could have b***ched about people, and very few people on earth can proudly stand up and say, "No, I never gossip. I never say hurtful things." Does that make her less of a hero? No.
Lily was fresh out of school when she joined the Order. She was 21-22 when she died. If she'd wanted, she could have fled the place. But she stayed back. She fought. And she could have dumped her son and ran away, but she didn't. Whatever amount of time she had left in order to ponder her choices, she used it to protect her son.
We call people "perfect" not because they don't have any flaws, but because they have far too many qualities which are admirable.
If I were in Lily's place I wouldn't want people to remember my flaws. That just seems cruel. I get the feeling you must not like Lily for whatever reason but allow her "memory" to live on untarnished. It's more important to remember the good over the bad. Forgive and forget.
I agree to the extent that the readers have held Lily up on a pedestal given the fact that she gave her life to protect Harry. Lily was human which means that she was flawed; no human is perfect. And just because her imperfections were never declared in the books does not mean that they weren't there. However, humans can also redeem themselves from their bad actions. I have read before that people show their true selves in the moment right before death. In my opinion, that is all we need to know about who she really was.
I think this is a valid point. But we need to remember that forgetting the not-so-great traits of those we love is human nature. Lily's actions are used to emphasize that it is our choices that show who we really are, in service to the story.
The fact is we don't know much about Lily Evans. You say we've forgotten about all the bad, but we haven't seen any. The examples given are made up. We don't know if she ever bitched to her friends etc. Plus we know she didnt hate James. She defended him in front of Snape.
While an interesting read, I agree. It's purely speculative. Maybe she was the brightest student ever taught. Who really knows for sure? It's true that people tend to exaggerate positive characteristics of the deceased. It's interesting because I often think "when I die, will people remember me for how cranky I can get?" Probably not, but it's something to think about! I think that, if everything Harry hears about his mother is overwhelmingly positive, then she was probably was a really great person. Everyone has their flaws, but hers were probably not very "serious," if that makes sense.
The author makes several good points--we do tend to glorify the martyrs, and forget or downplay the faults of the ones we like / love once they're gone. Personally, I've always thought the fandom has done this--not just for Lily, but for other characters (eg Sirius, Snape, etc.) as well. On the other hand, some of the evidence used against Lily here seemed speculative, such as her true relationship with James, and--while I agree that Lily, as others, should be remembered with her faults as well as her virtues--spending a lot of time on Lily's faults in the books themselves may have been more detrimental to the story.
I find the essay to be hatefully biased. I respect the view that Lily was not as perfect as people choose to remember her but find the descriptions on the examples of her imperfections the be a bit hateful & weak which takes away from the point that was brought up. But then again I commend this essay writer for having a strong view that it almost seems personal & you can't help but to take it seriously. :-)
Let's not forget that she is the bane of Severus Snape while intrinsically also being his heart string. This is one of her faults expressly stated in the story. She is denying Snape his only happiness. Her death has made him suffer. She's literally torturing Snape when she steps in front of James and demands that he stop abusing Snape. What kind of mixed signals must Snape have had there especially after growing up together (much the same as Ron and Hermione). I felt horribly sorry for him especially since James hadn't really earned her love based on any moment in the story (it was left unsaid).
This is a very interesting essay...however a lot of this seems to be purely speculative. References? Bibliography perhaps? =S
I understand where the author is coming from. But what would have been achieved to show those sides of her? Harry learned his parents were human and flawed through what he learned about his dad. So, I don't think it was necessary to show all the sides of Lilly as a character. The only thing I think the reader was supposed to focus on with her, was that she sacrificed her life for her son. And I think that should be enough.
An interesting point of view. What do you all think?
We've talked a lot about where the curse of unicorn blood comes from, but just what exactly is the curse?! That's what this Quibble seeks to find out!
I'm back with more of my thoughts and questions that I had while re-reading the Harry Potter books. This time from Chapters 1 & 2 of Chamber of Secrets.
I pair up characters with magical creatures that are like them.
In which I try to explain my views on prejudice in the Wizarding world, and connect it to certain areas of the muggle world as well. The category is Fantastic Beats and Where to...
This is an essay I wrote for school comparing and contrasting the lives of Harry and Voldemort. It starts with their childhoods and continues until the end of the books.